Monday, March 05, 2007

February 2007

Books Read:
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
Sold Out Warning by Ronnie McMullen
The Grim Grotto: Series of Unfortunate Events #11 by Lemony Snicket
America Alone by Mark Steyn
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherin Paterson
Oops: What We Learn When Our Teaching Fails Edited by Brenda Miller Power and Ruth Hubbard

Movies Viewed for the First Time:
The Happiest Millionaire
Freedom Writers
Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen
Ghost Rider
Peter Pan*
Number 23
Old School
Kingdom of Heaven

February was a bit more productive for me than January 2007. However, I'm still not up to speed. Maybe it's because I'm pretty much working full time and have also been trying to do some serious writing. I don't know. Whatever the case I still didn't read as many books are see as many movies as I normally do during a month. Perhaps I'll be able to pick up the pace in March.

A few notes on some of the books I read. I really enjoyed Eragon. Yes, the novel is derivative, but all great stories are like that. Paolini tied a lot of good elements together in a unique way and brought a new variation on what is virtually a classic tale that has been rehashed throughout time (Beowulf, Wagners Ring Trilogy, or Tolkien for other examples). The paperback version of the 2nd installment of Paolini's trilogy is due in March and I plan on picking up a copy of it then and reading it. I've heard it's not as good, but I'll withhold my judgment until I read it.

I read If You Want to Write several years ago. Since I've been working on my own writing, I thought I would go back and re-read it. The book is basically one long piece of encouragement to Artists from all mediums. I really didn't remember much about it after reading it the first time and now I remember why. I don't need book-length encouragement notes. I'm looking for more practical advice and/or stories about other writers. If You Want to Write is neither.

The Grim Grotto was excellent and I'm looking forward to finishing the other two books in the series sometime soon. I really can't recommend Sold Out Warning unless you're interested in conspiracy theories and the like. The book is basically about how the Bible and UFO stories tie together. The author makes some interesting points, but I just don't buy into all of his beliefs. America Alone is worth reading, though it is written from a politically conservative spectrum. Bridge to Terabithia almost made me cry. Oops is a series of stories about teachers writing about some of their biggest failures.

As for movies, I had seen Peter Pan when I was a kid, but it was so long ago that it isn't listed on any of my lists so it was like seeing it again for the first time. Freedom Writers is a cliche-riddled movie about a teacher who is able to reach out to a group of inner-city students. I knew this and could point out all the usual devices, but it still got to me anyway. Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen is a terrible movie, but a friend of mine helped make it so we watched it at her house. Please don't waste your time doing the same. Both Ghost Rider and Number 23 were major let downs. Old School was just plain stupid. I did enjoy Kingdom of Heaven. There were points that I could obviously tell scenes had been cut out and that hurt the overall film. I know there's a directors cut available and I'm going to try to get my hands on that and see it before summer.

I don't know if I've learned much from the reading and movie-watching I've done this past month. I know that teaching is a difficult profession, but it's something I still feel called and wish to pursue. Writing is difficult, too, but if I can ever discipline myself to finish the things I start and am able to find an agent, I think I have a shot at least of getting something published. But I don't do these things for fame or glory. I do them because I like them. Until next time.

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