Oh, dear…

…I have discovered the wonder that is eBay and its abundance of ARCs (which I love!). So far I have won two of the books that I was going for – The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (yes, I know this is already out, but although I didn’t feel like reading it for twenty-some dollars, I will read it for ten) and Hero by Perry Moore, which I am very excited about. The third one, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, I really wanted, but I missed the end of the auction because my alarm didn’t go off in time (!). But it’s okay, because turns out it’s only going to retail for $20 and I wasn’t going to get it any cheaper for the ARC. So it’s okay. And it’ll be in hardcover when it comes out in October, so it’ll be nicer and hopefully hold up better.

But I’m still a little disappointed because there’s just something about an ARC that I love. 😉

omg movies: the 80s-tastic version

But more importantly…

I also saw the original, 1986, animated Transformers movie. And, rather surprisingly, it did not suck. In fact, I would say that it was better than the Michael Bay version. From here on out, there will probably be some spoilers, but, uh, I think a 20 year bumper is more than generous.

It was like a glorious celebration of 80s awesome! There was extraordinarily cheesy (and slighty inappropriately upbeat) pseudo-rock a la Foreigner, there was a WEIRD AL YANKOVIC SONG (Dare to Be Stupid, in case you were wondering), and there were hoverboards (seeing as the film is set in that far-distant year, 2005!). It featured the voice talents of Leonard Nimoy, Eric Idle (!), Robert Stack, Judd Nelson, and, in his last feature film prior to his death…Orson Welles. So really it should have quite a lot of cred. My friend from work that I watched it with and I were often fairly confused and had to keep pausing it to ask her fiance questions, such as ‘Why does he transform into a gun when he has a gun?’, ‘Is he like a half-man, half-Transformer?’ (no, he wasn’t, it was just a suit), and ‘Why is he choking him? Do they breathe or…’  The biggest surprise, I think, was the Optimus Prime dies really early on and so do, what her fiance tells us, were really main characters in the cartoon. Now, I think this shows a lot of sophistication on the part of the filmmakers and I really liked that they didn’t just pander to their audience. Again, I like it when things have real consequences. I was just disappointed because I thought Optimus Prime’s death was like the whole centerpoint of the film, this great emotional climax towards which everything was headed. But it turned out it wasn’t.

But. The best part was that there are…wait for it…DINOBOTS! Oh. My god. I can’t even begin to tell you how AWESOME they were. They’re SO CUTE! They talk kind of funny and they just sort of lumber around like giant robot cows or something and all they really want to do is listen to the sort of old-timey Autobot TELL THEM STORIES! Okay, they’re war stories, but still, they honestly say things like ‘Me Grimlock want to hear Kup’s war stories!’ And then they want him to GET TO THE GOOD PART!

SO. CUTE.

So all in all, not as big a waste of time as I thought it might be. 😉

omg movies!

Well, first off, I saw the Simpsons movie yesterday. Best. Simpsons. Movie. EVAR! Yes, I also know that it’s the only Simpsons movie, but it is really great. The last couple of seasons, I don’t think they’ve been up to their normal standards and now, after having seen the movie, I think it’s probably because they were focusing most, if not all, of their creative genius (!) on the movie. And it was genius well spent. It is funny, it is sweet (in their own Simpsons way), but more importantly? IT IS FUNNY! Very good. Go see it. Unless you’re not a Simpsons fan – you won’t understand anything. What you should do is rent/borrow/buy season 1 and just start there. Work your way through the 10 seasons that are available (out of 18 so far) and then go see the movie. It’ll totally be worth your time.

I promise.

eta: Oops, I forgot…Summer movie tally = 5-1-3. And I think that may be it…well, no, I guess August is still summer, so Stardust (which is looking to be a better movie than a book, but we’ll see) will be added to the summer movie tally eventually.

Scandal at three stories!

Remember Lazarus? My miraculous tomato plant who rose from the dead to bear, well, tomatoes?

Him? (I know there aren’t actually tomatoes there in the picture, but trust me there were…and I stress were…)

I went out to check on him today and LOOK WHAT’S MISSING!

THEY TOOK THE WHOLE FUCKING BRANCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. Does a squirrel living in downtown Urbana really need to STEAL FROM ME?! There are LOTS of garbage cans and restaurants who I’m sure have very large dumpsters that are very good for rummaging. I thought, at three stories, I was SAFE from THE WILDLIFE!

This is not on, Mother Nature.

NOT. ON.

Fiction

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

So I’ve seen the preview for this movie a couple of times now and it looks like it’s going to be really good. And I know that usually people who like Neil Gaiman really like Neil Gaiman. Now I’ve read Good Omens, but, frankly, I found it a little boring. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Crowley and Aziraphale, but the rest of it was, well, boring. But I thought I’d give him another chance and Stardust?

Is a little bit boring. It’s a pretty standard fantasy plot. Boy loves girl, boy goes into Faerie land to prove he loves girl, boy has adventures, everyone lives happily ever after. The characters felt a little flat to me, the language felt a little stilted (it’s obviously mean to be in fairytale-ese, but unlike Keturah and Lord Death which uses it to its advantage, Stardust never really settles into it).

I don’t know, I really don’t have a lot to say. I’ll still go see the movie because it looks really good and I may at some point give Gaiman another chance because I can’t help but think there must be something about him that explains why people seem to love his writing. But whatever it is, I haven’t discovered it yet.

My rating: C+

Non-fiction: Music

‘Einstein on the Beach’ from Music by Philip Glass by Philip Glass

Yes, I’ll admit it, even if it makes me pretentious. I like Philip Glass. There. I said it. I’d say it again if I had to. What kind of statement could be even more pretentious? I like, nay, love, a Philip Glass…opera. Yes! Einstein on the Beach! So wonderful. Full of repetition, solfege (solfege!), a libretto that barely makes sense, lines spoken across one another, and…dare I say it? A spaceship.

Awesome.

But even though I love Einstein on the Beach, I had absolutely no idea what it was all about. Luckily, Philip Glass himself was kind enough to explain it to a certain extent.

I haven’t read all of Music by Philip Glass. I figure it probably wouldn’t make as much sense or be as helpful to read about music with which I am not familiar. So this review is really just about the Einstein on the Beach chapter. It was really interesting. He talks all about the process of how he collaborated with, oh, what’s his name, Wilson, Robert Wilson and how they came up with their ideas. It’s really interesting. As far as I can tell, Einstein on the Beach isn’t really about Einstein so much as like a collage of things that are meant to remind you of Einstein and then think about him on your own time. Which means that this is one of those performances where the audience is just as important as the performers because without the audience, Einstein on the Beach has no meaning.

Cool, huh? I don’t think it’s a really new idea, nor was Glass the first to do it, but I still think it’s cool. Most of the text was written, if I understood correctly, by a fourteen-year-old boy with a developmental disability, which is why it has that borderline making sense feel to it. But it’s also beautifully poetic. I don’t know if it’s just the sounds of the words that he chose or the rhythms or what, but it’s amazing. The rest of the text was written by the soloists and has the same stream-of-consciousness feel to it.

He even went into a little bit of detail about how they learned it (one small passage each day and then that one plus a new one the next, and so on), how they generated publicity (word of mouth at fringe festivals), how they managed to get picked up by the Met, and how they didn’t make any money at all.

Although he talked a little bit about the score and provided two or three examples, I wish he could have gone into more detail. His music is fascinating, the way it repeats, repeats, repeats, and then suddenly you realise it’s ever-so-slightly different and definitely going somewhere. I need to get my hands on a score for this.

Also, and I will be adding points to my rating just for this, he has the best quote EVAR on the front cover. You know how authors get other authors or people who are well-known in the field they’re writing about to say something like ‘So-and-so’s take on this subject is revolutionary and mind-blowing; I wish I’d thought of it’ or ‘Anne is the next J.K. Rowling.’ That sort of thing? Well, here’s Phil’s:

Does that rock or what? OMG with the hilarity. Seriously, it still makes me laugh out loud to read it. Sometimes I just say it to myself and it makes me laugh.

Awesome.

My rating: B+ for lack of score, but A- for most awesome quote ever.

And because it’s so awesome, I’m going to give you a sample (it’s an opera, so it’s mega-expensive and it’s Philip Glass, so it’s not for everybody, so either check out this excerpt or head down to your local library and see if they can get a hold of it for you). So here’s my favorite part of Einstein on the Beach:

Philip Glass – Knee 5 from Einstein on the Beach