Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Very Short Post

   So it's quite late here in the UK, and my muse is not in the building at the moment. I did have a pretty bad week last week, but this week seems to be shaping up to much better, so there is that.

   I am going to link to two songs I found this week that I really liked.

   One is There's a Girl by The Ditty Bops. There is something super catchy. There is something dark and sharp about this song that I really like. Here is the link: (ignore that there is a picture of Grey's Anatomy on it, it's the only version that I could find on YouTube but it's a really great track)

   The other song is Nothing to Say by Carla Ulbrich (which is something I have listened to before but I rediscovered it this week). I like this live version that I found, you can also find this on her website. This is the link:

   That song seems like an appropriate end to this post!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Couple of Things

      So this post is going to mention a couple of things that I have been thinking about this week.

   A Challenge (an update):

   So I have so far read two on the list and I have decided to add some more books that I want to read. I am still on the fence as to whether I liked The Seven Sisters the language is beautiful, but there is something forced and I think narrow about this book. I am glad I read it though.

   I have also tried to read some short stories by Katherine Mansfield. I don't know what it was about this that I didn't connect with, I read four, but I ultimately have not enjoyed them. I just couldn't hook into what I was reading. So that book was a bust unfortunately.

   I have now started reading The Great Gatsby. I can't judge it yet as I am only 30 pages in. I have set a limit of 100 so we'll see. I think someone mentioned it takes a while for it to really get going so I am going to give it my best shot.

   I have also decided that I am going to add some more to my list. This is an on going project so I want to add on as I go on.

   I realised that I have never read White Teeth by Zadie Smith which I keep meaning too and then never get round to, this is the time. I also want to read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri which is a short story collection. I want to put on my list The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010. I really want to read more poetry and I have read a lot of people recommending her. So that is what I want to read in the next coming months.

    I have also discovered a lot of other stuff through The Autobiography of Jane Eyre (the web series). Bear with me as it's not really about the series it's all the other stuff that goes with it. As a web series there is quite a lot with the other media sources that go with it. Jane's Tumblir is amazing. The photos are all fantastic and it says a lot that they pull off making her a modern character with an interest that I can hook onto. I have never really got into Tumblir (I have enough trouble trying to figure out Twitter) but this in particular I go back to again and again.

   Also I found that 8 Tracks is a thing from this series. Through the character of Liz (who is one of Jane's cousins and pretty unsympathetic but played really well), there are a lot of play lists on this from her that I like. It's also a gateway to not getting overwhelmed. It has introduced me to a lot of music that I would not have otherwise have heard. This is a resource I will definitely return to.

   The last thing that I will mention, I am incredibly late to the whole Robin Thicke controversy. I don't really want to talk about him or the song particularly. Go listen to it if you want, but the lyrics are pretty awful. What I wanted to bring up is the response to it. People creating their own versions, which I am right behind. There are two that I found really good.

One is Mod Carousel's, which you can find here:

  What I really liked about this was it draws attention to exploitation of bodies. It also has women singing the lyrics, I am not sure whether it isn't sexist, but it at least plays with the dynamics that I found both interesting and able to talk about.

The other is from Brendon Anckaert, called Ask First which you can find here:

   What I really loved about this, is that this is a song about consent. It purposely goes against this violence is sexy mantra. It's lyrics let people know that you can write a pop song about asking for something, and being OK with whatever the answer is, yes or no. Now that is sexy to me, and respectful.

   I am going to finish by recommending the pilot of Sleepy Hollow. I think I might do a post about pilots eventually, but this is one of the best pilots for a TV show that I have seen in a very long time. I fell in love with Abbie Mills from the beginning. The actress who plays her, Nicole Beharie is great. She was the person that hooked me into the show. I loved the dynamic between Mills and Crane as well. I think one the reasons that this show works, is that it knows it's own ridiculousness (the four horseman of the apocalypse, and you know possession and fighting against weird looking devils), and the voice of reason is Mills. It's got really strong story telling. And great one liners. 

   The reason why I mention only the pilot is that it is going to be a long time till it all comes to the UK. I bought the pilot on ITunes, it was well worth it. The second episode didn't hook me as strong as the first but I think that is to be expected. I am going to wait to the whole is available on DVD (which is going to be a good four or five months down the line), but I think it'll be worth it. The pilot is great and this is what I am recommending.   



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

What I've Been Reading

   I wanted to do a post about the books that I have been reading over the past couple of months.

   First up Reel to Real by Bell Hooks. I cannot say how much I loved this book. I am only angry with myself that I have left it this late to read a whole book by Hooks. She is engaging, insightful, curious and accessible. I only finished the whole book of essays last week. I am a now full blown fan of her work. I have only just started Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation and so far I really, really like it.  

   There are many reasons why I think she is an amazing voice. I just love how she communicates her thoughts. I didn't agree with everything that she said, but I liked her, and she was passionate about what she was writing. This is a book that discusses feminism but it goes into so many other places with that in mind.

   I cannot recommend enough reading her. I love her mind and her essays I am now a fan of her and her work.

   I also read as part of my challenge That Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don't often read short stories, but this work made me want to read more of them. This book I have to say is not often happy, or light hearted, but it made me see a part of the world that I had not seen before. It also made me a fan of her voice. I liked having this book as part of my challenge as it pushed me outside what I usually read.

   I liked that there is such difference in the collection. I liked it a lot. 

   The author also did a TED talk which I'll link to at the bottom. I would urge everyone to see it, she is really great and I think makes the point that to read different stories about different places is how we all grow.

   I also read True by Erin McCarthy. I really loved this book. The premise is a little hard to take in the beginning, but the characters really pull you through the book. This is written in first person and Rory hooked me into this right from the beginning. This book as well as Pushing the Limits by Kate McGarry were the novels that made me a fan of YA as a genre.   

   McCarthy also has put out Sweet which is in the same universe as True. I liked it but True really hooked me. She has another coming out in January also in the same universe that I am really excited about.

  That has been what I've been reading over last couple of months. I am going to recommend Sugar Jamison this month. She recently put out two books, and I have read both, I really want to read her next one which I think comes out in April. I liked that her books about plus size women, and that I laughed out loud when reading them. I really liked her voice, so I heartily recommend them.   

This is the TED talk link:  

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Jane Eyre and it's Many Manifestations

   So the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte has had many adaptations and recreations. From the Joan Fontaine film (who as memory serves was in Hitchcock's Rebecca which itself is a re imagining of Jane Eyre) with Orson Welles as Rochester. To most recent developments of the story like The wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which is a retelling of it from his wife's perspective, and the straight series adaption with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stevens. 

   So there is something about this book that people keep going back to. I think in comparison to a lot of the other books that are about young women from around that time period it's different, from something like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights or The Woman in White all these books are not from one soul perspective. It is worth to note that Jane Eyre when it was first received was written under a male pseudonym and was taken as a book full of passion and violent emotions.

   It still has those seething passions in it. I think it is what we come back to, a young woman who do not control her emotion to herself. That is what makes the book such an interesting experience to read for me, there is no other narrator other than Jane herself, this is a book that is completely and unreservedly about her and what she thinks.

   I love Pride and Prejudice more I have to admit, but there is a lack of strength and bursting anger from Lizzie but comes across in Jane. I think also it shows how little options that Jane has and a thing that I don't think any of the adaptations that I have seen show the young Jane (which is more than a fourth of the book) really well. Jane does not come from a family that helps her, she has to make her own money, and is treated badly by almost everyone who meets her.

   Jane Eyre as a story is unflinching in showing a young woman's true emotions and how her honesty and strength lends herself as a character.

   I wanted to also talk about the adaptations that I have seen. I've seen the film made in 1996 with Charlotte Gainsborough and William Hurt. I really liked it. I think more for Charlotte Gainsborough than anything else, she also looks like Jane to me (but that is a super subjective thing). I also saw the series made in 1983 with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton. It's pretty dramatic but I think does a lot with the book. Rochester is a pretty melodramatic figure in this. Zelah Clarke does a good job. I think also as it's in the 80s the sets and stuff look quite dated but as an adaptation it does quite a good job with the material.

   I also saw the latest film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (in 2011). I really liked the Rochester in that one and Jane as well. I thought it did the end of the book real justice but it does have it's faults. 

   I also saw the series with Ruth Wilson and Toby Maguire. I liked that though this is faithful, Rochester is a little softened, but still austere.

   I think they all have something to offer them. I wanted to finish by saying the book is always worth going back to. Charlotte Bronte is a fantastic writer, and evokes something not felt on a screen.

   So my recommendation on a week full of Jane Eyre is another adaptation. This one is a web series. It is similar The Lizzie Bennet Diaries in format. It really hinges on the main performance of Jane. I have really gotten into it. There are about 40 videos so far, I think we are about half way though the book. I'll be interested to see what they do with the later half and especially the Rivers as characters. I also like what they have done with her cousins and Rochester. 

   So The Autobiography of Jane Eyre it's on YouTube and so far I think its fantastic and I am also greedy I want to know what's going to happen in this universe. I was really happy that they changed it so that there is not two videos each weekend rather than just one. Again this is a recreation and to me I find it the most intriguing. So this is what I am recommending.