A Bit Bookish

The name's Luna.
24/Los Angeles/wannabe blogger & researcher
Just another freak in the Freak Kingdom.
A place for me to ramble about books I love... also probably the only blog I'll ever have that will keep its theme. I don't want my page to be a mess so I'm only going to shelve books starting with what I've read in the past year.
I'm not always eloquent, and I'm certainly not pretentious. I am just a huge nerd who lurks in used bookstores and likes to read and do research for fun.
Geeks unite.


A classy Halloween pin-up and good vibes to all of you this Halloween! Just in case I can't get on tomorrow, have an amazing holiday, be safe, and post pictures of your costumes! 



The Hobbit- Ch. 7 & 8

[Sorry these are so miserably late! I hope they're still enjoyable!]  


Chapter 7 - Queer Lodgings 


This was another chapter that made me long to go on my own adventure. A ride on the back of a giant eagle followed by a peaceful rest in a beautiful cabin surrounded by flowers and waited on by intelligent animals? Sign me up!

I think Beorn is my favorite minor character. I have a fondness for characters like him- big, tough men who might be a little suspicious of you at first, but are actually incredibly kind-hearted. Hagrid-like characters, I suppose. The party finds their way to his house in desperate need of help. Fifteen people showing up uninvited and begging for food and shelter probably wouldn't go over too well no matter the time or place, but of course Gandalf has a plan.

His telling of bits of their adventure is one of my very favorite scenes in the book. Beorn is like a child in his amusement at their tale and the constant appearance of more dwarves. I love that he rewards them for the tale even though he isn't sure that it's true, just because he enjoyed it so much. It's very much like something out of a fairy tale. Like The Last Homely House in Rivendell, it's a refuge that reminds the party of the beauty and kindness in the world before another great and dangerous journey. They are nourished, Gandalf smokes his pipe and blows smoke rings, the dwarves sing- these things seem to always be connected to restful, kind places. 

I actually read the description of Beorn's cabin a couple of times because I enjoyed it so much (none of the pictures I've found do justice to what it looked like in my head though). I would love to be able to take a vacation there. I love that Beorn, this big hairy bear-man* lives off of mostly sweet things like bread with honey and cream. 

As the party sleeps and spends the day pleasantly in the cabin, Beorn goes off to find out if their story was true. He's gone the two nights and a full day, and when he returns, having found out their tale was true, he likes them immensely. He even says that he will think more kindly of dwarves now that he knows they killed the Great Goblin. After spending a couple of pages reading about friendly animals who help with housework, a beautiful cabin surrounded by flowers, and vegetarianism, some readers may begin to wonder how fierce Beorn really is. After their friendly breakfast, he reminds us all- 


"A goblin's head was stuck outside the gate and a warg-skin was nailed to a tree just beyond. Beorn was a fierce enemy. But now he was their friend, and Gandalf thought it wise to tell him their whole story and the reason of their journey, so that they could get the most help he could offer."

And so Beorn sends them off with food and ponies to get them to the edge of the forest. Once again they are saved by the kindness of a stranger. Gandalf leaves them at the edge of Mirkwood, telling Bilbo to "look after all these dwarves" and informs them that "with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day". This doesn't leave the party feeling too confident, but they head into the forest to face "the most dangerous part of all the journey"



*an interesting side-study would be the appearance of shape-shifters in European folklore... maybe I'll look into shape-shifter lore for a Halloween post. :] 


Ch. 8 - Flies and Spiders

So the party is now making their way through Mirkwood. It's a beautiful but unsettling place, its beauty lost in all the danger that lurks there. Bombur falls into a magical river that makes him forget everything that has happened and puts him into a deep sleep. They're making their way along very wearily, carrying Bombur and low on food, when they see a light off the path. It's obviously a gathering of some kind and they're desperate enough to ignore the very insistent advice Gandalf gave them to never stray from the path. When they try to get to the lights they disappear, and the party gets separated in the darkness. Bilbo is left alone and he rests against a tree to wait for the darkness of the forest night to give way to the slightly less dark forest day. He wakes to what is probably everyone's worst nightmare- a giant spider, wrapping him up to take home and eat! 

To sum up the rest of the chapter: Bilbo kicks some giant spider ass!! 

I seriously wanted to cheer out loud for Bilbo. In Chapter 6 he "found his sword", and now he is the master of it. He struggles for only a moment before remembering his sword, and then he comes at the spider with no hesitation and stabs it right in the eyes! This is the moment that Bilbo feels the most badass and confident- before, in the goblin tunnels, he had escaped and survived but only because of the magic ring- this time it's just him and his sword, and he triumphs. 

"Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.
'I will give you a name,' he said to it, 'and I shall call you Sting.'" 


I think the naming of his sword and the feeling of confidence that came with this incident is probably the biggest turning point for Bilbo. He is now not only an adventurer, but a warrior. Or at least a fierce spider-killer, which is, in my humble opinion, a perfectly respectable thing to be. 


In the following pages Bilbo locates the spider nest and kills the shit out of some spiders. Here he uses his ring, but rather than slipping away he uses it to draw the spiders away from the dwarves. He helps cut the dwarves down but they're all poisoned and weak from being the spiders' captives, so it's Bilbo and Bilbo alone that saves the day. He slashes and slices all over the place and mows down spiders as they make their escape. 

Bilbo's rescue is so impressive that the dwarves begin looking to him for answers- at this moment, he is their fearless leader. He tells them about the ring and the truth about how he got past Gollum, but it doesn't make them think less of him at all as he had feared, "for they saw that he had some wits, as well as luck and a magic ring- and all three are very useful possessions." 
It is only after hearing Bilbo's story and regaining a bit of their wits that they realize that their original leader- Thorin- is missing.



It feels good to be hanging out with Bilbo and the gang again. :] I'm going to do my best to have Chapter 9 up by tomorrow night, off to do school stuff for the rest of today. 


Happy Hobbit Sunday everyone, 


Victorian Gothic Nightclub

— feeling skull

Here's one of my favorite bits of creepy history, compliments of the always amazing sixpenceee





Cabaret du Néant (The Cabaret of the Void)

Basically this was a sort of gothic themed night club back in the 1890’s in Paris, but not like you imagine. Let me tell you about the cool and creepy things that went on here. 

  • After entering the Cabaret, spectators followed a “monk” down a blackened hall to a café with candles on coffin-shaped tables where they could order drinks from waiters who were dressed as if they were attending a funeral.
  • A lectured called their attention to paintings of figures that dissolved into paintings of skeletons.
  • While dark music played, the monk led the audience to a second chamber; here, a volunteer was asked to step up on a stage and enter a standing casket.
  • After the volunteer was wrapped in a white shroud the spectators gasped at an apparent “X-ray” effect as the man dissolved into a skeleton and then once again returned to plain sight as the skeleton disappeared.
  • In the last chamber, using a similar optical effect, a live spirit appeared to walk around an audience volunteer who mounted the stage to sit at a table.

Dark entertainment? But either way, I’d love to visit. 





*just to be extra clear, this isn't my work- there's a link to sixpenceee's site at the top

Halloween TV Documentary Marathon!

— feeling excited

As part of my 13 Days of Halloween celebration I decided to post my top 10 favorite creepy TV documentaries! I wrote this a couple years ago so I had to go back and fix all the links or else this would have been up this morning. Anywho, there's one for each of the remaining days of Halloween! Enjoy! 


For me, there is no better way to celebrate Halloween (and autumn in general) than by filling lazy afternoons with paranormal TV documentaries. I've been obsessed with these shows for years. I have very fond memories of sitting in my parents' living room in the slanted golden light of late autumn afternoons with a cup of soda and a big bag of chocolate chips, flipping through the channels to find spooky specials. Something about these shows, even and especially the older ones, is wonderfully addictive to me. More than anything I love them because they invoke a peaceful feeling of nostalgia. Something about opening your mind to the possibility of the paranormal- even if its just for 30 to 45 minutes- makes you feel like a kid again, sitting in the front yard with friends in the dusk among the fallen leaves and scaring yourself with old ghost stories.
Needless to say, I have amassed a pretty long list of shows that I've watched over the years (and more recently dug for on youtube and documentary sites). For this list I decided to go with shows that I think others will enjoy nearly as much as I do, and I've numbered them based on how excited I think they'll get you for Halloween! . (I've included links to the videos, of course, and I did try to find the ones with the best quality, though it proved to be a difficult task... sorry if they're mostly 360-480p) Let me know what you think!


1. Vampire Secrets
A History Channel docudrama (I suppose you could call it that... there isn't much acting, just neat supplemental scenes with narration over them) from 2006. The early 2000's (and late 90s) were the History Channel's golden years, in my opinion. I've watched it almost every year since then and it's my all-time favorite stand-alone TV documentary. It gives a really awesome overview of the history behind the vampire myth and the atmosphere created with the re-enactments is perfect. I think anyone would enjoy this one, and I recommend it often (it even has 4/5 stars on IMDb).


2. Haunted History - New Orleans and Edinburgh
I love Haunted History. It's so atmospheric and relaxing, and of course nostalgic. The narrator's voice and the simple reenactments are a comforting presence after a stressful day. The episodes I've chosen for the #2 spot on my countdown are my top 2 favorites from the series, which ran from 1999-2001. As it says in the intro, you "catch a glimpse of our historic past" through the interesting local stories and "through a veil of sightings and ghostly encounters", and I think that's the most entertaining way to learn about history. You may find the one about New Orleans to be especially interesting since American Horror Story: Coven has come out; it talks about the sadistic Madame LaLaurie and the ghost of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau wandering around the cemetery where she's buried. I recently found out that they did a re-boot of this show and completely destroyed it. The narrator in the '99-'01 version of the series had the most perfect spooky voice I've ever heard and now they have some idiot with one of those voices that belong on something like "World's Wackiest Wipeouts!" or some shit. (I call it a "WOAH BRO!" voice.) They also added the overly dramatic music (a la Inception) that is common to even the most mundane shows these days, as well as over-the-top reenacments and story telling. So stay away from that garbage and enjoy the first two seasons, compliments of youtube!
New Orleans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvomCZxFBFA 
Edinburgh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BePLvEOSua8

3. A Haunting
Speaking of reenacments, if you want cheesey ghost stories done RIGHT and another pefectly creepy narrator, look no further than Discovery Channel's A Haunting (although now I think it mostly comes on that channel 'Destination America'... used to be History International). This show started in 2005 and still comes out with new episodes. It profiles one or two "true life" ghost stories, told by the people who allegedly experienced them and acted out by really bad actors who look nothing like them. I love it. Anyway it always profiles really awesome ghost stories. Another autumn weekday afternoon favorite. I could only find one episode in its entirety, but it's a good one.

4. Ancient Mysteries w/ Leonard Nimoy - Witches and Bigfoot
How can you not want to listen to Leonard Nimoy tell you all about paranormal history? His voice is more magical than Morgan Freeman's (YEAH, I said it!). These two episodes are my favorites. They're from the 90's so they're pretty simple, but they contain a lot of interesting information. I especially like the one about witches; I think it does a really good historical overview.
Witches: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7uYwuVQ4T4 
Bigfoot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dHkMmmtIZ8

5. Is It Real? - Ghosts and Vampires
Even though it can at times be overly skeptical and snarky, it's one of my favorite shows. They are always trying to prove that whatever they're talking about is bullshit, so they get some very eccentric "experts" on the show. These two episodes are my favorite, mostly for the weird people they talk to. In 'Ghosts', there's the coffee-addled ghost hunter, and in 'Vampires' there's Don Henry and that nutter who hunted vampires in England in the '70s... classic Halloween semi-educational entertainment.
I couldn't find these episodes anywhere anymore (thanks a lot Nat Geo), the only one I could find on youtube was for The Nostradamus Effect, which is still neat so I'm putting it here anyway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5QIxp34_BE 

If you have the Netflix DVD service you can rent them, but I don't think any of them are streaming anymore. 

6. The Haunted History of Halloween
I haven't watched this one in a while; I'm saving it for the afternoon of the 31st. It's from the late '80s or early '90s. It can be a little dull at times, but it's a classic. It does a pretty thorough overview of the history of Halloween- including the dumb protests about it as "Satan's holiday" or whatever the hell, which is lame but a part of the history nonetheless. I only included it because I have watched it almost every year for forever. I have a very clear memory of getting my 2009 Mischief Night costume on and watching it in the spare bedroom at my parents' house before heading out to Lucky's Pub to see the boyfriend's band.

7. Ancient Aliens - Aliens and Evil Places
Gotta throw some Aliens into the mix! They have one about the undead but I like this one better... plus, it's more convincing. This episode takes you to the Suicide Forest in Japan and other interesting "cursed" places throughout the world. The craziest story is about some strangely murdered hikers in Russia... WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED, MAN?!

Once again, difficult to find decent videos of this series on youtube. It's worth finding in HD though- it's season 3 episode 10 if you're interested. I know there are some episodes of Ancient Aliens streaming on Netflix, not sure if this is included though. And of course they're available to rent on DVD from them as well. 

8. The Unexplained: Witches, Werewolves, and Vampires
This one is just delightfully tacky. It's a 1994 Halloween special, and it is so perfectly... '90s. Doesn't teach you much but it's got some cool stories and of course a good mix of oddball "experts". Great to have on in the background of a Halloween party because it's not like a historical doc, it's just a lot of fun.

9. Castle Ghosts of England
Another atmospheric favorite. As you can probably tell, a major factor in my enjoyment of TV documentaries, especailly when pertaining to the paranomal, is the narration. I just love this guy's voice. Good ghost stories, simple reenactments. Reminds me a lot of Haunted History.

10. America's Castles: California Dreamers (The Winchester Mystery House)
This one's not scary at all, and the narrator is a little corny, but the Winchester house has a great paranormal story behind it... I'm running out of time to finish and I don't want to spoil anything, but trust me you'll be glad you learned about it! I included it on the list because I think everyone should know about the Winchester house, it's really cool! So just watch the part about that, it's the first 20 minutes or so of the video.

So possibly aliens sonic boomed outta here last night...

— feeling alien

So last night the boyfriend and I are making dinner/watching TV around 10:30 and all of a sudden we hear this huge BOOM. It sounded like a giant slab of metal being dropped onto the street or something. It was LOUD, it shook the whole apartment. We went out to the sidewalk and all of our neighbors were outside (from our complex, the ones next door, and across the street), everyone was looking down the street to see what it might have been. It was really really loud, like when thunder is right above you except it had no reverb or anything and of course it wasn't thundering. Apparently it's a mystery still. And since there was no damage anywhere... what was it?! 

I say aliens. 


Not spooky, but SHERLOCK!

— feeling excited

Coming November 15 2015 - Sherlock: The Mind Palace: The Official Colouring Book! Pre-order from Amazon UK for Worldwide Delivery!


pre-order now

[I copied this from the always amazing sixpenceee. Click the link, it's a really awesome blog and she posts a wide variety of cool stuff, not just paranormal.]


World’s Most Haunted Forest: The Hoia-Baciu Forest 

The Hoia-Baciu Forest is situated near Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It is often referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of the country. It has a reputation for intense paranormal activity and unexplained events. Reports have included, ghost sightings, unexplained apparitions, faces appearing in photographs that were not visible with the naked eye, and in the 1970s, UFO sightings were reported.

Visitors to the forest often report intense feelings of anxiety and the feeling of being constantly watched. Moreover, the local vegetation is somehow bizarre in appearance, like something out of a make-believe story with strangely shaped trees, and unexplained charring on tree stumps and branches.

The forest was named after a shepherd that disappeared in the area with a flock of two hundred sheep. Most people who live near the forest are afraid to enter it due to the stories and legends that have been handed down. They believe that those who visit the site will never return back home. Many of the locals who have been brave enough to venture into the forest complained of physical harm, including rashes, nausea, vomiting, migraines, burns, scratches, anxiety, and other unusual sensations.

This dense forest first gained notoriety in the late 1960s when a biologist named Alexandru Sift snapped several amazing photos of a flying disc-shaped object in the sky above the forest. People who have entered the forest to this day get inexplicable rashes or they begin to feel very light-headed and ill. Moreover, the electronic devices are known to malfunction when introduced into the area. Some paranormal investigators have associated these strange malfunctions with supernatural activity. (Source)

A creepy tale from my home state!

— feeling ghost
Myths and Mysteries of North Carolina: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained - Sara Pitzer

One of the first ghost stories I ever heard/read was about the Maco Station Apparition. The following is a mixture of my own memory of the story and a bit copied from this book I found at work.

Joe Baldwin was a railroad conductor who worked the Wilmington-Florence-Augusta line (Wilmington is my hometown!). One night in 1867, he was standing in the caboose, his train heading home to Wilmington. As the train approached the little Maco Station (about an hour from Wilmington by car), Joe felt it slowing down. He knew something had to be wrong because there was no stop scheduled there. It was then that he realized the rear coach and caboose had come uncoupled from the rest of the train and were slowing to a halt. Moments later, a second train came roaring down the track. The engineer of the second train had no idea the cars were stopped- it would have been impossible to tell until it was too late. 
According to some versions of the story, Joe raced along the coach urging passengers to jump out as he headed to the rear platform to warn the oncoming train of his loose cars. He grabbed a signal lantern and waved it repeatedly from the platform, but the second train couldn't stop. Joe kept waving the light, doing his best to save the passengers and his train until the moment the train slammed into the stopped cars. In an instant the cars were destroyed and Joe was decapitated. His lantern flew into the swamp by the tracks but his head was never found; it's a matter of public record- Joe Baldwin was buried headless. 


Not long after the crash, people began saying they'd seen mysterious lights along the tracks. Usually they reported a white light that looked like a swinging signal lantern moving up and down the tracks at Maco Station. It appeared so often that train engineers on the route starting using red and green signal lights so their signals wouldn't be confused with the phantom white light.

The story goes that it's Joe Baldwin, searching the tracks and the surrounding swamps for his lost head. 

The Hobbit - Ch. 6

— feeling grin
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Lee

This is definitely one of my favorite chapters. Bilbo escapes Gollum and finds himself on the opposite side of the Misty Mountains. I listened to some of the lecture this week, and Prof. Olsen summed up what I was thinking very well- Bilbo has "lost hood, cloak, food, pony, his buttons, and his friends" but he has found courage, wit and (what I noted most when reading) his sword. He's had the sword all along but it's only now that he seems to be comfortable holding it and using it, even if he's not eager to actually hurt someone with it. Before his adventure if you tried to hand him a sword I doubt if he would have even taken it. The sword is a symbol that Bilbo is now pretty much a full-blown adventurer; he carries his sword comfortably, has endured many missed meals and uncomfortable nights, he's got a magic ring that lets him get into all kinds of mischief, and he's willing (although "very miserable he felt about it") to head back into danger to save his friends. 



I thought Bilbo's return to the group was highly amusing. The dwarves up to this moment have had no respect for Bilbo, and even though he knows this he is eager to prove himself. The dwarves are all very frustrated with Bilbo and not at all willing to go back into the tunnels to find him (which honestly is pretty understandable as they don't have a magic ring to help them and are probably assuming Bilbo's been captured and eaten already). I liked the short reference to how much things have changed since they first met in Bilbo's kitchen. Now it's the dwarves that are all flustered about Bilbo, and Dori even says (before Bilbo makes himself visible) "And here we are -- without the burglar, confusticate him!", echoing the same word Bilbo used when frustrated with the dwarves' behavior in his kitchen. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading Bilbo trying to up his adventurer street cred.

"Indeed Bilbo was so pleased with their praise that he just chuckled inside and said nothing whatever about the ring; and when they asked him how he did it, he said "Oh just crept along, you know -- very carefully and quietly." 
The moment that follows is the first that Bilbo is really seen as a part of the gang. You can feel that warm feeling of pride and acceptance (and a whole lot of swagger) that Bilbo is feeling as he tells his embellished story. The dwarves "shuddered most appreciatively at his description of Gollum" and by the end of his tale "looked at him with quite a new respect, when he talked about dodging guards, jumping over Gollum, and squeezing through, as if it was not very difficult or alarming." 



Even though Bilbo has become a legitimate adventurer, he still doesn't quite fit in, and in that way he remains relatable to the reader. He is unique in this party- he's had a "normal" life, like us, and even though he's growing used to being on this adventure, his reference of what living should be like is still there- he still longs for the comforts of home, he still complains and almost gets left behind in his inexperience. 


So anyway, Bilbo & co. are making their way through 'the Wild'. Bilbo's going on like four days with no food and being a rather good sport about it, in my opinion. The whole group is rather grumpy about being caught up in a landslide and still being on the run from the goblins, and of course things get worse before they get better. The situation they find themselves in, a bunch of old men stuck in trees as a pack of wild dogs stalks them from below, is another of those moments that's both funny and terrifying. At first it seems like a situation that they might be able to escape, but it soon becomes much more dire- being torn apart by a wild dog is awful enough, but when the goblins catch up and begin singing and dancing around the trees with sadistic glee things become even more horrifying. This lecture really covers all the aspects of the different beings in the Wild very well, so I'm not going to go into this part in great detail. 




I had a couple other things I wanted to talk about, but I'm ADDing out over here so I'm going to wrap this up with my favorite passages from the chapter. 




"At times they were pushing through a sea of bracken with tall fronds rising right above the hobbit's head; at times they were marching along quiet as quiet over a floor of pine-needles; and all the while the forest-gloom got heavier and the forest-silence deeper. There was no wind that evening to bring even a sea-sighing into the branches of the trees."



" 'What shall we do, what shall we do!' he cried. 'Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!' he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say 'out of the frying-pan into the fire' in the same sort of uncomfortable situations." 

(A bit of that humor that I love in The Hobbit and in the HP series -- escaping psychotic goblins that want to torture you for fun to be caught by intelligent wolves who want to tear you limb from live. "Uncomfortable" to say the very least.)





"So ended the adventures of the Misty Mountains. Soon Bilbo's stomach was feeling full and comfortable again, and he felt he could sleep contentedly, though really he would have liked a loaf and butter better than bits of meat toasted on sticks. He slept curled up on the hard rock more soundly than ever he had done on his feather-bed in his own little hole at home. But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find nor remember what it looked like."

(I loved this because it seems like Bilbo is finally feeling a bit of satisfaction in this adventure. He still dreams of home but my immediate interpretation of the dream was that it represents how he would feel if he had given up on the adventure before starting or at any point after- he would have always felt that he was missing something. I don't think that's correct, but it was my first impression.)  



 Finished just in time! 
Off to work, 

— feeling vampire

"It was well past midnight when I finally rose out of the chair and went out on the gallery. The moon was large over the cypresses, and the candlelight poured from the open doors. The thick plastered pillars and walls of the house had been freshly whitewashed, the floorboards freshly swept, and a summer rain had left the night clean and sparkling with drops of water. I leaned against the end pillar of the gallery, my head touching the soft tendrils of a jasmine which grew there in constant battle with a wisteria, and I thought of what lay before me throughout the world and throughout time, and resolved to go about it delicately and reverently, learning that from each thing which would take me best to another. What this meant, I wasn't sure myself. Do you understand me when I say I did not wish to rush headlong into experience, that what I'd felt as a vampire was far too powerful to be wasted?" 
"Yes," said the boy eagerly. "It sounds as if it was like being in love."

The vampire's eyes gleamed. "That's correct. It is like love," he smiled. 


The Hobbit- Ch. 5

Things are starting to get interesting! After the fight with the goblins, Bilbo gets separated from the group and wakes up in Gollum's cave. There were a few things that I noted while reading, though I didn't listen to the lecture this week and I'm not a long-time Tolkien person so my interpretations could be off. 

I remember hearing that later in the series you find out that Gollum actually used to be a Hobbit and has been twisted by the darkness and loneliness into the creature that he is. I picked up on a hint here and there, the most telling being- 

"...Gollum brought up memories of ages and ages and ages before, when he lived with his grandmother in a hole in a bank by a river..."
Gollum hasn't always been this way, and it seems like somewhere deep down Bilbo knows that. He feels empathy for him even though Gollum wants to kill him. 



Again Tolkien uses something silly to make a very grim situation a little bit more "kid-friendly". Gollum is scary, he carries around goblins teeth and a stone to sharpen his fangs on in his pockets, he scampers around in the dark and snatches goblins and whatever else he can find to eat. It's pitch black and Bilbo is hopelessly lost. The riddle game, "sacred and of immense antiquity"  distracts from the desperation of the situation and leads to a couple of funny moments. My favorite was when Bilbo said "The answer's not a kettle boiling over, as you seem to think from the noise you are making."- it sort of shows that he's becoming more brave in the face of danger. 



I like that the great ring of power enters the story in such a nonchalant way. Bilbo wakes in the darkness, gropes around and there it is. And he proves he is worthy of it immediately by not killing Gollum when he has the chance. 
"He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost."

The last thing I wanted to mention is what seems to me like a brief reference to evolution. I don't know very much about Tolkien's personal beliefs aside from knowing he had an interest in theology that's reflected in LOTR, but I was pleased to see this passage. Not only because I like seeing people be interested in both science and religion but also because it's just wonderfully descriptive: 
"Still he did not dare to wade out into the darkness. He could not swim; and he thought, too, of nasty slimy things, with big bulging blind eyes, wriggling in the water. There are strange things living in the pools and lakes in the hearts of mountains: fish whose fathers swam in, goodness only knows how many years ago, and never swam out again, while their eyes grew bigger and bigger and bigger from trying to see in the blackness; also there are other things more slimy than fish."




It's also worth noting that Bilbo got himself out of trouble this time and that he seems to be a bit more comfortable with adventuring- for example, upon finding himself lost in the dark he at first tries to smoke his pipe, which is a pretty chill reaction. And once again it's wit and a bit of luck that saves him, not violence.  



Favorite quote from the chapter: "Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" 



[I was going to combine Ch. 5 & 6 into one post but this ended up taking longer than I thought after gathering the pictures and everything. So here's a very late Ch. 5, still gotta go back and read everyone else's posts, and then Ch. 6 will be up later!] 


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Interview with the Vampire  - Anne Rice Vampire Forensics: Uncovering the Origins of an Enduring Legend - Mark Collins Jenkins His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3) - Philip Pullman The Mysterious Benedict Society  - Carson Ellis, Trenton Lee Stewart The Feast of All Saints - Anne Rice

October/November Reading List

I'm re-reading Interview With the Vampire for bookclub at work. It's just as darkly enchanting as I remember. Truly a masterpiece; Ann Rice just swoops right in, picks you up, and puts you in the room with Louis, lets you sink into his memories... you can almost feel the New Orleans humidity and see the sun rising on the plantation of his human life... just perfection. Absolute perfection.


Vampire Forensics is a look at the actual medical science behind what our ancestors attributed to "vampire attacks". It also takes an in-depth look at the folklore of the vampire throughout the world. I'm pretty sure there's a NatGeo documentary that I've watched of the same title... but The History Channel's Vampire Secrets special is the best vampire special ever made and covers a lot of this as well... but don't worry, you'll hear all about amazing spooky documentaries from me very soon!


I have already read The Golden Compass and apparently I read up to the very last chapter of The Subtle Knife and stopped (which I do a lot to save the last bit, but this time I didn't finish somehow). I love these stories. They're thought provoking and adventurous and the world Pullman created, one parallel to our own, is incredible. These books are amazing, they're just so... smart! I can't wait to re-read the first two and finish the trilogy! (Actually, I can because I'm only immersing myself in this world to distract myself when the boyfriend goes on tour again in November.) Lyra is such a badass. If for some godforsaken reason I end up having children I'm naming my girl Lyra so she'll be a badass adventurer too.


I'm sorry but some kids' books are just as amazing even if you don't read them 'til you're an adult. Of course the His Dark Materials series falls into that category and I'm hoping The Mysterious Benedict Society does as well. I can't even tell you how many times I've picked this up at different bookstores and considered buying it only to talk myself out of it. I just love the cover and the little blurb on the back... that alone would make little me desperate to read it. A decent copy came through the bookstore and I decided it was time. (I'm only going to read it if I get through His Dark Materials, so it might end up being a December read, but oh well.)


Another Anne Rice made it on the list- The Feast of All Saints. It's not a supernatural tale- it's actually about Free People of Color in Louisiana before the Civil War. My professor for African American History strongly recommended it, so it's got to be good.


I'll also be reading Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman for Anthropology, How the Irish Saved Civilization for extra credit in English, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs for African American History.




So what are you guys planning to read/re-read in October/November? What do you have to read and what are you most excited about?
I'm just super excited that it's Halloween Month!!!!!!!!!!1 Prepare for spooks to take over my blog, starting tomorrow!


Giving up on this for now...

Watch Me: A Memoir - Anjelica Huston

It's not bad but it's just not as good as the first one. It has its moments of beauty, poetic passages making memories of faraway times and places come alive... but much of it feels very rushed, focuses too much on her relationship with Jack Nicholson, and just isn't as ethereal as A Story Lately Told. I have a few pages folded where there are beautiful passages, I might post one or two. I got about 140 pages in, so I feel like I gave it a chance. Like I said, it's decent enough that I'll probably go back to it, but I ain't got time for this right now! I will say that if you like memoirs and that vintage sort of glamour that comes with living in London in the 60's, you should definitely read the first installment, A Story Lately Told.  



The Hobbit- Ch. 4

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Lee

Chapter 4 stands out as the first real challenge for our party of adventurers. They're high in the mountains and have entered the Wild (I love that it's capitalized, it adds to its majesty), where any number of horrible things could be lurking.
"...most of the paths were cheats and deceptions and led nowhere or to bad ends; and most of the passes were infested by evil things and dreadful dangers." 
I couldn't help but think that Tolkien was trying to warn young readers here about their own chosen paths. No matter what you decide to do with your life, there are going to be challenges, obstacles, deceptions and dreadful things; people aren't always honest, life isn't always fair, and a direction you take which seems completely correct could turn out to be dead wrong. Maybe not, but it's a thought that came to my mind as I read.


Before the party journeys too far (down the correct path, thanks to Elrond and Gandalf), they pause to gaze down upon the lands through which they've passed. Bilbo's comfortable village is a mere spec on the horizon. It's a moment that should make them proud, but after traveling miles and miles from Rivendell and being seemingly no closer to their final destination, the moment is lost. This is when we first start to see Bilbo and the others being of the same mind-- the dwarves don't complain as much as Bilbo does but they are all suffering the same impatience and frustration. This likeness of mind continues when they get trapped in a horrible thunderstorm... on the side of a cliff... near giants... in the pitch blackness with barely any shelter... yeah, I'd be a little bit annoyed myself. 

"All was well, until one day they met a thunderstorm-- more than a thunderstorm, a thunderbattle."


It says that Bilbo had never seen anything like it, which makes me wonder if even the rain is pleasant in The Shire. The situation is so bad that even Thorin complains--
"This wont do at all! If we don't get blown off, or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football!" 
"Well if you know of anywhere better, take us there!" said Gandalf, who was feeling very grumpy, and was far from happy about the giants himself. 
I enjoyed this moment of snarkyness between Thorin and Gandalf. It shows that none of them are really so different from Bilbo after all and it brings a bit of humor to the situation without overdoing it. 

Fili and Kili are sent to find shelter and return with news of a cave not too far off. Gandalf is skeptical about the cave's safety, but after a close inspection they settle in for the evening.




There is a very brief moment of coziness that takes us back to Bilbo's kitchen-- there's no fire, but the dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo are all sitting in dry clothes, getting comfy in their blankets and talking together. The dwarves are smoking their pipes and Gandalf is changing the colors of their smoke rings for amusement. It's a moment of calm, and everyone lets their guard down... which is always a mistake. 

That tiny piece of coziness is very strategically placed by Tolkien. The reader gets this warm feeling like "good, we have shelter for the night, everything's all good for now" and then, just as suddenly as Bilbo and company are dragged from their beds, we are jerked out of a calm reverie of colored smoke rings and cozy blankets and fumbling our way through the dark right alongside the others. 


Now Bilbo and friends (minus Gandalf, who got separated) are facing a different kind of evil. The trolls were evil enough to eat people, but they weren't really smart enough to be sadistic or psychotic. Goblins, on the other hand... 
"Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things but they make many clever ones... Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work til they die for want of air and light."  

The thunderstorm, the difficult paths, even the trolls seem like challenges from nature, but these creatures are the group's first encounter with true evil. Having heard of Tolkien's background in theology I couldn't help but think of the goblins as demons. 
Luckily for them, Gandalf ("Of course it was Gandalf...") finds his way back to his friends and buys them some time to escape from the clutches of the goblins, who are just about to brutally murder the entire party. 


"Gandalf thought of most things; and though he could not do everything, he could do a great deal for friends in a tight corner." 


Unfortunately, even Gandalf doesn't see what comes later, after they are sure they've beaten back the impending army of goblins. Determined to get revenge, the goblins, who have the tunnels memorized and can see well in the dark, put out their torches, put on soft shoes that will make no noise, and sneak up on the party.

(show spoiler)


The chapter ended when Bilbo "...fell... into the blackness, bumped his head on hard rock, and remembered nothing more"



Ahh, writing about The Hobbit was a perfect end for today... I was really sad because we had Hobbit day at the bookstore and it turned out to be the slowest day ever! It really bummed me out, I was excited about nerding out all day, so I needed this tonight...gotta read all you guys' posts as well, which I shall do over coffee in the morning. :] Also, I recently purchased a nice crisp paperback copy of The Fellowship of the Ring! Not sure when I'll get to start it, but anyway... time to watch Futurama, eat chocolate cake (left over from tea & cake for Hobbit day), and drift off to sleep. 

-and then Luna fell... into the blackness... and remembered nothing more. 


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Anyone else have trouble writing at night?

— feeling frankenstein

Back in the day I could only write at night, now I can't write at night hardly at all! If I get really stoked on it and drink coffee and everything I can but it's really hard for me to come home after work and sit down to write up things for school. 
I could turn it in tomorrow morning, but I guess it's bad to wait 'til the very last day it's due... I'm giving it a shot, but I don't want to post something crappy just to get it done faster. I'll take the couple points off for posting at the last minute. 

Writing in the morning is my favorite now. Reading too, actually. My brain feels nice and fresh and I'm generally not overwhelmed by the day yet. Around this time (10-10:30pm) my brain slowly starts turning into mush.  

When's your favorite time to write or read? :]



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