Wow it's been a while since the last time I posted anything on Livejournal or Dreamwidth. (The last thing I posted was in April.) But I had a really good reason for this hiatus, due to having been extremely busy these last 3 months with work - I had a huge translation job with strict deadlines, so lots of things got put on hold (frak, I didn't even go to the beach once this summer, despite the scorching heat). I finally finished it yesterday morning (on the deadline date!) so now I'm getting back to "normal". :) And this means, among other things, more regular posting.
For starters, here’s a little preview of what you can expect to see in this journal soon:
- My big Buffy rewatch finally continues (I wouldn’t hold it against you if you forgot I was even doing it). However, since there have been such big breaks (I can't believe I started it last February and didn't get further than mid-season 3 ) due to various circumstances, I've decided that over the next couple of weeks I'm going to do a marathon of the Buffy episodes I've already reviewed - to remind myself and get a bit of continuity before continuing with the rewatch.
I'm also going to do something I said I wouldn't, and start with watching the 1992 movie (which I've seen just once many years ago, a few years before I saw the show). I didn't plan to include it in the rewatch, since 1) it's not canon, 2) it sucks, but it'll be fun to see it again, see how it all started and compare it with the show, and compare it with the way Joss' script was adapted in The Origin comic, which he has approved as "pretty much canon". I won't do a proper review of the movie, but I'll post a few thoughts. Then I'll marathon season 1, season 2 and the first part of season 3, and post just a few thoughts - any new things I've noticed, has my opinion on anything changed in the meantime or not. And then of course, I'll continue with reviews as usual, starting with 3.11. Gingerbread.
- A few posts at least about the things I’ve read and watched over those last few months. First off, The Hunger Games trilogy, which I’ve read over the last months (how did I manage to read it while working? Because I don’t read books at home, I read while riding on a bus, or waiting at the doctor’s, or having a treatment at the beauty parlor, etc.). After seeing the film back in April, and loving it, and had to read the books . Contrary to some other opinions I’ve heard, I think it got better and better: I liked Catching Fire even more than the first book, and Mockingjay ended up being my favorite. Shit was real from the start, but it got realer, and darker... and the only thing I don’t know is how the heck are they going to keep the PG-13 rating for the other 3 films? I’m definitely going to write at least one long post/review, or 3 different reviews.
- The other thing I’ve read is Joss’s run of the The Astonishing X-Men, which is one of his best works (due both to his writing and the great art by John Cassaday). I’m quite new to the comics world – particularly superhero comics, which up till recently I was only familiar with through the big screen adaptations. I remember liking the first two X-Men films (for the social issues, mostly – despite not caring about things like the Wolverine/Jean/Cyclops love triangle); I haven’t seen the third one (which, from what I heard, is only for the best), but it was X-Men: First Class that got me really interested. However, AXM was quite a revelation with all the well-drawn characters (including some that seemed quite boring in the movies). I intend to keep reading the X-Men comics (and maybe some of the other Marvel superhero comics, too), but I’m really confused on the timeline and the reading order, and the sheer number of comics – maybe Marvel fans like selenak could help me? Please?
- Despite mostly not going out due to work, I made exceptions for going to the cinema to see The Avengers (great) and Prometheus (WTF was that about? Well, at least it makes for fun Internet discussions).
- I’ve also watched seriously or occasionally several new TV shows (again, how did I do that despite the working schedule? Because I would have lost my marbles if I was just translating all the time, since the texts were about finances and banking and really boring and repetitive. My usual MO was to have the TV or radio on: I’ve watched more TV than ever over these 3 months... and I mean, literally TV: just the stuff that’s actually on TV at the time, not DVDs or online shows or anything. I’ve seen the entire Wimbledon championships while working on my computer simultaneously, and the „choice“ of shows was basically between the stuff that channels like AXN, Fox Crime or Fox Life (which air only TV shows and occasional movies, with lots of repeats and mini-marathons). Some shows that are heavily serialized and really interesting (like Homeland), I actually made an effort to watch with full attention (scheduling my dinner at the same time, or taking a break for work), others (like Life, which is a quirky procedural with a bit of an arc, but still a procedural) were perfect to have on screen while working and pay only divided attention to. New shows I’ve seen – the entire first 2 seasons of The Walking Dead (which is a really good show but infuriating in terms of gender – I’ll probably address that in one of my next posts), the entire first season of Once Upon a Time, Homeland and Spartacus (plus the prequel Gods of the Arena), I am watching Revenge (currently I’m at episode 13, so no spoilers! But the season will be finished in a couple of weeks, since the episodes are airing every day), I’ve also caught up on most of the first 3 seasons of Merlin, watched most/some of Life (in weird order, since Fox Crime tends to schedule the episodes in a strange way) and Sherlock, and started to watch Teen Wolf. I’ve also enjoyed rewatching season 2 and season 3 of Being Human. (I still haven’t seen season 4, which I intend to do soon; but I’ve seen the season premiere, so I’m aware of the big changes to the show.)
And now, I’ve got two memes for you. First, an old one:
1. Leave a comment to this post - specifically saying that you would like a letter.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows.
Slaymesoftly gave me an F...almost 4 months ago. I really wanted to do the F characters but I didn’t have the time. Here’s the proof I never forget my promises! ;-)
Faith Lehane – one of my favorite characters in Buffyverse. She and the Mayor were most of what was great about season 3 of BtVS. While Buffy was normally the character I related to the most (on the show –comics Buffy is hit and miss, if I’m being generous), in season 3, especially when I first watched it, I was far more invested in Faith (despite Faith being very much unlike me in personality and especially lifestyle). Don’t get me wrong – Faith was totally in the wrong in her conflict with Buffy, but I found the Slayer-gone-bad more compelling as a character that season. Maybe it’s because I was bothered by the blatant good girl/bad girl contrasts (including the visual cues in clothes and makeup!) and it’s certainly because I tend to love morally ambiguous, emotionally screwed-up, difficult, tragic characters, even when they’re doing evil and awful things. (When Buffy herself became more emotionally screwed-up and broken and her flaws became more obvious, she became one of my all-time favorite characters.) Her 4 episodes arc in BtVS season 4 and AtS season 1 was one of the highlights of both shows. I enjoyed her appearances in AtS season 4, and, to a somewhat smaller degree, BtVS season 7, but even better than that was her role in season 8, particularly Brian K. Vaughn’s arc „No Future For You“. Season 9, which is the first one where she gets to be a protagonist (well, one of the two) of a title, has, however, been a mixed bag as far as writing for her character is concerned (mostly because of the writer making her idealize and endlessly justify a certain recently villainous vampire to a really unhealthy degree).
The Fishers – i.e. Ruth Fisher, Nate Fisher Jr., David Fisher and Claire Fisher, the quirky, relatively dysfunctional family of funeral home owners from the amazingly awesome HBO drama, Six Feet Under, one of the best TV shows of all time. Yes, I cheated on this one, but there’s no way I can pick just one of them. One of the reasons SFU was so brilliant is that it had so many interesting, complex and colorful characters, and that none of them were cardboard goodies or flawless angels, but almost none of them were entirely unsympathetic, either. It’s one of those rare shows where I have trouble telling you who my favorite character is, since I loved all of them (*at least for the first 4 seasons), as frustrating and infuriating they could be in their angst and messed-upness and constant screwing up. One thing SFU never did was idealize anyone.
If push comes to shove, I’d have to pick Claire as my favorite family member – the easiest to relate to, and lovable with her snarky and brash attitude with a lot of vulnerability, and the way she followed her heart and ideals all the time, as misguided as her choices might have been many times, with a string of problematic relationships (Spike would probably tell her she had a „bleeding tragic taste in men“) and disappointments and setbacks in her attempts to find an artistic career. I loved that she got to succeed professionally and live a full life. It seems that it’s also worth mentioning that she’s one of the few TV heroines who had an abortion (I didn’t even know this was such a big deal in US fiction, until a certain recent debate about the Buffy comics).
David and Ruth are the two characters least like me (and most like each other) that I nevertheless just loved, with their fussiness and deep insecurity – you just wanted to hug the poor dears. David Fisher, with his series-long attempts to come to terms with himself, was one of the most complex gay characters I’ve seen in fiction, and I loved his relationship with Keith, which must be by far the most honest, complicated and non-cliche gay relationship seen on the big or small screen. Ruth Fisher is also a pretty unique character – and not just because there aren’t that many dramatic TV characters who are old-fashioned middle-aged women with grown children who are only starting to discover things about themselves, their sexuality, freedom and what they want out of life in their 50s. Finally, Nate Fisher Jr. – in some ways introduced as the main character.
And this is where I, sadly, have to mention that qualifier: I used to love Nate – he was a laid-back guy with compassion and good people skills and a far less uptight attitude than his brother and mother, but he also had lots and lots of flaws and issues, which became more and more obvious, but also made him more interesting. However – in season 5, he just became hard to like. I tend to love flawed characters, but the problem with Nate is that he seemed to have devolved as a person (unlike Brenda, who evolved and overcame her issues) and not only didn’t become capable of taking responsibility, but also seemed to get more distant and less capable of love and commitment. And that’s how he ended, making me think that Brenda was really right that he couldn’t stand a real, messy, intense, adult relationship was only looking for people who would make him feel he was a better person than he was.
Fitz - aka Eddie Fitzgerald, the protagonist of the brilliant UK crime drama Cracker, played by Robbie Coltrane. The Brits are so good in producing crime drama that’s poignant and edgy and unpredictable (in addition to Cracker - Prime Suspect, Trial and Retribution, the little known and underrated The Vice...) and far superior to most US cop shows, which tend to be repetitive procedurals, with the exception of Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire. Jimmy McGovern is a hit and miss as a writer – he can be brilliant or awful – but on Cracker, he was just brilliant. (For awful, see his quasi-historical drama Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. For somewhere in between, see The Lakes.) Fitz is a genius criminal psychologist, with an uneasy working relationship with the police; he’s also an overweight chain-smoker, drinker and gambler with a tumultuous marriage. He’s super-intelligent but can be smug, abrasive and dismissive of people who aren’t particularly smart and who in turn resent him out of their own insecurity (cue a troubled relationship with some of the cops). This kind of genius-antihero with either poor social skills or lack of regard for playing nice (Fitz is definitely the later) has become almost a stereotype on UK and US TV, but with Fitz it works wonderfully. (Besides... I have a thing for those kinds of characters in general.) Robbie Coltrane, playing off actors such as Robert Carlyle (riveting in his breakthrough role), John Simm, Susan Lynch and Christopher Eccleston (in the role of Fitz’ police boss) was incredibly charismatic in the role, which made it believable both when he was breaking the suspects and winning the mind games, and when he was- despite his unconventional looks, i.e. weight, the subject of desire from two women (three, if you count a deranged stalker in one of the stories).
Frank Pembleton - brilliant Baltimore homicide detective from Homicide: Life on the Street, one of my all-time favorite shows, which was annoyingly ignored by the Emmys, but even they had to finally give Andre Braugher an Emmy for his great role as Pembleton. Pembleton was always my favorite character on the show – Bayliss may have been the heart of the show, but Pembleton was its soul, with his unflinching and passionate dedication to justice, which he saw as fighting for those who can’t speak for themselves anymore. The fact that I was almost always taking the same side as he did in every dilemma and supported his views was certainly a big part of the reason why I loved him. The other is that he’s very intelligent, educated (by Jesuits, as he mentions a few times!) and has an intellectual approach to crime-solving, which isn’t typical of cops on US TV (and dare I say, is also a non-stereotypical portrayal of an African American cop), or of typical American heroes. He has absolutely no interest in socializing with people and being „one of the boys“ – not because he’s snobbish, which he really isn’t, but because he’s focused on his job and his family. As I’ve mentioned with Fitz above, I tend to love characters who unashamedly stand out from the crowd, either because of their intelligence or because of their attitude, or both. (I’ve always tended to be indifferent to „everyman“ characters that many people seem to love.) Pembleton is different than many other „brilliant loner“ characters, in that he’s happily married (although the strain of job does eventually takes its toll on him, it’s fortunately not in the cliche „wife whines that he’s never home“ way, but in a much more shocking but realistic way; his wife, played by Braugher’s wife, is actually pretty great and has a career of her own and doesn’t whine or nag about needing her hubby home all the time). Also, he’s not one of the characters with poor social skills or quirks – he just doesn’t particularly care about making friends and socializing with colleagues; he’s focused on job and family. Although, against expectations, his partner Tim Bayliss ends up actually becoming his friend (and the Frankentim friendship/partnership throughout 6+ seasons and one TV movie is one of the most poignant things in the show).
(Dr) Frasier Crane – I remember watching Cheers as a kid – but I don’t remember the seasons Frasier was in. I’ve seen some of Cheers recently and did see Frasier Crane as Diane’s unlucky fiancee. But I watched Frasier, the show, since the moment I caught an episode on TV. I think it may be the only spinoff ever that’s much better than the original, in my humble (or not) opinion. Frasier is IMO the best US live-action sitcom ever. (The only reason I’m putting the „US“ qualifier is because I don’t want to have to choose between Frasier and Only Fools and Horses, though I suspect Frasier would still have a bit of an edge for me. Still, OFAH is something I’ve watched since childhood and that’s so well known and loved by everyone I know, it holds a special place.) It managed to be LMAO-funny in a witty and smart way, but not shying away from farce (which never insulted the viewer’s intelligence or taste, though), while also working well as a character drama (something that, IMO, marks all great comedies). Though Frasier’s brother Niles was my favorite character without any doubt, he was followed closely by Frasier himself, who was lovable and funny as a pompous ass that the show usually gently mocked, with his flaws and his competitiveness and hangups and snobbish obsessions, but also with his series of romantic disasters and worries about ending up single and never finding the right woman, and his dysfunctional but touching relationships with his retired cop father Martin, his colleague and friend Roz, his brother Niles and his father’s physical therapist/housekeeper Daphne. It’s one of those rare shows where I loved all the main characters and most of the recurring ones (including Frasier’s ex-wife Lilith and the annoying radio host Bulldog).
And here’s a new book meme, which I stole from pocochina:
1.) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2.) Italicize those you intend to read.
3.) Underline those you LOVE.
4.) Strikethrough the books you’d rather shove hot pokers in your eyes than read/finish/reread.
5.) *Asterisk for it's complicated.
01. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen * I’ve never been a big fan of the film adaptations of Austen, but sadly, when I read the book, I realized that the film and TV versions actually made her stories much more likeable.
02. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
03. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte * I’m a bit torn on the book, I love it in some ways and find it very naive and melodramatic and problematic in others
04. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
05. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
06. The Bible * No, I haven’t read all of it, but parts of it.
07. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte – I was sooo obsessed with that novel when I first read it 9at 12) and it’s still probably my favorite novel ever
08. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell – It’s one of those books I wonder how I still haven’t found the time to read.
09. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman – I think I might have heard about this book, or not?
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens I’m generally not a big fan of Dickens, but I loved this novel, especially for its complicated portrayal of Estella – far more interesting than the dreadfully cliche romances in some of his other works
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - most of it, but not all of it (the ones I haven’t read yet are: Titus Andronicus, King John, Henry VI, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Comedy of Errors, Love Labour’s Lost, All’s Well That Ends Well, Timon of Athens and the few collaboration/unfinished ones)
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien - It was many years ago as a child, though.
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot I was supposed to read one of Eliot’s main novels, either this one or A Mill on the Floss, at the university, but there just wasn’t enough time to read everything on the reading list and I managed to pass the exam with the perfect score despite not having read anything by Eliot or Thackerey (in the written part of the exam, I wrote an essay about Jane Austen where I was both praising and criticizing her and compared her briefly to the Brontes, Dickens and Hardy).
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy* I’m not sure I’d say I love the book, though it made a strong impression... Tolstoy is not my favorite writer, he’s great in some ways but can be incredibly boring when he writes whole chapters of essays where he’s just arguing his views. Especially in War and Peace, which is full of those.
25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (I can’t believe I still haven’t read it. I started reading it, thought it was great, but didn’t have the time to continue and it’s one of those books I always intend to find time to read, but it somehow always gets postponed)
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky I love Dostoyevsky, one of the best writers ever, if you disregard his views (i.e. stupid nationalism and religious obsessions); at his best, he wrote great works when he subverted his own views. Crime and Punishment is not my favorite by FMD though, it’s Notes from the Underworld, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov.
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy * I’m not sure I love this one either, but I think overall I like it better than War and Peace since there aren’t as many essay-chapters.
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen * I have to say that I have a certain distaste for Jane Austen, probably fuelled even more by everyone’s adoration of her. So while it’s not like I wouldn’t read any other of her novels unless you forced me at gunpoint, I don’t have a particular wish to do so. 35. Persuasion – Jane Austen * see above
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini *Probably not any time soon, though. Someone told me a lot about the book, which made it seem interesting but also spoiled a lot.
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown - What I know about it (including seeing most of the movie on TV) isn't particularly encouraging me to read
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez I can’t believe I still haven’t read it. I have it in my house, it was my mom’s favorite book, and she had a habit of talking about it a lot since forever, which put me off it for a while since she both spoiled some things and made it look completely wacky (since the moments she seemed to love to retell were the wackiest things ever). But I read a few pages and found it really interesting and having serious content in addition to wackiness, and intended to read it – however, it’s another one of those books I put down because I didn’t have the time and then somehow I always intend to read but something else always came up.
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy - And I intend to read it this summer, as soon as I finish reading my current book (Die Klavierspielerin – The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek). I love Hardy, I’m not sure why I haven’t found the time yet to read all of his works, even though I’ve bought most of them.
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood - I don’t know anything about it, but I’ve heard good things about Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel – I don’t know anything about this book.
52. Dune – Frank Herbert – One day, though not any time soon.
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen - See above. Why are so many of Austen’s novels on this list, anyway? It’s that over-ratedness I’ve mentioned above that additionally puts me off her.
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth – I don’t really know anything about this book.
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Ditto.
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (BTW, Point Counterpoint is an even better novel by Huxley.)
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon – Don’t know this one, either
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck - I have it somewhere, so I’ll probably read it one day.
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov* I’m not sure I can say I love the book, it’s not a book that you connect to emotionally that easily, but it is an excellent, subversive book full of subtle irony at its unreliable narrator and his delusions and self-justifications (something that, for instance, Adrian Lynne’s film version completely missed).
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt – Don’t know anything about this one, either.
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold – Maybe I’ll watch the film and then decide if I read the book? Or not?
65. The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy See what I said about Far From the Madding Crowd – I intend to read it this summer or autumn. Besides absolutely loving what I’ve read of Hardy so far, I loved Michael Winterbottom’s film adaptation of the book starring Christopher Eccleston, Kate Winslet and Rachel Griffiths.
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding - Based on the films and what I know about the book, I have absolutely no desire to read it.
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – Read it as a child
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker - I started reading it a couple of years ago, found it more boring than I expected and put it down due to not having time, but I intend to continue, if nothing else, then in order to have the full knowledge about the literary source of the Dracula myth.
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson – Haven’t heard about this one, either.
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath – Being a huge fan of her poetry, I have to eventually read it, especially since I’ve just found it in a library.
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome – Another one I don’t know anything about.
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray – another one I skipped at the university. I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to read it, especially since I know the story after seeing at least 4 film/TV versions.
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry – Another one I know nothing about
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White - ditto
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom - ditto
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton – and yet another one
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery - though I can’t say I loved it as much as most people seem to, it’s still lovely
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare – though it’s maybe a stretch to say I love it – I find it incredibly interesting, but I find Hamlet to be one of the more annoying Shakespeare’s protagonists
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo * I read parts of it as a child– the parts about Gavroche and Cosette, made into separate books for children.
Wow, that was a disturbing number of books I haven’t heard about/know nothing about. It also seems to include quite a few books that, I assume, many people from the English-speaking countries read as children (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Little Women, Chronicles of Narnia, Wind in the Willows etc...) and a few bestseller books that relatively recent films were based on, which I don’t have much of an interest in.