Dream King Challenge 1/1/09 – 12/31/09

Another challenge down!

For this challenge, I decided to go the Devotee route, which was to read six books in six categories and watch one movie.

I read/watched:

With the exception of Coraline, I had all of these books lying about the house, as my BF is a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I was actually spoiled for choice, and probably could have done another challenge’s worth of reading, if I’d had the time, and that’s even considering how much of the material I’ve already read through.

This was a fun challenge. I will always enjoy an excuse to go wondering through any of the worlds that Neil Gaiman conjures up. The man is definitely a genius.


Mirrormask – Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

Read for the Dream King Challenge.

The illustrated script to the movie Mirrormask features Dave McKean’s storyboards for the movie alongside the script. There’s also a forward by Neil Gaiman, as well as an appendix containing the original back and forth conversations between the two that formed the basis for the movie idea.

The movie is the story of Helena, the daughter of a couple that runs a traveling circus, a life that the teenage Helena is rebelling against for the moment. Helena likes to draw pictures, and has drawn an entire city of fantastic buildings and strange creatures.

One night, Helena and her mother have a fight before a show, and during the show, her mother falls ill. Things are very bad, and the show grinds to a halt as her mother lies in the hospital, her prognosis uncertain. Without going into the whys, since that’s part of the story, Helena is drawn into the world of her drawings, a world ruled by a light queen and dark queen, both of whom look like her mother. The light queen has fallen asleep, and no one can wake her, and the dark queen is taking advantage of the situation. Helena therefore sets out to wake up the light queen.

This movie is an amazing visual journey, especially considering the low budget they were working with. You can see the basis of this journey in the meticulous storyboards throughout the book. They’ve also apparently added back scenes and dialogue that didn’t make it into the movie, but it’s been long enough since I’ve seen it that the extras weren’t anything that jumped out at me. What you do notice is the humor injected into the script. My favorite passage in the entire book is the following scene set up:

We hear the QUEEN roar.

Down the steps come hoards of creatures. Everything that the budget will run to. Thousands upon thousands of Orcs and mighty Uruk-hai, their weapons glinting as they prepare to do the bidding of the evil Saruman…Sorry. Got a bit carried away there. Wrong movie. No budget.

Whatever we’ve got comes down the stairs.

It’s little gems like that that make this movie companion worth a look through.


Watched for the Dream King Challenge.

After one aborted attempt (and frankly this attempt was very nearly aborted, as apparently all of southern Maine is taking shelter from the cold in movie theaters), we finally managed to see Coraline last night.

I love this movie.

I’d hoped to be able to read the book before seeing the movie, but that managed to not to happen, so I’ll have to save my comparative thoughts for when I finally read the book. The story starts with Coraline Jones having moved to a new home with her parents, who generally ignore her. The landscape is creepy, her new neighbors are even creepier, and she doesn’t really want to be there. So, when she discovers a tiny door in the living room that leads to an alternate version of the house, with her other-mother and other-father, who both seem perfect, of course Coraline likes this alternate version better than real life. And that’s the set-up to a great “be careful what you wish for” story.

The animation in the film is gorgeous, and I didn’t even see it in 3-D. The colors are beautiful, and the rendering of the characters was pretty impressive for stop-motion animation. I also loved the soundtrack (but I’ve been a fan of Bruno Coulais since Winged Migration). Everything in the movie contributed to a beautifully creepy atmosphere, and I was definitely happy to see that it remained creepy right up until the very end.

We’ll definitely be buying this movie when it comes out. It’s an absolutely fantastic film.

The Dream King Challenge – 1/1/09-12/31/09

My BF is a huge Neil Gaiman fan, so we have a large variety of Neil Gaiman’s work here at the house. With Jessi at Casual Dread starting a Neil Gaiman themed challenge, it seemd like the perfect opportunity to delve into the parts of the collection I haven’t touched yet.

There are four levels of participation listed at the challenge blog. I’m going to commit to Acolyte level, which is to read three books in three categories, and watch one movie, but I may be able to ramp up to Devotee level, which would be six books and a movie.

Here’s my list:

Movie: Coraline
Young Adult Novel: Coraline
Short Stories: M is for Magic
Graphic Novel: TBD. BF has a ton of these, of which I’ve definitely read the Sandman collections. I wouldn’t mind reading those again, but I don’t know what else he has available, so I’ll see what he recommends that I haven’t already read and update in my sidebar accordingly.


Yesterday, not being much of a hordes of insane shoppers fan, and with the BF working, I decided to head into town to see Twilight. Of that, I’ll 0nly say that I’m about fifteen years too old to be able to sit through that movie with a completely straight face. That being said, I did enjoy it. It was delightfully overwrought.

After the movie, since I was already paying for parking (and by the way – $5.25 Nickeloden parking garage for a movie and the additional few minutes it took me to wander through the city’s smallest yarn store? $5.25? Really?), I was finally able to wander over to Tess’ Designer Yarns. It’s a tiny little storefront, but inside, it’s packed with yarnish goodness. The colors are absolutely amazing, and the variety of really, really, really nice yarn was wonderful. I wandered around for a bit just feeling up the silk and cashmere. I ended up buying two skeins of sock yarn, which totally don’t represent the totality of the colorwheel available, but do represent my favorite colors. The sage green yarn is their is their regular sock yarn, but the blue yarn is the Peruvian sock yarn, a mixture of wool, silk, alpaca and nylon that’s actually machine washable. I’m totally in love.

And then, to top it all off, I got home, and found my Sock Yarnista package in the mail. I was prepared not to like this month’s selection that much, as it’s not really in a color scheme that’s normally my cup of tea, but I actually like it a bit more in person. It’s still probably going to become a gift, but I’ve definitely been enjoying looking at it today. (This month’s extra was magnetic pattern place holders. Love them!!)


Had another two movie week this week.

It started on Thursday with Hellboy II, which is probably best described by the word charming. Not that I thought I’d be able to apply that word to this kind of movie, but then, I also didn’t think I’d get a Barry Manilow earworm out of it either. I say it’s charming because it came across as a nice little family and friendship tale with really cool monsters thrown into the mix. I really enjoyed it, and would definitely see it again.

The other movie we saw last night was The Dark Knight, of which I can only say: Wow. The story was great, and threw in a number of twists I didn’t see coming (and some I totally did, but I was clearly in a minority of people that have followed the story in the past, based on theater reactions). Heath Ledger’s performance was completely amazing, and he better be nominated for an Oscar. I really loved the little side trip to Hong Kong, and loved, loved the way they dressed Maggie Gyllenhaal (if only I were that willowy…). Just an amazing movie. I’d go see that one again in the theater, even.


I had a good movie weekend. On Friday night, spur of the moment, we decided to go see Wanted. I really enjoyed it. I’m told if you’re a fan of the original graphic novel, you may not like what they’ve done with the story, but I thought it worked. James McAvoy was great (and pulls off a good American accent), and was fairly easy on the eyes. I could tell the frat boys in the audience (probably 75% of the theater) really enjoyed watching Angelia Jolie, and I did like her character. She ended up going in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting. My one little quibble was with the director’s love affair with the slow motion shot. It worked with the bullets. Not so much with the loving detail of James McAvoy getting the living daylights beat out of him.

The other movie we saw was Wall-E. I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this movie. Everyone should go see it. It may very well be my favorite Pixar movie. And I’m saying this about a movie with absolutely no dialogue for the first 45 minutes, that was really a love story about robots. It was just perfect. Wall-E and Eve had one of the sweetest relationships I’ve ever seen. Since the BF doesn’t read this blog, I can freely confess to getting a little teary at a certain part near the end. I love, love, love, love this movie. Totally didn’t expect to, having seen barely anything about the movie beforehand (not sure how I managed that), but I was completely blown away. The short before the movie was great too. Absolutely hilarious. I just can’t wait until this comes out on DVD. Actually, I might even consider seeing it again. Totally worth the 10 dollar Boston area ticket price.