Sunday, August 31, 2008

No way . . .

So I just got home from hanging out with a friend in Denver, and what should I find on my coffee table but a DVD of The Watcher in the Woods. Now, I don't fully recall the significance of this movie, but I feel like maybe we tried to rent The Way We Were and got this instead . . . or it was something you two watched at Bad Movie Night . . . I don't know. Help me out here if you haven't completely repressed whatever memory this thing is associated with. It's freaking me out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Jennie, Have you been going through and labeling stuff for me? Because I just realized I never do that. You are the best secretary EVER.

I requested my copy of HSWT from the Boulder library system, because the bookstores were taking too long and I don't know what I did with my old copy, except that it is probably somewhere at my parents' house. I should have it in the next day or two and will blast through!

Now, what do I label this post . . .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Have Spacesuit, Will Diagram

Right, so I've read Heinlein before, and enjoyed him. Which is not to say that I'm not enjoying this book. I'm only four or so chapters in, just barely starting. And commendations to him for really putting the science into science fiction.

That said...

I don't care how a spacesuit works. Or is refurbished.

I really don't.


Friday, August 22, 2008

A Triple Play!

Alright, we can keep discussing Watchmen (no hurry), but I figured I'd post about where we're headed next so that we can all work on acquiring the books (yes, I said books, with an 's'!) and start reading!

The idea for this triple selection came when I was lamenting to Lisa almost two months ago that I didn't know what I should choose when my turn came. It is very hard for me to come up with a book that Lisa hasn't read. In fact, she has been my go-to girl for book recs for many years. So, we started discussing things. I had a couple ideas, but they weren't getting me very excited. I still may use one or both of those ideas in the future. They just weren't the right books for us to read next. Then came the epiphany. Ok, ok, it was mostly (basically all) Lisa's idea...but I'm still using it for my turn!

So, without further ado, here are our next three selections:

1. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

This is the one we'll read first. I've never read it, and it's been a long time for Lisa. It should be a quick and fun read. It's a juvenile science fiction novel written in 1958. I honestly don't know much about it, other than the connection it has with these other two books.

2. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

This book is what inspired the whole idea. Even though both Lisa and I have read it (numerous times), we agree that reading it together with these other two will be intriguing, not to mention tons of fun. Also, you have to read it, Peter. :) Funny and clever, this is one of my favorite books of all time. There should be some interesting parallels between this book and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel.

3. Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome

The obvious conclusion to our little trilogy. :) Again, I've never read it, but I've been wanting to read it ever since I first read To Say Nothing of the Dog. This is the book that neatly ties all three together. It's mentioned in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and (as you can see) it inspired the title of To Say Nothing of the Dog (plus the main character refers to it constantly throughout the book). It's an English comedy that was written in 1889. Should be jolly good fun! :)

So, there you have it! I definitely wanted to have something on the more lighthearted side of things to follow the darkness of Watchmen. ;) I think we'll have a good time making comparisons between these three books and seeing how they relate. And it will be interesting to speculate on what made these two modern science fiction writers take note of Jerome K. Jerome and his little comedy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Discussion Questions and the Like...

I only have a minute, but thanks Lisa for jumping on into a discussion on this. I want to discuss Laurie more, because I definitely came at her with a different perspective, but neither am I a woman so I'm curious to talk more on that. But! Since I'm short on time, here's some curiosities I have for you. Pick and choose, or come up with whatever you want to discuss.

Firstly, did you like it?

Second, strictly from a plot p.o.v. what did you think? Did you know where it was going?(Admittedly I was surprised by where the story was going; I liked the play on the traditional form.)

Do you think Viedt's plan would work, particularly looking at the world he was trying to fix? What do you think of Viedt and Jon's discussion at the end?

Lisa already jumped in on this subject, but this is definitely a character heavy piece, so who did you like, or hate, and why. All of these characters are responding to things in their world around them, what do you think of their motivations?

Third, and my favorite, tell me thematically what you pulled from this book. Is it an accurate representation (if fictionalized) of our world and society (super hero stuff aside, naturally)? What does it say about us as humans? Or about our future? Do you agree? Can you make any parallels to our modern world?

Talk to me about tone, about parts you liked, about anything, really. Why do you think this book is considered significant. Jennie, are you glad I made you read it? What do you think about it in relation to other "super hero" stories, or films. Do you think the film can capture it well enough to be worthwhile?

Tell me tell me tell me!

Lisa, I have more to respond to your comments, but it'll have to wait until after work. Until then...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weighing in on Watchmen

Where to begin? First off, I am very glad that Peter assigned this book. I don't think it's something I would have read otherwise, and it was definitely worth reading. Part of why I say that is because I kept getting pissed off at the book, and I always think that's worth my time, because knowing what makes you angry is valuable and interesting, and it's worth examining.

So . . . let's see. As I said before, I was frustrated with Laurie's character. I tend to be sensitive about portrayals of female characters, and if I get twirked off with how an author (male or female) portrays a woman or women, I get annoyed with the book overall. The best explanation I can give for what annoys me most of the time, and what annoyed me here, was that Laurie seemed fake to me. This was not a real person, let alone a real woman. She was a foil, someone's idea of a woman. Written by someone who apparently has never met a girl. She was constantly in histrionics, yelling or crying or sleeping with someone. Seriously?

On the other hand, I thought her mom was hilarious. "Here . . . take my old comic porn . . . har har har."

I loved the quotes that concluded each section, and the interspersion of articles. I thought they were genius and really added to the overall work. People kept seeing me read it and were like, "I didn't know you read comic books!" and I had to decide whether to get into the graphic novel discussion or debate the finer lines of artwork combined with prose that's part of a complete subset of literature . . . anyway. It's a pretty impressive and seminal work in its genre.

I wasn't really sure what to make of the persistent undercurrents of homophobia in the book - were the authors trying to point out others' prejudice or expressing their own? I found that really unclear. Thoughts?

What else - they kept killing animals, the dogs and the pretty kitty, which was super distracting. I dunno - everyone has their trigger points, and animals is way high on my list. Along with fake people and glaring prejudice. I guess the animals and homophobia could have been included as an intentional commentary on the the overall crappiness of humanity though . . . and maybe the authors thought Laurie represented all of femininity and purposefully made her one-dimensional. I don't think so on her, though, I think they had no idea they were writing her that way, because she seemed like one of the characters they liked and thought was worthwhile.

I thought it was really interesting to see how the city was portrayed - it's definitely a representation of NYC in the 1980s, when everything was going to hell in a handbasket. Kitty Genovese reference and all. And of course all the Cold War references, and the despair people felt in the aftermath of Vietnam and Nixon. I think the sorrow people felt with those events was really just the result of technological advances - tape recordings that made it possible to see the machinations of self-obsessed politicians (the machinations and selfobsession being nothing new - Rome, anyone?) and the videos of actual combat situations in 'Nam (Sherman's March to the Sea? the origin of the word decimate?). Anyway, I always think it's adorably naive when people are shocked by their politicians or the realities of war. Not that we shouldn't be upset and hold people to account - but the shock is a bit silly.

Parallels between Ozymandias taking out NYC to cause peace and Truman bombing Japan in WWII. "Hollywood cowboy" reference to RR. Etc., etc.

Hmm- I dunno. Peter, give us some discussion questions!


Ok- I suck. I did finish Watchmen and I will post at length later tonight! Sorry, I've been dealing with international red eye flights, the roommate hunt, starting classes, teaching classes, etc. But I have lots to say and will say it soon! Yay!