Around the Common Room: January 25, 2013

Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:

Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.

Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.

In other news and commentary:

Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.

Ben Schrank posts about the fact that when he gave his Ascendio keynote speech last summer, he had never read Harry Potter. That surprise hits with the force of a Stunning spell, no? He talks of knowing how the Muggles feel, but the witches and wizards just call that “missing out.”

SF Signal has the video for “How The Hobbit should have ended.”

Viggo Mortensen–or, as he’s better known, Aragorn in the Jackson adaptations of The Lord of the Rings–has recorded an audiobook version of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s children’s classic, The Little Prince.

Director Frank Darabont gave io9 some of his thoughts on his upcoming remake of Godzilla.

In Doctor Who news, BBC America is bringing the U.S.A. some classic Doctor. And Steven Moffat is prepping a 50th Anniversary special that will include all 11 actors to play the Doctor, including the three who have passed on.

San Antonio is opening a new institution: a digital-only library. Relevantly, Mashable’s Josh Catone discusses why print books will never die.

Diane Duane has an excellent essay titled “Eating in Narnia,” which was posted in full recently at SmartPopBooks, but the link now displays only an excerpt. The essay was good enough, anyway, to suggest great things about the anthology in which it appears: Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

MentalFloss has Lovecraft’s 11 tips for novice writers. As it turns out, the great horror author did not approve the practice of verbing nouns, which is a problem for your friendly Blogengamot link-finder. Also in writing instruction: Tolkien’s 5 tips for creating complex heroes.

Ron Howard is in negotiations with Disney to direct a live-action adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

Fantasy Faction reports that the shortlists have been announced for the Kitschies, an award created to honor the uniquely “progressive, intelligent, and entertaining” in speculative fiction. Here’s The Kitschies’ page.

YA fantasy writer Shannon Hale, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, and screenplay writer Jerusha Hess–who is half of the husband-wife team who made Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Librerecently teamed up to make a movie out of Hale’s Austenland, a humorous novel about a young Mr. Darcy fan who goes to a private Austen-themed resort in England. The film reportedly did very well at the Sundance festival, and was just picked up by Sony for nationwide theater distribution later this year. Yours truly is so going to see this movie.

New Zealander Wynand Mullins was recently asked to change his T-shirt before getting on a plane–because it read “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

In ordered lists: forget the video game versions–Flavorwire has tracked down 10 literary board games for book nerds, SFX has 20 of the greatest pets in sci-fi and fantasy, and blogger Steve Alia has listed his top 10 science fiction movies.

Finally, in the fun, cute, and/or hilarious: Monster Chairs by Jason Goh, Not Always Romantic on magic rings, a puppy gets frightened by a Godzilla toy, the Star Wars cantina song has now been covered by an accordionist, and over at The Onion, a mass market paperback copy of The Scarlet Letter complains (with some adult language) about the notes a high schooler is writing in its margins.

9 thoughts on “Around the Common Room: January 25, 2013

  1. So have you gotten a copy of the Jane Austen Board Game yet, Jenna, or did you already have one? 🙂

    The Dune one looks pretty interesting to me….

    And I can’t believe that guy was asked to change his tee shirt. How could the airline patrons not recognize a classic line from The Princess Bride?? Perhaps that would have been a good flight to play the movie on–any flight, come to think of it, would be a good flight to watch The Princess Bride for the 124th time!

  2. 20 of the greatest pets in SF and fantasy and no Vincent from Lost?? That’s a serious omission, yet we have every pet from HP, no matter how limited the role.

    Rolling my eyes over the Inigo Montoya shirt.

  3. Thanks for mentioning our read-along!

    Through the Wardrobe looks great. I hadn’t heard of it before (and I can’t say any of the contributors are my favorite author because, uh, I don’t know who they are), but the essay topics sound quite interesting!

    I haven’t read Austenland, but I love Shannon Hale! I would go see the movie!

  4. That was the first time I’d heard of it, cbiondi! I’m not much of a board game player, but that one made me drool a little. 😉

    As for the guy with the Inigo Montoya shirt, I love it that the person next to him was laughing when he got asked to change it. EVERYONE knows where that line is from.

    Arabella, I didn’t even think they did a good job picking from HP. I’m all a fan of Hedwig and Crookshanks, but they didn’t have FAWKES. I mean, COME ON.

    (Caps lock = the new italics. I’m tired of the line breaks… :P)

    Briana, I’m excited about your read-along! And I had similar thoughts about Through the Wardrobe. It looks fascinating.

    Virtual high-five from a fellow Shannon Hale fan!

  5. Thanks for the links!
    Some of those board games look good. There was a Starship Troopers boardgame made in the 70’s that’s now highly desirable:
    I haven’t played it but it looks good.

    I have the Iron Crown Enterprises game- The Lonely Mountain based on The Hobbit… loosly. A long game but fun.

    The guy with the Inigo Mantoya shirts should have said: You keep looking at my shirt, I don’t think it means what you think it means…

  6. Re: Lovecraft, Jenna said, “…the great horror author did not approve the practice of verbing nouns, which is a problem for your friendly Blogengamot link-finder.”

    Strangely enough it’s also a tendency of many pastors in my church body who studied under particular professors at seminary.

    The C.S. Lewis read-along looks great! As anyone around here should know, I’m a Lewis devotee & usually am in the process of always reading one of his works. I’ll look forward to Pages Unbound posts in February. Already got their blog feed in my Google Reader. 🙂

  7. Lovecraft verbed nouns all the time didn’t he? “The gibbous moon hung low over the batrachian and eldritch residents of squamous Dulwich.”

    Or something like that.

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