Bläeckfisk is the Swedish translation for the word octopus. I am not Swedish, but I do own a lot of furniture from Sweden and I like octopuses while admiring their multi-tasking ability. I would like to travel to Sweden at some point, plus I think it is a pretty cool looking word. Anyhow, speaking of words, I guess you could say that is why we are here. Words are the foundation for way we try to wrap our thoughts around everything in the galaxy. The tendrils that lead to emotions and curiosity. I am not here to solve the mysteries of the universe, just to discuss words in general. Specifically words written by other people and have been printed off and slapped between two slices of thin card stock. Many of these sandwiches go on to bigger and better things, some bigger and better than others. So, I guess we will be talking about those as well. If you share an interest in words or enjoi seeing what they can look like in action....välkommen! (Swedish for welcome.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

F11: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-Directed by David Fincher

"You need to be more......sociable."

I do not have any tattoos. Nor do I sport any piercings, although in high school I did rock an earring. I do not own a leather jacket or zip around town on a motorcycle, but I do own a laptop and like to consider myself quite savvy when it comes to googling something. David Fincher's adaptation of the first book from the best selling Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series hit movies screens this week, and hit is an understatement. An elbow to the ribcage or a reverse thrusting kick to the shins might be a little more appropriate analogy. These Girl With...books by Stieg Larsson are loved around the world and by all means do I think that David Fincher nabs the crux of why these books are so popular. The film follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and his mission of piecing together the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger, last seen 40 years ago. After being fired from his newspaper, Mikael is hired on by the scrupulous Henrik Vanger to help unravel the family's dark past. As Blomkvist begins to connect the dots, an incessantly gothic young lady crosses his path and aides Mikael in his "research". Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is an ultra aggressive, profusely pierced digital whiz who just so happens to have a dragon tattoo. Charming, intelligent and irrevocably precarious, Lisbeth is not someone to mess with.

This film was vintage Fincher (Fight Club, Social Network) and highly enjoyable. His gritty style of story telling is staggering and despite his use of dull, dreary lighting this film jumps off the screen. Coupled with a chilling score by Trent Reznor, and a ridiculously visual intro, some could say that this is Fincher's best work to date. Larsson's story is complex and hard to follow, but I think Fincher was indeed up to the task of conceptually bringing to life one of literature's most infamous characters. While the story is about solving an old family mystery, the first installment in the Millineum Trilogy is really about developing Lisbeth's wrecking ball of a character.  And developed she is. Just ask her ex-parole officer, and what he thinks of her after pushing his luck with the young Ms. Salander.

Overall, I think this movie was good but not great. A few years ago, an independent version of this film was released, one that in my humble opinion was much more authentic. Maybe is was due to the fact that the people in Sweden were actually speaking Swedish or that the actors were all unknown commodities. I guess it comes down to your own personal preference of moving going. Big name, Hollywood renditions vs. low budget, indy interpretations. See both and decide for yourself. Hopefully, Fincher has signed on to direct the next two sequels. I will be eagerly awaiting to see how Lisbeth Salander is further developed and how her path of destruction continues. In the meantime, I think I will be changing all my passwords and online banking information. Boom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

B8: Swamplandia! By Karen Russell

"Where had all the families gone? The families were gone. All at once, it felt like. Families had been our keystone species of tourists on Swamplandia and now they were rarer than panthers."

Feelings of ennui starting to claw at your gloomy winter afternoons? Try injecting a little swamp water into your reading diet. This latest novel by Karen Russell spotlights the exceptionally odd Bigtree clan and their family run alligator amusement park. For years the Bigtree's alligator wrestling act has lured mainland Floridians out to their snatch of swamp, but with the unexpected death of the Hilola (the mother), the entire operation is suddenly at stake. Ava, big sister Osceola, brother Kiwi and Chief all have different ideas on how best to save Swamplandia from financial ruin. A dubious plan dubbed Carnival Darwinism is hatched and set in motion, while the Bigtree's must now find away to pry visitors away from new amusement-kid-on-the-block World of Darkness. Outlandish enough? Chuck in a shifty character named Birdman, a backwood romance with the ghost of Louis Thanksgiving and an unexpectedly crimson gator hatchling for good measure and let the fun begin.

This book reminds me of something that I came across a few years ago, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (which I also highly recommend). Another nutty family filled with outlandishly tantalizing characters, but I digress. Back to the swamp. I really enjoyed this book and think that Russell has a bright career ahead of her. Her attention to every quirky detail of this story is commendable as well as the years of research she spent learning the indigenous plants and animals of the Florida swamplands. This book really comes to life with her talent for character development and her penchant for creating a world around these characters that will stay will the reader long after you are finished reading. I appreciate her timorous prose and will start exploring tickets to an alligator wrestling show in Florida where my wife and I will be spending part of our upcoming holiday. If you and your loved one can't make it to the Sunshine State in the foreseeable future, try checking out this book. After all, the gift giving season is upon us and what better gift to give the one you love, than the gift of swamp.