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September 24, 2003

Finished reading Sabriel the other day, and since then I've been trying to figure out what to say about it. It's definitely not what I expected. Not that unexpected is bad, but the story defies easy summaries. Every time I try to line up the words to say, "It's about. . . " it seems too many words have gone on vacation, leaving me unable to adequately explain anything.

It's a good story; the pacing is a bit stately, an interesting choice for something so caught up in Life and Death. Definitely one of the more interesting fictional worlds I've encountered. I'm recommendingSabriel to anyone who enjoyed Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Both have amazingly realized alternate realities that sometimes put Reality to shame, worlds in which animals talk and the salvation of everything is in the hands of a child making difficult choices.

September 19, 2003

Excessively tired today, despite sleeping for almost nine hours last night. . .

Recently finished reading Lost. The author's previous two books, Wicked and Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister, are much better, I think. Lost wanders too much, takes far too long to get to the good stuff. I wanted a ghost story, the supernatural kind, and ended up with a story about a woman who'd had an encounter with grief, seasoned it with a mistake, and then remained paralyzed by it. I suppose the point was that she was a ghost in her own life but it didn't make for very diverting read.

September 17, 2003

Saw Once Upon a Time in Mexico last night. Fun movie. Driving home, we decided it was a Mexican movie with an American budget and a Hong Kong action sensibility. Very much the birth of the reluctant hero. By the end of the movie, Antonio Banderas, while still dark and brooding, has found someone to live for - a nation too often crippled by power-mad criminals. He's on his way to being a modern-day Zorro, only without the funny mask and the penchant for carving Zs on everything. The fun of the movie of course is not just the hero's journey, but the gloriously outrageous gunfights along the way. And yes, Johnny Depp is fantastic.

It's a summer movie despite being released in September, and it put an awful lot of this past season's movies to shame. Proof that action movies can have action, giggles, and a point.

September 14, 2003

I've started receiving daily e-mails from the BBC in an effort to stay somewhat connected to world events. Discovered a nifty feature yesterday: the weekly list of "10 things we didn't know last week." According to this week's list, the 23rd largest tree in the world is named Adam. Of course, now I had to find out about the world's largest tree. That tree is named after General Sherman. What, did they run out of larger-than-life historical figures by the time they located Adam?

By the way, both trees are sequoias (redwoods) and reside in Sequoia National Park in northern California. Maybe it's because I grew up among redwoods but I get this superior feeling whenever I'm reminded that redwoods are the "world's largest things." My trees are the best.

September 07, 2003

It's gotten obscenely hot again. I'm beginning to contemplate moving in to the refrigerator.

Finished reading Second Glance this week. I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it; I don't usually go for mysteries. I'm never able to see the clues, so when the sleuth/narrator makes a big announcement, I always feel like he's just pulling conclusions out of thin air. Second Glance, however, while heavily layered and complicated, unfolds in a logical fashion. An evocative, poetic story of love, loss and genetics spanning 70 years with some interesting ethical debates along the way. Extra points to the author for including the ethics but always keeping them subservient to the story.

Watched Rabbit-Proof Fence last night. It's story takes place in Australia during the same timeframe as half of Second Glance plays out in Vermont. I had no idea how widespread these various programs to purify the human race were. The proponents of selective breeding and sterilization among humans truly believed they were doing the right thing, the humane thing, for everyone, improving the life of the native by making him more white, improving the life of the good, church-going, tax-paying citizen by relieving him of his charitable burdens. We look back on those activities now with shame. I wonder, though, what are we doing now that will shame those who come after us? We are no more saints than those who came before.