Wednesday, July 25, 2012

100 Greatest Movies - #12. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This time we are looking at Sunset Boulevard (1950) on the 100 Greatest Movies List (#12), it is also #16 on the 10th Anniversary List.

     Often while watching these old movies you often feel like they are old movies. Movies made for their time but not really timeless. Sunset Boulevard breaks that pattern. This movie feels as if it could have been made today. The performances are superb, especially the lead, Gloria Swanson, who plays Norma Desmond, a washed up actress of the silent screen era. She is a bit off her rocker, but you don't realize by how much until the end of the movie. She plays the role perfectly. The best role though I think goes to the butler, Max. He plays this sympathetic, stone-faced character throughout, but it is not until almost the end that you find out how sympathetic he really was. Riveting throughout and a joy to watch, a must recommend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #111 - The Turn of the Screw

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List. 

Looking back at a previous Henry James book I had read, The Portrait of a Lady, I mentioned that James was an easy author to read and the story simple to follow. Not so much this time. In this story, James had a tendency to write these really long, run-on sentences the entire way through the book. I thought perhaps this would change because the story started off as a narrative by the person who is writing the framing story, supposedly James. The majority of the book though, is based on a diary by a woman who the story happened to. The writing is exactly the same in both instances, with these long, drawn out sentences, all with quite a few commas in them. Here is one for instance: "The homage of which they were so lavish succeeded, in truth, for my nerves, quite as well as if I never appeared to myself, as I may say, literally to catch them at a purpose in it." This style is rather difficult to follow at times. Other than that, the book was rather interesting. It is about a woman who serves as a teacher for two students in a house which happens to be haunted by the former governess and the former handyman. The ending was rather cryptic though and the language made the entire book feel cryptic, like I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. But after reading a synopsis I think that I understood it pretty well as I was going. So, in summary, an intriguing story but a difficult one to understand.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #110 - Double Act

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson. This book can be found on the BBC Book List. 

This is another book by the person who brought us The Story of Tracy Beaker, which I recommended. I thought that story was different enough to be considered by people to read. This book has a similar vein in that it is a story told in the first person, but this time by a set of twins. They go back and forth as to who is writing the story talking about their day to day lives during some major changes as their father quits his job and moves to the country with a girlfriend, bringing them along. I enjoyed reading the story but I felt that nothing really changed by the end of the book. I felt the same at the beginning as I felt at the end. Kind of blah. Sure things happened and the book was different at the end, but not a really satisfying finish. It felt like an episode of a sitcom. An OK read but not a "great" story as some on the list, so I can't recommend anyone pick this up.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 6 Update

The 6th Month is done. Half way there.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new

4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-6 Update - Nothing new

12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.

Other items of note:
Not much going on. I am steadily working on 3 different manuscripts for my PhD to be published. I should start a 4th one soon and working on the introduction chapter of my Dissertation as well. My website is slowely being converted over and it is currently ~2/3rds updated. Other than that not much.


9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!