Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LA Poretentosa Vida de la Muerte

One of my new favorite blogs is "Morbid Anatomy". They recently had a guest post by Salvador Olguin who had recently given a lecture which they attended:

One of the most interesting things Olguin touched on in his lecture was a book I had never heard of: the fantastically illustrated (see above) La Portentosa Vida de la Muerte (The Astounding Life of Death). This book--a kind of whimsical and irreverent life history of Death in the form of a woman--was published in Mexico in the 18th Century and was, as he explains, highly influential in Mexican culture.... [click here to read more!]

The images that accompany the post are all from La Portentosa..., and remind me A LOT of images from the Tarot, which, according to lore, was coming into being in the late 15th Century. Though, the Tarot supposedly follows the "life of the Fool". Fascinating. I will look for this book in the library.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New John the Baptist Icon

The site religious imagery in culture has been blowing me away recently with their posts. This image they found at Carioca Studio. Go check out the "Work" section, under Icons, and you'll find more beautiful images, including one, of (I think) Mary Magdalene, my other favorite saint.

Amazing work!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Times!

So, I first heard this song on the Twilight soundtrack - BUT - the film is set in Berlin, Germany. It brings back so many memories for me. I had a great time visiting a cousin in Berlin in 1991. Ah, so awesome. I want to go back!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great Vacation!

We drove over 3,500 miles, but somehow I feel refreshed! [Josiah DID do all the driving.] There's still lots to do this summer.


Monday, July 6, 2009


Dear All,

I'm "going off on a 'toot,'" as my dad would say when our old dog would take off around the neighborhood. The Grand Forets will be traveling around our fair nation to go to a wedding, and visit friends along the way.

I found this image of St Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, on Idle Speculations, my favorite Religious Art site. Terry does such a great job.

Whether there is music in your summer or not, enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Love Conquers All?

Fair warning: this post is LONG!

So, All, I have finished reading the Twilight Saga. I will say that it would have happened sooner if I'd bought the last book when I first saw it at the Last Word used book shop, here in Philly. Instead I waited 'til I was ready to read it and then had to wait 2-3 weeks or so until another copy arrived. I have to say, though, that the Last Word is definitely the place to get used books. They remember you, and what you want, and are great about continually getting new stuff in.

With that endorsement out of the way, here's what I thought: The Twilight books are not the best-written books ever. If I read the words "perfect," "sculpted," "stone" or "cool" in reference to a vampire again, I think I'll gag.

What I liked best about Twilight was the description of Bella's crush on Edward. It reminded me so much of the crushes I've had, and the way I felt when the object of my affection was near me, or touched me. That electric, inept feeling was so clear. What's NOT so clear is why Bella is in love with Edward, "in LUST" yes, that's obvious. But it was also very easy to understand why the story was so chaste, given the fact that Edward is a vampire. It was refreshing to see feminine desire described, and played out, even if there was a fair amount of repression that had to happen so that nobody died. Edward seems like the logical extension of Anne Rice's character, Louis de Pointe du Lac, from "Interview with a Vampire," as a vampire who feeds only on animals, not humans, to survive. I also think the choice of Rob Pattinson was inspired, even if it means that poor (human) Rob will be hounded to the ends of the earth forever because of it.

Out of the whole series I liked New Moon best, because I loved the character of Jacob. I admire steadfastness as a trait, and Jacob is nothing if not loyal. I think he gets pretty shafted throughout the story, but he's my favorite character.

I thought Eclipse was really just a bridge to the last book. It was nice to see the characters of Edward and Jacob have a rapprochement, but really, it read like a comic book, without pictures of gorgeous vampires and werewolves.

And then there's Breaking Dawn. It's interesting, because here I am, in my late 30's, with children in my life, and if I were writing about vampires, is this also where I would end the story?

Bella becomes pregnant with Edward's child. It's a very difficult pregnancy - how could it not be, really - and several people consider ending the pregnancy. Bella, however, joins forces with her former nemesis, Rosalie, in order to keep the fetus alive. The delivery is gruesome, and in order to save Bella, Edward must turn her into a vampire with his venom. Bella becomes the vampire she always wanted to be, is married to Edward, and has a half human-half vampire daughter. I thought it was a pretty convenient plot device, but in a "Hollywood ending" way, Jacob "imprints" on Reneesme immediately, and so will always be protective of and present in Reneesme's life, in whatever form that needs to take - caretaker, friend, lover, husband, etc.

My first thought when I finished reading Breaking Dawn was that the idea I was meant to take away from this saga was that "love conquers all." Bella becomes a vampire after many struggles and transforms from a truly awkward human to a truly amazing, powerful vampire - she was klutzy, even for a human, as a human, and has an extreme super power for a vampire, as a vampire. Even though I think Bella was taken in by Edward's (and the rest of the vamps') camouflage (attractive looks, smell, strength, sound, etc.), she never seemed to really analyze what she was doing until Rosalie confronted her. She was mesmerized by Edward, and I thought in a shallow way just wanted to become a vampire so she could be with him forever. She never really seemed to consider the real consequences until it began to affect her physical relationship with him.

Edward "made a deal" with her that he required her to marry him. Once married, she understood the awesomeness of sex, and most especially, sex with Edward. So, she started making deals of her own - more years as a human, more sex, before ending her life (e.g. becoming a vampire). And he agreed, because he never wanted her to become a vampire in the first place. It's interesting to me how her awakenings happen through physical means. And that her human sexuality is what makes her powerful (even though she is completely in the thrall of Edward and his family, and is entirely defenseless if another vamp is nearby). It's when she becomes pregnant that the paradigm shifts again. Everyone is concerned about the "monster" she is carrying. And she starts acting, in my opinion, like many pregnant women - forms an attachment with the fetus, takes care of it as best she can, even if she starts doing weird stuff. [The whole thing about her pregnancy diet is gross, so I won't go there.] Interestingly, that section of the book is told from Jacob's point of view, so, it's not as intimate, but of course, he's upset during her pregnancy because she's in so much pain. There IS an inordinate amount of time in the whole saga when Bella is suffering physically, and it gets a little tiring to read through.

But whether it's a plot device, or it's really the "message" of Twilight, Bella becomes powerful through her child. She would have died because of the baby, but now she's immortal. She can hold her own with Edward now in bed (no limits once she's a vamp). She discovers that she's got a vampire super-power, which she hones quickly in order to save her family. Is this the new "coming of age" story for young women?

I sort of jest. But, seriously, I think it's interesting that the woman who wrote these books has kids and is in her 30's. As you may know, I am struggling with my upcoming (big) birthday. And I'm trying to make sense of my "self" so far. I realize that my youth is gone. And while I am happy with my life, and my family, I sometimes struggle with day-to-day responsibilities and commitments, and I wonder what the future will have in store for me. What I can relate to in Bella's story, is the desire to have "a perfect forever." I wish and hope that my family will be safe and happy and whole forever, and Bella is able to achieve that. She is a strong lover and mother. She becomes MORE sexy with motherhood, and powerful in ways that are hard for even vampires to fathom. It's a nice fantasy for a character who started out so average and normal. What do you all think?? Leave me a comment or two.

There are other critiques to be made, and I have copied some of them below, all from Wikipedia's Breaking Dawn site:

Breaking Dawn has received generally negative reviews. Publishers Weekly stated that the main problem was that "Essentially, everyone gets everything they want, even if their desires necessitate an about-face in characterization or the messy introduction of some back story. Nobody has to renounce anything or suffer more than temporarily--in other words, grandeur is out."[10] In an article by The Associated Press journalist Sara Rose posted on wrote that fans of the series would love "engaging characters, great humor, a distracting obsession with beauty, focus on the minutiae of emotions", however "casual readers may be disappointed with a lot of build-up and little action."[11] The Independent called the book, "shockingly, tackily, sick-makingly sexist" and said that "Bella Swan lives to serve men and suffer." [12] Entertainment Weekly graded Breaking Dawn with a D, criticizing the birth scene and Bella's "unwavering passion for Edward" and having no other goals.[13] The Washington Post also responded with a negative review, making comments such as, "...Meyer has put a stake through the heart of her own beloved creation," and, "Breaking Dawn has a childbirth sequence that may promote lifelong abstinence in sensitive types."[14] However, an article in The Daily News Tribune, a small town newspaper, Margaret Smith says of Breaking Dawn "You too might fall in love with its suspense and moving sensitivity -- and with the unlikely couple struggling to find light within their world’s heart of darkness."[15]