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Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

March 7, 2010

After months and months of waiting, I finally saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland yesterday! I wish I could say I saw it on opening night, but a sinus headache had me in bed early on Friday. Alas, I survived the headache and made it to a Saturday matinée. The husband and I opted to see the movie in 2D rather than they much hyped 3D. I am not a big fan of 3D (it gives me headaches) and the husband had read that the 3D didn’t add much to the overall enjoyment of the film.

The movie itself was, as expected, a visual masterpiece. The scenery and costumes were a perfect palate of color, and the computerized graphics were flawless.

The story opens with a young Alice waking from a recurring nightmare of a place where rabbits wear waist coats. Alice’s father rushes to her side to assure her that it is just a dream. The story moves forward to Alice, now 19, on her way to a garden party. Unknown to Alice, the son of her deceased father’s business partner will propose to her at the party. When confronted with the awkward Hamish’s request, Alice makes a run for it, chasing a waist-coated rabbit right down the rabbit hole of her youth. For better or worse, the residents of Wonderland have been waiting for her.

The film allowed our usual cast of Tim Burton characters to shine. Helena Bonham Carter gave a stand-out performance as the Red Queen. She stole the screen in every shot and gave some wonderful, quotable lines (“Where are my two fat boys? I love my little fat boys!” “I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.” “This is Um, she’s my new favorite.”) And I was, of course, impressed with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. He played the Hatter as a man of memories and deep emotions, a welcome change from the usual interpretation of the role. Although not a typical member of Burton’s troupe, I loved Alan Rickman as the blue caterpillar and don’t think a better choice could have been made for that role.

The story itself was entertaining, but really served as path to move us through this magical world. With that said, Linda Woolverton, the writer of the screenplay, did a fantastic job weaving elements of Lewis Carroll’s original tale throughout the film. I was especially tickled by the subtle drops in the opening garden party sequence, including the host’s outrage over white roses rather than red (and Alice’s suggestion that she could paint them) and a blue caterpillar on Hamish’s shoulder as he proposes.

Overall, the film was definitely worth the wait and I can’t wait to add to my collection.

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Etsy Find Friday: The Missed Connections Project

March 5, 2010

I love books. I love handcrafted items. I spend a lot of my free time scrolling through etsy.com. In fact, when my husband and I got married last October, I purchased about half of our wedding-related items from the site. So, I’m a fan. A big one.

To make etsy even cooler, it has many, many library-related items for sale in its glorious shops. Each Friday, I will  show you all the library themed item I’m currently drooling over in my newest weekly feature, Etsy Find Friday.

First up? From the Missed Connections Project, In the Library Browsing. I have always found the missed connections section of newspapers and Craigslist exciting. There is something so hopeful about those messages, thrust out into the world, with a bit of vulnerability mixed in with the comfort of anonymity. If you haven’t checked out the Missed Connections Project, definitely head over to the blog.

E-books: After the Hype and Before the iPad

March 3, 2010

My post about e-readers resulted in a great response from you. Because of that, I thought you all might find ReadWriteWeb blog’s post about the market for e-books of interest. It includes some interesting hard data and comparisons between the different readers.

If you were one of my many folks to continue to conversation with me here or elsewhere, definitely check out E-books: After the Hype and Before the iPad.

Comic Book Monday: “Why Waste Time Asking Riddles That Don’t Have Answers?”

March 1, 2010

We are only 4 days away from the opening of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and I can not wait. I will be posting a thorough review after seeing it, so be sure to check back this weekend.

This month’s Comic Book Monday selection is a continuation of February’s, with The Complete Alice in Wonderland issue #2. This issue opened with my favorite scene from Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and ends with Alice waking from her “dream.”

This issue was full of Lewis Carroll’s word play and fun, including one of my favorite lines,

Mock Turtle: The master was an old turtle, we used to call him tortoise.
Alice: Why did you call him tortoise if he wasn’t one?
Mock Turtle: We called him tortoise because he taught us.

Overall, this issue was not my favorite. The artwork was very dark, especially during Alice’s interaction with the Mock Turtle and Gryphon. I was also disappointed in the tea party scene, it was over too quickly and the Mad Hatter and March Hare’s characters were not as eccentric as I remember them from the book.

I am really hopeful that issue #3 will introduce us to the Jabberwocky. Until then, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Friday!

Review: Anthem

February 27, 2010
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First of all, let me apologize for my absence, I have had a very crazy week and will hopefully have some very exciting news to share with you all very soon, on two fronts! I’ve also got some very fun blog additions coming your way so I’ll have some fresh items up soon.

I recently finished reading Anthem at the recommendation of my friend Lauren. Well, perhaps more than a recommendation since she brought the book to work and dropped it on my desk and told me to read it. I have never read any Ayn Rand (yes, one of many authors I somehow missed in my four years spent obtaining a degree in English literature, not to mention the years after), so I was excited to break into her work with this snapshot of her writing.

The book is very short, somewhere just above 100 pages, so it makes for a quick read. The story reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984 from the very first page. Lauren was quick to remind me, however, that Anthem came first.

Anthem opens in a futuristic dark age where all of history’s technological advances have been forgotten. People are assigned names (such as our lead, Equality 7-2521) and jobs, are prohibited from communicating with people not in their “career,” and are brought together with members of the opposite sex once a year to procreate. Everything is done for the brotherhood, and no one uses the word I. Everything is we.

Yet Equality 7-2521 is not like his “brothers.” Equality 7-2521 has a hunger for knowledge. He wished to be assigned to the House of Scholars as a young boy, only to be assigned a street sweeper. He has urges to communicate with a beautiful woman, Liberty 5-3000, and urges he doesn’t quite understand to protect her, to love her. When Equality 7-2521 makes a discovery, he decides to share it with the House of Scholars, a decision that ultimately turns his life upside down.

I really enjoyed reading Anthem. Although I found the use of “we” in place of “I” quite confusing in the beginning, I eventually caught on and was able to really get into the story. Ms. Rand’s clear anti-socialist agenda oozed from every word. While her belief system does not match mine exactly, I was intrigued by the strength of her convictions. I would definitely recommend Anthem to fans of 1984 and Brave New World, and give it a 9/10.

Are Print Editions An Endangered Species?

February 18, 2010

When I tell people I want to be a librarian I often hear, “isn’t that a dying profession?” Well, thanks for your support.

In all seriousness, the advent of the e-book is changing the way some people read, and libraries will need to evolve to accommodate the new technology. Are print books a dying breed, however?

You may recall hearing about Massachusetts’ Cushing Academy last fall. Cushing made headlines when the school’s administration decided to do away with their traditional library in favor of a digital center. The 20,000+ books in their collection were distributed amongst the faculty or given to area libraries and schools. Now—in place of novels, encyclopedias, and biographies—Cushing Academy students find large screen televisions, study carrels with laptop hookups, and a coffee shop (complete with cappuccino machine). Students can check out one of 18 e-readers available from the “digital center” should they wish to read literature. The reason for this quick leap into digital technology? They are shaping themselves to fit the emerging trends and optimize technology. Fair enough…but couldn’t they have dipped a toe in before jumping off the diving board? And, while this may work in a private academy such as Cushing where students likely come from higher income families, it will be a long time before public schools, with their financially diverse student bodies, can even begin to fathom such a drastic change.

Even if, in some technological utopia, everyone did have a portable device at the ready to hookup and download whatever materials they needed, is a digital version always better? Sure, you can download information quickly, and there are times when that is useful (reading celebrity autobiographies comes to mind), but how have you found some of your favorite books for pleasure reading? Likely some from sites like Amazon, and some from the recommendations of friends or blogs, but I know that I’ve discovered more than half of my favorite books by perusing the stacks in the library or getting lost in the shelves at my local bookstore. If we do away with print editions entirely, what happens to this organic experience of discovering a great book?

And, well, perhaps I’m a traditionalist. I find something romantic about feeling a book in my hands and smelling its pages (if you question how much I love that smell, just revisit my first post). But the importance of the printed word goes beyond romance. That tactile experience of  a printed book ensures that the reader is fully engaged in the words written on the page. The latest e-reader technologies (yes, I’m thinking about the iPad)  incorporate internet browsers and email—all things that distract readers from their reading.

But, while I am a romantic, I am also a realist (and a mini-techie, if only by marriage). I feel strongly that there is a place for both print and e-books, each with a purpose. I equate it to how I think about my kitchen. I have both a microwave (e-reader) and an oven (print). The microwave definitely has its benefits—it is convenient and I can prepare things quickly—but I still use my oven regularly, because some things you just can’t replicate in a microwave—roasted turkey anyone?

Book-Made-Movie: Percy Jackson & the Olympians-The Lightning Thief

February 15, 2010

I’ve been anxiously awaiting February 12 and the release of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief since I first saw the trailer a few months back. I am always a bit late to pick up popular books from the Young Adult category—the third Harry Potter book was released before I even glanced at the first, and I ignored the Twilight series until after I’d watched the first film. Percy Jackson is no different. Now that I’ve watched the movie I can’t wait to pick up the book!

I’m sure, as with any movie based on a popular novel, there will be some disappointment among the fans of the series. There is always variation from the original story when translated to film, and I am definitely one to call those out if I’ve read the book in advance. As someone who has not read any of the Percy Jackson series, however, I was impressed with the movie from the very first minute. The special effects were spectacular—Pierce Brosnan is a very convincing centaur, for example—and I felt I was given adequate explanation of characters and story elements to keep the plot flowing. Uma Thurman gave a stand-out performance as the infamous Medusa. I was especially impressed with her head of serpents.

I would recommend Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief for older children to adults as it definitely deserves its PG rating. There was a fair amount of sexual innuendo and intense action sequences that might frighten younger viewers. My four-year old niece was a bit afraid after an early sequence involving a minotaur, but my eight and ten-year old nephews were completely engrossed for the entire 120 minutes.