In high school, my best friend introduced me to a lot of music. One song that really stuck with me was US3’s Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia). It was irresistibly different from our usual mix of hair metal and Top 40. Little did I know at the time that it was a remix of the Herbie Hancock tune "Cantaloupe Island", or that I would fall so hard for jazz later in life. So it pleased me to no end to hear Cantaloop recently during Midday Jazz on KNKX. It was an instrumental version which I had not heard before – although it still had some of the skat in it that is so fun to sing along with. And, as we did in high school, instead of singing the word “Jazz!” I substituted my friend’s name.
“Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades—words, words, but they hold the horror of the world.”
The first third of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front reminded me immediately of Richard Hooker’s novel MASH. MASH is one of those books I like better than its TV show, much like the Mr. Monk book series, but that’s probably a topic for another blog post.
Early on, it’s the gallows humor that really stands out in Remarque’s novel. When the soldiers are behind the front lines waiting to head into the trenches, we see them making due with the cards they’ve been dealt, challenging authority, and getting up to as much mischief as possible while the insanity of war rains down around them.
“At school nobody ever taught us how to light a cigarette in a storm of rain, nor how a fire could be made with wet wood—nor that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because there it doesn’t get jammed, as it does in the ribs.”
Once the soldiers get to the front lines, the tone of the book gets much darker, and the gruesome details of the war are laid before us in horrific detail. Take this bit, from a section describing the “corpse rats” that plague the trenches.
“In the adjoining sector they attacked two large cats and a dog, bit them to death and devoured them.”
All Quiet and MASH are both excellent books, and would make for a very good comparison study. I’ve added MASH to my list of books to reread this year. I’ve only read it once, but it currently has a spot on my list of favorite books of all time.
“One morning two butterflies play in front of our trench. They are brimstone-butterflies, with red spots on their yellow wings. What can they be looking for here? There is not a plant nor a flower for miles. They settle on the teeth of a skull.”
This great card came to me from a Postcrosser in Yaroslavl, Russia! The back says, in part, "In Russia, a stork is happiness. If he arrived and sat near the house, then soon there will be children in the family."
I was very excited to receive these two stamps from Singapore's Vanishing Trades series on a postcard recently! I have another in the series that I received almost exactly a year ago. Now I can add Cage Maker and Lantern Maker to my collection!
I bought this card recently to send to a lucky Postcrosser. After I purchased it, I read on the back that the mountain featured was Mount Baker. I had assumed it was Mount Rainier. I've never been to Mount Baker, and seeing how far north it is, I don't think I'll be visiting it anytime soon. Maybe one day though.
This little tender was built in 1883 and came to me via postcard from Bremervörde, Germany. The train even has my initials on it!
Resolution: To read 50 books and 10 graphic novels in 2017.
Status: I added 22 books to my list in April (13 during Spring Break!). Though I'm over 60 total, 16 of the books are Graphic Novels, so I still have three books to go before I make it to 50 books. At that time, I will have to reevaluate my resolution.
42. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
43. Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk
44. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
45. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
46. Deadpool: Dead Presidents
47. The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry
48. Mr. Monk On the Road by Lee Goldberg
49. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley
50. Auggie & Me by R.J. Palacio
51. How to Play in Traffic by Penn Jillette and Teller
52. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
53. Mr. Monk Gets Even by Lee Goldberg
54. Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson
55. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy
56. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor
57. Mr. Monk Goes to Germany by Lee Goldberg
58. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O’Malley
59. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
60. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
61. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
62. Mr. Monk is Miserable by Lee Goldberg
63. Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
Every time I have visited the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge I have seen a Great Blue Heron. This time was no exception.
Cinnamon Teal photographed on a recent trip to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
Over the next few days I'll be posting photos I took on a recent trip to the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
The Blue Mouse Theater is on the Department of the Interior's National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Tacoma Landmark Preservation Commission's Tacoma Register of Historic Places.
It’s interesting to look back on Iron Man almost a decade after it kicked off the Marvel movie renaissance. In those nine years we’ve come to expect a lot from the Marvel movies, including some staples that seem to be the same from film to film. For example, did the original Iron Man have a Stan Lee cameo? It did, but did it have a “secret” post-credits scene at the end? Yes again, and it’s one that introduces a character that in those nine years has since stepped away from the comic book movie business.
2009’s Iron Man holds up really well, and save for a MySpace reference early on, it doesn’t feel dated at all, even in regards to the special effects, which still look amazing. Tony Stark's character development is at its best here, and his delicate verbal dance with Pepper Potts is fantastic.
“I don’t want a body count to be our only legacy.”
After being imprisoned in Afghanistan for three months, this origin story has Stark looking back on his life and thinking about what he’ll be known for after he’s gone. During his imprisonment, he is able to construct his first suit of Iron Man armor. This is due in large part to the villains, who take a cue from the Dr. Evil Book of Villainy, and leave Stark unguarded with a room full of weaponry and plenty of time to plot his escape.
Throughout the film we get to spend a lot of time watching Tony tinker with technology, which is a lot of fun, culminating in the moment when he dons the Mark III armor for the first time and takes it for a test drive. In fact, rewatching this film rekindled my excitement for Marvel movies in general. I guess I had gotten a little burned out over the past nine years, which have given us an incredible catalog of 29 films. But you can read more about that HERE.
“Everything is beautiful if you look at it with love.”
Kedi is a documentary about cats living on the streets in Istanbul. In the film, one person says that cats absorb all of your negative energy. The film does this as well, at least for a time. The 80 minute runtime feels a bit padded, as if there’s a 60 minutes of purring perfection hidden within it. Of course, if it were only 60 minutes, it probably wouldn’t have been screened at our local movie house.
Every wide shot of the city is like a Where’s Waldo, as we try to find the cats we know are hiding somewhere in the frame. And as the film began, I wondered if we would get to know something about the city as well, or if Kedi was simply just a really long cat video. So I was pleased to not only learn more about Istanbul, but enjoyed being introduced to characters in both human and cat form.
Kedi is a reminder to enjoy the little things in life. To stop and smell the flowers, or pet the cats, as it were. And it’s also a reminder to be kind, be it to a stray cat, or another person. There are lots of breaks in the narrative to allow us to watch the cats saunter from here to there, and get into mischief while they're at it. They seem to have the run of the city. And one character says watching them helps to “rekindle our slowly dying joy of life.”
Here is the awesome owl that was waiting for me inside the incredible envelope I posted yesterday! I love this card. It's definitely one of my favorites of the year so far!