Movie review: Wedding Palace; and diversity in our media

poster_wedding_palaceOn a whim tonight, I looked at what movies were playing, and I was really not impressed with the selection. It seemed like a lot of badly done action movies next to sequels to movies I never saw (and though I’ve heard that the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was fun, the second isn’t faring as well in the comments I’ve seen from friends).

I very nearly ended up going home instead of going to a movie. I hate feeling like going to a movie in the theater but not having anything to go see. But hey, there is a new episode of The Master’s Sun to watch on Hulu/DramaFever, after all, and I have plenty of reading to do anyway. Before I resigned myself to a movie-less night, I checked the theater I pass by on my way to the subway just to see if there was anything interesting. Sometimes they play indie movies I might not have heard of.

Serendipitously, a movie I’d seen a preview for months ago via K-drama friends (or maybe DramaFever?) about a Korean American guy who meets a girl in Korea and tries to have a long-distance relationship with her was actually opening tonight. Like Austenland (which you should see if you haven’t yet!), it’s an indie movie whose wider release will depend on how well it does opening weekend. It got reviewed in the New York Times yesterday, but I didn’t read the review before attending because I didn’t want to be accidentally spoiled. Turns out it was a good review without any spoilers, so you’re safe to read that one. Check out the trailer:

Margaret Cho in a cameo as the shaman.

Wedding Palace begins with a wedding. Jason gets left at the altar when his bride, Jinny, runs off with the cake decorator. On her way out the door, she runs him over and he ends up in the hospital with multiple broken bones (and some massive old-school casts). Jason’s family thinks, “This is a sign! The family curse!”

That’s right, there’s a family curse, which puts a fun spin on the rom-com thing–the men in the family must wed before they turn 30 or they die, because one ancestor* canceled out on his bride sometime wayyy back. (The big-foreheaded cartoon style in the telling of the family curse was kind of jarring because I’m so used to Korean-style chibi (or whatever chibi is called in Korean), but it grew on you.)

And that’s where it all really gets going. Jason’s just a few months off from his 30th birthday and his parents are starting to get nervous. They start setting him up with any appropriate girl, but of course, the question is, what’s appropriate? The parents are portrayed as super traditional—they’re looking for high achievement, lots of money, traditional girl who cooks, that kind of thing. There’s this really awkward scene in which Jason’s best friend lauds how great the married life is to such a girl, because, among other things, she makes her own kimchi** and serves his every need (and talks to him in baby talk?)!

Jason decides to give up, and his parents get even more worried because family curse! But he can’t think about it now, Mom and Dad, because he has to work hard on a project he’s going to be presenting in Seoul the next day.

Seoul, you say?

Mom and Dad’s ears perk up then. He gets set up on blind dates in Seoul, too, including one with a girl who thinks “Dahmer was pretty cool.” Crash and burn. But as he’s sending off that drunk date in a taxi, he runs into a woman he met earlier that day during his presentation at work, Na Young. And the cute romance begins, contrasting first generation Korean American parents and grandparents who came over in the 70s against modern-day Koreans from Korea, suggesting that the former are actually more traditional than the latter.***

brianteeweddingpalaceAll in all, a cute rom com with a twist that you won’t see coming— after watching the trailer again, I realized that what I thought was a twist was actually in the trailer, so I won’t worry that’s a spoiler—but that you’ll realize was set up perfectly in hindsight. It has some flaws in the storytelling—moments that went on too long, that kind of thing. But it was funny and cute and well worth my time, and it was great to see a different perspective of Korean culture in the media than that of a Korean drama. I love dramas, but they have their own tropes and stereotypes, and most of them seem to have a particular point of view that is very different from the POV of Wedding Palace.

I must say, though, my favorite character had to be Halmoni (Grandma). First she has a heart attack when she learns Na Young’s secret, then she escapes from the hospital and convinces a couple of Latino guys in a car outside the hospital—in excellent Spanish—that she needs a ride to stop a wedding. SO CUTE. Watch the movie for Halmoni alone, even if a rom com isn’t your thing. And I love Margaret Cho in anything.

After the movie was over, the director Christine Yoo—this is her feature film debut—came out and did a Q&A, so I was pretty lucky to have run into this screening tonight! She talked about the challenges of making an indie movie, of finding the funding they needed and of finding distribution, of trying to get it into film festivals and not making it, and how this weekend was all-important to whether the movie would get a wider release.

I raised my hand and asked if she’d seen interest in the movie from K-drama fans, and she turned it around on me and asked how I’d found out about it, because she hoped that was the case! I hope that DramaFever fans are talking it up to each other–I’m going to go check after posting this.

And that’s where we get into the diversity in the media part of the post. Ms. Yoo is third generation Korean American, and a woman. She said that something like six percent of the academy of directors (or whatever it’s called—I missed the name) are women, and we’ve talked here and elsewhere about how bad representation is across the board for minorities in the movies and TV. She spoke of the opposition she faced at getting the film out there, that higher-ups questioned what kind of universal appeal a movie about Korean Americans and Koreans with an all-Korean cast could have in the US, and even tried to get her to cast the best friend as a white guy for that “appeal.”

Her experience reflects what we’ve been discussing over on the Lee & Low blog about the lack of diversity in TV that is revealed by the stark numbers in the Emmys. The idea that only the experiences of white people are universal, that somehow a movie about a Korean guy trying to hit a deadline to get married is less interesting than watching a white guy trying to hit a deadline to get married (and for lesser motives than knowing he might die).

It’s a problem across the board—not just in movies and TV, but in the Tony Awards, and—as we know—in children’s books. It’s why I started Tu Books, and it’s why Lee & Low is in business in the first place. And she spoke to exactly the thing we’ve been discussing across the L&L social media: If we want diverse media to happen, we need to be sure to support it. Word of mouth is supremely important, as is supporting a new movie like this in its first weekend so it lives to see another weekend. I’d also say the same for TV, books, etc.—which is why I’m giving Sleepy Hollow a few more weeks before I make a final judgement on it, because it really is doing great at the diversity, and it’s a very beautifully made show, even if it’s weaker in other parts. The more we support diversity by putting our money where our mouth is, the more of it we’ll see getting a chance to continue to be made—and the cream will rise to the top. Too often, Hollywood seems to have the idea that movies flop because “women don’t sell” or “minorities don’t sell” when they only give one movie a chance, but no matter how many flops starring white men, they never say “white men don’t sell.” So it’s an uphill battle and we can make a difference as consumers just by supporting the good ones—and even the medium-quality ones—with support, with word of mouth, and so forth. So this is me, doing what I can, and I hope that you’ll take a chance on this one. If not this one, then on The Butler (which I haven’t had a chance to go see yet) or Austenland or any other movie or TV show which might not make it without our support.

As I said above, Wedding Palace is only in limited release, so it’s only in New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and a couple of locations in Hawaii this weekend. If you’re in any of those areas, be sure to go see it. If you’re not in any of those areas, encourage your friends who live nearby to see it so you’ll be able to see it in your location, and keep an eye on the website for announcements of where it might be next.


*well, not direct line, obviously, because he died before he had the chance

**I’m not sure the making-her-own-kimchi thing is all that different from most Korean women I’ve known from Korea who have been my roommates and friends, but maybe I’m just friends with more traditional people? After all, most of my Korean friends are Mormon, and Mormons tend to be pretty traditional about their cultures in many ways.

***Again, not sure how true that is more widely, but among the Koreans I know, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and Korean dramas (which are such a reflection of reality, I’m sure!) imply that there’s certainly at least a strong contingent of more traditional Koreans as well, though perhaps not stuck in the 70s, as the main character thinks of Korean Americans.

Blogger whose cat reviewed Cat Girl says it should be a movie

And I so totally agree. (Here’s the cat’s review.)

Hollywood, are you listening? Dani Alexis also has some pithy thoughts on Cat Girl‘s subtle commentary on celebrity culture:

Behind the on-screen action of Cat Girl’s Day Off is a well-played critique of celebrity movie teen squee culture. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that this book manages to look twice at things like celebrity bloggers, paparazzi mobs, celebrity privacy and lack thereof, our habits of overlooking bad behavior in celebrities we’d never overlook in ordinary folks, and more, without ever once becoming preachy, heavy-handed, or tiresome. It does a particularly good job of exploring teen celebrity movie squee culture. Which would be the lifeblood of a movie version, of course, but which would also ask some good questions about it. And unlike The Hunger Games, it doesn’t require 22 teenagers to die horribly in order to bring the subject up.

I also just realized I haven’t yet posted a real post saying “GO BUY MY BOOKS” for this spring, though in all my linkage of reviews and contests on Twitter and Facebook might imply otherwise. For any of you who are not following me at either of those locations (and for those of you who are, who are meaning to but haven’t quite gotten around to it), now’s your chance!

For you e-book aficionados, we’ve got convenience aplenty for you! CAT GIRL’S DAY OFF and VODNIK are both available on Kindle, nook, and Google Books! (We’re still working on iBooks, which takes much longer than the others.) Links below (also note that Google Books has Vodnik and Cat Girl on sale for $7.99, a $2 discount!):

Barnes & Noble nook e-book
Amazon Kindle e-book
Google Play e-book
Google Play e-book


Amazon Kindle e-book
Barnes & Noble nook e-book


(Sorry for the formatting issues—Wordpress seems to be auto-deleting any returns I put in, and won’t put the pictures where I want them on the page. It’s never done this before. Maybe the captions are interfering with the coding?)

And for you fans of traditional hardcover, what we’d really love is if you were to go to your local bookseller and ask them to order it. Barnes & Noble will gladly order it in for you, and the more people who ask for it ordered in, the more they’ll pay attention. You know who especially pays attention? Independent booksellers. Let’s show them that we as readers value diversity on their shelves! Want reviews to show how great these books are? Share the long list of great reviews at the bottom of the book’s info page on our website (Vodnik) (Cat Girl’s Day Off).

If you’d prefer to order online, you can order directly from Lee & Low, or through a wide variety of your favorite online booksellers. Links below to a wide variety, but if you have a favorite bookseller who’s not linked here I’m sure you’ll be able to find it. Note that has free shipping for international readers.

Direct from us, the publisher
Direct from us, the publisher
Amazon hardcover
Indiebound hardcover
Indiebound hardcover
Book Depository hardcover
Book Depository hardcover
Barnes & Noble hardcover
Barnes & Noble hardcover
Books a Million hardcover
Books a Million hardcover
Amazon hardcover

Willow, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

I’m rewatching a comfort movie from my childhood again, a huge favorite: Willow. Warning: POSSIBLE SPOILERS. Sure, the movie’s 22 years old, but I’m sure there are those who haven’t seen it yet.

There’s so much to love about this movie. So I thought I’d really count the ways, because I want to share, and enumerating them via Twitter just doesn’t work as well as a bulleted list.

  • Uses old fantasy tropes like farm-boy-goes-on-quest in new, interesting ways. This farm boy is not a hidden prince, but a father and husband who’s well-established in his life, and knows where he comes from.
  • Said father is a nurturing figure in the movie–he takes care of the baby competently the whole way through. Nice change from the big manly heroes who always save the day through brawn—though of course we get that in Madmartigan.
  • “Ignore the bird. Follow the river!”
  • The brownies are a great use of perspective, blue screen, and editing to make it seem like they’re actually tiny people (well, for 1988 technology). And who can’t love lines like “I stole da babyyyy!”
  • Madmartigan. Everything about him. His mysterious past, his roguish nature. His complete inability to possess tact.
  • “Temptiiiing… but, NO!”
  • “Gentlemen? Meet Lug!”
  • The diversity of characters in both the daichini (daikini?) and nelwyn people is refreshing in a genre that sometimes (not always, but too often) forgets that not all elves or dwarves are exactly the same.
  • Drunk brownies falling in love with kitties
  • Mouse hats
  • Chase scenes galore! Including one that plays on the old cartoon trope of rolling down a snow-covered hill (after a great sled chase scene!) and turning into a giant snowball.
  • The fact that until today when I looked it up on IMDB—i.e., for 22 years—I’ve thought that Madmartigan’s name was Mad Martigan, because everyone thought he was mad.
  • Blackroot. “Puts hair on your chest!”—just what a baby girl wants!
  • Okay, so the final fight scene with the two-headed monster is a bit odd. But Fin Raizel definitely makes up for it!
  • “Willll-loow! YOU IDIOT!”–Fin Raizel, as a goat
  • Fin Raizel as a sugar glider, or just about any animal, for that matter
  • A love potion gone wrong that helps a strong female character realize she’s fighting for the wrong team
  • Sorsha kicking Madmartigan in the face
  • The sets! Oh, the beautiful sets!
  • The costumes! Oh the beautiful costumes!
  • Except: What is UP with General Kael’s skull mask?
  • “It went away? ‘I dwell in darkness without you’ and it went away??”
  • I also just realized (how many times have I watched this movie? at least twice a year for many, many years) that the people at Tiras Lee were turned to stone or encased in crystal or something. It’s so quick and not terribly clear—all these years I thought they were just stones Madmartigan was waving at.
  • Madmartigan thinking he’s so scary when everyone runs at Tir Aislean, when it’s really a two-headed fire-breathing used-to-be-a-troll creature.
  • Why does the music (final fight scene) keep make me expect Sloth the come swinging in on a rope, yelling, “HEY YOU GUUUYS!”?
  • Oh yeah, this isn’t the final fight scene. We still have to face off with Bavmorda.
  • “You’re not warriors! You’re pigs! You’re allll pigs!
  • Oh, I’m sure I’ll remember more as the movie plays on.

What about you? Is Willow a favorite? What do you love about it? What other fantasy movies are your oft-returned-to favorites?

Adding these to the list of anime

Since we talked about anime a few months back, I’ve been watching a few more that I’d recommend. I’m only a bit into most of the first few—I’m watching several at a time through Netflix, so I’m staggering the discs.

SPOILER WARNING: I’m linking to the Wikipedia articles about these anime and the manga or light novels they’re based on. Sometimes there can be spoilers on these pages with no warnings, so proceed with caution. There are no huge spoilers in my descriptions—everything I mention is mentioned in the descriptions of the anime on the Netflix or Hulu page—but those of you with low spoiler thresholds have been warned.

DN Angel (more, including content/age range info & no spoilers, at Anime News Network)—I’m just starting this one through Netflix and it’s been making me giggle. Daisuke Niwa is a pretty normal 14-year-old kid who turns into a notorious thief when he sees the girl he loves, and he can only turn back when he’s won her love in his thief form. His mom and grandpa as accomplices are hilarious.

Darker than Black (more at ANN)—also just started this one (have only watched the 1st disc so far) and it’s okay. Definitely at least PG-13 for gore in some places–don’t recommend it for kids. The stars have gone out and are replaced by the “stars” of what they call “contractors,” people who have a superpower that is constrained by a habit they hate. So, someone who can manipulate water, for example, might be required to smoke, that kind of thing. I’m still trying to figure out the thread of the plot on this one.

Tactics (more info at Anime News Network)—LOVE this one so far. Also only past the first disc, but it’s really great so far. I would LOVE to see a YA novel focusing on this kind of folklore—Shonen Onmiyouji (ANN), another anime, also features the same kind of concept, a boy/man who can see spirits and banishes them using traditional Japanese methods (which I believe, but I’m not sure, are based on real Shinto practices—someone correct me if I’m wrong). (Nevermind, I will correct myself—if Wikipedia can be believed, Onmyodo was a spiritual practice in and of itself, but influenced by Shintoism as well as other religions.)

Point being: We’ve had plenty of YA books in which teens can see spirits or demons or fairies. But I’d love to see one set in Japan or using these kinds of Japanese folkloric influences. I think it makes a familiar story into something completely different, something fresh and new to a U.S. audience. (As always when I hope for stories like this, do your research and know the culture!)

Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok—halfway through this one. Pretty great so far. Anime News Network’s plot summary: “Loki, the Norse god of mischief, has been exiled to the human world for what was apparently was a bad joke. Along with being exiled, he’s forced to take the form of a child. He’s told the only way he can get back to the world of the gods is if he can collect auras of evil that take over human hearts, and so to do this he runs a detective agency. Loki is soon joined by a human girl named Mayura who is a maniac for mysteries, and she soon helps out in her own way. However, soon other Norse gods begin to appear, and most have the intent to assassinate Loki for reasons unclear.”

Kyo Kara Mao! (ANN’s take on it here)—yet another one I’m not far into but love so far. Another giggle-worthy one. Main character Yuri Shibuya is flushed down a toilet into a parallel world where he is proclaimed the Demon King and accidentally proposes marriage to another guy by slapping him on the face for insulting his mother. Hilarious to watch him try to navigate a culture so different from his own (which is what parallel-world fantasy is all about, though it’s not always supposed to be funny). The more serious plot arcs are great, too—Yuri has no idea what he’s doing as a king, and he tries to avoid war between demon and human kingdoms, which baffles a lot of people.

R.O.D. the TV (ANN link)—Actually, I covered this one in my original post.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (ANN link)—somehow this one got left off my last list. Watch this one! It’s hilarious. Only 12 episodes, I think, so a relatively quick watch.

M0onPhase (ANN link)—A hilariously different take on a vampire story. I love the relationship between Kouhei and Hazuki. And the opening sequence is hilarious. I’m only about halfway through this one on Hulu—I discovered it over the holiday break and haven’t had time to go back to it. (Reading subs makes it harder to do other things while watching. I love listening to the Japanese inflections, but listening to dubs (even bad ones) makes it easier for me to accomplish other things at the same time.)

I also re-watched Fruits Basket recently (it’s on Hulu!) and again recommend it to anyone. It’s a classic YA fantasy story.

I really wish there were a second season of Ghost Hunt available (this one’s on Hulu, as well). From what I can tell, it was written by the same woman who wrote Twelve Kingdoms, which might be why I like it so much.

Let’s talk anime

I have a standing anime/movie night with several friends (if you’re local, remember: it’s Friday nights, and we don’t always do anime, so you’re welcome to join in and we’ll decide the week before what we’ll watch the next week; email me for details).

We’ve watched a lot of great stuff in the last year or so–the stuff coming out in the last few years is just plain brilliant:

  • Vampire Knight (if you liked Twilight, you’ll LOVE VK–6 or 7 volumes of the manga is out here in the States, and the anime just got licensed)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Saiunkoku (OH so good–I would really love to be the one to bring over the light novels through Tu Publishing, but if someone got there first, I’d be all over getting them; I wish I could find the full second season on DVD)
  • Gundam 00
  • Ouran High School Host Club (very fun, and a great look at gender roles)
  • Fruits Basket
  • Code Geass
  • Witch Hunter Robin (this stands out among a bunch of standouts–so good)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex
  • Emma: A Victorian Romance
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumya
  • Kuroshitsuji (we have to finish this one sometime) (also: this one is very hard to pronounce!)
  • Wolf’s Rain (good, but very sad ending)
  • Twelve Kingdoms (80s cheese, including a very whiny main character at first, but if you stick with it, it’s pretty fun)
  • Cele-something (dang, forgot the name; helpful, aren’t I?)
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit (wow, what a show. And there’s a great book it’s based on, edited by Cheryl Klein)

… and many others that I’m forgetting. I should make a complete list to help me remember & help lead me to ones I like.

This has led me to many a good anime on my own (including older ones that I never saw when they were new), often because the friend who hosted anime night–who sadly just moved away–is so in touch with it and makes great recommendations:

  • Tsubasa
  • Samurai 7
  • xxxHolic
  • Last Exile
  • The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye (so good I want to add this one to my collection)
  • Ghost Hunt
  • Trigun
  • .hack//SIGN (and just as I got into it somehow all the discs became unavailable)
  • Death Note
  • Scrapped Princess
  • Noein
  • R.O.D the TV
  • Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play (90s cheese, but fun)
  • Read or Die

…and so on.

Anyway, I make this list right now because I want to eventually break it down and review some of them, and also because I’d like to hear if any of you have suggestions–given that I’ve liked pretty much all of this list, and given that if you’re a reader of this blog you probably know the kind of fantasy and science fiction I’m into (there are some great YA-oriented school stories on there, too, that aren’t speculative at all, but absolutely entertaining, like Ouran), perhaps you’ll be able to recommend some I haven’t heard of. What am I missing? You can probably tell that my tastes tend to run shojo–I love the bishis, when it’s not too overdone!–but I’m also open to brilliant stories that aren’t terribly violent.

What would you guys recommend? What new anime coming out is a must-see?

**Oh, and a few I want to see but haven’t gotten to yet:

  • Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
  • Shonen Onmyoji
  • Darker than Black

Completely non-scientific thoughts on EMP-type doomsday stories

Well, nonscientific in that I am not going to even Google anything about the science on this (yet). Jericho was on TV yesterday in reruns–a big block of four episodes that I DVRed but ended up deleting when I realized that it was much later in the season, and that there are several episodes between when I stopped watching and the episodes I had. But it got me thinking about shows in which electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) are used as a doomsday device, and win.

My first example isn’t exactly the best one, but I use it for a reason. In Ocean’s Eleven (*spoilers*), the guys use an EMP to knock out Las Vegas’s electric grid for a time. With a complete acknowledgement that they’re probably playing fast and loose with the science of it, if an EMP knocks out delicate instruments, how in the world was Las Vegas able to come back up so quickly? Did they knock out all the computers on that grid, too? How many millions or billions of dollars of damage would such a pulse have done to the electronics of the part of Las Vegas that the EMP affected?

Then there’s Dark Angel–which we only see 20 years after the pulse, so there’s admittedly little dealt with in the series itself about the immediate effects of the EMP, but we do see a lot of interesting social extrapolation, where only the rich have the newest technologies and the U.S. is plunged into a new kind of depression that they might not recover from for years. (After all, when the banks’ systems crash, all those little ones and zeroes turn into just plain zeros, according to Dark Angel’s voiceover narrative in one of the earlier episodes.)

How does it happen? Well, we’ve got a service-based society, I can see how it might happen in the big cities at least. Small towns, though, tend to be a lot more self-sufficient. What Midwestern farm town doesn’t have at least two or three farmers with their own machine shops (not electromechanical–actual machine shops with tools probably inherited from their grandpa), wood shops, or even a guy or two who’s into hunting and trapping that might have a smoke shed for preserving meat? It wouldn’t serve the needs of the entire area, but that town would have resources beyond its electronics, and the food would be right out there in the fields (barring a subsequent natural disaster–it might be only corn and beans and whatever animals they might raise, plus every country garden, but they’d have food and people who knew how to cultivate it).

Limitations on even a small town, of course, would be distribution of fossil fuels and electricity. No power tools, etc. But from my experience, small towns are populated by resourceful people. As in Dark Angel, it’s the cities that would suffer most, because they generally don’t grow their own food and rely more upon electricity and fossil fuels for basic necessities like heat in the winter.

And that brings me to Jericho. The reason I stopped watching the show? All the frozen meat was thawing when the local grocery store’s backup generator died. What did they do? THEY HAD A PARTY and ATE ALL THE MEAT. No, they didn’t find the guy with the smoke shed who might be able to teach them how to preserve the meat for the winter, even though they knew they’d probably run out of food before the electricity was fixed (if it was ever going to be). No, they didn’t find the local crazy environmentalist survivalist (my town had at least one, didn’t yours?) who would be able to help them know how to cut wood in the spring and summer so that it would be dry enough to use in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves by the winter. And forget coal, which most midwestern small towns I’m familiar with would still have someone hanging on to.

Or perhaps that’s just me. My dad didn’t get an electric furnace for our house, which is 3 miles out from our small Illinois town of 2,700, until the coal hopper for our wood-burning furnace (as in, the only furnace our house had, central heat from the basement powered by wood)  finally quit, which was about 3 or 4 years ago I believe. He still cuts wood, but not as much anymore because he doesn’t have four kids at home to help him cut, haul, and stack every weekend.

We froze our meat (which we raised–pig, cow, rabbit, chicken), but my dad had plenty of friends who knew how to preserve meat, and several friends who had harness-trained horses (we raised horses for pleasure/trail riding; our family vacations were spent camping on the Jubilee College State Park horse trails near Peoria, IL) and if necessary we knew several people who could haul out their old horse or oxen-drawn plows because nobody who grew up in the Depression ever seems to have thrown anything out. (When my grandpa died in 2000, we–mostly meaning my dad and several aunts and uncles–cleaned out his barns on his farm and my grandma’s house. It took months. We found enough antiques to sell to the local antique man that we were able to establish a house maintenance fund for my grandma. We also found peaches that had been canned by my great-grandmother before she died in 1972. Sploosh!)

Okay, point being that most small towns I know have resourceful people, and the people of Jericho? They didn’t seem smart or resourceful enough to have actually populated a small town at any time in the history of the last fifty years. It was as if they’d all just moved in from L.A. last year. Oh! They did!

This is why Life As We Knew It fascinated me so much, actually. It’s not an EMP story, but it does take into account all the various ways that people can be resourceful in a doomsday scenario. And it makes me wonder how the main character of LaWKI would cope with a mere EMP blast (as opposed to the moon taking out half the earth’s ability to grow food and catastrophic climate change). I think she’d do pretty well, actually.

Director’s cuts

I’m just about to watch a DVRed-off-TV version of Blade Runner (part of G4’s “Movies that Don’t Suck” series, which deserves praise in and of itself), the description of which I find really interesting.

Ridley Scott’s director’s cut of his sci-fi noir thriller adds scenes and a new ending, drops the voice-over [which I remember being pretty corny–there was so much corny voiceover in the 70s and 80s], and deletes some of the gorier moments. The story follows a 21st-century detective (Harrison Ford) charged with terminating deadly androids.

Now, “terminating deadly androids” aside–it’s a whole lot more nuanced than that–I find it interesting that the director’s cut chooses to delete the gorier scenes, and I think I’ll end up liking the movie a lot more because of it. I saw Blade Runner for the first time back in the early 90s, in college, I believe, if not in high school. I loved the story, but the thing that always turned me off was the gore. I don’t remember there being a lot, but I have the benefit of over a decade to fuzz
out my memory on that.
But usually a director’s cut will add scenes and not refine stuff like that, because usually the scenes added would increase the likelihood of an R rating (arbitrary though that is) rather than decrease the likelihood of it. And with such a great story as Blade Runner is, it has always disappointed me that it got an R, which would deter many people I know from seeing it.
Now, looking at the TV ratings on the DVR, this still says that it’s rated R (though I believe that G4 is one of the stations that edits for language, so that may be moot). But I am interested in seeing the changes and how it affects the story.

Abridged Classics: Becoming Jane

By all means, carry on with helping me with the middle grade fantasy booklist. I don’t want to detract from that–you guys have excellent taste in middle-grade fantasy. But in catching up with Child_Lit posts about historical accuracy, I ran across a MOST excellent rundown of that awful movie which purported to be about Jane Austen’s life (let’s just mix up some Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins, because hey, if she wrote about them, she must have experienced them, right?).
How did I miss this??
***Note: some strong language in the commentary subtitles***

I much prefer this version of the movie, and it’s only a few minutes long!


Getting some very nice Christmas cards in the mail today reminded me that I have mine halfway done. I just need to address them–they’re labeled, stuffed, and everything.

I also got a cover of Red Dragon Codex drawn by a reader. It’s awesome, and I’d show a picture if I had a working camera.

The snow is really coming down here. Glad I don’t have to drive anywhere! I am planning on going up to Salt Lake tonight to go with some friends to a Living Nativity, so here’s hoping the roads clear by then–I’m looking forward to spending time with the friends.

Despite not having to leave the house to go to work, it feels like a snow day, so I have declared a holiday. I am watching Northanger Abbey bundled up in a cozy blanket, sitting next to my cat who is fascinated by all the snow coming down. And of course the song "Snow" from White Christmas is going through my head: "Snow… snow…
snow… snow… snow! It won’t be long before we’re there with snoooo-ooooow! I wanna wash my face, my hands, my hair in snow. What is Christmas with nooooo snooooow?" etc. There’s no replacing it, I’m afraid.

Looks like the snow is lightening up a little, at least.

Oh! And something I forgot to mention when it went up on the website, which announces something I’ve been holding off on announcing that I’m going to have to announce now–I’ll post it in a new dedicated post.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

It’s days like this that I miss living in Chicago, where they dye the river green in celebration. (Also, notice the white clock tower on the far left in the background? That’s one tower of the Wrigley Building, which I used to work in. It’s like stepping back in time in that building.

But last night my roommate and I watched Waking Ned Devine (me for the first time, she for the umpteenth time) and it was definitely a good substitute. Hilarious. I think all my favorite movies have quirky old men in them–for example, Return to Me is a favorite probably because of those funny old men.

So, let’s talk about quirky characters in storytelling, especially in books for children and young adults. How can a quirky character, perhaps an older person like in the two movies I just linked, bring life to a story while still being a story about the child character?

I can think of two main examples which show what I’m trying to talk about–Holes and A Long Way from Chicago. Let’s start with A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck. This is actually one of my favorite books, and I’ll tell you it has nothing to do with the narrator. A Long Way from Chicago is one of the best examples I can think of where the character you most connect to isn’t a child. While the narrator Joey is a child, and the story is seen through his eyes (and in the sequel A Year Down Yonder, his sister Mary Alice’s), Grandma Dowdel is the most interesting person and she’s the cause of all their adventures.

In Holes, the story of Kissin’ Kate, while not about an elderly person, is a story set in another time-
–and a story that is also integral to Stanley’s journey, though we don’t know how until much later in the story.

Waking Ned Divine doesn’t really fit in this category of older people helping drive the story of the younger—Jackie is the instigator and main character all along—but it did make me think of how often in children’s literature we focus on the child to the exclusion of older adults. It’s important to get the kids away from the parents, for example, to help them have autonomy enough to do whatever the story requires. Don’t get me wrong—I love this plot device, and I know that kids love it. But I do think that there’s a place for amazing stories that include older people and people of previous generations, and that those two books are perfect examples of how that can be done while preserving a narrator that the child reader will identify with.

You have to admit: Grandma Dowdle rocks. That’s one hilarious story, and not just because she reminds me of both my grandmas and my great-grandma, with a shotgun thrown in.