Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Book Signing

Two posts in one day? Super gasp, right? Well, whatever. I'm in the mood to write.

Last night I went to a book signing for the new Fablehaven book with my younger brother Jonathan. My parents would've taken him, only they were at a caucus (darn voters), so I left the house at about 6 and headed to Cottonwood High School.

I've never read Fablehaven. I've been up to my very attractive nostrils with all sorts of reading; The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Walden, Dancing Wu Li Masters, and The Tao of Physics. Not to mention the fact that it wasn't exactly at the top of my "To Read" list. So I was more than a little bewildered at all the inside jokes the Fablehaveners made during the night. The faeries were selling milk; the author was hidden by Shannon Hale (whose books I have read and enjoyed thoroughly) in knapsack; and there were all sorts of sphinxes and stuff all over the stage.

My expression most of the night was like: Whaaaa?

But Jonathan was really excited. He's been reading the series for a while now and all he could talk about was meeting Brandon Mull (the author) live and in person. I was glad I could help him with his wish; my all-time favorite authors are dead.

So after Mull got released from the knapsack (uhhhh...I still don't know what that was all about), he emerged in a flash of pyrotechnics and fake fog with heroic music playing in the background.

All I could imagine was Louisa May Alcott or Jane Austen getting the same reception. And I laughed.

Anyway, I was just about to start thinking that this guy was a total Stephanie Meyer-style poser when he started talking about one of his fans with cystic fibrosis. Not only did he tell him what would happen in the last book a few months ago, he gave him an advanced copy. The kid was doing so well that he flew out from Texas to the launch and Mull called him up to the stage to make him an honorary Knight of the Dawn.

Yeah, I pretty much started crying. (I also cried the whole time while watching Up.) It was a beautiful moment.

And then the program ended and people could get their books signed. They gave people letters from A to Z with about 100 people to a letter. The signing started at 8; by 9 they were only at H.

Jonathan and I had U.

I wanted to die.

Jonathan was happy because he had the new book to read; I finished The Island of Dr. Moreau at about 8:30 and my phone died so I couldn't text anyone.

Luckily, a few kids who go to Paradigm were there and they let us get in their O group. Jonathan was excited to have people to talk about the book with, and I was happy because I wouldn't be bored out of my skull til midnight.

It was about 10:25 by the time we got to see Brandon Mull and, unfortunately, there wasn't enough time allotted to get his signature personalized. But he still smiled at Jonathan, gave him a high five (Jonathan has since refused to wash his right hand), and was an all around good-natured guy.

So while meeting Victor Hugo or H.G. Wells is kind of out of the question for me, my little brother got to meet his favorite author live and in person.

Worth four hours of my life?

Yeah. Yeah it was.


I love period pieces, especially ones based on my favorite books, I was watching the new 2009 BBC version of Emma last weekend (the one with Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller) and was reminded again why I love the British acting pool.

First, I absolutely love the Jane Austen-Agatha Christie crossovers. In the '96 version of Emma, Mrs. Elton-one of the most obnoxious, detestable characters in all of literary history- is played by Juliet Stevenson. Later in '07 she plays Gwenda in Christie's Ordeal by Innocence. She did such a good job as the nasty, moronic Mrs. Elton that my reaction when she was stabbed in the base of the skull was as follows:

Mrs.Elton/Gwenda: *is stabbed by the murderer*
Me: Woo hoo! I've been wanting to do that for five years! Oh, wait. She's the good guy this time...shoot. I still don't mind.

I'm fairly certain that my reaction would've been different had Juliet not played Mrs. Elton.

Funnily enough, the other JA-AC crossover on my mind also involves Mrs. E. In the '04 version of Murder at the Vicarage (with Geraldine McEwan) Christina Cole plays the snobby, precocious Lettice Protheroe and completely rocks the 40s look. She was brilliant as Mrs. Elton-she grates on my more when she's closer to my age-but didn't do the Regency look nearly as well.

Regency: meh. 40s: yes.

(Speaking of looking good, someone really should bring back the 40s. So classy! Check this out. Rachael Stirling:
Okay-looking. But now let's see Rachael Stirling in 40s style:

The coloring is better, the clothes are better, and the hair is better. Class! And the same goes for Christina Cole:

Again, okay-looking. Good features Christina Cole in 40s style:

Much, much better.)

Ahem. Sorry about that tangent. Moving on, and then there are the Harry Potter-Jane Austen crossovers. Michael Gambon plays both the wise (if eccentric) Albus Dumbledore (RIP, Alby, RIP *sniff*) as well as the worry-prone, invalid Mr. Woodhouse. (Both parts were played extremely well.) Emma Thompson plays the slightly crazy Professor Trelawney and the responsible Eleanore (Sense and Sensibility). And who can forget Alan Rickman as the snarky Severus Snape and the reserved, gallant Colonel Brandon (S&S). With all due respect to his talent, he still grosses me out in that role.

I've always loved Emma; I connect with Miss Woodhouse more than any other Jane Austen heroine (yes, even more than Lizzie Bennett). We're both clever, meddlesome, well intentioned, and incurably vain. I loved Gwyneth Paltrow's portrayal of Emma for the longest time. Then my neighbor let me borrow the new BBC version with Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller.

Gwyneth got pushed to second chair. The new version is gorgeously done, and the characters look closer to the ages of the characters in the novel.

And Romola Garai!!! She was so real, so quick witted, so Emma! You know how Kiera Knightley never closes her mouth? (google it; I defy you to find one where it's completely closed) Romola has this characteristic little smirk that was absolutely perfect for the role.

(Okay, I lied. This is from Amazing Grace, but she uses it in Emma too.)
Her interactions with the other characters were positively believable. Her love for Miss Taylor/Mrs. Weston, her attachment to her father, her chemistry with Frank Churchill (who is played by Rupert Evans this time around rather than the nasty-haired Ewan McGregor. Compare and contrast:

Nasty haired Frank. Good-looking Frank.

As for Mr. Elton, he was still inane and obnoxious, but he was good looking enough to make Harriet's crush on him and his eventual marriage to the wealthy Mrs. Elton make sense. He had no money; why would she marry him if he looked like this?

Of course, Mrs. Elton was no beauty herself in that version. Blech. But contrast him to the new Mr. Elton.

Better looking. Not great, but better.

Anyway, the contrasts and similarities amused me. You don't have to read this; it's mostly for my own enjoyment. Another post is coming soon. About a book signing I attended last night.