I’m not doing anything special for the new year, so this will be a perfectly mundane post. Going to the Y this morning, and working tonight. I did get tomorrow off of work, so, yay.
1. I am reading more novel-length fiction, suddenly, than I have in a good year-and-a-half. I’ve been reading non-fiction, of course, but the novels have kind of been ehh. Suddenly I am tearing through books at about one every couple of days. This is NOTHING like the reading rates I used to have — a novel a day, essentially. But that was back when I could lay on the bed all day and read and no-one and nothing had claim on my time. These days reading is a thing I grab in all my stray moments.
Let me tell you; I have been reading instead of Tweeting. That should indicate the seriousness of things.
I read, finished, and thoroughly enjoyed Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books; Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless. They follow the escapades of Alexia Tarabotti in a Victorian world containing vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and steampunk science. The books are, I suppose, steampunk paranormal romance, heavier on the paranormal and steampunk than the romance. Not p0rn, is what I’m saying. The leads are lots of fun, the world is well-thought-out, and the books are a fun romp.
I then started, and am now tearing through, Jim C. Hines’s Princess books. The Stepsister Scheme, The Mermaid’s Madness, and Red Hood’s Revenge. These tell the tale of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White as they comprise the secret espionage strike force of their kingdom’s Queen Beatrice. The books blend elements from different cultural renditions of well-know fairytales, some fluffy and some dark. Sleeping Beauty’s origin story is the darker version, as is Snow’s. But the novels themselves are fast-paced action-adventure tales with a lead trio of women.
I like this. Moreover, I like this because Hines is using some character tropes I enjoy, and see most often in anime. There’s a grouping of characters in anime that goes, “the dark and serious one with violence issues who hides their emotions with anger; the scatterbrained fluffy one who flirts endlessly and cares about clothes but who has a hidden will of steel; the new one who is uncertain but whose pure heart is the key to all success and who holds the team together.” Those three tropes can be male of female in anime, and they are OFTEN found together. And that’s what we have here. In the Princess stories Talia, Snow, and Danielle play those parts. I happen to LOVE that character grouping, and will read/watch it endlessly.
2. I saw True Grit yesterday.
I’m not a big fan of westerns. And I’m not a big fan of John Wayne. But I realized as I was watching the movie that I had somehow mentally conflated the story of True Grit, which I had never seen, with The Searchers, which I have also never seen. (This is what happens when one reads, for fun, movie reviews from decades past but does not go see the films.) So I was pleasantly to find (from the opening moments, really) that this was NOT a gruesome story about how women are objects for men to rape or kill for having been raped. (Which is my understanding of the plot of The Searchers.)
True Grit was fantastic. It wasn’t Coen-Brothers-y at all, which is a good thing in my book. (I like SOME Coen films, but not many.) The character of Mattie Ross and the actress playing her were both stunningly good. Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon inhabited their parts perfectly, and had some great dialog. The movie doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (except on a technicality, of Mattie talking to the proprietess of her boarding house.) But I didn’t miss the lack of another female character. Mattie FILLS the screen, cohabitating with Rooster Cogburn and holding her own.
The portrayals of Native Americans are minimal, as is to be expected from this story. But the glimpses are — not uniform. The man being hanged, his final words are cut off, indicating that the town doesn’t really think of him as human. And Cogburn kicks the kids off the porch — but only after they were torturing a donkey. Cogburn clearly trusts the man who runs the trading post, even though we never see him. And the silent Native American on the trail is trusted by Cogburn. The gist I got from these snippets is that this is a world with pervasive racism, but a world in which individuals make their own assessments of each other.
I loved this movie. I intend to buy it when it comes out on dvd. I expect my kids will like it in a year or two.
3. I started watching The Pacific, the companion series to Band of Brothers. Now, I LOVE Band of Brothers liek woah. Pacific is not grabbing me so far — I like it, certainly, but I am not swept into it. I think that is largely because I can’t tell the characters apart. They are all young, athletic men wearing tattered Marine uniforms and they all have short dark hair. I find myself trying to read the names off their shirts. I expect as I get further into the series I will learn who they are.
4. The house is staying mostly clean, in advance of my mother’s visit next week. To aid in that, I should stopping blogging and go do some dishes.
Happy New Year’s, everyone. Best wishes in the coming year.