Saturday, 28 February 2015

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Part 3

As I mentioned at the beginning of this little series of reviews, this one is only running to four parts, making this our second to last chunk of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I’ve been reviewing these films for months so it’s kind of weird to think of being done with them. I’m still trying to work out what I should watch next. Suggestions on a postcard please. ;-)

In the last chunk of the film, Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts prompted Voldemort to begin the attack as the Order tried to buy Harry enough time to do what he had gone there to do. That thing of course was to find the lost diadem of Ravenclaw, which he managed with a little help from Luna. Oh and Ron and Hermione kissed. At last!

This time around we’re paying a little visit to the Room of Requirement and Draco’s cronies nearly get everyone killed, unfortunately in unrelated incidents around the castle, lots of other people get killed. You might want your tissues handy for this next bit.

61. Something dramatic is happening right now, but I can’t quite tell what it is because there’s some flashes of light and a lot of darkness. Flitwick seems to be running away from things.

62. And now the bad guys are in the ground. Everyone’s retreating inside and it’s really not looking good.

63. I do love that Neville decides that right now he needs to tell Luna that he’s ‘mad for her since they’ll probably both be dead by dawn’. He’s so sweet.

64. Meanwhile Ron and Hermione are using the map to try and find Harry but as soon as they find him he disappears. Where could he be? Oh yeah, the Room of Requirement.

65. And it’s back to looking the way it did during the Half-Blood Prince when Harry and Ginny went to hide the potions book. So somewhere in this massive room full of towering piles of stuff is a lost diadem. Luckily Harry can kind of hear that tingling noise so he knows when he’s heading in the right direction.

66. Sure enough, he finds it. It’s in a box looking all innocent and not like it’s got a piece of the most evil being in the world’s soul trapped inside it.

67. Unfortunately for Harry, Draco shows up with two of his cronies (one of whom has been replaced by Blaise Zabini since the guy playing the original one got arrested for drug possession).

68. Hehe, love Ron’s response ‘that’s my girlfriend, you numpty!’ when they try to take out Hermione. I’m not sure whether Hermione looks pleased or exasperated by that. I also love that when running away from the enchanted fire, Ron grabs Hermione and runs with her, but just leaves Harry standing there. Nice one Ron!

69. Fire is one of those things that really freaks me out and this magic fire is pretty much the worst thing I can imagine. It’s consuming all of the stuff in the room (including the crony who conjured it). Luckily Ron finds a bunch of broomsticks and they are able to escape. They even save Draco and his friend, which shows that Harry is a good guy, not a bad guy. I also suspect I might be a bad guy because Draco really annoys me and I wouldn’t have minded if they’d left him there.

70. Oh, and they manage to destroy the Horcrux diadem. Voldemort is pissed about this and just kills one of his guys without hesitation.

71. And Harry figures out that the snake is the last Horcrux. Not quite, Harry.

72. Ron suggests Harry look inside Voldemort’s mind to see where the snake is. At the boathouse by the look of things. And then we see Lucius who is apparently hanging out there with Voldemort, and saying things which do nothing but annoy him even more.

73. Now Hogwarts really looks like the scene of a war movie. There are curses flying all over the place, people duelling right outside the door, giants and spiders roaming the grounds, and Fenrir nomming on Lavender. It’s not a happy scene at all.

74. Aw look, Aberforth has come and he’s protecting people. Go Aberforth!

75. Snape’s trying to reassure Voldemort that the wand is fine. He’s basically saying ‘it’s all in your head’ which probably isn’t the wisest thing to say to someone who is pretty much a homicidal maniac. Voldemort’s realised that the person the wand will actually respond to is Snape and that’s really bad news for Snape.

76. It’s interesting that Voldemort doesn’t Avada Kedavra Snape. He cuts him and then sets Nagini on him, but doesn’t even stay to make sure he’s properly dead. Good news for Harry, but sloppy work from Voldemort.

77. And Harry’s pretty horrified to see that Snape dying. This scene is so sad, watching Harry collecting Snape’s tears to be able to see his memories. And Snape telling Harry he has his mother’s eyes. Poor Snape.

78. Voldemort’s calling them all again. He’s calling off his troops and taunting Harry, inviting him to a rendezvous in the Forbidden Forest.

79. I don’t like how quiet it is as the trio head back into the castle. You just know that it isn’t good at all. There’s no music in this scene and it just makes it feel too quiet.

80. And now we can see all the dead. Poor Weasleys. Poor Tonks & Lupin. I wish we could have seen more of them.

81. Harry takes off on his own. Time to snoop into Snape’s memories.

82. Aww look, it’s little Lily and Petunia. And little Snape. They’ve really picked good matches for the young characters. I could imagine that boy growing up to be Snape.

83. And then we get Snape discussing the prophecy with Dumbledore, begging him to protect Lily and her family. And again after Lily was killed. I really feel for Snape in this bit here. Lots of nice little flashbacks to the earlier films as well as explaining why Snape had to be the one to kill Dumbledore. I do like this bit, but I like that in the book it goes into so much more detail.

84. It’s very convenient that Harry was there to see Snape dying so that Snape could pass on this memory to tell him that when Voldemort killed his parents, Harry became one of his Horcruxes. I love that this is interspersed with Snape finding Lily’s body while baby Harry looks on. And Snape is disgusted at the fact that Dumbledore has been letting Harry live purely so he can die at the opportune moment.

85. Ooh look, Snape’s Patronus is doe. So that means that Snape has been helping Harry all along. And by the way, Voldemort has to be the one to kill Harry. I suppose Harry had to find that out this way because he never would’ve believed Snape had he just told him.

86. This is all something of a shock to Harry. Understandably so really.

87. Now he’s heading off to the forest. Ron and Hermione aren’t happy about this. I love that Harry knows that Hermione’s known that Harry’s a Horcrux himself for some time. I’m not sure that Ron gets it though. I bet Hermione’ll fill him in after Harry’s out the way.

So we’re at the beginning of the end now. It all happens in the next bit, we’ll pay a visit to a rather monochrome King’s Cross, Neville will get to be a hero, Molly Weasley gets one of the best lines in the whole book and film franchise, oh and Voldemort gets defeated.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 5

I wonder if at any point of this book I'll be able to type The Grim Grotto first time, instead of 'Grimm Grotoo' which I keep finding myself typing instead. I think by the end of The Slippery Slope I'd got over my habit of typing 'Slipper Sloope' so there's time yet!

This morning's chapter saw Klaus announcing that he thought he knew where the sugar bowl was. In this chapter we should find out just where he thinks they need to head next.

What Happens?

Klaus has realised that the sugar bowl must have ended up in the cave. Fiona realises that this cave must be the place where the Medusoid Mycelium grows, a highly poisonous and prolific fungi which is deadly within an hour of being consumed. Captain Widdershins sets the course and the children are send to bed, only to be woken a short time later as the submarine crashes again. They have arrived and Widdershins announces just how they are going to locate the sugar bowl.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with an image of what I thought was a hole with snakes coming out of it, but then I spotted the eye and realised it's like Medusa's hair. They look like little corn snakes and are kind of cute, apart from the fact that they seem to be coming out of the top of some man's head. Does this guy have his hair styled to look like snakes or are they the real deal? I have no idea but hopefully we'll find out during the next 20-something pages.

Snicket opens the chapter with some suggestions of good conversation openers, ending with the statement that as they go, Klaus announcing that he knew where the sugar bowl was is one of the better ones. This got everyone talking at once and prompts Widdershins to promise Klaus he can marry Fiona and that if they can find her long-lost brother, they'll set Violet up with him as well.

It takes a moment to reel Widdershins back in after he gets sidetracked planning a double wedding. Dinner is served but Widdershins is still rambling so Klaus hasn't actually been able to tell him where the sugar bowl can be found. He mentions the fact that Widdershins had been talking about a philosopher and a cave which made Klaus realise that the oval on the map must be a cave.

Sunny's response to this is 'Absurdio' meaning 'Philosophers live at the tops of mountains or in ivory towers, not underneath the sea.' Hee. I refuse to discuss philosophy because I hated studying it at university. I swear we only passed that course because they couldn't fail us all!

Klaus believes that inside that cave they'll find the sugar bowl. Violet's missing Quigley since he would be the one to have around when you need help reading a map, especially as they're heading into 'uncharted waters', both literal and metaphorical. Widdershins is quick to tell them that the V.F.D. submarines have explored most of the seas, which confuses the Baudelaires since why would a Volunteer Fire Department need to hang out under water.

Turns out they did way more than just that. Widdershins was involved in 'Volunteer Fire Domestication' at Anwhistle Aquatics which had them training salmon to swim upstream to look out for forest fires. So that's why they do it! There's a mention of the Snicket siblings and something called 'the Snicket Snickersnee' and Cafe Salmonella stealing the fleet. It's all very bizarre.

We get a little bit more info on the Snicket trio; Kit Snicket (who helped build the Queequeg), Jacques Snicket (who investigated the Royal Gardens Fire) and the third one (whose name escapes Widdershins but who he knows had marmosets). Violet mentions the message they found addressed to Jacques but Widdershins tells them it couldn't possibly have been to Jacques because he's dead.

Sunny says 'Etartsigam' meaning 'The initials were J.S.'. Which prompts a discussion about what G.G. could stand for:

"Aye!" Captain Widdershins said. "Let's guess! Great Glen! Aye! Green Glade! Aye! Glamorous Glacier! Aye! Gleeful Gameroom! Aye! Glass Goulash! Aye! Gothic Government! Aye! Grandma's Gingivitis!" Aye! Girl-Getting-up-from-table! Aye!"

The latter is Fiona who has remembered something which might be useful. She has a book called Mushroom Minutiae which contains chapters such as:

"Chapter Thirty-Six, The Yeast of Beasts'. Chapter Thirty-Seven, Morel Behaviour in a Free Society. Chapter Thirty-Eight, Fungible Mold, Moldable Fungi. Chapter Thirty-Nine, Visitable Fungal Ditches. Chapter Forty, The Gorgonian Grotto..."

Okay, so maybe G.G. stands for Gorgonian Grotto. I was close.

The book's description of the Grotto is quite complicated but it's named after a Gorgon, hence the picture at the beginning of the chapter. The name is also a reference to the fact that some sort of poisonous fungi grows in the cave, the Medusoid Mycelium. And this leads to Fiona giving her new friends a lecture on the parts of a mushroom. This particular mushroom has bits that grow unseen until they just pop up wherever they've decided to grow. Oh and one spore can kill you within an hour, so if you inhale one, you're dead. Just as well the grotto is a quarantine for these spores.

Sunny's not sure about what a quarantine is, asking 'Quarwa?" so Fiona has to explain that, though we all know what that is so I'm not going to explain her answer here. All the same, it's pretty dangerous to go into the cave because if they bring back any spores with the sugar bowl it could be disastrous. The world is in enough trouble with the V.F.D. schism and all these random fires, who knows what might happen if mushroom spores got out!

And Widdershins isn't very reassuring here, reminding them all that there's a lot of bad things in the world. After all there used to be crews who wore other authors on their uniforms and now the Melville crew is all that survives. But they can't dwell on this, they can't hesitate at all, remember!

For now they're all to go to bed so that they're well-rested for the mission:

It is one of life's bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting.

This is also frequently true. But it's been such a busy day that the children fall asleep pretty quickly and sleep soundly until they crash into something again.

Turns out that they're inside the cave now but the submarine can't get in any further, so this is where they children will come in.

One of them will have to go and retrieve the sugar bowl.

This isn't going to end well, is it?

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 4

Considering the fact that I was away on Saturday so didn't get to write any blog posts at all, I'm really pleased with how well I've done at getting these all scheduled this week. Look, I'm even on track for my Chapter-by-Chapter posts. It's like a little miracle!

Anyway, we ended the last chapter contemplating the dangers that the Baudelaires are facing. I'm guessing in this chapter we might start facing some of them head on.

What Happens?

The children set to work with their tasks until after many hours they are summoned to report on how they're getting on. Violet can't find anything seriously wrong with the telegram device, Klaus and Fiona have tracked the sugar bowl so far but have reached a dead end, and Sunny's helped Phil make chowder. Then a mysterious shape appears on the submarine screen, like an eye. So we know that Olaf is following them, luckily it's chased off by a question mark shape. Then Klaus figures out just where the sugar bowl might be.

Thoughts as I read:

We've got a fairly simple picture for this chapter, though it goes across onto the previous page as well. It's the telegram machine and I think I can see why they're having trouble with it; the cable is almost frayed all the way through. That can't be good. I guess it's like everything else on this submarine, wearing out.

Snicket opens this chapter with a little ramble about the phrase 'fits like a glove' and why it's weird because there are a lot of different types of gloves and you have to pick the right one for the occasion. This is a very valid point and not one that I've ever really considered much before. A surgeon's gloves are obviously going to be different from a gardener's gloves but just because they fitted would mean they were right for the job if the two professions swapped. Good point Mr Snicket!

The reason for this common saying being mentioned is because the Baudelaires' uniforms fit like gloves even though they don't actually fit at all. Violet's has loops for tools around the waist, Klaus's has a waterproof pocket for the commonplace book he's started keeping, and Sunny's is waterproof so she won't have to worry about cooking spillages.

Strangely enough, just putting on these outfits makes the children feel like they belong and as though things are going right in their lives for once. Honestly, kids? Have you forgotten that every time you think something like that it all goes wrong and you end up in the company of Count Olaf again with no one believing your when you warn them? Feeling like things are going right seems to be a way to guarantee that things are about to go horribly wrong!

Now that they're all suited and booted, Violet asks to go back to the Main Hall so they can get to work on their various chores. Even Sunny is enthusiastic, saying 'Cuisi-' which means 'I'm looking forward to examining the kitch-' but doesn't get to finish because there's a scraping noise which interrupts her. If I was in the Queequeg and got interrupted by a scraping noise I'd be diving for my diving helmet!

Funnily enough, that's exactly what Violet has done and with helmets in tow, they head off to investigate.

The three Baudelaires hurried back down the corridor to the Main Hall as the horrid scraping sound continued. If you have every heard the sound of fingernails against a chalkboard, then you know how unnerving a scraping sound can be, and to the children it sounded as if the largest fingernails in the world had mistaken the submarine for a piece of educational equipment.

That's making me cringe just reading about it!

As it happens it's not giant fingernails, but a rock formation that they've bumped against. Violet offers to check that everything in the steering mechanism is still in order but Widdershins insists that she has to fix the telegram device so they can get their Volunteer Factual Dispatches, otherwise all is lost!

Meanwhile Klaus and Fiona are setting to work on the tidal charts. They have to work next to a porthole in case they see the sugar bowl outside. That's optimistic. All the same, Violet's hoping they might see Quigley Qugamire float by; as they're under water right now I'd be really hoping that they didn't see Quigley passing by!

And now it's Sunny's turn. Phil comes out to ask what she thinks they should make and she suggests 'Chowda'. So they all get to work on their various jobs until much later in the day when Widderhins summons them to report their progress.

Widdershins reports that he's successfully steered them further down the Stricken Stream. Violet's made some minor repairs (like hopefully replacing that frayed wire) but can't see why they're not receiving messages, this leads to the hilarious exchange:

"You're saying that the device isn't broken, aye?" the captain demanded.
"Aye," Violet said, growing more comfortable with the captain's speech. "I think there must be a problem at the other end."
"Procto?" Sunny asked, which mean "The other end?"

Definitely one for the grown ups there.

Basically it's beginning to look like no one is sending any telegrams. Even Sunny points out that when they tried to send a message to Mr Poe way back about three books ago the result was 'Silencio' or 'We never heard a reply.' Someone is destroying telegram devices to stop the volunteers from communicating!

Next it's Klaus and Fiona's turn. Before we find out too much we discover that Fiona's passion is mushrooms, making her a mycologist, but they don't get to say much more before Widdershins accuses them of flirting, hehe.

Once we've got past that we learn that the sugar bowl was probably carried out to sea. Sunny raises a valid point: 'Sink?' meaning 'Wouldn't the sugar bowl just drift to the ocean floor?' but apparently that's not likely so we get another little geography lesson which I like because we get some more Series of Unfortunate Events place names. These ones being 'the Gulag Archipelago' and the 'Mediocre Barrier Reef' which I think is my new favourite place ever.

They find a place marked A.A. on the map, which isn't for people with drinking problems, instead it's 'Anwhistle Aquatics'. Another place which burned down. Seems to happen quite a lot, doesn't it. Also it was founded by Josephine's brother-in-law, Gregor. Just some more random facts for you.

There's another place marked G.G. but they don't know what this stands for. I'm going to throw 'Grim Grotto' out there because, well, it's obvious isn't it? This is where things get confusing and it's almost certain the sugar bowl went there, though they don't know where it might have gone afterwards. So that's where they're heading.

And now it's Sunny's turn and Phil informs everyone just how helpful his little assistant has been, especially her sharp teeth for dicing. Sunny hastens to add 'Flosh' meaning 'Don't worry - I cleaned my teeth before using them as kitchen implements' which is reassuring because otherwise that would be gross!

Before we can dwell on this for too long we learn that dessert is leftover gum from Lucky Smells, funnily enough, no one is keen on this. But Sunny's taking things in hand here as well, telling everyone 'Yomhuledet' which means 'Don't worry - Phil and I have arranged a surprise dessert for tomorrow night'.

Then things get a bit chaotic as a glowing Q lights up on the screen on the wall. The Q is the submarine and there's an eye symbol getting closer and closer, from Widdershins and Fiona's reactions, it's not a good thing! Sunny suspects 'Olaf'.

They have to be totally silent and wait for the thing outside to pass. One noise and they might be discovered. The thing turns out to be an octopus-shaped submersible, though with many more legs than the sea creature, and sure enough inside they can see Olaf. And when Sunny speaks it's almost as though Olaf's heard her.

Then, just as this moment can't get any more tense, another shape appears on the screen, this one like a snake in the shape of a question mark. As the strange shape gets closer the octopus-vessel takes off, followed by the question mark.

Once it's safe to speak again everyone has lots of questions for Captain Widdershins, but all he says is it's very bad, which we could've worked out for ourselves, thanks Captain. Then he decides that it's time to eat. Well, I'm glad we cleared that mystery up.

But Klaus is distracted from the preparations for the meal. He's just figured out where the sugar bowl is.

At least that's a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 3

We’re onto the third chapter of The Grim Grotto now, having been introduced to the Submarine Q and the Crew of Two I think we’re going to learn a little more about where the sugar bowl might be hidden.

What Happens?

Fiona takes the children to get their submarine suits and along the way tells the Baudelaires how they known so much about them. We learn about things called ‘Volunteer Factual Dispatches’ which is where Fiona and Widdershins have been getting their information. And we learn just how unsafe everything is, both inside the submarine and outside.

Thoughts as I read:

The words ‘Chapter Three’ are in white (well, the colour of the page) because they are written over the black of the inside of a diving helmet. There are two more behind it and they all have a little bit of engraving around the top. I wonder if this means that this chapter will involve a trip into the waters outside the Queequeg.

Sunny’s response to learning where they are going is ‘Shiver me timbers!’ which is quite funny, especially as it sets Widdershins worrying about whether or not he’s taken up with a small crew of pirates and Violet has to explain that this is an expression of surprise. Widdershins has been looking all over the place for the Baudelaires, which is an equally surprising revelation.

It’s all a bit much for Sunny, especially as Widdershins has leapt back into work mode and is firing out instructions left, right, and centre. Violet asks Widdershins to back up a moment but that would involve hesitating and they can’t have that. Luckily Fiona understands how the Baudelaires feel about all this so suggests that Widdershins starts up the engines while she gets the Baudelaires into their uniforms.

Phil’s instructed to get them some soda (lemon-lime flavour to keep the scurvy at bay). He also mentions his sore leg, remember his leg got stamped at Lucky Smells, well it has nothing to do with that; he got bitten by a shark recently. And since he’s such an optimist he’s just thrilled that he got to see one up close. Not only an optimist but kind of crazy too.

With the menfolk out of the way Fiona is able to fill the others in on what’s been going on. The Queequeg has been following their exploits in The Daily Punctilio and figuring out fact from fiction to work out where the children were, hence the arrival of the submarine in the Stricken Stream. They’ve also been receiving Volunteer Factual Dispatches about the location of the sugar bowl and so that also brought them to the area.

Sunny asks ‘Dephinpat?’ at this point, meaning ‘What are Volunteer Factual Dispatches, exactly?’ In short, it’s a telegram, but calling it that means the initial is just T. instead of V.F.D. which is way more significant and mysterious. All evidence suggests that the sugar bowl was thrown out the window of V.F.D. headquarters and so has travelled down the stream (or it could have smashed into a bazillion pieces of course, no one is considering that option). That’s why they need to look at the tidal charts, to work out where it’s gone.

And why is it so important to find the sugar bowl? Fiona answers that question as well:

“My stepfather says that if the sugar bowl falls into his [Count Olaf’s] hands, then all of the efforts of all of the volunteers will be for naught.”

We then get an explanation of the phrase ‘for naught’ just in case we weren’t sure about this.

Meanwhile the Baudelaires are being shown their uniforms, a la 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Fiona’s worried that they might be a bit big for Sunny, but Sunny reassures her by saying ‘Pinstripe’ which means ‘Don’t worry – I’m used to ill-fitting clothing.’ Fiona goes on to give them the happy information that they’ll need diving helmets in case the submarine walls collapse. That’s a reassuring thought. If I was on the submarine I don’t think I’d ever sleep, certainly not without a diving helmet on!

The Queequeg apparently used to be a very majestic submarine, but it’s fallen into disrepair. Worryingly a lot of the rooms are flooded. I’m bad enough at travelling on a ferry in rocky weather, I think I would be a wreck if I had to board that wreck! As I’m contemplating this, Fiona and the Baudelaires have moved on to discussing sleeping arrangements and the fact that bunk beds are a far better arrangement than practically every other bed they have slept on up until this point.

Also we learn Widdershins has known about the lies printed in the papers about the Baudelaires but couldn’t do anything about it because their ‘troubles were too enormous’. Fiona’s not sure what this means but it has something to do with doing one ‘small noble thing’ (that being finding the sugar bowl) rather than trying to tackle all the really big bad things in the world. Oh and he won’t tell his stepdaughter what’s so important about the sugar bowl. I wonder if we’ll find out the answer to that one before the end of this book!

Sunny asks ‘Whyno?’ and Fiona tells her that Widdershins has said that it’s too enormous a secret. Everything’s about danger with this man, I can see why he would be so fond of Josephine! Funnily enough Widdershins doesn’t seem too concerned about the fact that the submarine is a pretty dangerous place to be. Though in the grand scheme of things, with Olaf and the villains in the world, the world is pretty unsafe.

So we end the chapter with the Baudelaires contemplating all the assorted dangers that they are facing and which might still be to come. That’s a happy thought, isn’t it?

Wreck This Journal: Collect Stamps

The page I’m sharing today is one that I’ve kind of neglecting until just recently. In fact, I completely forgot that it was a page in here until around Christmas time. The instruction on this page is COLLECT THE STAMPS OFF OF ALL YOUR MAIL.

Part of the reason I’d forgotten about it was because I don’t really get much in the way of post. I get stuff from the hospital or bank and that’s always in a prepaid envelope so no stamp there, and I get a magazine on subscription which comes in a polythene envelope, nothing there either.

I conveniently remembered about this page in the run up to Christmas but it wasn’t until I dug out the envelopes we’d received with Christmas/anniversary cards in to cut the letters out of the addresses on the front to make a label for my Secret Santa gift (should I explain that one?) that I realised I should really grab some of those stamps for my book.

So I cut them off and stuck them in the pencil case where I keep my Wreck This Journal stuff and just last week I got out my glue to stick them all in. And this was the result:

I’m hoping to add to it in the future. Perhaps I’ll get some more stamps in the next couple of months when it’s my birthday. I’m sure I’ll get some cards then.

(Oh, and the label for my Secret Santa gift? To make it harder for my recipient to guess who their gift is from I make the gift label random note style by cutting letters out of other things, the previous year I used magazines, last year I used the envelopes addressed to us. Of course I’ve done this twice now so it’s fairly obvious who the gifts with the ransom note tags are from.)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 2

We kicked off the first chapter of The Grim Grotto yesterday and saw the Baudelaires climb aboard a mysterious submarine where someone on board knew who they were. Today we’ll hopefully learn who it is inside.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires learn they they are on board the Queequeg, captained by Captain Widdershins and crewed by his stepdaughter, Fiona, and a familiar face, Phil. The children learn about his personal philosophy, are assigned jobs to do around the sub, and discovery that they are now on the mission to find something important.

Thoughts as I read:

So our image which opens the chapter is of a bunch of pipes, presumably inside the submarine. It’s rather worrying to see the number of drips coming from these pipes. I’m not sure I’d want to be inside a leaky submarine!

On with the story and the Baudelaires are following the mysterious voice which inviting them into the mysterious submarine:

“Aye! Mind the ladder! Close the hatch behind you! Don’t rush! No – take your time! Don’t fall! Mind your step! Aye! Don’t trip! Don’t make noise! Don’t scare me! Don’t look down! No – look where you’re going! Don’t bring any flammable liquids with you! Watch your feet! Aye! No – watch your back! No – watch your mouth! No – watch yourselves! Aye!”

Sounds like someone who could’ve been friends with Aunt Josephine!

The voice continues to give instructions/warnings. I’m not going to repeat them all here since they go on for another page or so. Suffice to say that the voice is not scary or menacing, we’re told that it sounds a little bit ‘scattered’ so I’m guessing we’re going to meet someone jovial and somewhat absent-minded.

Sunny makes it into the room first of all and meets a man wearing some sort of shiny suit with a big moustache. He announces the Baudelaires as they come in, basically saying what he sees. I kind of like him already, he seems like fun. Violet tries to introduce herself but he already knows all about her and he doesn’t even believe the reports from The Daily Punctilio. He’s definitely a good guy… I think.

Then the stranger takes off down the corridor and the Baudelaires follow him because they don’t really have anywhere else to go, considering this person doesn’t seem to think they’re murderers and until this moment they’ve been travelling down a river on a sledge. The man is still burbling away to himself, telling them about the submarine and the crew and the special suits that they’re wearing.

And then he decides to introduce himself, he’s Captain Widdershins. Oh, and we learn that the submarine is the Queequeg. See, I knew there was going to be a Moby Dick reference in here somewhere! He’s even given the place a funky little nickname ‘the Submarine Q and Its Crew of Two’. And I had a funny feeling he’d know Josephine, he’s familiar with her and Lake Lachrymose. He thinks about her every day ‘Except some days when it slips my mind!’

Widdershins seems to speak entirely in exclamations, everything he says is followed by an exclamation point. I have no idea why he does this, but I like it. He’s a great character and I love him a little bit already.

Sunny finally speaks up and says ‘Nottooti?’ which Violet is quick to translate as ‘she’s curious to know how you know so much about us.’ This is because Widdershins has been receiving a ‘Volunteer Factual Dispatch’ about them fairly regularly. We also learn his personal philosophy ‘He who hesitates is lost’ and his stepdaughter has added ‘Or she’ because it’s important to be politically correct when you’re composing your personal philosophy.

So without hesitation we continue along on the trek through the submarine while Snicket waxes lyrical on the subject of personal philosophies:

Having a personal philosophy is like having a pet marmoset, because it may be very attractive when you acquire it, but there may be situations when it will not come in handy at all.

They children have found hesitating quite useful on numerous occasions so I think they’re hesitating about adopting this philosophy as their own, preferring the more suitable “Sometimes he or she should hesitate and sometimes he or she should not hesitate” which isn’t really a philosophy at all.

Widdershins is telling them all about the problems they’ve been having, which includes being attacked by leeches, realtors, girlfriends and angry salmon. He’s quite pleased to have Violet on board since she might be able to help with some repairs. But for now it’s time to meet Fiona, his stepdaughter. She’s slightly older than Violet and has been working on repairs herself since their telegram machine has stopped working. Violet is ordered to get to it immediately, though he doesn’t mean it in a mean way, that’s just how he speaks.

We have been told a couple of times that the suits the family are wearing have a picture of a bearded man on the front, we now get to learn that it’s a picture of Herman Melville. There’s Moby Dick again. Of course Klaus loves him, because he’s weird and apparently likes reading books which are frequently interrupted by excerpts from Wikipedia. Then again, Klaus is into research and I suppose he’s into that. It’s convenient that Klaus is now aboard because they need someone who can research stuff.

So Klaus is going to be put to work decoding the tidal charts, now it’s just Sunny’s turn to get instructions. Obviously there’s not much cutting needed to be done, so she’ll be allowed to take over the kitchen. She says ‘Sous’ meaning ‘I haven’t been cooking for very long’ but if this is how good she is as a young girl, think how much better she’ll be as she grows.

And guess who’s been working as the cook on the submarine (the person making the damp casseroles – aren’t casseroles somewhat damp anyway, considering they’re kind of in gravy?) it’s Phil from Lucky Smells! He replaced Fiona’s mum (killed in a manatee accident), and before that was Jacques and his brother (whose name Widdershins can’t remember), and a woman who was a spy.

Considering the submarine is supposed to have a ‘Crew of Two’ they’re slightly overstaffed at the moment, lucky Phil is an optimist considering he might be booted out of his job at some point.

We don’t have time to dwell on this, we’re heading for the V.F.D. gathering at the Hotel Denouement but first the Queequeg has a mission to perform.

And what’s that mission?

Why, they’ve got a sugar bowl to find!

Book 38 of 2014: More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

As I mentioned last week, I’ve reviewed these books before, but they’re always worth another read. More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops is the follow up book to Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops featuring, funnily enough, funny things that people have said to other people in bookshops.

This book is divided into three sections. The first are quotes from people who have said weird things in Ripping Yarns bookshop where Jen works, the second section featured quotes from other booksellers around the world, and the final section includes weird things customer say at ‘Weird Things’ book signings. It’s a bit of a tongue-twister but it’s hilarious.

As I mentioned last week, I read this one as a quick read while I was waiting for my copy of The Bookshop Book (also by Jen) to arrive. I started reading it in bed on the 2nd of October and finished it in the morning the next day. I was up pretty early as that was the day I was meeting my Mum on the mainland so it was nice to read something fairly light-hearted.

Just like the first one, I’ve got my favourite quotes that I looked forward to. I’m not as familiar with this book as with the first so I’d forgotten a few of them as well. Again I enjoyed the illustrations. Those are done by the Brothers McLeod as with the first and I couldn’t help but wish for a few more quotes to have illustrations because they really are quirky. I’d quite like a couple of those on a t-shirt actually.

I copied out a couple of my favourite quotes into my book journal, but many of them were just a little bit too long for me to include. This is really just an excuse for me to keep it on my bookcase whenever I need something to make me smile. My personal favourite will always be the woman who was completely baffled that Jen was just signing her own book, not any others, like the copy of Fifty Shades of Grey that the woman happened to be buying. The insanity of it!

Next week I should technically be reviewing The Bookshop Book but I’ve already done that and you can read my review here. If you’ve not read that one, you really should since it’s a wonderful book.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 1

We’re all ready to begin the eleventh book in The Series of Unfortunate Events. We ended The Slippery Slope with young lovers Violet and Quigley being separated and the Baudelaire children drifting down the Stricken Stream to some new place. In this book we’ll find out exactly where they’re heading.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires are stuck on the toboggan as it travels down the Stricken Stream with no way of steering or stopping it. Just as they head into dangerous water and start to worry about falling off, a periscope appears and the toboggan bumps into the top of a submarine. They knock on the hatch and after correctly giving the password, they climb inside, where the person waiting knows who they are.

Thoughts as I read:

As it’s a new book we’re kicking off with another dedication to the deceased Beatrice:

For Beatrice -
Dead women tell no tales.
Sad men write them down.

I think that one really speaks for itself.

This book opens with an image from below the water. Up close is a fish but way above it were can see the bottom of the toboggan that the Baudelaires are riding on. Klaus is looking over the back of it. There’s not really much more that we can see in this picture, besides another fish in the background.

After a great deal of time examining oceans, investigating rainstorms, and staring very hard at several drinking fountains, the scientists of the world developed a theory regarding how water is distributed around our planet, which they have named “the water cycle.” The water cycle consists of three key phenomena – evaporation, precipitation, and collection – and all of them are equally boring.

I had to study the water cycle about three or four times at school, starting in primary then again and again over the years through secondary school, each time in greater detail. I think I could still draw the diagram showing the process.

This is really just Snicket’s way of explaining that it would be better to read something that will put you to sleep, rather than something that will upset you. The thing that will upset you in this scenario is the latest story in the continuing adventures of the Baudelaires.

For some reason this book feels the need to reintroduce the main characters again, just in case we forgot who they are. I like to think that anyone picking up this book has read the last ten books in the series, and if not they they deserve to be confused. But for the sake of clarity, Violet’s now nearly fifteen and likes to invent stuff, Klaus is the middle child who likes to research stuff, and Sunny is no longer a baby and was previously known for her sharp teeth but has recently branched out into developing her culinary skills. And all of them are stuck on a toboggan floating along the Stricken Stream trying to work out what they will do next.

Violet isn’t sure how to slow down the toboggan so Klaus helpfully tells her that it’s best if she doesn’t because if they fall into the water it’s so cold they might not survive. Sunny reminds him ‘Quigley’ to remind her brother that Quigley is still in the water and perhaps it’s best that they don’t remind Violet of the fact that it’s highly likely that her new boyfriend is going to drown or freeze to death.

They don’t know where Quigley was trying to tell them they would meet. Since they were all planning to head to the Hotel Denouement I would say that would be the place to go. Klaus checks his notes and says as much. It’s time to recap what they know about V.F.D. Answer: not so much, except that there is a very important sugar bowl somewhere in the world.

So the children turn back to musing about where the toboggan will take them. Klaus gives his sisters an impromptu lesson on the water cycle which Sunny responds to with ‘Tedium’. Fewer and fewer of Sunny’s phrases are being defined now that she’s not a baby any more and I think it’s fairly obvious how she feels about the water cycle. That said, when Violet mentions Olaf following them, Sunny’s next phrase ‘Esmelita’ does need a definition, it means ‘Along with Esme Squalor and Carmelita Spats.’

Their only real option at the moment is just to sit tight and see where the Stricken Stream takes them. Sunny’s not too keen on this idea (she says ‘Passive’) but there are few other options available to them at the moment. Eventually they head out into an open area and notice some scraps of newspaper blowing around them. Sunny says ‘Subjavik’ which means that from up here it’s hard to make out what they can see down below.

Basically what we’re looking at right now is the hinterlands, post-fire. And it’s only when Violet wonders who would have set a fire here that they realise who did it. They did. Sunny gently reminds her sister by saying ‘Caligari’. Remember the end of the book before last? Olaf handing Klaus a burning torch and told him to burn down the fortune teller’s tent. Well, it evidently spread. This obviously prompts another moral dilemma for Violet and even Sunny’s ‘Noblaym’ meaning ‘But it’s still not our fault’ doesn’t help things seem any better. They did it because Olaf told them to, but they still did it and it’s still wrong. Violet’s going to need an awful lot of counselling when all this is over to get past all this guilt she’s going to be carrying around.

At this point the toboggan starts to reach choppier waters. Violet’s still thinking of Quigley when Sunny tells her ‘Selphawa!’ which I’m fairly certain means ‘think of your self for once’ but which is translated as ‘We can’t think about Quigley now – we have to think about ourselves.’ They’re in danger of being thrown into the water, so out comes the hair ribbon and Violet starts pondering how they can steer the toboggan in the water.

It comes to her after a moment. They can use the runners! The only unfortunate bit of this plan is that they are attached to the bottom of the toboggan. Sunny’s reaction is ‘Imposiyakto?’ which means ‘How can we get to the bottom of the toboggan?’ Violet doesn’t reply to her with ‘I have to think of everything’ which I expect I would say if I was in her shoes. Instead she checks her pockets but establishes that the bread knife is long gone.

Then a metal eye appears out of the water with the V.F.D. insignia on it. Violet immediately identifies it as a periscope, so there must be a submarine somewhere close by, e.g. right below them. Sure enough the toboggan stops and there’s a hatch right next to them. After a moment’s debate about whether or not they should knock Sunny says ‘Taykashans!’ meaning ‘It’s our only chance to travel safely through these waters’ and leads the way in pounding on the hatch. She then yells ‘Shalom!’ while her siblings call ‘Hello!’

A voice from inside asks if they are ‘friend or foe?’ The insignia means there’s some doubt as to whether or not they are friend or foe, it might be an eye like on Olaf’s tattoo or it might be the volunteers’ logo. In the end it’s Sunny who casts the deciding vote. She says ‘Obvio!’ which sounds like a spell from Harry Potter but actually means ‘There’s only one answer that will get us into the submarine’ and goes with the ‘friend’ option.

This time the voice replies that they need the password. This is a little trickier for the children as they have no idea what it’s likely to be. Violet takes a guess though and says ‘The world is quiet here’ which proves to be exactly the password the person inside the submarine is looking for. The hatch opens.

Inside the voice says ‘Enter, Baudelaires’ and the children head inside. I have to wonder how it is that the person inside knows who they are.

We’ll find out tomorrow.

Film Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

As I mentioned yesterday, I took a trip to Glasgow with some friends. One of the main purposes of the trip was to go and see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.

Now I have to say here, this is really not the sort of thing that I would choose to see by myself. I've avoided the books thus far and I really suspected that the film would be a complete dud (I did consider using the word 'flop' there but that might have been an inappropriate pun). Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed it.

I think that a lot of that was because I had absolutely no expectations, in fact, I wasn't expecting it to be very good at all. My plan was to have a laugh on the journey to Glasgow, enjoy my meal and the conversation, eat some popcorn in a dark room full of strangers for two hours and then have a laugh on the way home. The fact that the film was better than I expected was a bonus.

At the beginning I got the impression that they were setting up a theme with lots of grey and drab looking city scenery. So the cinematography was pretty sharp. The dialogue was often pretty cringe-worthy, but the actors did their best with it. Considering Anastasia got told off for her eye-rolling, I couldn't help but think I would have been in a lot of trouble because I couldn't help but giggle at what seemed to be inappropriate moments. Whenever I thought that the dialogue was a bit poor I reminded myself of some of the reviews of the book that I've seen so I guess that often the source material was to blame.

Luckily a fair amount of the the dialogue seemed to be intentionally funny. I checked afterwards with the group I was with that I was laughing at the right bits and the general consensus was that they were meant to be funny, so I guess they were meant to be taken that way. I do kind of wish that I'd counted the number of times Ana said 'oh' because it had to be twenty or more, that got kind of funnier as the film went on, though again, I'm not sure it was supposed to be. But having looked that up online it would appear that in the book 'Oh my' is a bit of a catchphrase for her.

As for the characters, well Christian Grey is a bit of a weird bastard isn't he? There's someone who clearly has attachment issues. Abused and neglected child of a mother with a drug problem? Check! Adopted at a young age? Check! Unhealthy relationships? Check! Uncomfortable with physical contact? Check! I couldn't help but think it from about halfway through the film, which was kind of distracting.

(Side note: I keep typing his name as 'Christina Grey'. Oops).

The thing was, it could have been a different story, with a man coming to terms with his past and learning how to have normal relationships, instead we got the Red Room of Pain. Quick aside, the bit where this room is actually described in those words was slightly hilarious because there's a standing joke amongst my colleagues (who I was seeing the film with) that I have a Red Room of Pain in my house (I have no idea how this joke started but I suspect it was around the time that I mentioned one of my knitting pattern books has a pattern for a knitted ball gag *ahem* I've never made one and the room is a joke, honest). When it got mentioned the people at either end of the group I was with turned to look at me and we had a good giggle.

I quite liked Ana. The actress playing her kind of looks like an older version of the way I picture Abby in my story 'Behind the Scenes', which made it kind of awkward to watch when she kept taking her clothes off because Abby does not do that in 'Behind the Scenes' (though maybe she will in the rewrite, perhaps that's what the story needs). At the beginning I thought she overdid the unexperienced, shy student thing a bit, but as the film went on I liked the way she played things. I sympathised with her and did feel that she was being taken advantage of, but then thrilled when it looked like she was standing up to Grey.

Apparently the director wanted the film to end by Ana standing up to Christian by saying 'Red' (their safe word) but instead the author insisted that she just say his name. I was a bit surprised when the film ended. The screen went black and I was expecting another scene to kind of wrap things up. If they'd gone the direction that the director wanted to go I would've known that it was definitely the end of the film.

And the sex stuff? Well there was a lot more of her than him, which I guess was kind of advertising to the wrong audience because about ninety percent of the people in that screening were women and I bet they were mostly hoping to see a man without clothes on, rather than a woman. I know what boobs look like seeing as I have a pair of my own, so I didn't really need quite so many closeups of someone else's, thanks.

It was all done relatively tastefully, as tastefully as scenes involving whips and rope and a women being chained up can be. There were lots of artistic moments as the camera moved down someone's body and then cut away before it got to the important bits, or someone was lying down with their leg bent in just such a way that things were carefully concealed.

Basically you didn't see very much. Apart from the boobs. And a fair bit of her bum. To be honest, there's more full frontal nudity in Confetti.

So did I enjoy the film?

Yeah, I kind of did. I didn't necessarily like all the characters and the ways they behaved, but it wasn't all bad. It's not a film I would've gone out of my way to see but I'm glad I've seen it, if nothing else because I can join in on conversations about it at work now.

Will I read the books?

At some point, yes. I've got the Twilight books on my list, I'm planning on those being my next Chapter-by-Chapter read. Perhaps I'll tackle the Fifty Shades books after that. Perhaps, just so I can comment on those having read them, rather than based on everyone else's thoughts of them.

Actually, I spent a bit of time googling for quotes from the books yesterday and they look totally hilarious. I'm not entirely convinced that the who Fifty Shades thing isn't actually some sort of crazy parody from what I've seen. Perhaps I should've gone with that for my 'a funny book' week of my Reading Challenge.

Will I buy the film?

Who knows? It's good for a giggle and I am really curious about how many times Ana actually says 'Oh'. I'd quite like to do it as a blow-by-blow (is that poor word choice again?) review on here, though that's quite a change isn't it? The animated Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey, I may have to up the rating of this blog!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Weekly Rundown: Trip to Glasgow

Right now I'm feeling pretty tired since I had a busy day yesterday. A group of seven of us headed to Glasgow for a meal and a trip to the cinema. It was a great day out filled with a LOT of giggling and laughing at random things, I dread to think what the people on the train thought of us (particularly of me when we decided it would be a good idea to record a message to one of our party who wasn't travelling back with us... I may have been a little loud).

Tara was completely baffled by our getting up significantly earlier than on a regular Saturday. You could almost see the little cogs in her labrador-brain turning as she tried to figure out why we were up so early and then when we were up and dressed why we weren't going for our walk already. It was slightly hilarious as she kept going to the door and then coming back to us as if to show us what we were supposed to be doing.

Thankfully the weather was fine, we woke up this morning to an Amber Alert on the ferries, rain and some fairly strong gusts of wind. We were lucky yesterday in that the weather was dry with the exception of a few spots of rain as we headed up to the cinema. The ferry crossing was smooth and although it was a bit chilly when we left the cinema, it wasn't even that cold in Glasgow.

It was, however, very icy in town when I went to get money out the bank. Mr Click dropped me off at the cashpoint and then drove round the block to pick me up to avoid holding up the cars behind him. I thought it would be a good idea to walk to the corner so he could meet me there.

It wasn't.

After I'd nearly fallen over face first I decided to just hover on the edge of the road and wait for him there, a far more sensible idea.

First stop in Glasgow was T.G.I. Friday's which I've not been to in years. The plan was cocktails, though I'm being good and not drinking so I stuck with a good old J2O. I ordered the chicken fingers which are basically like large chicken nuggets and they were good. Next time I go I may be a little more adventurous, I'm definitely going to order sweet potato fries next time, they were yummy.

Oh and I had cookie dough cheesecake for pudding. Way too filling after that big meal, but so, so good. I've been trying to lose a little weight and shape up a bit during the last few weeks and I suspect that the three pounds I've lost in that time have all gone back on after those goodies yesterday, though hopefully the walking helped to balance things out a little.

So then it was on to the real reason we had gone to Glasgow. The cinema. And what were we going to see? Fifty Shades of Grey of course.

I'll post a proper review of it tomorrow but suffice to say. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting though it's really not a film I ever would've chosen to go see unless I was going with a group of people the way I did.

And from what I've seen online, it's a lot better than the books.

Other than going to Glasgow to watch lots of sex and nudity, I've been doing the usual this week. Listening to my new Hobbit soundtrack which I bought last week, reading books for the Reading Challenge and which people have lent me, nearly setting our vacuum cleaner on fire by vacuuming up too much shredded paper.

This week coming it'll be more of the same, though hopefully with fewer fire hazards!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Part 2

After messing up my initial attempt to post this series of reviews, I’m getting this one right this time. Sorry about that last week. Also as a little side note, as you’re reading this, I’m heading off to Glasgow to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Considering the books don’t sound entirely like my cup of tea, this is going to be an interesting experience for me. Watch this space for the review.

For now though, we’re watching the second part of the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After Harry, Ron and Hermione successfully liberated a Horcrux and a dragon from Gringotts they’re off to Hogsmede and Hogwarts to find another Horcrux. Unfortunately for them, and everyone there, Voldemort knows where they are and they’re about to have a battle on their hands!

29. The trio’s apparating into Hogsmede sets off something that sounds like a bunch of cats. It’s really lucky that someone opens the door to a nearby building and invites them inside. Where there’s a mirror on the wall which shows Harry’s image and we learn where the mirror came from, kinda.

30. Oh, and this strange man is Aberforth, that’s Dumbledore’s brother. He’s not really all that impressed with his brother. This is a suicide mission apparently. That’s exactly what Harry needs before he goes into battle with Voldemort, being berated by someone who’s actually helped him before now by sending Dobby to his rescue.

31. And at this point I have to pause the film to open the rat cage because Yoda is trying to chew his way out. Obviously once the cage door is opened he has no interest in coming out at all.

32. There’s a handy painting on the wall of a creepy looking girl who Hermione has figured out is Ariana, the Dumbledore brother’s younger sister. And we’ve just found a little bit of the source of the bitterness between the two men.

33. Ariana’s brought Neville back with her, to guide the trio back to Hogwarts. It’s a brand new secret passage into Hogwarts which leads directly into the Room of Requirement. That’s convenient.

34. And the Room of Requirement is packed with students. Who are all still wearing their uniforms. I wonder if they’re still going to classes or if they’re just hiding out there instead of going to their dormitories at night.

35. Harry helpfully tells everyone that he’s looking for something but they don’t know what it is or where it’s hidden. Luna’s back at school now and she suggests that what they need is Rowena Ravenclaw’s lost diadem. Cho points out the problem with this is that it’s lost.

36. Ginny’s arrived and she and Harry share a googly eyed moment before spilling the beans that Snape knows Harry is here.

37. So it’s time for a school assembly. Snape’s giving them all a dire warning about harbouring Harry Potter or knowing anything about his whereabouts.

38. Everyone’s carefully not meeting Snape’s eyes, except for Harry himself, who merrily steps forward and criticises Snape’s security measures before berating him for murdering Dumbledore.

39. Snape’s response is to prepare to curse Harry, until McGonagall steps forward and is totally awesome.

40. This would be a moment for celebration until Harry gets kind of fainty and random girls around the hall start screaming and Voldemort sends them all a message to hand over Harry. They’ve got an hour. Conveniently the film has an hour and a half still to go.

41. Pansy Parkinson yells that Harry’s there but everyone steps forward to protect him. I love that McGonagall calls Filch a ‘blithering idiot’ before banishing the entirety of Slytherin House to the dungeons.

42. And now it’s time to prepare for a battle. And the castle is in chaos.

43. Ron and Hermione have come up with an idea for how to destroy the Horcrux when they find it, so they separate.

44. There are so many wonderful lines in this bit of the film. McGonagall tells Neville that he is in fact allowed to blow something up. ‘Boom?’ ‘BOOM!’ And when Neville asks how, McGonagall informs him that he should ‘consult with Mr Finnegan’ because he ‘has a proclivity for pyrotechnics’. She is SO wonderful.

45. And then she sets the statues from the outside of Hogwarts to defend the castle with a little speech to them, then turns to Molly and says ‘I’ve always wanted to use that spell’ like an excited schoolgirl.

46. I love the way the protective spells work. It’s one of those bits that I didn’t really have a picture of when I was reading the book, but the way it looks in the film is totally perfect.

47. Luna’s caught up with Harry, and I can’t help but be reminded that I kind of ship them a little bit. She reminds him that the person he actually needs to speak to is someone who is dead. I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that we don’t get to see the Ravenclaw common room, because I’m a Ravenclaw and I want to see the film version of where all the cool (and dorky) kids hang out.

48. It’s the first time we’ve seen (and spoken to) one of the Hogwarts ghosts for quite a while. Helena Ravenclaw isn’t really in much of a hurry to help Harry, until he tells her he wants to destroy the diadem.

49. Then the screen goes completely dark so I don’t know what’s happening, but the music is dramatic.

50. Oh look. There’s Voldemort.

51. Ah, he’s looking at the castle from up above it. And giving the command to attack. The spells look very pretty until they start hitting the defences. Then it’s kind of scary.

52. Harry’s still trying to convince Helena to tell him where he can find the diadem. Seriously woman. Tell him. There’s no time to delay. She gives him a bit of a riddle to solve, just like a true Ravenclaw, but Harry’s got it figured out.

53. I like the little moments between the various groups as they’re preparing for battle. It reminds me of some war movies I’ve seen. Which I guess is kind of what this one is.

54. I love that Ron is able to open the door to the Chamber of Secrets and then asks Hermione if she’s noticed Harry talks in his sleep. She actually seems kind of defensive when she answers.

55. Neville is so cool on the bridge, yelling at all the death eaters.

56. That Basilisk has really decayed. It’s just a skeleton now. I don’t know why but it kind of surprises me every time I see it. Probably more cinematic than a decaying corpse.

57. Hermione is totally cool with destroying the Horcrux, unlike Ron.

58. And I do love that we get to see Hermione and Ron kiss. I always wanted to see that in the book and was sad it wasn’t shown. I think their little laugh right afterwards is sweet and so true to character.

59. Oh, Remus and Tonks. :-(

60. Uh oh, the defenses are failing. You might want to start running now Neville. Those guys have really bad aim. And Neville is really, really lucky. ‘That went well’ hehe.

As we’re probably all smiling right now, this seems like a good place to stop as in the next instalment the body count really, really racks up and Harry starts to prepare himself for his final battle with Voldemort himself.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto

Next week we’ll be starting the third book from the end of The Series of Unfortunate Events, this one is The Grim Grotto, Book the Eleventh. It’s of comparable length the the previous book, The Slippery Slope, so I foresee some long chapters ahead of us.

This book has a sort of greeny-blue spine, presumably to emphasis the underwater component of this book. The border down the side of the cover is slightly different in that it isn’t like a ribbon, instead it’s a little pattern of mushroom silhouettes alternating a big one with a small one.

The actual cover picture itself has the three children in diving helmets and suits, well, Sunny just seems to be inside a helmet, and in the distance behind them is another figure in a diving suit. We can’t see who this fourth person is but the children seem to be trying to get away from them. Klaus is kind of bursting out of the frame here as well, it’s definitely like they’re trying to escape from something.

I remember relatively little of this book. As I’ve noted the whole way through this read through, I’ve remembered less and less of each book as I’ve gone through the series, presumably because I’ve read this one comparatively fewer times compared to the earlier ones which were reread each time a new book came out.

What I do remember of this is that there is a submarine and a new female character who is about the same age as the elder Baudelaires. I don’t remember what her name is but I think that her older brother is one of Olaf’s henchmen… possibly hooky.

I think her father or uncle might be on the submarine as well, though perhaps I’m just making that up. I do think there are some references to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which I’m looking forward to because I’ve recently read that. I’m wondering if there might be a Moby Dick reference as well, that’s cool if there is because I’ve read that as well since I’ve read this book last.

I know that there are poisonous mushrooms in this book. I wasn’t sure if they were in this one or the next one, but having seen the mushrooms in the picture clue at the end of the last book I know that they crop up in this one. I know it’s Sunny who gets poisoned but I don’t remember the cure or anything else that happens.

We’ll start this one on Monday afternoon. See you there.

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 13

We’re so close to the end right now. We’ve reached the final chapter of The Slippery Slope and soon we’ll be moving on to Book 11 in The Series of Unfortunate Events, The Grim Grotto. But for now we still have somewhere in the region of fifty pages to go. That’s practically half of the first book!

What Happens?

At the top of Mount Fraught the Snow Scouts show up for their False Spring celebrations. As they all get involved in their dance around the springpole the eagles are summoned to pull up the net and carry them away with the mysterious man and woman. Carmelita joins Olaf and Esme, despite the Baudelaires and Quigley telling her not to. The four children then hop onto the toboggan to escape from Olaf and the gang. This does not end well as they are thrown into the water and the Baudelaires are separated from Quigley.

Thoughts as I read:

The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming! Oh, sorry, I’ve been watching The Hobbit special features and I guess I got confused about what I was reading. This chapter opens with a picture of a whole bunch of eagles flying around the chapter heading. There’s nearly twenty of them in fact. Are the eagles going to come and save the day? Let’s find out.

After Violet told Olaf that she knew where the sugar bowl is, Olaf reacts by demanding that she give it to him. They’re at a bit of a stalemate because Violet’s not telling him anything until she has Sunny and Olaf’s threatening to throw them off the mountain if they don’t give him the sugar bowl. Klaus does point out that throwing them off will mean they’ll never get the sugar bowl.

Even better, this degenerates into an argument between Olaf and Esme. Esme doesn’t care for Sunny and wants the sugar bowl. Olaf is more interested in the fortune and so needs Sunny for that. They’re stopped by the man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard who order the white-faced women to bring Sunny to them.

While the casserole dish is fetched the mysterious man and woman pull out these whistles and use them to summon hundreds of eagles. Apparently since the schism the volunteers have got custody of the carrier crows and the trained reptiles (which Olaf dismisses as they’ve got all of them except one, I bet that’s the Incredibly Deadly Viper), but the bad guys have got the eagles.

And this is how we learn what the plan is for getting their recruits. The eagles will carry the giant net and use it to capture the Snow Scouts. The scouts aren’t going to get much of a choice about whether or not they actually want to join, they either can or they can become prisoners and either way their parents’ homes will be burned down. That’ll give them access to all those other fortunes; the Spats’, the Kornbluth’s, the Winnipeg’s, Olaf and Esme will have them all.

So an agreement is reached. They tell everyone where they can find the sugar bowl, and they can take Sunny away with them. Violet just keeps on bluffing. She tells them that they’ll be meeting up with the other volunteers at the last safe place to pass on the information about the bad guys’ plans.

At this moment the Snow Scouts show up with Carmelita Spats leading the way with Bruce. Violet and Klaus are suddenly struck by the face that Bruce looks quite familiar but they don’t dwell on it for very long because they have other things on their mind. Violet and Klaus do try to warn Bruce that it’s a trap but Bruce is dense enough that when Olaf tells Bruce to ignore the masked volunteers, Bruce complies.

Carmelita is her usual rude self. This is her party and she doesn’t want these strange people wearing masks, after all, there’s no snow gnats around now so they don’t need them, do they? So, to avoid seeming suspicious, all three children remove their masks.

This surprises everyone, considering that all three children are supposed to be dead. Olaf tells them that they’re dead, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. This also means that they’re not really volunteers, so the next logical step is that Sunny can be thrown off the mountain. Interestingly, the white-faced women refuse to do this. I mean, they’re bad, but they’re not so bad that they’re going to throw a defenceless baby off a roof. Then they both resign. Quite an unexpected development, though one which I suspect will not end well for these two.

We even get a little bit of background into these two women. They’re sisters apparently, their home was burned down and their sibling was killed in that fire. Coincidence? I think not. We’ll probably never know anything else about them because they walk away and the story doesn’t follow them, but it’s a nice little glimpse into the world the stories are set in. It makes things feel a little bit deeper somehow.

But Olaf isn’t happy about being disobeyed so he grabs the casserole dish to dispose of Sunny himself. But it’s not Sunny in the casserole dish, she shows up at that moment, saying ‘I’m not a baby!’ as Olaf discovers the eggplant in the casserole dish. Sunny says ‘Babganoush!’ which means ‘I concocted an escape plan with the eggplant that turned out to be even handier than I thought.’

Olaf’s a bit miffed by this development but his cohorts point out than Sunny will probably make them something nice with the eggplant later on. I’m not so sure about that. Violet and Klaus try to point out that Olaf is obviously evil but Carmelita doesn’t care about that, she just wants to get on with being the False Spring Queen. This involves jamming a large pole into the ice which sets a crack in the ice forming. This is so not going to end well!

The scouts start dancing around the springpole whilst chanting the Snow Scout Alphabet Pledge. And at this point the bad man and woman pull out their whistles and whips and the eagles grab the edges of the net. The result is that all the snow scouts and Olaf’s henchpeople end up inside it. They’re all flown away with the bad man and woman who call back to Olaf that they’ll meet at the last safe place when Olaf has the sugar bowl. Oh, and the bad man and woman are planning to use their eagles to catch up with Hector and the other two Quagmire triplets. Things really are going from bad to worse!

So Olaf and Esme have to decide whether they want the fortune or the sugar bowl:

“That’s a difficult decision,” Esme said. “On one hand, it’s been enjoyable having an infant servant. But it would be a lot of fun to smash Klaus’s glasses and watch him bump into things.”

I’m obviously kind of evil but I do find this sort of funny.

A moment later Olaf and Esme are inviting Carmelita to join them and Carmelita is obviously seriously considering it. Quigley tries to dissuade her from going to the dark side but it’s fairly obvious which side Carmelita is going to go for. Esme is so keen to adopt Carmelita that she invents a little pledge all of her own to persuade her (despite Olaf’s reluctance to have a daughter):

“I think you’re adorable, beautiful, cute, dainty, eye-pleasing, flawless, gorgeous, harmonious, impeccable, jaw-droppingly adorable, keen, luscious, magnificent, nifty, obviously adorable, photogenic, quite adorable, ravishing, splendid, thin, undeformed, very adorable, well-proportioned, xylophone, yummy, and zestfully adorable,” Esme pledged, “every morning, every afternoon, every night, and all day long!”

Well, she definitely couldn’t say that Carmelita was ‘xenial’. But despite the ridiculousness of the pledge, Carmelita is sold.

There’s some discussion about whether or not the children are outnumbered by Olaf and his crew. Considering that his crew has now been reduced down to Esme and Carmelita, technically the Baudelaires and Quigley outnumber them, but they children know that they’re still being outnumbered by all the bad guys they’ve encountered. The bad guys might not be up here on the mountain with them, but they’re still out there in the world and they’re going to encounter them sooner or later.

Sunny says ‘Rosebud’ which means ‘In some situations, the location of a certain object can be much more important than being outnumbered’. And with that the four children hop onto the toboggan and take off down the slope. They know that Olaf is going to follow them, but he has a flat tyre so they’ve got a head start. Sunny announces ‘Overhear!’ meaning ‘Hotel Denouement!’ so at least they have some idea of where they should be heading.

And then we learn where we’ve seen Bruce before. He was one of the guys packing up Uncle Monty’s collection for the herpetological society. Now that I think about it I think I remember the mention of someone called Bruce back in that book. But there’s no knowing if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.

But things start going downhill here. Ironic, considering they’re already going downhill. It gets more downhill as the steering mechanism breaks. Sunny’s ‘Uh-oh!’ sums it up quite well, meaning ‘That doesn’t sound like good news’. It isn’t, because what’s at the bottom of the slope? Oh yes, the pit that they dug. That’s really looking like a bad idea right now, isn’t it?

They attempt to slow the sled down using their forked shoes but it’s not quite enough. Sunny asks ‘Bicuspid?’ meaning ‘Should I drag my teeth against the ice, too?’ so she goes for it but it makes no difference. She’s got no sticky substances to pour onto the ground to slow them down and nothing to use as a drag chute, but then she remembers the bread knife she’s been carrying around for the entire book. She sticks this into the crack that the springpole made and this widens the crack so they’re no longer sliding down the ice but are instead plunged into the rushing water. I’m not sure this is really an improvement on the situation.

It isn’t. The water separates with the Baudelaires going one way and Quigley going the other. He yells “Wait for me! Wait for me at –” as he disappears. His siblings have a habit of doing that. They should should the information first and then elaborate on it afterwards.

Violet is understandably distraught and Sunny tries to reassure her sister by saying ‘Intrepid’ meaning ‘Quigley Quagmire was brave and resourceful enough to survive the fire that destroyed his home, and I’m sure he’ll survive this, too.’ But it’s not so reassuring really because hiding in a hidden corridor during a fire isn’t quite the same as being swept away down a frozen river.

Violet’s hopeful that they might meet up with him further down the water but they have no idea if that’s likely. ‘Godot’ says Sunny, rather than referring to a play she means ‘We don’t know where to go, and we don’t know how to get there.’ Klaus runs through some of the things that they do know, like the fact that the volunteers are meeting at the Hotel Denouement on Thursday, which is something at least.

But there is still much that is unknown. Snicket tells us that some things are known, thankfully, like where the Baudelaires end up after their journey down the Stricken Stream. Though where they end up after this, we’re not going to find out today. For that we’ll have to wait until the next book.

The last picture of the book shows the moment that the Baudelaires are separated from Quigley Quagmire. We can see him in the distance with his commonplace book held up out of the water. Violet and Sunny are on the remains of toboggan and Violet is reaching out to Klaus who is still in the water. And in the background we’ve got our clue to the next book. There’s some mushrooms on the rocks behind them. I foresee mushrooms in our future.

And then we get the letter to the editor to build up to the next book. It’s handwritten and the ink has been been smudged and smeared by water. It’s hard to make out but the gist of it is that the next book will be The Grim Grotto.

We’ll take a little look at that later on today.