Sunday, February 27, 2011

BW9: H is for Hitchockian

"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." - Alfred Hitchcock

H is for Hitchcockian.  I have Alfred Hitchcock on my mind today.   We were going through some boxes in the garage last weekend, cleaning up a  bit.  One of the boxes contains books we inherited from my late mother in law.  We currently have no room on our shelves, so there they sit waiting until we buy some more. Which is going to happen soon, I'm positive.   Periodically I go through the box and find something different that sparks.  I found 39 Steps written by John Buchan.  It was originally written in 1915 and Hitchcock made it into a film in the 1930's.  Which is why I have Hitchcock on the mind.  

Growing up, I loved Alfred Hitchcock movies.  They gave me the chills, entertained and creeped you out at the same time.  The first time we were allowed to watch "The Birds", I ended up sitting around the living corner, peeking out and ducking back at the most scariest scenes.  I think I was about nine at the time.  I could probably have buried my face in my mom or dad's lap, but instead distancing myself from the tv screen seemed to work better.   I've grown to love suspenseful, psychological, scary movies.  Not the blood and guts gory type, nor the explain it all because the audience is too stupid to understand and get it kind of movies and books.  Ones that leave it to your imagination.  The action just off screen.  Heart pounding, hand clenching, break out in cold sweat, jump in your seat, make you squeal stories. Speaking of squealing, my dad is the nervous sort and can't sit still during intense scenes.  He'd leave, come back. (now I know where I got it from)   When my sisters and I would watch a movie, just when we'd get totally wrapped up in it, he'd sneak up behind, grab us and yell boo.  Honestly -- pee in your pants moments.  I managed to get him back a few times.  :)

So how does this relate to books.  Can you get the same thrill out of books?  Oh yeah!  If they are done right.  I'm a visual learner - think in images and have a very active imagination.  When I read, if the writer really knows how to paint a story, I'll be totally drawn into the story, see it.  

What elements are considered hitchcockian?  According to the website

Most of the movies Alfred Hitchcock produced were taken from books:  

Just to name a few.  It would be interesting to read the books and compare them with the movies.  I'll be doing that with 39 Steps.  What about you? 

What book have you read lately that has had Hitchcockian elements to it?  Have you watched an Alfred Hitchcock movie lately?   

Link to your reviews: 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BW8: G is for Greece

Hotel "Homeric Poems", Firostefani, Santorini.
Courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis

Our armchair travels take us this week to Greece.What do you think of first when you think of Greece.  The architecture, art, theatre, mythology, or  the great philosophers? One of my favorite paintings is The School of Athens by Raphael.

School of Athens by Raphael
When we think of ancient Greece, we think of the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.   Plato learned from Socrates and continued his ideas when he died and started his own school. Aristotle learned from Plato.  Who did Socrates learn from.   The first Greek philosopher and scientist who became known as the founder of philosophy was Thales of Miletus.  He was one of the Seven Sages of Greece. The sages were 7 men who were statesmen, lawgivers and philosophers known for their wisdom and responsible for such sayings as:

Solon of Athens - "Nothing in excess"
Chilon of Sparta - "Know thyself"
Thales of Miletus - "To bring surety brings ruin"
Bias of Priene - "Too many workers spoil the work"
Cleobulus of Lindos - "Moderation is the chief good"
Pittacus of Mitylene - "Know thine opportunity"
Periander of Corinth - "Forethought in all things"
From the ancient Illiad and the Odyssey to the modern, there is a wide array of books about Greece or set in Greece.   I'm not in the mood to read ancient literature this week so let's go in search for something modern, entertaining.   Our starting point since it's the only book I can think of is Zorba the Greek

Discovered it was written by Nikos Kazantzakis, who had a very interesting life.  In addition to Zorba, his works include:  The Last Temptation of Christ which actually sounds intriguing and nearly got him excommunicated from the Greek Orthodox Church. Plus he wrote a new Odyssey which picks up where Homer left off.   

Discovered through Matt Barrett's Travel Guides is an interesting book called Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession by Apostolos Doxiadis.

On Packabook's post about Through the World Party Reading Challenge, discovered (how could I have forgotten about this one) Corelli's Mandolin.  Remember the movie, Captain Corelli's Mandolin with Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz.  Yeah, I forgot about it too.   It is an adaptation from the movie.  Haven't seen it yet, although I'm a Nicholas Cage fan. Packabook has some other great suggestions, so go check it out. 

Crime Writer Paul Johnston has written a new series set in GreeceCrying Blue Murder, The Last Red Death, and the Golden Silence.

I'm finding all kinds of cool books including the debut novel of Gary Corby called The Pericles Commission about a murder mystery in ancient Athens which looks quite interesting and it's available in book or e-book.   

And for all things Greek - travel, food, history, politics, languages and customs check out these books on Matt Barrett's Travel Guide.   

My poor wish list is starting to creak and groan from all the books I've added today. 

Your goal this week - do some armchair traveling and discover Greece.  Check out the books I listed or do your own search. You just may be surprised and pleased with what you find. 

Authors Birthdays this Week - Choose one and read one of their books in honor of their birthday.


Link to your reviews:  No matter what book you are on, whether it is 3, 6, 8 or 12 link to your reviews here. Please include the name of the book or multi if you have multiple reviews in parentheses after your name.  Link to the specific review or just your general url if you have multiple reviews.  

Please note: Mr. Linky will be doing maintenance and upgrading starting on February 23rd, so may be unable to link temporarily. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

BW 7: F is for Frost

I'm currently working on my short story final and having computer issues as well so will leave you with a lovely poem by Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets.

The Road Not Taken 

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Link to your reviews:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BW6: E is for Essays

Michel de Montaigne

Essays?  What exactly are they and what genre do they fit into and why do we care?  I think in the quest for self enlightenment and education, it's imperative we expose ourselves (not literally, but literarily -  *grin*) to all forms of literature and ideas.   Surprisingly, when I first started thinking about the idea of essays, I went on line and found very little. The search for essay brought up scores of hits on how to write an essay. I grabbed my newish 2003 World book encyclopedia and found nothing in the E book about Essays.  Hmm!   Delved into our trusty old 1958 edition and found plenty of information.  Once I did my research the old fashioned way, I had plenty of information to use to research online. Sometimes you just have to ask the right question.

In an old book I found on the shelves called "Junior Modern Essays" selected and edited by Guy N. Pocock, I found this explanation which I just loved:

"Literally it means "an attempt"--a shot at hitting the mark--a blow on the head of the literary nail that pins an idea into permanence.  Your essay may be compressed or diffuse, terse or discursive, grave or gay--but in every instance it is a literary gadget--a cameo-a frog in amber-or whatever small, clear-cut, and finished object you care to compare it to.  It belongs to a different plane from that of the great literary forms--the drama, the novel or the epic, and it is in prose rather what the lyric is in poetry."

The essay gained its name as a literary form in the renaissance period with Michel de Montaigne, a french writer who called his written conversations essai which means "an attempt" or "to try".   Sir Francis Bacon was responsible for the first works in English to be named Essays. Essayist Sir Richard Steele launched the first periodical dedicated to essays in "The Tatler" in the 1700's  and later on "The Spectator" which he co-authored with Joseph Addison.  

In the early 1800's, many periodicals began demanding essays to fill their pages. Soon authors began producing essays such a Charles Lamb, William Hazlitt, followed by American essayists Matthew Arnold, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Cardinal Newman and Robert Louis Stevenson to name a few.  Among the British essayists were G.K. Chesterton, Aldous Huxley and Virginia Woolf.   I found a  list of essayists on Wikipedia which seems pretty accurate. Explore at your own risk. 

My challenge for you this month.  Check out the list, read an essay or two and tell me what you think.  The Well Educated Mind challenge suggests you read Michel de Montaigne. His works may be found online and/or in ebook format available at your online resources for free such as Project Gutenberg.   May I suggest:

Margaret Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on writing

John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Alexander Pope's An Essay On Man 

Charles Lamb's Essays of Elia

John Dryden's Essay of Dramatick Poesie

Andrew Lang's Essays in LIttle

G.K. Chesterton's Utopia of Usurers and other Essays

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays

Oliver Wendell Holmes's The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table 

Edgar Allan Poe's Philosophy of Furniture 

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.

- Michel De Montaigne

Link to your reviews