Summer vacation’s over for us teachers which means it’s back to school we go for curriculum planning and other preparatory activities for the coming school year. We’ve been at work a week and we’ve accomplished a lot. The sad thing is that I seem to have neglected this blog. Work has taken my attention away from here, so I figure it’s high time I rectify the situation.
But what to write about?
How about a mish mash of reviews of texts I’ve consumed over the past few weeks? And by texts I don’t just mean print material but also in other media forms.
Let’s start with Iron Man 3. (Minor spoiler up ahead)
I saw it last weekend, and let me tell you, I was not riveted nor was I highly impressed. It was funny, yes, but in my opinion it was paced more slowly (I was texting and checking FB and Twitter for most of the film because I was so bored) and lacked proper exposition of some aspects of characterization of Tony Stark. I mean, what in the world was causing the anxiety? It is made clear that it was related to the Avengers movie, but there was no clear trigger. He’d just suddenly get a panic attack. The whole thing felt contrived and irrelevant to the whole thing. Guy Pearce, on the other hand, I found spectacular. I could be biased (I loved him in Memento), but really, I was impressed by his portrayal (after the makeover; before was just very stereotypical mad scientist garb) of the man who was to make Tony Stark’s life hell.
Anyway. It’s funny. Watch it for the laughs, but I felt like the humor and jokes and witticisms are more… intelligent and adult. I found myself laughing alone for some of the jokes (I am just assuming that the others in the theater with me did not understand the jokes from lack of proper cultural context).
What was I saying? Oh yeah. Watch it. Out of the three Iron Man movies, this one was not the best, but it was still entertaining.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been reading some romance novels lately from a general lack of reading material and also a lack of patience with the more serious novels in my TBR list (Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Les Miserables, etc). Since Harlequin Romances were a dime a dozen, it was easy to come by with this reading material. After reading around 5-7 in quick succession, I can understand now the feeling that romance novels may never be considered GREAT literature. Oh, they’re great fun, no doubt, but they’ll never be part of the canon (unless the powers that be are all romance writers).
One telling sign that these books are pretty much nothing more than fantasy candy is the “ad” in the books. Here’s the one from Harlequin Presents:
You want the world! Harlequin Presents stories are all about intrigue and escape–glamorous settings, gorgeous women and the passionate, unforgettable men who want them.
I don’t have a copy of a Harlequin Blaze book, but the ad for that mentions “alpha males,” so you can imagine already what those books would be like.
Truth be told I can’t tell the difference between a Harlequin Blaze from a Harlequin Presents story. It’s all romance and sex between near-perfect human beings. And the one thing that annoyed me was that the reader spends too much time in the heads of the characters–how they couldn’t stop thinking about the lips of the other person or the perfect body of that person or how impossible it should have been to feel something other than lust for that person. It gets tiresome, honestly. Also, the plot is driven by sex. In all fairness to these romance authors, they do put in a fairly decent plot. I came across a smut fic one and, well, ew. Zero plot. That is all.
As my new online friend Susan said, you should enjoy the “vicarious pleasure they provide” because that’s pretty much all you’ll get from them. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m still gonna get myself a Harlequin fix once in a while :D)
Arthur C. Clarke “The Other Side of the Sky”
I first heard of this man back in college when we were asked to read his short story The Star (very interesting, very much worth discussing). I still find it difficult to articulate my thoughts on this short story because it touches on two fairly opposite things: faith and science (which I’ve realized is a dualism that seems to figure in his stories…at least the ones I’ve read). All I know is that it was this story that kept me on the lookout for other Arthur C. Clarke stories.
I got lucky one time I visited my favorite secondhand book store, Booksale. Right there at the top of a book pile was a paperback copy of one of his collections, The Other Side of the Sky. The first thing I checked was if it included a copy of The Star. Upon seeing that it was, I immediately checked the price (it was only PHP70 / < USD2!!!) and proceeded to buy it. I’m on my fourth short story now, and so far I’ve been loving it. I’m not a big fan of science-fiction, but if I do say so myself, this seems to be a pretty safe introduction to the genre.