Sunday, July 29, 2012

a feeling of distance

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why so distant my dear
 i sit down and you stand up
with your eyes fixed outside the window
looking beyond the black
crows that perch in our fountain

why so quiet, my dear
i pour the tea, and you take your cup
and let its contents flow in a single red stream
(steaming) into the black rubber sleeve
of the garbage disposal

why so still, my dear?
 i walk on and you remain
your feet fixed as firmly as Daphne's roots
 you caress the green needles of the pine
 they fall (extinguished) at your touch.

Friday, July 27, 2012

a trip to the library, wherein I am mistaken for a librarian

The other day, I visited the library. This takes more planning then you'd think, seeing as I only had forty minutes to spend there, and had ten books to locate during that time. Therefore, I had very little time to waste. Yet, waste time I did, as I somehow ended up in the section where the novels are kept, when I was looking for books on Medieval Europe. Now, when I go to the library, my backpack will not suffice, as I tend to leave with twice as many books as I came to pick up, necessitating that I bring a book cart like this one.

 This book cart actually looks quite a bit like mine, except mine is green, and usually full of books.
I was standing in the F section of Women's Studies, this book cart filling up most of the aisle (I don't like to leave my books unattended) going over the call number of the book that I had found to make sure it was the correct one, when a fellow student walked up to me. He had a piece of paper in his hand, and he looked bewildered by the many, many shelves that line the fourth floor of the university library.
"Do you work here?" he asked.
"No," I replied, not realizing that I looked as if I did, and feeling rather complimented by his question.
"Oh," he said, looked back down at the paper, and began to walk away.
"I'm sure that the librarians will be able to help you," I called after his retreating back.

I don't think anyone has ever mistaken me for an employee of any establishment before.  I feel flattered that the first time it happened, it was a library.

Keep the Poe House open!

The Poe House

 The City of Baltimore is cutting funding that keeps the Poe House and Museum running. Without the necessary funds, this historical site may be closed to the public. Sign this petition to keep the Poe House funded, and share it on your website of choice.

Thanks, Laura from Roses and Vellum!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some children's picture books are truly art...

Laura at Roses and Vellum posted about an article that lists some of the most beautifully illustrated books of all time. I would have to agree that the lovely images included in the article are truly art.

Here is an illustration that I particularly like. It's from Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, illustrated by Harry Clarke.

  Click here for the entire article.

In response to this article, I thought I'd post some children's books that I love for both their art and their stories.

5.  Rapunzel, by Paul O. Zelinsky (1997 Caldecott Medal winner)

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The Renaissance feel of this artist's illustrations are what drew me to this book as a child, and still inspire me today.

 4. Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman

The ancient epic is told in this book series, but the art of this volume was my favorite.

3. Puss In Boots by Lincoln Kirstein

I enjoyed the luminous quality of this artist's work as a child, as well as his dynamic illustrations, and now I enjoy his method of drawing from many different artistic traditions, from El Greco to 17th century architecture.

2. Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett

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 I didn't only enjoy the detail of Jan Brett's illustrations, I also enjoyed the story of a horse who succeeded precisely because he wasn't like all the other horses.

1. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

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This book will always hold a special place in my heart, not only because of the sweet story of a young fruit bat who gets lost and has to adjust to living with a bird family, but because of its beautiful, almost transparent illustrations.

So, those are some of the children's books that I love! Which children's books do you love, and why?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Movie Highlight: Frankenstein (1910)

Jan. 1 1818: Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, which is later recognized as the first science fiction novel.
March 18, 1910: Edison Studios produces the first film adaptation of Frankenstein. The story is changed for the film... slightly.

If you don't have the time to see the movie, I'm going to go ahead and spoil the ending now. You ready?

Nobody dies, everybody lives.
To quote the subtitles: "The creation of an evil mind is overcome by love and disappears." 
That's exactly what happens. The monster literally disappears- appearing in a reflection in the mirror as Dr. Frankenstein looks into it, then dissolving to reveal Dr. Frankenstein's reflection as his love overwhelms his monstrous feelings, upon which Dr. Frankenstein and Elizabeth embrace.

If you've read the book, you know that's not how it ends. Most of the characters (including Dr. Frankenstein) die over the course of the story, because Mary Shelley wasn't writing a comedy. She was a Romantic era writer who was heavily influenced by Lord Gorden Byron's Manfred in writing her novel, and she wasn't writing to become a best-seller. Her work wasn't received well upon publication, either, in fact, the Quarterly Review denounced it as  "a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity".

In sharp contrast, the 1910 film was not intended to focus upon the horrific events that occur in the story, but instead highlighted other areas of the story.

“To those familiar with Mrs. Shelly’s story it will be evident that we have carefully omitted anything which might... shock any portion of the audience. In making the film the Edison Co. has carefully tried to eliminate all actual repulsive situations and to concentrate its endeavors upon the mystic and psychological problems that are to be found in this weird tale. Wherever, therefore, the film differs from the original story it is purely with the idea of eliminating what would be repulsive to a moving picture audience.”
 -Edison Kinetogram. 2. Mar 15, 1910. pp. 3–4.

The 1910s were a period of social unrest and reform, and people desired an entertaining escape from reality, not a story with a tragic, challenging ending, and they certainly did not want to be shocked.

Despite the obvious curtailing of the story, however, Frankenstein remains the first horror film, and its significance must not be overlooked. Frankenstein expanded what film was capable of covering, and set new standards and tropes that still mark films today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donelly

Note: This isn't the first book that I've reviewed by Jennifer Donnelly; you can read my review of Revolution here.
image via Goodreads

 “I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you.”

              Mattie Gokey loves words. She learns a new one every day, and secretly writes them  into stories that mingle both dark and light. When the news came that she'd won a scholarship from New York's Barnard College, she was ecstatic at the thought of studying literature.
But she feels trapped.
Her father expects her to stay in the Adirondacks and work on the farm, picking up the pieces that were left when her mother died and her brother left.
She can't figure out her feelings for her neighbor, Royal Loomis, who can't see the point of going to college- or reading, for that matter.
When she gets a job as a maid at the local hotel,  a woman makes her promise to burn her old love letters. Later, the woman is found, dead, in the lake. And Matti still has not burned the letters. From the girl's words, Mattie learns a secret that will not only shock her, but will drive her to decide what to do with her own life.

           I was somewhat leery of the concept of this book at first, because this book is set in 1906 and I thought that Jennifer Donelly would write Mattie with more modern views toward women then would be accurate for the time period. However, this was not the case in the least. Mattie worries about whether her views are right, and  considers marrying Royal over going to college. This book is based on the murder of Grace Brown and the author incorporates the text from the original letters, which adds another element of realism to the story as well.
Mattie is also told that "a young woman...ought to turn her mind to topics more cheerful and inspiring than lonely hermits and dead children" by her teacher, who can't see why Mattie wants to write about the dark side of life as well as the bright side. I enjoyed that Mattie faced opposition in terms of what she wanted to write about, and faced it head-on, not allowing her teacher or anyone else tell her what she should write about.

The characters are engaging, realistic and raw, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.