Monthly Archives: March 2010

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer, art and adaptation by Young Kim; read in March, 2010.  Copy purchased for my school library.

Description from GoodReads:

When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret…

Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 begins where Twilight began – Bella leaving her mom, and it ends after the sparklemotion reveal.  (Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself a graphic novel expert at all. I don’t usually like them so I have no vast store of knowledge to base my opinion on.)

The illustrations, for the most part, are pretty.  I do feel like Mike, Eric, Jessica, and Angela are rendered very generic looking.  I put most of the blame for this on SMeyer as she wrote such generic characters, but if the movies can manage to make those four a bit more complex and interesting, the illustrator had a chance, as well.  There’s random use of photos – enough that I noticed but not enough that I felt like it really served a purpose, which was weird.  Edward is good-looking – prettier than RPattz but definitely more generic looking.

I feel like Bella is prettier than she’s supposed to be.  I know that Edward finds her gorgeous, and that every other Forks male falls at her feet, but SMeyer also made a big deal about how no one in Phoenix noticed Bella.  I feel like she’s supposed to be average looking and graphic novel Bella is more than average.  She often has this random drop of water (sweat?) on her temple, which I assume is supposed to show the reader that she is stressed/nervous/anxious.  Although it also migrates: it appears more under her eye when she is looking in the window of the occult bookshop, and I thought, ‘Why is the bookshop window making her cry? Was she hoping for a bigger sale than the advertised 10%?”  The droplet is there often enough that it grated on my nerves.

I also didn’t like the lettering used.  As previously stated, I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, but I am used to the font being more “comic-y/graphic novel-y.”  The font used in Twilight: The Graphic Novel looks like someone took a copy of Twilight and cut the text out and glued it on to the illustrations, giving it a “make your own storyline to fit the provided pictures” feel.  It reminded me of the comic strip that (used to?) runs in Rolling Stone – “Get Your War On.”  It uses and re-uses a few generic pictures of people and pastes in dialogue for them.  It also gives me a feeling that this is a graphic novel aimed at people who don’t read graphic novels and really just love Twilight.

I think that many Twilight fans will gobble the graphic novels up, but it won’t win over new fans.  It might get some readers to venture into more graphic novels, maybe?

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Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles; read in November, 2009.  Copy purchased for my school library.

Description from GoodReads:

Tells, from four points of view, the ramifications of a pregnancy resulting from a “one-time thing” between Ellie, who feels loved when boys touch her, and Josh, an eager virgin with a troubled home life.

Another one that fell through the cracks, unfortunately.  Jo Knowles examines how one unwanted teenage pregnancy can affect many people, and the outcomes from the different choices available to someone when an unwanted pregnancy is discovered.  Because the story is told through four distinct voices, the reader is able to see not only this pregnancy from different perspectives, but also hear about friends and family members who had to deal with their own pregnancies in their lives.  This is an interesting way to let teen readers see into a world of choices, especially if they have also read Amy Efaw’s After.

Of the four main characters, I felt like Ellie, the pregnant girl, was the weakest.  Partly because of the stereotypical way she handles sex, partly because I felt like her purpose was to be “the pregnant one” while the other three were a little more developed.

This is definitely a “problem novel” – the reader is dropped into the beginning of the problem, and the book ends with the characters trying to move on after facing the problem.  These are not characters one will hope to read about again; there is nothing else really to take away from the book beyond the realities of teen pregnancy.  But it serves its purpose well enough, is a fast read, and will appeal to teens who enjoy reading these types of books.

I am an Amazon Associate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

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Are you watching THE PACIFIC?

My husband and I are watching HBO’s The Pacific and I love it so far.  It is a different experience from watching Band of Brothers.  Because I was much more familiar with the European events than I am with the Pacific, there is a stronger element of surprise this time.  I honestly have no memory of ever studying much about the Pacific theater.  Is that a history teacher fail or did it just not stick?

We are three episodes in and I love the balance of war and personal stories.  I have to admit that I fell in love with the character of Bob Leckie immediately, but I would be hard pressed to say if that was due to the actor/character/writing or because I think the actor looks like Matthew Morrison, Mr. Shue on Glee:

James Badge Dale, playing PFC Bob Leckie:

Matthew Morrison, playing Mr. Shue on Glee:

Am I crazy?  Don’t you think they could play brothers?  It is not just the hair, it’s facial, too.  Episode 3 really intensified my love for PFC Bob Leckie.

There are other Pacific actors that I think look like other actors.  One is Josh Bitton, playing Sgt. J.P. Morgan, whom I think looks like a cross between Fred Savage and Jon Favreau:

Anyways, I’m finding myself getting attached to specific characters, whereas in Band of Brothers I loved the whole Easy company.  I say that, though, looking back several years, having watched the series several times now, so I can’t trust myself.  I am loving The Pacific, though, and can’t recommend it enough.

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The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han; read in July, 2009. Copy purchased by me.

Description from GoodReads:

Some summers are just destined to be pretty
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I’m irritated at myself for letting this one fall through the cracks.  I enjoyed Jenny Han‘s The Summer I Turned Pretty although it has now been 8 months since I read it so the details are fuzzy.  I read it while on vacation in Nags Head and it was a fun beach read.  Because of the title and the cover picture, I thought it was be fluffy, but it deals with some heavy issues.  I liked the character of Belly, and I liked most of the people she is surrounded by.  I could never really get into Conrad, though, and therefore the storyline involving him was not one I really liked.  The rest of the novel, dealing with family problems and a looming tragedy that Belly is oblivious to (but the reader can see coming), drew me in.

I bought this for my school library and it circulates pretty often with the girls who enjoy realistic fiction.

I am an Amazon Associate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.


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Mid-March Update

I’m sad I haven’t blogged in a while.  My Oscar posts got my blogging interests back up, but then things have been a bit crazy recently.  We have been working on a couple house projects which have taken up a lot of time.  Then I was knocked off my feet by a raging sinus infection.  I haven’t read more than a page or 2 at a time of anything in weeks.  I haven’t been on Twitter in 3 or 4 weeks.  I haven’t read any blogs beyond my weekly cannot-live-withouts (Dooce, Post Secret, Amalah, Flapper).

Luckily, next week is spring break, so I’ll have some down time to catch up on the library/book side of my personal life.  I’ll just declare an official hiatus until next week.  Please check back then if you read this ol’ blog!

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Oscar Picks 2010

Okay, here are my Oscar picks for 2010, we’ll see how I do! (Who I think will win.)

Leading actor – Jeff Bridges

Supporting actor – Christoph Waltz

Leading actress – Sandra Bullock

Supporting actress – Mo’Nique

Animated feature – Up

Art direction – Avatar

Cinematography – Avatar

Costumes – The Young Victoria

Directing – Hurt Locker – Catharine Bigalow (totally spelled it wrong)

Documentary feature – The Cove

Doc short – China’s Unnatural Disaster

Film editing – Hurt Locker

Foreign film – White Ribbon

Makeup – Star Trek

Score – Up (the same guy does Lost – he’s awesome!)

Song – Crazy Heart

Short animated – Logorama

Short live action – the New Tenants

Sound editing – Avatar

Sound mixing – Avatar

Visual effects – Avatar

Screenplay adapted – Up in the Air

Screenplay original – Inglourious Basterds (dark horse against Hurt Locker)

Best picture – Hurt Locker

Some of these I’m sure of, some I am iffy on, so we’ll see!

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Final Oscar Thoughts

Just some final Oscar thoughts/tidbits.  I’m going to try to get on-line and post my final Oscar predictions before the show starts tonight.  We’ll be watching from a friend’s house.  I’m looking forward to the show!

  • I’m totally Team Gabby!  I loved her and Carey Mulligan the most out of the actresses I watched this year, and I know neither will win, but I wish they could.  If you aren’t aware of how awesome Gabourey Sidibe is, read about how she slapped Chris Rock.  She is AWESOME.
  • I feel bad for the people in the NYC area who are without ABC due to cable negotiations gone bad.  The good news is that the AP will be streaming the awards tonight so people can still watch.
  • I agree with Roger Ebert: there is something in the air this year that just tingles of a surprise or two.  With the weird new way voting worked for Best Picture, I’d love hear the gasps when something like Up actually wins.
  • I’ll admit, I haven’t seen The Blind Side. But I have read a lot about it in the race to the Oscars, and I was so glad to read Mark Harris say what I (and I imagine plenty of others) are thinking about it.  It is especially interesting to hear about the things left out from the book.  This quote, from the end of the article, gets to the heart of it, “The Blind Side is a fable of exceptionalism about a kid who’s worth saving because he might become a superstar. Precious is about a kid who’s worth saving simply because she’s a human being.”
  • I read somewhere (so bad to actually say that but I don’t have the time to find it) that Alec Baldwin has some of the 30 Rock writers writing for the show tonight.  If this is true, the jokes are bound to be better than the usual bad Oscar jokes.
  • It’s not Oscar related, but Neil Patrick Harris is narrating a PBS show about service dogs. LOVE.
  • If I could pick who I WANTED to win tonight, I would vote Dug in every category!

Enjoy the Oscars if you watch, and if not have a great Sunday!

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Best Short Film – Live Action

I made it to the theatre yesterday to see all 5 live action shorts.  In the interest of time, I won’t recap them, just give my thoughts.  Recaps can be found on the interwebs; Rope of Silicon came up in a search.  IFC also has descriptions.

  • “Kavi” is one of those “important” films making a “statement.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins tonight.  But I was just kind of eh about it.
  • “The New Tenants” was my personal favorite.  I’m sure part of that stems from my love of David Rakoff, who plays one of the two new tenants, but it is a funny, crazy 20 minutes.
  • “Miracle Fish” was good – the end was surprising.
  • “The Door” was sad, but I had a hard time staying interested and I never came to care about the characters. My least favorite of the five.
  • “Instead of Abracadabra” was quirky, cute, but nothing amazingly so.

I’m glad I watched them; I enjoyed the animated shorts a lot more.

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3 Oscar Nominated Documentaries

Of the five nominated documentary films, I have only been able to see three (the other two are not out on DVD yet).  The three that I have seen are all fantastic and different.  I recommend seeing them.

Food, Inc. is available on DVD and Netflix has it on Watch It Now.  The film takes a look at the food industry and where our food comes from.  The viewer might already be aware of some of the information, such as meat coming from factory farms, but the film lets you see what is actually involved in the treatment of animals at factory farms.  What I really liked about the film is that it is not pushing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle; instead it wants the viewer to start asking about the origins of our food.  The film even brings attention to the soybean industry and a company who is pushing small farmers out of business by bullying them with their genetically modified soybeans.  My favorite part involves a Virginia farmer who raises his animals in the fields, eating grass, and sells the meat himself.  He talks about the quality of the animals’ lives and the quality of the meat.  I would love to be a patron at his store!  It’s a very well done film.

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers is currently showing at my local indie theatre.  It tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, who started out helping the government build a case for the Vietnam war.  As time went on, he changed his mind about the purpose of the war and turned against it.  He believed the amount of information the government was hiding from the general public was corrupt and decided to release top-secret documents to the press.  He was accused of being a traitor.  A case went to the Supreme Court over the involvement of the press.  It was the beginning of the end for Nixon and the war.  This is a fascinating look at the inner workings of the government, the freedom of the press, and the power of the individual.  This would be a great film for teens to show them what just a few people can accomplish.

The Cove is also on DVD now.  It investigates the dolphin industry in Japan where dolphins are captured and sold to aquariums.  The dolphins not purchased are slaughtered.  One of the men who fight the practice was the dolphin trainer on Flipper.  The treatment of “Flipper” after the show ended opened his eyes to the problems of dolphins in captivity.  He has devoted himself to fighting it since he believes the show helped created the dolphin performance industry.  The movie talks about the intelligence of dolphins, the way they respond to humans in the ocean, and the stress they undergo when living in captivity.  The group of people who facilitate the capture and slaughter in Japan are terrifying.  They fight to keep people and cameras away, knowing that what they are doing is not right.  (The end result of the dolphin meat is also extremely shady.)  The filmmakers manage to hide high-def cameras in the area and capture the slaughter on film.  This part of the movie is not for anyone who is squeamish at the sight of blood.  This movie gets in to the viewer on an emotional level that the other two films do not, appealing to the connection between humans and animals.  Because of this, I feel the need to check into the film’s claims, but if the film is fact, I do not think I can ever patronize a Sea World-type place or swim with dolphins without compromising myself.

All three films are great and I recommend them.  I wish I was able to watch the other two before the ceremony, but they are not out on DVD yet.  I’m not sure yet which win I think will win, but any of these three would make me happy.

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Best Short Film – Animated

Let’s continue with Oscar posts and make this Oscar week!

At this point, the one category in which I have seen all nominees is Best Animated Short.

Surprisingly, the weakest nominee, in my opinion, is the Wallace and Gromit short, “A Matter of Loaf and Death.”  It is cute, but usual Wallace and Gromit – nothing new.  I predicted how the plot was going to play out within the first few minutes.  Predictable plots are okay for cartoons aimed at kids, but not Oscar winners.

“French Roast” was funny and clever, although not enough has stuck with me to really say more than that.

“The Lady and the Reaper” was great.  It reminded me of an old Bugs Bunny cartoon with the music, the bosomy nurses, strong-chinned doctor, squinty old lady, and hooded Death.  The reaper and the doctor fight over the end of the old lady’s life – Death pulling her into the light, only to have the doctor yank her back.  Not my favorite, but definitely a lot of fun, with great music.

“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” was my personal favorite as far as what tickled my fancy.  Granny terrorizes her grandkid with bedtime fairy tales.  The animation is fun, and I enjoyed the dark humor.  It is from Ireland, which also might make me a little biased towards it.

“Logorama” is the final short and right now I think it is the contender for the Oscar.  (This is based solely on my opinion of the shorts, not on any buzz I have read.)  “Logorama” is set in a world built completely out of company logos.  Buildings, cars, even the people are crafted out of well-known images: the AOL man, the Pringles guy, Best Buy, McDonald’s.  I don’t want to explain the plot because it’s great to just let it unfold.  I have read on-line where people don’t understand how the creators got away with the use of so many logos, but I think this falls under Fair Use.  I can only imagine the licensing fees involving in that amount of logos would probably equal Avatar‘s budget.

If you can take the time to watch these shorts, I think it is worth it.  As I shared before, some of these are available on-line.  “A Matter of Loaf and Death” is available through Netflix (DVD only, not on Watch it Now), and some theatres are carrying all the shorts together as a feature.  In the past, iTunes has offered them for purchase, but so far I haven’t seen them on there.  I am hoping to see the live shorts at my local indie theatre before the Oscars on Sunday.

Have you seen any of these?  What are your thoughts?

Coming tomorrow, my thoughts on Best Documentary, based on the three out of five I have seen!

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