Remembering Ray Bradbury

Today would have been Ray Bradbury’s 94th birthday. In honor of that, I’m reposting what I wrote on his death 2 years ago.

 

I’m a reader. And a librarian. Books are a very important and beloved part of my life. I have my favorite books and there are a handful of authors that I will always read because I know they consistently put out good material. Ray Bradbury, though, was the best. None of my other favorites could even compare. So this morning when I read that Ray Bradbury had died at the age of 91, I felt almost as heartbroken as if I had lost a dearly loved family member.

I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury when I was in the sixth grade. We had to do a book report so we all went to the school library one class period to look for books. I was browsing along, when my teacher, who happened to be next to me, pulls down a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, turns to me and says “I think you would like this one, Mary”. The cover was pretty amazing (see above) so I checked it out. My final book report was not very good but I fell in love with the book and the author. For the next several years, every time I entered a library I would always check the shelf to see if there was anything there by Bradbury that I hadn’t read yet. (Actually, I still do that. In libraries and book stores.)  I don’t know how that teacher knew that I would love Bradbury but I’m eternally grateful to her for directing me to him.

There is so much out there about Ray Bradbury that I don’t really feel the need to talk much about him. His official website is always a good place to start though, if you’re wanting more information. Or if you want a good introduction to his writing try his large collection of short stories (which have always been stronger than his novels in my opinion). His short stories, his novels, his plays, screenplays, tv shows, poems, essays. I love them all. Equally at home writing about Mars or small town Illinois, Bradbury had a range unlike any other author. I wish I could do justice to this incredible man, but I can’t. So I will continue to read his books and his stories and be grateful for the man that had such a long, full life and contributed so much to my life through his writing.

One of my favorite book flap pictures of Ray Bradbury.

Rest In Peace, Ray Bradbury.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

I think I just found my new favorite Marvel movie.

Where to begin? Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill, a kidnapped “Terran” (which means he’s from Earth) raised by outlaws who gets jailed after trying to steal an artifact that turns out to be more powerful than anyone initially realized.  He reluctantly teams up with a powerful assassin, a man looking for revenge, a bounty hunter raccoon, and a talking tree to retrieve the artifact and save the world. These have got to be the weirdest group of heroes in a superhero movie but it works. It works so well. It’s funny, even funnier than your average Marvel movie. It’s got a fantastic soundtrack of hits from the 70’s and 80’s (and frequent appearances from a walkman!). There are subtle connections to the other Avengers movies, as they are all in the same universe. Also, did I mention the talking tree and raccoon?

Ultimately, it’s another fun movie from Marvel that could very well be the best of them all. Can’t wait for the sequel.

Monsters

MonstersEvery now and then I go a bit crazy and check out as many movies as I can from my library. These tend to be the movies that are on my secondary “to-watch” list, the kind of movies that I feel I should watch because they’ve gotten a lot of buzz or movies that I probably shouldn’t want to watch but I’m just kind of curious.

Well, Monsters ended up in the batch I just checked out a week or so ago. I remember when it first came out in 2010 that a review mentioned it was supposed to be a commentary on the state of illegal immigration, which, honestly, lost my attention. I don’t like heavy-handed political statements in my entertainment, whether I agree with what they are saying or not.

But I wanted something to watch and I had been curious about this film despite the political message it was trying to send. And at least I know now.

About 6 years before the movie begins, NASA had sent a probe into space to collect samples of intelligent life. This probe (naturally) crash landed in Mexico, of all places (let’s be honest- it is far more likely it would have landed in an ocean but ok. Belief suspended.) And then a slow but sure alien invasion began taking place. The “infected” area, a large swath of northern Mexico, has been quarantined, and the world has begun to adapt to the giant squid/octopus creatures that came from the probe.

The movie opens with an attack on a hotel and we quickly meet our main characters: Andrew Kaulder, a magazine photographer (played by Scoot McNairy), and Sam Wynden (played by Whitney Able), an attractive young woman hurt in the attack and also the daughter of the owner of the magazine Kaulder works for. Kaulder is improbably roped into making sure that Sam makes it to the coast in time for the last ferry home, otherwise she will be stuck in Mexico for another 6 months. Because of the creatures’ annual migration or something? I missed why time was an issue.

Well, of course things go wrong and Sam and Kaulder are left to find an alternative way home which leads to walking through the infected area. Along the way we get treated to conversations about why America building a wall to keep the creatures out is a bad idea because America is really just boxing themselves in. And how America looks different when you’re outside the wall. You can’t see me, but I’m still rolling my eyes. We also get to watch 2 characters with no chemistry and very little depth of character try to convince us they are falling in love. Kaulder is the brash, cynical journalist but who turns out to have a son and is actually really caring! And Sam looks like every pretty girl you’ve seen in any B-Hollywood movie but she’s not just a pretty rich white girl because look! She’s fluent in Spanish and gets along really well with the natives! Blegh.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what message the movie is trying to send since the creatures are incredibly destructive and the wall is useless but maybe I’m reading too much into the immigration parallel. There are no real surprises and for a film titled Monsters, they seem to be a secondary consideration. Despite this, it wasn’t a particularly bad movie but not one I’ll ever be interested to watch again.