2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Advertisements

Isabelle Allende’s TED talk

I realize that I really haven’t been too dedicated to blog updates for quite some time. This will change soon… believe me! I am slightly behind my reading schedule too. Not too far behind, but far enough.

That aside, I came across a TED talk today titled “Tales of Passion” by Isabelle Allende, author of many novels including “Daughter of Fortune” and “Portrait in Sepia” (both of which I need to re-read at some point). Anywa… I just had to share this with you! She talks about her pure belief in the power of passion and its ability to truly change the world in which we live in; if we only knew how to channel that energy for good, especially towards women and children.

I will now step aside and let her do the talking. I only ask that you really listen to her message.

So… what did you think?

All humour aside, I walked away with a strong and powerful, yet simple, message. In a nutshell: BELIEVE in the POWER of PASSION in the CREATION of  a better world!

In Memory of author Maurice Sendak

As always, before the movie, there was an inspiringly creative story. A story that may be quite short or long, illustrated or not, meant for children or adults, could reflect any genre, but above all else: it speaks to its readers. It challenges or changes their thoughts; it creates conversation; it puts a smile on their face or a tear in their eye; it questions right and wrong; it reveals unspoken truths; it is noticed!

I began by introducing the notion of book-to-film only because Maurice Sendak’s work has been most recently celebrated in the more public eye in the film “Where the Wild Things Are” titled after one of his many literary works.

Maurice Sendak, a beloved children’s author and illustrator had the creative ability to weave stories which, although geared towards children, created much controversy in their content, yet was devoured by many. He had published many a tale and poem dating back to the 1960’s. Sadly, with his passing, on May 8th 2012 at the age of 83, he takes with him his imaginative gift that has opened up different worlds of fictitious scenes and characters to so many.

His risky style had taken themes and stories far away from the stereotypic ideals of what a children’s story should entail, creating in their place ones that explored themes set in dark  eery lands where children could delve into several of life’s questions with ease and pleasure.

In celebration of his many achievements and gifts that he has offered to his readers here is a recording of Maurice himself reading “Where the Wild Things Are”:

The literary world has not only lost one of its most celebrated authors but one who takes with him a creative style that is unmatched.

Maurice, although you will be missed, your stories will continue to be read by many young and old for years to come.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal ~ by Conor Grennan

All avid readers are oh so familiar with the ever-growing to-read list. But despite that, there is always a time where one hits a roadblock and is unsure what to read next. And we ask ourselves: “What book should I pick up next?” “What am I really in the mood for?” or “Is that book really going to be worth my while?” It’s either that, or you pick up about 3 books at a time and end up not completing any! Each story is just left hanging as you loose interest in one or mix up one story with another… now that can’t be good! So, remind me again, why was this character from a mystery novel riding on the back of a unicorn from another?

To solve this dilemma, I thought I’d ask some friends with a general facebook post and got several answers back. One friend recommended picking up “Little Princes” by Conor Grennan, which I mistook for “A Little Princess” (a very different read indeed). Anyway… I thought I would pick it up as it has been sitting on my to-read list for quite some time; such a long time that I had forgotten about it.

“Little Princes” is a non-fiction travel novel set in several locations in Nepal. Conor (the author) begins his journey around the world with a plan to stop by Nepal for 3 months to volunteer at an orphanage by the name: Little Princes. The thing is, he does not do this out of the kindness of his heart or his selfless nature. He does this as a way to justify his yearlong trip around the world to his friends and family. It is basically a way to bring attention to himself as a humanitarian (which he clearly is not at that point) and plans to use this experience as a line to bring attention to himself at a later date, be it his family’s attention or that of a girl at a bar. He basically volunteers for all the wrong reasons.

This already sounds as though the journey is not off to a great start. However, being allowed to read about the extreme change in attitude to the better as this journey unfolds is one of the many beautiful events within the story. A three month voluntour trip ends up becoming a mission that begins with a 3 year long commitment to the children of a foreign land based on a very simple promise that Conor had made: to take the children home. It turns out that the orphanage is not a safe house for orphans but a shelter for formerly trafficked children of extremely remote regions of Nepal. This promise and the resilience of the children leads to the founding of yet another organization called Next Generation Nepal founded by Conor Grennan to fulfill this promise to as many Nepalese children as he possibly can.

As difficult as the subject matter of this story is I was surprised to find it jam packed with humour! That was probably why it was quite an easy read as the tellings of tragic circumstances of helpless children were juxtaposed with sarcasm and self-mocking comedy on the authors part. Interlaced with this journey is a story of self-reflection and spiritual growth… and of course, love. It is a story that is told the way it is. I truly feel the story gushing with honesty. Intertwined with this honesty is raw description of the sights, smells and sounds of Nepal giving the novel a flavour of the setting itself.

In the author’s own words:

It is always hard to read of the reality of what people (especially children) are forced to endure and is easier to push this reality aside thanking of it while remaining disconnected from the goings on of other places as though it were happening in some other time on some other planet. Connor chose to wake up and do otherwise. He chose to dive into the uncomfortable and unjust and make things right. I have so much respect for those who are able to fight for others who are not given a voice. This book was truly a great read and one I would highly recommend.

Links:

To learn more about Next Generation Nepal and/or donate to the cause please visit: Next Generation Nepal

Hunger Games ~ the movie

Last week, after hearing and reading rave reviews from various sources, I finally got the chance to go see the Hunger Games on the big screen. I did enjoy the movie experience (it’s been almost a year since I’ve been to the theatre) but I must say, I didn’t seem to enjoy the movie as much as I thought I would.

I did think the movie was a good visual to the book as far as the characters, sets and costumes go.

The way Panem was interpreted was spot on. However, the highlight of the entire film, to me, was the cinematography. That was not interpreted from a written page but was rather a stylistic and creative choice. The camera was used to tell the story along with the tributes. We saw much of the action from their perspectives or from their proximity. It really felt as thought the movie was shot as a documentary rather than a fictional story. And I think that was a very smart move. The approach really helps the viewer be more a part of the action as opposed to an outsider looking in.

Another creative interpretation of the story was the actual ‘game board’, if you will, that the gamers used to manipulate the playing field. As I recall, there weren’t too many details about how the game master called the shots and made things come to reality. The idea of the players being at the fingertips of those who control them became quite literal at the electronic game board where the illusion of night and day, the announcements of children’s deaths, the fires and unnatural creatures all came to be through the imagination and the simple electronic manipulations of those who controlled the ‘playing’ field.

Granted, movies are never quite as detailed as the book, that’s a given. Although the film lasted about 2.5 hours it still did not carry all the details of the text (obviously). Although I think some details could have been catered for despite the time limit; such as: Butterball (Prim’s cat) is actually long haired ginger, not black and white. Yes, I know it’s a small detail but why change it? Also, the birth of the mockingjay pin which is to become the symbol of the revolution and almost synonymous with Katniss herself is completely altered. Not a bad alteration considering the ‘new story’ but still, it’s quite important. I do understand the need to shave off excess information due to time limits though. If there were to be all the details then 6 movies rather than 3 would be in order to complete the visual trilogy.

As far as characters go, I must say, I was very impressed. The acting out of each of the personalities were extremely accurate and Katniss herself was really great. She really was the heroine that was created in the books. Jennifer Lawrence did an incredible job at bringing out the characteristics of a heroine who has become loved by girls and boys alike. Her attitude, temper, rashness, bravery and her refusal to succumb to the atrocities of the capitol were evident. It was very nice to see such a character come to life as opposed to the stereotypical girly girl of Hollywood whom we have all become accustomed to seeing whether or not we agree with the stereotype.

The added scene at the end of the film where the game master was left in a locked room with the berries was also, I thought, I good call. We are never told how he had been killed in the books; only that he had ‘mysteriously’ disappeared in the second book of the trilogy. His death is left to our interpretation. And I thought the movie’s version was a good one.

One thing that did get on my nerves after a while was the number of times the phrase “May the odds be ever in your favour” was repeated. I just think that was slightly over done to the point where I almost expressed the notion of ‘moving on already’ out loud! Thankfully I wasn’t sitting next to any strangers.

I am however, shocked, at the idea that the movie ended up with a PG rating! Now, as much as I think the story is great I have some serious problems with the idea that it has been categorized as Teen Fiction. Granted, it may be alright for more mature teens. By this I mean 16 and up. But I’ve noticed many 9 yr olds devouring the series. Language wise, it really is an easy read even for a 9 year old who reads well. Its appropriateness, however, certainly isn’t. I just have a very hard time legitimizing why it is ok for such young malleable minds to be exposed to such a sadistically violent story. Yes, some children are extremely mature but I am addressing this more generally. I’m just wondering how much of the bigger picture or message of the story is being absorbed as opposed to the blood and gore. If a young person is to read the book there has got to be several follow up discussions that carry the story beyond the violence. Otherwise, it’s almost another way to desensitize children to extremely aggressive behaviour. Back to my point of the PG rating… I really think some of the more visually disturbing details had been left out in order to gain this rating and reach out to a wider audience. i.e more cash! I worry when I find 8 and 9 year olds in the theatre while this is playing. So, from a concerned teacher’s point of view, I stand by this opinion quite strongly despite my being a fan.

Anyways… back to the movie: I think I may have been expecting more from this visual interpretation. Although there were quite a few creative decisions that were made in terms of character development, settings and cinematography, I still did not feel the ‘Wow!’ factor and the extreme emotion (to the point of very many tears and temper tantrums) as I did while reading. In my opinion, the depth of the story itself cannot be appreciated in its entirety without reading the series first.

Is this to say that I will not be seeing the full series as it is released? Certainly not! But my advice to those who still have not read the books is: READ them! It is the only way you will be able to understand the several messages and depth of what the author is trying to convey.

~Previous post: A few thoughts about the first book of the series… click here~

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, is an emotional ride and a tribute to the magic of books and the world of literature.

The animation opens with a scene of Mr. Lessmore sitting on his balcony surrounded by books only to be violently carried away by a twister that oddly resembles one from “The Wizard of Oz” – especially when a neighbour flies by on his bicycle. The animation morphs from colour to monochromatic grey-scale. Even the words to Mr. Lessmore’s book have been blown away, but his story is still alive within himself.

He follows a trail of lost stories until he comes across a flying character being carried away by books. He chases one of those books to a stand-alone building that has become a shelter for stories both old and new. The responsibility of caring for, spreading and creating new stories has fallen upon Mr. Lessmore, and he takes this on willingly. The short continues to visually portray Mr. Lessmore’s ‘literary’ life till it’s time to pass on the torch to the coming generation; to one who truly understands and appreciates the importance of story telling.

There are very many aspects of the animation that I found very creative in their simplicity. The animation itself is silent yet the books are given voice and emotion through body language as well as flipbook capabilities to animate their illustrations and convey their messages. The simple idea of a book creating hope, joy and colour in people’s lives is effectively conveyed as Mr. Lessmore distributes stories to others and watches the colour return to their very being. A perceived reality that so many book lovers continuously try to put across about their love of the written word is wonderfully created in this short.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, is a beautifully constructed visual journey of the magic of books. A must see!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

Today readers young and old celebrate the 108th birthday of the beloved author and illustrator Dr. Seuss. His timeless stories packed wit humor and beautiful life lessons have made their way into the hearts of so many and are celebrated by all.

As a tribute, I’d like to share my favourite Dr. Seuss quotes (which were difficult to pick out) to celebrate this special day:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Other quotes:

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” ~ Dr. Seuss

And of course…

“Today is your birthday! Today you are you! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!” ~ Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!! :@D 

B-day Dr. Seuss