All sorts of bookish adventures!

Back to School…Back to School…To Prove to Daddy that I’m Not a Fool…

Sorry that I’ve been absent for a bit! It was the first week of school this week, and as I’m starting the year with a new grade level, it was a bit of work! But, I’ve been planning some cool stuff!

If anyone’s interested in education and stuff, I’ve decided that my classes will be reading The Hunger Games this semester for our class novel. Then…this is the cool part…since my class will have IPads, and there’s a cool Facebook-style education app called EdModo…I’m going to turn my class into a Role-Playing Game! We’re going to be playing the Hunger Games in my class! It will be part creative-writing assignment and part motivational tool. Each student will be “reaped” with some ending up as one of the 24 tributes, and the rest will be in the Capitol designing and running the “Games”. It’s going to be awesome as each of the students competes against each other for XP (which can be earned via post-writing, grades, citizenship, participation, and creativity) and to be the last surviving tribute. Tributes will “die” via Capitol vote. And each student will have to write a weekly post–either describing their week as a tribute in the arena, or as a reporter summarizing the previous week’s events in the arena. It’s going to be SO COOL!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to, along with planning curriculum and stuff.

Hopefully, this weekend I’ll have time to read and write, and the upcoming week will be easier. In the meantime, I hope everyone’s doing well, and I’ll be back soon!

Inspired Adventures: The Return of the King and LARPing

This is a weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles adventures I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

As many of you know, a major portion of this summer’s reading has been centered on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I read these books along with SJ and the gang in participation of Putting the Blog in Balrog readalong. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and PtBiB concluded this last Friday with our final drinkalong to Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King. I was sad to say goodbye to this project, but at least I got in one last huzzah–an adventure inspired by “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” from Tolkien’s The Return of the King.

TThe Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Ringshe third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure THE LORD OF THE RINGS

The armies of the Dark Lord are massing as his evil shadow spreads even wider. Men, Dwarves, Elves and Ents unite forces to do battle against the Dark. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam struggle further into Mordor in their heroic quest to destroy the One Ring.

The devastating conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, begun in the The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers.

On Sunday afternoon, I took to San Diego’s Morley Field to witness a different kind of field battle –Live Action Role Players (LARPers) taking part in the Battle of Morley Field!

Admittedly, I didn’t just go to Morley Field to relive my favorite scenes from The Return of the King. I have heard about the Morley Field LARPers all year from my friends and husband and have been dying to watch. I just needed a reason.

LARPers at Comic-Con

The Knights of Terre Neuve at Comic-Con

I have been a little obsessed with LARPing ever since I first saw the battling knights on the mezzanine terrace at Comic-Con five years ago. There is nothing better than taking a much needed snack break outside of the convention center, resting one’s tired feet, to the sounds of battle. Sword hitting shield. It’s awesome.

Darkon LARPing documentary

Then, I came across the wonderful documentary Darkon, which profiles a group of LARPers who participate in the massive LARPing game Darkon. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it. Finally, I have been anticipating the release of the movie Knights of Badassdom, which stars Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse of True Blood), Summer Glau (of Firefly) and ….wait for it….PETER DINKLAGE (Tyrion, duh) as LARPers who have to fight demonic forces. Actually, check out the trailer (I just re-watched it). THERE ARE A TON OF AWESOME FOLKS IN THIS MOVIE! WHEN IS IT COMING OUT? I WANT MY DINKLAGE!!!(I think it was supposed to come out last year, but still hasn’t!). Here’s the trailer I saw at Comic-Con ’11:

Ok, back on task. As you can see, this Inspired Adventure was a win-win for me. So, I set off to Morley Field around 2 pm on Sunday, excited to get a LARPing fix.

As soon as I first took my seat under a shady tree, I started picking up on the rules of the game and the characters involved. Apparently, there were two teams: Team Carl and Team Pokey (?), comprised of a rag tag bunch of players in full gear and players in street clothes. All bore either a two-handed foam weapon or a one-handed weapon with a shield. Also, all were men. Once the game started, the dudes would attack, balls to the wall, scrapping against each other with their foam weapons. Ahhh the sounds of battle:

“Are you dead?”

“I died a while ago.”

Across the field: “Is Elias dead?”

“I said, I died a while ago!”

Apparently, when one fighter receives a mortal wound (presumably a hit to the head, back, or chest), they drop to a knee, count slowly to five, and then it’s game on again. Extra lives, just like in Zelda!

LARPing

“Hit harder!” Exile is on the right…

One fighter stood out, a cocky dude with a two-handed weapon, called “Exile”. He was barefoot, wearing some sort of drapey, homemade pants, and he clearly loved to battle and enjoyed an audience. In fighting with the newbs (the guys in street clothes), he would command, in obvious irritation, “Hit harder!”. There was never any question when he was out of the fight, because he would yell out “Exile’s dead!”. Thus, why I knew his name.

I think Exile was the Boromir of the crew.

After this somewhat disorganized melee, the group took a short water break, and then the real battle began.

All of the fighters took to the field and then split into two groups: the experienced and the inexperienced. It was now time for real battle! I imagined the Pelennor Fields…

LARPing

The Southrons

versus

LARPThe Northmen

Great was the clash of their meeting…

But, the white fury of the Northmen burned the hotter, and more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter. Fewer were they but they clove through the Southrons like a fire-bolt in the forest.

And behold! There were two Eowyns amongst the ranks of Northern men:

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn. I am, Eomund’s daughter.”

And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields of the Pelennor; and the din of arms rose upon high, with the crying of men and the neighing of horses.

And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was over; and not one living foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas. All were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the River.

And now, it was the fighters’ water break, and I decided to depart (I felt a little shy watching them and taking pictures. Plus, I was almost hit by a thrown spear). So, I returned to the car. As I walked, I thought about how much fun those LARPers were having…and how much exercise they were getting. It seems to me that LARPing is a way better form of recreation than hitting the gym! I think these guys are onto something…

Once I got to the car, I got one more LoTR fantasy: my own personal Legolas:

Jesse practicing his archery.

Sigh.

BOOK REVIEW: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon Outlander

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

• Paperback: 752 pages

• Publisher: Delta, 2001 (first published 1992)

• ISBN: 0385335970

• Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Science Fiction

• Recommended For: Anyone interested in history, particularly Scottish/British history; anyone interested in a good love story.

Quick Review: Earns an 88 %, or 4.4 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Dragonfly in Amber Rubric

Overall, I definitely recommend this series to readers interested in romance and history. I definitely enjoyed it, and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Voyager.

How I Got Here: I read the first book of the Gabaldon’s series, Outlander, last fall, and was ready to continue the story of Jaime and Claire.

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander….

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones … about a love that transcends the boundaries of time … and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart … in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising … and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….

My Analysis and Critique:

I have to say, I think I prefer Dragonfly in Amber over Outlander, the first in Gabaldon’s romantic, time-traveling, highlander historical fiction series. I think it offered more in the way of pulling me in.

Dragonfly in Amber begins with our heroine Claire Randall/Fraser in 1968, telling her time-travelling story to her daughter Brianna and their friend Roger Wakefield. Claire’s story begins right where Outlander left off, and right away, the reader knows that it will end with the death of Claire’s beloved Jamie. The story travels from Claire and Jamie’s time in France in the court of Louis XV, to the Fraser lands of Lallybroch, to the battles of the Jacobite Uprising all over Scotland. The reader learns a lot of history, sees a lot of Scotland, and meets a lot of characters. A LOT of characters.

Which is one of the only gripes I have with this book. While all of the characters that Gabaldon writes are very true and realistic, there are just SO MANY. I had trouble telling the difference between many of them and discerning which were truly important and which weren’t. Sometimes, I found that I wasn’t really paying attention to parts of the plot because I didn’t know that it and the characters involved were really important. It was just SO MUCH. Yet, I have a sinking feeling that, like with my readings of George R.R. Martin, my lack of attention to certain characters and scenes might come back to haunt me when they reappear in later books. And, I WILL be reading the later books, as I really do care about the main characters.

I REALLY care for the romance of Jamie and Claire. Sure, Jaime is very swoon-worthy with his long red hair and exclamations of “You are mine!”, but what I think really gets me, and why I think I prefer this book over the first book in the series, is the reality of their relationship. Unlike Outlander, this book is not full of bodice-ripping passion and romps in the woods. Well, there is some of that, but mainly this book conveys the deep sense of companionship between Jaime and Claire. They are a true married couple, very much in love and very much devoted to each other, and they love and fight like any true couple. Theirs is a comfortable relationship (well as comfortable as it can be, considering they’re in the midst of a rebellion), and I relished the scenes of quiet strength in their relationship. They might be my favorite literary couple of all time just for being so very real.

In addition, I am very grateful to this book for stirring my interest in Scottish and English history. Countless times during my reading, I took to Google to do a bit of research on James II, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Scottish Clans, and the court of Louis XV. Anytime a book pushes me to learn, I am pretty stoked. So, major bonus points to Gabaldon for the history lesson!

Overall, I do highly recommend this series to readers interested in romance and history. I definitely enjoyed it, and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Voyager.

Links:

Goodreads Reviews

Hey Nineteen

So, even though I said I wouldn’t post about any of my Stephen King reading this week, I can’t help it.

As the Tower-ite’s beloved Jake Chambers puts it: I’ve completely lost my shit and am going nineteen over Stephen King, The Dark Tower, and the whole friggin’ SK Universe. Derry, Castle Rock, Juniper Hill, Shawshank, Midworld, Endworld, ALL OF IT!

And that’s all I’m going to say about that! For now…

Life, the Universe, and Everything…

Life, the Universe, and Everything Hitchhiker's Guide Douglas AdamsWhat is the answer to life, the universe, and everything? More importantly, what is the actual question regarding life, the universe, and everything?

This issue may or may not have been resolved at the end of my reading of yesterday’s The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Today, I pick up where I left off with book 3 of The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, with the aptly-named Life, the Universe, and Everything.

The thing I love about these books is that Douglas Adams takes the deepest philosophical, existential questions of time out of mind, the “What’s the point of it all?”, the “What’s the meaning of life?”, the “What happens when we die?” questions…and laughs at them. The answers to these questions in Adams’ series are nearly all ridiculous and absurd, and probably correct. Adams was an amazing writer, and his books are truly essential classics.

So, for today’s reading, I’m going to share a clip from the BBC TV series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from 1981. I really need to see if this series is available on Netflix, as it looks perfect! This scene depicts the receiving of the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Enjoy!

Today’s Reading: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyToday, in honor of my reading of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, I have posted my review of the first book in the series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read the book in April, so I can’t believe that I never got around to posting a review. I absolutely loved it!

So, check out my review as I read the next book in the series!

(By the way, my full-time reading is going excellently! I finished Dragonfly in Amber yesterday and got a quarter of the way through the amazing Song of Susannah!)

BOOK REVIEW: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

• Paperback: 216 pages

• Publisher: Pocket, 1991 (first published in 1979)

• ISBN: 0671746065

• Genre: Science Fiction/Humor/Classics

• Recommended For: Anyone who has even the slightest sense of silly humor.

Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.8 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Rubric

This review might work for you, it might not. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and, assumedly, the rest of the books in the series) is a book you either get or you don’t. I got it, absolutely, 5-star-loved it, and it seems that the majority of other Goodreads readers got it and loved it as well. But, be warned, this is an insane, very silly book in the way of Monty Python. I highly recommend it.

How I Got Here: One of the first computer games that my dad ever bought me was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a text-based game with zero graphics. The content of the game came straight from the novel, and I absolutely loved it (although it was a really hard game for someone who had never read the book). I loved the zaniness, the humor, and the characters. I bought the book for my husband some years ago, he loved it, and for some reason, I still hadn’t read it until this year. 22 years later after playing the game! By the way, apparently the video game is now available online! Check it out here!

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

My Analysis and Critique:

This review might be biased. Biased in the way that I LOVE silly humor, especially silly English humor, and this book is chock-full of it. I also love science fiction, so this book was a match made in heaven for me. With that said, if you don’t dig silly English humor, you might not like this book. Although, I still find that hard to believe.

I love the plot of the story, full of all of its twists and turns and lunacy. I love the characters, both major, but especially minor. The humorous tone is awesome and I rarely read without a smile or an out and out “HA!” exclamation. The science fiction in the novel is equally good, and there were moments when I read about devices thinking that’s just like an I-pod! or The Hitchhiker’s Guide is an E-Reader!. This is one of my favorite aspects of science fiction, the amazing ability of science fiction writers to imagine up the actual future. It happens in Bradbury and Orwell, and it turns out that Adams had the same uncanny ability.

Really, all there is to say, is that I loved this book. Instead of going on in my praise, I’ll just provide the opening lines of the book, which truly reflect the spirit and tone of the novel. If you are intrigued and amused by this excerpt, chances are you’ll love what the rest of the novel offers.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

[….]

And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had gone wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost for ever.

This is not her story.

Links:

Goodreads Reviews