I had such plans for blogging last week, but as the poet Robert Burns said about the best-laid plans of mice, the ‘gang aft agley’. And so nothing turned out quite like I expected it to. Monday night I was afflicted with a nasty headache, Tuesday night my computer was afflicted by All The Updates (Windows, Adobe, Spotify…. all of it…), and then I went to the late showing of Dune at the theater. And because I went to the late showing of Dune, and because my brain decided insomnia after that was a great idea, I was exhausted all through my day off and could only focus on the stuff that was absolutely necessary. Thursday was a blur, and then on Friday the Prancing Pony Podcast Discord server all sat down together, separately in our own homes, to watch The Return of the King (extended edition, of course).
So that was my week. The highlights were watching Dune and getting together with the PPP folks online and watching The Return of the King together.
I’m hoping this first week of November goes a little more to plan.
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Mina would like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween!
She would also like to point out that she was yawning in this photo, not hissing, but she does appreciate that it makes her look like a little vampire.
She does like to seem fiercer than she is.
Except when she goes to the veterinarian, which she had to do this week. It was time for her annual check-up and vaccinations, and while she didn’t mind getting into her carrier or the car ride, she was not happy to be at the vet, where there were strange smells and barking dogs. She also didn’t like being poked and prodded and having her teeth looked at. But it was all over quickly and the vet gave her a clean bill of health.
We went straight home after that, and I gave her an extra helping of treats. She seems to have forgiven me for dragging her out into the rain and taking her to the vet.
Unless she is planning a spooky Halloween surprise.
If I don’t show up next week, you’ll know she had something up her metaphorical sleeve.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner
The Ring of Words is a short and fairly dry account of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work on the Oxford English Dictionary from 1919-1920. He primarily worked on words under ‘W’, and much of his work is still there in the current dictionary. Many of his handwritten notes are still on file, and even now, 100 years later, some of his work hasn’t been double-checked, because the English language has a long, weird history, is constantly changing, and there are only so many people on staff to look into the hundreds of thousands of entities that have been building up since the 1920s. This is an interesting book for fans of Tolkien’s work who are also curious about keyhole histories about the author, or people who are interested in philology and/or dictionaries.
Did Not Finish:
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, audiobook narrated by Beata Poźniak
I have no issues with this book, but after the week I had, I just wasn’t in the mood for it. My head is full of Dune, and not interested in strange mysteries from the wintry Polish woods starring old ladies who may or may not be losing their grip on reality.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga #3) by Fonda Lee, eARC provided by NetGalley
- Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien’s Mythology by Verlyn Flieger
Jade Legacy has definitely thrown some curveballs in its narrative. I have expected few of the things that have happened, but they all feel like perfectly natural events happening because of the history the characters have been building upon over the past couple of books. That said, Lee’s intention of making this third and final book of her trilogy truly a ‘legacy’ is making for a somewhat choppy reading experience. Things will happen, events will rise to a dramatic peak, be resolved, and then the narrative will skip ahead months or even a few years. It makes everything feel like a collection of interconnected vignettes rather than one cohesive story. Still, I can’t wait to find out what happens to the Kaul family as the years go by and the next generation starts to take their places in the family business. I’m hoping to get this one done by mid-week. Alas for my Tome Topple ambitions, but last week was a doozy and I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to.
I’ve only just begun Interrupted Music. I might be a couple of pages into the first essay, so I have no thoughts on this one yet.
What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, audiobook narrated by Bernadette Dunne
- Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien: by Verlyn Flieger
- Around the World in 80 Books by David Damrosch, eARC provided by NetGalley
I received an unexpected notification the other day that my digital hold for We Have Always Lived in the Castle was available via my Libby App, so I downloaded it, but haven’t had a chance to start listening yet. I need to start reading Green Suns and Faërie as soon as I can, as it’s an inter-library loan, and the woman who checked them out to me neglected to write the due date on the slip. So I want to get all three of my ILLs completed and back to the library as soon as I can to avoid any late fees.
I requested Around the World in 80 Books via NetGalley a few months ago, and the publisher didn’t get around to approving my request until last week or so, so I have this big nonfiction book about books to get through in short order. It’s due out on the 16th of November.
What I’ve Been Watching:
I finally saw Dune! I’m not really joking when I said I’ve been waiting for this movie since 2008. Way back then, when IMDb was still a baby site, it had a listing for an upcoming adaptation of Dune slated for release in 2010. It was repeatedly delayed, and then the project was finally called off. So when Denis Villeneuve announced that he was working on a film adaptation, I was hopeful but skeptical.
And then more information started coming out, and casting and location information was announced, and I realized it was going to be an Actual Thing I Could See, and it was literally the only film I wanted to see in the theater in 2020.
Well, we know how last year went.
I purchased a ticket for the late 10:15PM showing last Tuesday night at the cinema nearest me. Why Tuesday night, you ask? Because I figured there would be fewer people willing to see a 2.5 hour-long movie on a weeknight. Also, Tuesday is $5 movie night at our local theater chain.
After hearing nothing but good to glowing reviews, I was super excited for this film, and I was not disappointed. The cinematography, production design, score, costumes, casting, and acting were all excellent. After the disaster of the 1984 production and the so-so attempt the Sci-Fi Channel accomplished with their TV budget, I wasn’t sure if Dune could be brought to the theater, but Villeneuve succeeded.
There were definitely some things left out (like the dinner scene, but that would have been a nightmare to bring to life, I’m sure), and some major changes made to some of the characters (for the better, in the case of the Baron Harkonnen, whose book version is a walking stereotype of 1960s fears about gay men), but overall I was thrilled with the outcome. I definitely have more to write about the film, but I’m going to hold off for now, as I’m going to go and see it again (same theater. same seat, even) this afternoon.
So the TL:DR version of my review? 11/10 will definitely see again. And again.