Saturday, May 10, 2014

Paper cuts, paper cutting, and music that is louder than necessary...

Yeah. I intended to be back on a more regular basis. Really.

But, you see, I got this paper cut on my finger...

No, it isn't the beginning of a joke. I really did have the paper cut from hell. Right on the tip of that most useful of fingers (that would be the one in the middle). And, even with a Band-Aid on it, keyboarding was, well, uncomfortable. And, I don't know why, but my paper cuts always take forever to heal. Other stuff - my cuts, scrapes, bruises - always heal really fast, but not the paper cuts.

But now I think I'm all healed. At least, I hope so.

Now, this is funny. Just for the shits and giggles, I searched "paper cuts" in Bing images. I do these things sometimes when I'm bored. And there were a couple of people displaying actual cuts from paper. But mostly what appeared were things like this:

And this:

Both very pretty, and both things I'd never be able to do - I didn't get the graphic arts gene - but very much not what I was expecting to see. But I thought I'd share.

The things I do to amuse myself on a Saturday night. Then again, I have to do something to distract myself from the local neighborhood noise polluter. For the past three hours or so, there has been what sounds like live music blasting from somewhere in the neighborhood. It wouldn't be so bad if it was good music. Alas, it is not. It's probably a good thing I had a long nap this afternoon, because I'd hate to try to go to sleep with that going on.

Ah, well. Because I try to find the silver lining in every situation, I can say that it least the music is better than the joker who was setting off firecrackers last night. Sounded like a cannon going off. Repeatedly.

Hope you all are having, or have had, a Saturday night that is as exciting - or not - as you want it to be.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Down on Santa Monica Pier...

This is where I went yesterday:

And I rode on this (it's from the 1920s, I think):

And I watched this:

And I saw this (and had lunch at the place behind the sign...the burgers and fries are wonderful):

Passed this on the way to the pier while driving through Topanga Canyon:

Theatricum Botanicum was founded in 1973 by actor Will Geer (you might remember him as Grandpa Walton on "The Waltons" television series in the 1970s), but its roots to back to the 1950s when Geer was blacklisted during the McCarthy era and opened a theater on the property to give other blacklisted entertainers a place to practice their arts. After Geer died in 1978, his family and others decided to turn the facility into a professional repertory theater. Apropos to my visit to Santa Monica Pier, the main stage at the theater is built from wood salvaged when the Pier sustained serious damage in a storm in 1983. To all appearances from when we drove by on Sunday, the theater is alive and well, with an event going on as we passed by.

And saw this while traveling down Pacific Coast Highway:

This was once actress Thelma Todd's home (upstairs) and a café she opened (downstairs). It's also where she died, in 1935, in the garage, with the car still running. It was ruled an accident (or possibly suicide) at the time, but some say she was murdered although a grand jury was not able to find any evidence to prove it.

So, that's my Sunday, and a little bit of film history and gossip for Movie Monday. Actually, the Pier itself has a place in film history, with appearances in many films and television episodes over the years.

How was your weekend?

Just a note: None of these are my photos; Bing Images is my friend.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

I said I'd do it, and now I have...

I recently finished reading my way through J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels.

I had already seen the movies, so I pretty much knew how things would turn out. And so the did; the movies, as it turns out, were in the main faithful to the books. I know that there were arguments among diehard fans of the books about what was left in, what was left out, and what was changed. As I read the books, I was aware of some of the changes and omissions, but they mostly didn't bother me as I read. My philosophy about books into movies, whether I saw the films first or read the books, is that what is on the page and what is on the screen are two different worlds. It's how I'm able to enjoy the television series "Bones" and also enjoy the books written by Kathy Reichs that provided the inspiration for the series, which share pretty much nothing but the name of the title character.

This, of course, is not the case with the Harry Potter books and films. The thing that surprises me, really, is that the films are so like the books. It was a difficult thing to achieve, I think, in the face of the fact that in adapting such a long and complex (yes, despite being written for a young adult audience, the books as Rowling wrote them comprise a pretty complex whole) series of books for the screen meant that it would be necessary to pick and choose the details to be retained and those to be omitted. I've only seen a couple of other films based on books that I've read, that have been able to retain the illusion that it was the book up there on the screen. It is an illusion, of course, in all cases, and the ability to create that illusion is a rare and wonderful thing.

However, as faithful as the films were able to be to the books, enough had to be left out that there were things in the story told by the movies that I just didn't understand, even after repeated viewings. Which is why I've finally read the books. Friends who had both read the books and seen the films had told me that things would be much clearer after I read the books.

They were absolutely right.

Now, I have to say that some of the explanations came in bursts of info-dump that Rowling might have been able to find other ways to accomplish. On the other hand, I'm glad those scenes were there. I don't know how many times, while I was reading, I found myself saying to myself (sometimes out loud), "So, that's what that was about." Or, "Now I understand why that happened that way." Now, however, I need to go back and watch the films from the perspective of having read the books.

The quibble about the info-dumps, I hasten to add, is just that: a minor quibble. I think that J. K. Rowling accomplished something quite amazing in her books. While writing for a younger audience, she was able to weave a story that has also kept millions of adult readers entranced over a period of many years. She has been quoted as saying that she came up with the idea for the story of the Boy Who Lived while on a train in 1990. The first volume was published in the UK in 1997 and in the US in 1998. The final book was published in 2007. She managed, as far as I could see in my reading, to retain the consistency of the story she was telling through all that time and work, and especially through all the hype as the books found and audience and became so immensely popular.

I'm glad I read the books. I'll probably read the series again. But, to be honest, I'm also glad I waited to read them until well after all the books had been published. I would have hated waiting between books to see what happened next. I'm going through that right now with another series of books I've been reading, and it's driving me a bit crazy that the third book won't be out until mid-July. It's driving me so crazy that I've recently re-read the first book and am working my way through the second book again now. If I had known when I picked up the first volume, "A Discovery of Witches", by Deborah Harkness, I would have just left it alone until all the books had been published, as I did with the Potter series.