Vehicle For Dissertation

Books I read, music I hear...My imperious opinion on both.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Around The World In Eighty Days - Jules Verne

Do you see anything wrong with this cover photo? I had the impression, from where I don't know, that Mr. Phileas Fogg traveled at least part of the way in a balloon. Maybe it's from one of Verne's other stories... But this here cover. As you can see the fellow is driving some sort of unreliable looking automobile. The problem is Mr. Fogg and his servant, the honorable Passerpartout, traveled mainly by rail, ship and elephant. Oh well... Don't judge this book by this cover!

This has been on my reading list for a while. I liked it but it wasn't as exciting as I supposed it would be. Mr. Fogg is entirely too staid and mechanical to do justice to his outlandish name. He only seems to wake up at the very end, in time to marry Aouda so that the story can end happily ever after. Ahh...but I'll not be too critical. I certainly wouldn't want to be in the situation of the Detective Fix. Following a man around the entire world to find he isn't the crook...

Around the World in Eighty Days @ The Online Literature Network

Laddie - Gene Stratton-Porter

I started reading Laddie quite a long time ago. It was barely a start though. I'd never gotten past the 30th page, I don't believe. Not for lack of will or because it was boring but because I began reading it during a few moments spared from work and never took the step of borrowing it so I could complete it.

It took longer to read than I expected (which is good). I guess I underestimated the length of the narrative based on the size of the book. I'm sure you can find plenty of summaries or reviews with a little search so I won't do that. I'll just mention what I thought as I read it.

The two things that I think of foremost after reading Laddie are these: It's so very funny and, Laddie (Little Sister's big brother. Little Sister is the narrator) is just such a man it's kind of disconcerting. As to the humor... Leon (another older bro) was the big source of that. My favorite scene is when he was reciting the verses he'd memorized for the Sunday service at church. He selected texts that applied to various people in the congregation and quoted at them rather than to them. You can read that section here... The story related to the tramp\robber, "Even So" was also funny. And Leon's memorable farewell to Miss Amelia...

Now about Laddie... Since the narrative is by Little Sister (a great character in her own right) the perspective on Laddie was from her view. As she said, "Laddie does everything well...". I suppose it was just somewhat challenging to encounter him with his manhood of a kind not so common now, it seems. At least I couldn't find it in me...

I'll certainly have to sample some more of the writings of Gene Stratton-Porter. My quite a name... It seems necessary for writers to have such names doesn't it?

If you'd like to read Laddie I recommend find a copy at the library but if you don't mind reading online or wanna see some excerpts you'll find the whole thing at the link below.

Laddie @ Project Gutenberg

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Caddie Woodlawn - Carol Ryrie Brink

I actually read this before Rainbow Valley so we're slightly out of order here...Doesn't matter too much, though I do like to keep them in order.

I wonder how many guys in my demographic group have read Caddie Woodlawn...Well this one has. It reminds me some of the Little House (L.I. Wilder) series and also of The Great Brain (John D. Fitzgerald). Somewhere I got the idea that Caddie was this really wild pioneer girl so I was surprised that, though her mother thought her lacking in refinement, she wasn't really what I'd call "wild". I'd seen the movie before and she played some jokes on people and would rather stick with her brothers than be in the house "ladylike" but thats about it. It was pretty much the same story in the book.

It was a very short read but nice and easy and relaxing. Easy books are nice between the complicated or factual ones you know... Below is a link to a timeline of events in the area were the Caddie Woodlawn story is based. Give a click...

A Menomonie, Wisconsin Timeline

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Rainbow Valley - L.M. Montgomery

As I mentioned before, I hadn't been overly pleased with my first reading of Rainbow Valley. Perhaps because I'd skipped Anne of Ingleside. In anycase I felt that the whole story had gone to far from the Blythes and was focused almost completely on the Merediths. That is indeed the case. But this time I didn't mind. I liked it quite a lot. The young Blythes get a fair amount of coverage but Gilbert is almost erased from the picture as far as dialogue. I can only think of one place where he had anything to say...

I think Faith was my favorite of the Merediths. One wonders though, if anyone could possibly be quite as abstracted (or distracted) as Mr. Meredith. Of course he woke up a bit in the later part but he was very absent minded to begin with. In anycase... there are my little comments. You can read excerpts or the entire work at one, or both of the following links...

At Project Gutenberg

At "The Other Place"

Home - Dixie Chicks

I really didn't know that this group would have so many songs I liked. I'd heard Landslide and Travelin' Soldier back when they were "hits" but nothing else...Until hearing Top of the World in "the usual way". That one got me to looking for the CD at the library...

I'd say that Home is more folk and less country than what I expected to hear. Which is quite a good thing for me. They've even got Chris Thile playing mandolin on a couple of these songs (A Home, More Love & the instrumental only, Lil' Jack Slade). Speaking of the mandolin...I like the instrumentation throughout the album, mandolin and otherwise. My top four are most likely:

Top of the World


Travelin' Soldier

A Home

And I'll give an honorable mention to Godspeed since rather liked it as well.

(Note: The links open with Windows Media Player. A couple are the full song, which aren't quite what's on the CD, and some are partial clips. All links I found "out there").

Friday, March 18, 2005

Les Misérables - Victor Hugo

I was extremely pleased to find a copy of Les Misérables for only twenty-five cents at the local Goodwill. I've made a few decent finds there. The only trouble is that, as I later found, mine is the abridged version. Abridging a book is a good way to irritate me. I just think it is pointless to cut out sections of a perfectly good book! If I want to skip some I'll do it myself! So needless to say I wasn't pleased. I like it well enough but I wonder what I missed? I guess I'll have to read the complete work some time...

Since I'm not up on French I wasn't too competent with the names of the characters or, for that matter, the title. I suppose I'll have to look up the pronunciation. According to the wonderful Google translator it means "poor wretches". Of course you get the general idea since "Les Misérables" looks like "the miserable".

This is the first of Hugo's works which I've read. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is now most definitely on the to read list. Towards the end of the narrative it began to remind me very much of the Dickens books I read as the author revealed the ties linking Jean Valjean, Marius and the hero-turned-criminal, Thenardier. As usual... I recommend it!

Les Misérables at The Online Literature Network

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Anne of Ingleside

I finished this "Anne book" recently but had never posted anything concerning the subject. There isn't a great deal to post but I like to keep track of what I've read.

This was the missing book in the series for me. I had read all the way up to Anne's House of Dreams and somehow skipped to Rainbow Valley. So coming back after several years I was curious what my reaction would be.

I liked Anne of Ingleside well enough. I think it better than what I remember of the next book which seemed to leave Anne quite behind. Each of the children get their due attention but I think I took the most liking to the affairs of Nan and Di. Particularly Nan's commitment (well meant but unnecessary) to walking through the cemetery after dark and Di's complications in friendship with Jenny Penny...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Nickel Creek: Photos from the studio

Nickel Creek has a new album coming out sometime here...for now they've put up some photos from in the studio. Take a look...I wonder when to expect the CD??