Category Archives: See The Movie, Read The Book

The Martian, The Book

Log Entry: Sol 6
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I missed the meeting yesterday, where this was the book discussed, but I did chat with a neighbor who was there and who told me most people did not particularly enjoy the book. Although I think I agree, it is a 435 page paperback, and I finished it, so there must have been something appealing.

I did skim some of the paragraphs that were overly science based, the ones that made it feel like the book had been written for some other audience, like my retired Nuclear Engineer friend.

It is odd that even with the Log Entries being dated, I didn’t realize how much time was going by until near the end when our hero makes a specific comment about how many days he’d been there. At the end of the story I felt like I knew very little about him in the way of biographical facts but that I understood his spirit quite well; and I liked his spirit.

I’d be surprised if the book would be on any best-seller list if hadn’t been made into a movie, but I bet it makes a good movie.


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History As It Should Be Taught

On the evening of May 19, 1903, in the University Club in San Francisco, a group of well-to-do men were sharing drinks and conversation. The talk centered on President Theodore Roosevelt’s political fortunes, recent flooding along the Mississippi River, and the changes that the Boston Pilgrims might take the pennant in the brand-new American league. Then the discussion turned to another topic: the future of a new machine that only recently had been showing up on the streets of major American cities – the automobile.

Horatio’s Drive America’s First Road Trip by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

This is the companion book to the documentary film of the same name. Thanks to Netflix and Amazon prime, I am able to indulge my love of documentaries on almost any topic and that is how I ended up watching the film and then reading the book.

I thought I would end up just skimming the book, after all I had already seen the documentary, but both the story and the writing grabbed my attention and I read every word of it.

Horatio’s Drive took me back 113 years with the adventures of the two men, Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker (Horatio’s mechanic), along with a bulldog named Bud that they picked up early on the trip. Much of the story is told from Jackson’s letters to his wife, which, because I did see the documentary, I read in Tom Hanks’ voice.

A fun and easy read, I only wish all history could be learned with books like this!


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Alternative Reality of an Alternate Reality?

For a week Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail.

The wisdom of computer algorithms suggested I would like Amazon’s new series The Man in the High Castle based on a story/short novel by Philip K. Dick. The computer was right, the algorithms were correct and I enjoyed the one available show enough to be disappointed that it was a pilot for a series that doesn’t start until November 20.

Sidebar: I’ve read Mr. Dick before and can’t help but think he’d have an opinion about the computer being right, but I haven’t read enough to know what that opinion would be.

Having been left with so many questions at the end of the one available episode, and patience never my strength, I decided to read the story; not instead of watching the upcoming series, but in addition to, sort of as a prelude.

My 5 x 7.5-inch paperback has only 259 pages, this should have been a fast read. But it’s dense, there are no superfluous words that I can skim over and still “get” the story. If I started reading too fast, really more skimming than actual reading, I quickly reached a paragraph that made no sense and I had to go back to the point I stopped reading every word and begin again, slowly.

What did I take away from reading this book?

First, that some of the characters have different reasons for being where they are; on the screen they seem to be more noble or more innocent than their paper counterparts.

Second, I’m really looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes!

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The Portrait in the Nursery

My fondness for Angela Lansbury lead me to the 1945 The Picture of Dorian Gray, my fascination with different interpretations of the same story took me to the 2010 movie version. Both show dark tales of beautiful men tempted by demons of one sort or the other. The more recent movie takes advantage of changing times to show Dorian’s wickedness. An interesting counterpoint to a point Ms. Lansbury made during the audio commentary for the original movie, that by alluding to the deeds that change Dorian (rather than showing in detail), they are as evil as the viewer is capable of imagining.

There are other differences between the stories shown in the two movies, differences that, for me, made Hurd Hatfield’s Dorian (1945) more easily forgiven, as though he had a lapse in judgment, and Ben Barnes’ character more tortured and less capable of saving. I wonder which Dorian Gray I would find in the original story?

And so I add to my list of Books To Read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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Revisiting Cloud Atlas

First I watched the movie and I was confused, yet curious.

Next I read the book which I thought was easier for having the illustrations of the movie. Although I did ask myself a few times “who is the Tom Hanks character in this one?”

Last week I watched the movie again (less than a month from the first time I watched it) and I am now confused about completely new things. The book is only obvious in its reincarnation theme on the comet birthmark – or is it that I only caught the obvious? Was the Hugh Grant character supposed to be the same person he played later in the film or is that movie-making license? And our first pair, Adam Ewing and Dr. Henry Goose, have they really “evolved” to be Zachry and Meronym?

I want to read the book again with pen and paper nearby and track clues to answer this question. Instead I am headed to the internet to see what others think.

My first stop:

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Literary Transitions

At page 445 (out of 509) reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. It shouldn’t be any spoiler that the story is told through time, moving out and then back again. The first transition of time was well done. I found the next few to be ok, not bad. But when I got to the 7th transition, I loved it, and then the 8th transition, and the 9th transition. I expect the 10th, and final, move through time to be just as good.
I am enjoying this book, this story, far more than I expected I would.

Allow me to share three short sentences, the first a statement by an archivist, the other two are Sonmi-451’s response:

Fang seems to have been the ringleader.
He was, yes. He chiseled open the fault lines in the others’ personalities.

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Movie, Book, Movie Again

As I mentioned earlier, I watched the movie Cloud Atlas because the previews and reviews were intriguing (and I’m a bit of a Tom Hanks fan, he’s the reason I read Da Vinci Code) but I felt like I was missing pieces.

I am currently on page 212 (out of 509) of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, and I have figured it out: the movie is intended to be the illustrations for the book. I understand what I’m reading better for having seen the movie, and I’m looking forward to watching the movie a second time once I finish the book!

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