Mary Poppins is a bitch. Let's get that out of the way from the git-go in case you missed it on all the other reviews on here. Julie Andrews' movie inMary Poppins is a bitch. Let's get that out of the way from the git-go in case you missed it on all the other reviews on here. Julie Andrews' movie incarnation brought a spoonful of sugar to the character that's lacking in the book. That doesn't mean this isn't enjoyable, but I'd be less upset if this happened to her when she left.
I don't judge her too harshly, though, because it turns out she's at least one quarter snake (on her mother's side) and a King Cobra at that. I wonder if she's a more legitimate heir to Slytherin than Tom Riddle? J. K. Rowling ought to research that.
The very first thing she does when she shows up is drug the kids for absolutely no reason I can ascertain. The Banks hire her, she unpacks, then gives the kids their medicine though there wasn't anything wrong with them. After this they go on many zany adventures which I suspect are induced by the elixir they imbibed upon her arrival. Some of these are covered in the movie, but oddly enough those are the more normal ones. The more crack inspired adventures stayed in the book.
I listed the number of times I read this book as 1.1 because there's a chapter in here called "Bad Tuesday (Revised Version)." I found the original version which you can read here. (It starts about a quarter of the way down and is side by side with the revised version). In this chapter Mary takes the kids to the four corners of the Earth where they meet Eskimos, black people, a Chinaman, and American Indians in the original version or a polar bear, a macaw, a panda, and a dolphin in the revision. Apparently a few people in the 70's or 80's had a problem with the racist aspects and addressed it with her. (It was only adults who threw a fit; all the kids still liked the chapter just the way it was). She still didn't have a problem with what she wrote (it's a product of its time, after all), but she did have a problem with Mary Poppins being permanently shelved in the future over it, so she rewrote it. This is a terrible shame since I think the original version is much better. The revision is fine as well, but PC bullshit has gotten so out of control the past few years that... well, this isn't the place for that rant. Perhaps I should seek out one of these new safe zones? Phaw! Grow a pair, people.
Fine. Grow a pussy, but stop being one. Mary Poppins certainly wasn't one. In fact, she's kind of... hardcore? I don't know exactly what she is. She's certainly stern and brooks no nonsense from others even if she's full of it herself. I enjoyed reading about her even if I wanted to smack the taste out of her mouth sometimes and tell her to loosen up.
I didn't even know this was a book until I saw Saving Mr. Banks. I'm glad I saw it, and glad I read this, though I think I'll pass on the rest of the series. It looks like it's more of the same kind of adventures, and a little bit goes a long way.
If you've never seen the movie (and I imagine there are few on here who fall into that category), and like child lit with all its attendant magical weirdness, then you'd probably like this. If you have seen the movie, have an attachment to Mary as she's portrayed in that, and can't stomach her exhibiting all of her magnified bad qualities and precious few of her good ones, then this might upset you. Also, this is more a collection of short stories strung together with no broader story arc to it. I.E.: There's no theme of Mr. Banks needing to get closer to his children, so if you're looking for that you'll be sorely disappointed. I confess this isn't for everyone, but I enjoyed it....more
Another triumph. All the melodrama that doesn't work in the prequel movies works fantastically in a Shakespearean tragedy. This was a three star bookAnother triumph. All the melodrama that doesn't work in the prequel movies works fantastically in a Shakespearean tragedy. This was a three star book for a while, but the fifth act hauled it up to a four. The first act is also great with the action. I was tempted to go whole hog with all five stars, but two acts can't carry the whole book. The fault isn't Doescher's; it's the source material again. You have to slog through some painful love scenes, but they're mercifully fewer than in The Clone Army Attacketh.
Reading the afterword first didn't provide any real gems to look out for this time, but all the elements from the previous installments were present in this one. Anakin and Padme' speak in rhyming quatrains until they break up when the quatrains become near-rhyming. Yoda still speaks in haiku, and I assume all of Mace Windu's parts made a reference to one of Samuel L. Jackson's movies. I missed most of these since Ian's probably dredging the bottom of the barrel to get unique films at this point. In fact, I caught only a couple:
"Thou art a jumper in thy loyalties,"
"If this is true, then unto the Republic thou art a patriot; games play thou not: Art thou most certain Palpatine's the sith?"
I didn't even remember him being in Patriot Games, but it's been years since I've seen it... No wait... I've never seen it. Clear and Present Danger was the Jack Ryan movie I've seen. Anyway, if you're a Jackson fan, you'll probably pick up a lot more than I did.
You can tell Doescher had fun making this. He also inserts things that sound like they should be rooted in Shakespeare but actually come from somewhere else even if it's included in a soliloquy based on a Shakespearean play. E.g.: Vader telling Obi-Wan "I am the monarch of the sea: a Sith." "Monarch of the sea" is a familiar term, but not Shakespearean. It's the title of a song in the old Gilbert and Sullivan Opera H.M.S. Pinafore, though the phrase may have even been an old one when they wrote it; I don't know about that. I love these little gems and wish I had education enough to catch all of them. I'm sure this thing is just loaded with obscure references.
A couple of things are explained in here that help connect some of the hey-that-doesn't-make-sense aspects of the original trilogy. Leia explains to Luke in Return of the Jedi that she barely remembers her "real" mother, and we should be amazed she remembers her at all since she died a couple minutes after Leia was born. But it turns out Padme' tells Leia "Brave spirit, do remember thy sad mother." I guess she took it to heart. I guess it's something like this a long, long time from now in a galaxy far closer to our own:
When Yoda bids Obi-Wan to see to Vader while he takes care of the Emperor, Obi-Wan is conflicted and gives us a soliloquy. Here's the second half:
Mayhap what Yoda says hath seeds of truth: The Anakin I knew is come to naught And hath been slain by Vader's presence vile. Is this but rationalization, or Is it some higher wisdom I may trust? Methinks one day I may believe 'tis true- When thought of from a certain point of view.
This explains his misdirection of the truth in episode IV and the explanation in episode VI. Hit us with another pearl of wisdom, Obi, with a reworking (and improvment) of one of my favorite quotes in this film.
None but a Sith would set his helm so straight, As though beset by terrors all around. A Jedi knoweth well the difference Betwixt a proper pride and misled hubris. A Jedi doth not deal in absolutes.
As Vader lay slow roasting on Mustafar, he gives us a pretty bleak outlook on life, but who can blame him? He had a pretty rough go of things in this tale even if he brought it on himself. I'll leave you with a bit of that soliloquy.
This life - this horrid, gods-forsaken life- Hath been but years of endless misery. If this is what we humans may expect- This turmoil that befalls each human life- 'Twere better that we slay each newborn babe That enters this horrendous galaxy. For certain, I unto the Jedi Younglings Did grant a sweet and premature release From all the toil that life could offer them. O, that someone would do the same for me, Would come and slay me as I suffer here.
Like I said at the start, the melodrama which makes me cringe in the movie works wonderfully here. Solid recommendation for this and all six books in this series if you like Shakespeare and Star Wars. I hope he gives the new movies this treatment....more
Being a graduate of VPISU I feel obligated to give this a high rating. Luckily I feel like it deserves it. There's no riveting plot, but there isn't sBeing a graduate of VPISU I feel obligated to give this a high rating. Luckily I feel like it deserves it. There's no riveting plot, but there isn't supposed to be. Very little adult humor, but there isn't supposed to be any of that either. It's just the Hokie Bird roaming around campus, people saying hi, going to a football game, meeting Frank Beamer, and everybody likes him. The Hokie Bird, not Frank Beamer. Well, everyone likes him, too, but the book ain't about him.
Hokie Bird makes meeting Frank look so easy. He just walks right out on the field in the middle of a game, and does some fan pep rally type stuff I don't remember (probably the hokey pokey), and Frank expresses his support and gratitude. I wasn't able to manage meeting Frank while I was there, but I wasn't a mascot. (In fact, I believe my old alma mater would like to forget I was ever there since I haven't done anything to bring more glory to their name. Nor have I sent them any money. In all fairness, my degree hasn't really played a part in netting me any, but I still root for the team if I see a football or basketball game on, and I'm glad to see the school as a whole doing well. I'm afraid that's the best I can manage.)
Anyway, I never met Frank, but I was at a club with Michael Vick once. (Another person they'd probably like to forget was ever there in spite of the '99 football season). I didn't meet Vick, and really wish he hadn't been at the Warehouse that night because none of the girls would dance with me. They wouldn't dance with anyone but themselves. They all thought Michael Vick was going to dance with them if they remained available (strumpets, the lot of them), but he just sat in the corner, leaning on the wall, drinking his drinks, listening to the DJ spin the hip hop. He was underage and everyone knew it, but I guess when you're 19 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated, you can get away with a lot of things the rest of us would be chucked out for. He left a little while before they turned up the ugly lights, but most of the girls were pouting that they didn't score with the school's top scorer, and I didn't want any part of them anymore anyway, and everyone went home. Really, all I wanted was someone to get down with on the dance floor like most Saturday nights when I went downtown, but nooooo. Mr. star QB's mere presence took care of any dude trying to shake his tootsies that night.
The night life on Main Street in Blacksburg is one thing the Hokie Bird didn't explore, but he did scope out the cadets on the drillfield, swing by Burruss, the Newman library, the Squires Student Center (I think... I've already given the book to the kids, so I can't check), Lane Stadium, and a couple other places.
This is a great book for Hokie graduates with kids they hope will follow in their footsteps when choosing a place to pursue their higher education. It's also fine as an early reader book, (or a book you would read to toddlers), though there's nothing in it that sets it apart from others in that category. The artwork was also good.
Well, this was disappointing on multiple levels. 2.5 stars rounded up to three.
Let me get the unforgivable out of the way before I get started11/26/16
Well, this was disappointing on multiple levels. 2.5 stars rounded up to three.
Let me get the unforgivable out of the way before I get started. She's real name is Ayesha. According to the editor it's pronounced Assha (and how the hell you say that, I have nary a clue. ASS-hah? uh-SHAW?) Regardless of this helpful tidbit, my brain kept saying Iesha which always brought to mind this awful thing. It's been in my head on and off for three weeks now. Go ahead. Click on the link. Give it a listen. Why should I be the only one in pain?
***WARNING: Hillary Clinton takes a couple of light jabs in this review, so if you're a democrat smarting over the results of 2016 US Presidential election you might want to pass this review by for now; my page ain't a safe space, and most people hate me, so proceed with caution. I'll do the old e-mail chain letter scroll-down thing to give you a moment to depart if you wish to leave.
Back in June, 2016, I predicted Trump would win in a landslide. (I was wrong about the landslide.) I stood by this pronouncement but I did have a couple moments of weakness. One of these occurred a week before the election, and while contemplating the idea of our new presidentress I was stricken with a desire to read a story about an evil bitch who got her comeuppance. This was the only thing that I thought might fit the bill, so I took a chance and pulled it off the shelf. I'm afraid it didn't satisfy that particular expectation, for while She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (shortened to She) is certainly evil, and there is comeuppance of a sort, I ended up having a bit of pity for her by the end, and I don't think that's ever happened for Mrs. Clinton.
But being evil and in a position of power are the only similarities She and Hillary share. She is gorgeous, and while not hideous, Hillary will never win any beauty contests (though she did once enter the Miss California Pageant as Miss Death Valley).
Nobody wears the 70's well, but I think if a quail flew past her here she'd turn and point.
At least she was spared the travesty that was her daughter's visage. The good book tells us God will be "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations," so whatever Billary was up to, we have to assume there was no good in it for them to end up with this:
Hillary, your daughter... WOOF!
Oh, get over it. I was beat with the ugly stick myself; we can take the criticism. And though Chelsea and I likely disagree on just about every issue out there, we can come together in our homeliness. FUGLIES UNITE!
Anyway, She was supposed to be so beautiful that, if this had been written at a later time when publishers weren't quite so prudish, men would jizz their jeans as soon as she lowered her veil and let them gaze upon her face. Instead they just fell to their knees, drooled, and said things like homina homina homina. (Actually they were a little more eloquent than that.)
Though I'm gay, I can still tell the difference between a hot girl and a buck-toothed, knock-kneed, horse-faced, space dog, and I liked to picture She as Mandy Winger from DALLAS (played by Deborah Shelton) whom I've always found attractive even if I never yearned to do the horizontal bop with her.
I don't know. I just think this is very pretty.
The 1935 film version has her looking like this:
This is a mien which, I was disappointed to learn, Disney totally stole to use for the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
And I thought their shenanigans started in the later years. For shame, Walt, for shame!
She's love interest, Leo Vincey, was a 25 year old curly haired blond who was supposed to be the hottest hottie in the history of hotness. Since DALLAS was already on my mind, I pictured him as Christopher Atkins whose character on the show, ironically enough, had a thing for older women. (She was over 2,000 years old, but didn't show it (view spoiler)[until the very end when this happened(hide spoiler)].)
Homina homina homina! (I'm afraid I spent a lot more time trying to find this picture than I did looking for Ms. Shelton's, and I tried to find a picture of him decently clothed, but he doesn't seem to like wearing them. Truth be told, I'm totally OK with that.)
Also, She's voice was that of an angel. Hillary's would never do for this (I believe she's descended from banshees), so I used Karen Carpenter's.
So, with eye candy and honeyed tones like that awaiting my imagination, you'd think I'd be more eager to dive into this, but it didn't work out that way. It took me three weeks to read 238 pages. Part of that was just due to life happening all the time, but another part was that this just wasn't that great. First off there were too many words, and the story could easily have been told in 125 pages without losing anything. Some of you who are familiar with my reviews might be confused because I love some really wordy books, but the words need to be great. Dickens can pull this off. So can Hugo, but Haggard needs to stick to story telling. His prose is fine, but not excellent. Descriptions of ruins went on for days as did dialogue. There was good stuff interspersed in it, but mostly it was tedious.
The story is also good, but it's no King Solomon's Mines which is an admittedly tough act to follow. There were some great witticisms and humorous elements peppered throughout, mostly told through the servant Job, but it was overshadowed by the wordiness. A lot of the dialogue used old-style English incorporating thee's, thou's, and putting "est" at the ends of all kinds of verbs, and this worked well, but it was still just too long-winded. Have I sufficiently indicated that it was all just too much?
There was one section in the middle where Holly (the narrator, and a white man who was so ugly that the savages hung the moniker "Baboon" on him) and She are discussing good and evil. It illustrates She's sociopathological brand of evil, the good (but not excellent) writing style, and its effusiveness. She is talking about killing the girl who is wedded to Leo (also named Kallikrates) which she could do easily, and explaining why it must be done. Holly is arguing with her about it.
"Nay, nay," I cried, "it would be a wicked crime; and from a crime naught comes but what is evil. For thine own sake, do not this deed."
"Is it, then, a crime, oh foolish man, to put away that which stands between us and our ends? Then is our life one long crime, my Holly, since day by day we destroy that we may live, since in this world none save the strongest can endure. Those who are weak must perish; the earth is to the strong, and the fruits thereof. For every tree that grows a score shall wither, that the strong one may take their share. We run to place and power over the dead bodies of those who fail and fall; ay, we win the food we eat from out of the mouths of starving babes. It is the scheme of things. Thou sayest, too, that a crime breeds evil, but therein thou dost lack experience; for out of crimes come many good things, and out of good grows much evil. The cruel rage of the tyrant may prove a blessing to the thousands who come after him, and the sweetheartedness of a holy man may make a nation slaves. Man doeth this, and doeth that from the good or evil of his heart; but he knoweth not to what end his moral sense doth prompt him; for when he striketh he is blind to where the blow shall fall, nor can he count the airy threads that weave the web of circumstance. Good and evil, love and hate, night and day, sweet and bitter, man and woman, heaven above and the earth beneath—all these things are necessary, one to the other, and who knows the end of each? I tell thee that there is a hand of fate that twines them up to bear the burden of its purpose, and all things are gathered in that great rope to which all things are needful. Therefore doth it not become us to say this thing is evil and this good, or the dark is hateful and the light lovely; for to other eyes than ours the evil may be the good and the darkness more beautiful than the day, or all alike be fair. Hearest thou, my Holly?"
I felt it was hopeless to argue against casuistry of this nature, which, if it were carried to its logical conclusion, would absolutely destroy all morality, as we understand it. But her talk gave me a fresh thrill of fear; for what may not be possible to a being who, unconstrained by human law, is also absolutely unshackled by a moral sense of right and wrong, which, however partial and conventional it may be, is yet based, as our conscience tells us, upon the great wall of individual responsibility that marks off mankind from the beasts?
But I was deeply anxious to save Ustane, whom I liked and respected, from the dire fate that overshadowed her at the hands of her mighty rival. So I made one more appeal.
"Ayesha," I said, "thou art too subtle for me; but thou thyself hast told me that each man should be a law unto himself, and follow the teaching of his heart. Hath thy heart no mercy towards her whose place thou wouldst take? Bethink thee—as thou sayest—though to me the thing is incredible—he whom thou desirest has returned to thee after many ages, and but now thou hast, as thou sayest also, wrung him from the jaws of death. Wilt thou celebrate his coming by the murder of one who loved him, and whom perchance he loved—one, at the least, who saved his life for thee when the spears of thy slaves would have made an end thereof? Thou sayest also that in past days thou didst grievously wrong this man, that with thine own hand thou didst slay him because of the Egyptian Amenartas whom he loved."
"How knowest thou that, oh stranger? How knowest thou that name? I spoke it not to thee," she broke in with a cry, catching at my arm.
"Perchance I dreamed it," I answered; "strange dreams do hover about these caves of Kôr. It seems that the dream was, indeed, a shadow of the truth. What came to thee of thy mad crime?—two thousand years of waiting, was it not? And now wouldst thou repeat the history? Say what thou wilt, I tell thee that evil will come of it; for to him who doeth, at the least, good breeds good and evil evil, even though in after days out of evil cometh good. Offences must needs come; but woe to him by whom the offence cometh. So said that Messiah of whom I spoke to thee, and it was truly said. If thou slayest this innocent woman, I say unto thee that thou shalt be accursed, and pluck no fruit from thine ancient tree of love."
This philosophical kind of stuff is great, but not enough to make this an enjoyable read for me. Like I said: too wordy (says the man who's used 10,000 more characters than he intended when he started this review.) Time to shut it down. Check it out if you've a mind to.
Side story unrelated to the tale itself, 1-9-16
What a pisser. I got suckered good this time by Amazon. I ordered this to go with another item, and it's pretty much $7 down the drain. The font is so small and dim you can barely see it.
I'm not Hagrid with giant hands, the print really is that small. With my bad eyes and a propensity for migraines, I'm not even going to attempt to read it.
The date this was printed is after I placed the order, and there's no information as to who did this other than "San Bernardino, CA." Online all I can find is "Amazon" as the seller. Whoever did this is hidden well enough, and while I could probably find where to send a complaint, I'm not going to waste any time trying to fight it. I'll just take the loss, donate this to Goodwill or the library, get a real version of this if I can find it, and hope karma's as much a bitch to the people who did this as it usually is to me.
Basically someone took this from the public domain online, copy-pasted it in the smallest font possible, then printed it into book form. Footnotes show up in the middle of the page and look like they're just part of the regular text. What a mess. I need to scrutinize decent deals (which this one really wasn't at $7, but it was cheaper than the others) a little closer in the future.
I'm actually laughing about it in spite of my bitching above.
This book reminded me of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman in that 30% of that movie was this scene...
...played over and over agai3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
This book reminded me of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman in that 30% of that movie was this scene...
...played over and over again, and 30% of this book was staring at the woman in the painting kind of in this position and wearing a similar git-up. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that. Plus both Rose Madder and the 50 foot woman are powerful, angry, and vent their frustrations on shitheads who mistreated their wives. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, of course; it's just an observation I'm making. Actually, it would make me very sad to discover that the inspiration for Rose Madder was Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. Here's hoping it's all coincidental.
This is an underrated gem from Mr. King. It's frequently on "worst of SK" lists, but I didn't think it was that bad. Maybe I enjoyed it more since my expectations were so low. They're also low for Dreamcatcher, so maybe I'll enjoy that one a lot as well? I'll find out later this year. I gotta catch The Green Mile before I get to that one.
I understand people's gripes with this. The first 225 pages are normal for Kingsville. It's just an abusive husband trying to find his wife who absconded with $400 and his dignity. He's pretty monstrous, but still no supernatural hinky-dinky is going on, though there's a bit of foreshadowing that indicates something weird is coming along. Then all of a sudden we're plopped into the what-the-fucksburg. After 50 or so pages there we return to the real world and normal thriller material, then it gets hinky-dinky again with some stuff that is never fully explained (view spoiler)[the husband's interaction with his mask (hide spoiler)], and it's back to what-the-fucksburg for the big finale. It felt like the story was trying to do two different things that wouldn't end up meshing well together. Are we going to be treated to a thriller that falls within the parameters of normalcy as far as the laws of nature as we understand it are concerned, or will ghosts and goblins be running the show? He spent so much time setting up the former that I was offended when the latter showed up. However, I think he pulls it off just fine with the finale. I had my doubts at first, and this was a 3 star book for a while, but I was pleased with the end result.
Also, the character of Norman Daniels, as horrible as he was, was quite comical. I especially enjoyed his descent into madness, or his interactions with the supernatural elements, whichever they were. It was probably a combination of both. Those scenes make this worthy of the fourth star.
Definitely not a time waster, though the first supernatural section in the middle left me confused at first, and I had to force myself to go on instead of just reading and enjoying it. Check it out if you enjoy thriller/horror. It's more thriller than horror, though.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Next morning update: I probably shouldn't write these things late at night. Oh well. I'm not changing it except to fix a couple typos. ("Here" for "heNext morning update: I probably shouldn't write these things late at night. Oh well. I'm not changing it except to fix a couple typos. ("Here" for "hear?" Egads! At least it's not "are" for "our" again. Sheesh!)
This was pretty awesome. It depicts various events that occurred during the middle ages with a brief summary and an accompanying picture or two done in Legos.
However, the cover has a bit of a misnomer on it. They say never judge a book by its cover, and we should heed that advice here. The picture is fine, but the title is off just a smidge. Lego. Yes, that one is solid. Medieval. Yes, that one works too. But one word missing is "English." All of the events portrayed within concern England in the middle ages, and we hear nothing about what's happening on the main continent save when the Brits trek over there for a crusade or a battle with France.
Also, the name at the bottom is where one would expect an author's name to appear, but while Mr. Beights (pronounced Bates, not Bites, which I'm sure saved him a lot of teasing growing up... except for when he was younger than 12 and could still be addressed as 'master'... And actually he's still growing up. He was only 15 when he put this together which is pretty amazing, and it just came out so he might still be 15 for all I know, but I've digressed). Anyway, the future Mr. Beights authored two of the entries with help from what I assume is one of his professors (the kid's 15 and in his third year of college as near as I can tell. I definitely wasn't college material at that age as I was failing tenth grade biology at 15... Actually I failed it completely, but got a D in it the next year when I was 16! Progress, progress... and digress, digress again. Stick to the book, dummy). The author authored two entries, I say, but the rest were done by scholars from all over the world. Also, the vast majority of the Lego displays were done by other people also from all around the world. I think Greyson provided pictures for five of them. So, he's not so much an author or illustrator as a compiler though he did give full credit and provide a brief bio for each of the contributors. Still, I'm really impressed, so go ahead on Greyson.
Also, I got an autographed copy of this which is cool, even though his "J" in my name looks exactly like the "G" in his, so I'm now Gason? Even though I came out a few years ago, I've still no plan to advertise the fact in my name, not that it matters too much since I go by Pierce (my surname) with most people.
And now for the great stuff. Medieval history! It's been a long time since I've looked into that, and I'm surprised at how much I've forgotten. If you think the wars we fight now are done for silly reasons, let me assure you they can't hold a candle to some of the butt-hurt excuses used to start fights back in the olden days in the old country. Or should that be olde country? The Brits are always throwing e's and u's in places where they're not needed. Anyway, if you think the common rabble is mistreated nowadays, you should've seen the raw deal they got back then. In short, the middle ages were insane. There were centuries of unchecked despotism, and even when people started putting their foot down against the royalty, it was only the other nobles and wealthy that benefited for a long time; the peasants were shat on just as much, only the feces flew from more sources. This book showcases all of that and more most masterfully.
This isn't a book for scholars. This provides breadth on that time period; for depth you must look elsewhere, and I did just that with a few of the entries (although accusing Wikipedia of providing depth is laying it on a bit thick). This is absolutely great for memory jogging, though. And the accompanying pictures are terrific as well. If you need illustrations in your book, they might as well be made of Legos. None of the scenes are epic in proportion, but all of them are quite good, and accompany the text rather well. This would also be an excellent book for any kid interested in history, though I don't know if that was the target audience when it was put together. Adults can enjoy it just as much as a child.
This doesn't pack as much of a punch as The Brick Bible because it lacks the humor, but it's still a great Lego book. I think anyone interested in lightly brushing up on their English medieval history would enjoy this. So would Lego enthusiasts with an interest in that time period.
Another sign that this is a good book is that it's inspired me. It's put me in the mood for more medieval reading, and I've contemplated starting Ivanhoe next, but my busy season at work is just around the corner, and there's no way I can handle something that thick when that kicks off. I'll be doing good if I can wrap my head around The Pokey Little Puppy or Go, Dog. Go!, but Ivanhoe might be moving up the docket for after April 15th. (Or April 19th this year. Goddam DC IRS and their stupid Emancipation Day holiday. I know it might not seem like that much, but four extra days is a long ass time when you've already been exhausted for weeks). Time will tell for Ivanhoe....more
This was a strange book. I guess I was a tad disappointed because I wasn't expecting it to be quite so fairy taleish. Still, I enjoyed it and recommenThis was a strange book. I guess I was a tad disappointed because I wasn't expecting it to be quite so fairy taleish. Still, I enjoyed it and recommend it to kids and anyone else who likes that kind of thing. It has some good morals such as "obey your rents," "don't be a dick," and "don't be an idiot" or you might turn into an ass.
And by the way, if you hate to go to school, You may grow up to be a mule. Or would you like to swing on a star? Carry moonbeams home in a jar? And be better off than you are?
I read the Sterling Classics edition because I saw it was unabridged, but it also had some nice artwork in it. It's not Disneyish, but that's just fine. It turns out the story wasn't Disneyish either, though Disney did a better job with this movie translation than they do with most of them. They just toned down some of the more unpleasant aspects of the story, and made Gepetto and Pinocchio more likable. Seriously, Pinocchio is such a little cock wagon that Gepetto would've had my full support had he decided to do this:
He starts right off bitching and moaning about every damn thing as soon as he's made, runs away, has Gepetto thrown in prison, and then (view spoiler)[ (Jiminy [who actually doesn't have a name in the book] comes back as a ghost, then back for real later. There are several things in the book that don't make any sense, but that's fairy tales for you) (hide spoiler)].
And this all happens by page 15! Pinocchio should've been named Rasputin, though, because he has his feet burned off, is hanged, drowned, starved several times, and he just doesn't die though we're told he's certainly capable of dying.
If you like violence in general, this book's got it. A donkey getting his ear bitten off by his master though he doesn't deserve it, a cat getting his paw bitten off by Pinocchio though he totally deserves it, and a puppet master using his sentient puppets as firewood because he will have hot mutton for his supper, by gosh, by golly. These are just a few examples.
This book also has some things that make you go "hmmm." Pinocchio makes out with a tuna (and does it so badly the Tuna starts to cry), and ends up in the land of the boobies where "there were troops of boys everywhere. Some were playing with their nuts, some with shuttlecocks, some with balls." Draw your own conclusion with that quote. I'm not saying a thing; not one blessed thing.
I would normally say the best part of Pinocchio ran down his mother's leg, but he wasn't made that way. He still wants to be a real boy, and thinks he deserves it sometimes, and knows he doesn't at others, but after 87 more attempts at not being a moron or an all around shit his wish is granted by the very fairy whose heart he broke so badly that she nearly died.
Like I said, strange book, but well worth a read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I normally don't care too much for books that were written from movies, but the author is the same guy who wrote the story f3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
I normally don't care too much for books that were written from movies, but the author is the same guy who wrote the story for the movie (the 1947 version). The book came out just after the movie, and I believe it contains the original story. When movies are made, changes happen. I've seen the movie a million times, but there's enough different that it made the book enjoyable. They're minor changes. For example, Alfred is completely absent in the book though he serves as the catalyst for Kris Kringle bopping Mr. Sawyer on the head in the movie. (view spoiler)[In the book, Kris confronts Mr. Sawyer after he gives a lecture about Santa Claus being a bad influence on society. (hide spoiler)] Plus, it is well written. I have no qualms recommending you give this a read even if the movie came first. (Provided this kind of feel-good Christmas tale is something you'd enjoy, of course). And the question remains: Is Kris Kingle really the real Santa Claus with magical powers, or just a man quite adept at arranging matters so people wind up with what they want? Course, why can't he be both?...more
What a delightful book. Apparently it's been a fave on my mother's side of the family since she was a teenager, but I haven't read it until now (Dec.What a delightful book. Apparently it's been a fave on my mother's side of the family since she was a teenager, but I haven't read it until now (Dec. 2015). This story explores what happens when the Herdman's, the worst kids you can think of (who have even prospected in arson), wind up with all the major roles in the church Nativity pageant. It actually ends up working really well as far as reminding everyone what the event was really like.
It's like the Holy Grail. We think it's like this:
...when really it's like this:
The same goes for the birth of Jesus. It's been so cleaned up in my mind that I always picture it with clean clothes on all the participants and a Jesus that doesn't cry because he's Jesus. In fact, I'm such a dork that I believed he didn't cry at all as a child because in "Away in a Manger," we're told "no crying he made." I was disabused of this notion in Sunday school during my high school years. Like I said, dork. But of course all babies cry. That was the whole point. God debased Himself to the point that he knocked Himself several rungs down the evolutionary scale. He made Himself completely human with all its attendant weaknesses and infirmities. It would be like me putting my soul into a garden slug, not that I have that ability.
Not only did He make Himself human, He made Himself a poor human, part of the common rabble. In my mind's eye the stable is preternaturally clean. The animals within don't need to politely excuse themselves to go outside and do their business in a designated latrine because they simply don't shit or piss at all. Mary didn't give birth to Jesus; He simply appeared. And though she was "great with child," she never had a bulge in her belly to spoil the visual appeal of the virgin mother. He was laid in a manger, yes, but the hay was clean and arranged in such a way as not to scratch our Lord. Plus, a light shone all about him. The shepherds in the story were freshly scrubbed, and showed up with nary a speck of dirt on them. Their charges were likewise groomed.
This vision is poppycock. Mary and Joseph were filthy from traveling for days, the manger was a feeding trough and grimed with filth. The stable smelled as a stable should, and very well could've stank to high heaven if it hadn't been properly mucked recently. This was likely the case given the high traffic due to the census. After all, there was no room at the inn, and the stable was probably quite full. The shepherds were urchins on the lowest social level and it wouldn't be unusual if some of them never bathed in their lives. In addition to his swaddling clothes, Jesus was probably wearing his placenta as a beanie because there was nothing available to clean him up properly. Bloody Jesus. (This is where the frankincense would come in handy later). The three kings were also filthy from weeks of traveling, though I expect the herald angels were probably clean.
The Herdman's bring this to light due to simple ignorance, and I wound up loving this book because of it. Also, this is rife with humor, mostly the kind that results when hoity-toits are forced to deal with the hoi polloi whether they want to or not. In fact, the whole thing's a scream. Check it out....more
Wendy Darling indirectly recommended it to little k karen who didn't recommend it to me at all, but gave a general recommendation in her review, and so I backtracked, and read it myself, and here I am giving a general recommendation to everyone.
"I recommend therapy."
Ah, shut up.
This is just a well written little spooky tale about twin 9 year old boys and a bit of nyctophobia. Since the other reviewers linked above do a better job than I can hope, I'll just leave the rest of it alone and suggest you check theirs as well as the story itself.
And though my review of the story itself is now pretty much done, that doesn't mean I'm finished running my mouth. There are a couple of girls in here who are supposed to be meanies (though we don't really see much of that) that reminded me of a couple of meanies I knew in 7th grade. I won't give their real names here, but my friends gave them the alliterative and near-rhyme aliases of Super Whore and Cummy Sluvver. I thought these were amusing names though I didn't really know what they meant because I was always 2 or 3 steps behind all of my friends with everything. Being hearing impaired (something the girls used to pick on me about) and a dork (another thing they teased)...
"That was 25 years ago, and you're still thinking about it. Are you sure you don't want my help? You sure need it."
No, go away! Anyway, I thought my friends were saying Super Horror and I mentioned it to my mother. She heard "whore," which is what it really was in the first place though I was trying to say "horror" because not only could I not hear for shit, I was also a mushmouth, and she told me that wasn't a very nice name for someone. I didn't understand this visceral reaction, and eventually got her to understand that the word was "horror," though she was actually right and I was wrong when she wasn't even in on the original conversation. It's amazing how mixed up I was able to get things. I didn't know the word "whore" back then, and wasn't all that sure what cummy sluvver meant, but it sounded dirty and I declined to share that nickname with mama. I was too embarrassed to display my ignorance to my friends and actually ask them to explain these fun new terms, and so I remained the most naïve 12 year old boy ever. I'm happy to report that I found out what whore meant a few years after I graduated from college, and I must agree with mama that it wasn't a very nice thing to call someone (though not entirely inaccurate in this case if later rumors in high school were to be believed, and they probably shouldn't be since that place was gossip central, and only 2% of it was ever correct). As for cummy sluvver, I guess I better look it up. Good thing I have the internet right here. Let's see...
That's what happens if you?...
Well that's just nasty!...
"You need help, I tell ya!"
No I don't, leave me alone!
The good news is that there is no cummy sluvver or whores, super or otherwise, in this story; just a couple of background character girls the main characters didn't care for too much. Check it out if you like things that are just a tad creepy and tragic....more
Another three star travel book from Mr. Twain. He's now four for four. And as much as I love a good five star book, I'm kind of hoping Following the EAnother three star travel book from Mr. Twain. He's now four for four. And as much as I love a good five star book, I'm kind of hoping Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World will be three stars as well for the sake of uniformity as that's the last of his travelogues.
This suffers from the same problem as Roughing It in that it starts off strong, then falters. In Roughing It, it's when he gets to Hawaii. In this one it's about halfway through after he's no longer a steamboat pilot but taking a trip 20 years later and reminiscing. A lot of the reminisces are fun, but not of the same caliber as is found in the first half of the book. In fact, I would give the first half of the book a solid four stars. The second half is worth three. All in all the book as a whole is three. I know that doesn't compute mathematically, but there it is.
Twain also loves to spout statistics, which is odd for a man who is quoted as saying "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics." For the sake of correctness, I'll point out that while Twain did indeed say this, he was quoting someone else and misattributing it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Nobody knows where the quote originally came from since it's found in multiple places, but it first showed up at least a good 15 years before Twain said it in his autobiography. And really, if we quote someone we should date them as well. That is we should apply a date to the quote, not go out and canoodle in the corner. I'm often quoted but rarely dated in either sense of the term, myself. Twain said it in 1906. This book was written in 1883. He may have felt differently about statistics back then, so I'm sorry I brought the whole subject up. Please forgive me.
The point I intended to make was that I don't care for statistics or some of the descriptions of the places he visited. I read Twain for his rapier wit. This book had plenty of it, but you had to cut through the other stuff to get to it, and there was more of it in the first half. I know, one wonders why I read travelogues if I don't care for travel literature, but the fun parts more than make up for the slow ones, and everything is interspersed well. Meaning there aren't looooong sections of descriptions followed by loooooong sections of humor; it's back and forth every few pages.
It took me over a year to read this, but that's because it started as another one of my read-at-work-while-the-scanner-is-running-for-several-minutes-at-a-stretch-and-there's-nothing-else-work-related-I-can-accomplish things. But I finished that task when I was only halfway through the book, and it didn't look like I was going to have that kind of downtime again for a long time, maybe never. I wanted to get this done, so I bought the "Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading" version of it. I don't suggest getting that version. It omits all the amusing pictures which is a shame, and it also omits the appendices which is a sin. He even says things like "such and such which I have put in the appendix," and you turn to the back of the book and all that's there is a blank page going "Nanny, nanny, boo-boo; stick your head in doo-doo; no appendix here!" Luckily I was able to print those pages out from the Gutenberg project website, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it B&N Essential Reading line.
I'll leave you with one paragraph that amused me greatly. In the first two chapters Twain describes the Mississippi river and gives a bit of its history. The following describes part of La Salle's exploration of the river in 1682. He and his followers have just met a bunch of Indians.
The white man and the red man struck hands and entertained each other during three days. Then, to the admiration of the savages, La Salle set up a cross with the arms of France on it, and took possession of the whole country for the king—the cool fashion of the time—while the priest piously consecrated the robbery with a hymn. The priest explained the mysteries of the faith ‘by signs,’ for the saving of the savages; thus compensating them with possible possessions in Heaven for the certain ones on earth which they had just been robbed of. And also, by signs, La Salle drew from these simple children of the forest acknowledgments of fealty to Louis the Putrid, over the water. Nobody smiled at these colossal ironies.
One surmises Twain didn't think very highly of the Sun King....more
I wrote a story called "Yellow Paper Day" about some events that happened in college and asked a friend to give it a once over for my usual errors. (II wrote a story called "Yellow Paper Day" about some events that happened in college and asked a friend to give it a once over for my usual errors. (I'm a comma splice heavyweight, and the commission of grammatical errata is my specialty.) She asked if the title was an allusion to this story, though it was clear my story had nothing to do with this one. Since I had never even heard of this, I told her "no." She was surprised since this is so well-known among the literary intelligentsia. And though she didn't say she considered me among that class, I was nonetheless flattered and filled in this hole in my education posthaste so as to be more deserving of the association. Now this country bumpkin of a boob is part of the literary elite, so watch out bizzitches.
I enjoyed this quick journey into madness. It reminds me of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson even though there's no ghost and the cause for the insanity is different, but I liked this more because it was short. Hill House dragged and became tedious, but the length of this is like baby bear's book for Goldilocks: just right. Solid recommendation....more
I'll give a better review of this when I read the rest of this story which isn't included in the book I have, nor is it in The Gutenberg Project file.
This seems incomplete, but I don't know what parts are missing. I think four or five short stories told by the people in the life boat were omitted, and I sure hope the ending is missing as well because it ain't much of an ending. (view spoiler)[The captain is dying of starvation, but we know he survives it because he gives his part of the narrative in 1856, and the starving thing happens in 1851. Also, there's no rescue described, just the first mate saying "That's how I took over the captaincy after we had been adrift for 27 days." They're still just floating around in the ocean (hide spoiler)].
This would've been a two star book except the captain is pretty awesome. Here's one scene as the ship is foundering, and one of the passengers, a rather selfish cad, is threatening to stir up a panic.
“Mr. Rarx,” said I to him when it came to that, “I have a loaded pistol in my pocket; and if you don’t stand out of the gangway, and keep perfectly quiet, I shall shoot you through the heart, if you have got one.” Says he, “You won’t do murder, Captain Ravender!” “No, sir,” says I, “I won’t murder forty-four people to humour you, but I’ll shoot you to save them.” After that he was quiet, and stood shivering a little way off, until I named him to go over the side.
And then there's this quote too, which is in the first paragraph: "It has always been my opinion since I first possessed such a thing as an opinion, that the man who knows only one subject is next tiresome to the man who knows no subject. Therefore, in the course of my life I have taught myself whatever I could, and although I am not an educated man, I am able, I am thankful to say, to have an intelligent interest in most things."
Read in this compilation: A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Classics, and I just found out I've been gypped! I was all proud that I had managed to get this in before the end of the year, and I discover this is supposed to be eight chapters, but I have only the first four. Those were written by Dickens himself, and the last four by other people. Here I am, telling this person who wanted to know what I thought of these Dickens collaboration things that I'm going to help her out with her research, and I'm left with egg on my face because I have a book that sucks! Well, they don't know who they're dealing with here. The Gutenberg Project has all eight chapters, and I'm going to print the last four, and read the bitch, and fulfill my promise, just try and stop me! And it looks like some of the other stories I read for this project are also missing the contributions from the other collaborators... And I'm willing to bet that will be the case for all of them once I dig a little deeper into it... AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!! It took 19 hours, but I think we've just made it to my first temper tantrum for the new year; holding out this long might be a new record. Progress, progress...
Well, enough of that. Here's my thoughts on the first four chapters though I suspect she's more interested in what I thought of the second half. Oh well. I'll get to it as soon as I can. Responsible for the effort, not the outcome. It's OK. Yes, a lot of wasted time, but it'll still be OK. Breathe in, breathe out. And look eye; always look eye, Daniel-san.
Moving on. Ahem.
Charles Dickens is weird. But it's not a psycho, supernatural weird like Clive Barker or Stephen King, just weird. "Mugby Junction" is broken up into four eight chapters. (grumble, mumble, arfin-fartin, racka-fracka poopy-pants publishers) The first concerns a sideways face in a window. Turns out it's a woman who can't sit up for some reason which isn't spelled out, and who likes to look out the window most of the day. The fact that he describes it as a sideways face in the window instead of just calling her an invalid is strange, but I loved it anyway. That's one of the things about Dickens that makes him great: his ability to take something otherwise mundane and make it interesting.
Our main character for the first two chapters is a gloomy Gus who meets sideways girl in the first part along with a man referred to as "Lamps." They help him to ungloomify himself. Then in the second chapter he goes out of town and runs headfirst into the US Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, and remaining dolorous after that is just impossible.
"You've got to S-M-I-L-E to be H-A-double-P-Y!"
Well, that takes care of that. He decides to live in Mugby Junction so he can woo sideways face and be close enough to visit dimples. Also, it's here that we get one of the super coincidences for which Dickens is so famous, but I'm not going to spoil it. I swear he coined the saw "it's a small world."
Chapter three leaves the first story behind, and this is my favorite (of the ones I've read so far...). The style is akin to Mark Twain's in its snarkiness, and it is hilarious. The first couple of pages left me wondering just what in the hell I was reading because I couldn't follow anything, but the second part brought it all together. It's about a refreshment room at the junction which is so terrible that everybody hates it, but the staff is convinced that the way they do things is the correct way. The boss visits refreshment rooms in France, and comes back to report how poorly they do things by giving the customers what they want, accommodating the guests as best they can, serving edible food and potable beverages, and the staff is aghast. I understand this chapter came about from an experience Dickens had in a refreshment room where he was snubbed, and the result is a pure delight to read.
One thing I noticed is that Dickens can't write an American patois for shit even though he visited us once. Or was that just in an episode of The Rifleman? No, wait. Dickens showed up in Bonanza. It was Mark Twain in The Rifleman. I need to brush up on my TV westerns. Anyway, we get this line:
"Another time, a merry wideawake American gent had tried the sawdust and spit it out, and had tried the Sherry and spit that out, and had tried in vain to sustain exhausted natur upon Butter-Scotch, and had been rather extra Bandolined and Line-surveyed through, when, as the bell was ringing and he paid Our Missis, he says, very loud and good-tempered: “I tell Yew what ’tis, ma’arm. I la’af. Theer! I la’af. I Dew. I oughter ha’ seen most things, for I hail from the Onlimited side of the Atlantic Ocean, and I haive travelled right slick over the Limited, head on through Jee-rusalemm and the East, and likeways France and Italy, Europe Old World, and am now upon the track to the Chief Europian Village; but such an Institution as Yew, and Yewer young ladies, and Yewer fixin’s solid and liquid, afore the glorious Tarnal I never did see yet! And if I hain’t found the eighth wonder of monarchical Creation, in finding Yew, and Yewer young ladies, and Yewer fixin’s solid and liquid, all as aforesaid, established in a country where the people air not absolute Loo-naticks, I am Extra Double Darned with a Nip and Frizzle to the innermostest grit! Wheerfur—Theer!—I la’af! I Dew, ma’arm. I la’af!” And so he went, stamping and shaking his sides, along the platform all the way to his own compartment."
You can see he gets close with a couple of things, but totally blows it with the others. But let's not be too harsh; writing phonetic vernacular is tough and I imagine it's even tougher if you're a Brit shooting for a southern US flavor.
Chapter four was pretty cool as well, though it was unexpected. It's a ghost story, and telling those at Christmastime was a popular activity during Dickens' day and age. This came close to being my favorite part, but I still leave that honor with chapter three for now. (Who knows what the other chapters hold). Most importantly though is the following quote from this chapter: "It was not to be denied, I rejoined, that this was a remarkable coincidence, calculated deeply to impress his mind. But, it was unquestionable that remarkable coincidences did continually occur..."
Suddenly so much of Dickens' bibliography becomes clear.
(I'll revisit this if I ever read the last four chapters.)...more
I used to think I was smart, but I've since been disabusI didn't enjoy this as much as Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings, but it had some of the same elements.
I used to think I was smart, but I've since been disabused of that notion. Did you know that "legacy" means bequest? Well, I didn't, and it's the first and more common definition in the dictionary. I thought it meant a memory of something fancy that someone did, which is the secondary meaning). Presidents and important people leave legacies behind. For this reason I was confused by the title for a while, and I was wondering where the story was going in relation to it. But it's about a bequest type legacy someone leaves for Mrs. Lirriper.
This is amusing as most of Dickens' works are, but not as amusing as the other story. There's plenty of good will and cheer, and a made up story from the boy at the end that could cause the feel-goods to settle on you if you're susceptible to such things. Being a Republican, I'm immune most of the time, and that proved to be the case here. (Though I've just started my annual reading of A Christmas Carol, and I just gush all over that thing no matter how many times I read it.)
This is another story that doesn't happen at Christmastime, but has the Christmas spirit woven through it, and it was published at Christmastime. I recommend it if you're looking for something short and cute with comic elements....more
I enjoyed this more than the other Dickens Christmas stories so far. That may be because I haven't read Dickens in a while, and getting back to him is always like meeting an old friend after an extended absence; I really appreciate his writing style. But I don't think that's all it was. There was also more story here than there was in a lot of the others.
It's sappy as hell, but that didn't bother me this time. Maybe it's because it involved a child, and I like kids' stories. (view spoiler)[Mrs. Lirriper rents out rooms and has one fulltime tenant. All the rest stay from a few days to a few months. At one point a couple who had just enjoyed a shotgun wedding came in. After a couple of months the husband was "called away for work" and was never seen again, and at this point we get to witness a classic Victorian mindset that often leaves modern readers confused. Dickens delicately explains that the girl was knocked up before they got married without actually stating any such thing. This is an admirable skill, but the reader needs to pay attention to follow what's going on. I totally missed it until later when the baby was born.
A line that threw me off was this: "...for a little extra colour rose into the Major's cheeks and there was irregularity which I will not particularly specify in a quarter which I will not name." I turned that around in my mind six ways to Sunday and couldn't make heads or tails of it. She's talking to the Major (her fulltime renter), and I have no inkling that the new wife is pregnant. Nothing in the preceding paragraph clued me in to that even when I reread it. "Irregularity in an unnamed quarter" made me think the Major must've popped an embarrassing boner, though I knew that couldn't possibly be the case. I thought Mrs. Lirriper was referring to the Major's irregularity and not the girl's. Later it all became clear, but I expect readers in the mid 19th century would've picked upon the pregnancy right away.
Being in a family way before one was married was a matter of deepest shame in Victorian times, but nowadays it's so common that a lot of people don't even remark on it. This leaves those of us immersed in modern sensibilities at a disadvantage, but it became clear by and by. She is so distraught after her husband leaves that she attempts suicide, but is saved and holds on to her sanity long enough to give birth to her child only to die of immense shame afterward. As silly as that seems to the modern reader, this is a common theme in Victorian times. Women were supposedly weak and delicate, and could take only so much. This might be hard to understand in an age where there's no dearth of real life heroines.
Mrs. Lirriper and the Major raise the child, and the rest of the story talks about how much they love him, and how much he loves them back, and at the end the boy (aged 10 or so) tells a story so saccharine that I think he served as the inspiration for half of Shirley Temple's roles. But I still didn't mind it. I guess I was in the mood for the feel-goods. I can really get into Shirley Temple's movies too.
My favorite part of this occurred near the beginning before any of the main action takes place. Mrs. L is discussing how much trouble she has with the help and relates one story of a serving girl who attacked one of lodgers. That part is a scream though it lasts only a couple of paragraphs. (hide spoiler)]
I learned earlier this year that this story may have been written by Dickens and someone else. I don't know who the other was, but I didn't notice the writing style changing throughout. I thought I was going to feel cheated, but that didn't happen.
This is another one that doesn't happen at Christmastime but involves the Christmas spirit. If you like stories about people who love each other so much you could just die, and if you enjoy well written prose, then this is for you....more
I think Paul McCartney and Charles Dickens might've been friends if they hadn't missed each other by a century. Paul wants to fill the world with silly love songs, and Charles wants to do the same with silly love stories like this one.
(view spoiler)[Due to some confusion this dude thinks his betrothed is smitten with his best friend, so he runs away. His plan is to sail to America and die or something (I read that part several days ago, but this story is so unremarkable that I can't remember all the details, and I'm too disinterested to look it up), but on Christmas Eve he gets snowed in at the Holly-Tree Inn (where he might have spent some time with his betrothed in the past? I can't recall but think it's likely since it would be quite a Dickensian coincidence.) During the first part (branch) he recounts countless inns he's stayed in. This part has some interesting and rather awesomely grisly short tales about those inns but the section as a whole is otherwise a snoozefest. In the second branch the boots of the inn (a servant who polishes boots at a hotel) tells dude about an eight year old boy who ran off with a seven year old girl to get married and ended up staying at that very inn several years ago. Cute, but not my cup of tea. In the third branch the snow lets up and dude's friend shows up with his fiancee because they're running away to get married. Dude discovers he's been mistaken about everything, then runs back home to his own fiancee. They get married, have eight kids, the friend and his wife have seven, and everyone is so happy I could just shit. (hide spoiler)]
The best part of this story is Dickens' summary of the urban legend Sweeney Todd was based on:
My first impressions of an Inn dated from the Nursery; consequently I went back to the Nursery for a starting-point, and found myself at the knee of a sallow woman with a fishy eye, an aquiline nose, and a green gown, whose specially was a dismal narrative of a landlord by the roadside, whose visitors unaccountably disappeared for many years, until it was discovered that the pursuit of his life had been to convert them into pies. For the better devotion of himself to this branch of industry, he had constructed a secret door behind the head of the bed; and when the visitor (oppressed with pie) had fallen asleep, this wicked landlord would look softly in with a lamp in one hand and a knife in the other, would cut his throat, and would make him into pies; for which purpose he had coppers, underneath a trap-door, always boiling; and rolled out his pastry in the dead of the night. Yet even he was not insensible to the stings of conscience, for he never went to sleep without being heard to mutter, "Too much pepper!" which was eventually the cause of his being brought to justice.
Apparently Dickens' nurse really did tell him stories like this as a child, and he loved them. A few of them end up in this story, but it's too little for me to give it an extra star. As a whole, "The Holly-Tree" is just "OK."...more
Hell if I know what I just read. It was just kind of "eh." Dude helps feed some poor travelers at a kind of inn built for that purpose, dines with them, tells a war story, and they all depart.
A couple parts in the war story were so saccharine I thought I was going to throw up, but I managed to keep it all down. Themes of charity, love, and forgiveness are the main take away points with this one. I reckon it's worth a read if you want the feel-goods. I couldn't get into this one though I did enjoy most of the story that was being told within the story... until it started upsetting my gag reflex.
Oh, and there's quite a coincidence. What's a Dickens tale without a coincidence?...more
I'm surprised this isn't a more well-known story. I had never read it before today, but it's it's succinct, to the point, and should speak to a lot of people about class division issues. It could certainly spawn conversations, and arguments, and fistfights, and duels, etc. I have mixed feelings about it because I find myself putting words in Dickens' mouth, though I have no call to do so, then thinking about politics, then getting upset with Dickens for being on the wrong team, then realizing that he isn't really on any team (mine or theirs), and that his stories always point out that charity begins at home, and he's more interested in the various aspects of the human condition than in what the government as a whole should be doing about it. Misconstruing his intentions is my own failing, so I ought to just give it a rest.
Anyway, this is Dickens exploring the plight of the poor (novelty night)! parabolically and showcasing the ineffectiveness of those in power at helping them because they're too busy arguing about how it should be done or even whether or not it should be done. Then the haves get upset when the have-not's diseases (which recognize no class) infiltrate their ranks, and decide something must be done only to commence to squabbling again until the next outbreak, and on and on ad infinitum.
It's only four or five pages long, in the public domain and available for free online in several places, so I encourage you to check it out....more
This is a humorous account of what happens when one of the boys at a school suddenly becomes an instructor and the other boys revolt against him for selling out. The spirit of forgiveness serves as the moral, but it's the misunderstandings, plans, and shenanigans of the classmates that make this tale worth a read. Kids are such shits....more
Three pages. The shortest complete life's story I've ever read, and an amazing feat for the normally effusive Dickens. (view spoiler)[A man meets companions as he travels starting with a small boy who plays, then an older boy who learns, followed by a young man who loves. All invite him to play, learn, and love with them, then they disappear and the man is left alone again to go on his way to meet the next person. The next is a man who stays busy and ages, but several other people come in and out during this walk before that man also disappears. The last person he encounters is an old man who remembers. (hide spoiler)]
OH! I caught some symbolism all by myself in this one without needing it pointed out! (view spoiler)[As he walks with the man through the woods, they start in the spring and by the end have moved to autumn with the leaves falling off, obviously a metaphor for aging which is what's happening to the man as they amble down the lane. (hide spoiler)] Go me!
I'm not sure why this is included in the Christmas stories since there's nothing remotely Christmasy about it. It was published in Household Words, a periodical Dickens used to edit. I reckon it just came out at Christmastime, though I can't find anything online to confirm that....more
I didn't get it and had to look it up online. I think I'm too stupid to be reading these things. There's supposedly a lot of social commentary in here deriding how the poor were treated in Victorian England, and I guess looking back I can see that now. Still, I usually like to read a story for the story itself, and this didn't swing it for me. Perhaps if I hadn't been falling asleep as I read I might have enjoyed it more and caught more of the literary stuff. However, I can see where other people could enjoy this; just depends on your personal tastes. It has Christmas feel-good stuff in it.
Anyway, here's the skinny: (view spoiler)[59 year old dude has had a pretty tough life from a materialistic standpoint (if it weren't for bad luck, he'd have no luck at all), but he describes a great life where things happened differently because the shitheads in his life didn't dick him over, then says it's all in his head (as if the audience, his family, didn't already know that). (hide spoiler)] It's kind of like It's a Wonderful Life in that it describes what could've been, but in this case things were better in the imaginary world than in the real one. Again, from a materialistic point of view. Life truly is what you make of it regardless of what you have or don't have.
But I'm still not giving this an extra star as I can't say it was better than just "OK" for me....more
I never thought I'd give something from Dickens a one star rating, but this shows that even the greatest can lay an egg.
I read this only an hour ago, and it's already faded from my memory; it was that unremarkable. This wasn't a story so much as an op-ed piece that basically said "Christmas is here. Remember those who are gone. Be good to everyone." Not because Santa is watching, but because it's just the right thing to do. I can get on board with that, and agree wholeheartedly, but zzzzzzzzz. There weren't any of his great turns-o-phrase, but plenty of his verbosity. All of his defects but none of his assets, I guess. Also, I'm reading this collection for stories and not the 19th century equivalent of blog entries, so my expectations were dashed. Thankfully it was only three or four pages long....more
A man reminisces on past Christmases starting with early childhood, and how the gifts and meaning changed through his life. I suppose if I'd been of an age with Dickens who would've been 203 this year if it hadn't been for that pesky stroke in 1870, then I'd be able to better appreciate his memories of various toys, gadgets, and gewgaws. (And some of those things were terrifying. Children died young all the time in that day and age, and I wouldn't be surprised if at least half of them were frightened to death by their toys. Seriously. Just go to the eight minute mark of this clip from Scrooge. Watch it for a minute and tell me a few of those things didn't send kiddies into howls of terror when they were plopped down in front of them on Christmas morning). I expect the nostalgia of sharing in a common childhood peril lent a great deal to Dickens' readers in the Victorian era. Had he replaced the puppets, masks, and doll houses with Transformers, Masters of the Universe, and Play-Doh, this would be a four star story for me from the start. As it is, I'm just not feeling it.
Then there were several short ghost stories in the second half, a couple of which I actually enjoyed though I've never been able to make ghost stories go along with my own Christmas sentiments in spite of how much I love A Christmas Carol and many of its movie incarnations. I maintain that enjoying such should be a Halloween pastime if one must assign a holiday to the activity. Telling ghost stories at Christmas is a centuries old tradition that has gone by the wayside in the past hundred years (at least in America; I can't speak for other nations). Being a product of the 20th century I find the practice rather odd, but the wisdom of our ancestors is in the practice, and my unhallowed hands shall not pooh-pooh others partaking in it, or the country's done for.
If this were only the ghost stories, and wasn't listed as a Christmas story, I'd give it four stars, but as a whole I was disappointed. Luckily it was very short....more
9/27/16 update: Floating this since yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Sidna's death, and he was aged 75 years. Never let a chance like that pass y9/27/16 update: Floating this since yesterday was the 75th anniversary of Sidna's death, and he was aged 75 years. Never let a chance like that pass you by.
Original Review 2/5/16:
Sorry Sidna, I ain't buying it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, but I think your take on events is quite skewed.
Let me get the serious part of this out of the way before I start goofing off. This wasn't a bad book at all. In fact, I can see how it could be inspiring, especially for people in prison. A solid four stars. I know I've thrown this quote from Goethe into a couple of my other reviews, but here it is again because I think it applies to the author: "Nature, alas, made only one being out of you although there was material for a good man and a rogue." He seems to have had some great values, especially where work was concerned, and for personal responsibility in some cases (but not in all). I also see where he had some good morals in some areas, but he was selective about where to apply those. He did help shoot up a courthouse, after all. He says it was self defense and in defense of his family. This is possible, but it's easy to believe otherwise when you look at everything. He says he's forgiving of those who prosecuted him rather mercilessly, but maintains his innocence of the premeditated part, and tries to make it sound like he just happened to be there on other business, and checking on how his brother's trial turned out was secondary. This, of course, is poppycock. He doesn't say these things outright, but he spins it hard in that direction. Like all real human beings, he's complicated.
In case you missed the lengthy title of the book, this is Sidna (pronounced Sidney) Allen's memoir of his life, and a good 60% of it covers his version of the Hillsville Courthouse shooting in 1912 and what happened to him after because of it. But since you all took history, I don't need to retell that tale... Wait, you mean you don't know about it? Just what do they teach in schools these days?
Well, it all started in the spring of 1911 when one fella Wesley kissed this other fella's gal flat on the jaw at a corn shucking bee. A year later on March 14, 1912 Sidna's brother Floyd and some of his kin (including Sidna himself) were one side of a shootout in the Hillsville, VA courthouse that left five people dead including the judge, prosecuting attorney, the sheriff, a juror, and a bystander. Seven others were injured. Trust me, these two events are linked, but I'll cover that a little later. For now, just know that if there ever were a case of a great, big, boiling volcano being made out of a little old trickling spring, this is it. Ironically enough Hillsville is just a half hour north of Mt. Airy, NC. That town was the inspiration for Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show which is famous for blowing things out of proportion.
OK, OK. Well after reading this account by one of the shooters, and after discussing it with family once every year or two for my whole life (my family comes from the Hillsville area, and a possible distant relative is mentioned in this book, but he's listed as a damn liar which is probably true), and after another 30 or so minutes of research on the internet, and after having seen a juror's suit with bullet holes in it for myself at the boot museum halfway between Hillsville and Galax (it's not a museum about boots; it's a boot store with a local history museum in a couple of the back rooms), I can now give you the definitive version of what went on. They say nobody will ever know the real truth, but I assure you I have it. Yes, I know there were over 100 witnesses to the spectacle packed in the courthouse that day, and no two stories line up evenly, but they were all wrong with various facts.
You don't believe my accuracy with facts? Well fine. If you'd rather have it from a "real" reporter, here's a link to something someone did almost 35 years ago in Roanoke, but he's part of the media, and you know how they have to put a spin on everything. I guarantee my veracity in this matter is up to at least 20%, I have the truth, I tell you! Just hear me out.
First let's get the obvious out of the way. Here's J. Sidna Allen:
And here's J. J. Hunsecker portrayed by Burt Lancaster in The Sweet Smell of Success:
He was ranked 35th on AFI's list of top 50 villains.
"GUILTY! Case dismissed."
With a mug like that you're damn right he's guilty, but what is he guilty of? He didn't kiss the girl. He was tried and convicted of killing commonwealth attorney William Foster, but so were five other people. He must've been quite a man if he had to be killed six times. He had a dozen bullets in his brain, but it was all a fluke. Here's how it went down.
There was a blue tail fly buzzing around the courthouse that day. I know, it's odd for one to be tormenting Appalachia in early March, but you know how this bug is ever a harbinger of death, so it doesn't follow conventional nature. Anyway, it had been bothering Sheriff Webb and the Allens throughout the trial, and just after Floyd was given a guilty verdict, it landed right by the Sheriff again. Floyd pulled his pistol and shot at it but missed as the fly flew off and landed on the prosecuting attorney's head. The Allen's had had enough of the fly as well, all pulled their own pistols, and shot Foster in the noggin. The fly escaped but not without creating confusion. Some others in the courthouse didn't see the fly and simply assumed the Allens were trying to kill the prosecutor, judge, bailiff, etc. That was a silly conclusion to jump to, but they pulled their own guns and started firing at the Allens regardless. The Allens fired back, and gun play ensued for about a minute and a half before the Allens made their escape. Another senseless accident due to a silly old fly, ah discordia. Jim crack corn, but everyone cared this time.
A couple Allens turned themselves in, a couple (Floyd among them) were captured within a couple days due to injuries, but Sidna and his nephew Wesley hung out in the mountains for over a month while they were pursued by the most inept detectives Virginia had available.
"Inept. Do you spell that with one "n" or three "q's?"
Sidna and Wesley often hid yards away from these jokers and simply watched them traipse around the county for over a month until they got bored and fled to Des Moines, IA. Later Wesley made a mistake and went home to visit his sweetheart who was not the one he kissed at the corn shucking bee. He stayed for a couple of days, then convinced her to come see him in Iowa so they could get married. She followed him out there a few weeks later, and frick and frack followed right behind her. They got their men, and she got $500 then went back home to marry someone else.
At the later trials, all the Allens denied shooting anyone premeditatively, and insisted it was the fly dammit. Why won't y'all believe it was the goddam fly? They did admit to hitting people, but it was all accidental, and they only hit one person, and didn't kill all the rest; they obviously must've shot themselves. This whole defense argument was the inspiration for Bob Marley's line “I shot the sheriff, but I missed the deputy" sung so well here by Eric Clapton.
The new judge (they needed a new one since the old one got Swiss cheesed up) wasn't having any of it, threw the lot of them in the state farm in Richmond, and gave Floyd and his son Claude the chair. The wheels of justice were better greased back then, and they only had to stay in prison for ten months. They actually were supposed to be fried in six, but there were a couple of stays so they made their exits in March 1913, only a year and two weeks after the courthouse shooting.
There was a huge push from friends and family back home and all over the state and even other parts of the country to have the other four freed, and that eventually met with success. Friel Allen and Sidna Edwards (the nephew of Sidna Allen; I know it's like War and Peace with these same names) were pardoned by Governor Trinkle in 1922 though he really didn't want to, but he refused to pardon Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards. However Governor Harry F. Byrd took care of that a couple of months after he took office in 1926.
And here's another connection to my personal life. I attended Harry F. Byrd Middle School in Richmond as a lad. There's currently a movement to rename the school because Byrd was a segregationist. If you read the local paper right now you'd think hating black people was the only thing the man ever did. Aside from his civil rights views, he actually did a lot of good for the state. He was fiscally responsible and didn't believe in paying for anything until the money was already there (I know; that's not something you expect to find in a democrat nowadays, but back then it happened sometimes). He was so popular that he won 15 electoral votes in the 1960 presidential election, and he wasn't even running! A lot of people didn't like Kennedy and voted for Byrd instead. I know it's not popular to even suggest that people might not have liked Kennedy especially since he was martyred, but it happened. You can find a lot of missteps in his two and a half years as president (e.g. Bay of Pigs), but since he was shot instead of just leaving office at the end of his term some people will never notice them, and it's taboo to mention it. I think it'd be a shame if they rename Byrd middle, but nobody around here cares what I think, and it's not a hill I'm willing to die on. But once our locals discover Byrd pardoned two members of the Allen clan, I'm sure his days of being honored with a school name will be numbered. I'm anxious to know the white-as-snow, free-from-all-sin person they'll pick to name it after once he's given the boot. Luckily this is Richmond where we can't organize a walk around the block without spending a decade arguing about every aspect of it, so it might be a while before anything happens. Although, publicly excoriating anyone who is the slightest bit off-color (no pun intended) with his views is currently the in thing, so the renaming could move quickly. Tough call on that time table.
9-27-16 update: It was renamed Quioccasin Middle a couple of months later. Quioccasin is the name of the road the school is on. It's a local Indian name which referred either to a lesser deity (Quiasosough) or it's what a meeting place or temple was called in that area; the Henrico hysterical society isn't totally sure. A suggestion period for renaming the school was held with one name stomping the hell out of any other suggestions (and Quioccasin wasn't even close in the rankings), but the school board was like "PSYCH! We ain't paying any attention to y'all; we were going to call it Quioccasin the whole time. We just wanted to look like we gave a damn what you thought." That's just how it rolls in Richmond; we're completely full of shit. The hands-down winner of this pointless contest was Alysia C. Burton Basmajian. She was actually a classmate of mine, one of the nicest girls, and a talented artist who lived a full life in her 23 years. Graduated college, got married, had a child, and was starting a career as an accountant. But she died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
OK, back to the book. Sidna Allen was an interesting person, certainly a hard worker, a shrewd businessman, and he became an accomplished furniture maker while he was imprisoned. His stuff is nothing short of works of art, some of them made with thousands of small pieces of wood.
These aren't even the best pieces.
Quite amazing considering the circumstances. Hell, I think it would still be amazing in pristine conditions. But those are his good qualities. His relationship with the truth is rather tenuous.
Yeah, it's just like that. Some of his past actions would raise eyebrows. The same can be said for his ancestors and other members of his family, and the actions of his brother Floyd should cause downright alarm in anybody. Sidna explains away what he can, claims ignorance for some things, and downright ignores the indefensible events of his family and their past. And that brings us back to the cause of the courthouse massacre.
First, the Allens were politically active in the area as democrats, but the republicans were in power at that time with bad blood running between the people at the head of that party and the Allens. Floyd Allen was a law unto himself and able to get away a lot for years due to his hot temper, even shooting a couple of people from time to time (one of them his own brother. This was over who got their dad's brandy after he had passed away. The brother shot Floyd as well, then they tried to kill each other again a little later, but it was all smoothed over later). The republicans in power were itching to make it clear that the Allens, especially Floyd, had to obey the law just like everyone else, and they got their chance.
You know Wesley kissed a girl that belonged to another guy named Thomas. Wes and Thomas argued over it, then went on home. The next day at church Wesley was called out of the service by Thomas who had some of his buddies waiting in the wings to ambush Wesley. Wesley and his brother Sidna (the Edwards Sidna, not the Allen one) fought back and sent Thomas and friends packing. Thomas was in cahoots with the republicans, and later Wesley and Sidna were charged with disrupting a Sunday school lesson which was apparently a class one federal felony during the Taft administration. (Thomas and friends were never charged with anything and they drop out of this tale right here.)
Wesley and Sidna didn't want to do time in the local pokey, so they hightailed it to Mt. Airy where they didn't expect to be extradited. The republicans prodded the two most pussified deputies in the history of the world to go down and get them even without a legal OK by the North Carolina constabulary. They considered Wes and Sid flight risks, though I can't imagine why, and they hog tied them and dragged them behind their wagon. On the way they passed Sidna Allen's store. He came out and said, "Hey, you can't treat them boys like that." The deputies responded "Oh yeah? Who's going to stop us? You?" Then Floyd stepped out from his own house across the street, the deputies went all French decades before it was popular, instantly dropped their guns, hollered that they surrendered, cut the boys loose, then flatfooted it back to Hillsville with their wagon in tow. In a prime do-as-I-say,-not-as-I-do moment, Floyd told told his nephews to go take their medicine in Hillsville the next day. (Floyd refused to ever spend any time in jail when convicted for any of his cases, and even coerced the people prosecuting him to pay his fines.) This they did, and they spent a month or two in the slammer. Meanwhile the deputies described what really happened at Sidna's store, how they were beaten to within an inch of their lives by the Allen brothers, and hobbled all the way home.
Everything for the boys was settled by the end of summer in 1911, but Floyd was charged with "illegal rescue of prisoners." Between then and March 12, 1912, several threatening letters appeared on the desks of the Allen's republican enemies, and various people involved claim to have been threatened. Quite a buzz was created as was always the case when Allens were involved, and everyone turned out to see what was going to happen. (This was before radio, to say nothing of TV, movies, and soap operas.)
The courtroom was packed with people bearing arms on both sides. The sheriff had his, the Allens had theirs (Sidna just happened to have his, and just happened to have back up ammo since he reloaded during the fracas), the prosecuting attorney and his pals were carrying, all God's chillun gots guns. This wasn't unusual during that day and age, but some people questioned the prudence of letting Floyd and friends pack heat given the letters and other questionable intimidation tactics that had been brought up. Judge Massie simply said "We will not be intimidated by thugs," even though two such letters were found in his pocket later.
Judge Massie may not have been intimidated, but he was certainly dead due to the combination of his courage and a stupid blue tail fly. Let this be a lesson to us all....more
There's a review in here somewhere, but first I'm going to ramble on about me for a bit which seems to be what I do best, and since goodreads doesn'tThere's a review in here somewhere, but first I'm going to ramble on about me for a bit which seems to be what I do best, and since goodreads doesn't discourage that, here we go.
I've never done a buddy read before, and I don't reckon this really counts. My nephew got assigned this in his English class, and I said I'd read it with him. This is the first book I've checked out at the library in years, and I displayed how out of touch I am with the times when I asked the librarian if they didn't use the due date stamp cards anymore. (There was a slot for it in this book). She looked at me as if I had just said "mmphwangphnarglethaksenthtooz" and meant it. Still, I liked those cards. They made great bookmarks. The piece of receipt paper just isn't the same.
I finished this in a week, and I think my nephew is still on chapter five. The class seems to be taking it slowly, and he hates reading anyway (and there's not a thing wrong with that; different strokes for different folks, after all). I'm sure he'll finish it, but does this count as a buddy read? I'm confused about the rules for that.
The title is a misnomer. He goes from New York to New Orleans, so this is really a walk alongside the Appalachian trail with a flagella at each end of it. Now this is a walk across America:
This is a map I planned out 11 years ago and never acted on. A friend said he wanted to walk across the country, and the fever took me. I wanted to see the sights, and I mapped out something where I could do that and hit all 48 contiguous states, and get the extreme ends of the compass in them as well. I was giving it serious consideration. I was only 26, and there was nobody really counting on me for anything. I had a job, but I was young enough to quit and get another one later. Then my friend pussed out and said he might do it on a motorcycle. I wanted to walk. It was all moot though since we were both full of shit and neither of us took as much as a trip to the end of the block let alone across the country. Now I'm nearly 37 with a bad back which would leave me on the cold ground permanently the first night I tried to sleep on it. In the intervening years I've sprained my ankles several times, cracked a couple of ribs that never healed properly, developed my family's bunions, gotten a continually visiting crick in my neck, and I've grown quite fat. I get bronchitis like it's my job, have a touch of asthma, and some other minor ailments. In short, I'm ill suited for pedestrian pursuits, but that doesn't mean I can't dream and live vicariously through Peter. I guess one day I could take my walk if I got a couple of things taken care of, but one thing I never seem to run out of is excuses. I still have nobody depending on me for anything. Somewhere in Alabama Peter meets Mr. Earl who tells him "Ain't many like ya who'd do what thair (sic) heart tells 'em, when they ain't got too many years on 'em. Usually they realize what they missed when they get 'bout as old as me." We aren't told how old that is, but I suspect it's way past 37.
Let me get the bad out of the way. Peter's writing style is not above reproach. He takes some liberties with facts for the sake of style and flat out contradicts himself in some places. They aren't lies, but just someone trying to spin a yarn and dropping the ball and accidentally kicking it across the floor because he's inexperienced. It's filled with cliches that he tries to hip up but remain cliches in a mask, and there are mixed metaphors galore, but I'm willing to cut him a lot of slack (unlike James Dashner who makes writing his vocation... Jesus, am I ever going to get over The Maze Runner Series)? Peter was only 25 or so when he wrote this, and was asked by National Geographic to take some pictures and write about his trip. He tells us "the society knew I wasn't a writer. I knew even better, but I would give it a try. If I couldn't produce a workable manuscript, they would send Harvey Arden down to help me."
Below is an example of the type of prose peppered throughout. In chapter 30, the last and slowest in the book, he was staying at a seminary while writing his article for National Geographic, and he's describing the first time he saw his future wife at a party there. (The parenthetical insertions are mine.)
Scanning the room full of proper preachers and students, I saw her. She was leaning up against a table, and one look was enough. Her hair was black and freer than a waterfall. I had never liked black hair, but now I loved it. Hers was thick and curly. (A thick and curly waterfall?) Her subtly shaped body was a like a marble sculpture. Her long fair-colored arms flowed like a perfect song. (Just what in the hell does that mean?) Every gesture she made was precisely right-not too much movement, not too little. She attracted me like nothing else. Her magnetism was more than the Gulf's virgin waves (high praise...?), and more than any other woman I had ever seen.
I'm glad they got together before she read that, or their eventual nuptials might've remained an open question indefinitely, sign from God or no. Well, I guess I shouldn't be so tough on him since true love is boring except to the participants.
The journey was all Peter, though. Nat Geo didn't enter the picture until after he had started, and he only contacted them because an old college professor suggested he swing by DC and look them up. He was disenchanted with America (much like myself lately, but for different reasons) and was convinced to go and find out what America was really like first hand. I suppose you could say he saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, but most of it was good. He got himself into good shape one summer, then set off with his dog Cooper the following fall. A year and a half later he winds up in New Orleans. He travels for several weeks, stops for several more to earn some money, then sets off again. Along the way he meets some interesting characters, and not all of them are too keen on him which is to be expected since he's an atheist, suburban, yankee hippie strolling through Dixie in the early 70's. However, he's very open minded, and genuinely interested in learning what this country has to offer. At one point he even goes to meet Governor George Wallace for whom he has no affection at all and even harbored a bit of spite, but finds that he likes the guy even if he didn't like his policies. Could I do the same for my own governor Terry McAuliffe who makes me want to retch every time he shows up in the news, which is, unfortunately, nearly every day? I don't know. Way to go, Peter.
Peter meets a mountain man named Homer who lives as rustically as possible. At this point he had been a vegetarian for a couple of years because meat was grain fed, and murder, and something like that. He was served a lamb chop from stock raised right there on Homer's mountain, and Peter suddenly felt all his suburban blab was meaningless and stupid, at least in that instance.
He gets sick and nearly dies a couple of times on his trip, but makes it through. He sees examples of southern hospitality in several places, and paranoid southern hostility in a few. In fact, one entire town, Robinsville, NC, turns against him for absolutely no reason at all other than he's an outsider. He was at the point where he needed a job to replenish his traveling funds. He rolled into Robinsville, stayed with a friendly man and his family for a few days, but by the end of the first day the entire town had deduced that he was a drug pusher come to corrupt their fair city. He applied for a job everywhere in town, tried to explain what he was really doing, but nobody wanted to hear it. This is the only time he called home for money which had to be delivered by mail and took several days. He left the friendly man's house because they were getting death threats if they didn't kick Peter out. Peter, too, was getting death threats, so he was hiding in the woods outside of town, and just going to the post office each day to see if his traveler's checks had showed up. On the last day he was visited by an SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) officer and told to move on by nightfall or be killed. The checks came, and he left.
In another place he stopped for a few months and worked for a saw mill. The crew came to respect his work ethic which they didn't expect in a yankee. Then they found out he was living with a black family in "niggertown," and were quite shocked but most didn't hold it against him though they offered alternatives. This part of the book would come across as quite racist by today's standards, but it was all new to Peter, and he expressed it in terms he knew. Some of the black people wanted to kill the honky living in their midst, but he made it out of there OK too. This part of the book was a little sad, seeing how the families in that area lived in such filth and squalor, but it also had its charms. And I loved the way they nicknamed Peter "Al," which he eventually found out was short for "Albino."
"If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal."
Later Peter stops at a hippie commune called The Farm for a few weeks. He doesn't find what he's looking for there, though the denizens try to convince him to stay in their far-out place. Up through this point Cooper had been a major part of the trip, had saved Peter's bacon a couple of times, and was his constant companion. Unfortunately he dies here when he runs under the back wheels of a water truck. Apparently he had had enough of the communists, and felt better dead than red should be put into practice. It was completely unexpected, and Peter comes a little unglued for a bit, but manages to move on. Other reviews on here revile Peter for pet abuse, and not just for this. Cooper goes hungry sometimes, though he always eats better than Peter in any given circumstance; Peter makes sure of it. The dog also gets cold in a couple snow storms and wants to cower out of the wind, but I guarantee he's warmer than Peter who coaxes him to a safer shelter further down the road.
In Alabama Peter finds God at a revival. I've seen some reviews on here that actually seem to take offense to this. Maybe the Christians really are being persecuted in today's USA? I thought that was mostly Christian paranoia. Anyway, I don't begrudge Peter finding God, and actually am all for it, not that what I think of it matters one whit one way or the other. God seems to be what Peter was looking for all along, though he didn't know it at the onset. He finds glimpses of Him along his journey, especially while living with the black family in North Carolina, but it's at the revival where the thunderbolt hits.
At the end he meets his wife who will join him for the rest of his trip (he moves west in the next book), and though I can't find the quote again, he indicates that she replaces his dog. I know he didn't mean it in any mean way, but I couldn't help finding this humorous.
Hmmmmm... Looks like I did another book report style review, and I try not to do those. At least I try to keep summaries short and stick to other aspects of what I read. Looks like a fail to me tonight... Woops!
This book isn't for everyone. It's strange that I could relate so well to a hippie without agreeing with him, though I don't suppose most hippies would consider Peter a real hippie given his willingness to check out conservative America. And even though he found God and got married, I'm pretty sure he's still a hippie at the end of the book. I enjoyed this mostly because it constantly made me think of what I could've been doing once upon a time though Peter and I had different motives. I wanted to see the sights; he wanted to meet the people. If I ever get off my ass and walk the country, I think I'll try to focus on both. In spite of what's shown in the media nowadays, I believe there is still greatness in America's people; it just isn't broadcast, and you have to look to find it. As for today's government... well, It'd be better for me to stop here and get up to take my own walk rather than start in on all that....more
Am I losing the battle in my mind since I didn't like this book?
Sigh... Where to start? I guess I'll first point out that I see where this book couldAm I losing the battle in my mind since I didn't like this book?
Sigh... Where to start? I guess I'll first point out that I see where this book could help a lot of people, but it wasn't for me. I must've recognized this early on because at the top of page nine I scribbled "Reminder: take what you can use and leave the rest."
This was the book for our bible study session these past few months. I got a few things out of it, but a lot of it was just... ugh. I still can't completely put my finger on all of it. Maybe it'll come out as I type this out.
This woman's writing style sometimes nearly drove me mad. We watched a small segment of her speaking, and I think she's a much better speaker than writer, which is the opposite of Richard Dawson, the dude who wrote the book for last year's Bible study session. I liked his book, but the one time we watched him I wanted to throw up. Joyce should stick to speaking if the rest of her nearly 90 books are like this one. I can see where she could certainly work an audience. Kudos there, Joyce.
As I read along I kept getting the notion that this woman might be a twit, though I don't believe that after seeing her speaking segment, and looking at what she's accomplished, but the way she comes across with her writing...
I suspected I was in trouble when I got to page x. Yes, x. I wasn't even out of the introduction. The book we read was the updated version, and she's discussing doing the update:
"In order to prepare for this special edition of Battlefield of the Mind I needed to read the entire book. I really like it!!!"
"I had not read it since I wrote it and was personally encouraged and edified. It is easy to read and contains one of the foundational truths that we must have in order to access the new life we are offered through our relationships with Christ."
Okay, not only does this scream "bubblehead," it also indicates that she might be stuck on herself. Fine. Whatever. That doesn't mean she can't still deliver a good message. If I can get past the personality, there might be some good principles. But this kind of silliness was peppered throughout the text. Page 153:
"In an earlier chapter we have already discussed the absolute necessity of positive thinking. You may even want to go back to Chapter 5 at this point and refresh your memory on the importance of being positive. I just went back and read it and got blessed myself even though I wrote it."
Page 81. She's discussing the dangers of a wondering mind. I don't see the harm in a little woolgathering every now and then, especially if it's not distracting you from a task at hand, but she says that's bad. (The wondering mind section was one of the many parts I left.) She used to wonder about her son Danny's grades because apparently they weren't good. She doesn't state that outright, but that's how I read it. Her take on this was "Instead of wondering what kind of grades Danny will get, I can believe that he will make good grades." Fine. That's a good way to turn your mind if you're trying to be more positive. She really should've left the matter alone right there, but in the next paragraph we get this:
"UPDATE: Our son Danny did not like school and struggled all the way through so I did a lot of wondering about him and his future. I thought you would enjoy knowing that he is currently the CEO of Joyce Meyer Ministries. All my wondering was wasted time. God knew His (sic) future and had everything under control."
For anyone not keeping up, Joyce Meyer Ministries was created by the same Joyce Meyer who authored this book. Woman, YOU GAVE HIM A JOB! I'm sure he does it well, but... Never mind. Moving on.
The Biblical quotes used in this primarily come from the Amplified Bible. I've never read that one much, but I can now say that I hate the Amplified Bible. Don't get me wrong; it's just another thing that ain't for me. I can see where it would come in very handy for someone who doesn't have a great deal of education, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm all for people trying to get a better grasp of things any way they can. But for someone who is marginally familiar with the Bible, and can read it without needing every other phrase explained in parentheses and brackets, it's distracting. It's dumbed down so far that it's intellectually insulting to the educated. I'm sorry if that sounds crass, but I call it like I see it. I would much prefer a regular translation, even the King James version which I don't have any trouble reading, but that's just me. If you like the Amplified, then its inclusion works in your favor. I skipped everything in the brackets because I was missing the message.
Here's Psalm 1:1 from the AMP:
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.
I don't know if I've ever met anyone who doesn't know the meaning of the word "blessed." Anyway, you get the idea. I don't need everything defined and expounded upon; I can get the gist without someone holding my hand, so this isn't useful to me. If it helps you, go for it.
A lot of the biblical passages used were forced into the scenario making it feel contrived. Things were often taken out of context to make a point that wasn't in the original meaning, but I think that's par for the course when discussing religion.
As for the content, well I had some trouble there too. There's a premise that I couldn't get behind, and this is especially present in the first two sections. Apparently Satan is behind all of our bad thoughts. I don't buy that, and that being the case a lot of the solutions weren't apropos. I ask God every morning to run the show; to use me to speak his words and do his work. I trust that He's doing that. It even says somewhere in here that if I ask God for these kinds of things that he'll do them, (but then it contradicted that statement at other times. It's all rather confusing.) Anyway, if God is taking care of everything, how does Satan even have a chance?
I believe that a human has the capacity for evil without a fallen angel, or demon, or something else forcing him to it. I believe a human has the capacity for love as well without something forcing that as well. I don't believe that Satan is responsible for everything that goes wrong in my life. All this talk of Satan sounded like a cop-out for not taking personal responsibility for my own actions, and just playing the victim card. When I do that I'm stuck at "blame," and when I'm stuck there I can't move forward. I need to own my part of my mess before I can get better. I can't own it if it's someone else's fault.
A lot of the solutions were overly simplistic, and I don't think they apply as well to people who truly have depression or other mental conditions. I think people who have depression ought to do these things, for they can help, but other measures should be taken as well. (Those other measures should be addressed with a therapist or the like. God has certainly provided plenty of them to help us). And it seems like Joyce feels if you're following her suggestions and you're still not happy, then you must not be doing it right; you just don't have enough faith. Yeah, well, sit on it, sister.
There are things in here that I'm putting into practice. Positive thinking helps; I've seen it work in others and I've seen it work in me sometimes, but it waxes and wanes. One thing I've learned from this Bible study is that I'm quite different from the majority of the rest of the group. I was astounded at some of the things I heard. There's a chapter at the end in the "Wilderness Mentalities" section called "My life is so miserable; I feel sorry for myself because my life is so wretched!" Several people said they had never felt that way in their lives, and I just couldn't relate. Never? Ever? Never ever? And I don't believe for one moment that any of them were lying. I, on the other hand, live that way for weeks on end sometimes, and I got quite resentful and jealous. Luckily there's a chapter that covers jealousy and envy pretty soon after that one.
The "Wilderness Mentalities" section of the book was my favorite part, and might've saved this from a one star rating. I could get behind the problems and the solutions for most of them. The first two sections... not so much. Mind-binding spirits? Please.
Oh, and that reminds me. Here's another section I'm afraid I had to leave behind:
Another example of the way the spirit and the mind work together is the gift of tongues with interpretation.
When I speak in tongues, my mind is unfruitful until God gives either me or someone else the understanding of what I am saying; then my mind becomes fruitful.
Please keep in mind that the gifts are not tongues and translation. Translation is an exact word-for-word account of the message, whereas in interpretation one person gives an understanding of what another has said, but in the interpreter's own style as expressed through his own particular personality.
Let me give you an example: Sister Smith may stand up in church and give a message in an unknown tongue. It has come from her spirit, and neither she nor anyone else knows what she has said. God may cause me to understand what the message was, but perhaps in a general way. As I step out in faith, and begin to interpret what was spoken, I make the message understandable to all. But it comes through me in my own unique way of expression.
I sometimes speak in tongues, but that's just me making nonsense noises to amuse myself. If anyone ever comes up and tells me they understand what I'm saying... Well, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I suspect I'll just humor them, and be glad God spoke to them, and hope I didn't tell them to kill the pope.
Wrap up: I guess I'll end where I started. Take what you can use, and leave the rest, but I'm afraid there just wasn't much I could use in this one. I'm in the minority for goodreaders since this currently has a 4.31 rating on here, so if you can get with the program, rock on. In fact, I have a couple of friends who might actually enjoy this. I think I'll pass it on to them....more
Ugh. I was more generous with my stars for the individual books, but the series as a whole is getting panned, panned, panned! I really wish I had backUgh. I was more generous with my stars for the individual books, but the series as a whole is getting panned, panned, panned! I really wish I had back the two weeks I spent reading this. Details in the individual reviews:
My reviews for each book are linked below if you're interested.
This is the children's fantasy masterpiece from Cesarean Section Lewis. I know everyoneMy reviews for each book are linked below if you're interested.
This is the children's fantasy masterpiece from Cesarean Section Lewis. I know everyone thinks the C. S. stands for Clive Staples, but I have it on good authority from his mother that the baby was such a bothersome birth that this was his original name. C. S.'s daddy didn't like it and argued for something else entirely. She was insistent on something literal that would forever remind the child how much trouble he was from the git-go. They eventually found a compromise with Clive Staples. Clive was the name of the attendant that passed for an OB/GYN in Victorian England, and Mrs. Lewis needed staples after the procedure, so Clive Staples Lewis it was. Naturally the kid was thrilled with neither Cesarean Section nor Clive Staples as a name, so he introduced himself as C. S. and was able to make it stick.
A few notes about the series:
Even though only one book in the set gets 5 stars, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so I'm giving the series 5.
I prefer to read them in publication order rather than chronological. Firstly it saves the best for penultimate. If I read it chronologically then I'd read my fave first and that's no fun. I like saving the good stuff for last if I can. Secondly the novels that act as prequels work better later in the series. I think you'll miss some subtleties and references to the earlier published novels if you haven't already read them, though that wouldn't affect your ability to follow along. It's just a personal preference.
I see from several reviews on here and elsewhere that many people have a problem with the Christianity in the series... I urge you to consider the source. This is C. S. Lewis. He's one of the most recognized Christian apologists (defender of the faith) in the world, and is still highly regarded. Christian influences should be expected. If such things offend you, then please don't read these books. It would be like reading a series by Gandhi and getting pissed off because you discover it's way too pacifist. You're just asking for it.
By today's politically correct standards (which have gotten ridiculous if you ask me, but of course no one ever does), these books are also quite sexist and racist (mostly against Arabs). Part of that is due to some Christian ideals (see the previous paragraph), and the rest is because Lewis is a product of his time. Gender roles were completely different from 1949-1954 when these books were written. If such things get your goat, and you can't view it objectively through a historical lens, then you're probably not going to enjoy these. And really, the racism and sexism is nowhere near as bad as many people make it out to be. He can't touch Kipling, Lovecraft, or any Victorian era writer.
However, those kinds of things didn't bother me at all, and I loved this. Plus, he's a great writer and this is great fun to read even if it's kid level literature though it's not dumbed down at all. There's plenty here that adults can appreciate. My 36 year old self saw a lot that my 12 year old self missed.
Strongly recommended for kids, light fantasy fans, Christians, etc.
This is Lewis' scaled down reenvisioning of John's acid trip which is recorded in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Being a boy who enjoys explosioThis is Lewis' scaled down reenvisioning of John's acid trip which is recorded in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Being a boy who enjoys explosions, tornadoes, and the like, it's odd that I would enjoy a book about creation (The Magician's Nephew) more than one about destruction, but that was the case here. I really liked the story, but I found the ending kind of boring, and felt it dragged on so it loses one star. I know it's finishing up the tale, but the whole "we're all dead, but now we're with God and everything is so wonderful and we're all so happy we could just shit" thing makes for dull reading (or listening). Don't get me wrong; I really like the idea, and totally dig the "Yea for the glory of God" sentiment, but zzzzzzzzz. It's good denouement for the series as a whole but takes up a lot of space in this book.
Thankfully the stuff leading up to the "happily ever after" ending is more exciting. In fact I found myself getting pissed off at the way things were going several times, and being so into a story is a sign of good writing. It shows I care and care a lot. Good job, Lewis!
Part of my ire was due to making parallels between this story and what's going on in America today (yes, I'm afraid I'm going to go there) with Iran's nuclear deal, letting illegal aliens just come right on in, and Syrian migrants though that's more of a European problem at the moment. Fraternizing with enemies who on a daily basis say they want to kill your people, telling your people "No, these aren't bad guys, they're cool," then helping the enemies move in so they can upset everything, (treason). Well, I couldn't help but think of these things as parts of the story unfolded.
No, I don't think Obama is the Antichrist; just a shithead. No, I don't believe we're in the end times just yet. There was plenty of other stuff in the book that doesn't apply to current affairs unless you really force it (which anyone can do if he tries). The things I mentioned above hit me straight in the face without me having to look for it at all. Hey, I just call it like I see it.
Biblical allegory is peppered throughout the entire series, but this is allegorical out the wazoo. I didn't mind it, and actually enjoyed it, but don't read this if the Bible and Christianity piss you off. A lot of people tend to get upset about how Susan was treated. (view spoiler)[She denied Narnia's existence and therefore wasn't allowed to die with the rest of her family to go to super Narnia (heaven). This doesn't mean she might not get there one day when she dies herself for one of the many lessons we learn in here is that redemption is possible even if it happens at the one-yard line. All we know is that she's left on Earth for a while after the others have moved on.
I think a lot of the hubbub over this is that people see death as a terrible thing. I'm more in line with Professor Dumbledore's take on it: "After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." I don't know about the well-organized mind part, but I'm down with the rest. Course, a lot of people think I'm crazy. They might be right. The deaths of several loved ones have left me sad, but I cope for I know that we're all here for just a little while. Holes open up, then other people come in to fill them. They don't replace those who are gone, per se, but they still show up.
Plus I get messages from those I was closest to in weird coincidental ways. Nothing ever speaks to me using conventional communication, or anything like that, but sometimes something just shows up (it could be nothing more than a penny on the ground with a particular year on it), and I just suddenly know what I'm supposed to do on some matter I'd been ruminating over because I sense the related dead person has said "Yo, you gotta blah, blah, blah." It's rather strange, and not something I can explain well here. I've been told I might have the gift of discernment, but the people who told me that might be crazy too. Anyway, the whole point of this is that due to all that I don't seem to find death as horrible as most other people, therefore I'm not too upset about Susan's treatment. Besides, it can be backed up with scriptural references which is what the author was going for with this whole series, so I don't judge him too harshly. And another thing: She's not out of the band because she likes nylon stockings and lipstick; she's out because she is "no longer a friend of Narnia" and denied that it ever existed. And again that doesn't mean she still can't get back there (hide spoiler)].
As usual, the writing was excellent and quite fun even with the heavy subject matter. Thank you Mr. Lewis for giving us these books. I loved them.
As for the audiobook version... Are you ready for this? PATRICK STEWART!
Yes. Jean Luc Xavier, or Charles Francis Picard, or whatever. And it's not just because I like Patrick Stewart in general that I give his performance such high marks. He really is an excellent reader. His voices are great, and he's full of energy and excitement at all the appropriate times. What a great narrator to close out the series.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more