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Monthly Archives: January 2007

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Owen Meany

When I was a kid, my little sister would annoy me so much when she’d read a book that she really liked to then end and just flip back to the first page and start reading it again. I always thought: If you already read it, no matter how much you enjoyed it, why in the world would read it again? Especially if you just finished it?

I’m going to make my retired-teacher mom and my retired-passed away dad really happy right now: I love to read. I love reading great novels and short-stories and if I’m reading for my own enjoyment (which is why I’m usually reading), I stick with fiction. I kind of have to make myself read the few non-fiction books that I get through.

The problem is that, like many things, I’m pretty picky. I have a hard time finding things that I really like. I’ve read most novels by Stephen King, a lot of Orson Scott Card, a lot of Steinbeck, some Arthur C. Clarke, I’m a big fan of a fiction trilogy that few people have ever even heard of by Franky Schaeffer, and of course, Lord of the Rings.

I think part of the problem is that I’ve read some really incredible books and when you finish a great novel, mediocre novels are horribly stifling. One summer a couple of years ago, I read Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. I couldn’t find anything to read for a couple of months after that.

So, I’ve actually started becoming re-reader. When I found Ender’s Game a few years ago, I was blown away. It’s an short, easy SciFi novel (IMHO: for people who don’t even like SciFi) that I’ve read at least 3 times now. I read all it’s sequals which I didn’t find nearly as enjoyable, but earlier this year, I read Ender’s Game again and found myself even re-reading two of its sequals.

Anyway, I just finished Stephen King’s new novel, Lisey’s Story, a couple of weeks ago (and if you want to argue with me about Stephen King being a great american author of our time, I’ll be happy to smack you) and have had a hard time finding anything to read since. This week, I’ve been subbing in a classroom that doesn’t require full attention, and I knew that they’d be taking a test today which meant ultimate boredom/fight-to-stay-awake time if I didn’t find something good to read.

Finally, I decided that it’s been a couple of years since I’d read A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, so I threw it into my bag to go to school today.

My sister gave me a copy of this book for Christmas probably close to 10 years ago saying that she’d had to read it for one of her literature classes and she thought I might like it.

This is my favorite novel that I’ve ever read. My problem with reading it today while students were taking a test was suppressing laughter as I burned through the first 70 pages!

Now I have to be careful. I suggest this book to people all the time, and I know that I often overblow it so that their expectations are so high, that there’s no way it can live up. However, I just have to say this is a GREAT book! It has an incredible story with wildly vivid, amusing, striking characters. The interplay of relationships is so tender and funny and sweet and series of events are startling at times, outrageously comical at other times. And to top it all off, it has the most incredible, cohesive ending of any novel I’ve read. period.

So, I’m not telling you it’s the best novel ever written. I’m just saying that it’s my favorite. And I’m just excited about reading it again and I wish that I could find more books to love a fraction of how much I love this one. If anybody ever still reads this blog, feel free to leave me some suggestions. Remember: Novels.

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Posted by on January 30, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

my hierarchy of movie needs

Matt Page’s review of “Children of Men”

I’m only linking to this review because this movie is what got me thinking about this. I don’t necessarily agree with his review, but he might give you a little more to go. In a nutshell, I’m not recommending the movie.

So, this morning in the shower I was thinking of what a movie needs for me to enjoy it. I started coming up with a list, but it’s not really hiearchy because there are times when a movie can be stronger in one thing and it covers up a lack of another aspect. Sometimes this turns out acceptable to me and sometimes it doesn’t. So here’s the first of my list of important aspects for a movie in loose order with the exception of the first…

Movies Need to Have a Good story. This is far and away the most important. I can forgive a lot of bad dialogue, bad acting, bad cinematography, bad casting, bad editing if the story is good. Case in point: Star Wars saga. If you watch the whole sexology top to bottom, there are plenty of cringe-worthy scenes of horrible acting and worse dialogue; and not just in episodes I-III, although probably the worst instances would be found there. In episodes IV-VI, there are tons of cheesy, stupid lines of dialogue and lots of horrible acting. In fact, it’s a testament to Harrison Ford as an actor that he’s able to deliver some of those lines and NOT sound like a campy, cheese fest. In spite of these flaws, the Star Wars saga is among my favorite movies. Not a certain episode, but the whole thing. Why would I separate them? They’re all the same story. And it’s a GREAT, epic story.

Children of Men had an interesting premise: In 2027, everybody stopped getting pregnant. And suddenly one woman gets pregnant. That’s interesting. But, that’s about all that is good about this movie IMHO.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Woops! Ivy here….I posted my stuff in the wrong blog. This is Daddy’s blog! Anyways, come see me at baby-shack.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

I missed baby bookworms today. I was up at 6:30 ish REALLY mad. Mommy said it sounded like pain. Now she’s wondering if I’m teething. She says if that’s the case she doesn’t need to keep me from other kids. But she didn’t think about that until later this morning. Daddy got up with me but all I wanted was Mommy. So Mommy held me & I got quiet. For a minute. Then she gave me some teething pills that dissolve in my mouth. She gave me some milk. She loved on me. Daddy found a place to work today at a school he’s wanted to get into so he went ahead and got ready for work after he gave me some tylenol. I calmed down and Mommy took me into her bed. I sat there for a little while looking around. Slowly my parents turned off all the lights & I got sleepy and laid down with Mommy. We both fell asleep til 9:30. Mommy said it was not a big deal that we missed the library today cuz she’s sure they’ll do the same songs next week. She’s probably right.

So, before my Mommy ate breakfast she put me on the floor. She got some short vidoes that she’s uploading right now. They’re not as good as my performance yesterday but at least you’ll be able to see what I can do. It’s not really a scoot, it’s more like a creep. Mommy says it’s kind of funny to put the words “ivy” and “creeping” next to each other. Daddy says my creeping is not graceful…yet. It helps if you breathe hard and grunt a little.

I found some new stuff last night while I was doing this creeping around. I’ll show ya later.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Lisey’s Story

Lisey’s Story

I’ve got about about 100 pages left of the newest Stephen King novel that I got from the library. It was due yesterday and I can’t recheck it because somebody else put it on hold. They’re just going to have to wait.

It’s pretty good, classic King. IMHO, anybody who writes of Mr. King as pop/horror writer or for any other reason just haven’t given him any notice. His characters are well-rounded and he’s got interesting, gripping stories. Sometimes his endings suck, but I find that to be true for most writers most of the time. So, I’ll keep reading.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

Rent (2005)

Rent (2005)

So, let it be known that I realized a couple of years ago that I don’t really like musicals. When I finally got to see a touring production of Phantom of the Opera in KC when I was in college, I was royally disappointed. I think that’s when I just started to say I don’t like musicals. I’ve mellowed a little because just a couple of years ago, Holly and I saw a touring production of Le Miserables at the Walton in Fayetteville and it was absolutely stunning. Anyway…

I checked out Rent from the library just to see what the hubbub was all about. Holly and I sat down to watch it only lasted about 15 or 20 minutes before we shut it off. Believe me when I say that I really shut off DVDs. I just the the music was kinda crappy and the story/characters were melodramatic and I just didn’t foresee it getting any better. I just didn’t dig it. Some might. I didn’t. But, that’s not what this blog is about.

At one point in the short bit that we watched, mom and dad call and leave a msg on the answering machine of one of the main struggling-artist-in-the-big-city characters. I don’t remember it exactly and this is a very broad paraphrase but it basically said, “we miss you and we’re sad that you’re not here at home with us for christmas. we love you and hope you’re well. Please call us and let us know how you are sometime…” It didn’t even say anything like, “when are you going to get a real job? when are you going to settle down and get married? pregnant? grow up? be responsible?” It was just kind of a dorky msg like parental msgs of that sort seem to be but it still seemed sweet and honestly caring.

As soon as struggling-artist-in-the-big-city character plays back the msg, he deadpans to his room-mate something like, “sometimes this city really gets me down and i start thinking it would be nice to go home and then THEY call and I remember how horrible it is.”

huh? Why exactly are they so horrible? It just sounded to me like they cared.

I’m probably not telling this very well to illustrate my confusion.

But a more interesting question was what was the purpose of that clip of dialogue? Because it seemed obvious to Holly and me that the main character was thinking/reacting wrongly. At the same time, it seemed like the writer/director/performers/producers/whoever delivered the dialogue in all earnestness. Could it have been meant to evoke one sentiment and actually it evokes the exact complete opposite.

If you read this whole post, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. And I’m sorry that this is the post you had to read, because I know it doesn’t make as much sense as it does in my head.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2007 in Uncategorized