When Alias started on TV, we had just got married and did not own a TV. We thought it looked great, but obviously couldn’t watch it. We have, on and off, considered finding the DVDs to watch, but have never got around to it. Until last night, when we hired the first two discs of the first season. It was excellent. We had heard quite conflicting reports from different people, so it was nice not to be disappointed. It could be that as the series progresses, it gets more painful – I can easily imagine that the plot would gt jaded and (dare I say?!) unrealistic, but I really hope they manage to sustain it.
We only watched three episodes. Well; I watched three; J saw two and a half. Which was a real pain, since the third episode ends in a cliff-hanger (I think this clause should end with “of course”; I get the feeling this is going to be something we get used to, and will make us glad that we have the next episode all ready to watch rather than waiting for a week!)… and because I am nice, I decided I couldn’t watch the next episode without him, so I stopped. (He had fallen asleep, in case that wasn’t obvious).
I have just started reading Inkspell, the sequel to Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. I didn’t buy it; I told a fellow English teacher at school about her, and he read the first one weekend, and then the next week came to school and announced he had bought the sequel and was getting through it, too. (As an aside, I love kids’ books; they’re cheaper than adult books, even when they are the same length!) It is, of course, fantastic, and the style is as enchanting as ever. And I really must make a list of the books quoted at the start of the chapters and find them.
I am still entertained by the publishing house , too – called The Chicken House – and its web address, http://www.doublecluck.com. Tee hee.
Flight of the Phoenix
J will never let me live this one down. We didn’t see it at the movies because he was still too cut at Dennis Quaid for being a wuss in The Day after Tomorrow. I got it out, though, because I had always thought it looked good from the poster, and because the blurb said it was “action-packed”. Yes; well. It wasn’t toooo bad… Miranda Otto was ok, in her bit-part… ok, it was a really average movie. I would not recommend anyone to see it. However, I found out one reason why it seemed appealing and didn’t deliver; it’s a re-make. The original had Peter Finch, Richard Attenborough, James Stewart and Ernest Borgnine!!! Kat says it is fantastic, so maybe I will watch it tomake it up to mysellf… but I don’t think I will suggest it to J.
Watching it at the moment; stars Handsome Rob from the remake of The Italian Job. It only just manages to stay this side of Jackie Chan, but it is totally cool. It’s got the best-shot car chases since Ronin, and an awesome soundtrack too. Certainly manages to pack a lot into 80 minutes! The grease scene is brilliant. There’s a sequel just out recently – not sure if it’s out on DVD yet, hope it’s not too far away.
Mentoring Yr9s in literature
I volunteered/agreed to help out with the enhancement programme at school for Yr9 students; they get to choose a book, and then have to do a presentation on the themes/messages to the other students in the programme. Each kid gets paried with a mentor to help them think through the issues. I took on four, because I had already read two of the books; this has gone down to three, because the girl who chose Wuthering Heights has gone on holiadys early… for which I am grateful, since it’s a while since I read it and I don’t really feel like reading it again (hate every single character, although I quite like the book itself).
I read Saint of Dragons, by Jason Hightman, yesterday. It was in the 4-9 year old section at Borders, which I don’t really get – it’s a good 300-odd pages, and in some parts a bit dark; it certainly wouldn’t be read by even a standard 9 year old by themselves, I would have thought. Anyway. It wasn’t too bad; interesting ideas – about a boy who turns out to be the descendant of St George, who has to join his father in hunting dragons down. I was a bit disappointed, though, because the ideas weren’t completely carried through with, and some of the writing was pretty simplistic. I think I’ll try and get the boy to think about the issue of heroism – who is a hero? What makes someone not a hero? – because that is pretty big throughout the book… and could have been more so, had Hightman explored it more.
Before that one, I read The Sea, by John Banville. Winner of the Booker Prize this year, making it only the second winner I have ever read (the first was Life of Pi, which I did enjoy). It is not the sort of book I would have chosen to read, and it will be interesting to see what my mentoree thought of it. I quite liked it, in an odd sort of way… the style sometimes got a bit annoying, always going back and forth in time – the present stuff written in the present tense, which is pretty unusual, but generally intriguing. It’s about a man whose wife has recently died revisiting the site of childhood holidays, reliving the traumas and joys, in an effort to get away from his grief. I did like it, I think.
The other book is The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, which is the other book that I had previously read. I love Wyndham; I think he embodies speculative fiction, as opposed to science fiction, exceptionally well. His ideas are so cool, and he writes in such an unembellished way; I think this is very much a product of the pre-blockbuster time, pre-Star Wars basically. He wasn’t writing for film. HG Wells, Ursula Le Guin, Andre Norton – I think they’re in the same category. I really like all of them, their sparse detail; I have described Wells and Le Guin in particular as drawing pencil sketches, as opposed to the full-on oils of, say, Simon Green or Julian May or, dare I say it, Robert Jordan. It’s interesting: I read Le Guin and some Norton early on in my scifi reading – Wyndham too, actually – so I enjoy it. One friend in particular, who has really only read more recent scifi/fantasy, really couldn’t get into Le Guin. Anyway – The Chrysalids – excellent book. Deviations… the cleverest part, I think, is how he lists the things people see as deviations, and includes things that we, the readers, know are not deviations. Sigh. I must re-read Day of the Triffids.
I read the Pliocene series, whatever it was called – Many-Coloured Land, I think – ages ago, and found it occasionally annoying. I decided to give the Galactic Milieu books a go, though, since they are so tied in and I found the first one for about $1. I think I like these much more. I haven’t read the one that really starts it, Intervention, but May fills it in enough that I don’t need to. In fact, I feel like I don’t want to read it, since I know all about the ending. I will read it at some stage though, of course. Anyway – the books – I am half way through Diamond Mask, the second (after Jack the Bodiless), and I am enjoying the interplay between aliens and humans, as well as the issue of rebellion and so on. They’re fun; not too heavy on sci jargo, pretty good on characters, some quirky twists of plot – and I know there are going to be more, and I can tell where they will be, I just can’t quite figure out what they will be.
NOTE: see how I avoided using a pronoun for May? I presume he is a he, but I am not positive…
Later edit: Nope, turns out that she is a she. Maybe I should have picked this from the sometimes-excessive details included.
Margaret and Mary Tudor
They were the sisters of Henry VIII. The eldest married the King of Scotland, and was the ancestress of James VI and I two ways; the youngest married the King of France, but that only lasted a few months because he was old and fat and died soon. She then married the Duke of Suffolk, for love.
It was a fascinating book, by Maria Perry. Eminently readable, going chapter for chapter with the two lives in parallel. I must say I was a bit disappointed with how much emphasis was put on H VIII and his court; I know this makes sense, because what happened to Margaret in particular had a lot to do with it, but still it did not concentrate on them exclusively as much as I had hoped. Still, I learnt a lot, and I enjoyed it greatly.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend came to visit. She looked up before she came in the door and said, “Do you know you have a bird’s nest above your door?” The answer to which was, of course, Heck no! But there it was, safe in the wisteria and climbing rose, and complete with that latest must-have accessory for the fashion-conscious nester, plastic lining on the outside. Anyway, that was a couple of weeks ago. Two days ago I looked up (as I have done every day to see the mother patiently sitting there, staring into space), and there was no mother – but there was a beak! They hatched. Very exciting. We’ve only seen beaks, a bit of a tufty head, and I think I saw a back the other day. I nearly saw them being fed today, but I think Mum was too nervy of me standing there to actually feed them. It is a very exciting addition to our World.
Well, since the last post, we have had two more spawnings from the Monster Angels, whom I have decided to christen Kronos and Rhea. Why? Well… I think all the babies have been et. Possibly by their father. So we’ve had fun watching them, seeing them grow, occasionally break away from whatever leaf they were laid on (I actually saw the third batch right after they were deposited, which was great)… and then they have, suddenly, Disappeared. Gone – poof! Very sad. And yet, somehow, not such a problem as hundreds of baby angels might be.
I have also had one rasbora die, and the little angel too. Very sad.