Archive for the great gatsby

odds & ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

It’s not really a priority for me, but I’d love it if my sons were as interested in comics and cartoons as I am. Elliot in particular is at an age where he’s developing his own stable of likes and dislikes and more power to him. I’m not very mindful of forcing my own interests on the lad… but I won’t lie: I have been pleased as punch over Elliot’s newly-born fascination with Nancy and Tubby comics.

I never read either when I was growing up, although I do remember occasionally looking at the Nancy newspaper strip and finding it to be a little… boring for my tastes. Elliot begs to differ about the character and has recently taken to pouring over Drawn and Quarterly’s YOW!- The John Stanley Library, a giveaway comic from last year’s Free Comic Book Day.

I’m not a great study of John Stanley but his comics are really fun. In particular, Elliot’s completely into Nancy’s somewhat-supernatural friend Oona Goosepimple.

————–

My great TV discovery this past week has been the BBC’s Sherlock. A modern update of the Holmes mythos, the show aired on PBS a few months ago and is newly available on DVD.

I’ve been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was a kid, although my starting point was not the Arthur Conan Doyle stories- rather, it was the 1985 movie Young Sherlock Holmes that got me excited about the art of deduction, Dr. Watson, and all that. A re-imagining of the first meeting of Holmes and Watson as teenagers, some of the most ardent fans of Holmes actively dislike the movie for how it monkeys around with already-established continuity. I could have cared less as a kid… and I think my enjoyment of that flick sets me up as exactly the audience for this new Sherlock series- I like the character and the trappings, but I am not hung up with the minutia that so annoys the super-fan.

Anyhow, if you get the chance, check out Sherlock. The actors portraying Watson and Holmes, Martin Freeman and the excellently named Benedict Cumberbatch, have an easygoing chemistry and are fun to watch. Freeman’s Watson is grounded in realism, which is a beautiful counterpoint to Cumberbatch’s crazed, sometimes manic Sherlock. I found the three episodes of Sherlock (ONLY THREE? Damn, Great Britain…) to be far more fun and enjoyable than that Robert Downey Jr. movie from a few year’s back.

————–

I’m always wary when revisiting a novel I loved when I was a teenager. Many times I find that my love for a book has become tempered with newfound knowledge or understanding, and I won’t get the same enjoyment I got, lo those many moons ago. It’s a fact of life that some books aren’t designed to stand the test of time. I mention this because recently I picked up a copy of Rosemary’s Baby out of my classroom lending library and half-heartedly started re-reading the book. I remember enjoying the book when I was in high school.

Man, Rosemary’s Baby holds up like CRAZY. I’ve been glued to the paperback all week and I am shocked at how good it remains. I remember it being a slightly scary little tale as a teenager, but this was during my heavy Stephen King phase, so “scary” to me often meant re-animated pets or killer cars. The terror in Rosemary’s Baby is more insidious than obvious… at least, until the last fourth of the book, when implication becomes literal.

Feel free to argue with me, but I seriously think Rosemary’s Baby is as good a novel as The Great Gatsby.

————–

Finally, speaking of Gatsby (as I have for the past two Fridays), it looks like the Baz Luhrmann adaptation has been given a green light (ha!). The big news for many was Luhrmann’s announcement of filming his version of Tom, Daisy, Nick, and the rest in 3-D.  Like, those boats being born back ceaselessly into the past are going to be ALL UP IN YOUR FACE! BAM! GATSBY!

Honestly, I do not have a problem with this AT ALL. When you think about the excesses of society that Fitzgerald portrayed in The Great Gatsby, it makes a kind of sense. I’ve seen three movies in 3-D since the fad/trend began (Coraline/Avatar/Toy Story 3) and I enjoyed all of them. I didn’t feel that 3-D added much to any of those flicks besides Avatar, but it was a fun conceit and a nice novelty. Plus, I think some of Luhrmann’s previous movies show the director to be someone who could adapt 3-D to an interesting effect. Imagine Moulin Rouge in 3-D!

I will also admit, I’m willing to give Luhrmann a tremendous amount of credit. Besides having assembled a top-notch cast (Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Toby Maguire as Nick, Carey Mulligan as Daisy), I’m also a tremendous fan of his modernized take on Romeo & Juliet. I use it in my class every year, and for as many warts that version of R&J has, it’s a wonderful tool to get kids interested and understanding the Bard. I look forward to seeing what Luhrmann does with The Great Gatsby.

odds & ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Anyone who ordered a drawing last week, I start doodling this weekend. If you’d still like one, it’s and envelope-sized sketch for $5 dollars, American.

………………………

I have a ridiculously awesome recommendation for anyone who fits the following criteria:

(a) likes vintage comics

(b) owns an iPad

If you fall into these two categories, I received an awesome birthday gift I want to share with you. A few years ago, a whole bunch of comic companies flirted with the idea of releasing huge chunks of their publishing library on inexpensive DVDs. For $20 bucks, you’d get about ten years’ worth of old comics in PDF files. Although there was a nice selection of material, the format was awkward on a laptop and I don’t believe they were a big hit. Many of these comic DVDs are marked down on Amazon and if you have an iPad, technology has finally caught up with the convenience of these collections.

My friends Melissa and Brad got me Jughead: Bronze Age on DVD; it collects all of the Jughead comics released in the 1970’s and it’s crazy how many comics I have for so little money. You do have to download a PDF reader to enjoy the comics, but it’s still an impressive amount of comics for pennies on the dollar. These are direct scans from the original comics, which means you’re not only getting the stories, you’re also getting all those great vintage comic book ads- the last couple of years’ worth of Jughead books are chockablock with Star Wars ads.

Amazon has TONS of these comic DVDs available for rock bottom prices. Check ’em out, if you’re so inclined.

………………………

I found it at Robot 6, but I’m just going to link to the article directly: A very nice profile on your friend and mine, Colleen Venable. I mentioned Colleen and her Guinea PI series of comics a few weeks ago… but she’s also a top-flight designer of covers. Anyone who prefers the original cover dress to A Wrinkle in Time

to this abomination

is aces in my book, and Colleen falls soundly into the first camp.

Seriously, that “flower-rainbow-horse” cover to A Wrinkle in Time never fails to angry up my blood whenever I look at it. I completely avoided Madeleine L’Engle’s entire body of work as a kid. I knew never to judge a book by its’ cover… but damn, that is one awful cover. You can’t really blame me for not wanting to read The Flying Horse Rainbow Story. If I had only known how kick-ass her books are then…

………………………

Finally, a must mention for an English teacher with a fondness for vintage gaming: Someone has created an 8-bit adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The gameplay is a lot like Castlevania with flappers and hobos standing in for vampires and mummies. I was surprised with the smooth gameplay and how funny some of the end bosses are (ESPECIALLY the first boss. Hilarious!).

The adaptation of the novel is liberal at best, but it’s a fun way to spend a couple of minutes.