28 Days LaterI never watch horror movies. When I got this movie last month, it was on a whim because it was around the time of the release of the sequel, I had heard good things about it, and Christopher Eccleston is in it. Since I don’t generally care for horror or scary movies, I can’t say if it was a good movie of its genre, but certainly an entertaining film overall. The beginning was pretty slow, but I noticed the nice soundtrack which only got better as did the plot, characters, settings, and scariness of the film. Yes, it reminded me of Shaun of the Dead a lot, but not in the psychologically scary parts surrounding Christopher Eccleston’s character. It was the fear of what happens to people in post-apocalyptic and dystopian worlds, not of the zombies. As usual, I’m pleased with CE’s work here even if the character was sometimes both dimensional (his psychology) and flat (bit stereotypical). The equally attractive Cillian Murphy really carries the film because slowly, his and the other characters are revealed to us and shown to be resilient capable survivors. There’s actual character growth. The screenplay is quite good then. Even though I haven’t seen any horror movies, I have a feeling the writing is better than most of the genre. I like that it was an original screenplay rather than adapted from novel, short story, graphic novel or comic book which often happens in science fiction. Director Danny Boyle said the writer Alex Garland cited The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam as an inspiration for the book which I mentioned the other day. I liked the ending which I read was the original one. The sequel does not have any of the original cast, and there is apparently to be a third. I’m not quite sure I will seek out the sequels in the near future even if I did like this one. All because I liked this movie doesn’t mean I’ll make a habit of watching more horror films.

On a lighter note, here is a hilarious interview Time interview with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin and Brad Pitt. I really want to hang out with these people.

Where Angels Fear to TreadThis is my fourth of Forster’s six published novels, and this was his first published. I think I can say he is one of my favourite authors even if I do find his characters often silly and irksome, but realistically so. I think I enjoyed this book less than all the others I’ve read of his so far because it was hard to find anyone to sympathise with since everyone was typically supercilious as they often actually were in that time. Philip reminded me of a middle class Leonard Bast, but I think I warmed to him at the end. The only other character I liked  was Caroline Abbott. I liked Gino, but he was more of Forster’s archetype for a handsome lower-class Italian at times. Even if Gino was not as dimensional, Forster shows his knack for differences between people in class and nationalities. While reading, I laughed once at the silliness of these people because of the irony, and their realism. I’m more amused and irked rather than irritated by Forster characters. He’s also got a thing for melodrama at least once in the novel. The ending in this book was dramatic, but it allowed for a couple of the characters to mature and shine though. All in all, not my favourite of Forster and I can see how this was his first. I do like it simply for being written by him because he often writes what I feel about society and people sometimes. I’ll give a report of the movie when I see it as well.

An update on the 1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die, I’ve actually read 72 books from the list (73 now that I’ve finished the above). Wow, that’s a lot of books that I missed when scrolling at top speed at midnight. I’m debating about what I should I read next since I’m not quite in the mood for Watership Down yet. I’ll just rewatch Northanger Abbey now and watch a movie afterwards.

Fourth Day of the month, and I’ve already read two books, both that I named for my summer reading challenge. Need to catch up and prep for some more summer reading. I am currently reading E. M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread and will finish soon.

Through surfing, I found Arukiyomi’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Spreadsheet from Paul Boxall’s list. I doubt I’ll read all of those books, and I don’t think I would want to either, but the spreadsheet is handy as it calculates how much you have read. I’ve read about 63 which is 6.29% of the list. I’m sure I missed a couple because I did scroll through 1001 titles. Most of the list is comprised of books from the 1900s, and there are about 12 for “Pre-1700” which is sort of sad. I know the novel was invented in the the 18th century, but I would at least think there would be more influences for it than that.

One of the books on the list was The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam. I tried to remember if I had read it, and I’m 75% sure I did because I also remember vaguely seeing the campy 1960s movie in school. I am 100% sure I read Wyndam’s The Chrysalids which I remember enjoying immensely in middle school. I remember having one of the best English teachers that year too. I recommend the latter for anyone wanting to read a dystopian novel.

Last week while knitting my monkey socks (slowest project ever), I listened to Stephen Fry’s audiobook of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I’ll always prefer a real book, but I’m starting to come around to audiobooks though because I find them really nice to go along with knitting. For most projects, I can’t watch a movie or a TV. I like listening to audiobooks of books I have already read and love, especially if they are well narrated as the UK HP book versions are. Mr Fry is funny, articulate, and executes some good accents. I started out with Book 1 and 6, but today, I got 2-5, and I’m sure to get the seventh when it is released. I most likely will not preorder Book 7 because as with the last few books, I just go early in the morning to Chapters and buy it there. Not once has it looked like the book has sold out the night before. I would preorder it if I knew at exactly what time it would be delivered. For all I know, it’ll come at in the late afternoon. Unlikely since I do live in a city centre. Hmm, maybe I should preorder?

Starting Saturday, I will be rereading all my Harry Potter books each week until Book 7 for the Harry Potter Read Along, and I will be making reviews of the experience with each book. It seems now that I’m going to read and listen to them too.

The Tin PrincessThe last of the Sally Lockhart quartet. Published in 1994, Pullman notes on his website how this was the most enjoyable of the books to write. This book is different from the first three books in two major ways: 1) It is not set in Victorian England, and 2) Sally Lockhart is not the protagonist and remains missing for most of the novel. The setting is a fictional kingdom in Prussia called Razkavia involving the eponymous Adelaide as one of the protagonists, Jim as the male lead, and a 16 year old named Becky as another female lead. Becky’s age reminds me of Sally in the first book, and I love that Sally has become the type of woman. I can see how much fun it must have been to write because it’s certainly less intense and in a better setting than the first three novels. It was really good to read about Jim again because I missed him when he was absent from the last book. While I liked this book as I did the others, I found that I really missed Sally. Not that the two strong female leads weren’t well written. Indeed, I was reminded in this novel about how Pullman is very good at writing female characters. I’ve grown quite attached and fond of Sally Lockhart, and it was almost jarring not to have her in this novel knowing she could be involved. This book also followed what I consider to be the most extreme of the thrillers so this did not affect me as much as a reader. Still another quick page turne, and I’ve liked every ending for the characters in the series. Pullman notes on his website that he still has ideas for adventures for these characters. Who knows if he’ll ever publish another Sally Lockhart & Co book, but the year after this one, Northern Lights / The Golden Compass was published, beginning one of the most interesting trilogies of recent years.

The Tiger in the WellWhen I read the summary for this, it seemed very psychological and intense. I’ve grown quite attached to Sally Lockhart and the other characters. Sometimes I think Pullman is as good as Dickens when making up Victorian characters. The actions in this novel were very horrible to read about because the idea of having one’s child taken away from you especially in a patriarchal, puritanical society such as Victorian England is extremely cruel. I can’t imagine being in Sally’s situation, and while it is sensationalist and fictional, the historical accuracy in these books is more or less correct. I really wanted to get to the end so it could be all resolved and see how it all was connected. The only one grievance I have was that I knew who the enemy was when reading the summary, but it took Sally 3/4 of the book to figure it out which I don’t blame her since I’ve read many more books, movies and television shows. Once again, another good thriller from Pullman, and probably the most tense so far. Though, I’ve noticed he tends to like to use the chilling and malicious monkeys.

The QueenThe screenwriter Peter Morgan said he wrote about a “cold, emotionally detached, haughty…prickly… out-of-touch bigot,” but due to people’s adoration of the Queen, they feel he wrote her with compassion. It’s a good screenplay, and an interesting movie to make since it does portray real people still alive. What really makes the movie is the acting; though, I wouldn’t expect anything less when I watch British films or television. I think Helen Mirren is not only talented, but very beautiful. Maybe it is because I do like the Queen, but I think what makes this movie good, and the Queen sympathetic is the portrayal by the magnificent Mirren, supported by Michael Sheen (Tony Blair), James Cromwell (Prince Philip), and others. Watching the film now coincides with Blair’s end as PM, so it was odd remembering that time. I can’t believe it’s been ten years of anything; I remember 1997 so well. I really never understood the backlash. I liked Diana as much as the next person, but the sentiments against the Queen and family seemed unnecessarily cruel. Maybe I was too young then to really appreciate the situation and Diana’s impact because my Dad always adored her and didn’t care for the family. He still thinks Charles is an idiot; I think the film was slightly more toward that view too actually. I don’t consider myself a Monarchist, but I have always liked the Queen. I’ve always found her an enigmatic but strong character. I think only the steeliness and elegance of Mirren could pull it off. Mirren said in her Oscar speech the movie was for the Queen for her “courage and consistency” over the years who while cold, difficult, prickly or not, Mirren flew and carried this film. Goodness, I hope I look half as good and as graceful as Helen Mirren when I am older. On a final note, I dislike hunting for sport, but I really hope the Stag was real in the first scene and not CGI, but definitely fake in the last one. Seriously, I really want to go to Scotland now.

Book Awards Reading Challenge

Yes, I joined yet another reading challenge. It’s become one of my new blogging habits. I really would like to meet more bloggers, and all of us seem to get to know each other better through books since the circle of book bloggers is not too large. So I need to make a list of 12 award winning books to read between July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2008. Before that, I made a list of award winning books I had already read over the years. I’ve been partial to the Pulitzer over they years for some reason. I’ve tagged the awards in the challenge on Lists of Bests under BARC.

Most of these books I’ve liked. Feel free to ask about any of them.

Booker Prize:
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (also a Governor General’s Award winner)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

British Book Award:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by by Lynne Truss
Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Commonwealth Writers Prize:
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Costa (Whitbread) Book Awards:
The Amber Spyglass (HDM Book 3) by Philip Pullman
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Giller Prize:
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Governor General’s Award:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Hugo Award:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (also a Nebula)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Dune by Frank Herbert (also a Nebula)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

National Book Award:
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (also Pulitzer)

Newbery Medal Award:
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Holes by Louis Sachar

Nobel:
Herman Hesse – Siddhartha
Albert Camus – The Stranger
John Steinbeck – East of Eden, Grapes of Wrapth, Of Mice and Men
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, and couple of others.
William Golding – Lord of the Flies
Jose Saramgo – Blindness, The Cave

PEN/Faulkner:
The Hours by Michael Cunningham (also a Pulitzer)

Pulitzer Prize:
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Do you read e-Books? – Not really. I have a few on the computer, and I’m a big proponent of Gutenberg, Google and books digitization. I even wrote a paper about it, but I don’t generally read them.

If so, how? On your computer, or a PDA? – When I do, it’s on my laptop computer.

Or are you a paper purist? Why? – I love the feel of a good book between my hands. Nothing like a crisp, fairly unread new book smell and curling up with it. Also, even though I’m on the computer a lot reading for everything else. I feel most of my real reading should be offline.

SOURCE

YARN!!!

 On your left, is the two balls of Wendy Merino DK that I bought an hour ago, and on your right is The Bane of My Existence: a tangled mess of the Misti Alpaca Lace that I posted about buying in this post. I starting putting it in a centre pull ball using the toilet paper roll method, but let’s be honest, I have never had to use a reshape a hank of yarn, and something went awry. It just got steadily worse. I believe I am a patient person, but I don’t think I can untangle all this yarn; there’s 400m in a hank and I doubt I’ve gotten far at all. I think I’m going to give up and just shell out for another hank, probably in another colour because I feel the pink was bad luck. I’m going to buy it this weekend with the needles, and roll it in the store under the supervision of knitters far advanced than me.

The Wendy Merino is for a project I am going to cast on fairly soon, this weekend probably. I’ll post more about it when I do. I also bought US3/3.0mm 16″ circs and DPNS today for other projects. I know, I’ve basically planned out five (almost six) projects until the winter! Well, at least none of them are scarves.

Dewey has a fun blogroll game going on.

Here is my reading list for the Summer Reading Challenge (June 1- August 1). Almost all of it is young adult or children’s lit which is funny and also will give me a slightly high chance of actually finishing the challenge.

  1. The Tiger in the Well by Philip Pullman
  2. The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  4. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  5. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  6. Rereading: Harry Potter Books 1-6 by J. K. Rowling for the HP Read Along
  7. Rereading: Twelth Night by William Shakespeare

In other book news, I have read little because I have been distracted by dreaming about future knitting patterns. I will read today. Yes, I shall.

New stash

Here I am spending money again on yarn. One of my LYSs is having a clearance sale on Meilweneit Cotton sock yarn (45% cotton, 42% wool, 13% nylon) at 50% off so I bought a skein of the Spirit (knits wide stripes) yesterday. Who doesn’t like good, discounted sock yarn on sale? As for the Misti Alpaca Lace (100% baby alpaca), I bought that today because I was  inspired this morning to start Swallowtail Shawl, I even joined the knitalong! The fact that it only requires one hank (must do centre-pull ball soon) and is affordable yet luxurious yarn sealed the deal. I got it in pink because I wanted a shawl on the pastel side and my wardrobe lacks the colour. I don’t know if it’ll be the best colour on me, but the woman at the LYS did say I could make just make another one. Will get the #4/3.5mm for it soon at the other LYS, but probably won’t start project for awhile. It’ll probably take some time to do since it’ll be my first lace shawl.

The socks are going very slowly as they should, but I had to recast on them a couple times. I’m very glad I got bamboo needles for them because they would have been slipping so much.

I actually have a lot of things to do offline and online this week which I’m not really looking forward to.

River Boating on flickr

My trip from the wilderness (cottage country) allocated me some wonderful souvenirs: big, itchy bug bites! I always seem particularly susceptible, and I don’t own bug spray since I don’t go to the country too much.  I’m one of those people that bugs seem to be love to consume because even with a few people around me, I am the one that receives the most ugly of bites. I’m treating them with aloe vera and Asian Tiger balm. Other than the bites, we had a nice lazy day in which my friend and I planned to read, but ended up wading in water and watching My Best Friend’s Wedding very briefly.

My plans to knit and read these last couple of days have been thwarted. I haven’t exercised either. It’s been particular hot and humid. Tomorrow, I’m getting up bright and early for an annual garage sale to catch some deals.  I’ll cast on Monkey socks tonight. I am pretty sure I can do everything; the only thing I am worried about is the gusset.

Here’s a book meme that I found from Dewey:

“You simply have to grab the book nearest to you (no cheating here), turn to page 161, and post the text of the fifth full sentence on the page along with the body of the instruction on your blog. Then you tag 3 people.”

I haven’t started this book, but I will soon because it’s due next Friday. From Death by Black Hole by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Glowing objects, like stars, come in three basic colors: red, white, and blue–a cosmic fact that would have pleased the founding fathers.

Heh. I’d be more amused if I was American, and it was weird for me to write the “color” because I am a staunch Queen’s English speller of “colour”. That’s for another post about my language idiosyncrasies.

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