Halloween Bingo 2019 PreParty — Question for 08/09 (Day 9): Book Suggestions for the New Squares? Part 1: "Paint It Black"

Today’s prompt is for favorite horror reads; that not being much of my thing (outside, perhaps, the gothic classics and anything more edifying or funny rather than scary), I think I’m going to leave that prompt to Char, Bark’s Books (aka Bark at the Ghouls), and the site’s other horror fans.  Instead, I’m going to catch up on the prompt from the day before yesterday — I’m really, really excited about the new squares.

This is going to be another multiple-post reply … because come on, these covers are just too beautiful not to give them a space of their own!

                                                      

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1934086/halloween-bingo-2019-preparty-question-for-08-09-day-9-book-suggestions-for-the-new-squares-part-1-paint-it-black

 

All 61 squares revealed: 1 through 18 (New Squares & Horror)

Reblogged from: Moonlight Reader

 

All of the new squares (and scares) have been revealed, and I got these posts put together over the past few days, so I’m ready to reveal ALL OF THE SQUARES!

Buckle up, butter cup.

A note on book lists: where we have already got a working book list, I’ve linked to it. However, word of clarification: the rules have changed a bit in the last 3 years – so not every book on the booklists is necessarily a horror, supernatural, mystery or suspense book. If it shows up on a booklist it has been approved for game play on that space and is “grandfathered in” to eligibility.

The new categories don’t have a book list associated with them yet.

I am going to do this in three posts, because they are going to be very long! You’ve seen the 9 new squares:

  

1. Dark Academia: Any mystery, suspense, supernatural or horror that takes place at a school – high school, college, boarding school, etc.

2. Dystopian Hellscape: This is a multi-genre square! Any book that relates to the fictional depiction of a dystopian society, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or The Hunger Games, would qualify!

3. International Woman of Mystery: This one is fairly obvious and is a twist on the “Terrifying Women” of years past – the only question is what does “international” mean? Basically, it means international to you – the reader. I’m in the U.S., so “international” means women mystery authors from Europe, South America, Asia, etc…

  

4. Psych: Psychological thrillers, plot twists and suspense, unreliable narrators and other mind-fuckery. And, as an aside, any Halloween Bingo book that takes place within or related to an insane asylum, haunted or otherwise, would qualify!

5. Truly Terrifying: Non-fiction that has elements of suspense, horror or mystery, including true crime, both contemporary and historical. Examples would be The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, or The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. If you have another idea, run it by me – just remember that it has to fit into the general Halloween Bingo criteria of mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural!

6. Paint It Black: Any book with a cover that is primarily black or has the word black in the title, was written by a black author, or relates to rock and roll music.

  

7. Stranger Things: this is a twist on the past 80’s Horror square with elements of the television show  – any horror that has supernatural elements, portal/parallel universes, government plots gone awry or is set or was written in the 1980’s.

8. Film at 11:  The idea for this new space comes courtesy of Linda Hilton! Generally, in order to qualify for Halloween bingo, all books must fit into one of the general genres of horror, mystery, suspense or supernatural. This space is filled by any Halloween bingo book that has been adapted to film or television. For extra fun, you can watch the adaptation – although this is an optional add on!

9. King of Fear: You can read anything written by Stephen King or Joe Hill, or recommended by Stephen King (as long as the recommendation is otherwise eligible for Halloween Bingo).

 

The “horror” squares:

  

10. Genre: Horror: Anything that qualifies as horror. Book list linked here.

11. Southern Gothic: horror set in the Southern part of the United States; Book list linked here.

12. Modern Masters of Horror: horror published in or after 2000. See horror booklist – notes identify sub-categories.

  

13. Fear Street: 1980’s and 1990’s vintage pulp-style series horror, targeted to teens, such as Point Horror, Fear Street and horror fiction that is written/published primarily for a YA or MG audience. Examples would include The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. Book list linked here.

14. Terror in a Small Town: any horror book where the action primarily occurs in a small town or village. Examples would include: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, It by Stephen King. Book list linked here.

15. Slasher Stories: books that share the tropes of classic slasher movies: teen characters, indestructible killers and/or multiple victims. Book list linked here.

  

16. Classic Horror: horror fiction that was published prior to 1980; Book list linked here.

17. American Horror Story: horror set in the United States. See horror booklist – notes identify sub-categories.

19. Stone Cold Horror: this is a late addition because I had too much YA horror, so I combined a couple of categories into Fear Street & needed something else for the horror genre! Horror that takes place primarily in a winter/cold/snow type setting.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1933537/all-61-squares-revealed-1-through-18

New Space #1: Film at 11

Reblogged from: Moonlight Reader

 

 

The idea for this new space comes courtesy of Linda Hilton!

Generally, in order to qualify for Halloween bingo, all books must fit into one of the general genres of horror, mystery, suspense or supernatural. This space is filled by any Halloween bingo book that has been adapted to film or television.

For extra fun, you can watch the adaptation – although this is an opitonal add on!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1929354/new-space-1

Good Omens: The Screen Adaptation


Ten Comments, Two Addenda and a Summary

So, I finally had an opportunity to watch this (binged on the whole thing last night).  A few comments:

1.  The kids: loved them.  The only people in the whole production who were visibly in it for the fun of the thing, not because it was a job.  Sam Taylor Buck was fabulous as Adam, but I almost loved his friends even more.

2.  Obviously a huge star vehicle for Michael Sheen and David Tennant, and both of them used it to the max.  Tennant wins in the coolness department, but then, bad boys who aren’t really bad always do.  As does tall, dark and handsome.  (As does, for the same reasons, Crowley in the book.)

3.  God bless Miranda Richardson.  And Jack Whitehall and Michael McKean — but chiefly, Miranda Richardson.  Besides the kids, the trio that really grounded the whole thing.

4.  Anathema as a mllennial Californian with a Latina mother — why, oh why???  She’s the direct descendant of a 17th century rural English witch, for crying out loud …

5.  Footnotes from the mouth of God — and not the Metatron, either, but God (Frances McDormand) herself?  Please.  I mean, I do love Terry Pratchett’s footnotes, but jeez.

6.  Adam and Eve: PC casting rather than inspired.

7.  The Four Horsemen: More PC casting, but I loved the looks.

8.  The (arch)angels and demons (except for Hastur):  More PC casting.  (What is one of the hallmarks of PC casting?  It goes to supporting and [relatively] minor characters who make up the background and “feel” of the production, rather than the starring roles.)

9.  Derek Jacobi as the Metatron: What a letdown.  No dice on Nicholas Briggs in the BBC audio production (nor, for that matter, on Alan Rickman in Dogma, but let’s not even go there).  The Metatron is many things, but decidedly not an elderly gentleman dragged out of semi-retirement.  Being a huge fan of Jacobi’s, it pains me to say this, but there we are.

10.  The Shakespeare scene was inspired.  Particularly so, the allusions to Tennant’s previous role as Hamlet and to the Bard’s mastery at appropriating source material from brains other than his own.  Loved seeing the actual [reconstructed] Globe Theatre as the setting, too.

11. Addendum 1:  The nurses and the switching scenes were fun.  Also, good old-fashioned stop-motion technology put to great effect in the winking exchange.

12.  Addendum 2: Benedict Cumberbatch was wasted as Satan’s voice.

Overall:  Gaahhh, this is slick.  Make no mistake, I instantly downloaded the whole thing so as to be able to watch it again (and again), for Tennant and Sheen alone.  And it’s enormous fun.  But it has a glossy, sleek, high tech surface that buries much of the rough, original force of the book under it; never mind that the essential plot remains unchanged and many of the lines are taken straight from the novel: It’s the visuals that get in the way.  And while in both the book and the BBC audio adaptation, for all the humor and downright slapstick comedy, there is a real sense of dread and impending doom towards the end, I never once had that feeling while watching this screen adaptation — even the end left me as cold as just about every blockbuster disaster movie produced ever since the early 2000s (which is why I don’t bother watching them).  I’m not sure less would have been more there — we’re literally talking about the end of the world, after all — but here, too, all I saw was CGI and other high tech effects being showcased for themselves, not in aid of the story.

This adaptation has all the makings of an instant classic, and there is much to love about it.  And most of its audience will probably not even think about, let alone be bothered by the things that are bothering me.  And I enjoyed it enough to want to watch it again, too, probably repeatedly.  And perhaps this is just the sort of production we have to expect, coming out of Hollywood, in this day and age.  Still — for however much I did enjoy it, for me it’s just a tad short of what it could and probably should have been.

P.S. My review of the book and the BBC full cast audio adaptation is HERE.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1898846/good-omens-the-screen-adaptation-ten-comments-two-addenda-and-a-summary

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (David Suchet Audio)

Still as much fun as ever.  David Suchet obviously is Poirot — but this is the one audio recording where he is equally obviously having the time of his life with the rest of the cast in an “Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets” manner, and I’m enjoying being along for the ride every single second, every single time.

Original review (also of this audio version) HERE.

Now onwards and upwards on the Snakes and Ladders board!

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1851203/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-100

Introducing the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season!

Reblogged from: Murder by Death

 

Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books and I have put together a little something to celebrate the festive season we hope you’ll like.  Our goal was to represent as many of the festive holidays and traditions that happen at this time of year around the world as we reasonably could, and boy have we packed it in!  But don’t worry, we’ve also tried our hardest to make this as easy, or as challenging, as each player wishes it to be.

So enough introduction… here’s the card:

(full rules to follow in a seperate post) – we’ve created book themes and holiday tasks for each holiday – but you can do as few or as many as you want, so don’t stress if this seems like a lot.  In the spirit of the “Silly Season” we’ve tried to spoil you for choice!

 

Brief Card Key:

Square 1: November 1st:
All Saints Day / Día de los Muertos / Calan Gaeaf

Square 2: November 5th:
Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night/Fireworks Night) / Bon Om Touk (Cambodian Water Festival)

Square 3: November 5th & 11th:
St. Martin’s Day (5th) / Veterans’ Day / Armistice Day (11th)

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd:
Penance Day (22nd) / Thanksgiving (23rd)

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays:
Advent

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th:
Sinterklaas / Krampusnacht (5th) / St. Nicholas Day (6th) / Bodhi Day (8th)

Square 7: December 10th & 13th:
International Human Rights Day (10th) / St. Lucia’s Day (13th)

Square 8: December 12th – 24th:
Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th)

Square 9: December 21st:
Winter Solstice / Mōdraniht / Yuletide / Yaldā Night

Square 10: December 21st:
World Peace Day / Pancha Ganapati begins (ends 25th)

Square 11: December 21st-22nd:
Soyal (21st) / Dōngzhì Festival (22nd) (China)

Square 12: December 23rd
Festivus / Saturnalia ends (begins 17th)

Square 13: December 25th
Christmas / Hogswatch

Square 14: December 25th
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti / Quaid-e-Azam’s Day

Square 15: December 25th-26th:
Newtonmas (25th) / St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day (26th)

Square 16: December 26th-31st:
Kwanzaa (begins 26th, ends 31st) / New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay / St. Sylvester’s Day / Watch Night

 

Holiday book themes and tasks

Square 1: November 1st:

All Saints Day is a Christian festival celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. Día de Muertos focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey, while Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales.

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

Book themes for Calan Gaeaf: 

Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all,

involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft –OR– read a book with ivy or roses on the cover, or a character’s name/title of book is/has Rose or Ivy in it.

Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.

Tasks for Calan Gaeaf: If you’re superstition-proof, inscribe your name on a rock, toss it in a fire and take a picture to post –OR– Make a cozy wintertime dish involving leeks (the national plant of Wales) and post the recipe and pictures with your thoughts about how it turned out.

 

Square 2: November 5th:

Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) is an annual holiday, primarily in Great Britain, commemorating the events of November 5th, 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Bon Om Touk (the Cambodian Water Festival), marks a reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River.

Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night: Any book about the English monarchy (any genre), political treason, political thrillers, or where fire is a major theme, or fire is on the cover.

Book themes for Bon Om Touk:  Read a book that takes place on the sea, near the sea, or on a lake or a river, or read a book that has water on the cover.

Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers.  Or: Host a traditional English tea party, or make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.  Which kind of tea is your favorite? Tell us why.

Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you’re living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.

 

Square 3: November 5th & 11th:

St. Martin’s Day (November 5th), also known as the Feast of Saint Martin, Martinstag or Martinmas, as well as Old Halloween and Old Hallowmas Eve, is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (Martin le Miséricordieux).  Veterans’ Day, or Armistice Day (November 11th), marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.  In the United States, Veteran’s Day is expanded to include all military veterans from any military action.

Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set on a vineyard, or in a rural setting, –OR– a story where the MC searches for/gets a new job.  –OR– A book with a lantern on the cover, or books set before the age of electricity. –OR– A story dealing with an act of selfless generosity (like St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar).

Book themes for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction).  –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.

Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better.  –OR– Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background.  –OR– Bake Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live.  Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

Tasks for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR– post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war.

 

Square 4: November 22nd and 23rd:

Penance Day, or Buß- und Bettag (November 22nd), is a Protestant holiday and a public holiday in the state of Saxony and is an occasion for Protestant Christians to pray or reflect on quiet thoughts, and while Thanksgiving (November 23rd) started out as a purely US holiday (and Canadian! on October 9th), it’s now well-known around the world for its feasts, family togetherness, and a holiday that strikes fear in the hearts of turkeys everywhere.

Book themes for Penance Day: Read a book that has a monk, nun, pastor / preacher or priest as a protagonist, or where someone is struggling with feelings of guilt or with their conscience (regardless over what).

Book themes for Thanksgiving Day: Books with a theme of coming together to help a community or family in need.  –OR– Books with a turkey or pumpkin on the cover.

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  –OR– What was a big turning point in your life?  –OR–  Penance Day is a holiday of the Protestant church, which dates its origins, in large parts, to Martin Luther, who published his “95 Theses” exactly 500 years ago this year.  Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR– a picture of your thanksgiving feast; post your favourite turkey-day recipe.  –OR– Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book – post a picture of it.

Bonus task:  share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

 

Square 5: December 3rd and following 3 Sundays:

Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover –OR– Read the 4th book from a favorite series, or a book featuring 4 siblings.

Tasks for Advent: Post a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.”  Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to?  (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)

Bonus task:  make your own advent calendar and post it.

 

Square 6: December 5th-6th and 8th:

Sinterklaas, also known as St. Nicholas Day, celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas on 6th of December. The feast is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on St. Nicholas’ Eve (5th of December) or on the morning of 6th of December, Saint Nicholas Day.  Krampusnacht (December 5th) is the day when Krampus, a companion of St. Nicholas, arrives to punish the children who have been naughty during the year, and in Asia, the 8th of December is Bodhi Day, the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment.

Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: A Story involving children or a young adult book, or a book with oranges on the cover, or whose cover is primarily orange (for the Dutch House of Orange) –OR– with tangerines, walnuts, chocolates, or cookies on the cover.

Book themes for Bodhi Day:  Read a book set in Nepal, India or Tibet, –OR– which involves animal rescue.  (Buddhism calls for a vegetarian lifestyle.)

Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies [more common in Germany] in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions/bewilderment.  😉  If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.

Tasks for Bodhi Day:  Perform a random act of kindness.  Feed the birds, adopt a pet, hold the door open for someone with a smile, or stop to pet a dog (that you know to be friendly); cull your books and donate them to a charity, etc. (And, in a complete break with the Buddha’s teachings, tell us about it.)  –OR– Post a picture of your pet, your garden, or your favourite, most peaceful place in the world.

 

Square 7: December 10th & 13th:

International Human Rights Day (December 10th) commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  St. Lucia’s Day (December 13th) is celebrated most commonly in Scandinavia, with their long dark winters, where it is a major feast day, and in Italy, with each emphasising a different aspect of Saint Lucia’s story.

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue), –OR– a book written by anyone not anglo-saxon, –OR– any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.

–OR– Read a book set in New York City, or The Netherlands (home of the UN and UN World Court respectively).

Book themes for Saint Lucia’s Day: Read a book set in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden – and Finland for the purposes of this game) or a book where ice and snow are an important feature.

Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights.  (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

Tasks for Saint Lucia’s Day: Get your Hygge on -light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.

Bonus task:  Make the Danish paper hearts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jur29ViLEhk

 

Square 8: December 12th – 24th:

Hanukkah (begins 12th, ends 20th) is the Jewish Festival of Lights.  It commemorates the rededication of the Holy temple in Jerusalem and the miracle that a one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days. Las Posadas (begins 16th, ends 24th) is a novenario (nine days of religious observance) celebrated chiefly in Mexico and by Mexican-Americans in the United States. The novena represents the nine-month pregnancy of Mary, the mother of Jesus celebrated by Christian traditions.

Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.

Book themes for Las Posadas:  Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a ‘no room at the Inn’ situation.

Tasks for Hanukkah: Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. –OR– Play the Dreidel game to pick the next book you read.

Assign a book from your TBR to each of the four sides of the dreidel:

  • נ (Nun)
  • ג (Gimel)
  • ה (He)
  • ש (Shin)

Spin a virtual dreidel: http://www.torahtots.com/holidays/chanuka/dreidel.htm

– then tell us which book the dreidel picked.

–OR–

Make your own dreidel: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/make-a-dreidel, –OR–

Play the game at home, or play online: http://www.jewfaq.org/dreidel/play.htm and tell us about the experience.–OR– Give some Gelt: Continue a Hanukkah tradition and purchase some chocolate coins, or gelt. Post a picture of your chocolate coins, and then pass them out amongst friends and family!

Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever?  Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unfortettable caroling memories?

Bonus task: Make a piñata (https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Pi%C3%B1ata), hang it from a tree, post, basketball hoop, clothesline or similarly suitable holder and let your neighborhood kids have a go at breaking it.

 

Square 9: December 21st:

Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, also known as Yaldā Night in Iran. The same day is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, giving them the longest day of the year. / Mōdraniht is “Night of the Mothers” or “Mothers’ Night” in old English and was an event held at what is now Christmas Eve by the Anglo-Saxon Pagans.  Yuletide is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.

Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book of poetry, or a book where the events all take place during the course of one night, or where the cover is a night-time scene.

Book themes for Mōdraniht: Read any book where the MC is actively raising young children or teens.

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter, –OR– set in the Arctic or Antartica.

Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book in one night – in the S. Hemisphere, read a book in a day. –OR– Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf.  Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page.  Post your results.  –OR– Eat a watermelon or pomegranate for good luck and health in the coming year, but post a pic first!.

Bonus task:  Read a book in one night.

Tasks for Mōdraniht: Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood.  –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task:  Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

Tasks for Yuletide: Make a Yule log cake – post a pic and the recipe for us to drool over.

 

Square 10: December 21st:

World Peace Day is the day the United Nations General Assembly has declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Pancha Ganapati, is a modern five-day Hindu festival in honor of Ganesha that comes to an end on the 25th. The festival was created in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to December holidays like Christmas by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (born Robert Hansen), a Westerner who embraced Hinduism.

Book themes for World Peace Day: Read a book by or about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or about a protagonist (fictional or nonfictional) who has a reputation as a peacemaker.

Book themes for Pancha Ganapati: Read anything involving a need for forgiveness in the story line; a story about redemption –OR– Read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow –OR– Read a book involving elephants.

Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us. –OR– Tell us: If you had wings (like a dove), where would you want to fly?

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Square 11: December 21st-22nd:

Soyal (December 21st) is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi (Hopitu Shinumu), The Peaceful Ones, also known as the Hopi Indians. It is held on the shortest day of the year to ceremonially bring the sun back from its long winter slumber. The Dōngzhì Festival (December 22nd) also celebrates the winter solstice and is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians.

Book themes for Soyal: Read a book set in the American Southwest / the Four Corners States (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), –OR– a book that has a Native American protagonist.

Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival: Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover.

Tasks for Soyal:  Like many Native American festivities, Soyal involves rituals such as dances.  What local / religious / folk traditions or customs exist where you live? Tell us about one of them. (If you can, post pictures for illustration.) –OR– Share a picture you’ve taken of a harvest setting or autumnal leaf color.

Tasks for Dōngzhì Festival: If you like Chinese food, tell us your favorite dish – otherwise, tell us your favorite desert. (Recipes, as always, welcome.)

 

Square 12: December 23rd

Festivus is “The Festivus for the rest of us!”; originally a family tradition of scriptwriter Dan O’Keefe, who worked on the US sitcom Seinfeld, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the theme of a Seinfeld episode. Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, comes to an end.

Book themes for Festivus: Read anything comedic; a parody, satire, etc.  Books with hilariously dysfunctional families (must be funny dysfunctional, not tragic dysfunctional).  Anything that makes you laugh (or hope it does).

Book themes for Saturnalia:  The god Saturn has a planet named after him; read any work of science fiction that takes place in space.  –OR– Read a book celebrating free speech. –OR–  A book revolving around a very large party, or ball, or festival, –OR– a book with a mask or masks on the cover.  –OR– a story where roles are reversed.

Tasks for Festivus: Post your personal list of 3 Festivus Miracles –OR– post a picture of your Festivus pole (NOTHING pornographic, please!), –OR– Perform the Airing of Grievances:  name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you – tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

Tasks for Saturnalia: Wear a mask, take a picture and post it.  Leave a small gift for someone you know anonymously – a small bit of chocolate or apple, a funny poem or joke.  Tell us about it in a post.  –OR– Tell us: If you could time-travel back to ancient Rome, where would you want to go and whom (both fictional and / or nonfictional persons) would you like to meet?

 

Square 13: December 25th

Christmas – I don’t think anyone needs an explanation of this one, but Hogswatch Night is the festival celebrating the winter solstice and the New Year across much of the Main continent and some other areas of Discworld. It falls on the 36th of December, the new year beginning on the 1st of Ick.  If this all sounds like nonsense, you’re not yet read Terry Pratchett.  What better time to give his books a try?

Book themes for Christmas:  Read a book whose protagonist is called Mary, Joseph (or Jesus, if that’s a commonly used name in your culture) or any variations of those names (e.g., Maria or Pepe).

Book themes for Hogswatch Night: Of course – read Hogfather!  Or any Discworld book (or anything by Terry Pratchett)

Tasks for Christmas:  So. many. options.  Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him.  –OR–  Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit. Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)?  If so, what did you wish for?  A teddy bear or a doll? Other toys – or practical things? And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

Tasks for Hogswatch Night:  Make your favourite sausage dish (if you’re vegan or vegetarian, use your favorite sausage or meat substitute), post and share recipe.

 

Square 14: December 25th

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti  (‘birthday of the unconquered sun’) – Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers.   Quaid-e-Azam (‘Great Leader’) Day is the Pakistan holiday celebrating their founder’s -Muhammad Ali Jinnah – birthday.

Book themes for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Celebrate the sun and read a book that has a beach or seaside setting.  –OR– a book set during summertime. –OR– set in the Southern Hemisphere.

Book themes for Quaid-e-Azam:  Pakistan became an independent nation when the British Raj ended on August 14, 1947. Read a book set in Pakistan or in any other country that attained sovereign statehood between August 14, 1947 and today (regardless in what part of the world).

Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR– Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow).  If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day.  –OR–  The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.  Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses?  As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses?

Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan’s first leader – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was a man, but both Pakistan and neighboring India were governed by women (Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi respectively) before many of the major Western countries.  Tell us: Who are the present-day or historic women that you most respect, and why?  (These can be any women of great achievement, not just political leaders.)

 

Square 15: December 25th-26th:

Newtonmas, on the 25th of December is the celebration of Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday. St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day commemorating Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  Anyone who reads any British historical fiction will be familiar with Boxing Day, but there are competing theories for the origins of the term, none definitive.  When in doubt, I say fall back on the OED, which defines it as “[…] a holiday on which post-men, errand-boys, and servants of various kinds expect to receive a Christmas-box”.

Book themes for Newtonmas:  Any science book.  Any book about alchemy.  Any book where science, astronomy, or chemistry play a significant part in the plot. (For members of the Flat Book Society: The “Forensics” November group read counts.)

Book themes for Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day: Read anything where the main character has servants (paid servants count, NOT unpaid) or is working as a servant him-/ herself.

Tasks for Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family.  –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.).  Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day: Show us your boxes of books!  –OR–  If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box.  (your dog in a box works too, if your dog likes boxes – I’m looking at you WhiskeyintheJar) – or any pet good-natured enough to pose in a box long enough for you to snap a picture.

BONUS task:  box up all the Christmas detritus, decorations, or box up that stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or donate, etc. and take a picture and post it. 

 

Square 16: December 26th-31st:

Kwanzaa honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1.  Is there any place in the world that doesn’t celebrate New Year’s Eve?  But Hogmanay is the unique Scottish take on New Years Eve and Day and might be new to many of us, as might be St. Sylvester’s Day, the feast day of Pope Sylvester I, and Watchnight, a late-night Christian church service that starts late on New Year’s Eve, and ends after midnight.

Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black.

Book themes for Hogmanay / New year’s eve / Watch night / St. Sylvester’s Day: a book about starting over, rebuilding, new beginnings, etc. –OR– Read anything set in medieval times. –OR–  A book about the papacy –OR– where miracles of any sort are performed (the unexplainable – but good – kind).

Tasks for Kwanzaa: Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

BONUS task: Create something with your stack of books:  a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.

Tasks for Hogmanay / New year’s eve / Watch night / St. Sylvester’s Day:  Make a batch of shortbread for yourself, family or friends.  Post pics and recipe. –OR– Light some sparklers (if legal) and take a picture – or have a friend take a picture of your “writing” in the sky with the sparkler. –OR– Get yourself a steak pie (any veggie/vegan substitutions are fine) and read yourself a story – but take a pic of both before you start, and post it.

MASSIVE HUGE BONUS POINTS if you post a picture of yourself walking a pig on a leash.  (Done to ensure good fortune of the coming year.)

We will be setting up threads in the Bingo group later today with the tasks, card and rules, as well as a thread to report your points.  Links to those will be announced in a seperate post.

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1613180/introducing-the-16-tasks-of-the-festive-season

Stratford-upon-Avon — Oxford — London: Shakespeare, Hogwarts and Shopping

Stratford

A Scene at the RSC Book and Gift Shop
The date: June 17, 2017. The time: Approximately 10:00AM.

TA and friend enter; TA asks for a shopping basket and makes straight for the shelves and display cases. An indeterminate amount of time is then spent browsing. Whenever her friend points out something and asks “Did you see this?”, TA silently points to the steadily growing contents of her basket.  Finally, with a sigh, TA makes for the cashier.

Shop assistant: I can see why you asked for a basket when you came in … So, do you come here often?
TA: I try to make it every 2 or 3 years.  [With a sheepish grin:]  And yes, my shopping basket does look like that pretty much every single time, I’m afraid.
TA’s friend: I can confirm that …
TA: Yeah, she’s seen my library at home.
TA’s friend: Err, I can confirm the shopping sprees as well.
Shop assistant (ringing up and bagging one item after another): Well, enjoy your, um, reading …!

Similar scenes, albeit minus the above dialogue were repeated at two of the book & gift stores of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Henley Street (WS birthplace) and Hall’s Croft (home of his daughter Judith and her husband, Dr. John Hall, a physician) — where we actually did spend a fair amount of time talking to the museum assistants, too, though, about everything from visiting Shakekspearean sites to Wimbledon tennis.

That being said, we “of course” paid our (well, my) hommage to the Bard, from Trinity Church to the two above-mentioned Shakespeare family houses (return visits all to me, though Hall’s Croft was new to my friend), and just as importantly, we had tickets for two of the current “Roman plays” season productions:

(1) Antony & Cleopatra, starring Josette Simon and Anthony Byrne in the title roles, with Andrew Woodall as Enobarbus:  One of the best productions of this particular play that I’ve ever seen.  Josette Simon alone was worth the price of admission ten times over, plus she and Byrne played off each other magnificently, and Andrew Woodall was unlike any Enobarbus I’d seen before, wonderfully highlighting the ironic subtext of his character’s lines and giving him more than a hint of a laconic note.  If you’re in England and anywhere near Stratford, run and get a ticket for this production … or if you don’t make it all the way to Warwickshire, try to catch it in London when they move the production there.

(2) Julius Caesar, starring Andrew Woodall as Caesar and James Corrigan as Marc Antony.  I liked this one, too — how can any RSC production ever be bad?! — but by far not as much as Antony and Cleopatra on the night before.  Woodall was a fine Caesar, even if actually a bit too like his Enobarbus (which I might not have found quite as obvious if I hadn’t seen both plays practically back to back, on two consecutive nights), and the cast generally did a good job, but this was clearly a “look at all our up-and-coming-talent” sort of production, with almost all of the play’s lead roles given to actors who were easily 5, if not 10 or more years younger than the parts they played, which didn’t quite work for me — these people are Roman senators and generals, for crying out loud, and for the most part the requisite gravitas simply wasn’t there (yet); even if the talent clearly was.  What a contrast to the very age-appropriate and, as I said, just all around magnificent production of Antony and Cleopatra … Still, I’m by no means sorry we went to see this, and it’s obvious even now that we’ll be seeing a lot more of these actors in years to come.

We also managed to snag last-minute tickets for a “behind the scenes” tour — I’d done one in 2014 already, but was more than happy to repeat the experience!  Now I only wish our own opera and theatre company had half the resources that the RSC has at its disposal …


  

 

       

Photos, from top left:

1. Shakespeare’s bust, above his grave in Trinity Church
2. Shakespeare’s epitaph, on his gravestone (photo from 2014, since I didn’t get a really good one this time around. N.B., the photo is actually upside down, for somewhat greater ease of reading the inscription.)
3. Trinity Church — the graves of Shakespeare and his family are located in the part to the left of the tower.
4. River Avon, with RSC Theatre and, in the background, the spire of Trinity Church
5. RSC Theatre
6. Shakespeare’s Birthplace (Henley Street)
7.Shakespeare Birthplace Trust centre, next to the actual Henley Street Birthplace building
8. Hall’s Croft, garden view
9.New Place and Guild Chapel (photo from 2014)
10. New Place gardens, looking towards RSC and Swan Theatres (also a photo from 2014 — we didn’t make it inside New Place this time around, though we did pass by there on our way from our B&B to the RSC theatre and to Henley Street and back).

Now, since Manuel Antao insisted on “the full list” — the grand total result of the above-mentioned shopping sprees, plus a brief supplementary foray into an airport W.H. Smith, was the following:

CDs:

* William Shakespeare: Antony & Cleopatra: Music and Speeches from the 2017 Royal Shakespeare Company Production


* William Shakespeare: Julius Caesar: Music and Speeches from the 2017 Royal Shakespeare Company Production


* William Shakespeare: King Lear: Music and Speeches from the 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company Production — which alas I had to miss, but it starred Antony Sher as Lear, whom I saw as Falstaff in 2014 … which in turn was just about all the reason I needed to get the audio version of his Lear, too.


*  William Shakespeare: The Tempest: Music and Speeches from the 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company Production — which I also had to miss, but I figured even if I was a year late … (plus, Simon Russell Beale as Prospero and directed — like the 2016 Lear — by Gregory Doran …?!)


*  William Shakespeare: King Richard III, full cast audio recording starring Kenneth Branagh — a long-time must-have from my TBR or, err, “to-be-listened-to” list.


The British Library, with Ben and David Crystal: Shakespeare’s original pronunciation: Speeches and scenes performed as Shakespeare would have heard them — there’s a video version of this on Youtube (I think Lora posted about it here a while back), and if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend remedying that sooner rather than later.  It gives you a whole new insight into Shakespeare’s use of language … down to lingusitic puns, allusions and images that you really only pick up on once you’ve heard what the Bard and his original audiences would have heard in the delivery of the respective lines.

 

Books:

Jackie Bennett, with photographs by Andrew Lawson: Shakespeare’s Gardens — a lavishly illustrated coffee table book-sized guide to the gardens Shakespeare knew (or might have known) both in Stratford / Warwickshire and in London, as well as on the gardens of the five Shakespeare-related houses in and around Stratford, with an introductory chapter on Tudor gardening in general.  THE find of several great finds of this trip.  (And it’s even an autographed copy … as I only discovered when I unpacked the book back home!)


Roy Strong: The Quest for Shakespeare’s Garden — similar to the above (though smaller in format) and a great complementary book, with plenty of historical illustrations and leading up to a focus on the New Place garden, which has painstakingly been restored in period style in recent years.


Delia Garratt and Tara Hamling (eds.): Shakespeare and the Stuff of Life: Treasures from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust — an illustrated guide to Shakespeare’s life and times in the style of the recently-popular “so-and-so [insert topic] in 100 objects” books, with 50 representative objects covering the key aspects of Shakespeare’s life from cradle to grave.


Peter Sillitoe & Maurice Hindle (ed.): Shakespearean London Theatres — what the title says, but with a handy walking map allowing the aficionado to trace not merely the locations of the various theatres but also get a sense of the areas where they were located … or at least, their respective modern incarnations.


Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells (eds.), with contributions by, inter alia and in addition to the editors, Graham Holderness, Charles Nicholl, Andrew Hadfield and John Jowett, and an afterword by James Shapiro: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt — a scholarly refutation of the various “alternate authorship” theories.


Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells (eds.), with contributions by, inter alia and in addition to the editors, Michael Wood, Graham Holderness, Germaine Greer and Andrew Hadfield, and an afterword by Margaret Drabble: The Shakespeare Circle — a collective biography of Shakespeare’s family, friends, business associates and patrons; a bit like Stanley Wells’s earlier Shakespeare & Co., but not merely focusing on the other key figures of Elizabethan theatre, and with individual chapters / essays designated to individual persons (or families), instead of the continuous narrative contained in Shakespeare & Co.


James Shapiro: 1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear — pretty much what the title implies; a follow-up to Shapiro’s earlier focus on Shakespeare’s life in 1599.


Frank Kermode: Shakespeare’s Language — also pretty much what the title says, with a joint examination of the pre-Globe plays’ poetic and linguistic characteristics and a play-by-play examination of the last 16 plays, beginning with Julius Caesar.


Dominic Dromgoole: Hamlet: Globe to Globe — the Globe Theatre Artistic Director’s account of their recent, 2-year-long venture of taking a production of Hamlet to (literally) every single country in the world.


Antony Sher: Year of the Fat Knight: The Falstaff Diaries — a must-read for anyone who’s been fortunate enough to see the RSC’s 2014 productions of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and still a rioting good read if you haven’t.  Plus, the most amazing sketches by Sher himself … the man is an artist several times over!


Antony Sher & Gregory Doran: Woza Shakespeare! Titus Andronicus in South Africa — not new, but it’s been on my TBR for a while and I figured while I was at it …


Sheridan Morley: John Gielgud: The Authorized Biography — comment unnecessary.


Jonathan Croall, with a prologue by Simon Callow: Gielgoodies! The Wit and Wisdom [& Gaffes] of John Gielgud — a frequently hilarious complementary read to the above bio.


Harriet Walter: Brutus and Other Heroines: Playing Shakespeare’s Roles for Womenplus, I might add, plenty of insight into Shakespearean theatre in particular and acting in general.


Harriet Walter: Other People’s Shoes: Thoughts on Acting — as the title implies, more of the above, though minus the near-exclusive focus on Shakespeare. (Instead, however, also a professional autobiography of sorts.)


Judi Dench: And Furthermore — her memoirs.  Very much looking forward to this one.


Jeanette Winterson: The Gap of Time — Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation series, The Winter’s Tale.


Anne Tyler: Vinegar Girl — Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation series, The Taming of the Shrew.


Howard Jacobson: Shylock Is My Name — Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation series, The Merchant of Venice. (I could have gone on and gotten more of those, but I figured I’d limit myself to three to begin with … 🙂 )


Ian Doescher: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope — I know, I know.  Everybody but me has already read it at this point.


Elizabeth Norton: The Lives of Tudor Women — a(nother) proximate choice, since I’ve spent so much time in their world (and that of their Plantagenet sisters / ancestors) recently, thanks in no small part to Samantha [Carpe Librum]!


Robert Harris: Imperium — Cicero trilogy, book 1.  And yes, there is a Shakespeare connection even here … think ” ’twas all Greek to me.”  (Also, as was to be expected, the RSC bookstore had Harris’s complete Roman series on their shelves as companion reads (of sorts) to their current Roman  plays season.)


Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — no Shakespeare connection here; unless Harari should be (justly) citing to Shakespeare as an exponent of human genius, that is.  Anyway, this is where the airport W.H. Smith came in handy.


Michael Connelly: The Wrong Side of Goodbye — see Harari above! 🙂


Plus a blue RSC silk scarf, a Macbeth quote T-shirt (can’t have too much of the Scottish play, ever), a First Folio canvas bag (had to get something to carry all my new treasures home in, after all), a couple of Shakespeare- and Tudor-related postcards, and of course a few more Shakespeare quote mugs and refrigerator magnets for my respective collections.

 

Oxford

On the way from London to Stratford, we’d stopped by in Oxford: This being merely an extended weekend trip, we didn’t have a lot of time, but since our last attempt to visit this half of Oxbridge had literally been drowned by floods of torrential rain (so we ended up spending virtually all the time in the Museum of Natural History), I’d promised my friend a short visit at least — all the more since I myself had actually spent a few days in Oxford in the interim with my mom. Well, with the weather cooperating this time around, we at least managed a stroll along Broad Street and down Catte Street to Radcliffe Square, then past St. Mary’s Church to “the High,” a brief climb up Carfax Tower, and finally a visit to Hogwarts, err, Christchurch College (Tom Quad, Chapel, Great Hall and all).

  

Photos, from top left:

1. View from Radcliffe Square down Catte St.: Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library to the left; Hereford College to the right.
2. View from Carfax Tower towards St. Mary’s Church, Radcliffe Camera, Hereford College, Magdalen College, and New College.
3. / 4.: Christchurch College: Tom Quad with Tom Tower (left photo) and Chapel and Great Hall (right photo).
5.: Christchurch College, Chapel.
6.: Christchurch College, Great Hall.

(We had, incidentally, also been planning for a stop in Cambridge on the return trip from Stratford, but that had to be cancelled … which is a story for another day.  Also, this will now obviously necessitate yet another joint trip to England at some point or other!)

 

London

London, where we actually started our trip, was the first scheduled “shopping spree” stop: Since we’ve both visited London repeatedly before, no mad bouts of “mandatory” sightseeing were included; rather, merely being there tends to make both of us pretty happy campers in and of itself.  Since we’ve also more or less worked out a route covering the stores that we tend to hit on a routine basis whenever we’re visiting, it took us all but five hours to complete our program, from Neal’s Yard Remedies (at the original Neal’s Yard location in Seven Dials) all the way to Fortnum & Mason’s, with various other stops thrown in on the way, chiefly among those, Whittard of Chelsea and, this time around, Crabtree & Evelyn (which we actually do have in Germany, too, but the London branches had those irresistible sales … (sigh)).  Since I knew I was going to spend a lot of money buying books in Stratford, I decided — with a somewhat heavy heart — to forego my usual Charing Cross Road stops on this occasion; though towards the end of the aforementioned five hours (1) my left knee started to give me serious trouble, and (2) we were already laden with our other purchases to such an extent that even I had to admit there would have been no way we’d be able to carry back books to our hotel on top, so I was grudgingly reconciled … though only for the moment, and with the effect of instantly resolving to return to England sooner rather than later; a resolution that has since blossomed into fully-blown plans for a longer (and solo) follow-up trip, from the England / Wales border all the way to the Norfolk coast — and in addition to plenty of sightseeing, I’ve also promised myself plenty of book store stops along the way.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1619136/16-tasks-of-the-festive-season-square-10-pancha-ganapti-and-square-12-festivus

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (performed by Patrick Stewart)

A Christmas Carol

A “Christmas Carol” for the 21st Century

Part of my annual Christmas ritual – and since this year I’m indulging by way of Patrick Stewart’s splendid audio version and the TV adaptation it inspired, here’s my review of the latter … with the added note that my comments on Stewart’s performance in the movie also apply to his reading, where he also does a splendid job getting under the skin (or whatever it is that ghosts have) of all the story’s other characters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Given the enormous potential for failure, it takes either a lot of guts or a big ego to remake a classic and step into a pair of shoes worn so well by the likes of George C. Scott and Alastair Sim — you don’t have to have grown up in an English speaking country to take those two names and their portrayal of Dickens’s miserly anti-hero for granted as part of your Christmas experience. And I suspect a good part of both guts and ego was at play in this production; but let’s face it: after years of bringing Scrooge to the stage in a much-acclaimed one man show and after also having recorded the audio book version of “A Christmas Carol,” a movie adaptation starring Patrick Stewart was probably due to come out sooner or later. Yet, while it does sometimes have the feel of another huge star vehicle for Stewart (even without the self-congratulatory trailer and brief “behind the scenes” features included on the DVD), his experience and insight into the character of Scrooge allow him to pull off a remarkable performance, and to make the role his own without letting us forget who originally wrote the tale. From a “humbug” growled out from the very depth of his disdain and his audible desire to boil “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips” with his own pudding and bury them with a stake of holly through their heart, to the “splendid” and “most illustrious … father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs,” coughed up and spit out after years of having been out of practice, this is the Scrooge that Dickens described; and Stewart obviously has the time of his life playing him.

This made-for-TV production is sometimes criticized for its use of special effects; I don’t find those overly disturbing, though — in fact, they’re rather low-key and for the most part used to show nothing more than what Dickens actually described. (This is a ghost story, remember?) Scrooge really does see Marley’s face in his door knocker; we all know that Marley’s ghost does indeed walk through Scrooge’s doubly locked door … and last but not least Dickens himself describes the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come as “shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand.” (Granted, no gleaming lights for eyes, though.) The script could have spared a modernism here and there, but again, mostly the lines are exactly those that Dickens himself wrote. Even where the characters don’t actually speak them, they are part of their reflections — such as Marley being buried and “dead as a door-nail” (which, after all, is the tale’s all-important premise) and Scrooge’s rather funny musings how the Ghost of Christmas Past might be deterred from taking him for a flight (where citing neither the weather nor the hour nor a head cold nor his inadequate dress would do). Richard E. Grant, known to TV audiences as Sir Percy Blakeney in the recent adaptations of “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” moves to the opposite end of the social spectrum in his portrayal of gaunt, downtrodden Bob Cratchit; and he is a very credible caring father and husband, albeit a bit too well-educated — unlike the rest of his family, who speak and come across as decidedly more cockney. Joel Grey, whose Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret” stands out as one of those “one of a kind” performances that are few and far between in film history, is almost perfectly cast as the Ghost of Christmas Past, combining the spirit’s wisdom of an old man with his child-like innocence, frail stature and luminous appearance. A great supporting cast and solid cinematographic and directorial work round out an overall very well done production.

Many actors are remembered either for one career-making role or for a certain type they have cast. No doubt Patrick Stewart, who as a teenager had to face an ultimatum between a steady job and the theater and chose the latter, will go into film history as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Treck’s “Next Generation.” But I would not be surprised if the other major role he will always be remembered for will be that of Ebenezer Scrooge — on stage, in audio recordings and in this movie adaptation, which successfully brings Dickens’s timeless tale of bitterness, sorrow, redemption and the true meaning of Christmas to the 21st century, and which before long, I think, will attain the status of a classic in its own right. I know that I, for one, will be watching it again with renewed pleasure next Christmas.

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The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season — Task the Eleventh: The Polar Express, Part 2: Hans Christian Andersen, “The Snow Queen”

The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Andersen,T. Pym   

– Read a classic holiday book from your childhood (to a child if you have one handy).

Alas, I didn’t have a child handy, and Holly was singularly unimpressed, so I just settled down on my couch and read Andersen’s fairy tale of love conquering eternal ice all by myself!

The story also makes for very atmospheric visuals, of course …

Russian / U.S. animated adaptation (1959 / redub 1998):

German TV (2014):

 

 

 

Original post:
http://themisathena.booklikes.com/post/1500376/the-twelve-tasks-of-the-festive-season-task-the-eleventh-the-polar-express-part-2-hans-christian-andersen-the-snow-queen

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