Tag Archives: read

An Accurate Depiction of What it’s Like to Read the Series of Unfortunate Events books.

21 Oct

Poe: You’re totes gonna be safe with this new relative.

Me: Based on everything that’s happened so far, why would you assume that?

Relative: You kids are obviously dumb for thinking that this person who has recently become apart of our lives under some pretty sketch circumstances is Count Olaf.

Me: Um. No. Shut up.

Olaf: I’m so gonna win this time.

Me: Yeah, see, there are more books in the series, so I seriously doubt that.

Poe: Yeah, that’s obviously not Count Olaf in disguise.

Me: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

The Baudelaires: We have friends now! Nothing can go wrong!

Me: DON’T SAY THAT.

Relative: Well allowing this stranger I’ve just met to adopt you in the case of my death/lack of interest in you/you get expelled/etc. makes perfect sense.

Me: OH MY GOD.

The Baudelaires: Look at those people doing sketchy things. Good thing they’re not any of Count Olaf’s associates.

Me: ARE YOU BLIND.

Poe: Nope. We can’t run after Olaf. It’s too dangerous.

Me: STOP.

The Baudelaires: Hmmm, I wonder why there’s a secret tunnel under our house which was mysteriously burnt down before we had to go live with Count Olaf. Oh well. Not important.

Me: NO.

The Baudelaires: Oh, don’t worry about giving us this important piece of information. You can just give it to us later because nothing’s gonna go wrong.

Me: I GIVE UP.

Snicket: I’m going to keep referencing Beatrice and then NOT TELL YOU ANYTHING.

Me: FFFFFFUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK

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wrinkle in time.

26 Aug

I’m about to reread Wrinkle in Time. Rereading your favorite book from your childhood – a book that you haven’t touched in years on end – is such a strange combination of exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, you are terrified out of your mind that you’ve been holding this book up on a pedestal for all these years, and that you’re going to find out it’s not all that great after all. On the other hand, goddamn, you are so excited to return to that world filled with magic and mystic, and you can’t wait to lose yourself in it.

Book vs. Movie: The Secret of NIMH Edition

14 Aug

Yesterday I wrapped up the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats on NIMH for the first time in my life. I had been given the book as a present when I was a kid (not sure by whom, most likely my mother or my godmother), but had never gotten around to reading it. After closing the book, I went directly to my Netflix Instant Watch queue and pulled up the movie version of it, which I had not seen since I was probably seven or eight. I dove headfirst into the book, not remembering any of the film’s plot, and I started the film not knowing if what I had just read lined up with the movie at all. Here’s my final verdict between the two:

I prefer the movie of NIMH to the book.

It’s rare that I’ll willingly admit that a film is superior to the book. The only movies I go on record stating as my personal preference is the Lord of the Rings series, but even I know that the books are amazing, I’m just too lazy to get around to reading through them.

The Rats of NIMH though. It’s as though the author, Robert C. O’Brien, had this amazing idea for a story, and then wrote it in the most boring voice possible. Going into the book, while I couldn’t remember the events of the film, I did remember how much I enjoyed watching it. I know this is a book meant for young kids (eight to twelve year olds, according to the back cover), but that honestly means nothing to me. I still love YA literature, despite being twenty-two. Wrinkle in Time and Where the Red Fern Grows are meant for ten year olds, and I reread those books as often as possible. Even in their simplicity, I find great joy in YA fiction (in fact, the majority of books I’ve read this year have been YA). That being said, I didn’t take very much joy away from NIMH. I liked it well enough, but a book that should have taken me two days to read took me over a week, as I got ridiculously bored with it and put it down without touching it for days on end (I blame the back story portion, but more on that later).

The movie, though, does justice to my memory of it. The film version is exciting, fun, daring, and offers characters with an immense amount of personality that was truly lacking in the book. It not only reinforces my love of kid’s films, but my immense adoration for one Mr. Don Bluth.

Here follows ten reasons why I prefer the movie version of NIMH to the book version any day (it’s chalk full of spoilers, so you have been warned):

1. The movie made the story creepy. That is something the book truly lacked. Yes, the rats were taken off to NIMH, but then the book goes into great detail to explain how the pain from the syringes wasn’t all that bad and how the scientists treated their subjects well. Even the owl wasn’t creepy, which was a bummer. Of course, this is surely how Robert C. O’Brien intended for his story, probably in hopes of not frightening any children; however, I think it works much better with a scary tone to it. Without it the book feels flat, predictable, and droll, whereas I found myself on the edge of my seat a couple of times during the film despite already knowing the outcome.

2. Speaking of aspects that work well in the movie, MAGIC. There’s definitely a sense of the mystical in the film, what with the glowing eyes and the magic pendant and the Beauty & the Beast-esque mirror. As I read the book I kept waiting for the magic to kick in and it never did, leaving me utterly disappointed. I’m not saying the book doesn’t work without the rats having some kind of magic touch, I’m just saying it works better when they do.

3. The movie got it right by doing two things differently with Jeremy the crow: 1. Giving him more to do, and 2. making him the comic relief. In the book, Mrs. Frisby saves Jeremy, thus justifying him taking her to see the Owl and… that’s it. I think he’s mentioned once or twice more throughout the book, but he never makes a return appearance. Seeing as he’s on the cover of my edition of the book, I kept expecting for him to return and play a larger role, but apparently he was only needed to get Mrs. Frisby from point A to point B. Now, maybe the movie fleshed out his character for the sole reason of casting (the amazing) Dom Deluise, but I’m very glad that they did. Jeremy sticking around in the film felt justified, despite the fact that he didn’t really add much to the story after flying Mrs. Brisby up into the tree, but that didn’t matter because he was given the purpose of comic relief, which he served marvelously. NIMH is a dark film (much darker than the book), what with dying children, lab tests on animals, and sword fighting rats (lawl), and Jeremy brings a lot of light to the darkness. I clearly remember him being my favorite character as a child… though, that might have more to do with the fact that Dom Deluise was in all my favorite movies growing up and so his characters instantly became my favorites .

4. I really like that they kept Jenner alive in the film. It was nice that the story had an actual antagonist that wasn’t the fucking weather. I realize they only kept Jenner alive so that the kids would have a distinguished baddie to spew their hatred at, but it worked. For starters, it gave us insight on the democracy the rats had built in their society (which truly shows how they had turned into human-like creatures even more, considering the film carries out an assassination of a political figure plot line, whereas the book does not). Jenner also gave the film a much more tense ending as opposed to the book, but more on that later.

5. Mrs. Brisby’s kids actually had personalities, unlike Mrs. Frisby’s kids. In the film they are each defined by their age and their outlook on everything that is going on, which was really nice to see. In the book, her kids are kind of just there and don’t do much of anything. I guess the kids in the film don’t do much of anything either, but at least they’re entertaining while they’re doing it. (Also, Martin, the eldest son, was voiced by one Wil Wheaton. Bad. Ass.) Know who does do a lot in the film though? THE SHREW. In the book the Shrew warns Mrs. Frisby of moving day, then comes back to bitch at the Rats for trying to move the mouse’s house without her being there. Know what the Shrew does in the film? JUMPS ON A MOTHERFUCKING TRACTOR AND DESTROYS IT INTERNALLY, THUS SAVING THE LIFE OF TIMOTHY BRISBY. Then she comes back and takes care of the kids like a badass while their mother is off saving the Rats and stuff. Seriously awesome character.

6. The film did a great job playing up the evilness that is NIMH. As mentioned in point #1, the book takes a lot of time to explain that while, yes, the scientists did take the rats off the street, they treat them well in captivity and have no intention of ever hurting them, just enhancing their intelligence. In the film the doctors are portrayed as sadistic and frightening. Heck, in the end of the movie it’s made very clear that men from NIMH are coming to get the rats, whereas in the book it’s never revealed if the men who show up are from NIMH or just exterminators (though it’s pretty obvious they are from NIMH). The point is, in the books I found that I did not hate the scientists. I certainly didn’t want them to win, but I had more of a “Hey, they’re just doing their job!” kind of outlook. In the film? Did not want them to succeed. At all.

7. When it comes to the comparison of Mrs. Brisby and Mrs. Frisby, I choose Brisby. The movie showed Mrs. Brisby as a more fleshed out, rounded character, which almost never happens in the case between books vs. movies. In books you expect all the awesome details about your favorite characters sure to be left out in the film. Not this one. In the movie we see Mrs. Brisby’s abundant love for her children, how scared she is but willing to tackle the most frightening events (from heights to owls to cats), and how she isn’t really accustomed to constant association with animals outside of her nuclear family. Do we get this in the book? Yeah, a bit, but we’re kind of told bluntly by the author and, well, that’s it. Not to mention in the book when Mrs. Frisby is trapped in the cage Justin has to come in and save her because, hey, she’s a woman, apparently she can’t save herself on her own; whereas in the film Mrs. Brisby uses her smarts and saves herself like the badass that she is. She’s also a much more sympathetic character in the film, but at the same time so much stronger as well. Mrs. Frisby gets emotional about her husband’s death… what? Once? Twice? In the opening of the film, it is shown (not told, shown) how Mrs. Brisby’s still devastated over the loss of her husband. I don’t think this makes her a weaker character. Having a lead role show great depths of emotion and sadness, while still allowing them to tackle some really freaky shit in order to save the ones they love, is a really great character in my opinion.

8. Back story is essential for any good film or book. After all, the characters had lives before the story began, and it’s important to know how they got to the point they’re at. My problem with the book is that it takes 69 pages to tell exactly what happened to the rats of NIMH. Normally this length would seem justified if it were, say, a longer novel; however, as the book is only 233 pages long I kept finding myself going, “I get it. They learned a lot. Yup. Reading. Mazes. Fascinating. Get back to the story.” It also didn’t help that the retelling of all that happened to the rats was written very dully (this seems to be something I like to complain with, so here it is: Robert C. O’Brien’s writing style is boring. There. I said it). Now in the movie? The movie covers the rats back story in three minutes, tops. Could the movie have benefited for delving a little deeper into the back story? Mayhaps, but they kept it nice, simple, and straight forward, and after having to drudge through the back story in the book, I was thankful for that. The book’s back story could have been thirty pages shorter, in my personal opinion.

9. The movie stayed pretty true to the story, except for the ending. In this aspect, I like how, instead of leaving the audience wondering if Justin was killed or not, we know that Justin and the rest of the rats live. I also liked that they killed Nicodeamus. I liked Nicodeamus, don’t get me wrong, but I thought his character’s death benefited the story so much more than the hypothetical death of Justin. Again, assassination of a political figure is a huge thing to tackle for a kids movie, but the film did it well. The movie as a whole was a lot more violent, which is fine by me because it made the film a lot more exciting, which brings us to the last item on our list…

10. The movie’s ending was a million times more exciting than the book. In the book the rats sort of just move Mrs. Frisby’s house, carry out their escape plan, and then it ends abruptly. In the film they throw in the element of the cinder block home, with Brisby’s kids still inside of it, starting to sink in the mud, thus implying that the kids she’s trying to save may very well die. At this plot point I actually found myself clutching my face going, “Of course this is going to end well, but holy fuck, how are they going to get out of this alive!?” That, to me, is the sign of a good film.

I guess now I can talk about the very, very few things about the film that didn’t enthrall me. There are only three things that come to mind as of right now:

  1. The film could’ve been longer. Yeah, I said it. I would’ve loved a more fleshed out telling of it, with even more mystique and magic to it. I wouldn’t have minded if they branched off further from the book and added in more elements to the story. But hey, it’s a kid’s movie, so I understand the need to keep it short and to the point.
  2. I do think the pendant, when used to save the kids, was kind of a cop out. Still more interesting than what happened in the book, but I think more attention should’ve been drawn to Mrs. Brisby not understanding the pendant’s use throughout the film, so there would have been a bigger pay off when she finally understood she needed it to save her children. It was given to her early on, but she didn’t talk about it again at all until the end of the film when she uses it to save the day. It just felt random and, gah, I guess it’s the screenwriter in me that wants more justification for the pendant being there (and an explanation of how Jonathan even got a fucking magic pendant in the first place).
  3. I loved Mrs. Brisby’s classic red shawl (a throw back to the book),  but when it came to the rats, I’m sorry, but some of them were dressed really silly. They were wearing tunics. And robes. And wigs. Jenner had on a cape. A fucking cape. I guess it was to reflect how far they’d come as a human-like society, but I could not take it seriously that the farmer had never spotted a rat before and gone, “Huh. I wonder why that rat is wearing  a cape. And is carrying a sword.” On that note, I should also say that the rats sword fighting was a little goofy. Don’t get me wrong, the pay off of the sword fight was important (when the one rat threw a dagger at Jenner I fist pumped the air), but watching it I had an eyebrow cocked the whole time, thinking to myself, “… Huh… Sure… Okay… I guess I’ll play along..” Honestly, the one purpose I truly saw of the sword fight was that it made Justin an even more attractive awesome character.

So, do I like the story of NIMH? After reading all the above it should be obvious that, yes, I do, like the story when it’s delivered in the right medium. I don’t think it was intended to be a kid’s story, or at least not a kid’s story written by Robert C. fucking O’Brien. I realize a kid’s story is how it was originated, but the material works so much better on film. Actually, you know, I think NIMH has great potential to be rewritten as a story aimed towards adults, not kids. I would’ve loved a darker, more gritty aspect in my reading. Hell, I would’ve loved more back story if it had been more fucking interesting. Not to mention it would’ve been nice to get some more exposition on Mrs. Brisby’s life, some more adult humor (any humor would’ve been nice, actually), and a more lavish use of language. When it comes down to it, as I’ve stated throughout this entry, that was my number one problem with the book. The way it was written. It’s as though Robert C. O’Brien thought to himself, “I wonder if I can take this really interesting story idea and write about it in the most boring use of the English language as possible.” Mission accomplished, Robert. You succeeded.

And you know what, if it came out that they were going to do a remake of NIMH someday, I would not complain. If a future film followed in the footsteps of the first film, added more depth and darkness to the story, and made it longer? I’d be totally down for that movie existing.

A friend asked me this morning if it’d be a waste of time to read the book, and honestly, that’s not up for me to say. I know I’ve spent this entire entry complaining about how the movie is far better than the book, but I do still respect the bones of the story. Robert C. O’Brien laid out a really wonderful story, despite his dull style. This is all also my personal opinion. I have friends who really love the book. Plus, as another friend pointed out, “If there had never been a book, there never would have been a movie,” which is a very good point.

The fact of the matter is NIMH is a great story when it’s done right. It is also a prime example that sometimes the book isn’t better than the film. I know a lot of people of people might not agree with me on this, but I’m standing by my opinion on this one. I don’t intend on reading the book again anytime soon, but will I most likely rewatch the movie multiple times in the years to come? Sweet Bunsen Honeydew, yes. Yes I will.

(Side note:, do yourselves a favor: Never watch The Secret of NIMH 2. I loved it as a kid, but yeah, definitely not a good film. At all. Sorry Karate Kid, William H. Macey, and Eric Idle, but you all wasted my time by making that film.)

243.

9 Jul

There are two hundred & forty-three books in this stack,
each one more precious than the last.
I collect these lost souls in airports,
thrift stores, web browsers, shops.
I invite them inside to tell me their story,
and we laugh and cry together,
wrapped up in each other’s good graces.
All the while they do not know how
desperately in need I am for what they offer.

An infectious need for love
that will never leave me.

Having Fun Isn’t Hard When You’ve Got a Library Card

3 Jun

I’m in the final phase of the school year; the final push towards freedom. Just one more week of classes, then a week of finals, and then I’m off for four months. It’s the final inning, and there’s no turning back now.

Unfortunately, since I’ve got one more week until finals week, that means it’s also my busiest time of spring term. There’s so much to get done from now until the end of finals week.

Here’s a list of all the shit homework/miscellaneous things I have to accomplish by two Thursdays from now:

  • Technical Writing: Write my ten to twelve page formal report
  • Technical Writing:Fix my resume/cover letter
  • Technical Writing:Put together a power point about my formal report
  • Spanish: Fill out workbook
  • Spanish: Study for final
  • Spanish: Watch the video for chapter nine
  • Drama in Western Culture: Read Ruined
  • Drama in Western Culture: Write paper on Ruined
  • Drama in Western Culture: Put together group skit
  • Human Sexuality: Find more book/online sources
  • Human Sexuality: Write five to six page paper
  • Human Sexuality: Read chapters 18 and 19 in the text
  • Human Sexuality: Study for final
  • British Female Writers: Read the assigned reading for this week
  • British Female Writers: Go back and read the Woolf passages
  • British Female Writers: Write the paper for the class
  • Miscellaneous:Write up my third entry for Cool Gizmo Toys
  • Miscellaneous: Memorize six pages of lines for Patrick’s scene
  • Miscellaneous: Babysit
  • Miscellaneous: Start moving into my new apartment this week

Just looking at this list makes me want to hurl.

It’s pretty damn obvious I’m not going to have a moment of free time for the next twelves days. I’ll have barely enough time to squeeze in TV time, let alone time to eat/sleep/breathe. So what’s the stupidest thing I could possibly do leading up to this last week of classes and starting preparation for finals week?

Go to the library.

Truthfully, I went in looking for the book The Magicians, since there’s been some discussion lately of an online book club of sorts amongst friends and that book was the one that seemed to be talked about he most (well, that and 50 Shades of Grey, but I’m pretty sure we were all joking about that one… at least, I hope we were joking). And I didn’t even leave the library with Magicians because it wasn’t even in, but that didn’t stop me from checking out all of these. I can’t enter a library without grabbing every single book that looks good off the shelves. The fact that I was able to exit the library with a mere four books is a huge accomplishment, seeing as I’m used to leaving with at least ten books in tow. I actually had five, but I put An Abundance of Katherine’s back, because I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to read any John Green books until I read my edition of Paper Towns.

And that’s the other thing! I have a stack of books in my room made up of about twenty-five or thirty books I want to try to read this summer, and here I am going to the library and getting even more books to add to the stack! Not to mention I need to finish reading Jane Eyre andThe Jungle Book.

But what can I say? I’ve been wanting to read all these books for quite some time now. I’m hoping to wrap up Jane Eyre and Jungle Book by tomorrow night (since I’m close to being done with both), and then I’ll probably start in with Mindy Kaling’s book, since I imagine it’s a bit lighter than the other three.

I just want finals week to be over so I can spend all summer reading and writing. Too much to ask? Mayhaps, but I’m almost there, so I care not.

(Also, if you understand the title of this entry, then obviously  you had an equally amazing childhood akin to my own.)

Three days until take off

20 Mar

I’m having a really difficult time deciding which three books out of these five to bring with me on my trip to Italy.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Descendants
  • Paper Towns
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Bossypants

First world problem, right? But I honestly can’t choose. They all look/sound so good.

Snippets of my Day

8 Mar

Today I got to kick a ball around with two of my best friends after classes were done. It was sunny and warm, and just utterly lovely. I don’t think I’ve kicked a ball since high school. I’m definitely not a sporty girl, but it was a lot of fun and oddly relaxing. I haven’t gotten to see either of these friends a whole lot this school term, so it was nice to pal around, goof off, and be silly. We also cloud watched, even though there were no clouds.

Three more pages left to go on my Moby Dick paper. Possibly less, since all that’s due tomorrow is a rough draft of the paper. I know once I get the motivation to start working on it I’ll be able to blow through it in less than an hour, it’s just finding that initial motivation that’s a bit tricky.

Fifteen more days till Italy… Gah. This before-vacation feeling is unbearable, but in the best possible way. I’m so excited for this trip, and I’m glad this feeling gets to last a bit longer. It’s nice to have something a bit off in the distance that’s worth looking forward to. Hopefully the excitement of the trip will help push me through dead week and then finals week, so  by the time I’m done with both of them I’ll be in need of a major vacation, which I’ll get to do.

I had a coffee and a doughnut today. Merg. At least I got to go to the gym.

250 pages into Clash of Kings. Ideally I’d like to be through with it before spring break, so I can bring different books with me on the trip. I don’t know how likely that is since I’m sure the next two weeks are going to be pretty busy, but I have faith. I’ve just got to read 60 pages a day, which equals out to about three chapters per day. I don’t know. Let’s see if I can manage it.

All I want to do is work on a screenplay I’ve been working on for over a year now and listen to The Mountain Goats. Blerg.