An Almost Made Up Poem


“Sleep”: Murakami Short Story Leaves Reader Awake
June 26, 2012, 5:15 am
Filed under: Article, Book Review | Tags: , , ,

“Sleep”, one of Haruki Murakami’s short stories in his “The Elephant Vanishes” collection, still sends a shiver down my spine every time I think about it. I got done reading the collection about a month ago, yet I can’t stop thinking about this one short story. Without giving away too much, it centers around a woman who has not slept in 17 days and finds real exhilaration in living in a world without rest, a world where she can make whatever she wants out of her life. No longer does she have to succumb to the everydayness.

Time becomes irrelevant. But with all this liberation comes great terror. Soon her reality starts to escape her as it escapes the reader. The short story leaves the reader with a myriad of questions and most of them disturbing. Murakami does an excellent job of making the reader feel like he or she is in a dream—one that is hard to recall but even harder to forget. Leave it Murakami to work the human mind into an existential crisis with only a few pages of text.

Here’s a link to another blog that has the whole short story: http://mylostwords.blogspot.com/2009/01/haruki-murakami-sleep.html. Check it out if you want to question reality or simply if you want to read one hell of a good short story.

Image

Advertisements


Unhappily Ever After: Why “Snow White and the Huntsman” Disappoints

Even the sexiest of evil queens and the handsomest of huntsmen could not save “Snow White and the Huntsman” from being greatly disappointing. If you are a fairytale fanatic, like moi, I am certain you really want to watch this adaptation of the Grimms’ classic. Immediately after watching the visually stunning preview, I was ready to purchase my ticket.  Nothing gets me more excited to see a movie than beautiful cinematography and a sweaty Chris Hemsworth.

After I revved myself up for an epic take on the fairy tale classic, I came into the theater very optimistic that the movie would deliver. I believed this action-packed movie would share a different perspective of the story, one that is darker and more sinister. I thought the characters would excite me in a different way than they had when I read the story as a child. I wanted to know more about the Huntsman and his journey with this new kick-ass version of Snow White.  Instead, I got a very different movie from the one I visualized. Kudos to whoever edited the preview because they managed to turn a boring, slow-paced, and flat film into an awe-worthy 3 minutes.

In “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Snow White (Kristen Stewart) escapes from stepmother and soul-eater (Charlize Theron).  The evil queen realizes Snow White is upstaging her and she will soon become a mere lowly runner up in the Fairy Tale Beauty Pageant. The Evil Queen ain’t having it. The Evil Queen hires a drunk, hapless Huntsman to kill the fair princess. This is where the story is supposed to engross the viewer. Instead, the film lags, spending way too much time showing the viewer how weird the Dark and Enchanted Forest appear (look at all the pretty, artistic things in the scenery!)  and not enough time engaging the viewer with its characters. By the time you meet the seven dwarves, you might be snoozing. The lack of character development left me not caring about the fate of the characters. I started rooting for the Evil Queen (does that say something about me or the movie?).

Although some of the acting is stellar (Theron and Helmworth do a great job), every other character seems like an afterthought. Snow White, who is supposed to be the main focus, is upstaged by the Evil Queen and the Huntsman. Stewart’s version of Snow White is no different than her version of a lovesick Bella in “Twilight”. That’s why when Snow White decides she needs to kick some evil queen ass, her transition to fearless Joan of Arc-esque warrior is more than a stretch—it is unbelievable.

Now, there are some redeeming qualities about the film. Like I mentioned before, the cinematography is amazing. You really feel like you are looking at an art book, not a movie. The stunning dark scenery, noteworthy acting, and deviance from the traditional story make the film a worthwhile rental (well, maybe more like a good Netflix instant movie option). However, for the average movie watcher and lover of all things fairytale, “Snow White and the Huntsman” lacks plot and character development, falling short of happily ever after.

Image



I’m a poet who can whine…
June 1, 2012, 4:23 am
Filed under: Book Review, Mini Review, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

“I’m a poet who can whine in meter,” is a great quote from writer Sherman Alexie. However in “Flight” Sherman Alexie’s whining seems more like a loud cry. Alexie is known for his essays, short stories, and novels centered around Native Americans and their cultural struggles. “Flight” centers around a 15-year-old Indian misfit, Zits, who bounces from foster home to foster home, displaced in society, just like his Native American ancestors. Zits finds a way to time travel into the body of various individuals, and in the process, he finds his own identity. “Flight” is worth the read, even though at times it seems a little contrived and sweet. Alexie writes beautiful prose and really knows how to bring a sense of humor to extremely dark situations. Check out “Flight” if you like Alexie’s essay “Superman and Me” and want to the same themes play out  in his coming-of-age novel.



American Vampire Makes Readers Remember When Vamps Were Scary
May 22, 2012, 5:26 am
Filed under: Book Review, Uncategorized | Tags:

Skinner Sweet does not sparkle and definitely does not want to play nice. In the comic series “American Vampire”, creator and writer Scott Snyder collaborates with Stephen King to develop the first 5 issues of this chilling vampire story– about the devilish first American Vampire, Skinner Sweet. Sweet is unlike any modern vampire protagonist. He is not misunderstood, heartbroken, or even remotely nice in his human life. Sweet was always a monster, a renegade, and most of all a depraved son a of a bitch. He was a murderer, a pretty seasoned bad guy with a gun and taste for senseless killing.

The first 5 issues center around two stories. The first is Skinner’s origin story which is set in the Wild West era. Skinner is a gun-touting outlaw that pisses off the wrong people and ends up being turned into a vampire, the first American vamp. This curse turns this awfully cruel human into an almost invincible badass. Sweet’s type of vampire is different, evolved, and ready to take revenge on all the people who made him transform. Somehow, I found myself liking Sweet, with his pompous attitude and ruthless behavior. He was, after all, exactly what a vampire is meant to be: utterly frightening. The second story is that of a 1920’s starlet, Pearl Jones, who is trying to make it in Hollywood. Her dreams are shattered when she experiences the ugly side of show biz, full of blood-sucking vampires, and I don’t mean talent agents. Pearl and Sweet share a common enemy and unique powers. Skinner Sweet seems to be immediately drawn to her and her spunk. Their bond seems to be one that will be revisited and might serve as a  means to deeper insight into Sweet’s psyche.

After watching “Twilight” (don’t judge me there was nothing on and I was sick and those vampires and werewolves look dreamy after lots of Vicodin) and “True Blood” ( and yes, I know they are books too, but no, I did not read them), I realized the modern vampire has become a satire piece or subject matter for Tween porn. After reading “American Vampire”, I am reminded of what a vampire was initially…the gore, the darkness, and the evil– these elements were made to be frightening not sexy. Much how “Interview with a Vampire” reveals how humanity can still live in such a terrifying creature, “American Vampire” shows the audience another perspective to this classic story of the vampire. Perhaps we are the real monsters, monstrosities only restricted by our moral constructs. More specifically, “American Vampire” challenges the reader to see the ugly in Americans and relish in the awful of it all. Rather than turning away from the bad and the ugly, or encouraging the reader to better themselves before they turn into metaphorical vampires, “American Vampire” let’s the reader feel completely comfortable with loving the hedonistic, bloodsucker Skinner Sweet. After all, he’s as American as you and me.

 

Image



Reaper Fever: Why I’m Obsessed with Mass Effect
May 12, 2012, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Video Games | Tags: , ,

 

I use to really be into video games, being a Nintendo gal myself. I loved all things Zelda and Mario until I was about 21.  I stopped playing video games once I started Grad school, because well, I would have never graduated otherwise.  Once I moved to Oakland, got a full time job, and settled in my “adult life” (snooze). I started seeing how video games had evolved.  What started a pixelated plummer chasing after a pink princess turn into full-fledged epic games with awing graphics.  I know that games like Zelda and Final Fantasy had all those story elements in place, and they pioneered the RPG type play. However, I completely missed when video games began looking like movies while I was on hiatus from playing.

I began feeling I was missing  out on something, so I started playing once again. Diving deeper and deeper into obsession as I played Dragon Age and its less superior sequel, I found that my love of video games had been reignited. However, nothing would compare me for how epic Mass Effect was as a game and story.

As an avid reader and self-proclaimed snob (at times; part time really), I really didn’t understand how close a video game could come to duplicating that wonderful feeling of enthrallment I experience from reading a book, waiting for its characters to develop, watching the story change. That was until Mass Effect. I really loved Dragon Age with all its medieval geekery: mages, rogues, warriors, fighting in the classical battle of good versus evil. However, Mass Effect was the first video game that drew me in like a well-written novel.

Mass Effect’s story is basic and rather simply executed. You are in a future where aliens and humans coexist throughout the Milky Way; you’re Lieutenant Sheppard of the Normandy, who’s mission is to stop the Reapers ( inorganic life forms that ruins all organic life it chooses to destroy). Save the earth: easy enough objective. The plot has been done a million times, but this time it is done in an video game that looks like a work of art and stars a cast of characters that are as inviting as any Oscar Wilde character. You follow this story throughout 3 games. This game does not go on and on like Zelda. There are no more princesses to save at the end of the 3rd game. Instead, there’s a  definite conclusion (which is completely up to you).

You are completely part of this journey.It certainly sucked me in like a good novel. And like a good novel, short story, or novella, whenever you try to summarize it to someone it never sounds as good as when you let them read it for themselves. The simplistic and formulaic plot does not do justice to how you feel as a player. I can tell you “The Metamorphosis” is about a guy who turns into a bug or “The Stranger” is about a guy who kills someone, but that wouldn’t tell you what those stories are really about. The same goes for the Mass Effect trilogy; there are layers of political and social issues that arise as you play, adding to your experience and making you face tough moral and political issues that don’t just apply to this galactic imaginary world.

I loved the trilogy’s ending. I know there’s been a lot of hoopla about the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy, but honestly, after reading so many novels, I never expect happy endings nor do I need them. I crave the story. Mass Effect delivers a story that fulfills my intellectual needs while letting me shoot things. How much more awesome can that get?!  So, let me get back to saving the world and later, I’ll read some Murakami. Maybe I’ll get an idea for another RPG about a very intricate, complicated character and his adventures exploring his adult life.



The Tenants of Moonbloom by Edward Lewis Wallant
July 12, 2008, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Book Review

This novel is absolutely awesome. The Tenants of Moonbloom is set in New York City right after WWII when Mott Street was not the realestate hot spot it is now, and when the city was still a dirty, grungy mess of poverty, literature, and alienation. Norman Moonbloom is an intellectual going through an existential crisis as he ventures away from school after 8 years of bouncing from major to major. He now finds himself having to work for his brother Irwin, who is the landlord of 4 less-than-desirable apartments. Moonbloom figures out a meaning for himself as he encounters all of his quirky, depressed, and sometimes outright odd tenants. Moonbloom battles with his conflicted about his tenants who always in need for him to fix and arrange their deteriorating apartments. Through rebuilding the sad habitats of the other, his tenants, Norman is able to find contentment and even happiness.

Yes, the book is a little heavy, but it has a lot of funny, poignant moments that showcase both the corruption and deprivation of city life, and its tenants constant struggle to survive as a community, rather than a get lost in the anonymity of the city. This book is a great example of a work that not only pulls on your heartstrings but also demonstrates the ability for community to be a positive element in the event of such alienation. In this novel, identity is debilitating whereas the ability to be towards… the ability to interact and face the world around you, can save you from the depths of depression and stagnation. The Tenants of Moonbloom provokes you to acknowledge the dirty, impoverished areas of your life. These are the areas that everyone sees reflected in others and usually never accessed and accepted as one’s own inequities.  This novel begs for the reader to apply some critical theory and provokes some serious soul searching.



Scatterbrained: What is the What,The Savage Detectives, and the Brief Exploration of Bad Adaptations
May 14, 2008, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Book Review

I am extremely glad that I read What is the What?although it left me utterly emotionally destroyed. It is the kind of novel that drives a reader to actually do something… take action… move in some way to make a difference. I have yet to figure out what to do, but I definitely will. I have to do something; there is no way I can’t after reading this novel.

I jumped right into reading The Savage Detectivesby Roberto Bolano which is a novel that promotes life through literature. Yes, it is a very Mathew Arnoldesque, but it is done in Latin America through the eyes of a sexually experimental teen.  The movement mentioned in the book is a fictional and undefinable movement of lit which is the characters dubbed visceral realism. All the characters are involved in at least one aspect of this fake movement that produces some real pretension in a lot of cases. Although this book focuses on a sort of rebellion against society in order to live through literature, the characters cannot help but sounds like a bourgeois bored suburbanites looking for something to belong to. Who really claims a movement while still in it? I don’t know exactly what it was about the novel but I couldn’t stop reading eventhough there were obvious aspects of the novel I didn’t care for. The main character for one is an unlikable, self-indulgent poet who uses women for sex, money, and poetic status (whatever that means). Mind you this is just a description of the first part of the book because the second part is just a clusterfuck of characters much like a Russian novel, and I couldn’t deal. The sudden switch from a one-person narrative to a multi-character orgy of narration was too much for me. The book has some redeeming qualities: its subtle wit and enuendo, beautifully phrased descriptions, poetic rhetoric. It proved to be both romantic and pretentious. What do I do with that?

So… then I saw “Love in Time of Cholera” and laughed as people ran around with spanish accents speaking English in bad geratric makeup pontificating about love. I might have loved if I was on my period and needed a sap story that really didn’t develop the main characters to my liking but prodices lots of romantic much laced with a Shakira song…. yes, Shakira. Not to mention they decided to hire the everso annoying John Leguizamo. I really wanted to love this movie cause Javier Bardem was in it and he’s the cat’s meow, but really… what am I supposed to do with John Leguizamo?!