What have I been up to lately? I've had to ask myself this question, just for a reminder. The last couple of months have been a lifetime record for me: I have finished an average of only 2 books a month since the start of October! This is due, in part, to a combination of a more time-consuming work schedule, extra seasonal services as organist and choir director, and a couple of big symphony performance weeks. But let's be honest - in past years I've had the same job, done the same musical stuff, and kept up on my reading all at the same time. So what's different?
Well, I don't know. But whatever it is, I think I'm coming out of it. I've got more plans for composing music. I've on more of a roll in writing some ongoing fiction projects. I'm still blogging, enjoying music and movies and books, and getting my various and sundry jobs done. Apparently, for a couple of months, my energy level slipped. Hopefully, thank God, it's coming back up again.
I am currently WAY behind on reading the same books I had bookmarks in some weeks ago. The first one I plan to finish is Steve Augarde's X Isle, which at the time he sent it to me wasn't available in the US. Perhaps I will still get my review out in time for it to count as an advance look, and the author will think kindly of my request to interview him for this blog.
After that, top priorities go to ARC's of Diane Duane's A Wizard of Mars, P. W. Catanese's Dragon Games, and D. M. Cornish's Lamplighter, all of which I had been looking forward to reading before their authors and/or publishers sent them to me. And let's not forget Robert Kroese's Mercury Falls, a free copy of which I "won" in an online giveaway contest by promising the author a review. I love Diesel's blog and I really do look forward to reading his book... but I guess it's too late to have it done in time to send copies to my loved ones for Christmas.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have poked my head out of my lair a couple of times. I went out to see the Sandra Bullock movie The Blind Side a week before Christmas. The day after Christmas, I saw the Robert Downey-Jude Law film Sherlock Holmes. The former cranked up the shmaltz as only a sports movie can do, but with an extra zing of humor and tough-gal magnetism, thanks to Bullock's performance as a philanthropic mom/wife/lady-who-lunches who takes in a homeless kid who grows up to be NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher. It was nice to see a Christian (and Republican) portrayed as neither foolish and weak nor hateful and mean.
As for the Holmes movie, it was an enjoyable enough action-adventure-comedy to keep you from thinking about how un-Holmesian Downey's portrayal is, as the master sleuth takes on an occult mystery that begins, I say begins, when the villain is hanged. The villain is played by Mark Strong, late of Stardust (where he played - guess what? - a villain), an actor who really has nastiness down to an art. I'm guessing the Conan Doyle estate put up a fuss about it, because the part of the opening titles that acknowledge Sir Arthur as the creator of Sherlock Holmes reads more like a disclaimer than a writing credit. It said something like, "Sir A. C. D. wrote about Sherlock Holmes in a number of novels and short stories," rather than "based on characters by" etc. See what I mean?
I can name a few writers, still living, who ought to envy Sir Arthur, dead though he may be. Having seen movies allegedly based on their books, I imagine they would like to replace their own "based on the novel by" credit line with a similar disclaimer. But when you've sold the film rights, you don't necessarily have that kind of control over your own work. How horrifying it must be to see your creation taken to pieces by a committee of other writers & refashioned into something very different. I think I would rather leave a codicil in my will forbidding anyone from making a film of my masterpiece until the year 2972. But then again, I haven't reached the point where I have to choose between selling my work and eating it. More to the point, I don't have any work to sell!
But I'm working on that. Stand by for updates.