retsuko: antique books (books)
The Book in Question: I Want to Go Home!, by Gordan Korman, Apple Paperbacks, copyright 1981.

What It's About: Rudy Miller is sent to sports summer camp Algonkian Island by his well-meaning parents, but he hates all things camp (namely the forced, supposedly "fun" activities) and spends his time trying to escape with his token friend, Mike Webster, or baiting the clueless counselors and the resident bully, Adam Greene.

What I Remember: In my fifth or sixth grade class, this was THE book that everyone read, even the kids who claimed they weren't into reading. I think our school library had about three copies and they were almost always checked out. There was about a month or so, right at first, when someone read it, and then it got really, really hot, and everyone in the class wanted to read it. The consensus at the time was that it was the funniest book that we all had read.

I remembered some of the sequences in it almost word for word. The first letter that Rudy writes home to his parents before chronically annoying counselor Chip stops him is truly a thing of hilarity: "Dear Mom and Dad... This place is terrible. Each day I am subjected to countless atrocities. ... Our cabin collapsed in a typhoon last night, but don't worry. Only one guy died. It's not all bad. I do have one friend, named Mike. He's the one who pulled me out of the quicksand. ... If this letter looks messy, it's because I'm writing it while being chased by a bear." (23) I also correctly remembered that there was one counselor who was cooler than the others (the arts and crafts one, named Pierre--another sign that this book was Canadian, which I totally missed, see below) and that there was a dance sequence that took place at a girls' camp later on in the story, which provides a kind of ridiculous escape set-up for Rudy and Mike. And the day where Rudy gets to be camp director and creates over-the-top obstacle races for the counselors and a scavenger hunt for the other campers is pretty amazingly funny the second time around, too.

Overall, my feeling back when I first read it was that this book was written by someone who understood what it means to be a kid in a world of adults who aren't listening because they have their own preconceived and unshakable notions of what being a kid is like. The dedication (which I did forget) supports this pretty well: "There's fun, and then there's fun. This book is dedicated to those who know the difference."

Upon Rereading...: I think one of the reasons I liked this so much when I was a kid was that I had a secret fantasy that this book lays out: to be really, mind-bogglingly good at sports, but choose NOT to do them, and have adults clamoring for me to use my talents. Since I was no good at any sport as a kid, to read about someone who was, but didn't feel like doing them... well, that sounded pretty damn awesome. Unfortunately, to me now, it sounds kind of contrived, but OK, fine. It's an interesting plot device, despite its Gary Stu implications. ("'Do you win at everything?"' '"Yes,"' said Rudy sadly." (81))

Reading it now, I'm exceedingly happy that I have no one like Rudy Miller (or Adam Greene) in any of my classes, though.

Anything that completely escaped my notice back then?: This book is Canadian! Seriously, you'd think this would be obvious to any reader, but I had no memory of it whatsoever, and I felt kind of stupid the moment that Toronto and meters got mentioned.

Korman works really hard to create adult characters who aren't evil or cruel, but are simply kind of clueless and oblivious to what they really need to do in order to make their young charges happy. There's an interesting scene between the counselors where half of them want to bully Rudy into playing the sports he's so good at, but hates, and his counselor makes them back down: "The kid comes first. That's what we taught, and that's what I'm going by." (83) Considering all the crap that Rudy's put Chip through at this point, I like that Korman doesn't have him laughing evilly like a vaudeville villain. (In fact, it kind of endeared me to Chip!)

Overall Verdict Now: It's still funny, even though it seems a little dated and parts of the story don't ring quite as true as they did for me when I was kid. I'm really glad I had the chance to reread it!

Worst Band Names, 2010

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 07:42 am
retsuko: (music!)
The Onion A.V. Club's list of the worst band names of 2010 is here! As usual, there's some brilliantly crazy and stupid naming jobs:

* Stop with the unicorns, already! As much as my inner 4th grade girl's heart thrills every time she sees the word 'unicorn', it doesn't lend any "badass factor" to your band name, just an arched eyebrow of 'O RLY'. Examples:

Sex Unicorn (... what?)
Unicorn Basement (... sort of what?)

* Unintentionally funny? It's hard to tell anymore, since one of the bands claims that their life's ambition with their naming choice was to be featured in the Worst Band Names list. Regardless, intentional or not, examples:

Dangermuffin (I'm picturing a little English muffin, dressed up like Danger Mouse, threatening some bad guy and getting stepped on.)
Feng Shui Ninjas (This would make an awesomely crazy one-shot comic book, along with the Sushi Police.)
Begin By Gathering Supplies (... OK. And then?)
Piano Fondue (Is this a dinner theater battle band?)
Federal! State! Local! (It's the exclamation points that make this one work.)

* Second Person: You're not sure, but you think this is a bad trend for band names:

Kill You in the Face (... whut.)
Music Hates You (For listening to this band?)
You Might Think We're Sharks (Oh. I was thinking you were killer whales, but I'm glad you set me straight on that.)

Anyway, enjoy. Warning: Good for hours of time wasteage!
retsuko: (dramatic tension)
In Books:

Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barberry: This is a companion volume to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and features some of the same characters. It's a detailed portrait of the dying food critic who's only mentioned in passing in the first book, and it's the story of his life, partially told from his dying perspective, as he searches for the final, perfect taste, and partially from the perspective of friends, relatives, and enemies. This picture of a man who's often identified as a lion, even in his own estimation, is wonderfully complex and flawed, and features some virtuoso writing about how food really tastes ([ profile] owlfish, I'm thinking you'll really enjoy this part).

Fire, by Kristin Cashore: I ended up liking this better than Graceling, its companion volume, but only by a slim margin. The link between the two stories is an especially evil character, and while it was comforting to read with the knowledge that he'd pay for his evil (eventually), the reading experience was essentially a creepy one because I already knew what he was capable of. Fortunately, the heroine of this story is resourceful, brave, and clever; she's also the antithesis of said linked character, and by the end of the volume, she knows it. I also thought the love story in this book evolved more naturally and didn't seem to just appear out of nowhere. All in all, Cashore is a very good writer, and one who I have many, many questions for now. Highly recommended.

In Movies:

The Princess and the Frog: I actually saw this a while back, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The artwork is stunning--I like how New Orleans in the '20s was lit like it's always sunrise, and the loving depictions of the buildings and people made me think that someone on the animation staff was able to go through their old family photo albums for source material. The story is actually surprisingly complicated, and though it features the obligatory, heteronormative love story and Princess Transformation in the last five minutes, it's quite satisfying. Tianna is a wonderful main character who sticks to her goals in life, and admirably so, in the face of uncertainty, tragedy, and temptation. The villain gets one of the most psychedelic animated sequences I've ever seen in a Disney movie. There is a trumpet-playing Alligator who longs to perform with the great jazz musicians of the era. And, best of all, there's a wonderful female friend, who comes through for her friend instead of being selfish. So much fun, even with small children screeching in the theater around us.

On TV:

First of all, The Onion gleefully lampoons Lost fans' oversharing of their anticipation over the final season. There's also a "blink and you'll miss it" 'Wire' joke which segueways very nicely into the first show I wanted to talk about:

The Wire, Season 3: Cut for spoilers, but mostly me waxing worshipful over some fantastic set design work. )

And, on the incredibly cheesy side, we have Robin Hood: Made of Awesome, Season 3: This program was most definitely interrupted to increase dramatic tension, and the first episode suffers a little for that, as it seems far too anticlimatic and overly done to fit in with the rest of the show. But then Friar Tuck shows up (ably played by the charismatic David Harewood) and helps Robin get his groove back, and then it's back to AWESOME as usual. I had forgotten how much I liked watching these characters bicker amongst themselves, particularly the Sherriff. At one dramatic point in the first episode, he whispers to the tormented Sir Guy, "You are teetering on the edge of dispensibility!", a comment which endeared me to him for however long he stays with the show. There's a new female character on this season, too, who seems to have TV-Brand-Heroine-Spunkiness: she's brave when it's appropriate to the plot for her to be that way, but other times... meh. Her major function thus far has been to prompt philosophical arguments between the heroes along the lines of, DO THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS?! I have little patience for philosophy in this show and just want to get back to the swashbuckling and AWESOME. I hope the character matures a little as the season progresses.
retsuko: (no internet logic)
The Onion A.V. Club's list of Worst/Funniest/Oddest Band Names of 2009 is up! Link contains some NSFW material, but the problem is more likely to be that your sounds of laughter and disbelief will distract co-workers from no doubt very important tasks.

Highlights include:

* Moth!Fight!

(I kind of want to hear this band. I'm imagining all insect-themed thrash metal tunes.)

* Predominant Moritification

(On what planet do either of these two words make for a good band name? But together, it's a certain kind of genius!)

* Rebels Without Applause

(If they do James Dean tribute music, then it's all good.)

* Baby Got Bacteria

(Maybe they're a bunch of epidemiologists with too much time on their hands and secret dreams of hip hop stardom??)

* We Must Dismantle All This

(To the tune of "As Time Goes By": We must dismantle all this, the music's hit or miss, the hype is do or die; the world will always welcome weird bands, as the 'net goes by. OK, that only sort of worked, but the name itself only sort of works.)
retsuko: (no internet logic)
The Onion A.V. Club's List of Worst Band Names is up!

Highlights include:

Insidious Decrepancy (I swear, that band name is going to appear in my Buffy game, although perhaps the way I misread it initially, as "Insidious Discrepancy".)

Druids of Huge

I Set My Friends on Fire (uhm... good for you?)

Midnight Spaghetti and the Chocolate G-Strings

Carlos I'm Pregnant

Justice of the Unicorns (first album: Angels with Uzis)

Alas! Alak! Alaska!

Previously on Lost (They do musical recaps of 'Lost' episodes. The first song that plays when you hit the link is "The Island Won't Let You Die" and goes, WAAAALLLTTTTT! WAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLTTTTTT!)

Fatal Kitten Rampage


Clearly, I need to form a terrible band with a terrible name and get myself onto this list. I have missed out on my calling in life! XD
retsuko: (run away!)
I could have sworn that the NPR commentator said that the debate conclusively proved that Hillary was "more collectible". I suddenly had an image of two commemorative plates on stage, their images animated and sparring with one another, edges clattering, porcelain chips flying into the audience. Then the image shifted to an EBay auction, down to last thirty seconds, bids flying back and forth and the seller throwing up her hands and saying, "I'll throw in Obama to sweeten the deal!"

OK, need to listen to NPR when more coffee has been had. ;)

May 2016

1516171819 2021


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags