Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Updates, and a book I Gave Up On

I gave another final yesterday. Yes, on Saturday, and got those grades turned in last night. One more test to go, on Monday, and I'll be done. I did get a nice thank you card from a student for a letter of recommendation I did for her, so certainly not all students are rude and inconsiderate.

I finished the book Bloodstone by David Gemmell and found it just as good as the others in the "Stones of Power" series. However, I gave up on a book I'd started, and that is a rare event. The book was The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived and I was actually looking forward to it with some relish. It was subtitled "How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies have shaped our Society, Changed our Behavior, and Set the Course of History. It featured such characters as Icarus, Santa Claus, Dick Tracy, Peter Pan, Kirk and Spock, Tarzan etc.

The book was well written and others might enjoy it so don't let my stopping overly influence you, but here is where my problem came in. Typically, the authors would start to discuss a character, Hercules for example, and would give some accurate background on where the character originated and some of the legends surrounding the character. Then they would try to funny the entry up with some modern jokes, generally political ones. First, I didn't find any of the jokes funny. I mean every joke about Bush that can be made has pretty much been made, and who wants these jokes in a book that will surely last longer than Bush's time in office. I won't want to be reminded of Bush in years to come.

Second, in some cases they apparently extended the joke into making up some fiction of their own, and at times I actually had difficulty telling where the "true" story of the character left off and the modern authors' "made-up" stuff began. For me, this destroyed the usefulness of the book as a reference source. And so I put it down.

I "treated" myself to a movie last night after finishing my latest exam. My choice was "30 Days of Night," a vampire flick. I was very disappointed. The idea was great, a city in far north Alaska which experiences a month without the sun is isolated and attacked by vampires. The ending also had the germs of a very good idea in it, but the delivery on both ideas was very weak and completely unconvincing, particularly the ending.

Well, now I'm off to make my blogging rounds. See ya soon.

24 comments:

Heff said...

"Bloodstone" was probably a better Judas Priest song than a book, I'm guessing.

Wil said...

Thanks for your reviews Charles. I will pass on the book. I do have that one in my Netflix queue, will have to see what I think of it. The OL is more into those kinds of movies than I am.

Travis said...

Now that sounds like an interesting book, but it also sounds like the author may have had a different agenda than just a basic reference. Too bad.

Good luck with your last final, which is kind of a weird thing to say because "last" and "final" generally indicate the same thing.

OK...I'm rambling a bit. I'll stop now.

Travis Erwin said...

That sounds Like a great premise but poorly done. I can see why you were excited by the prospect and disappointed by the execution.

Donnetta Lee said...

Good review again. You know, is any vampire movie really "bad?" I mean, they ARE about the undead. They usually have a good looking hero or vampire or vampire hero. You always have to cover your eyes for a couple of seconds. Usually have to say, "ugh." What's not to like?
Donnetta

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, I'd have to disagree with you there. But I agree that Judas Priest can do no wrong. Well, only a little wrong. Like their "Turbo Lover" flirtation.

Wil, let me know.

Travis, like I say, some might like the approach but I was looking for something more factual.

Donnetta, well, there weren't any good looking vamps in this one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Erwin, the ending was particularly promising and they blew it.

Sidney said...

I liked 30 Days of Night better than you did, but the ending seemed similar "Those Who Hunt the Night" by Barbara Hambly. That's too bad about the book on fictional characters. The idea sounds interesting.

I went to see Iron Man today and it is a pretty good movie, I thought. They also had teaser for "The Spirit" movie which is coming in 2009. Looks like there's some Sin City influence on the style but hard to say.

Greg Schwartz said...

glad you've got another final done, Charles. you're the first person I've heard say they didn't like "30 Days of Night," but i haven't seen it yet and still managed to live, so i guess it won't kill me to put it off even longer.

Erik Donald France said...

Ah, hopefully you get some down time from classes. Always nice to get positive feedback from students.

Vampires in Alaska could be pulled off, but sounds like not with that one.

Onward!

FANCY said...

I have not tried to read it because I did not know about this book...sorry...Don't we all have some book's that we give up...Sometimes I have give them away like a present for Christmas...;-)

laughingwolf said...

a friend recommends a thai vampire flick, 'shutter', from '04... she sez it's worth a look

as for adding useless crap to the book you describe, it'd drive me nuts, and i'd write the publisher! grrr

Steve Malley said...

Odd culture thing: NZ's school year runs all year round. Instead of 3 mos. off for planting and harvest, they just take a few weeks here and there. Weird.

Of course, I'm pretty sure students here would have to kick their own asses if they whinged for special treatment.

Not necessarily better or worse. Just... different.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Charles,
At least you were thanked.I think it is the right thing to do whether you liked the class or not.

I finished my finals last week and now am awaiting my last grade. I have invited to attend Aquinas College, however I am not sure. I was rather hoping for MSU, but we will see. Any ideas?

As for the book you were reading. I think I would be like you as well. When I pick up a bok if it does not grab me within the first few pages I know I am going to have an issue with it. I am the same way with movies, frst ten or twenty minutes into it and if I am doing something else while watching it, I know I am not enjoying it. Ahh well, thats life.

BTW, I like seeing this more personal side of you. Its nice.


T

Randy Johnson said...

Liked the Judas Priest references. In my younger days, I saw them live twice, once with Iron Maiden. Didn't much care for the CD after Halford left. I understand he's back, but I moved on to other bands,(Shrug)

CrazyCath said...

You've not had much fun with books or movies then have you? Too many papers to mark. Not enough time to choose reading material...

Thanks for your support round at mine. I like your reviews. They're rational and objective. Obviously preference is subjective, but I like how you qualify your reasoning. Thanks.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sidney, I'm pretty hard to please where movies are concerned. I thought the twist at the end was cool but the death of the head vampire came entirely too easy.

Greg, my son didn't like that movie either and he's got similar tastes to me. But I'm not much on movies anyway so don't let that dissuade you.

Erik, one more test to go and then I'm done.

Fancy, I put mine on something called "Bookmooch" where I can trade them for ones I want.

Laughingwolf, I'll keep my eyes open for that one.

Steve Malley, I like having the concentrated time off. Really allows one to dig into a project.

Tara, the opening of 30 days of night was fairly decent but it deteriorated later. I'm pretty picky on movies, though. Thanks for your kind words.

Randy, I would have loved to see the Priest live with Halford. Over the years they've been one of the most consistently heavy bands. I have close to ten of their CDs.

Crazycath, thanks for the kind words. I tend not to like very many movies. I'm really a book kind of guy. But I do watch a fair number of horror movies.

H.E.Eigler said...

yeah, 30 days of night was the biggest stinker of the year IMO. Have you seen Into the Wild? I thought it was great, and based on a real story. Though, be warned, there are no explosions or vampires :)

Lisa said...

Good reviews. We rented a movie this weekend that Scott and I both LOVED right up until the last 60 seconds. I'm anxious to hear what other people think of this one. It's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei.

Oh, and I tagged you for a meme :)

the walking man said...

Yes sir Charles some students have been brought up to say thank you. Thank You.

I don't like research driven books that evolve out of the research. Too easy to stray from the topic when you try to make it fun. This one sounds like it could have been somewhat of a reference book until they went off topic. Dumb.

Life is too short for a failing movie! I do to them what you did to the book, turn away and do something better with the time, like nap for example.

Peace

mark

Charles Gramlich said...

H. E., I've wanted to see "Into the Wild" and will probably watch it while I'm off school. It looks really intersting.

Lisa, I haven't seen that one. Will let you know if I do. I'll check out the meme.

Mark, I'm typically always reading while movies or TV are on so I can escape easily.

Michelle's Spell said...

Congratulations on finishing the semester! I'm done this week and could not be happier to finish grading! I hope you have a lot of free time this summer and have fun on the other blog this week.

Miladysa said...

30 Days of Night was such a let down :[ I was disappointed with the Golden Compass also.

Nice to read that one of your students sent you a thank you card. I am sure that some of the others will think about you in the years to come and wish they had been as thoughtful.

Cheri said...

Def check out No Country. I am loving the book and spent an extra 20 minutes in my car today reading it on my lunch break. (oops?)

And 30 was disappointing. I love vampire movies and comic books/graphic novels turned into movies, but clearly not all are hits.

Have you seen Iron Man yet? That was spectacular and I loved how it correlated with the US-vs-the Middle East/World crap that goes on today. And RD Jr was pretty good in the role, even though I think he's a total creep.