Heroes & Villains

Today, with a DVD copy of The History Channel’s 2003 documentary ‘Comic Book Superheros Unmasked‘ playing in the background and sun pouring through the slats of our vertical blinds, I’m doing my best to stay productive and positive. 2017 has gotten off to a rocky start, which was only to be expected when the Oval Office has been invaded by a misogynistic, racist, tiny-handed Cheeto man. But, as they have for generations, these comic book stories are making me feel like no matter how bad things get, the good guys will always be there to help save the day- only today, it’s us, the comic book readers, who have to stand up as superheroes ourselves.

My current read, ‘Our Revolution‘, by Senator Bernie Sanders, makes me feel like we the people really can be those superheroes. Full of inspiring stories from his campaign trail, logical explanations of the political process, and well thought-out ideas on how to move America forward in solidarity, it has been a light in the darkness for me in the days since Dump’s inauguration. It’s a bit of a tome at 450 pages, but it’s such an enjoyable read- I blew through the first 80 pages (and managed to tab/note) without even looking up at the clock. If you’re feeling hopeless, if you’re certain that America is in need of a real-life superhero- look to this book, and then look to yourself.

 

Mules and Men and a Rainy Sunday

It’s raining again today- yesterday was so clear and beautiful for the women’s march, but it was raining in the days before as well- LA weather seems to have fallen into melancholy with the rest of the nation.
I finished the first part of Mules and Men last night and started the section on Hoodoo. So far it’s already a lot more interesting and there’s a bit more of an anthropological perspective. I love that there is an appendix with examples of spells and ‘paraphernalia of Conjure’. My favorite passage in the whole book so far is the story Zora hears about Marie Laveau from a man who claims to be her nephew- and seems to have the powers to prove it.
My bookstagram post today asks where you would explore if you could travel back to a time when every monument and cultural center wasn’t a tourist trap, slowly losing authenticity in the rip tide of capitalism. It’s hard to pick just one trip I’d make, but I know I would love to go to New Orleans in the early 1900’s and meet a real Hoodoo practitioner. Of course, it wouldn’t be that simple- not only would I be a stranger from another state, I would be a white woman- it would take a lot of work to build up a trusting enough relationship to get any kind of real Hoodoo experience, but I’d stay there as long as necessary.

I’m finishing up Mules and Men today- still deciding on what to read next. I’ve narrowed it down to Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, and Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. Any suggestions as to what I should read first?

xoLuna

IG: 01/22/2017

lawlessroads

@a_bit_bookish: I wish I could time travel just so I could… regular travel. 😀 I’ve read about how easy it was to explore- no tourist traps, no “do not enter” signs. Allen Ginsberg went to see the Aztec pyramids, told the people on site he was a scientist, and they let him explore them however he wanted. I hate tourists, even when I am one- I would love to be able to get away from them and explore spots like that with just my bf. Where would you go, if you were traveling in the past?

I haven’t read this one but I had to buy it for the Paul Hogarth skeleton cover! The postcard is from the early 1900’s and the photo says on the back “Walnut Creek, Highway Nov. 20 1921, JP Day & wife”. (Photos with writing on the back are the best!)

currently reading, week of 01/16/2017

Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston
[148/246 pgs.]

I’m fascinated by this trip back in time into the fringe of Southern African-American culture, but I wish there was more anthropological commentary from Hurston. I’m hoping that there will be more in the section about Hoodoo, which seems to have been better received by critics and scholars.

***

This is my second read of the year, the first being Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, which I loved. I’ll be spending today working on an entry for Norwegian Wood in my reading journal, which will include related photos, some of my thoughts while reading, and a quote or two from my favorite passages. I’m trying something new and doing a bullet journal-inspired reading journal, which will make reviewing less daunting for me and more enjoyable for the reader.

I’m taking my time getting used to writing again, so I’ll be keeping the blog pretty casual for a while. I think that’s the way to go- last time I put way too much pressure on myself and burnt out immediately. Instead of making a plan/theme for what I write, I’m just going to go with the flow.

xoLuna

Luna Bee Reading

[a weekly reading journal]

I finished up Pride and Prejudice last Tuesday. Unpopular opinion alert: I didn’t love it. I wouldn’t dare to say that it isn’t good- the dialogue especially is masterfully crafted and carries the story almost on its own. I liked Lizzy’s cynical viewpoint but felt like she was still too much a part of the petty society at which she often rolled her eyes. I think Carrie Bradshaw is a great example of a modern-day Lizzy. On one hand she’s constantly taking jabs at the frivolities of upper class society, but on the other she wears designer clothes, goes to posh restaurants, and dates rich men- she’s still very much a part of that world. Lizzy still goes to balls, is concerned with how her family is viewed in society, and still seems to be primarily concerned with finding a fairly rich husband, just like her frivolous sisters. For me, Pride and Prejudice was a bit too much of a society novel/romance, which isn’t usually my cup of tea… except for Sex and the City (the show), oddly enough. I would however very much like to read Austen’s Northanger Abbey – a satire on the old school Gothic novel sounds delightful!

I started reading Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries and it’s fantastic. Neil deGrasse Tyson makes cosmology accessible and turns facts about our solar system into wonderfully woven stories about our connection to the cosmos. A lot of scientists have trouble writing for the layman, but NdT is concise and full of charisma and humor- just as he is in person. The book is a collection of his articles, so the chapters are short- a great book to pick up when you have ten or fifteen minutes to relax and ponder the mysteries of the universe.

I read Jeckyll & Hyde Wednesday afternoon and really enjoyed it! I’ve seen the Scooby-Doo episode so many times; I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it! 😀 I posted a photo of some of my reading notes on my Instagram.

Currently I am reading Death by Black Hole, Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki (an autobiography), and I’ll be picking my next fiction read tomorrow on my IG!

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

xoLuna

Looking for more Sherlock?

(A little late with this last Sherlock post, but it’s all good!)

If you’re a Sherlock fan, the obsession doesn’t have to end with Doyle’s collection of stories! Here’s some further reading, watching, and listening for my fellow Holmesians:

to read:
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
An amazing writer, a great mystery. Even though I read this in two nights straight through, I felt sort of ambivalent about the way she chose to portray the older Sherlock. I mostly liked Mary Russell, but I thought some of the more philosophical aspects of the novel felt too much like a much older woman’s viewpoint (Mary is fifteen when she meets Sherlock).
summary
The Seven-Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
I haven’t read this one yet but it’s been recommended to me a ton of times and it has a near perfect rating on goodreads (which I think is a bit of a tough crowd) and great reviews on amazon.
summary
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
This one is about Holmes as a young boy and is the start of a young adult series. It’s endorsed by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate and has great reviews. I tried to listen to the audiobook but I couldn’t get into it that way- it’s on my list of Sherlockian books to read.
summary

to watch:
BBC’s Sherlock, of course!
I think it’s an excellent idea to watch this show while reading the stories – that’s what I did and it was so much fun! (All three seasons and the Christmas special are on Netflix)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (starring Jeremy Brett & David Burke)
I’ve had this recommended to me so many times by Holmes fans and shamefully I still haven’t watched it- BUT, I just found this link to a bunch of the episodes so I’m going to change that! (Some of them are removed because of copyright laws but some still work.)

to listen:
I’m not usually an audio book person but A Baker Street Dozen, which is a dramatized reading of twelve stories, is ridiculously awesome! Seriously, I’ve listened to all of the stories at least three times each already. The voices are absolutely perfect. It’s a little pricey on audible, so check your local used CD & book shops first! Definitely worth it.

honorable mentions:
(to read) The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
This one has been sitting on my shelf begging to be read for a couple months now, and I think I’m going to make it my next fiction read. It sounds amazing, I just have such a never-ending pile! Also, the cover is just gorgeous.
summary
(to watch) Case Closed (Detective Conan in Japan) is an anime about a Sherlock-obsessed teen detective who, when investigating some shady characters in black, is fed a poison which morphs him back into a child. He retains his incredible skills of deduction though, and assists a hopeless detective in solving impossible cases. This honestly would be my number one recommendation because it’s one of my favorite shows of all time and I have it on almost every time I’m blogging, but I wanted to be fair! It used to come on [adult swim] and you can buy the first five seasons on DVD but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else so far. Netflix has the newest episodes (it’s on like the fifteenth season in Japan), but they’re terrible. 

biographical material:
Back in the day when Doyle was writing the stories, and for many years afterward, notes pleading for Holmes’ help arrived at the real 221B Baker Street. Even today there are many who believe Sherlock really existed. This is thanks not only to Doyle’s writing style but also to the numerous and very believable “biographies” written about him over the years. Even in the aforementioned fiction titles, they generally start out with something like the editor (author) “finding an old manuscript of Watson’s”.
Elementary, My Dear Watson by Graham Nown (1986) covers the phenomenon though isn’t a biography. I found my copy at a secondhand bookstore and I can’t find a summary online! It’s a bit more like an encyclopedia.
Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould (1962) is written as if Sherlock Holmes was indeed a real person and gives a detailed description of his history and even has footnotes and sources! It’s got an excellent goodreads rating as well.
summary
There are also modern publications stoking the fires of the Sherlock myth-
Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography by Nicholas Rennison (2007) & The Autobiography of Sherlock Holmes edited by Don Libey (2012) – I can’t wait to find these!
(summaries here and here)

Hope you guys enjoyed Sherlocking with me these past couple weeks! This week I’m getting back on track with a new featured book or theme every week. Stay tuned for more bookish goodness!

xoLuna

 

Sherlocking – The Basics Pt. 2

You can find part one here! :]

So we’ve briefly covered learning how to ‘pay attention better’ and how to overcome our biases in order to properly observe. The next step is applying what you already know to your observations.

When deducing, there’s a lot you have to be able to quickly recall. Remember, we only know what we can remember at any given point. When you’re Sherlocking on your own (i.e. researching body language, helpful facts, observation skills, etc) and you need to remember something the best thing to do is to make it come alive, the way Sherlock does when he ‘goes to his mind palace’ in The Hound of the Baskervilles episode.

image

It seems silly, but making a fact come alive with stories and gestures is much more effective than just repeating it to yourself over and over. The more cues, the more likely retrieval will work. If you’ve ever had to cram for an exam you may have used this technique without even realizing it- I remember I would often have to resort to reading a note card out loud in a funny voice in order to retain certain facts my brain was just refusing to take in.
(I’m going to make a separate post about mind palaces later since they’re pretty advanced, imo. Also there’s already a lot of helpful posts about them, like the one where I found the above .gif, which can be found here.)

When practicing deduction, always have a goal. No one can pay attention to everything, all the time. It will take years of practice to be anywhere near an actual Sherlock level of observation, so for now it’s important to pick specific things to observe. For example, you may want to figure out if someone you’ve just met is right or left handed. Focus on the details that you think will help you figure that out based on the knowledge you already have. (Check back later for posts on identifying handedness, etc.)

I just started Sherlocking a few weeks ago, and already I am noticing that I’m better at consciously directing my attention and I’m able to pick up on body language more easily. Basically all I’ve been doing is searching the internet for tips, reading Mastermind, and practicing.
I think the best practice to start off with is to pick something to notice each day. For example, one day I decided I was going to look for red shoes- I saw 12 pairs walking from one end of the mall to the other. It sounds stupid but simply being aware like that instead of having your face in your phone is really great beginning practice.

So hopefully I did an alright job of putting together an introduction to Sherlocking. Sherlock is one of my obsessions and I would love to post more about him in the future, so if you found this interesting please let me know in the comments! :]

xoLuna