Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kids Books & French Gangster Films

Last night I read Lea the story "The Giant and the Mite" from The Little Bookroom. The other two characters besides the giant and the mite are the Angel in the Sky and the Angel Below the Earth. These two angels aren't pitted against each other in the same-as-it-ever-was good vs. evil trope. Instead, they work together to keep everything that exists between them, i.e. the earth and all its goings-on, on an even keel. It was the first time I'veever run across that idea, and I think it's a keeper.

In other reading-to-the-kids-news, we finished The Horse and His Boy and, as I said I would, I poked around to see if they had picked up on the racism. And the answer I'm all baffled and shit.

Anyways, now we're reading The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. It is an enormous, 700-page, insane novel. I'm in a constant state of hysterics while I read, and the girls are always saying, "Calm down, Mom."

Bluebear's first life takes place shortly after he's born and, for reasons unknown, floating naked and alone in a walnut shell. He is rescued from the maelstrom by Minipirates. Bluebear explains:
"Minipirates, as their name implies, were pretty small...The little creatures sailed the seas in tiny ships, ever on the lookout for something small enough to capture. This happened very seldom—never, in fact. Truth to tell, the Minipirates had never managed to capture a single prize, not even a rowing boat, in the whole history of navigation. Sometimes, usually in desperation, they attacked bigger ships...but their efforts passed unnoticed as a rule. The tiny buccaneers hurled their grappling hooks at the big vessels and were towed along until they gave up."
Minipirates: I want one. I need one.

In addition to lots of reading with the girls (I think I'm cramming in as much as possible because I'm afraid that very soon my 11-year-olds will want nothing to do with me and my novels about blue bears and their various lives), I've been mildly obsessed with the stories of French criminals as told via French films. I started with Mesrine: Killer Instinct, which stars the ubiquitous Vincent Cassel in a kinda campy turn as the real-life nutball gangster and France's "Public Enemy #1," Jacques Mesrine:

I don't know if it truly lives up to its billing as "The French Scarface," but I'll watch Part 2 anyways.

And a few weeks ago we watched A Prophet, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Just watch it, learn enough about the Corsican mafia to make you believe that you could totally take them on, and then join my club that I just made up. It's called The I Will Watch Any Film That Stars Tahar Rahim Club:

In unrelated news: allergy season. Boo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Post Where I Mostly State the Obvious

This is no news to anyone at all, but...catastrophes are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate, as if the earth is a giant gameboard and someone has lost his temper and flipped the whole thing over. I almost always start to blog about these various disasters, but then the posts go unpublished because this has just never seemed like the right place to write about such things. On the contrary, this is the space where I proffer up too much information about my children, my many embarrassments, the minutiae of my days, my attempts to write stories.

So I won't say much, but I will note that a few days before the earthquake in Japan, Bino posted on Facebook that he'd had a dream about the end of days. And this thing—these tremors and waves and nuclear explosions—seems like just that: the end of days. After the fact, someone else reminded his friends to live, for God's sake because all of this is so very, very over. And today while I was washing dishes, I wondered what people say to each other in those moments before certain death, while the water rises or the ground falls away. And I wondered about the pain of dying from radiation poisoning, and if anyone is allowed to touch you, and if they aren't, how sad that is.

I've made a conscious decision not to talk to my kids about the breadth of the devastation or to show them a bunch of images; I don't know if that's right or wrong. There were some families at their school who are affected, and one of my twinkers is particularly close to a boy whose cousin was lost for a number of days (he has since been found), so they are very much aware. But I think it feels to them more like a scary movie than like something that has actually happened/is happening.

Tangent alert! Tangent alert!

I'm reading The Chronicles of Narnia to the girls, and right now we're finishing up The Horse and His Boy. When I read this series of books as a child, I didn't—despite a Catholic upbringing—pick up on the Christian references at all (so I wasn't the snappiest snap in the snap container; SO WHAT?!), and since I'm not pointing them out as we read, and since we're raising our children as moral-less, soul-less heathens, there's no reason to think they'll pick up on them either. What I am concerned about is the overt racism in The Horse and His Boy and if they've taken note of it. I'm waiting 'til we get to the end to poke around in their tween brains.

And that's the end of that.