Thursday, January 31, 2008


This Tuesday past was looking to end in a train wreck. I arrived home in a foul, foul, foul mood, roiling and ready to take down anything and anyone in my path. An undercurrent of one particularly nasty happening peppered with several less serious but maddening happenings (por ejemplo: frigid weather, a demonic possession of Microsoft Word, and a monkey wrench boss) had made my mood thus.

But lo! upon entering the house, what did I see but a beautiful brown box addressed to little old me.

Shortly after, I was eating my humble, got-home-late-from-work-throw-something-together meal, contemplating holy toast (which would prove more holy: wheat or white?), thumbing through my Cloudspotter's Guide (the first official publication of The Cloud Appreciation Society...of which I am now a member), and looking forward to my thermochromic Silly Putty (and possible insight to answering Nacho man's question).

As I sipped hot cocoa, the foul faded away with van Gogh's ear.

Thank you, Liz (& Co). Very much. Perfect timing.
[This won't come as a surprise: the above named I hereby claim for myself. The lovely cups and saucers will be shared with my lovley.]

Sunday, January 6, 2008

panning for gold

The Atlantic published a really excellent article, "How Hollywood Saved God," on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, and the movie version of The Golden Compass.

It appears that Pullman has come to grips with what this Hollywood could do with his work, and is as satisfied as can be expected. Doesn't mean he doesn't wish for what it could have been:
I think if everything that is made explicit in the book or everything that is implied clearly in the book or everything that can be understood by a close reading of the book were present in the film, they’d have the biggest hit they’ve ever had in their lives. If they allowed the religious meaning of the book to be fully explicit, it would be a huge hit. Suddenly, they’d have letters of appreciation from people who felt this but never dared say it. They would be the heroes of liberal thought, of freedom of thought … And it would be the greatest pity if that didn’t happen.

I didn’t put that very well. What I mean is that I want this film to succeed in every possible way. And what I don’t want to do, you see, is talk the other two films out of existence. So I’ll stop there.

The truth is, the movie does heavily dilute the main thrust of Pullman's trilogy. Even so, as I've mentioned, I loved the movie. The excellent cast had a lot to do with it, but it probably had even more to do with the fact that I enjoyed the books so much and I liked what Pullman had to say.

Screenwriter and director Chris Weitz stated, "Those who will understand will understand."

I'm curious to know what those who haven't read the books will take from the movie. How much does the dilution impair the explicit, the implied, and the otherwise understood obtained from reading the books? Will glints of these be completely lost to anyone but the readers and the receptive?