jazzy_dave: (bookish)
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Ted Hughes "Birthday Letters" (Faber and Faber)

As background Ted Hughes was probably one of the finest English poets of the 20th century.

He married Sylvia Plath in 1956 and was estranged from her upon her death by suicide in 1963.

This is visceral, confessional poetry of an immense power and feeling. It is the final work of a man who, knowing he is soon to die, cares nothing about displaying the soiled linen of their relationship; her weaknesses, fears, obsessions, his failings as he looks through the demonic power of his words to their inevitable conclusion. One is cut to shreds as he sifts the spikes and shards of their failings and failed relationship. There is bitterness too, Plath's father is certainly not spared, nor is Hughes himself but there are goblins and bees aplenty in that superlative, supernatural and ill-fated place they inhabited together. I wanted it to cease, I longed for it to be over, I never wanted it to end.

Hughes spared nothing. He was blunt and his verse often less than flattering but always the images conjured are powerful:

From 18, Rugby Street

, "And I became aware of the mystery
Of your lips, like nothing before in my life,
Their aboriginal thickness. And your nose,
Broad and Apache, nearly a boxer's nose,
Scorpio's obverse to the Semitic eagle
That made every camera your enemy,"

His word in "Visit" are stark and doom-ladenly prophetic

"Inside that numbness of the earth
Our future trying to happen.
I look up - as if to meet your voice
With all its urgent future
That has burst in on me. Then look back
At the book of the printed words.
You are ten years dead. It is only a story.
Your story. My story."

Looking back on that time and facing his own curtailed future (he died of cancer shortly after publication) Hughes left possibly his best work for the very last to be savoured after his passing. Given the subject matter that was just right.
jazzy_dave: (bookish)
[personal profile] jazzy_dave
Richie Tankersley Cusick "The Harvest : (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment)

The Harvest is the novelization of the first two episodes of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (episodes by the same name, for that matter). As novelizations go, it's really not bad. Cusick manages to adapt the script into something very readable whilst also incorporating some of the charm and originality that the actors brought to the show.

Also, as media novelizations go, the writing -- while again, not bad -- seems to target a younger reading audience. In my opinion, it was at level with tween-ish YA. Content wise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had not yet reached the maturity level that it would in later seasons, and the edgiest things in The Harvest are standard action-movie violence and mild references to sexuality.

This introduction into the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe (following the events of the 1992 movie flop) follows slayer Buffy Summers as she transitions into a new life and new highschool in Sunnydale, CA after being kicked out of her old highschool for events that those familiar with the movie will recognize. She thinks she can finally have a normal life, but her slaying duties reappear almost immediately -- along with a new watcher (a person meant to help train and guide the slayer as she battles evil creatures) and a new group of surprisingly resilient friends. Her first challenge in this new town -- which has more than its fair share of vampires and other nasties -- is to prevent "the harvest" -- the ascension of a particularly gruesome vampire from the church he has been trapped in underground for many decades -- and the evil that follows it. Many new allies are created -- including some that will become popular additions to the character lineup very shortly -- and the theme and style of the series is laid out.

The action is carried along smoothly with very little added to what is cut-and-dry from the script I imagine. Cusick attempts to add some internal monologue for some of the more major characters, but in most cases it falls kind of flat. One of the challenges of adapting media is obviously making it recognisable but not so true-to-form that the reader would be better off just reading the script. Cusick manages to get a good, steady rhythm going and sustains it throughout the entire novel and with a little more adventurousness I think this could've actually been a very good book. As it stands, it is passable and enjoyable for Buffy fans but not likely to lure any new folks in.
Oct. 14th, 2017 12:29 pm


halfshellvenus: (Psycho Penguin)
[personal profile] halfshellvenus
I have finally found the perfect casting for the part of Jack Reacher (yes, that's totally a thing at our house), and I can't believe it took me this long:

John Cena

It isn't a part that requires stellar acting skills, so the casting is more about the right physical type and age (Adam Baldwin was a great candidate for older Jack Reacher, but not the young-to-middle years anymore). The absolute requirement is that he not be a prissy, midgetory, sportscar-driving wannabe. I.e., *koff*... the current casting.

I see that recasting Jack Reacher is also a thing over at IMDB.com, so we're not alone. :O

And my newest nominee for the "What the hell was that?" Sports Hall of Fame comes from last night's Cal Football game against Washington State: Buzzuh? Damn, why is there no slo-mo replay of that sucker?

Oct. 12th, 2017 01:06 pm


halfshellvenus: (Default)
[personal profile] halfshellvenus
So, while the rest of life seems like a rotating chore chart, there have at least been some entertainment breaks along the way. Here goes:

We finished watching Shetland, which was over all too soon. The story arc grew hard for the character we think of as "comic-relief Tosh", and I kept half expecting Jimmy and Duncan to get together, thanks to Duncan's flirty chemistry with Jimmy (and just about everyone, really). A fourth season has finished filming, which we hope will come to Netflix soon.

Shetland looks as if it was filmed during the summer, in the sunniest and most beautiful part of the year, like a tourist pitch for Scotland. The Welsh series, Hinterland, is just the opposite. It aims for more of a noire effect, set in and around the Cambrian Mountains (which are bleak and sparsely populated) and looking like the tail end of winter—dead grass, glowering skies, and breath-fog temperatures. Wales is a beautiful country, so it's clear that unwelcoming atmosphere is deliberate. Season 3 just went up on Netflix, and we snapped it up. More seasons would be nice, but I don't know if they're planned. The storyline tied up well in S3, so that could be it. :O

The dearth has caused us to sample The Break (I don't much like the main character there) and Death In Paradise (silly fun). We had previously watched Dr. Foster (and wound up hating almost every character in it) and Paranoid (much better). But a Luther re-watch tempts me, just for better quality.

I rat-holed down some Barns Courtney music last week, because I like Fire. The bluesy sound of his music is great, but the choruses often go farther into "pop" than I can generally tolerate. I stumbled across Glitter and Gold, which I did like, and then a video collaboration for it that really grabbed me. It seemed an odd music choice for Marvel, but then I realized it was a fan video, not a Marvel production. Vidders may scoff, but the presentation of the Marvel universe tied in really well with the music, and the video made striking use of all parts of the music (always a huge plus in my book!) So often, 'signature' music themes or moments are ignored in video (and dance choreography), and that drives me nuts. Here, they were used and even highlighted—and tightly so. In a word, from my naive perspective: \o/

Have I mentioned my worthless MP3 player? I bought it last Xmas, after my iPod Nano went from "I will never download new playlists for you again" (which is iTunes' fault) to "What is this on/off button of which you speak? I will not play music at your command! Now go away while I drain your battery..."

The new MP3 player looks pretty, and has lots of memory... but almost no functionality and no firmware updates! \o? So, it's useless for playing music. I've never tried to let it just play its contents in order (alphabetical playlists— kill me now), but on "random" it skips to exactly the same songs every time, in sequence. Plus, once you've paused it or it's gone into sleep mode... when it wakes up, it goes back to the beginning of your playlist and does the whole thing over again. Identically. It's maddening.

I gave up on music, and I'm using it for podcasts instead. So, at our daughter's urging, I started Serial. Wow, I am hooked. I'm in the last episode of Season 1, and desperate to find out what the "truth" is, assuming they find it. I have Within The Wires waiting, and more of The Orbiting Human Circus Of The Air. And of course, Nightvale. So, while I'm not singing during my commute to/from work now, at least I'm entertained. Really, the final straw toward podcasts—apart from the M3 player—was that our local alternative radio station is veering toward pop/rap/reggae, all of which I hate, and another has gone to an "80's as oldies" format (*cries*). I can't change any presets on the car stereo to other stations unless we buy a new dashboard display unit for the Prius, so it's CDs or an auxiliary unit for now. I need to find a different MP3 Player for music. My birthday's coming up, so if I can find a gift for HalfshellHusband to buy me, he'll be pleased.

Will I get Halloween decorations up this year? The thought of NOT doing it is sad, but there are so many endless chores at home on weekends, and I'm there so little on weekdays. *sigh* I need elves. And by that, I mean elves other than HSH sneaking around and doing stuff he shouldn't, while I'm still in bed. :O

Oct. 10th, 2017 12:03 am


halfshellvenus: (Default)
[personal profile] halfshellvenus
Still here, just trying to keep my head above water at work and at home. Halfshellhusband is still restricted to minimal movement while his leg heals. It IS looking better, but the muscles are also trying to pull the bone fragments out of alignment, so it's a race to see whether the break binds together before the slippage requires surgery. Still hoping no surgery. This has been hard enough without resetting the healing clock back to zero! OTOH, no idea what this means for arthritis going forward...

We have a house cleaner lined up, but apart from a quick-clean of the high-priority areas last Thursday, she can't come for a month. Which may mean that it will still mostly be me, and we might just be paying her for a single deep-clean visit. :( Outside, I'm missing my helpers. This is the "weed and clean up dead things" season, and is starting to overlap with leaf season. I thought I was going to apply Round-up on Saturday, but I had to clear leaves and large weeds away first, to see what I was doing. Lost my daylight, and Sunday was a windstorm, so apart from hand-weeding and cleanup, no progress there. The property is about 1/3 of an acre, and over-landscaped. Places where we had to remove trees still look like crap, as the azaleas continue to die without shade. This has been going on for about 8 years now, and we haven't found any good replacement plants that are more sun-tolerant. The leftover buried tree-limbs that couldn't be dug out have now become extremely wet and pulpy (so, gross but also fascinating). They've also attracted that thick, leathery fungus that binds around plants' roots and kills them (two of the dead azaleas had that).

Several weeks ago, I noticed what seemed to be a group of red and yellow toadstools. When I went to investigate, I found an enormous single fungus that looked like a no-cheese pre-baked pizza, complete with 'crust'. Maybe a Reishi mushroom (shiny, tomato-paste-colored middle, blobby shape)? Huge and hideous either way, and larger (in 2D) than a football. :O

Work is slightly less busy, and I wish I could take vacation time, but I'm being told I need to get my performance up. Like that pressure helps anything... Once I joined the new project, it has all been so much work to learn new (and poorly-documented things), and such a battle against distraction. I found myself Googling adult ADD last week, as my mother has that and it would explain some of my difficulties. We talked on the phone last week, and she specifically mentioned things like noises and motion being incredibly distracting. I always thought those were a problem for me because I'm "over-wired." Everything is generally too loud, too bright, too smelly, too strong-tasting, too painful, etc. She mentioned the noise issues in particular being an ADHD thing for her, and I hadn't realized random noise was also a problem for her.

Our work environment is thwart-tastic, and about to get worse, but the main thing is that while it's a struggle for everyone, it seems to be a bigger struggle for me, and that needs to change. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution for this. Which just brings more pressure. I'm at the point where I could potentially retire (healthcare benefits would be the big issue), but I'd rather work part-time instead. I can't do that at a new job, so I'm kind of stuck where I am, hoping I can do "more things faster." *sigh* I used to love this job and this company, for so many years...

All of which means that right now, I need to get to bed and start it all over again tomorrow. So, the entertainment blather will have to wait for another post! But at least I signed up for Yuletide...

jazzy_dave: (bookish)
[personal profile] jazzy_dave
Simone de Beauvoir "Letters to Sartre" (Vintage Classics)

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (1908-1986), was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist, who was closely associated with Jean-Paul Sartre and Existentialism.

These letters were published posthumously in 1990. The editor wrote in his Introduction, “the publication of her correspondence… demonstrated the radical incompatibility of her and Sartre’s whole conception of free human relations… with the somewhat rose-tinted, soft-edged public image she had herself at times helped to create… What provoked the outraged reaction of so many to the posthumous publication of these letters? At least three strands converged here. First, traditional sexism… Secondly… ideological Reaction: the posturing of intellectual yuppiedom… More significant was a third strand made up of former of still-would-be sympathizers, who now felt De Beauvoir had revealed herself in her letters to be dismayingly OTHER than the idealized image of her they had so long been nurturing…De Beauvoir’s letters to Sartre … are love letters … and they are concurrently the unsparing account of those other---‘contingent’---loves allowed for in her pact with Sartre… De Beauvoir herself is a validly heroic figure… [who] produced a work which stands and will stand as the baseline of all aspirations for equality between the sexes in the modern world.” (Pg. vii-ix)

Those looking for philosophical sophistication in these letters will mostly go away disappointed; but for those wanting insight into De Beauvoir’s mind and personality, and for details of her relationship with Sartre---as well as with various other lovers (female and male)---this collection will be a “page-turner.”


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