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That would be Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's adaption of Alice of Wonderland. Gotta love his willingness to get totally into a part, don't you? Check out more pics here. (Craziest Red Queen ever I think!)

For those of you who might have missed it, Jessa is off to Berlin and Michael Schaub is back filling in for her at Bookslut. One of his funnier blogging moments last week:

Since I've been AWOL from the blog for a long time, I've missed a lot of the literary controversies that have been popping up, including this Derek Walcott-Ruth Padel Oxford contretemps. If I understand it correctly, Walcott was passed over for a professorship after a group of second-wave book bloggers sexually harassed his 14-year-old daughter, Willow, with a Kindle. Is that...is that right?

In any case, an anonymous (of course) author has now written a poem, "Smear," about the whole thing. I'm guessing the anonymous poet turns out to be "Eric Dalcott" or something like that.

Jen Howard is also blogging each day. Just go read - they're as funny as you can be while covering the lit world.

I don't usually get all political around here (except for things like Iran because that is epic) but this bit about a Missouri state legislator who sent out a newsletter decrying the fact that government was continuing the free lunch program for school age kids over the summer is a real humdinger. It's the bit where she says the teens in particular don't need free lunch and should get a job (money quote "Hunger can be a positive motivator") that really blows my mind. Don't you have to at least be smart enough to know not to put this stuff in writing before you can get elected? The St Louis Post Dispatch was not amused, probably because one in five of Missouri kids live in hunger.

Ray Bradbury is fighting for Ventura's libraries. If you've read his essays you will know how much he credits the public library with forming his literary career. It's nice to see him still doing what he can at his age and with poor health. A bit:

He can still be found regularly at the Los Angeles Public Library branch in Koreatown, which he visited often as a teenager.

"The children ask me, ‘How can I live forever, too?' " he said. "I tell them do what you love and love what you do. That's the story on my life."

He also seems to have a crush on Bo Derek. Too funny.

Someone is going to have to explain this whole Lauren Conrad thing to me because it just doesn't make any sense. It's clear she had a ghostwriter for her book (she pretty much says so in the acknowledgments) but the fact that she has no personality is what makes her memorable? Vapidity is the new creativity? I so see a future What a Girl Wants question on this....

Anne Frank lives on in Iran
. Too true.

Jenny Diski got fired from editing a short story collection by student writers for being too honest. (via Jenny D. who just did a big light reading round-up.)

Lauren Miller looks at other urban fantasy that Buffy fans might enjoy but I have to say that while some of these series are certainly fun (although I agree Anita Blake has totally jumped the shark), I think Miller is missing the fact that it wasn't just the vamp/fantasy appeal of Buffy that we loved but the Scoobys. Nothing else has managed to pull together that same friendship dynamic that Joss Whedon did so well and that - combined with the fantasy/horror and the mystery elements and the "see girl kick butt" and the romance is what made it all work. In other words, if you're a Buffy fan don't expect to fall hard in the same way for anything else because you're not going to find Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, Tara, Oz or even Cordelia out there as well.

Caught by the River sounds lovely (and includes Roger Deakin!)

Finally, Doret takes Rick Riordan to task for a death in the final Percy Jackson book and I have to say this one really gave me pause. The issue of how people of different races/nationality/religion/etc. read a book is one that is revisited a lot on the blogs because we are such an eclectic reading group but I don't think anyone else has caught what Doret saw in this particular instance (something she addresses in her post). Also read the comments as she is quick to point out this is not a pattern at work for Riordan but still troubling. It reminds me of all those action movies where there are four white characters and one black - and everybody knows who is going to die in a bid to save the rest of them. (And we also know who's going to rescue who and result in some sort of wholly inappropriately timed romantic moment but that's a whole other discussion.)

Sigh. The world changes so much everyday, but sometimes still it just changes so damn slow.

comments

Johnny Depp looks great. The costume designers and make-up artist working on that movie must be pysched.

There are many great quotes from the legislator
"Why have meals at home with your loved ones if you can go to the government soup kitchen and get one for free? This could have the effect of breaking apart more families."

Sorry, Honey the food at the soup kitchen is simply too good, I'm leaving you, Really.


Can I smack that Missouri chick? Advocating that teens eat at McDonald's -- and you know she's talking to a certain class and ethnicity which she figures eats there already -- Ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Not that there's an obesity problem in America or anything, spurred on by the poor eating crap food. Hey, maybe next she can suggest that the poor be motivated to eat their babies. After all, it worked for the Irish, right?

This hits me especially hard because my Mom directs a non-profit early childhood education center at a church, and she's seen the kids who need the food. In this financial climate, she's being asked to cut their summer lunches. Bad, bad, bad news.

/rant

I agree that Lauren Miller missed the details in her piece, it IS the Scoobys, and those friendships are what make the show such wistful viewing. We all wish we could all be close with our best buds and just kick butt and right injustice all day. Imagine some of our Secret Society together in person. We'd be wicked cool.

Anne Hathaway is smart to stick with the weird Tim Burton films. With Depp, they'll always have the draw of the name and the looks; more importantly, it looks like they have FUN, and create their own Hollywood, which is good for us -- they will always make a different brand of film.

I actually really like Laura Miller's piece and think she nails the connection between much of the urban fantasy milieu and Buffy. Every single editor I talked to for my UF/paranormal romance piece in PW mentioned Buffy as the progenitor of the trend's rise in books, and as one reason so many of the readers are younger than the usual romance readers. The main difference, to me, is the connection to the noir PI voice that many of the books have. And it's undeniable that Buffy has and continues to influence a great many writers (including me) working with contemporary fantasy.

And Miller's also dead on in terms of the focus on working class heroines. That's one of the things I find so interesting about UF right now. It's one of the only places where I see blue collar workers, and yet these books are viewed as entirely escapist. V. interesting. Someone could get a grad thesis out of this stuff.

Anyway, I have a real soft spot for the best of these books, and Miller namechecks a few of my faves--maybe that's why I like the piece so much. :)

Oh I liked her piece Gwenda - but what I noticed is that having read some of those other books as well is that no one else has the Scoobys like Whedon did. So do they share elements of Buffy? Sure - and they do a good job on their own as well. But I don't think Miller addresses how big a deal the friendships were in the series and what a missing element they would be in other titles. (Ironically I think Anita Blake had a good group in the beginning until she jumped that big old sex shark... :)

And yes Tanita - I get you on that MacDonald's bit as well. You could practically hear her saying "fast food is good enough for you people.

I hope this woman does not get re-elected.

I don't know--I think the spirit of the friendships in Buffy is caught in some of the more ensemble books (which are my faves, actually) she mentions. And even within those secondary characters in Buffy--some of whom you rightly point out were just as important as Buffy for a lot of us--I do think the angst they went through was part of the allure.

But, for instance, the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews absolutely has incredibly compelling recurring characters that are a major part of the series. Likewise with Briggs' Mercy Thompson series.

So, sure, we also watched Buffy for other reasons, but I just think I see the "new" urban fantasy books getting beaten up on all the time because of the way they are packaged, instead of the contents. It was nice to see Laura Miller engage with some of the reasons why they are so popular without taking a condescending tone--and I do think there's a connection with Buffy, in that it was so influential and so many people still miss it greatly. We could probably make a whole different list of YA books that show the influence in the same way; the main difference I see between adult UF and YA UF these days is less influence of the procedural noir on the YA side. It will be v. interesting to see if that holds up as more authors from the adult UF side cross over to YA. We might have a whole generation of bad-ass Nancy Drews ahead of us (which sounds pretty awesome, actually).

Hmmm - maybe i just struck a nerve with you on this quick mention? I just didn't see Miller pointing out the buddy nature of Buffy, and thus the buddy nature of the other books as much as I think she could have (compared to mentioning so many of the fantasy type elements). I do enjoy a lot of these books...I just didn't think the article gave that component of the Buffyverse the attention I think it deserves (even more than other elements).

Does that make any sense?

And I do like the bad ass ND idea and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to the YA mystery/urban fantasy field in coming years...which ties in perfectly to our What a Girl Wants question for tomorrow!

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