29 May 2008


I lied. I finished Twilight yesterday morning before leaving for work, and I'm not reading Anna Karenina. I picked up The Good Fairies of New York again. It's still fairly flat, but I'll finish with it tonight or tomorrow.

It's not even the story that I find flat. The plot is good, the character ideas are good. But the execution is wrong. It sometimes reads like a daily comic, minus graphics. Very choppy and not enough imagery by far. The characters' manners of speaking are also awkward and not very naturalistic. I feel like I know what Millar is trying to do with it--minimalism akin to the telling of classic fairy tales--but I just don't think it works, not when your characters are not recognisable archetypes.

Following Twilight with this is making me feel like a very fussy reader. I think I'll try to get through Part Two of Anna when I'm done with Good Fairies. But Anna is a lot like a soap opera, without the satisfaction of steamy sex or over the top violent and melodramatic moments. I think the suspicion of this very thing is why I've been avoiding Tolstoy all these years.

I also added Dickens' The Pickwick Papers to my Summer Reading List. I might regret that decision eventually too.

My book-per-week plan should be back on track by the end of June if I keep tossing a couple of shorter novels between Parts of Anna Karenina. I think Funke's Inkspell and Pratchett's Sourcery are two good candidates for my next Anna-break.

Netflix sent me Stage Beauty, largely to do with English theatre in the late seventeenth century and focusing particularly on Edward Kynaston, one of the last male leading ladies before Charles II outlawed men in women's parts. I enjoyed it very much. Billy Crudup has a remarkably angular face, and, yes, is a very pretty man--though, in my opinion, much better-looking as a man than, as the movie seems to suggest at times, a woman. The half-hour long behind-the-scenes bonus feature was interesting. Tom Hollander's good-natured griping about Billy Crudup--excellent.

I was also supposed to get Stealing Beauty, but that didn't arrive. And they emailed me last night to say that Tron is being sent from New Brunswick, so there's no knowing how long that will take to get here.

The Lost finale is this evening, but I don't know whether to be excited or wary. I don't see how this season can end well.

Turn the page ...

27 May 2008

safe to say

Or maybe 'third time's a charm' is more apt?

I suppose it's not safe to say anything until the actual closing ... but I've done the home inspection, and a list of needed fixes was proposed--upon which there was general agreement, so ...

Things are moving forward nicely. Knock on wood.

Closing is set for 20. June.

Can I breathe yet, or should I hold my breath for another four weeks? Ugh.

I packed away my winter clothes this weekend. It did two things. First, it de-cluttered my room in a big way. Second, it made me feel like I was packing, which I really don't want to put off until 16. June or something. So that sort of feeling of productivity was a bonus. Let's keep doing a bit of that every weekend.

Probably need to get in touch with a mover. Granted, it won't be a huge move (for distance or belongings), but I can't ask my friends to move me again and I can't lug this stuff up a flight of stairs (or two) on my own. Done with that. I should ask Tom for a recommended mover.

Watched Hogfather on Sunday while cleaning/packing. That was unexpectedly brilliant--well, unexpected to me, just because I lack faith in made-for-TV movies. But I suppose I should have more faith when it's Terry Pratchett. I really like what Marc Warren did with the assassin Mr. Teatime (te-ah-TIM-eh ... :-P). His voice was very much like Johnny Depp's rendition of Willy Wonka, only intentionally creepy (though I have my suspicions that that's what Depp was going for anyway). On the whole, it reminded me a lot of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, what with a skeleton man taking on the role of Father Christmas and everything. It does make me wonder which story existed first--Pratchett's novel or Burton's film?

Put down Anna Karenina and picked up The Good Fairies of New York, which was reading a little flat in my current mood, so I put it down and picked up Twilight. It's kind of a 500-page Mary Sue (our heroine's name is Bella Swan--really, now), and many of the characters are annoying, and many of the situations are contrived, and I keep waiting for the Hurt/Comfort plot device to enter into it (it's really the best way to endear your readership to a potentially dangerous or unlikeable character--make him/her do something selfless or comforting for your wounded protagonist). I'm so cynical. Still, it's proving to be a quick read, and I'll probably finish it this evening. Maybe it's the whole 'Young Adult' fiction thing, but they don't do anything. Too much angst and no action--and not much hope of any either. I will see the movie when it comes out in December, even if it's bound to be painfully over the top. Robert Pattinson already won me over in Goblet of Fire.

Went to see Indiana Jones on Saturday morning, which was wonderful, because nobody else comes to the cinema at 10 o'clock in the morning. It was over the top, but I loved it. And I loved the brief nods to the other Indy adventures. Yesterday I went to an early showing of Prince Caspian, which I enjoyed more than the previous film--but why are the bad humans Spaniards? I don't understand that. I enjoyed Eddie Izzard's voice work as Reepicheep, and Mr. Caspian (Ben Barnes) made for excellent eye-candy even if his acting was a little flat. Peter Dinklage's acerbic remarks gave a decent balance to the more saccharine moments.

... I'll read Part Two of Anna Karenina when I'm done with Twilight. Honest.

Also, the completely opaque blinds were just installed in my office a few minutes ago. I *heart* my cave.

Turn the page ...

08 May 2008

a winning commute

My morning commute ground to a halt at Alston Street. The T driver announced: "There's been an accident at Babcock. We could be here for a while."

OK. Well, I was reading, so it didn't frazzle me too much. Then, after I'd finished my chapter, I looked around and we still weren't moving. So I got off and started walking. I had just reached Harvard Ave. when I saw the train that had been stopped in front of us begin to move. So I crossed the street again just in time to--right, get on my exact same train again.

It only made it as far as Packard's Corner though. "There will be shuttles," says the driver over the intercom. Great. Except that my office is at the next corner. So no, but thank you.

Firetrucks galore, police in squad cars, police on motorcycles, T personnel mulling to and fro, helicopters circling overhead.

Why? Manhole explosion, apparently. And a white SUV rammed into the corner building at Packard's Corner. But this isn't Babcock ... the hell's going on?

I continue walking down to Babcock to the sight of even more flashing blue lights and the sound of wailing sirens. Commonwealth Avenue is not having a good morning. A giant black pick-up truck was smashed into the T barrier and straddling the West-bound tracks with one of its sides bashed in. On the other side of the lanes and half-propped on the sidewalk, a small white sports car with its back end crushed and the myriad contents of its trunk scattered across all the lanes.

When I got upstairs, Sandy and Rich were standing in the waiting area beside the elevator watching the carnage from above. A few minutes later my boss also arrived. And now she and Rich have decided to walk down the block and see the other accident at Packard's. I took a picture from the office. Yay.

Turn the page ...

02 May 2008

skewed standards

I started watching Dexter this week on surfthechannel.com.

It's weird what becomes, well, fictionally acceptable after a point.

The pilot--especially the opening sequence--was downright disturbing; but it's the perfect introduction to Dexter Morgan. The voice-over tells us what he's about, explains what he's doing and why he's doing it, which is: stalking serial killers to satisfy his own need to kill people.

Because Dexter has a code ingrained in him by a terribly understanding step-father Harry--a police officer who discovered his adopted son's urges at a very young age. Oh, and we know that Harry rescued Dexter from a gruesome crime scene at the age of four, a crime that clearly has had its effects on Dexter's psyche. In order to quell these urges, Harry teaches Dexter to hunt and kill animals, to pretend emotions, and eventually how to spot other serial killers and how to cover his tracks when Dexter kills them.

It's important to note that Harry is the only person who knows what Dexter is. His foster mother and sister have no idea.

Flash forward to the present. Dexter and his step-sister work for the Miami Dade Police Department, Dexter specialising in forensic blood spatter. Wee.

He's really an excellent antihero. The first episode's opening is repellent and typical--Dexter hunts down, drugs, butchers, and disposes of a serial killer of young boys--but the remainder of the pilot is a steady inward reeling in which I just become very attached to Dexter.

Dexter does not consider himself capable of "love," as such, but he does have intense loyalty to the good people around him. He has a girlfriend, Rita, and her two children by an abusive ex-husband. In another voice-over, he admits that part of the draw to Rita is her alike damaged nature and their shared dream of normalcy. And he is, in his own words, "very fond of" his step-sister Deb. I think it's these few human connections, and the bewildering moments of emotional disconnect, that make Dexter the most endearing sociopath ever.

Oh, and he's always eating. All the time. Gorey crime scene--and--a sandwich!

I've also been turning over in my head the similarity between Dexter and Lestat circa Memnoch the Devil. Both hunt down and murder other murderers to satisfy something inside them--not really as an act of justice, though an outside observer could make that judgment call, but because they need to kill somebody, and it may as well be somebody wicked. And they both have personal connections that make them more human, give them a chance to show a better side.

It's another reason for being okay with Dexter--prior experience in being attached to characters that are, well, not exactly all wrong, but definitely not right.

Turn the page ...