Movies & TV

I’ve had a subscription to National Geographic magazine since 2012, and after two years I continue to love it. I’m also completely in love with “COSMOS: A Spacetime Oddesy” the new Fox/National Geographic show about the world and how it got here. What I enjoy most about both the magazine and the TV show is how accessible and exciting they make science, which can often be a dry topic.

Take this introduction from the March 2014 feature article in my Nat Geo magazine:

But this is nothing compared with the death throes of a star some 20 times the mass of the sun. Detonate a Hiroshima-like bomb every millisecond for the entire life of the universe, and you would still fall short of the energy released in the final moments of a giant-star collapse. The star’s core plunges inward. Temperatures reach 100 billion degrees. The crushing force of gravity is unstopable. Hunks of iron bigger than Mount Everest are compacted almost instantly into grains of sand. Atoms are shattered into electrons, protons, neutrons. Those minute pieces are pulped into quarks and leptons and gluons. And so on, tinier and tinier, denser and denser, until…

Until no one knows….The star has become a black hole.”

(Finkel, Michael. “Star Eater.” National Geographic March 2014: 99. Print).

This bit of writing about basic star science makes me excited. It makes me want to share this amazing end-of-star-life description with everyone (truth: I made my husband read this article as soon as I finished it). It makes me feel small and frail. It makes me want to learn, and study, and understand everything about a star’s death.

To me, this is exactly what scientific articles aimed at the general public are supposed to do–inspire people to learn more, to get involved. It’s also how I feel after “COSMOS” each Sunday night, which is why I think the show has been so popular. It takes huge complicated scientific theories and makes them real.

Are you a fan of National Geographic or any other popular science publications? Are you as excited as I am for the third episode of “COSMOS” tonight?

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game

I first read Ender’s Game when I was 14 years old, and I’ve written before about the strong impact of the book on me and many other young readers. Even Orson Scott Card has acknowledge the incredible way young people connect with the underdog story of Ender Wiggen: “They didn’t love Ender, or pity Ender (a frequent  adult response); they were Ender, all of them. Ender’s experience was not foreign or strange to them; in their minds, Ender’s life was echoed in their own lives. The truth of the story was not truth in general, but their truth.”

The strong connection I have to this story makes it even harder to understand how the man who wrote the character of Ender is also the same man who hates and actively campaigns against gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. The Ender I fell in love with at 14 would never have supported such action, and it’s that Ender I want to support when the movie comes out this weekend.

But how can I willingly buy a ticket, knowing some of my money will go directly to Orson Scott Card? He absolutely has every right to his political and religious beliefs, just like I have a right to my own beliefs. But part of my belief system includes not supporting people or organizations I think are actively harming society, so giving Card money makes me squirm.

Of course nothing says he will use the money made from this film to support his political causes…but nothing says he won’t do it just to spite all his angry fans either.

But I want to support the movie to show the entertainment industry that a story like this–one that features smart characters, serious moral topics, and no unnecessary uber-sexy women who add nothing to the plot–can be well received. Not every person involved with this movie agrees with Card’s views, and my aim is not to punish them because I’m upset with one man. I love science fiction, and I want there to be more sci-fi movies.

Sites like Skip Ender’s Game make a compelling argument for why it’s important to boycott the movie, and I agree with what they say. But my inner 14-year-old fan girl wants to relive the joy of first discovering Ender Wiggin and realizing that I wasn’t a freak. Maybe the movie will suck, and I won’t even want to go see if after the initial reviews come out this weekend.

Or maybe it will be as good as I hope, and I’ve got to choose between one of my favorite books and a cause I cannot let my money support.


So we went to see the movie, and I did not like it. At all. They kept to Ender’s basic story line fairly well, but changed so many other characters. Bean was there from the beginning, and Valentine and Peter’s entire story of world domination was cut! And because the movie didn’t have a narrator, the only insight we got into Ender’s mind was from super sappy emails he wrote Valentine. The special effects were amazing, and I like most of the casting decisions they made….but there was none of the emotion and moral debate that made the book so wonderful. The movie also felt extremely rushed–I would have gladly sat through a three hour movie, if it meant the movie would be better and they didn’t have to cut as much material. Oh well, at least my husband and I got a nice date night out of it?

Quick moving update: finally got wireless internet so I don’t have to sit on the floor to be plugged into the modem. Books are still just thrown on shelves instead of organized so no pictures yet (that’s my project for next weekend, this weekend’s project was wireless internet, hooking up the television and my video games). But really, there are more important things to talk about than why moving has so completely upset my reading and blogging schedule.

A Dance With Dragons is finally out! I haven’t actually read it yet because I’m in the middle of a different book, but I’ve been waiting 3 years for Martin to release this book (yes, I came into this series late). He’s promised that it will actually deal with my favorite character, Jon Snow, so maybe this one won’t end up hurled at a wall like A Feast For Crows may have… Any of you read the book yet? Am I the only one that went out and bought it on the day it was released but haven’t started it yet? Funny story, the Border’s I bought it at is huge and the check out line was really long, but half of the people in it were buying A Dance With Dragons (and some of them were buying the entire series) and my first thought was “Wow, I wonder how many books he’ll sell in a day if every bookstore is like this?” and then the next day Martin announced on his blog that “Dance had the highest first day sales totals of any work of fiction released this year. Not just SF or fantasy, but all categories of fiction.”

And in other bookishly wonderful news, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two is out! Again, with the moving and being busy thing, I haven’t actually seen it yet. But I’m pretty excited. Most of the reviews say it’s good (hard to be worse than Part One), and friends who love the series have told me it’s a fitting end to the movies. Have you seen it yet? Was anyone lucky/crazy enough to go to the midnight premier? Did you dress up? I’ve always wanted to go to a HP movie premier dressed up, but my love of sleep and dislike of crowds always won out.

That’s it for today. I’m going to vaguely promise to blog more now that I will have more time to read and write, as long as you all promise to share your thoughts with me. Have you read A Dance With Dragons yet? Have you seen the Harry Potter movie? Do you have any other exciting book news?

The other weekend, I had a chance to see the musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of OZ in Eugene with a friend. Wicked has been on my “must see” list for a few years now, and I’d actually missed seeing it three times because of scheduling issues–it was in Boston and I was home, or it was in Portland and I was in Boston.

Wicked is a musical based on the book by Gregory Maguire. It tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and how she came to be so wicked (hint–it wasn’t her fault). I first read L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ series in grade school, and enjoyed it much more than the Wizard of OZ movie. I read Wicked in the summer between high school and college, and while Maguire’s writing style was a struggle for me to get into, I love the idea of the story. So when I heard it was also a musical, I knew I would see the show someday.

Wicked the musical takes all the best parts of the book and puts it to great music (confession: I listened to the soundtrack every day for a week or two leading up to the show, and still listen to daily more than a week later). The costumes, lights, and music were amazing–I was completely enthralled the entire show. All the actors were spot-on, and my favorite song (No Good Deed) was beautifully done. For anyone who read the book and liked the story itself better than the writing, I would highly recommend seeing the musical.

Has anyone else seen the show, either on Broadway or on tour? I loved it, but would also love to hear your opinions. Did you think it followed the book well? Would you see it again, or recommend it to others? Do you like seeing books turned into shows? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m a bit late to the Game of Thrones thing as I don’t have HBO at my house, but I finally borrowed someone’s HBO On Demand this weekend to watch the first two episodes. And I loved it!

The HBO mini-series Game of Thrones is based on the first book in George RR Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice. There are four books in the series, and after only a two episodes HBO has agreed to a second season to cover the second book. Which is great and all, but honestly I would rather have a completed series than a cool show!

I read the books over two years ago when I was still in school, so I can’t tell you how closely the show has followed the book so far because I don’t perfectly remember them. But I think all the casting is spot-on, the costumes and scenery are beautiful, and the dire wolf puppies are adorable. Many of the negative reviews I’ve read online take great issue with the numerous sex scenes and not-at-all-subtle political themes, but anyone who has read the books knows that HBO did not add that stuff. Because of the previously mentioned lack of HBO I have not watched many of their shows, but so far I’m extremely impressed with their work.

So for those of you who have watched the show, what do you think? Does it accurately portray the books? Do you prefer the books or the show? Do you like the cast as much as I do? Please, share your thoughts in the comments!