Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden

Emily Eden is a delightful cross between Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde, and by Oscar Wilde, I mean The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband (movie versions), because that's about all I'm familiar with. The Semi-Detached House is the second of her two novels that I've read. (The first was The Semi-Attached Couple, and no, I can't explain the over-use of "semi" and words about attachment or lack thereof.) The book that I have is a paperback containing both of the novels, and I have no idea where I got it. Did my Uncle Steve send it to me? Did I pick it up at a used bookstore somewhere? I have no idea. But I'm so glad to have it and that I finally got around to reading both of the books.

The Semi-Detached House is about a young and recently married aristocrat who must move out to the country and into a dreaded "semi-detached" house. But I guess she's not the main character. There really isn't a main character; it's more of a multiple-character novel like Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, but with more plot. It is funny and a fairly quick read. I'd like to know if English majors are introduced to Emily Eden in their course-work. I had never heard of her, and it seems a shame.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life slipping away

I just read an article called Why I don't care very much about tablets anymore, and while I don't have a tablet, and think the author's overall point is weak (not being very excited about tablets, yet still planning to always have one), this part resonated with me:

"Some of the really savvy new media efforts like Flipboard are exciting, but after the initial "wow" factor wears off, these apps mainly serve to remind me that there's already too much good stuff to read out there, and that my life is slipping away from me in an infinite stream of interesting bits about smart animals, dumb criminals, outrageous celebs, shiny objects, funny memes, scientific discoveries, economic developments, etc. I invariably end up closing the app in a fit of guilt, and picking up one of the truly fantastic dead tree or Kindle books that I'm working my way through at the moment, so that I can actually exercise my brain (as opposed to simply wearing it out)."

The same thing applies to web reading for me. I find the web extremely valuable for news, conversation, blogging, and longer articles, but there's still a place for more in-depth treatment of topics in books, and for getting out and living and not always experiencing by proxy. Things that are useful and good may still not always be the most important.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

This is streaming on Netflix, so I thought the kids ought to see it. It is as I remembered it: really stupid but also pretty dang funny. The kids loved it, and I enjoyed watching it again, too.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

I did read all of the Chronicles of Narnia books when I was young, but I don't really remember much of them. Before the first movie came out a few years ago, I started to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the kids, but I found it wordy and kind of boring, so we didn't finish it. Then, when Jon happened to see a trailer for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, he made a declaration that anyone who would like to see the movie would have to have read the book first. I knew the younger kids wanted to see it, and I wanted to give a Narnia book another try, so I read it out loud to the three youngest. Happily, it turns out that it is a great book.

I think it helped that Eustace, the nasty cousin, is so delightfully nasty, and that parts of the story are told from his point of view, via a journal he keeps. The story moves quickly and there are plenty of exciting and interesting adventures. But mostly I loved the religious symbolism in the book. Eustace's recovery scene (I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it) is especially wonderful. I thought about it off and on for days after reading it. I really loved the book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Next Three Days (2010)

I believe this movie might still be in second-run theaters. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. It's pretty tense, although I don't think it would qualify as a straight action movie. There's plenty to think about, too. Also, I love Russell Crowe. Anyway, I loved it.

The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech is a delightful movie. All of the acting is exceptional. It's a great story about tackling and overcoming an obstacle, but not in a fantastic or unrealistic way. Also, I love the relationship between the soon-to-be king and his wife. Apparently, it's fairly true to life, too. I loved it. Highly recommended.

To my mom and anyone else who wonders: Yes, this movie is rated R. It carries that rating because of a certain word that begins with "f" that gets repeated many times, mostly in one scene that is integral to the story. Otherwise, it is very much PG. And, for what it's worth, that word doesn't sound nearly so bad when it's being said with a royal British accent.