V For Vendetta (and V’s Eggy in a Basket)

A shadowy freedom fighter known only as “V” uses terrorist tactics to fight against his totalitarian society. Upon rescuing a girl from the secret police, he also finds his best chance at having an ally.

Amazon

It is difficult for me to even begin a post on V for Vendetta because every time I watch it, I get something different out of it. The only part of the film experience that does not change is how much I really enjoy it.

I first viewed this film during my sophomore year of college as a requirement for a Science Ficion class. Before this course, I thought that Science Fiction and I did not get along. When I heard the term, my mind would immediately go to cheesy aliens and some sort of weird, echoey music.

I was totally wrong and that class, with the help of this movie, made me see that.

I now am quite an avid SF fan. I even let that TV show, Battlestar Galactica, take over my life for about a month and a half (and I don’t regret that…mostly). If the me of 4 years ago could have seen the reading list of the me today, she would feel confused and appalled. Whatever.

V for Vendetta is on my top 5 movies of all time list. In fact, it is so sturdily on that list that I don’t anticipate seeing it bumped off any time soon.  I think it has that place of honor because it satisfies both parts of the film-viewer in me:  it is smart enough and has such beautiful cinematography that is makes me truly examine the film and think about it while being action-packed, emotional, and at points absurdly funny enough that I am entertained.

Things I Love:

  • V’s character and his lair
  • “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof. ” -V
  • Natalie Portman.  She got some serious acting skills, as I already covered in my post on Black Swan.
  • The domino montage about 3/4 through the movie
  • The colors of the film- it is very dark, but certain colors repeat and stand out

Things I’d Change:

  • Sometimes the film is unnecessarily confusing.  I didn’t notice this myself, but when I taught this to high-school students, I found that there are an abundance of names and places that could have been consolidated without losing any of the film’s meaning.
  • The fact that there is no sequel.  I want one.

You need to be in the right mood to sit down and watch a movie like this.  When you find yourself in a mood for a film that is dark and serious and beautiful, have this on hand.

Have these on hand too.

Isn't that so pretty? I am proud of myself.

Read  on for the recipe…

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Thursday Next’s Battenberg Cake

They are a series of books based upon the notion that what we read in books is just a small part of a larger BookWorld that exists behind the page.

A fantastical place populated by off-duty and sometimes mischievous bookpeople from the Classics to Fanfiction, and ruled over by the wheezing bureaucracy known as The council of Genres. It is their task to maintain the pageant and integrity of the books within their charge, and these efforts are sometimes thwarted by the very evildoers and bizarre plot devices that give the Bookworld its appeal.

Aided in this endeavour but sometimes disagreeing with them are Jurisfiction, the policing agency within Fiction. The adventures follow one of their operatives: A woman from the Realworld named Thursday Next, whose reality-based credentials bring a dimension of independent thought to the proceedings, something that is often absent in the mostly predetermined Bookworld.

Confused? Excellent – turn to page one and start reading!

-Jasper Fforde’s description of the Thursday Next Series

I first encountered Jasper Fforde when I, intrigued by the title, read Shades of Grey.  As you can tell from my post on it, I LOVED it.  Later on, when I was basking in the joy known as the library, I noticed that Fforde had published other books. Of course, I took the bait.

Of the several series that Fforde has dreamed up, I chose the Thursday Next series.  Any character whose name is Thursday Next must be pretty darn interesting, not to mention that the first book is entitled The Eyre Affair.  Jane Eyre fan fiction?  Yes, please.

What kept me reading this series is Fforde’s hilarious, fantastical, and original take on BookWorld.  He puts us (readers) in our place.  The characters in books are alive and have their own dramas behind the scenes.  They jump between books, have other jobs, and characters who are linked romantically in books may actually hate each other.  Even more exciting, they have a certain level of free will, meaning that if they are unhappy enough with how the author wrote their story, they can change it!

Hint:  The “original” Jane Eyre has a very different ending from the one we know and love.

Basically, if you enjoy the concept of characters truly coming to life, I suggest you check these out.  They made me giggle some of the time and happy all of the time.  Except when I was sad.  But, that was because sometimes, sad things happen.  But, yeah.  You get my point.  Read them.

Battenberg Cake

Thursday Next is a fantastic and spunky character.  She is surrounded by a wonderfully loony family and her mother is the only one who really cooks.  While most of her cooking is quite awful, she is known for her Battenberg cake.

According to the great brain of Wikipedia, Battenberg cake “was created in honour of the marriage in 1884 of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg, with the four squares representing the four Battenberg princes: Louis, Alexander, Henry, and Francis Joseph.”

Typically made with marzipan, this cake does not agree with Thursday, who detests almonds.  I decided to make a Thursday-approved Battenburg cake.  Try making one yourself!  It is not nearly as complicated as it looks.

  1. Mix up the batter for your favorite white cake.
  2. Split the batter in half.  Color one half red (or any color you want, really).
  3. If possible bake each half in a loaf pan.  I didn’t have two load pans so I improvised…

  1. Bake as the cake recipe directs until the cakes are firm.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Cut each cake in half so that you have two long strips of each color.
  4. Heat up the jam of your choice.  I used marmalade.
  5. Assemble the cake.  Stick the pieces together by “frosting” each side and then pushing the cake strips together, to make that lovely checker.

  1. Make or acquire your favorite frosting OR get marzipan (If you want marzipan).  I made a pistachio frosting, basically by mixing pistachio butter in with white frosting.
  2. Frost your assembled cake.  Do not be afraid to use a lot of frosting.  Because you are trying to mush together four strands of cake, frosting is the great concealer.  And it’s yummy.
  3. Eat, preferably with tea, as Thursday would.

Short Reviews of Long Books

So the summer definitely took me away from the computer.  I did not post nearly as often as I had intended (though, to be fair, I had grand aspirations about daily posts), but I read far more than I thought possible.  This bookworm was apparently verrrrry hungry.

Here’s the thing.  I would love to do a beautiful, happy post for every book read or movie viewed over the summer, but I’m not going to.  It’s too overwhelming.  In fact, it has kept me quiet for the past week as I struggle to even begin talking about my summer.  Instead, I will give you a description of the book or movie in under 11 words or less and my thoughts in 20 words or less.  Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Lee.

Summary: Sad woman and sadder man have affair in Hong Kong.

Thoughts: This historical backdrop (Hong Kong during WWII) was intriguing, but I didn’t like any of the characters.  Meh.

The Twilight Saga Collection by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: Bella must choose between creepy vampire and not-as-creepy-but-still-superhuman werewolf Jacob.

Thoughts: It teaches teenagers that the best kind of love is obsessive, controlling, and dangerous.  No thank you.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Summary: 3 witches, one a fairy godmother, must stop a happy ending.

Thoughts: Hilarious.  This is my first Pratchett novel and I now want to read the entire Discworld series.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Summary: 3 photographers and their relationships as they photograph the Vietnam war.

Thoughts: Well-written and intricate storylines.  The background and the characters are fascinating.  I want to study photography, or go to Vietnam.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal

Summary: Sweet valley twins, 10 years later.  Sex, betrayal, and swearing.

Thoughts: So bad.  I read it because I loved the series.  It makes no sense and I hated both twins.

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Summary: Love triangle in Greece during WWII.

Thoughts: Loved it with 15 pages to go.  Then almost threw it across the room.  Still love it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Summary: Follows two friends through school, love, and duplicity.

Thoughts: I may have used up an entire tissue box on this.  Read it if you want a good cry.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mirielle Guiliano

Summary: The title pretty much says it all.

Thoughts: Commonsense advice aside from drinking leek broth for three days and purchase enough champagne to have at every dinner.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (for the fifth time, at least)

Summary: Big brother knows all.

Thoughts: Love it.  Love it.  Love love love love it.  It gets better with every read.  Read it.

 

Phew!  Now that I have those out of the way, I can get back to posting on what I am reading right now!  Trust me, I have an awesome one coming up 🙂

What is the Best Fantasy Series?

I have put great thought into this question as I am smitten with a number of them.  This week’s Bookworm theme is just that.  In the comments, please tell me, which fantasy series do you think is the best?  The winners will be announced on Friday. 

I have recently finished a fantasy/science fiction/adventure series that takes a heck of a lot of committment, and that is Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series.  As you can see from my posts on the first three books of the series, I have gradually warmed up to Mr. King, despite his penchant for terrifying me. 

After finishing the entire series, I can safely say that the fourth book, Wizard and Glass, is my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved all of them.  This one has a special place in my heart because I set out thinking that I was going to be frustrated with it and rush through it.  In the long run, this was the one I most savored. 

In 1978, Stephen King introduced the world to the last gunslinger, Roland of Gilead. Nothing has been the same since. More than twenty years later, the quest for the Dark Tower continues to take readers on a wildly epic ride. Through parallel worlds and across time, Roland must brave desolate wastelands and endless deserts, drifting into the unimaginable and the familiar. A classic tale of colossal scope — crossing over terrain from The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, Insomnia, The Talisman, Black House, Hearts in Atlantis, Salem’s Lot, and other familiar King haunts — the adventure takes hold with the turn of each page. And the Tower awaits… The Fourth Volume in the Epic Dark Tower Series… Wizard and Glass. Roland and his band of followers have narrowly escaped one world and slipped into the next. There Roland tells them a tale of long-ago love and adventure involving a beautiful and quixotic woman named Susan Delgado. And there they will be drawn into an ancient mystery of spellbinding magic and supreme menace.

The longest book so far of the series is a giant flashback. 

When I started this books, my initial reaction to the flashback is, “You have got to be kidding me.  I just want to find out what happens next!”  There may have even been some “grrrrr”s thrown in. 

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Pyrophiles Will One Day Rule The World. I Will Be There With These.

Rating: Orange

“Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.”

 

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As a child, I was entranced by fire.  Watch it, licking its way through dry timber or simmering away a candle’s protective wax.  Human, it inhales oxygen and is ever hungry.  Animal, it rages and destroyes, unaware of the order that it is upsetting.  Chemical, it transforms sugar into candy, sand into glass, fabric into ash.  It can clean as it can dirty.  It can warm as it can burn.  It flickers and adopts different colors- orange, blue, yellow, and red. 

When put this way, you must understand that a small child is a ready victim.  I would sit at restaurants, fighting over the small candle in the center of the table.  My brother and I would hold our silverware in the flame in an effort to sterilize them.  I would dip my fingers in the puddle of wax to make a small mold of my finger.  Perhaps we were little pyrophiles in the making.

Years have passed and I no longer fight over the restaurant tea lights.  That is not to say that I pass up opportunities to be near fire.  I will happily toast a marshmallow over a bonfire or be in charge of lighting the birthday candles. 

Suzanne Collins’ second installment of the Hunger Games Trilogy is appropriated entitled Catching Fire.  Like fire’s hold on my imagination, this book gripped me and would not let me go.  As I explained in my first post dedicated to the Hunger Games Trilogy, I urgently needed to find out would happened next in Katniss and Peeta’s tumultuous journey. 

Let’s just say that this book does not disappoint.

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Riddle Me This

Rating: Orange

Sometimes, you meet a character that you can’t get out of your head.  Even after the book has closed, that character’s distinct voice shows up, acting as some sort of invisible commentary on your thoughts.

One such character is Blaine the Mono, a highly intelligent and sadistic train that shows up in the third installment of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series, The Waste Lands.

In order for our heroes to get through the Waste Lands, a treacherous and poisonous segment on their journey to the Dark Tower, they must take the train.  Only once they’re on-board, they realize how insane this mechanical voice is.  It has decided that is is prepared to commit suicide…and take its passengers along with it (insert scary cackle here).

Along with the highly irrational suicidal need, Blaine has one other human trait- he loves riddles.  His passengers take advantage of this and strike a deal with him.  If they can tell him a riddle that he cannot answer, he has to free them before he runs himself off of a cliff.

Without further ado, I will share with you some of my favorite riddles (some of which are from the riddling contest).  The answers will be at the bottom 🙂 

Share your own riddles in the comments (It may be good to share the answers as well, considering I am not as good at “thinking around corners” as our heroes are)!

  1. If you feed me I grow, but give me water and I’ll die. What am I ? 
  2. I am the black child of a white father, a wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven. I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me, even though there is no cause for grief, and at once on my birth I am dissolved into air. Who am I?
  3. What’s the difference between a cat and a complex sentence?
  4. I pass before the sun but make no shadow.  What am I?
  5. We are all very little creatures; all of us have different features.  One of us in glass is set; one of us you’ll find in jet.  Another you may see in tin, and a fourth is boxed within.  If the fifth you should pursue, it can never fly from you.  What are we?
  6. This thing runs but cannot walk, sometimes sings but never talks.  Lacks arms, has hands; lacks a head, but has a face.
  7. 

Read on for the answers to the riddles as well as the third course of my Dark Tower feast!

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Inception: Is Leo the King of His Dream World?

Rating: Chocolate Cake

 

I’ve decided that Leonardo DiCaprio’s theme song should be “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.”

Now, granted, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but it seems to me that he has a penchant for tragic endings where love is concerned.   Most of us know what happens to Romeo and Juliet.  That whole accidental poison-stabbing double suicide is surely not the way to a happy marriage.  Then comes along The Titanic.  Sorry if this is a surprise to any of you readers out there, but when the ship sinks, so does he.  Literally.  He draws his last breath, gazes at his beloved, and sinks, right then and there. 

Sure, you could say that it might be better to quit while you’re ahead.  Both of those relationships end while the couple is still in the honeymoon phase, still young and passionately in love, making the ending that much more epically tragic. 

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