Book Log – Northern Lights (or) The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) By Philip Pullman

“I’d hire myself an armored bear.” – Sam Elliot

I saw the trailer for the upcoming The Golden Compass adaptation (opens Dec 7), and decided this looked like an interesting story. Reviews compared if favorably with the The Chronicles of Narnia and a small buzz has been created about this trilogy being an atheist’s answer to the 9-part Narnia series.

The original British title was Northern Lights, but for some reason was released as The Golden Compass in the U.S. Honestly, I think Compass is the more intriguing title.

The first book has a nice texture to it that should lend well to the film, a little bit fantasy and a little bit steampunk. The writing is engaging and the universe of the Compass is believable.

One of the fundamental premises is that the “souls” of people in this world are actually instantiated in a physical animal known as a daemon. The daemons travel with you and act as confidant and “soulmate”. A person’s character is reflected in the form the daemon takes. (Servants usually have dogs as their daemon). Children’s daemons shape shift constantly as their personalities are in development.

I was talking with terracinque about this first book, and we both agreed that if Mr. Pullman did anything well (and he did many things well) he communicated the relationship of person and daemon very clearly and made us care about it.

The only downside to this book is that is very clearly only part of a story. Whereas The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, could comfortably stand on its own, we are not through with the story of Compass at the end and many things are left unexplained.

As for the reported anti-Christian rhetoric, the first book has little. There is a Science vs. The Church theme which will undoubtedly develop further in the coming books. My impression is this is less anti-religion and more anti-dogma.

Good read. I look forward to the film.

Modern Home Economics

I was just reading a post in dooce.com, which I heartily recommend, and read a line that said “…blast on the stereo while unloading the dishwasher.”

Only I thought it said “…uploading the dishwasher.” And I decided from that point on, I would refer to it as uploading and downloading the dishes from or to the dishwasher.

Also, I can’t wait to get home and download a Coke from the fridge.

Cast Away

RocketBoy got his cast off. I haven’t seen him yet, but I’m told the process is approximately as traumatic as getting one on in the first place. It may be two or three days before he straightens his arm. Not because he can’t, but because he won’t.

I’ve been hot and heavy into an interesting project at work, so I’ve neglected my life-record-keeping. In the past week or so, we’ve converted our front room to a Guacamole-and-Tan colored space with a “grown-up” couch and chair (thanks, IKEA!), instead of my college futon.

We’ve also had two trees removed, with one more going down tomorrow. The builders who have created a big dirt hole where the house next door used to be offered to remove a couple trees for us because they were leaning precariously towards the place where the new house will sit, and we asked the tree guy to remove one that’d been bothering me while he was at it. I managed to knock $400 off the cost by requesting they leave the remains of the tree in 5-6′ lengths to border in a play-space we’re working towards in the backyard.

In other renovation news, I’m considering replacing all our terrible, horrible, no-good metal tri-fold closet doors with regular swing-open wood frames covered in stretched fabric. Stay tuned for those exciting exploits.

Also, someday… a rope swing. I think I’ve figured out how to do logistically using two trees. When I was young, we had the most enviable rope swing in the neighborhood. It was 100 feet of rope on a huge tree that hung out over a creek with steep banks. With practice, you could swing out and jump off to land on the opposing side. “Practice” meaning “falling 5 or 6 feet into the creek a lot.” It was awesome.

Long live the rope swing.

steakums just called to tell me that our internet is not back at home, and COMCAST is saying that there seems to be a problem with our cablemodem as it is not responding to their hails. Service technician due out on Sunday. Good thing we’re headed to Kentucky for the holidays, where the internet still flows like water. And, in fact, water still flows like water.

That’s not really Spider-Man, it’s just my friend J___

RocketBoy’s Jupiter costume went off without a hitch. The paint job was not historically accurate, with slightly bolder (and lopsided) colors than the real Jupiter, but people could tell well enough that he was a planet. He got compliments at every house we went to.

We even managed to get his arm cast through a hole so he wouldn’t be one-armed Jupiter. The cast was a satisfactory mounting place for the moons as well. Now I just have to figure out how to get the splatter drops of dried paper mache off the floor.

RocketBoy and J__ went out, escorted by J__’s dad, RocketBro and myself. RocketBro sadly could not locate a Halloween costume contest, nor did he finish his Plan A costume, but went trick or treating in his Plan B, a man who’s arm has been cut off with a sword that is currently embedded in his torso. It looked good, with Twizzlers for veins coming out the arm stump. It made me hungry and repulsed at the same time.

One of our neighbors always dresses up as a witch and goes all out in characterization. Every year, RocketBoy gets into a debate with her on the finer points of being a witch. He was concerned this year that she would crash her broom while flying, because that’s what happens to Angela Landsbury in Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Two doors down, our neighbors convert one of their garage bays into a movie theater by rear projecting onto a screen in place of the garage door. This year they were showing one of the Harry Potter films. I was reluctant to move on to the next house. Somehow, I need to talk them into doing a summer film festival next year.

Of course, they have a flat driveway, so seating might be tricky. We, however, have a slanted driveway, leading down to the garage. If we were to get a projection TV and do it, it would be like having stadium seating… hmmm…. I just need 8 jillion dollars for a projection system…