Magic and monsters

28 11 2010

Continuing with the theme of entertainment-based flashbacks, which coming home always seems to trigger: Youthful lit is all the rage these days. The last two movies I saw were “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (version 7.1) and “Tangled,” a charming 3-D animated romp through ye olde “Rapunzel” story.  Both of the films were very entertaining, and most critics seem to agree with me. During the latter, I witnessed a promo for the remake of “The Chronicles of Narnia” that is coming out at some point.

Got me thinking about some of the things I read as a kid. Of particular note to me were the John Bellairs series of gothic mysteries. The stories themselves weren’t particularly childish, but as the story goes, Bellairs was advised to rework an early piece for young adults because they seemed to be the best audience. (Think: “Goosebumps” et al) They were so chilling and mysterious and atmospheric … I just loved them. Another one of Bellairs’ books, “The Face in the Frost,” is supposed to be really good, but I’ve never read it. That’s apparently the work he’s famous for, a dark fantasy that pokes fun at the genre even as it moves through a fast-paced classic storyline. Or so they say.

Before there was Harry Potter, there was Anthony Monday and Lewis whats-his-name and of course Johnny Dixon, whose father was away at war. The idea of a kid being away from his parents and forced to deal with a supernatural element is nothing new. Don’t we all face that same exact challenge — finding your way alone, as an independent individual? You have a choice to embrace it, avoid it, or resign yourself to a life of miserably accepting the futility of your meaningless existence. The Rapunzel story is pretty much the same. A girl escapes from her isolation in a tower and does what every girl learns to do: leave home, face the big, bad world and find an animated love interest voiced by Zachary Levi. And what a voice it is.

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Reading stuff online

22 11 2010

I’m kind of fascinated by this whole “reading stuff online” thing. I’m currently checking out several electronic book platforms including readers, electronic print, iPhone apps, desktop sites and other venues. Reading the classics on my iPhone seems to be working OK for now, but I bet a larger screen would help. The question is, is it better to spring for an e-reader like a kindle, nook, literati or Sony model? Or just get a netbook instead? There’s at least a few versions for free. I can’t help but wonder if this will help fledgling authors build a following. Without further delay …

Online book sites of the day:

  • Wizard of Oz — nicely formatted for the PC screen, probably works on mobile as well. From an online library, which includes texts from …
  • Project Gutenberg — large source of classics, many now available on iPhone apps that serve up the classics. No excuses, folks.
  • Georgia Tech links to online math textbooks