Friday, July 22, 2016

The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew. The Chronicle's of Narnia #1. C.S. Lewis. 1955. HarperCollins Publishers. Pages: 221. [Source: Childhood Gift]

He never finished what he was going to say for at that moment something happened. The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly and there rose out of it - like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor - the alarming form of Uncle Andrew. They were not in the empty house at all; they were in Digory's house and in the forbidden study! Both children said "O-o-oh" and realized their terrible mistake. They felt they ought to have known all along that they hadn't gone nearly far enough. 

 • •

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.

 • •

The Magician's Nephew continues to be my favourite Narnia novel. It's not because it's the first novel, no, it's because of what Digory and Polly have to go through and what they see on their way to and while they're in Narnia.

I can still remember the day when my father gave me my boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia - I was in second grade, I think, and I was getting ready to go to an assembly with my father at the school I was going to (Comox Elementary, which has sadly been closed down). He handed me the boxed set and let me open it, and told me he would read the books to me whenever he could. And he did, though the last novel I remember that he read to me was The Horse and His Boy. I read the rest by myself because my father, I guess, soon became too busy to just sit down and read to me.

The story starts with Polly playing out in the garden when a boy peeks his face up over the wall dividing his garden from her own. The boy, who she was soon to learn was named Digory, was crying because of how ill his mother was getting. After that meeting, they become good friends and go regular little adventures, you know, the kind kids like to do.

But one day, they go up into the attic and decide to try and go explore the empty row house attached to their houses. But they make a grave mistake and accidentally enter into Digory's attic, where they discover that his uncle has converted the attic into a study...

This has to be my most favourite Narnia novel. There's so many things that happen in it that make me think. Think, think, THINK, think, THINK! And I love it when a book makes me THINK.

One of the parts of the books that makes me think the most is the part when Digory and Polly appear in Charn and take in what's left of that world. The fact that Charn's sun is red and "tired"-looking immediately makes me think that Charn's sun was a red giant - which is a star that has reached the end of it's life. It was hanging low over the horizon, so it made me think that it had probably swelled from its original size and took up most of the sky by the time Digory and Polly got there. Charn was an old world, and yet the sun had always been large and red, according to Jadis.

The fact that Charn was no more by the time Digory and Polly's adventure in Narnia was over unsettles me a bit, and I don't know why. 

I deeply love C.S. Lewis' style of writing in this book. It makes it sound like a lovely fairy-tale and it sucks me in every time I open this story. I look forward to the day I can read it to my kids, like my father did to me.

One thing I wish I could do, though, was find one of the sets of green and gold rings that Uncle Andrew created. I would love to explore the Wood between the Worlds, just to see what other worlds there could have been. My curiosity always gets to me like that. What other worlds were there other than ours and Charn and Narnia?

Note: I never realized, until now, that Digory and Polly lived in the Victorian era, when Sherlock Holmes still solved mysteries and the thought of motor-cars were still a bit of a ways away...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Star Trek: From History's Shadow

From History's Shadow. Dayton Ward. Based on the concept created by Gene Roddenberry. (Star Trek: The Original Series).  2013. Pocket Books. Pages: 427. [Source: Bought]

He heard breathing and the rustling of clothing. Muscles tensing in anticipation of a confrontation if not a full-blown firefight, Kirk stepped around the stacked containers and levelled his phaser at the figure standing in the open. It was the Vulcan, who appeared flush and disheveled. At his feet lay what could only be the particle weapon detected by Spock's tricorder.

"That is my only weapon," he said, standing in place and holding his hands away from his body. "I am not a threat. It is my counterpart who should concern you."


I've had this pocket book sitting in the data-banks of my iPad for 6 months to a year. I can't quite remember when I bought it, I just remember that I wanted to read it very badly since it sounded like it was quite exciting. And I wasn't disappointed. Did I love From History's Shadow? Yes, yes I did.

From History's Shadow starts out with the crew of the Enterprise just having returned to the 23rd Century after the whole incident with Gary Seven in the Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth". They've barely been in their century a day before a disturbance in a cargo bay has them slamming on the brakes so they can go investigate.

What exactly is causing all that fuss in the cargo bay, anyway? Turns out, Enterprise somehow gained a couple of stow-aways when it was in the 20th Century.

One of the reasons why I grabbed this book was because Mestral was in it. Mestral is a Vulcan character from the only Star Trek: Enterprise episode I've ever watched - "Carbon Creek". The reason why I like him so much is because he decided to stay on Earth after kind of falling in love with a Carbon Creek resident named Maggie. The thought that Mestral, a Vulcan, decided to stay and live amongst the human race, which at the time was extremely interested in the concept of alien invaders, is an interesting concept.

I liked the action and the cohesiveness of the plot of this story. Despite the fact that there were at least four points of view at any given time, I understood what was happening at each point and the only times I felt lost were when I returned to the story after stopping in the middle of a scene. Each and every character read like they were supposed to. Sometimes I felt that the situations weren't described as much as they could have but in every scene my imagination took over and compensated because there was enough information!

At the end of the novel, when one of the characters, a James Wainwright, is retired and old and slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's Disease, a breaking news TV spot pops up on his TV, showing a picture of a very familiar UFO. After several encounters with a similar-shaped ship which was under the command of Captain Kirk when he was in his prime, Captain Janeway's starship pulls the memories of his times chasing aliens and seeing things out-of-this-world from the depths of his mind where they had long since been buried.

What I would have liked to have seen at the end was Mestral visiting James after he saw the image of Voyager on the TV, since they had a bit of a working relationship halfway through the novel. You know, just to see how he was doing since Mestral would have hardly have changed at all. But it didn't happen. Oh well.

Note: The reader of this novel would have to be extremely well-versed in the Star Trek universe to get a lot of what happened in this novel. I just squeezed in thanks to my curiosity and due to the fact that I'm finally watching Star Trek: Voyager from the beginning.

This novel takes elements from:
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth".
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" with a cameo by Captain John Christopher.
  • Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Future's End & Future's End, Part II"
  • Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Carbon Creek"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Movies That Have Left Me Dissatisfied

This was something I just wanted to share, since it occurred to me that, lately, I've been subjected to certain stories that have made me want to scream with frustration. Only one novel I've read in recent memory has had this affect on me, and that was The Phantom of the Opera.

But this post is about the movies that left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, literally.

I don't really know why I wanted to make a post about it, but I guess I wanted to talk about story endings. I know that there are effective ways to end a story, but some of them end up being totally unnecessary. Really, some endings I've seen on movies have just left me frustrated and furious.

Here is a list of movies that have made me frustrated:

  1. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
  2. The Amazing Spiderman 2
  3. Star Trek Generations
  4. Maze Runner & Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  5. The Pretender: Island of the Haunted

Usually, I'm pretty tolerant about how a story is crafted, due to the fact that I'm a realist 50% of the time. Real life often doesn't allow for happy endings of "happily ever afters". So when something doesn't go perfect for the main characters, then I'm fine. Because that's realistic. Though, even though I'm fine with it, that doesn't mean that I'm happy about it, lol.

1. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

One evening, Mom was flicking through the channels when she stumbled across this movie. She went "eh, why not?" and changed to it. When I was little and I was just becoming coherent enough to play computer games (I've been playing video games since I was five - and computer games are more challenging than video games, I swear! lol) I discovered Mom's copy of the Tomb Raider CD-ROM disk. I quickly discovered that I could only make it through a quarter of the first level before I would make it to a stone bridge in this cave where I would be taken down by a couple wolves (and where exactly did those come from???) and GAME OVER would be thrown up onto the screen.

The reason why I was dissatisfied with this movie's ending: Terry had to be such a overgrown baby in the Cradle of Life. Didn't he realize that if he took Pandora's Box, he could, eventually, be the last living man on Earth (if he opened the box) or would eventually become a victim of the plague contained within the box (if he sold it)? I was really disappointed that he was greedy enough to try to push past Lara in the Cradle so she was forced to shoot him. I really liked Lara and Terry as a pair.

2. The Amazing Spiderman 2

I really enjoyed the first Amazing Spiderman movie, so I thought I would love this movie just as much. At the beginning, it was exactly what I expected, but then it quickly spiralled into something less than what I was hoping for. I sympathized for Max Dillon/Electro - one of the villains.

The reason why I was dissatisfied with this movie's ending: Gwen's death. The subsequent twisting of Harry Osbourne's mind because of his inherited disease so that he was eventually so desperate to live that he labeled his childhood friend - Peter Parker - his enemy. And he killed Gwen! I fully believe that Peter should have been able to save Gwen despite how intense his battle with Harry was, but the writers decided that she had to die instead of actually getting to fulfil her dreams. (Oh, and if you can't figure out why she died when Peter clearly caught her - well, the sudden stop caused by Peter catching her with his webbing snapped her back).

3. Star Trek Generations

I like this movie. I loved how it brought the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation together through finding Captain James T. Kirk in the Nexus. One thing I didn't like about it, though, was the fact that Data just had to swear as the Enterprise-D's saucer-section crash-landed. Was that exactly necessary? I thought people had almost completely discarded the instinctive need to swear? I know Data was trying out his emotion-chip, but still--

The reason why I was dissatisfied with this movie's ending: Captain Kirk's death. Probably every Star Trek fan agrees with me - Kirk's death was unnecessary. He had plenty of time to get off of that catwalk before it fell. I knew that he was out there distracting Soran so that his rocket would blow up on him, but Kirk could have started running for solid ground as the rocket exploded, or he could have run over to somewhere else. I really wanted to see how Kirk would have reacted to the 24th Century.

4. Maze Runner & Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Where can I begin? For one thing, I really don't like dystopian films or novels, but the action in the first movie had me intrigued. I got to like the characters, even though dread throbbed in the pit of my stomach. I was intrigued from the beginning of the first movie because I wondered if these kids were on some other planet, and were being dropped off by machines left over from the human race and that the human race no longer existed. But then I quickly learned that, no, the teenagers were not on another planet, but were actually on Earth, and Earth has been hit by some sort of catastrophe caused by the sun?? I'm not sure since it's only called "The Flare". Apparently there was a massive solar flare that must have weakened every human's immune system that a plague of epic proportions swept through the population of the planet. I didn't like The Scorch Trials at all, and spent the time my family watched it building Lego as it droned on in the background.

The reason why I was dissatisfied with these movies' ending: I admit, I liked the action in these movies, but the endings left me with bitterness to end all bitterness in my mouth. With the first movie, when they killed Chuck off - they didn't have to kill Chuck off! But probably it happened in the book (I haven't read the book). The ending of the second movie frustrated with how Teresa betrayed her friends for W.C.K.D. even though it was made very apparent that W.C.K.D. is evil. Really, Teresa??!?

5. The Pretender: Island of the Haunted

The Pretender has to be one of my favourite cat & mouse-themed TV shows of all time. In each episode, Jarod - the main character, the "pretender" - goes about helping someone who was wronged, like a security guard who was killed by a couple of police officers who broke into the bank he was guarding and made it look like he was the criminal. Or the family of an pilot who was accused of being drunk when he was flying a jet (so it crashed and he died) so they couldn't get his pension. And all the while he teases and taunts the organization who kidnapped him when he was a kid and exploited his genius for their research. More often than not, I wish the Pretender had gone on for more than four seasons and two movies.

The reason why I was dissatisfied with this movie's ending: This is the second movie of the two movies produced to help tie up the TV series since the Pretender was cancelled, leaving it at a very tense and suspenseful situation. The reason why I was dissatisfied with the ending of this episode was the fact that it revealed why Jarod was taken by the Centre when he was a child. He was taken because of a prophecy. But that's not entirely the whole reason why I wasn't happy with ending - viewers were left with Jarod still on the run. What I wanted was for the entirety of the Centre to be gone, destroyed, so Jarod could settle down, start a family, and find his mother, father, and sister. After all, wasn't that his goal and was what he had been striving for the entire show?


Now, those are the movies, that I can remember, that have frustrated with their endings. They leave me going into overdrive with my thoughts. I overthink about it until, ultimately, I have to abandon it knowing I can't change them. So all I can do it fume quietly about them, lol.

But every writer has a reason for an ending that may annoy me, but sometimes those endings really don't make sense, or entirely unnecessary.

What movies have driven you up the wall, or driven you crazy?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Murder On the Orient Express

Murder On the Orient Express. Agatha Christie. 1934. William Morrow Paperbacks. Pages: 365. [Source: Bought]

After watching the "Mummy On the Orient Express" episode of Doctor Who, I was curious about the original form of the story by Agatha Christie. I really didn't think about it, though, until I saw the novel at Chapters. It was on a display case with a sign stating "Sherlock's Bookshelf". I was drawn in by the sign because I was experiencing a Sherlock kick at the time.

I had this novel for a long time before I decided to read it. And it wasn't until I took a good look at it that I realized that it was the 10th book in the Hercule Poirot series. So I was a little apprehensive when I finally dove in.

When I began to read, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know who Hercule Poirot was so when I was introduced to him I never really connected to him. I couldn't see what his personality was like, so it was like I was sitting back and kind of watching the action from the distance. Though I did start to feel like I was in the story as the mystery became more and more intense.

I always like a good old mystery. This was a good mystery and I can see why it's considered Agatha Christie's best. I couldn't deduce who was the culprit until the very end, and I like it that way. I usually can deduce who's the culprit is about three quarters of the way through the novel - I don't know how or why, I just do sometimes.

But I was really happy with it. It really made the last five days go like the wind.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fluffie Selfie

Today, after my mother and I came home from grocery shopping, the power went out twice, despite the fact that we weren't being bombarded by a violent storm, and the wind hasn't been all that terrible.

I guess we were using too much electricity and it popped the meter's breaker. It's hot, muggy, so we had the air conditioner on so we could cook hamburger on the stove and sausages in the oven, and we had a few lights on, Mom and me were watching TV, I'm charging my computer, the clothes dryer was on, and we had a couple window-fans on for circulation. It was too much, I guess, since the house we're in was built before 1979 or something.

I went out and took down the power meter number and our address (since we're renting and we have a P.O. Box, so we have no idea what our renting address is), and Fluffie followed me out to the road. I managed a selfie after I was done writing down the information.

Not my best picture - I'm usually pretty photophobic. But this is the first time I've managed to take a selfie with Fluffie, and she was all too happy to oblige.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Phantom of the Opera / Le Fantôme de l'Opéra

The Phantom of the Opera / Le Fantôme de l'Opera. Gaston Leroux. 1909-1910/1911. Bantam Classics. Pages: 338. [Source: Library]

When I borrowed The Phantom of the Opera from the library, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I thought that the story would start out with the main characters, which I assumed were the Phantom and the girl, which I later learned was Christine.

But no, The Phantom of the Opera began with a group of characters that had nothing to do with the story at all, and that was when my frustration began.

I was disappointed with The Phantom of the Opera because I my mother told me that it was Phantom/Christine-centric. Yes, the story revolves around Christine and the Phantom, but not as much as I had thought. Hoped. Instead, as I read, I felt removed from the action, unable to connect with the characters.

It was torture for me to get through this novel. In fact, it read less like a novel and more like an autobiography/Leroux's personal opinion of what happened. I went in wanting a novel and didn't get what I wanted.

So, I did not like The Phantom of the Opera. I did not like Erik/The Phantom, nor did like Christine. Christine didn't feel real. She was out there. She infuriated me. I connected with Raoul, more than anyone else because of how Christine played with his heart! She would go to him, and then leave, over and over, and it made me so MAD at her! In my head I imagined throwing the book across the room, and throttling her.

But I made it to the end, and Raoul finally got the girl. I guess I can be slightly pleased with that ending. But, oh boy, I'm never going to pick this book up again.

The Situation With Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii

It has been several days since Mt. Kilauea started erupting ferociously. I don't think I've ever seen it erupt as bad as it is now...