Thursday, September 6, 2012

Booking It

I got into a bad habit last year of "borrowing" my partner's car to drive to work in, thus allowing myself to sleep in for an extra ten minutes and ultimately waste the monthly transit pass I had paid $110 for. This year, having this blog to work on sort of motivates me to take transit more regularly because it frees up my hands for 45 minutes every morning. Of course, without the blog, I could be reading one of the ten books on my Goodreads "To Read" shelf or fifteen books piled on my bedside table or the Kindle edition of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid or the Kobo edition of my friend Trisha's self-published YA novel Whispers In Autumn (which EVERYONE should buy and read before the sequel comes out later this month. Seriously, it's $3.84 on Kobo. Check it) or even a newspaper. From experience, though, chances are that if I wasn't writing this blog, I'd be catnapping in some uncomfortable sitting position, waking suddenly every two minutes to see if I'd missed my stop. Interesting how priorities are often context-based.

Today's shirt is from a website near and dear to my heart, run by a couple of the funniest and most clever cartoonists online today. Of course, they used to work in public libraries as well, which qualifies them for sainthood and assures them a place among the stars like all of us bibliophiles.

Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes are the creative twosome who parent Unshelved.com, a daily comic strip that chronicles the quirks and quibbles of the fictional (?) Mallville public library where an intelligent and experienced staff of information specialists tap dances the line of very real public service, the theoretical world of public accountability, and the seemingly surreal logic of the public themselves with aplomb, alacrity and awe-inspiring snark (Mon thru Thurs with Fridays reserved for a single-cell, graphically-rendered review of actual books and classic strips posted on the weekends).

As I am obviously the willing and joyful target of all forms of merchandising, the shop at Unshelved.com is one of my favourite places to while away my break time and some of my paycheque. Beside this one, I own one other shirt and have purchased and gifted the Bibliovore shirt, two of the LIBRARY raid jackets, and one discontinued bookbag to others.

I was fortunate enough to meet Gene in person at Comic-Con in 2010 and even benefited from one of his colleagues having an extra ticket to Wil Wheaton's w00tstock SDCC 2010 (don't know how well that link will work since it's a FB photo album. Let me know if it's SNAFU) where I got to share air with folks like Mythbusters Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and Grant Imahara; musicians Marion Call, Paul and Storm, and Molly Lewis; Science God Phil Plait; and Cylon heavy hitter and fellow Canuck Aaron Douglas. Savage's rendition of "I Will Survive" in the voice of Gollum while accompanied by a Wookiee on guitar was beyond memorable.

As for the t-shirt's sentiment, I'll conditionally agree that most books are better than their movie adaptations. Ultimately, it's a different medium thus a different narrative. For example, so many books are told in first person but movies are rarely shot that way, even if there is a first person voice-over utilized. It seems artificial to present an entire movie from a single individual's perspective whereas immersing oneself in a character while reading a book is totally natural. And I believe that the real let-down for lit-fans is that the movie manifestation of the characters/worlds they have come to love will never capture the magic of being mentally and emotionally invested the way a good book insists on. Sometimes, as in The English Patient, both the book and the movie can be incredible works of art but in totally different ways. Sometimes the only thing that ties the original literature and the adaptation together is a common title and the names of the characters and places - the musical theatre version of Wicked comes to mind here (seriously). And there are (rare) times where the film surpasses the source material. My go-to example of this is the 2005 cinematic adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe which, while deviating in problematic places from the book in terms of character, was vastly more entertaining than the original 172 (or thereabouts) pages of Christian metaphor. Sadly, the "sexifying" of the subsequent Prince Caspian was supremely painful and I'm still haunted by the Georgia O'Keefe overtones of Aslan's sending home of the Telmarines - so wrong.

Partly wondering if anyone is reading regularly, partly to start a little discussion here: 

Question/s of the Day: What film (or television) adaptation of literary origin is, in your opinion, the best/worst of the lot? Any that I must see/avoid? Any releases coming up that are viewed with great anticipation/trepidation?