Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie Project: 1935

We've gotten to one of the sections of the Academy Award winners' list where I haven't seen several of the movies, so I'll be doing individual posts for a little while.

Mutiny on the Bounty
I haven't moved forward with this project because this particular movie sat on my dresser for a good month before I got around to watching it. I'm not entirely sure where the reluctance came from. So I finally made myself sit down to watch it and I have to admit that I found it kind of boring. I read a book through most of the movie, only half paying attention to what was on the screen.

This movie is purportedly the true tale of the Fletcher Christian-lead mutiny against Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. The Bounty had been commissioned in 1787 to sail to Tahiti to pick up breadfruit plants. They were to bring the plants back to the West Indies, where it was hoped that breadfruit would be a cheap way to feed the slaves.

I think the thing that turns me off most to this movie is that it's supposed to be true but it is, in fact, highly fictionalized. Bligh is painted as an evil tyrant who deserved to be overthrown; Christian is painted as a virtuous hero. In reality, there is very little evidence that Bligh was a harsh captain. In fact, his actions were considered merciful for the times. For example, when 3 men deserted and were captured, he had them flogged, rather than hanged (the standard punishment of the time). He and Christian had sailed together previously. Christian even got his position as master's mate on the Bounty at Bligh's recommendation.

The reality is that it's very unlikely that Christian lead the mutiny because of Bligh's alleged despotism. The Bounty had spent 5 months in Tahiti, during which time Christian had married a local woman and several other men had formed "attachments." The men probably just didn't want to leave their newfound paradise behind.

The mutineers forced Bligh and 18 of his loyalists onto a 23-foot open launch and set them adrift. They somehow managed to reach the Dutch East Indies after 47 days. I think this a far more interesting story. I'd like to see a movie about that.

At any rate, if you want to go with the "Bligh as tyrant" version of the story, I do have to say that Charles Laughton plays him excellently.

Stars: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone

Bookstore Books 10/23/10

Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

A fantasy novel about a young man who, despite lacking the power of "furycrafting" (unlike most people in his world), may just be the one person who can save them all from a terrible war.

I haven't started reading this book yet. I just noticed that it's "Book One" of a series. I hate getting sucked into series, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage

A non-fiction book about the invention, rise, and eventual fall of the electric telegraph.

I've read two chapters of this book. Have found it a touch dry so far, but will continue reading. It's pretty short and I think it gets a lot better.

Coroner's Journal by Louis Cataldie, M.D.

The jacket description of this book has got to be the longest and most complex I've ever seen, hahaha. But I found one sentence that sums up what this non-fiction book is about: "Not for the faint of heart, this is a close-up look at the world of a coroner in a small southern city with big-city problems."

I haven't started this book yet but I'm really looking forward to it.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

A novel of the young British upper class in 1950s London.

I haven't started this book yet. I'm hoping it's really good.

And finally (a lot of great stuff came my way this week!).....

The Serpent and the Moon by Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent

The true story of King Henri II of France, who spent most of his life in love with Diane de Poitiers (an aristocrat 19 years his senior), even through his politically advantageous marriage to Catherine de Medici. The author is a descendant of both Catherine and Diane. The book includes a truly dizzying family tree of all the key players and lots of sumptuous pictures.

I haven't started reading this book yet.

Bookstore Books 10/16/10

I've been feeling too lazy to take pictures of the books I've picked up recently, which has kept me from posting to the blog. So I decided that all posts today will be picture-free. Here are the books that I picked up on 10/16:

On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt

A fantasy (possibly in the YA category?) novel about a young woman who tries to stop a thief in the night and finds herself thrown into the journey of a lifetime.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Probably best known to most people from the recent movie version. This is the story of a young teenaged girl who runs away from home only to find both herself and the real home she'd always desired.

Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks and Micah Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is a famous novelist who typically turns out schmaltzy fair such as A Walk to Remember and Nights in Rodanthe. I've never read any of his books before because, frankly, they seem a bit cheesy to me. But this book is a memoir that he wrote with his brother. It describes both the three-week world tour the brothers took together in 2002 and their lives growing up together.


I have already read all three of these books and enjoyed them all thoroughly.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Now for Something Lovely

A gift from one of my fellow volunteers this past weekend. They grow in her yard (and lots of other places here).

Found Pictures: Pregnant Wedding Couple

I have to admit that a fellow volunteer and I shared a snicker over this picture. These poor people look sooo uncomfortable. Why do wedding photographers make people do such awkward things?

I'm pretty sure this picture is on Maui. If not, definitely somewhere in Hawaii. I doubt it will translate well over the computer, but with the physical picture in hand you can see another island very faintly off in the distance. Kind of looks like Lanai.

No writing on the back of this photo. I wonder how old their child is now?

Found Pictures: Consciously Rustic House

Hmm. Not my cup of tea as far as houses go at all. But I do have to admit that I wonder two things:

1. Where is this house? I'm guessing "not Hawaii" due to the evergreens.

2. What does it look like on the inside? Because if it were decorated with bearskin rugs on the floor and animal heads mounted on the wall, that might be kind of cool.

There is no writing on the back of this picture. Alas.

Books from the Bookstore 10/9/10

House Rules by Rachel Sontag. It's a memoir by a woman who grew up with a very controlling father and a mentally ill mother. I read the first few pages the other day and decided that I didn't want to read this book after all.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Perhaps you've heard of this one. It's written by this college professor who was invited to do a "last lecture" (apparently such lectures are common on college campuses these days; college professors are invited to think about their death and lecture on all the things they'd want to say). Only after accepting the gig, Pausch found out that he really was dying of pancreatic cancer and had only a few months to live.

I read the first few pages, couldn't get into it, and set it aside to take back. But I've decided that I want to give it another shot.

Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness by Dr. David Weeks and Jamie James. This one should be fairly self-explanatory. It's a study of eccentrics. I'm excited about this one! Does anybody else find it funny that one of the authors of this book is Jamie James or am I just a nerd?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bunny Suicides

Ah yes, the very rare bookstore purchase.

(I get most of my books from there for free because I take them back when I'm done with them. It's one of the perks of being a volunteer. I buy them when I know I'm not going to bring them back, but since we're moving back to the mainland in the not-too-distant future, I try not to buy too many.)

As stated in my previous post, I'm rather morbid, a trait that extends to my sense of humor. And that is why I love this series:

I was just telling someone this week about the bunny suicides. I don't remember who, but I do remember that they looked more confused than amused. Oh well. To each their own. At any rate, since I was just talking about it, I was thrilled to stumble across the "box of bunny suicides" at the bookstore and I had to buy it.

If you don't know what they are, the title is pretty self-explanatory. It's a bunch of cartoons depicting these cute little bunnies committing suicide through various clever methods. I suppose when I explain it, it doesn't sound very funny, but believe me, it is. I laughed and laughed while flipping through the books last night.

Two of my favorites (warning: nerd alert):

A bunny standing on a transporter pad next to two Stark Trek guys, only he's only half on the pad, so when the transporter is energized, only half the bunny gets beamed up.

A bunny pouring pepper in Sauron's (Lord of the Rings) all-seeing eye.

I love that just 20 cents bought me so much entertainment.

Bookstore Books 10/02/10

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crossley. I've wanted to read this book for a long time; since before we moved to Hawaii, in fact. So I was pleased to see it finally come through the bookstore. However, I read the first essay in the book last night and started to read a second but got bored. I intend to give it another go at a later date, but I'm beginning to suspect that I don't like "essay books," especially those written by people who think they're vastly more clever than they actually are.

As an aside, it really bugs me when people buy sale books at Borders or Barnes & Noble or whatever and can't be bothered to take the stickers off of them. Why would you want to carry around a book with a sticker on it that says "Buy one, get the second one half price"?

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. I also have his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, which has been sitting in the "to read" pile for quite some time. I don't anticipate reading either any time particularly soon.

Knockdown: The Harrowing True Account of a Yacht Race Turned Deadly by Martin Dugard. This is the account of the disaster that befell the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, when a freak storm paralyzed several of the boats, causing multiple deaths. I actually remember hearing about this disaster when it occurred.

I'm rather morbid. I love a good disaster story, so this is the one I'm most likely to delve into first, along with my European village book (see 9/26/10 blog post) and my Genghis Khan book (which had been in the "to read" pile for a very long time until recently).

Found Items: MFOL bookmark

Bookmarks are, of course, commonly found in donated books at the bookstore. And one of the volunteers (I don't even know who) does make these cardstock paper bookmarks with funny sayings on them that people can have for free.

But the twain, as Robert Frost would say, rarely meet. This weekend, however, one of my fellow volunteers found an MFOL (Maui Friends of the Library) bookmark in a book that was returned to us, and it's one I'd never seen before:

"Canadians know a good deal when they see one, eh," it says. "They shop at Maui Friends of the Library Used Book Store."

I have to say that I'm rather tickled by this bookmark, especially since there's a "Canadian" joke that is frequently mentioned in my household.

At any rate, the MFOL bookstore is in fact a good deal - just 10 cents per book - so if you live on Maui you should check it out.