Things I Have Recently Called Jason
Jason, Jay, Jay Jay, J. J. Abrams, Jables, Jableston, Jasón, Jason von Jasonson, Jason Michaelson, Son, Sonny Boy, Sonson, Son-san, Boy-o, Booby Boy, Baby, The Baby, Baby Jay, Baby Booboo, Boo Boo Bear, Baby Boy, The Boy, The Jason, Jason Boy, Dude, Duder, Snorty Snooterson, Poopyhead, Poopybuns, Poopoo, Poopooloopoo, Poopy, Puppy, Pants, Mr. Poopypants, Mr. Moo, Mr. Moopoo, Mr. Man, Little Man, Little Guy, Little Dude, Buddy, Buddy Boy, Bubba, Bubbaloo, El Babalao, Babalaba, Ramalamadingdong, Jammalammalammalamma, Fussypants, Mr. Fusserson, Man, Manimal, Manderson, Mangia Mangia, Dr. Manhattan, Chuck Mangione.
Despite all this, he seems to be learning his name.
By Sherwood Smith
I have to say, I'm a little surprised by how much I liked Inda. The story is fairly commonplace--a talented young man trains to become a military commander, and in the process he gets swept up into the world-shaking events of his time, destined to become a hero. I've certainly read that one several times before, and I'm sure I will again. What's more, the writing isn't all that great. The author, Sherwood Smith, has this strange tendency to shift perspectives from one character to another abruptly and without warning, which is often jarring.
Despite that, though, I was absolutely riveted, and when the book came to its abrupt ending I was upset that I didn't already have the sequels. (Indeed, the fourth book isn't even coming out until August.) I have, of course, always been a sucker for a coming-of-age story, but, more than that, the world and characters of Inda were quite compelling. The cavalry-based military culture of the Marlovans combined with their language (several words of which you're introduced to throughout the book) evoke images of the Mongols and the Germanic tribes of medieval Europe. But there's more than that. Much of the history of this world is lost to the characters, but a huge backstory is hinted at that seems really interesting--magic, other races, fallen kingdoms, and so on--and perhaps important in later books.
I mentioned changes in point-of-view before, which are odd and often annoying. But they are also a big part of what make the characters so interesting. By seeing so much of each character's internal thoughts, each one is invested with a depth you don't normally see in minor characters. The only problem is that I wound up getting attached to a few characters who didn't end up making it through the book.
It's rare that I read two books in a row that I enjoy so thoroughly, and since I have a good chunk left in both this series and the Black Company series, it looks like I may have a hard time deciding what to read next. Which, when you come down to it, isn't such a bad problem to have.
Started: 1/13/2009 | Finished: 1/20/2009
I Don't Want to Jinx It
After almost six weeks, Jason finally seems like he's getting over his cold. What's more, he slept through the night last night--we put him down at 7 PM and he didn't wake up until 5:30 AM. It was glorious. All three of us have been exhausted lately, and to finally get a full night's sleep was simply amazing. Granted, Juliette and I both actually woke up several times in the night, expecting to hear Jason crying, even worrying a little when we didn't. I still feel a little like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the excitement we're both feeling at the prospect of getting good sleep can't be denied.
I tell you, though, the last couple of days have been great. With all of us being better rested, we've all been in better moods, and our time together has been much more fun. I even had Jason laughing last night during a game of peek-a-boo. I'm not sure whether we've truly entered a new phase with Jason's sleeping, and even if we have, I'm sure something will come up eventually that we'll have to deal with, but for now I'm just enjoying it.
Chronicles of the Black Company
By Glen Cook
I heard about Glen Cook's Black Company books via a discussion in the forum, wherein Raja (of Strobelight Review fame) thanked another member for recommending it to him. Now I, in turn, have to thank him for turning me on to this series, because it's the best fantasy I've read in quite some time.
Chronicles of the Black Company is a collection of the first three of Glen Cook's Black Company novels, which follows the exploits of the titular mercenary company over the course of a war between the forces of good and evil. That description makes this seem like just another standard fantasy series, though, which couldn't be further from the truth. To begin with, the Black Company is on the wrong side of the war--they work for the bad guys. But there's more to it than that, because the sharply defined morality that you're used to seeing in fantasy worlds isn't present. There sometimes seems to be little distinguishing the two sides in the conflict, other than that they are fighting each other. The whole thing is presented from a ground-level view with a gritty realism that has more in common with Vietnam War fiction than Tolkien.
I can't recommend this series highly enough. The collection containing the next three books is already out, with the following collection coming soon, and I can't wait to get my hands on them.
Started: 12/12/2008 | Finished: 1/8/2009
The other day, when Juliette picked up Jason from day care, one of the women there commented how cute it was how he "kisses" people. They aren't really kisses, of course--what he does is sort of mash his open mouth against your face, sometimes with his tongue extended, sometimes not. Jason has reached the stage where he wants to put just about everything into his mouth, and if he can't bring something to his mouth, well, he'll bring his mouth to it. Sometimes he can't reach, so he settles for licking it.
Aside from putting things in his mouth, Jason also loves to grab things. Our female friends and relatives have all discovered how much he loves to grab their hair. And I have found that my glasses are a bit of a mixed blessing--on the one hand, it's one more thing for him to go after, but on the other hand, they do help protect my eyes from his sharp little fingernails.
Every once in a while we'll have this tender moment where I'm holding him and he leans back a little and looks at me. He'll extend his arms and sort of stroke my face. It's usually just about the moment when I'm thinking how cute he is when he locks onto my lower lip and tries to tear it off my face. I tell you, the kid has a good grip.
In other news, Jason is finally starting to learn to put himself to sleep. He fusses a bit when we first put him down, but it actually seems like he sleeps better when he lulls himself to sleep rather than when we do it. The last three nights he slept for over 11 hours, only waking up once each night. By comparison, we were getting up with him at least three or four times a night before that. Now, if only I could figure out how to get myself into bed on time, the bags under my eyes would finally start to go away.
Marley and Me
I had some serious misgivings about this one when I first heard it was going to be made. I loved the book, but I just didn't think it was the sort of thing that Hollywood would handle right. When I heard that Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston were going to be the leads, my suspicions deepened. With that kind of cast, I figured the movie would turn out to be a slapstick-y mess--pretty much Beethoven with a lab. But, I am happy to say that the movie exceeded my expectations.
I still don't think that the movie really should have been made--nothing is really added to the experience in the transition to film. They also changed the story in ways that I thought were quite unnecessary, turning John Grogan into a man trapped in a domestic life he doesn't want, dreaming of being a hotshot reporter. Still, the filmmakers managed to capture a lot of what I really loved about the book and, sure enough, I cried at the end. Owen Wilson particularly surprised me by turning in a performance with some real emotional depth to it beyond the normal bumbling comedic hero he usually plays--though, in retrospect, I shouldn't have been all that surprised, as some of his work with Wes Anderson has also been pretty heartfelt.
All in all, it was a pretty good movie, and I think if you like dogs and haven't read the book, you'll probably like this version of Marley and Me.
Viewed: 12/26/2008 | Released: 12/25/2008 | Score: B-