Friday, July 30, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles: Adaptation or Mutilation?

So I decided to take a break from my short lived reading of Franny and Zooey to watch the much anticipated Rizzoli & Isles pilot - anticipated by me three weeks after its premiere on TNT. I finished The Apprentice and I was ready for it. And to be truthful, I didn't know what exactly I should expect. But deep down in my heart I was hoping for a show similar to True Blood or the first season of Dexter, where the plot of the book is used as the series story arc's jumping point. 

What TNT delivered, however, wasn't a story arc based on the second book of the Rizzoli series, but an episode adaptation instead. And, as if to add insult to injury, we are given small flashbacks from The Surgeon. Details were skewed (screwed up) and characters that were secondary or introductory in the novels are shifted to old pals or erased entirely. The pilot was enough to let me know that the TNT series that strays far from the novels might not make it past the first season. And if it somehow did, I'll probably lose interest quickly. 

Rather than getting a show with an arc villain, we're getting a case to case drama that mirrors Angie Harmon's days on Law & Order, rather than Sasha Alexander's days on NCIS. While I'm going to give the series another chance, I had to voice how utterly disappointed I am with the pilot's murder of The Apprentice. Not to mention the magic that Tess Gerritsen puts into her novels. A show that could've brought in drones of fans of the book series, instead leads us astray.  They can't all be hits.

If you are a fan for the book series and are into the show, be sure to check out the website for a weekly chapter to a Rizzoli & Isles short story, Freaks, written by Gerritsen. It's updated every Monday. TNT also has a sweepstakes in which you can win a copy of Tess Gerritsen's novel The Apprentice. Hey, a free book. How can you pass that up?

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen

I know this goes against everything I believe in, but I just finished reading Tess Gerritsen's The Apprentice (the second book in the Jane Rizzoli series, and the first in the Rizzoli & Isles relationship) and I'm officially ready to take on the TNT series

Much like when reading The Surgeon, I was unsure how I felt about the novel. When sequels repeat villains, I become wary of the writer's ability to keep me attentive. Tess Gerritsen has a powerful gift in her prose. Not only was she able to recycle Warren Hoyt (a.k.a. The Surgeon), she also shined a new light upon him, gave him a new partner and made him more vicious than before. She made the monster come to life. 

It's hard to compare the two novels because each has its own merit. Tess Gerritsen has the ability to captivate her audience and pull in newbies from the sidelines. The Apprentice isn't just a sequel to The Surgeon, it's also a powerful glimpse of the monster that lives within each of us. Gerritsen pulls back the blind, the masks we hide behind only to reveal the deepest, darkest desires that linger within. Despite our denying our true nature, we cannot help but to acknowledge that each of us could be capable of becoming a Warren Hoyt, or something far worse - given the right (or wrong) circumstances. 

We're also a glimpse into what we fear the most: Despite all our efforts of keeping a facade, we are all prone to vulnerability brought on by fear. It's what we do with the fear that molds us; that separates us from those who lie down to die and those who have the gall to fight back. 

The copy I have happens to be the series tie-cover. The book also contains an excerpt from the current novel in the series, Ice Cold, which I'll probably avoid and the first six pages of the pilot script - which I don't need but will read anyway. 

And while The Sinner is next on the list, I think it's time that I break from the Jane Rizzoli/Maura Isles world and take some time to read something less human. Which, looking at my stack of novels sitting on my desk, might not be as easy. 

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Anyone Can Do Philosophy Now: 10 "and Philosophy" titles.

Once upon the time, Monica and I had this game going for the best For Dummies titles - this soon included Idiot's Guide titles. From Pregnancy for Dummies to Idiot's Guide to the Paranormal, we had a blast with those titles. Each time we found one, we'd text or pic messaged the title in order to procure the invisible crown.

While those days are setting, they are not gone. In the wake with the sudden bloom of the pop culture and philosophy books, we decided that the game needed a tune up. Mostly because during our book hunt at Barnes and Nobel, I spied with my little eye one World of Warcraft and Philosophy. I snatched it from the shelf and handed it over to her, saying, "Here, this is for you." Lately, my fellow book hunter has fallen prey to the grasps of the MMORPG world. She jokes by saying, "I'll see you there in two weeks," an inside joke about the time when she joined Second Life and had to endure my nerd jokes only for me to join the ranks two weeks later. 

What started with Seinfeld and Philosophy, for us anyway, has now bloomed into several titles - from Twilight and Philosophy to Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy, hitting everything in between. I suppose it's about time that I share my favorite titles with the world.

  1. Watchmen and Philosophy - Quite frankly, this is the first and only title from the series I've read in full. Mostly because the world of Watchmen is so full of questions that left me pondering after reading the graphic novel and watching the film. If you're wondering - yes, it has a lot do with Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach. 
  2. The Undead and Philosophy - Subtitled Chicken Soup for the Soulless, this book proves that even the brain eating, blood sucking undead have a set of rules they live by. And sometimes they cause us to live by a new set of rules, or return to an older set. This collection of essays on the undead was later republished under the title Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy in order to cater to the fang bangers (thank you True Blood!) that have multiplied over the last few years. To be brutally honest, only a small portion of essays piqued my interest, the zombie ones. I'm not a fan of vampire thought or the current vampire sensation - thank you Stephanie Meyer, you poor excuse of a writer. 
  3. Bob Dylan and Philosophy - If any musician needs a book dedicated to the philosophy of his words, it's Bob Dylan. Metallica can go fuck themselves, those greedy talentless bastards. While I haven't read the book, I still want it for the sake of owning something else Bob Dylan. I swear, I'm  not obsessed. 
  4. Batman and Philosophy - The Dark Knight indeed has his own philosophy, as does his mythos - damn, Clive Barker was right about that term being thrown around loosely. While we're on the subject of superheroes/supervillains, the collection also has a more general title, Superheroes and Philosophy. However, I prefer the counterpart, Supervillains and Philosophy.
  5. Mr. Monk and Philosophy - Let's sit back on this one for a moment. Why do I want this? The question really should be is how can I live without it? 
  6. House and Philosophy - Another book inspired from a TV show - there will be a couple more shortly - the only reason I want this book is for its subtitle, Everybody Lies. I know it's a poor reason for wanting a book, but this aren't exactly the best books to buy. That won't stop me, though.
  7. Bullshit and Philosophy - I read the essay On Bullshit, which I stupidly bought thinking it might be worth my while (it was, but not worth my money). This book intrigues me because so many essays were sparked from a single essay. The book is much larger than its inspiration. Doesn't make it good, just makes it interesting.
  8. Stephen Colbert and Philosophy - What started as a spin off has now grown into a cultural sensation. The conservative news satire is something of a guilty pleasure - one part Daily Show, two parts a bloated Bill O'Reilly attitude. If any late night fake news show deserves a philosophy book, it would have to be Stephen Colbert. 
  9. Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House - While not exactly an "and Philosophy" title, this yet-to-be-release collection is the embodiment of what the publisher originally set off to do - give an philosophical insight to the masses through familiar territory - their television. 
  10. The Simpsons and Philosophy - If you need this book, then you're not watching the show correctly. However, this book needs to be on your shelf, regardless. While I still haven't gained access to the coveted book, it is one I've wanted for a long time. If the price is right and the gratification is quick.

Now I feel I should mention one more that didn't make the list. Terminator and Philosophy doesn't really grasp my full attention, but does contain a single essay that I would like to own. If I do venture out to buy this one book, it would be solely for that essay, written by Jeff Ewing - the husband of a friend. 

The vampire sensation has birthed yet another collection of philosophical essays - True Blood and Philosophy was found at Barnes today. I don't know how long it's been around, but it does sink its teeth into the gay marriage argument - which I expected it would. 

So there, we go. The series that allows the everyman to read philosophy while avoiding the constant head scratching. My only hope that somewhere down the line the publisher decides to compile a Hellraiser and Philosophy, because if there is one pop culture reference that is chuck full of philosophy, it's the depraved world of Hellraiser.

Now that this is settled, I shall now go off and find myself some amusing titles. If only to protect my imaginary crown. 

Until next time, keep on huntin'.

Be Ruthless

Monica once told me a problem she had while reading Fight Club. It was the fact that while she was reading the novel, the movie kept coming to mind. The actors' voices were dubbing over the dialogue upon the pages. Many times this happens while reading a novel after watch its adaptation - it happened with me while reading No Country For Old Men. And it happened to me while reading Shauna Cross's in-your-face, young adult novel, Whip It. The whole time I was reading the novel, Ellen Page's voice - along with that of Drew Barrymore and Kristen Wiig. It didn't make the novel hard to read, but did distract me from it while I made notes in my head, comparing the two. 

Now I wrote a post earlier about watching the film, which was originally published on Tumblr, whatever. I loved the film and I didn't expect the book to be any different. Normally, I don't reading Young Adult fiction because it's burdensome. It sparks up old memories from my junior high days when we were forced to read bad literature because teachers thought it would get us to read more books. Little did they know they were dealing with a book hunter. Truth be told, teens who don't like to read won't read the book regardless; while those who do like to read, will be reading a something a little more challenging. Or something that really interests us. Whatever. 

But there's hope at the end of the tunnel and it's book like Whip It and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist that are shaping it. I swear, if there were more books like these when I was in junior high and the teachers put them on their lists, we definitely would've read them - or at least, I would've. Izzy had to read The Lightning Thief, which, I hear from her, wasn't really that great. She was a little moody about having to read it. I'm the one who purchased the book for her; I made good by later purchasing a copy of Candy for her, as well.

Anyway, enough with praising the nouveau young adult lit. The book opens up in the most mild manner way - Bliss Cavendar talking about how she assumes that she is really adopted - there is no way she is the daughter of pageant mom, Brooke, or the non-confrontational father, Earl. Born and being raised in Bodeen, Texas - and hour's drive from Austin, yet vastly left behind in the modern age - Bliss thinks of nothing but escape. Her best friend Pash, a straight-A honor student, also dreams of escape in different ways. Together they wreck havoc - as much as is possible in Bodeen. During a family shopping trip, however, Bliss picks up a flier for a Roller Derby match. Begging Pash to take her, the two encounter a world full of misfit girls and hot boys. Heaven for the achingly different Bliss Cavendar, an absolute hell on earth for mother Brooke. 

The book is written with true knowledge of the subject, toned down just a tad. Just a tad. Having met and seen Roller Derby girls - women - in action while reporting on The South Texas Rolleristas, I know how completely intimidating these people can be, but how awesomely sweet they are in reality. It makes sense since Cross has partaken in the sport where no man is woman enough to play - see what I did there? The book offers little challenge as an adult - it took me a few days to read because I made an attempt to pace myself with it - and I imagine it wouldn't be too hard for its target audience to knock it out of the park. But it's still an in depth look of how teenagers felt, feel and will probably always feel in the future. So lace up those skates, amigos, you're in for a ride. 

God, that was such a horrible way to end that. Seriously. Until next time, keep on huntin'.

The Monica & Willie Buy too Many Books Hunt

I'd be lying if I didn't say that Monica and I are a mighty duo of book hunters. We're book addicts when teamed together. The total price for today's excursion was $24.96; the amount of books was twelve. That, by the way, was just me alone. Monica grabbed a few for herself, but I'm sure it was less than me. 

Firstly, we set off to Weslaco, Texas (a town devoid of literature culture, but in abundance of burned down, abandoned buildings) to hit up the much acclaimed bookshop, Poet's Corner Bookstore. I know what you're thinking. This place must be a haven for the book hunter, but that's still reserved for The Book Stop and will be for some time. It wasn't anything I'd imagine a book store called the Poet's Corner would look like. Sure there were a handful of decent paperbacks, but the prices were less than flattering. It's modeled more to be a college text bookstore than anything else. Woe is me. However, I'm determined not to make the drive to Weslaco in vain; I do find a copy of All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy for $1.99. I also slapped on Dover Press copies of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters - someone I may or may not have read in college - and William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. The total price for Poet's Corner Bookstore - which I'll never be gracing with my presence again - $5.94. 

Back to McAllen. We browse our original haunt, Books -n- Things. While we've graduated from this store long ago, it's still fun to see if we can find anything worthwhile. I do. I find a copy of The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen - the third novel in the Rizzoli series - which I quickly add to my  building pile. Because I've put off its purchase for so long, I throw in a copy - the last one! - of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. In the true crime section, I am blessed to see the Hunter S. Thompson must-have-classic, Hell's Angels. Add in a dollar copy of the late Michael Crichton's Congo, and we have us a total of $10.79, just enough to select a book from the free shelf. I decide on James Patterson's 1st to Die because I had only just been talking about him, wondering if his books are any good. 

Off to Georgia's Thrift Store to see if Mike has added anything new to the shelf. Nothing too new, but I did pick up a copy of Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show. Along with that book, I picked up The Dhammapada and Oscar Hijuelos's The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Each book only cost a dollar, with a total price of $3.25. 

Because we're slightly still bummed that The Book Stop doesn't open on Mondays, we head over to Barnes & Nobel on 10th because I'm needing to use the restroom. Once out of the restroom - yes, I did remember to wash my hands - I decided to look at the books. Well they dun moved them around again, mirroring their old set up. Wonderful. Because book hunters normally don't buy books at full price - unless we're in dire need of a certain book, which we rarely are; or we have the money to splurge, which we rarely do - we take comfort in our window shopping. That is until Monica and I head over to the clearance table to find Lewis Black's Me of Little Faith for less than five dollars, before tax. Total price, $5.39. 

It's true, when separate, we don't buy as many books. Jyg usually puts a cap on my shopping and Monica makes slightly wiser decisions. But together we go mad with books. Most of which won't be touched again for about a year. This should be one of the many unwritten rules of Book Hunting: When trying to save cash or being conservative, never book hunt with another book hunter. Until next time, keep on huntin'.