Friday, August 7, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

I've got enough unread books sitting my bedroom to choke a Kindle (which, by the way, those Kindles just seem kind of unnecessary to me). But I digress...

A few weeks ago, I was over at a friend's house when I spotted a book that I NEEDED to borrow: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. I haven't read the original version of Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813. My reading tastes tend to run modern day. But I enjoy a good zombie movie...why wouldn't a zombie book be as interesting?

It was published earlier this year. "The story follows the plot of Pride and Prejudice, but places the novel in an alternative universe version of 19th century England where zombies roam the countryside. The undead are generally viewed as a troublesome nuisance, albeit a deadly one, and their presence often affects the plot of the story in subtle ways — messages between houses are sometimes lost when the couriers are captured and eaten; characters openly discuss and judge the zombie-fighting abilities of others; women weigh the pros and cons of carrying a musket (it provides safety, but is considered "unladylike")." It seems that women that are skilled in the ways of killing zombies are expected to give up that once they are married. Elizabeth and her sisters were also smart enough to keep knives hidden in their boots as well.

The most interesting relationships in this version are between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins and his wide, Charlotte (a friend of Elizabeth's). Mr. Collins, a pastor, was the cousin of Mr. Bennet (Elizabeth's father). (For reasons I just didn't understand, upon Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins would inherit their house. Mrs. Bennet and their daughters would not.) Mr. Collins works for Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a woman known far and wide for her ability to kill "unmentionables."

"Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant to choose one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report" (pg. 56). So after Mr. Collins decides it was Elizabeth he wanted to marry, she turns him down. He later set his sights on Charlotte.

But somewhere between his intentions for Elizabeth and then Charlotte, Charlotte was attacked by the unmentionables. Not enough to kill her outright, but she knew she had only months left before she was done for. In those months, Charlotte hoped she could have a good Christian marriage, and then a good Christian beheading and burial by her new husband. She assumed Mr. Collins would be able to see the transformation as time went on and would be able to spare her the worst of it.

But amazingly enough, Mr. Collins doesn't seem to see that his new wife is slowly dying: she's covered in sores, stutters and stammers, drools and staggers. In fact, no one seems to see this. "It had been months since she had seen Charlotte, and kind months they had not been, for her friend's skin was now quite gray and marked with sores and her speech was appallingly laboured. That none of the others noticed this, Elizabeth attributed to their stupidity--particularly Mr. Collins, who apparently had no idea that his wife was three-quarters dead" (page 120). There were some discussion questions at the end of the book, and one of them was about Charlotte's transformation.

"Is Mr. Collins merely too fat and stupid to notice his wife's gradual transformation into a zombie, or could there be another explanation for his failure to acknowledge the problem? If so, what might that explanation be? How might his occupation (as a pastor) relate to his denial of the obvious..." (pg. 318).

My personal take on this is that his work as a pastor and for Lady Catherine just made him oblivious to Charlotte. She was his second choice for a wife anyway. Remember: "Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry." Mr. Collins was just so preoccupied with his work, and it was easier to just not care.

I briefly read an online review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where the reviewer suggested a modified version of The Sound of Music, with zombies and ninjas. That would RAWK!

Quirk Publishers also "updated" another Jane Austen book: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Ode to craigslist

How do I love thee, craigslist...let me count the ways.

You've got to love craigslist, as long as you can take the Rants and Raves section with a grain of salt. According to Wikipedia, craigslist started in 1995 by Craig Newmark, "as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four each in 2001 and 2002, and 14 in 2003. As of April 2009, craigslist has established itself in approximately 570 cities in 50 countries...Having observed people helping one another in friendly, social and trusting communal ways on the Internet, the WELL, and Usenet, and feeling isolated as a relative newcomer to San Francisco, craigslist founder Craig Newmark decided to create something similar for local events."

My reason for loving craigslist? Well, I like to lurk around in the various forums. I had been looking through the free and furniture for sale sections for an art deco dresser or wardrobe for our second bedroom. Yeah, I know it's a little crazy, like I'm going to find a decent art deco dresser for free. But last year, someone up in Williamsburg had given one away because they no longer had room for it, and I missed out on it.

Last Monday, I got lucky. Someone was selling a wardrobe for a whopping $25. I jumped on that ad like a monkey on a cupcake. We traded a few emails and arranged to meet on Tuesday afternoon. It was in pretty good shape, as it just needed a good cleaning inside and out. For that price and some elbow grease, what a deal!

I'm not necessarily into antiques or even art deco furniture. I just wanted a dresser or wardrobe to help organize our second bedroom, and because it would match the vanity I have in there. The reason I bought the vanity (at Bill's Big Flea out in Va Beach, a couple years before it caught on fire) was because my grandma had an art deco bedroom set and I always liked sitting at her vanity.

Thank God for the Blazer my husband bought us. I practically giggled like an idiot on the way home from the storage place we had met, my new found, long sought after prize bouncing in the Blazer with every bump in the road. It's already sitting in the bedroom, having already gotten a thorough cleaning inside and out with Windex and two coats of wood conditioner. Tomorrow, I'll rub some Old English Scratch cover all over it, just to brighten the color a little bit.

So the wardrobe is way #1 that I love craigslist. Way #2 would be because I posted a small particle board dresser today under furniture for sale for $10. It's already been picked up and taken to a new home. I'm even waiting for someone to contact me about the second small dresser. That wardrobe has so much room in it, that I'm able to get rid of those two little dressers. I could have donated them to a thrift store, I suppose, and gotten more for tax credit on them than $10 a piece, but I figured why not try to sell them?

According to Yahoo! Education, art deco is a, "...term that designates a style of design popular during the 1920s and 30s. Coined in the 1960s, the name derives from the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, where the style reached its apex. Art deco is characterized by long, thin forms, curving surfaces, and geometric patterning. The practitioners of the style attempted to describe the sleekness they thought expressive of the machine age. The style influenced all aspects of art and architecture, as well as the decorative, graphic, and industrial arts. Works executed in the art deco style range from skyscrapers and ocean liners to toasters and jewelry. Since the 1970s the style has undergone a resurgence of popularity." Basically, art deco furniture in good shape is hard to find anymore.

I even checked eBay tonight to see what kind of wardrobes were being sold there and for how much. There weren't any that looked too similar to mine. There weren't any more listed in craigslist either. I feel like I got such a steal! By the way, if you do look for art deco furniture on craigslist, you may find the vanities listed more often. I think people don't realize what they have and just see it as old furniture that will take too much work to clean up themselves. The vanities are often listed as dressers because they have 4-6 drawers in them. Happy hunting!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rest in Peace, Capt. Michael Speicher

When I read the remains of U.S. Navy Capt. Michael "Scott" Speicher had been found and identified, it broke my heart a little bit. I had been following his story, his disappearance and the search for him for years. I always felt a glimmer of hope that he would be found somewhere in Iraq, alive, and he'd be able to come back to his family. I felt that faith as strongly as I believed Christopher Reeve would walk again someday. But I'm going to go off on a tangent here if I'm not careful.

So it really did make me very sad to read, "The announcement early Sunday of the discovery of Speicher's remains ends more than 18 years of speculation about whether Speicher may have survived the crash and been held captive, or died in captivity in the ensuing years."

I remember reading years ago that Capt. Speicher's initials were found, scribbled or carved into a wall somewhere in Iraq. I don't remember where it was anymore, and there was no idea as to if they were written by Capt. Speicher or how old they were. It was just fuel to the fire that he might have still been alive.

"'The news that Captain Speicher's remains have been recovered is a reminder of the selfless service that led him to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,' President Obama said in a statement."

He was originally listed as "Killed-in-Action/Body-Not-Recovered" in May 1991. That status changed in 2001 to "Missing in Action," and then to "Missing/Captured" in 2002, based on sighting reports in Iraq. Those sightings have since been discredited. For now, at the very least, Capt. Speicher's remains can be brought home and properly laid to rest. My thoughts go out to his family.

I just hope that someone out there doesn't decide to make a movie about Capt. Speicher right away. Let this settle for the time being. And if a movie is made, I hope the family feels alright about it. In 2003, Amy Waters Yarsinske wrote a book called, No One Left Behind: The LT. Comdr. Michael Scott Speicher Story. I hope any film made about Capt. Speicher, mis mission and the search for him can be done with respect.