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Archives for the 'Literature' Category

Ghost Rider

April 30th, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature, Quotations

Ghost Rider (2007) on DVD at Amazon.comI had the pleasure of watching Ghost Rider yesterday. Even though it came out a year ago, it took me this long to see it. I don’t know how it fell through the cracks, but I’m sure glad I put it on my Netflix queue, because it showed up in my mailbox. I had forgotten all about it, but last year I put it on my list and it finally floated to the top.

It’s rare when I get a quote from a movie, but yesterday while watching Ghost Rider, I wrote down this quote:

You would think that with such a great quote that the movie would be about making good choices in your life, but it seemed to be more about getting a second chance at life.

Here is a preview of the movie:

My favorite bit of inside joke from the movie is the fact that Peter Fonda plays the devil in this movie. Peter Fonda is known for his role in Easy Rider, which is a very different motorcycle movie. You can see the opening credits here:

The complete circle of Peter Fonda as a sort of anti-hero of the sixties to the devil of the present time is my favorite sort of inside joke. It’s probably no coincidence that Ghost Rider was named with such a similar name to Easy Rider (plus the play on words with the famous phrase “ghost writer”).

Ghost Rider was based on the comic book series by the same name. You can purchase the complete comic book collection on DVD-ROM here:

Ghost Rider Volume 1: Vicious Cycle at Amazon.comI have never been able to enjoy magazines on a computer; my Mad Magazine collection is sitting in the basement relatively untouched. I prefer REAL books, so here are the trade paperbacks for Ghost Rider.

I love comic books and their movies because they deal with the simple story of evil vs. good. Sure, a lot of them try to blur those lines a little, but in the end, I love to have a good guy to root for.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

April 29th, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe at Amazon.comThere are times when a book comes into your life at the precise moment you NEED it. Such is the case for The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. After the death of a beloved grandfather (who was more like a father to me) without a will and the estate entailed away from me and my line of the family, I related to Emily St. Aubert more than I would have a year ago. Her adventures are exciting and fantastic, but the healing properties of this book reach far beyond that.

This book is most famous for being mentioned in Jane Austen’s book, Northanger Abbey. Austen’s heroine, Catherine Morland, reads The Mysteries of Udolpho and is so affected by it that she continually faints and sees conspiracies all around her. When I originally read Northanger Abbey, I had no idea that The Mysteries of Udolpho was a REAL book. I thought it was some Gothic horror created from the mind of Austen. When I found out it was a book by a very real author, I immediately made a trip to the bookstore for my own copy.

Amazon’s plot synopsis leaves much to be desired:

A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters’ psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers.

Emily DID spend a lot of time as the prisoner of Count Montoni, but that part of the story lasts less than half of the book. Because of the name of the book, I kept expecting more of the evil Montoni and a horrid return to Udolpho, but I came to the end of the book and the estate was dispatched with a sentence to a character that we never meet.

More importantly, are the themes of integrity that are scattered throughout the book. Emily is the perfect heroine. She is never tempted to vice, even when it may be her only escape from a worse vice, and she is repaid handsomely for it.

Here are my favorite quotes:

And my personal favorite:

Despite Emily’s constant fainting (an average of once a chapter), she is the kind of heroine that governs herself and her passions with conviction. She is completely without ridicule and it was a joy following her on her adventures.

About halfway through the book, I worried that all the loose ends would never be tied up to my satisfaction. I have been betrayed by so many books in the past, that I didn’t believe that Ann Radcliffe could possibly solve all the mysteries that she had lain before me. I shouldn’t have worried. She did an excellent job of writing a complete book with no plot holes. Ann Radcliffe’s final words of the book are:

Sometimes I wish I could invent a time machine just to thank dead authors.

For ALL the quotes from The Mysteries of Udolpho:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

April 28th, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow at Amazon.comSee what happens when I stop reading Boing Boing? I don’t hear about the new Cory Doctorow book. Fortunately, Unshelved gave me the heads up about Little Brother by Cory Doctorow:

The book will be available tomorrow, but you can download an excerpted reading from Chapter 12 here:

With good reviews from Neil Gaiman, Brian K. Vaughan and Scott Westerfeld, Cory must have done something right.

Here is the plot of the story, courtesy of Amazon:

Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

Cory usually posts his book online for download, but it looks like he’s not doing that for this one. You’ll have to go to the library this time.

Update 04-28-08 8:35am: I just received this email from Cory Doctorow:

Hey, Laura! There’s assuredly be a free CC release of Little Brother — it’ll be online sometime next week, when I get back from visiting family in Toronto.

Tomorrow #1: When The War Began by John Marsden

April 21st, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature

Tomorrow #1: When The War Began by John Marsden at Amazon.comThis week, Unshelved recommends Tomorrow #1: When The War Began by John Marsden:

Here is a review of the book from Amazon.com:

When Ellie and her friends go camping, they have no idea they’re leaving their old lives behind forever. Despite a less-than-tragic food shortage and a secret crush or two, everything goes as planned. But a week later, they return home to find their houses empty and their pets starving. Something has gone wrong–horribly wrong. Before long, they realize the country has been invaded, and the entire town has been captured–including their families and all their friends. Ellie and the other survivors face an impossible decision: They can flee for the mountains or surrender. Or they can fight.

This is the first book of a series, so if you enjoy it, there are several others to keep you entertained.

Magic Pickle and the Planet of the Grapes by Scott Morse

April 14th, 2008 by Laura Moncur in Literature

Click to see full size comic.Unshelved has recommended Magic Pickle and the Planet of the Grapes by Scott Morse.

The Magic Pickle secretly fights crime from his HQ under Jo Jo’s bed (her house is built on top of the lab that created him). He uses his crime computer and super powers to fight the wicked fruits and veggies of The Brotherhood of Evil Produce. He’s detected some sinister citrus at the Farmer’s Market. One of Jo Jo’s classmates, has brought a strange machine to school, along with a wagonload of fruit (she was soured by the free lemonade). It’s the start of The Raizin’s plan to create a planet of grapes!

Magic Pickle and the Planet of the Grapes by Scott Morse at Amazon.comHere is Amazon’s review of the book:

Scott Morse introduces one of the most hilarious superheroes ever: a flying, green Magic Pickle!

Magic Pickle is a secret weapon developed in a secret military lab—under little JoJo Wigwam’s bedroom floor. The fearless dill superhero meets his match in this feisty eight-year-old. Together they go after Ray Sin, a renegade raisin from the Brotherhood of Evil Produce. Ray Sin has a dastardly plan: to turn every human being on the planet into big, juicy, mindless grapes, so he can rule the world!

Ray Sin has tricked the new kid in town into becoming his hapless helper and is using the class science fair as his cover. He’s got everybody in the school—kids, the principal, even the janitor—eating big gobs of grapes . . . and turning into roly-poly purple fruits!

Magic Pickle and JoJo act fast: with the skillful use of a juicemaker, they save the day and capture Ray Sin, whose criminal career is now all dried up.

I have to admit that the idea of sentient fruits and vegetables is hard for me to swallow. I can believe in self-aware PLANTS, mind you, but fruits and vegetables have been removed from the plant (or fallen off if left alone), so they seem like amputated limbs more than characters on their own.

The California Raisins, however, they were TOTALLY believable.

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