Monday, April 30, 2012

A Night at the Opera: Gounod's 'Romeo et Juliette'

Image ©Michal Daniel -
For being associated with such distinguished works such as Faust, Romeo et Juliette and the Ave Maria, Gounod's name isn't one I hear thrown around as often as I'd think. Part of the reason why is because apparently most of his work has disappeared completely and is lost in history, which makes me a bit sad to know.

Fortunately for us, what remains is all solid, beautiful work that is revived often enough for everyone to admire. Over the weekend, I went over to the Adrienne Arsht Center to see Romeo et Juliette and was surprised by everything that was incorporated into the production. The scenery was beautiful and well complemented by various light effects such that have been used for Il Barbiere di Siviglia. The casting was perfect and the original play was adapted to give the audience a unique performance based more on the actual relationship between Romeo and Juliette while cutting out a lot of the extra dialogue for the drama that surrounded them. This isn't to say that their family feud wasn't the root of their problems, but the focus was not on that as much as the relationship on a deeper level.

(click through to read more)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Things 04/27

[I've had a pretty busy week. Now that I've got a stationary bike, I could exercise more without feeling like I'm taking time away from anything else (not that exercise is low on my priority list, but it's a problem that I have way too many hobbies). I'm spending more time reading and now I'm going to be putting some more time into gaming. I've finished playing Skyward Sword and last night I started playing Trine, which so far is a lot of fun. More on this later, of course. For now, waste some time on the internet!]

On Art:

I hate it when people think they're so clever and write stuff like "wash me" with the dust of a car. It happens to everyone, I expect. What doesn't happen to everyone? Actual, intricate artwork created with the same offensive dust. Watch the video above! No volume? No problem: the video has comments throughout. (via BoingBoing)

On Book-related Goings-on:

Charlaine Harris, author of the Southern Vampire Mysteries which were adapted into hit HBO series True Blood has sold another of her mystery book series, but this time to Syfy. It's called Grave Sight and sounds like it'll be lots of fun. (via EW, and since has come up on Blastr where more new series announcements have been listed, including a production based on Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon)

Also related to Charlaine Harris, for those of you who are into the Southern Vampire Mysteries, this Tuesday, May 1 is the release date of the next book in the series, Deadlocked. Harris will be kicking off her book tour in Miami (yay!) and as you could imagine, I'll be there to take a picture with her, shake her hand, maybe even give her a little something (a watercolor piece of Eric and Sookie, which I'll share here if it comes to be). Here's a look at her tour schedule in case you are interested in catching her at your local book store, too!

Finally, it appears that Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book has been picked up by Disney for an adaptation. I haven't read that title yet, but it's supposed to be an alternate story based on The Jungle Book

On Writing:

Ever wonder about gender neutral pronouns? Recently, Sweden adopted a gender neutral pronoun, though I can't find the article I originally read on the subject (but here's one anyway). It's "hen," which is a cross between their words for "she" and "he." It raises the question, though, whether English should also adopt one that isn't "they." Here's Grammar Girl's article on the subject.

On Video Games:
My boyfriend has been hanging out on Fancy and showed me these awesome Tetris-themed sticky notes as well as a trenchcoat for dogs. Ok, so maybe the trenchcoat isn't video games related, but I thought I'd just lump it in here. You could buy the sticky notes on Amazon!

This is an episode from Penny Arcade's PATV concerning the issue of harassment, bullying and misogyny on the internet in gaming, what the problems are and simple suggestions to bring about massive improvements. I'm not embedding the video because the page itself has links to other relevant pages such as where you can go to petition Microsoft to examine the issue and provide solutions mentioned in the video. All gamers should watch this and get themselves involved.

I quite enjoyed playing Epic Mickey and I'm beyond excited for upcoming Epic Mickey: The Power of Two. So far, it looks like it's going to be one heck of a project, and here's an Insider look at the game. For now, Power of Two is actually up for pre-order on Amazon for those who want to reserve it (for release in October), as well as a second, related title, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for Nintendo DS (also up for pre-order). There's a cool video here if you want to see one, too.

On Photography:

Light Stalking put up a handy list of "10 Unmissable Apps for iPad and iPhone Photographers" and needless to say, I agree that these are all great apps.There are others I'd recommend though, such as TrueHDR and, for the fun of it, Puri!, iPurikura, Pudding Cam and other fun puri apps for the Japan enthusiasts among us.

Two FREE Webinars are happening on Tuesday, May 1 on the subject of color balance thanks to X-rite Photo. It's a start-to-finish explanation on the process and includes instruction in Lightroom 4 and Photoshop. A great opportunity for everyone! Here's the invitation.

On Geek Jewelry:

I need this bracelet in my life. I've never been much of a Hello Kitty fan, but I find the older I get the more charming I find her (I even play Hello Kitty Online when I've got the time). Then again, it's also a Star Wars related item, which is the first way I was drawn to this. Here's where you could buy it. (via Fashionably Geek)

[I think that's good for this week. Thanks to everyone that tunes in, and I hope you find some interesting stuff in here! As always, be sure to throw links my way to anything you'd like me to share on this column with other folks.]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Story Mode Complete: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

It's never a bad time for a good 'ol Zelda game.

Last night, I felt that it was about time I put my foot down and told the game who's boss. Except, the game pretty much whooped me. What should have been maybe 30 minutes of game play at most turned out to be three hours.

Before I get into that, though, I'll just talk about the game itself and how cool it is.

Skyward Sword is very much a "Zelda Game." It follows the criteria we've seen before, except the all-new storyline is meant to be the prequel to all prequels - the original Link and proto-Zelda. We even got proto-Ganon who is called Demise and looks like a complete bad-ass.

(click through to read more)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: 'Castle in the Air' by Diana Wynne Jones

Once I finished reading Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (my review/thoughts here) I knew I had to read the other two companion pieces. The first one I picked up is Castle in the Air, which takes place in the same world and country, but isn't a sequel by any means.

Castle in the Air is about a humble carpet merchant called Abdullah who after purchasing a magic carpet off a stranger meets the love of his dreams, only to see her carried away right in front of his eyes. He enlists the aide of said carpet, a genie, a wandering soldier and a few furry friends in his quest for his love, who has been taken up to a palace in the clouds by a djinn.

(click through to read more)

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Night At The Opera with MISO

One could go visit the opera and experience a love story with fierce drama and top-notch musical quality throughout the season, but getting not just the drama and quality, but a sampling of music from over ten different scores is a rare treat. "A Night At The Opera" featuring MISO (Miami Symphony Orchestra) and the vocal studio of Manny Perez was just that - a truly delectable treat featuring a different soloist for each aria.

(click through to read more)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Things: 04/20

[Friday Things is back again! So soon..! I think this week there'll be more time wasters than usual...]

On Food-related Geekery:

Captain America cupcakes! Here's a great do-it-yourself instructional on getting your cupcakes of any kind to look like his shield! Found it via The Mary Sue.

I like pie. I'm sure you do, too. What if I told you there were only $25 between you and some pie pops? Yeah, I knew that'd get your attention. You can buy the Babycakes Pie Pop Maker here. Found this via Super Punch.

On Geek Jewelry and Apparel:

Into Portal? You'll probably like these GLaDOS-inspired rings by Chris Myles (there's even a Hello Kitty style ring!) that are up for sale. Found this by The Mary Sue.

My love of Star Wars knows no bounds, and these shoes are right up my alley. Sure, there are lots of shoes that attempt the same thing, but it won't stop me from sharing them with you all. These are custom shoes by Holly Grothues who will basically put any geekery into her shoe designs (and more). Check her out! Found via Geek Crafts.

On Travel:

Previous head of TSA talks about airport security, why it's broken and what needs to be done in order to fix it. It's a great read for any and all travelers. Thanks to Allistair Pinsof for sharing this on Twitter.

On Disney:

Orange Bird is back at Walt Disney World! Don't know who that is? Read what Steve Miller has to say on it and take a look at some upcoming merchandise.

My buddy Chris Guanche brought this article to my attention. Rich Ross has stepped down as head of the Walt Disney Studios, though it's unclear whether he left or has been fired, and why, and who will replace him.

This video is awesome. I found this talented lad via The Disney Blog! Listen to Dan Wright sing a solo quartet arrangement of When You Wish Upon A Star. If you check out his channel, you'll find a bunch of other awesome music, too.

Here's a run down of the Disney titles you could get on Blu-ray this year! Alternatively, you could always just glance at every now and then, but nonetheless, this was brought to my attention via WDW Daily News fansite. I'm particularly interested in The Rescuers and Babes in Toyland! They've never been released in Blu-ray, and I haven't even seen either since their VHS days, so it'll be a treat. Pete's Dragon falls under that category as well. What a throwback.

On Video Games:

My boyfriend found this opinion article on Wired on the cost of video games. It's been a pretty hot topic this past week or so, and worth taking a look at. After all, having to pay $60 every time a new game comes out has become pretty prohibitive, especially when those $60 don't get you the entire, unlocked game any more. Blaming used games sales isn't the answer, either. If anything, publishers are punishing their customers by limiting used games content even more.

On a lighter note, Capcom Unity is looking for the biggest, baddest artistically inclined fans to toss fan art and musical creations their way as a part of the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter! Alerted via TOKYOPOP.

On Books:

Is there a formula to writing a best seller? Sarah Weinman on NPR says there is


Excited for The Avengers? Me too. There are iOS apps which have been released to tie us over, aside from the multitude of clips that Marvel has released. At this point, I wonder if we've seen like a quarter of the movie already? Hehe!

I didn't know that crunches are actually really bad for you. Get-Fit Guy on Quick & Dirty Tips tells us why and what the alternatives are. Needless to say, I'll be avoiding crunches from now on!

It's last minute, but if you like to draw comics you could submit a guest strip over to Danielle Corsetto by Tuesday for consideration on her comic Girls With Slingshots. Most web comic inclined folk I know are already fans and probably already know about this, but hey, I thought I'd drop this in here anyway.

It's impossible for me to not highlight when women accomplish awesome things. One of this year's Pulitzer Prize winners is Sara Ganim, 24 years old, who is a journalist and broke lots of crime stories, including the whole Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno fiasco. The prize is well deserved! via The Mary Sue.

[Dang, this was a loaded week! Lots of cool stuff to read and pass the time. I hope you enjoy it!]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Completion versus saving time

So, it's been a while since I wrote about Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I was playing it a while back, pretty enthusiastically so and blowing through the game as quickly as I could.

But I haven't played in over a month now, namely because I hit a spot in the game where I'm almost finished, but things opened up for me to handle side missions and other things. I have a few choices, and I could go for the "full completion" by doing all these side quests, getting the Hylian Shield, and anything else that strikes my fancy like getting as many heart containers as possible and all that.

After failing to attain the Hylian Shield two or three times now (the challenge for it isn't difficult, but it's easy to mess up), I'm wondering whether it's worth all the effort at all. That, of course, got me thinking about whether it's worth it to get the full completion in every game I play in general. Why do it? Most of the time, you don't get much (some trophies? Achievements?) in return and you'll have beat the game just the same, just for 20 hours more time than you might have otherwise.

Yeah, it's cool to get all the "extra story," background stuff, extra little emblems and badges you can show off to your friends for taking the time to do all these extra things, but I used to go for it when I had more time, when I was a care-free student that finished her homework for the day. Now, though? I think a bit more highly of my time and have to think twice about it. I value the hours you get out of a game based on price, but at the same time I look at those hours and wonder, "what else could I be doing with these 20 hours I'd spend in front of the tube? Maybe paint something, or go outside and take some pictures."

It isn't really fair to myself to take away my gaming hours like that due to lack of practical justification for them, though - especially me being a believer in rest time. We can't be going on like an Energizer Bunny all day long until it's bed time. Everyone needs some unwinding time, and some days I choose video games to fill up that time.

So now I'm stuck. Do I put in the hours to get all the cool extras and the nice shield for my game, or do I skip it in favor of putting it away for good and playing something else? It all comes down to that, since I've been much choosier about what I sit down and play due to lack of time.

Somehow, I don't think I would be able to leave the game half-done like that without getting that iconic shield. I might end up trying that challenge again, even though I've spent most of the game not depending on any shield at all. Why? I guess I'm just nostalgic.

I also have a really bad habit of getting to the end of a game and not actually finish it. I'm not sure how many folks out there have this same problem, but I just feel like I'm "done" by the time I get to a certain point. Plus, who is to say that by not beating that final boss I haven't played just as much as the next person who did? What's an extra hour?

I want this year to be the one that I finish all the games I start, though, so I won't let it happen with Skyward Sword.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harry Dresden, not my type

I've been trying to get into the Dresden Files, an ongoing series by Jim Butcher which follows the misadventures of Harry Dresden, a wizard in modern-ish day Chicago. He's just trying to make a living, you know? But as things go for the reluctant sheriffs, trouble finds him at every corner.

It's a great idea and premise, and the stories and characters are compelling. At least, to me they are, all except Harry himself.

I've been struggling with this battle for a while, and I've just finished reading the fourth book in the series: Summer Knight. While the first three books kind of follow a formula and take things to ridiculous lengths, Summer Knight demonstrates a break in the trend and, though Harry gets a bit of a happy ending, there is plenty of foreboding in the horizon.

I want to love Harry, and I want to be on his side. I think I'm on his side, anyway. It's just hard when I'm constantly distracted by being inside his head. I think this is where the problem lies: I am having a very hard time relating to a character that isn't a mystery. And also a man. I don't usually have issues reading books with male protagonists, but being inside Harry's mind hasn't worked out for me.

The entire series is a mystery and Harry serves as the investigator in supernatural affairs. The real problem though, is it's hard to surprise readers when you can read all his thoughts, including his sexy ones. On top of that, he's got superb intellect, almost Sherlock Holmes level. Actually, Sherlock is a great measure for comparison.

Wherein does the fault lie, though? It's just, when it comes down to it, at the very end of the book where you get the one paragraph resolution to everything you've just read in the previous 20- some chapters, you don't see it coming. Harry drops all the cards and guesses 10 out of 12 things right, and solves the case. I'm left with this feeling of being left out - of being held out on.

I think that for these reasons, I'm stuck with this feeling of wanting to like the character, but not feeling him as a total bad ass or anything. More like a stumbling goofball, which is an adept description of his demeanor. More than anything, he reminds me of John Crichton of the Farscape series, except instead of learning things on the way, while being a goofball and trying to save everyone while surviving himself, Harry already put in his time learning and he's just trying to survive while saving everyone. That and, Ben Browder is just so cute and charismatic, and it helped that Farscape wasn't entirely in his perspective.

The closest comparison I can come up with based on what I'm currently reading to the Dresden Files is the Southern Vampire Mysteries, or Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, or whatever you'd want to call them. Charlaine Harris writes similar stories of a regular ol' human trying to survive in a world full of supernatural predators and solve the case of this, that or whatever. Those books are also in Sookie's perspective entirely, and some books, I recall, are a combination of regular first personal narrative and the kind where a character is telling a story that is much in the past.

The key thing here, though, is Sookie isn't a veteran wizard or someone that starts out knowing what to expect in various situations. She's a regular girl with a gift to hear thoughts who has been thrust in to this whole new world of supernatural thugs and is learning (and surviving) her way through. In this way, she's very much like John Crichton, but the form of narrative applies to my gripes with Harry Dresden. I'm always in her head when I'm reading the Stackhouse novels, but I can relate to her more. Firstly, because she's female. Secondly, because I'm not expected to know much coming in to it. Her world is introduced to the reader as it is introduced to her, and thus her surprise is ours. With Harry, there is little room for surprises because he is so careful and calculating. And finally, because she is more than aware of her weaknesses all the time. She knows she's a fragile human against all the monsters and she takes advantage of anything and anyone she possibly can in order to survive. Dresden is more like Superman or Batman. Very super, but mostly fights the losing battles against himself, and he works alone (with the exception of Bob the skull, who reminds me of Murray the Evil Demonic Skull of Monkey Island fame). The difference is I love Batman.

I'll likely keep reading the Dresden Files (the next book for me is Death Masks), though they'll probably take a back seat. I am interested in the story and I have a vested interest in seeing what happens next (and more importantly, how he's going to get out of it). Unfortunately, I think it'll be quite a while before I get there. As of last year there are a total of 13 books, meaning I've got nine left to be up to date. Well, I'll squeeze them in somehow. Harry always finds his way back onto my shelf, anyway.

[Buy Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) on Amazon and give Harry a try!]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Things: 04/13

Whoa, Friday the 13th! Is anyone here superstitious?

On Photography:

Asylum from Drew Geraci on Vimeo.

What do you get when you give Drew Geraci access to an abandoned asylum with a camera? 35,000 pictures photos turned into an awesome time-lapse video.

These hilarious images of disappointed-looking animals made their rounds on the internet this week, and I thought I'd share again just in case.

On Writing:

Looks like news about J.K. Rowling's new book that is targeted at adults has finally surfaced. It'll be called The Casual Vacancy and is set to be released toward the end of September (for now). Read about it at Little, Brown.

Nathan Bransford lays down the law! The 10 Commandments For Editing Someone Else's Work.

On Stephen King's new upcoming book and being interviewed by Neil Gaiman.

On Travel:

If you've never used Trip Advisor, I highly recommend you consider it whenever you're making plans to go somewhere new. And now, they've made the decision-making process even easier by integrating reviews into Facebook so you could see ratings/reviews from your friends at the top of the list. Nifty, eh?

On Geek Things:

Did you ever see that one picture of Sir Ian McKellan with a red shirt that said something like, "I'm Magneto and Gandalf, Get over it?" Until this week, I didn't know that was a photo-shopped version of the shirt which said something more like, "Some people are gay, get over it." It's alright though, because the creators were honest about it - it just got too viral too fast.

The Mary Sue took this meme a step further and created a list of 17 people who have portrayed more than one major icon in geekdom (such as Harisson Ford as Indy, Solo and Deckard). You can check it out here and give those ladies the props!

This week, one of the more popular posts on Tomopop featured an awesome LEGO mash-up of a Gundam and Evangelion. It brings the debate to peace in a great way, and struck the right chords with a lot of people.

On Cute Things:

Danny Choo talked about his card game on his blog this week, called Moekana. It's an adorable, fun way to learn hiragana (the main alphabet set in Japanese) using cards prominently featuring his original character Mirai Suenaga. It's worth taking a look, though it's hard to say whether you'll be able to snag a deck.

That's it for this week! If you're superstitious, watch out today! Otherwise, have a great weekend. As always, if I get recommendations from you folks I'll add 'em here too, so don't be shy now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Adventures in Gunpla: SD Stargazer Gundam

As it tends to be with all things geek, it only takes an enabler to get you into something new. I love puzzles, and more recently I've gotten into robots, but I've never put the two together. A friend handed me an extra SD kit he had lying around (an SD Stargazer Gundam, as mentioned in the title) and showed me which tools I'd have to use to clip the pieces off the runners and all that, and sent me off on my way.

Before I knew it, I had this in front of me. He's absolutely adorable! And of course, there's something incredibly satisfying of having a model sitting on my shelf that I put together all on my own, with my own two hands.

Now, I feel like I'm at the edge of a deep, gaping hole. The gunpla-heads are all looking up saying, "Come in, the water's fine!" Meanwhile, I stare down into the abyss and wonder: "Do I want to get myself into this?"

The answer is yes. I'll be adding "Adventures in Gunpla" to my column repertoire, though it won't be too often (I hope) given it takes time to pick out a new kit, purchase it, wait for it to get home and then build it. For now, I'm going to stick with the ones that come together without glue and ones I don't really have to add paint or anything to. Honestly though, I might get into painting them sooner than later considering that I can already tell decals are going to be the bane of my existence.

Building SD Stargazer was easy peasy. I did make one terrible mistake and accidentally nipped off a peg, but thankfully it was on the back and there were several pegs, not just one, which would be used to attach the bit with the thrusters. I got away with that one, but I'll have to be more careful in the future.

I took a few pictures, but as it is the piece is incomplete. I noticed that there are more details in the images than what I'm seeing in front of me, and I've got some Microns I'll be using for that. I learned today that they're called "panel lines." I'll be updating again once I'm totally finished with this kit, so look forward to it! It's going to be awesome.

[Buy Gundam SD-297 Stargazer Gundam - BB Gundam Seed C.E. 73 Model Kit on Amazon]

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Books that made me love reading: 'The Bad Beginning' by Lemony Snicket

While it's true I didn't get into The Series of Unfortunate Events until I was in high school, the sheer charm and depth of this story that, although it's written in a way that is easy for children to read, is absolutely enjoyable by folks of all ages. I was attracted to the story when my younger brother, who hates reading, told me I absolutely had to give it a try. I tend to follow his advice when he gets into any sort of book because it ends up being exceptional. To give you an idea, he also recommended The Ender's Game and various other renowned titles throughout his time in Jr High.

The Bad Beginning is the first book of the 13-title series which introduces the Baudelaire children and their terrible circumstances. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are enjoying themselves at the beach one morning when Mr Poe, who is in charge of all their family affairs (in particular, their financial affairs) informs them that their parents have perished in a fire, which also took the entire Baudelaire Estate. According to their parents' will, they are to be raised by relatives in the most convenient way possible, and Mr Poe quickly leads them with the best intentions to the home of Count Olaf, which is the true beginning of the miserable turn their lives would take.

(click through to read more)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Things: 04/06

Woo, another Friday!

On Disney:

I found these awesome Disney Princess (though Alice and Tinkerbell are there) headbands via The Mary Sue, which are on sale here for $14.99 each. A bit steep, but it probably takes a little while to get all those ribbons on the right way. My favorite is the Tinkerbell headband!

It looks like we might get a train that runs from Miami to Orlando. While I'm happy about the news, I'm also upset that our idiot governor could have gotten a free bullet train and he turned it down. Now a private corporation wants to build a train for us, which I'm all for.

On May 4th from 7-10 p.m. there'll be a Star Wars themed art show over at the Pop Gallery in Downtown Disney Orlando. I'm pretty excited, though I doubt I'll be able to make it. In case any of you can, though, here's a link to the event page!

On books and writing:

Michael shares another piece of a book he's writing as a short story today.

On geekery and gaming:

A friend recently turned me on to Lindsey Stirling and her great violin work (and cute/awesome videos that go along with them). The more recent video is based on Skyrim. I haven't played it, but I can't deny this rendition of the theme just blew me away.

On random things that exist:

Text from dog Tumblr had me laughing big time. I found it via Neatorama. It is now one of my new favorite things.

On cute things:

SEGA is collaborating with Coca-Cola for a promotion featuring Hatsune Miku. I shared this on Twitter but I decided to share it again here because I think it's adorable. I like that it's a departure from typical Miku with her teal hair, gray/black clothing and striped panties. This artwork features stylized hair colors and polka dot panties with the color scheme for Coca-Cola. I do love polka dots.

That's kind of it for this week, though. It's been pretty slow, and I already share a lot of other stuff via Google+, Twitter and occasionally Facebook. I've also been busy reading! This past week I finished reading two books and posted my reactions/reviews, and I want to keep the trend going. Maybe not a 2 reviews a week sort of trend, but I am happy to be reading more. I've set a pretty hefty reading goal for myself this year, so we'll see how it goes. If I do end up moving to Japan come August, it might be more difficult for me to keep up (I'd have to buy books on my Kindle or something), but nonetheless I'll do what I can.

I also haven't been posting on Snapitude as regularly because my focus has shifted to saving money, working more and being at home rather than getting out of town or even taking photo gigs. I haven't been shooting as much lately, which is a shame. Most of the reason is because I physically wasn't able to for a few months. I've just begun strengthening training this week for my wrist, and I am able to wield a camera again (just not too much extra gear), so that should start up again soon enough. Tonight I'm going to a cool festival so I'll probably share some images from that. I'll also be hitting up Disney next weekend since I'll be at Orlando anyway for my interview with Interac, so you can bet I'll be taking pictures then. Look forward to it!

Finally, in case you haven't noticed I finally put in an ad box from Project Wonderful into my sidebar. So far, a bunch of web comic advertisers have picked it up (I love that!), and it's all looked pretty rad. At the time of writing, there isn't anything showing up in there, but you should make sure to take a look every now and then and discover some new artists or cool things. I'll make sure I'm careful to screen the ads for NSFW content and all that. If you ever see something inappropriate, please let me know!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: 'Howl's Moving Castle' by Diana Wynne Jones

Despite a few confusing set backs in terms of its plot structure, I've always been charmed by the Ghibli movie Howl's Moving Castle, but never noticed it was based on a book until a friend pointed it out and mentioned it's basically one of her favorite reads. Naturally, it was a given I'd eventually pick the book up, but one of the things that held me back from doing so is I kept hearing about how great it was compared with the movie, this movie that I loved, and they considered the adaptation to be quite poor.

Now that I've read the story, I can agree that the movie really isn't on the mark, and only loosely follows the flow of the book, borrowing events and characters and making a whole different story out of it that I still enjoy very much. One of the best things about the paperback copy I bought of Howl's Moving Castle is it has got a short interview with the author herself, which also briefly addresses the adaption. She said that although it's more of a re-imagination of her story, she was also charmed by it and actually has a few Sophie, Howl, Calcifer and even Ghibli-style Howl's Castle models all around her home.

(click through to read more)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: '1Q84' by Haruki Murakami

After reading 1Q84, I am inclined to believe that I couldn't have introduced myself to Haruki Murakami's work in a better way. Almost every review I saw from a bigger publication mentioned that the book was pretty much an overnight sensation (instant bestseller), and I believe it. At almost 1,000 pages, it's definitely a time and dedication investment on the part of the reader, but I can promise you one thing: from the get-go, you will not be bored at all. Every page leads fluidly to the next.

Romantic and mysterious at the same time, the book is about a woman called Aomame who is pulled into a parallel world with two moons in the year 1984 (in reference to Orwell's book). She gets sucked into something big, which leads to her eventual reunion with Tengo, a boy she had loved since childhood and is somehow also transported to this other world as another player in the plot. It's hard to explain a lot of the fantastical or mysterious points in the story without giving plot points away, and given that 1Q84 is still relatively new, I'll leave my summary at that. The experience you have while reading the book and getting little bits and pieces of information at a time is important and helps you relate to the characters better. At least, I think so.

(click through to read more)