Friday, July 29, 2011
Opening up this weekend at a multiplex near you is the Daniel Craig/Harrison Ford tag team summer flick,Cowboys & Aliens,that pits the western genre against science fiction. Craig plays the mystery man with no memory who comes to town and Ford is the corrupt boss man,quick to haul him to jail for various crimes.
That typical Old West tale takes a twists as strange vehicles from the sky enter the scene and start snatching up the locals. Turns out the dubious newcomer may be useful in fighting this bizarre enemy with the odd device that happens to be strapped to his wrist.
All of this leads to the former foes banding together to face a much greater threat,which is standard for both genres:
So far,C&A is getting a mixed set of reviews but regardless of that,it will probably do reasonably well at the box office. I happen to find this blend of classic tropes intriguing and it puts me in mind of other hybrid genre movies that scored rather high points with regular and critical audiences over the years.
Harrison Ford is no stranger to crossbreed cinema,having starred in the sci-fi noir film Blade Runner back in 1982. Critics were divided about the movie but due to later viewings of the director's cut,many came around to calling it a classic. It was a cult favorite amongst film fans before being considered worthy enough to be included on AFI's list of Top Ten Sci-Fi films and 100 Best Movies.
What is compelling about Blade Runner is the seamless melding of the hard boiled detective story with the existential musings on the nature of reality for the doomed replicants in this futuristic world. No matter which version of the movie you've seen,it still holds a strong visual and emotional resonance to this day:
A truly tricky balancing act is the horror comedy;too much terror,the laughs get lost in the shuffle and too many laughs can water down the scares.
Luckily,the British are nimble jugglers when it comes to genre mixing and 2004's Shaun of the Dead gave us one of the best "zom-rom-com" flicks of our time. Headed up by Simon Pegg(who also co-wrote the film with director Edgar Wright),the smartly chosen ensemble cast made their social quandaries merge nicely,if not gruesomely at times,with the impeding approach of the ravenous undead.
The success of this film gave a much needed shot in the arm to the zombie genre but the horror comedy division is still lagging behind there,even with the likes of 2009's Zombieland staggering forth from Hollywood:
One crossover genre that's proven hard to be taken seriously is the live action animation film. Most of the time,it's considered to be strictly kiddie fare and for a long while,not even made into a full length feature film. Such scenes were slipped into musicals like 1945's Anchors Aweigh as a throwaway gimmick but audiences fondly recalled them long afterward.
1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit used live action and animation as a vital part of it's story which also tossed film noir into it's zany mix. Another ground breaker here was the combining of Disney cartoon characters along side classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes favorites in various featured roles through the film.
While the movie only received Oscars for technical categories,it remains the only live action/animated feature to do so. No small potatoes there,especially for such a sharply satirical family film:
No matter how much money Cowboys & Aliens ultimately rakes in this summer,I hope that it doesn't affect the future of genre mixing in a negative way. While it can be easily overdone,there is still some life in this media blending yet. Even Jane Austen's timeless tales have benefited from a little monster mashing and it would be a great pity to deny ourselves such a bounty of amusement that such creative crossovers can provide:
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The Next Food Network Star's Racheal Ray moment, Design Star's team tussles and Sookie's True Blood warning
The remaining six contenders for The Next Food Network Star arrived in New York,where after a cupcake challenge judged by Ina Garten(aka the Barefoot Contessa),they had to make an appearance on Rachael Ray's talk show. Each one was tasked to do a demo that showed their twist on a traditional dish while taking a question from the audience and conversing with Rachael on camera.
Some folks sadly underperformed on this one,like Vic whose idea for combining leftover lasagna with a chimichanga- a "lachanga"- didn't go over well with Bobby Flay. His presentation was a mixed bag as well,starting off strong but running out of steam as time went on.
The person who really surprised me this week was Jeff,the self proclaimed "sandwich king". He tends to have an overwhelming energy during his show and tell segments that knocks everything off course but on Rachael's show,he really reined it in and used his charisma to his full advantage.
I was concerned about his determination for his sandwich concept when he made a cupcake packed with deli meats in the earlier round(not a favorite with anyone on the judges' panel there!) but his version of a pork chop with applesauce sandwich looked pretty tasty. He won this round and rightly so,in my opinion.
Sent packing was Jyll,for her lack of focus and the lackluster take on meatloaf that she took. Her ideas for the meatloaf were much too similar to the Shepard's pie that another competitor had been assigned. Plus,her audience question revealed the shaky grasp that she had on her show concept.
Next week,the gang has to tackle roast meats while dealing with being roasted by a panel of comedians. I get the connection but it's hokier than some of the jokes that will be flying about that dinner table.
One of the comedians on deck happens to be former Afflack spokesman Gilbert Gottfried(they must have taped this episode way before his Twitter troubles there,just like Ina and her little Make a Wish scandal)and we all know just how mellow he can be about things. Should be a hot time not just in the kitchen for our Final Five there:
It was team challenge time on Design Star,as the ten contenders were split into two teams to makeover a pair of rooms in someone's home. The team for each house then divided in two again.with three people for one room and two for another. Everyone had three days to get the job done.
Bret,Cathy and Karl were assigned a mini apartment/entertainment room and one of the first things that Cathy did was head out the door to go shopping.
Her intention was to let the guys do all of the grunt work but they weren't having that. Bret and Karl let her know that the next day they were going to do some shopping and that she had to paint the place. Cathy wasn't happy about that but the fellas were firm with her on that point and their room turned out well.
It wasn't perfect(Bret picked out a very awkward set of chairs and table that looked like they were plucked out of a waiting room)but Karl's back splash for the kitchenette was great. Back splashes are usually the downfall for Design Star folk but he really pulled this one out. Karl broke up various sets of tile to create his mosaic look and the judges praised him highly for it.
The winner for this challenge,however,was Kevin who worked with Kellie and Leslie in the other house on a basement playroom. One of the things that the homeowners wanted was a corner office and he made that section of the room both functional and chic,not to mention accessible for the whole family.
It's too bad that Mark wasn't as firm with Doug as Bret and Karl were with Cathy. The living room that they both worked on had just as much of a stalemate as Congress over the debt ceiling and the results were about as dismal.
Doug insisted on painting the main wall a hideous pink that one of the judges declared resembled organ meat and wouldn't listen to Mark about any of the furniture choices to the point of redoing the placement of objects in the room(he claimed that Mark wasn't doing it right).
Mark wound up shrugging his shoulders and focusing on the wooden paneling that he did,which looked fine but the entire look lacked cohesion. Doug was dismissed for his conceited concepts about collaboration and good riddance,I say.
Next week, the designers have to make over a bed and breakfast and it looks like Cathy is trying to get out of doing some dirty work again while another team forgets to get on board with a concept for their room. *sigh* Talk about deja vu all over again!:
On True Blood,the status is strange as usual.
While Jason is recovering from his werepanther situation and Sam helps his little brother Tommy clean up a very gruesome mess,Sookie is in her Nancy Drew mode as she uses her telepathic powers to find out where the witches are.
She visits the Moon Goddess shop and asks Marnie for a psychic reading,which she reluctantly does. Marnie contacts Gran and starts relating her concerns about Jason and Eric but soon enough,Gran can tell that Sookie is listening in and warns her directly about how dangerous Marnie is.
That scares the hell out of Marnie and even tho Sookie doesn't know half of what's been going on with her,she's smart enough to run like her grandma told her to:
Not long after that, Marnie is captured by the forces of King Bill who is freaked out upon seeing what was done to Pam's face. Despite using glamor on her,Bill soon realizes that Marnie has no idea how to undo the spells that her new secret friend has cast.
During a powwow with the other sheriffs,Pam winds up spilling the beans about what happened to Eric and where he's been staying at. Bill decides to act on his jealousy and heads over to Sookie's place,where he will no doubt interrupt the sweet kissing session that she and Eric are having. Way to be a buzz kill,Bill!:
MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER: A spanking new season starts on August 15 and one of the folks looking for love here is Miss Patty Stanger herself. Yes, I do watch this show more than I should but some guilty pleasures are too good to pass up:
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Marveling at how soon The Avengers will hit the big screen & the injustice of the Justice League sitting this one out
Marvel's third big movie of the season, Captain America:The First Avenger,made a respectable splash at the box office this past weekend that even caused the final Harry Potter film to step aside from the number one position.
As a bonus,positive reviews from both critics and fans accompany the financial success of Captain America. All of this bodes well for the major Marvel film yet to come which brings together some of their better comic book adaptations such as Iron Man,the Hulk(2.0 version)and Thor,along with a few other players for The Avengers.
The first teaser for the 2012 movie can be seen during the end credits of Captain America and judging by audience reactions,this will be a definite must see for comic book folk and action film fans alike:
The set-up for the Avengers film has been a long time coming,with other end credits clips that link the previous Marvel adaptations up with Nick Fury as their main connection such as the first Iron Man movie and this spring's Thor.
While I am happy as a clam to see this superhero combo blossom into film fruition,part of me is still wondering "Where is the Justice League movie,DC?" The DC gang does have another amazing Batman film ready for next summer and the trailer alone is a fabulous achievement.
However,it promises to be the "epic conclusion" to the Christopher Nolan directed Dark Knight movies,which means that once again,a certain major comic book empire will be scrambling for cinematic supremacy here:
Part of the problem appears to be the insistence of the studios execs and producers in keeping many of the characters apart,particularly Batman and Superman. Why that notion has such staying power is beyond me,since both sides would make a vast fortune by teaming up together.
Smallville,in it's remaining seasons,put together a Justice League group of sorts that fans seemed to appreciate but spin-off attempts have been soundly rejected thus far. With the lackluster debut of the Green Lantern movie a few weeks ago and no new developments on the Wonder Woman front(for big and small screen),it looks as if our only solace is in watching the animated editions of the Justice League on DVD:
No use in crying over spilled superhero milk,I guess. It's at least good that we have an Avengers movie to look forward to,as well as The Dark Knight Rises,and that the X-Men franchise appears to be getting back on track.
True,we do have the threat of a Green Lantern sequel hanging over our heads and who knows how the new Superman film is going to turn out. Nevertheless,we need to focus on the bright side and avoid arguments about which franchise is better. I just wish that DC had it's act as together as Marvel does when it comes to presenting their heroes for worldwide audiences:
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
When we last checked into Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series,young witch detective Savannah Levine had just solved her first solo case but not without sad consequences for the human family involved. Making a mental wish to make things right, even if that means giving up her powers,Savannah discovers that somehow,her offer has been accepted.
Being rendered powerless couldn't have come at a worse time for her,with various attempts on her life being made by an unknown witch hunter in the area. Adam Vasic,her best friend and not so secret love interest,is doing his best to protect Savannah as well as find out what happened to her magical abilities yet it's Savannah's over reliance on her magic that puts her most in danger:
The witch hunter turns out to be the least of her worries,however,as the presence of a group of new generation supernaturals is being made known in public. Some of Savannah's friends are fast becoming targets of this underground movement that wants to emerge from hiding and conquer the mortal world.
As more of her old companions,such as werewolves Elena and Clay along with half demon Hope,come forth to enter the fray,it becomes more apparent that this new found cult is the false face behind a much larger agenda. Battle lines are being drawn between the forces of good and evil and each side is determined to recruit Savannah into their ranks:
Savannah has a lot to contend with here,the biggest challenges being her feelings for Adam and the fear that she's not as special without her powers. Little by little,she discovers her true strengths and gets ready to face whatever lies ahead.
Spell Bound is the follow-up novel to last summer's Waking The Witch(now available in paperback)and it feels like the bridge to a much bigger story yet to come. It does help if you've read the previous book,altho Armstrong provides as much background info on the characters as she can without sidetracking the main course of the plot.
Savannah has come a long way in this series,from a minor character that appeared in several of the Otherworld titles to the leading lady of her own saga. It's fitting that she's the linchpin that brings together the various werewolves,demons and assorted mystical folk of Armstrong's world together for what promises to be a real game changer here.
Armstrong has proven herself to be an engaging storyteller able to spin her magic on more than one loom and the tapestry tale that she's setting up shop for should be a great carpet ride indeed:
Spell Bound is available today at a bookseller near you and it's the perfect little paranormal pick me up for your hot fun during this summertime. Trust me when I say that when Savannah Levine does fully reclaim her powers,somewhere down the road,more than a few evil doers should or will be trembling in their boots:
Monday, July 25, 2011
The shocking news of Amy Winehouse's death made international headlines this weekend,bringing much sorrow to friends,family and fans alike.
The talented yet troubled singer was found deceased in her London apartment and as of this writing,the cause is yet to be determined. However,it will be of no surprise to anyone if drugs and alcohol are officially found to be the source of her demise.
It'll also be ironic,given that her best known song is "Rehab" where she playfully resists getting help for her addiction problems. Many people were jokingly speculating about her life expectancy for some time now,particularly after her live performances of late made it painfully obvious just how far down the rabbit hole Amy was. Now,some of those punchlines have an extra sour taste to them:
At the moment,folks are saying that Amy is now a member of the 27 club-a sad list of musical entertainers who died at age 27 from their battles with chemical dependency. Jimi Hendrix,Jim Morrison,Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain-legends in their lifetime who burned out both ends of their candles.
To me,it doesn't matter at what age a celebrity is upon their death but it is extremely sad when they leave this life before reaching their true potential as a person and an artist.
Don't get me wrong,I find it to be a great loss when anyone has a swift and sudden ending to his/her time on earth but it's especially tragic when that someone was blessed with amazing talent that they were meant to share with others:
This is far from my first celebrity death but it feels just as awful as the one that did touch my heart first;John Belushi back in 1982. I still have a copy of the People magazine issue that eulogized him.
Comedians and musicians tend to share some of the same personal demons there and many of the same things that were said about Belushi's departure are being said about Amy as well.
The whole "it was only a matter of time...I tried to talk to him/her about the drinking but he/she wouldn't listen..." bit is a now familiar tune sung about many others,including devoted Belushi disciple Chris Farley. I know the old saying about not getting a horse to drink the water even if you lead one kicking and screaming to the rehab but sometimes,it seems like it would really be worth the effort.
The fear of being shut out of that person's world does hold a few back from shining a harsh spotlight on the truth of the situation and while I'm not blaming anyone for Amy's death(or any other celeb mentioned here),I wish that a strong armed intervention had taken place at some point. Of course,that point is moot for now and will no doubt be bandied about in future memoirs and badly done biopics:
Right now,the best thing that we can do for Amy is to send our condolences to her family and close friends who will feel the pain of her loss more keenly than the rest of us.
Hopefully,the musical gifts that she left behind will do much to sooth her loved ones and leave a legacy that cautions as well as inspires those wanting to walk in her footsteps. We may only be able to say goodbye in words but you have to make the best of what you have on hand,folks. Amy,so sorry to see you go, truly very sorry indeed:
Friday, July 22, 2011
As I write this,the east coast is undergoing one of the nastiest heat waves of the summer season which makes it hard to think about anything else but the rising temperatures.
However,that will not deter me from bringing you some form of distracting entertainment and the best that I can come up with right now are a set of songs about,what else,the heat! Most songs that deal in images of fire,heat,etc are metaphorical melodies dedicated to love and since we would all love to see the end of this mandatory sweat period,that fits the bill nicely here.
First up is the classic "Heat Wave",originally sung by Martha and the Vandellas. The popularity of this single gave the ladies their one and only Grammy nomination back in 1964,making them the first Motown group to ever be nominated.
While the likes of Linda Ronstadt and Phil Collins have done their own takes on this toe tapping little ditty, no one can truly outdo the real Motown Maidens and their Mighty Moves:
For something completely different,we turn to Blue Oyster Cult and their 1981 hit "Burnin' for You". This tune has been highlighted in several feature films through out the years such as 1997's Cop Land and most recently in Let Me In.
The series Supernatural also used this song for key moments and a cover version by the band Shiny Toy Guns was done exclusively as part of a car commercial. It is a great song to listen to in the car,no doubt about it,yet too good to be merely reworked as a jingle:
To give you a chance to catch your breath,mellow out with "Eternal Flame",one of my favorite songs by The Bangles.
At least two of my favorite TV shows have had great character moments with this lingering love ballad; a first season episode of Gilmore Girls had Rory and Paris bond at a Bangles reunion concert and this past season on The Vampire Diaries,Caroline sang for Matt as a way to win him back into her arms(if not her fangs).
Just goes to show you that this tune is like a little black dress-it never goes out of style and suits all occasions:
Finally,let's deal with "Heat of the Moment" by Asia. This song has popped up in odd pop culture places like the film The 40 Year Old Virgin and the TV series Supernatural(what was it with that show and such obvious song selections,seriously?)not to mention a memorable Cartman moment on South Park.
What is truly amazing about this song is just how literal the music video for it is. Everything that is talked about in the lyrics shows up on screen in multiple frames no less. Talking about your ideal drinking game subject or what,folks?:
I hope that wherever you are this weekend,you manage to stay as cool as can be. Even if this oppressive heat keeps you trapped indoors,do make the best of your situation. Chill out with a good friend and a smoking tune,but be careful or things might blow up in more ways than one:
Thursday, July 21, 2011
An unexpected cooking lesson for The Next Food Network Star,white box blues on Design Star and True Blood's black magic woman
This was considered midterm week on The Next Food Network Star,as the remaining eight contenders were tasked to prepare a major meal for the judges and special guest Wolfgang Puck. The stakes were set higher than usual since two people would be eliminated,which made the tension run higher as well.
The squabbling in the kitchen was nothing compared to what happened to Jyll;she served what she considered to be risotto but Wolfgang disagreed. He literally took her back to the kitchen to show Jyll how to make it right.
To her credit,she kept up a good face about it(why two of the judges thought she was being "phony" was beyond me) but if I've learned anything from watching Hell's Kitchen,it's that you don't screw up the risotto!
Lucky for her,Penny was sent home instead. While her food was good as always and she was even on her best behavior with Mary Beth for once,Penny's lack of likability on camera was her ultimate downfall. I say,good riddance since her cattiness and overly competitive nature really grated on my nerves.
Chris joined Penny at the departure gate,mainly due to his lousy dessert(which he kept apologizing for as it was served)and his general lack of maturity.
He's not a bad guy but at this stage,Chris still has a bit too much of the teenager in him and he needs to get a handle on that before he can progress as a chef. Bobby Flay's exasperation with him was pretty sincere there.
Next week, the Final Six head to New York and do a demo on Rachel Ray's show-as they say,if you can make there,you'll make it anywhere:
For their second challenge,the gang on Design Star were given the white box rooms to decorate,using items bought from a food and restaurant supply store. They were all told that the room could be more creative than functional,offering up a lot of lee way there.
Some of the designers really knocked this one out of the park,like Tyler who had me wondering why he had bought nearly 400 bottles of water. The amazing light chair that was the focal piece of his room was more than a welcome sigh of relief.
Also worrying at first was Kevin's butcher paper wall but it turned out to be rather striking in a good way. It was a strong bit of pizazz that could have been balanced better yet the overall effect was pulled off well enough to please the judges.
The winner this week was Mark,for his Air Force inspired tribute to his grandfather. The judges loved how he made the futon resemble a fabulous flying machine and his wall motif was awesome.
I would've chosen Tyler for the win since those tin bowls that Mark had lined up on the sides didn't click so well,in my opinion but congrats to Mark for truly going big there.
On the downside,Cathy's spicy stone floor pattern was colorful yet her room was way too constrained. Her plate mosaic ideas were good but they needed to be expanded on,especially the one that went on the wall.
Meg's attempts to make a table stand up on glasses failed as time ran out but even if she had managed to make that work,the room would still be a clunker. The orange was too overwhelming and the shadowing she did for the furniture was a good idea not fully developed.
Sent home this time was J,who had a great idea for a fireplace made from a couple of end tables but buried it in a far corner instead of putting it as the centerpiece of her room. There was too much empty space that she didn't utilize and those wall hangings were kind of sad.
Next week,team work is needed for a home makeover and it looks like tempers are going to flare over who does what. Not going to be pretty,particular for the gal who spills the black paint on the new carpet:
More wacky hijinks ensue on True Blood as Jason makes a successful escape from the Hotshot werepanthers,Alcide helps Sookie corral a fairy blood drunk Eric and Bill discovers a family connection too close for comfort.
Meanwhile,Marnie is being haunted by her new spirit guide who apparently was a witch burned at the stake a few centuries ago. Jesus,Lafayette and Tara need her to be on her toes to find the right memory spell before Pam rips into them in her subtly restrained way(not!)yet Marnie is rather distracted to begin with without those freaky dream visions that her new friend has been sharing with her lately:
They do find the right spell to reverse Eric's memory loss but Pam's impatience sets Marnie's inner witch off and another nasty curse is unleashed. Pam winds up with a serious case of face rot and the rest of the group is starting to get as afraid of Marnie as they already are of vampires.
Personally,I suspect that Lafayette is the one with real power amongst them but he hasn't come to that conclusion yet. When the first raising the dead spell was done with the coven,part of that was due to his energy and only when he joined the circle to save Tara from Eric did Marnie become possessed by the ancient witch spirit. He might be the only one able to stop this crazy magic train in the end but we shall see:
FOR YOUR EMMY CONSIDERATION: Game of Thrones fans were pleasantly surprised to see this series earn 13 Emmy nominations,including Best Drama and a Best Supporting Actor nod for Peter Dinklage.
His take on Tyrion Lannister, the charmingly clever yet easily underestimated son of a viciously influential clan is another feather in his cap of acting achievements and I hope he receives his just rewards for this performance:
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
It's been no secret that the Borders book store chain has fallen on hard times,due to mismanagement and the economy,but this weeks heralds the final blow to their business as the remaining 399 locations will be closed by the end of September.
This leaves about 11,000 employees out of work,several publishers both big and small not getting paid and a good chunk taken out of the physical book distribution market. A sad situation all around that also includes readers for whom Borders was their only option for book shopping in their area:
As someone who did shop at Borders on occasion(the only one closest to me was a hour long bus ride away),I am sorry to see them go. From the moment that I entered the store for the first time,I could tell that this place was special.
The atmosphere and layout of the floor had a library style tone to it,with a selection of books that was clearly different from the average chain.
Their section of books about literature,for example,was in the midst of the fiction section with subdivisions for poetry,plays and a whole portion dedicated to Shakespeare alone. Books that were hard to find or even order could be easily found upon the shelves,as if they had been waiting for you all along.
Also,as a former bookseller whose store did close(two years after I left their employ),my heart goes out to the clerks and other staff being thrust out into the brutal job hunting world now in place these days. From some of things I've heard and read,working at Borders wasn't all sunshine and roses but even a bad day at work has it's moments to remember fondly:
For some,the shutting down of Borders is a business opportunity and while I don't begrudge anyone willing to supply the services that many local book lovers counted on these stores for(not to mention folks picking up bargain buys at the liquidation sales),there are a few indie folks out there who find this news a reason to rejoice.
Here's a quote from a bookstore owner in Chicago,who to be fair has had to deal with direct competition from Borders over the years,that illustrates this(full article here):
“Now we have this behemoth off our backs,” she said. “It’s not the politic answer to say that inside, there’s a little happy bookseller who’s jumping up and down.”
While I understand her reasons for saying that,her statement does have a bit of dancing on the grave vibe to it. I would like to remind all of you that Borders did start out as an independent book store and that while they did spread out a lot further than ,say,Powells' or The Strand,their initial model was that of a college town type of store that supported authors as well as the community. Their current situation should secure your compassion,not your ridicule:
The closing of any book store is a sad affair and I hope that some good can come from all of this. There are many lessons to be learned here,to be told by savvy souls that I but I do say this;the passing of Borders is a story that won't be soon forgotten by book lovers and business people alike:
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
One of the better books about books that I've read last year was Erin Blakemore's The Heroine's Bookshelf,which highlighted many famous literary leading ladies and the women who created them.
A major player on her list was Scarlett O'Hara and due to this year being the 75th anniversary of the release of the book that brought this feisty Southern belle to life,Erin will be hosting a Gone With the Wind readalong,starting this August.
This invite is open to both new readers and old, with the time frame being planned from the week of August 1 to the week of October 17. Each week,she'll give a brief summary of the chapters to be discussed,along with historical background and conversation suggestions. You can leave your thoughts and feelings about GTTW in the comments section and there is the promises of prizes over the course of the readalong.
Since I haven't read GTTW in a long time and haven't been in an online reading group for some time now as well, I plan to join in and encourage you all to do the same. Here's the schedule:
* August 1: Discuss Part 1 (Chapters 1-7)
* August 15: Discuss Part 2 (Chapters 8-16)
* September 5: Discuss Part 3 (Chapters 17-30)
* September 26: Discuss Part 4 (Chapters 31-47)
* October 17: Discuss Part 5 (Chapters 48-63)
Gone With The Wind is one of those books that, despite being easily dismissed as a slice of southern fried soap opera, manages to make itself relevant and worth a look over with each passing generation. This readalong should be a rather engaging and lively get together indeed:
A few months,one of my favorite book blogs,The New Dork Review of Books,did a write-up on GTTW that focused on the four major characters in the book(Rhett,Scarlett,Ashley and Melanie).
Greg's insights on the book as a first time reader were well thought out and insightful,with a true appreciation for the merits of the work. He also noted that it exceeded his expectations,something that many longtime readers have experienced from time to time.
I had similar feelings upon reading To Kill a Mockingbird last summer and part of the fun of a group read is the sharing of viewpoints,which can highlight things that you didn't notice before. I don't know if any discussion of the film will be included in the GGTTW Readalong but that would be a good topic for a future compare and contrast talk:
Between the book and film, Gone With The Wind has become a major pop culture hallmark over the years. Devoted fans have created a demand for all sorts of GTTW related items,from dolls and collectible figurines to jewelry,plates and even a "sequel" by Alexandra Ripley(it didn't go over too well,to say the least).
There are an equal number of detractors as well,due to the sexism and racism of the time period that includes extremely politically incorrect language. Most folks who read historical fiction(which the book is)know to expect some less than sensitive depictions of certain groups and can take that in stride,since it may be necessary in order to make the story authentic sounding.
That will probably pop up at one point or another during the readalong but I think it could make for a good discussion along the way. That doesn't mean that we have to be all serious all time here;GTTW has been the subject of many a good parody and a few laughs could ease any tension that might surface:
So,I hope that some of my faithful readers will stop by the Great Gone With The Wind readalong and spend some time on the veranda with Scarlett and the gang. I suspect that most of the conversation will be about that particular Miss Independent and she wouldn't have it any other way:
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