Chunkster Challenge 2008

Challenge runs between today January 7th to December 20th to read four big books of approximately 450 pages regular type (or 750 large print). Cross posting books from my other challenges as usual. I do not have page counts of all these books, but on my honour or guestimation, they be chunky:

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – 656p
  • Little, Big by John Crowley – 538p
  • Complete Poems and Plays by T. S. Eliot – 608p
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – 472p

Lord of the Rings Book II and III
Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832 by Stella Tillyard – 462p
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks – 483p
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco -502p
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
…and probably a lot more.

All the books I read over 450 will be countd towards this challenge.

These Three Remain

These Three RemainThe third in a trilogy of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s POV. Remember that I skipped the second  one? The parts that were not Austen were tedious enough. Also, Darcy is quite cheesey at parts, like a Harlequin romance star. The original characters include “Dy” His Lordship of Gary Stu-ness. Basically, I was pretty bored any time Aidan wrote about the plot that were not referenced in P&P. This novel was a bit slow as a result. It would have pleased me more if she had written some epilogue of Darcy and Lizzie together. On the positive side, there was an actual funny scene with drunk Darcy. I also must concede that there are plethora of Regency details the author must have researched for long periods. She also attempts and gives character to some of Mr. Darcy servants whom I liked a lot more than all the stupid society people of Ton. Overall, not a great trilogy, and very slow for the Austenites.




Koolhaas, started December 25, 2007, finished December 30, 2007
Pattern: Koolhaas by Jared Flood – Interweave Knits, Holiday 2007
Made for: Intended for self, but given to Dad
Yarn: Cascade 220 (100% Highland Peruvian 100g/220 yards) – 600 Cranberry (variegated red)
Needles: 4.0mm/#6 16″ circs and 4.5mm 4.5mm/#7 40″ circ (Magic Loop)
Modifications: Needle change in ribbing, and I used the slip and switch cable method.
Cost of Project: $8 for yarn
Would I knit it again? Yes, but 4 reps instead of the full five.
Pattern Notes and Comments: Usually, I have to make hats on the larger sizes because they are a bit too small. This hat was a bit too big in the large size, and it’s quite stretchy so I should have just done the normal 4 reps. I’ve given this hat for my Dad. The decreases are a bit ugly because I messed up, but the bottom cables turned out wonderfully. I didn’t realize until after I took these photos that I forgot to block.

The yarn is very nice My first time with Cascade 220, and it really makes Patons Classic Merino look poor in contrast. The 220 is soft, and the variegated red I got it in is a very nice shade. I had to buy another skein since I used the leftovers from the hat to make something else, and then ran out. So another Cascade 220 hat to knit in the near future.

Bought a lot of yarn in the last couple of weeks. It’s a disease I tell you!

David Boring

A graphic novel about the eponymous character looking for love at what might be the end of the world. My first exposure to Daniel Clowes’s work, and even though I may not love this graphic novel, it was definitely interesting and I look forward to reading Ghost World (I liked the movie). DB is modern, has subtle characterizations, but the minute details and the style of the illustrations really draws you in. It’s alienation and the search for love in the 21st century with a large dose of black humor involved. Having read Shortcomings the day before, the two have very similar styles in plot, characters, and storytelling. Adrian Tomine and I suspect other young graphic novelists are influenced by Clowe’s modern stylings and characterizations. I did not really feel too much for the characters, but I did find David intriguing. Maybe it was his constant searchings for love, his father, and the end of the story. The graphic novel is a bit meta which I tend to like.

Sweeney Todd

How could I resist a Tim Burton musical movie? Especially one with Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman singing. Actually these two have a duet that is now stuck in my head. The film is of the dark Burtonesque variety (as opposed to the saturated, lighter tones of Big Fish or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This is probably the goriest of Burton’s films I’ve ever seen, but as usual, it was very stylized. I do not really watch horror movies, and Burton’s films are more artistic than gratuitous violence and blood. This is still essentially a horror story with a murderer as the central protagonist so it’s not exactly for the faint of heart. Aside from the direction and stylized setting, this film’s other strength is the performances. Depp actually has a good singing voice and his creepily intense in this too. Dark film, but fun overall when you consider the musical aspect of it.

American Born Chinese

Two graphic novels about Asian-Americans, I seem to be on a roll. American Born Chinese has three separate stories that connects at the end. All the stories have a strong message of self-acceptance. It also deals with racism, friendship, and growing up. The stories are well told; my favourite of the stories is the one on the Monkey King from the famous Chinese legends. Like the author Gene Luen Yang, I also grew up with these tales. The author has a very whimsical and funny take in his art and panels. The illustrations are on the lighter side, but still poignant. The dialogue understated but to the point. This is a graphic novel which both adults and young adults can read and appreciate.


A short graphic novella about Ben Tanaka, a cynical antihero Japanese-American. He is not very likable and has quite a few issues which leads to a deteriorating relationship with his long term girlfriend Miko. The novella looks at racial issues, stereotypes, and the breakdown of a relationship. It also touches on the issue of sexual identity, conformity, and fear of change. While Ben is often hypocritical, Miko is not free of hypocrisy or shortcomings either. While their relationship breaks down, they seem to be more sides of the same coin. A realistic portrayal of an ending relationship where both people are not necessarily in the right. The illustration is all in black and white, but poignant in its simplicity. Coupled with good dialogue, the experience is more akin to watching a movie rather than reading a book. Read More

Reading Challenges Update 01/08

My books and movies lists for 2007 are up on the blog that I keep for the purpose of holding my annuals lists:  52  books (with audiobooks; 45 actually read) and watched 71 movies. I am averaging ten less than last year. Sigh. Maybe the reading challenges can up my book intake, or maybe they’ll make me go literary mad. What have I gotten myself into?

Current Challenges

  • Book Awards (6 of 12) – Progress is going well, and there is lots of time for me to complete this before July 1
  • Seafaring Reading (0 of 2) – I have the second book in the series, not the first yet. May be cutting close.
  • William Shakespeare (0 of 4) – Two plays, the complete sonnets, and a biography.
  • Graphic Novels (0 of 6) – Six graphic novels in 2008.
  • Decades 08 (0 of 8) – Want to do 16 decades.
  • In their shoes (0 of ?) – I picked rougtly 6-7 bios/memoirs to be read in the calendar year.
  • Russian Reading (0 of 4) – Four Russian related books in one year.
  • What’s in a Name? (0 of 6) – Six books in one year.
  • TBR 2008 (0 of 12) – Twelve books in twelve months.
  • Man Booker Challenge (0 of 6) – Six Booker prize winners in one year.
  • Notable Books – No book limit, and each update will say if I’ve read one.
  • Pulitzer Project – No time limit.
  • Booker Project – No time limit.

Completed Challenges

Monthly Movies – 12/07

A good movie month. Links to Amazon when available.

In theatre: His Dark Materials: The Golen Compass (08 12 07) – REVIEW

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (10 12 07) – REVIEW.
Ratatouille (11 12 07) – I’ve experienced mice in the kitchen, and so some of the scenes with the rats did not bring back good memories. The film is sweet though. I liked it more than some other Pixar fare which is difficult because I’ve liked almost all the Pixar films. It also has some nice messages about the wonder that is food and cooking.
Layer Cake (14 12 07) – REVIEW.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (15 12 07) – This was long, and like many sequels, it had way too many subplots. Many of which did not seem to end or wrap up coherently. It’s always nice to see Captain Jack, but I really hope they don’t make another one of these. The horse is dead.
Stardust (15 12 07) – A very good complement to the novel but has its own flavour. The changes were nice, and may be even a bit better than the book (and I really liked the book). Good casting, nice humor, still retained some dark things. Recommended.
Splendor in the Grass (24 12 07) – REVIEW
Volver (24 12 07) – REVIEW
Croupier (25 12 07) – Did not see the ending to this either, but good straight forward plot and characters. The noir touches make it what it is.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (25 12 07) – My favourite part of the movie was the dancing of Elizaebeth Taylor.
Amazing Grace
(26 12 07) – Only watched for Ioan Gruffudd. Stayed for the other typical British stately acting performances. Well shot, lots of nice costumes, and a good script. This is the stuff Ioan excels in, not hiding his voice with a faux American accent as a superhero taking a backseat to Jessica Alba.
Sleepy Hollow (29 12 07) – There is some serious good gothic visuals in this. Burton’s visuals are in their dark best even amidst a mediocre script. Great cast too.
La Doublure (The Valet) (29 12 07) – REVIEW