One Book Wyoming

While I haven’t been writing here, I’ve been busy blogging for work. I’m on the One Book Wyoming Committee that is hosting events with Craig Johnson July 1 and 2. He writes the Walt Longmire books, including “Spirit of Steamboat”, which the hit TV show “Longmire” is based off of. My work blog is located here at the following link: http://www.sweetwaterlibraries.com/sclsblogs/onebookwyoming/  Read my Sweetwater County Library System blog, check out the novel “Spirit of Steamboat”, catch up on all the posts, please comment and share your thoughts, and get excited for Craig Johnson being in Sweetwater County for two days next week as part of the One Book Wyoming program. – July 1 and 2. Don’t forget to enter your name in the drawing at the libraries to win a pair of tickets for a personal meet and greet with the author at Bitter Creek Brewing!

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On a Boat with “Noah”

I first became interested in the film “Noah” when I learned Emma Watson was in the movie. Emma Watson is my favorite actress and I aim to see everything she stars in. Furthering my fuel to see “Noah” is its controversial nature; it achieved offending multiple religions. One of my favorite people I follow online is Seth Andrews, the founder of the Thinking Atheist website and podcast. On his personal Facebook page, Seth Andrews praised the film and said “it’s pretty damn good.” Now I had to see this film for a supposedly fun time.

Many people decorate nurseries with a Noah’s Ark theme. While animals are cute, is this really a feel-good story worthy of a baby’s room? There is a lot of death in the biblical story of Noah and the movie “Noah” doesn’t shy away from the multiple deaths caused by The Lord and The Flood. Genesis 6:12-13 says, “When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals led depraved lives on earth, he said to Noah: ‘I have decided to put an end to all mortals on earth; the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I will destroy them and all life on earth.’” In the film released in theaters March 28, 2014, Noah receives visions from The Creator about the impending destruction of all mankind. In addition to death, Noah also sees a vision of new life when he sees a flower die and then grow before his eyes.

Noah believes it is his family’s mission to protect the innocents from the upcoming Great Flood. The innocents are all of the animals of the earth. Descendants of Cain, the first murderer, eat animals in order to consume their strength and to become stronger. Unlike everyone else, Noah and his family do not consume meat. Instead they live off the land and only take what is useful. One of Noah’s sons begins to pick a flower because it is pretty; Noah then explains the usefulness of a living flower which is more important than a mere decoration. Noah then begins to build an ark to protect all of the animals as well as his family members, which he believes will be the last of mankind on earth.

Noah’s family does not build the ark by themselves. They receive help from The Watchers, a group of fallen angels that look like rock giants. The Watchers said they originally tried to help mankind with knowledge but wars broke out and several Watchers were destroyed. They hesitate at first helping Noah but they sense something special about this particular man. Like miracles, swarms of animals come to the ark. One day flocks of birds arrive. Another day, lots of slithering snakes of every different type arrive. Another day come the roaring mammals. The animals seem to be driven to the ark by a force guiding them. The scenes when the animals appear look more fantastical than realistic because of them being computer generated images. I didn’t mind the obvious CGI appearance although others might. The way the animals are subdued in the ark is very clever and keeps the critters quiet using a piece of Nature.

Naturally the other humans besides Noah’s family are interested in escaping the Great Flood. Noah is adamant about not allowing others onto the ark, not even wives for his sons. The only other female on the ark besides Noah’s wife is Ila, played by Emma Watson. Ila was found wounded as a child by Noah’s family and adopted as their own. Noah believes that Ila is barren because of her wounds and he truly believes his family is destined to be the last of humankind with no more humans arriving after them when his youngest son dies. Although there is a possibility for Ila to have children, Noah believes his family must be the last on earth or he will disgrace The Creator.

“Noah” is a very dark movie as the titular character struggles with the task given to him. He seems to become a bit crazy, but wouldn’t you or anyone become crazy if told that every human must die except your own family? Noah has visions of people dying amid water. When the ark goes afloat, the audience is able to see mountains of people grasping at the highest rock they can reach until waves wash over them. Noah and his family are able to hear the screams of those outside the ark who are unable to be saved. The entire scenario is tragic as Noah tries his hardest to steadfastly carry out his heavenly mission while ignoring any sign of life that isn’t his family.

Despite the story of Noah and the Ark being a straightforward tale in four chapters in the Bible, the film “Noah” is just over two hours long. This is one movie that is certainly more entertaining than the book with elements of a good action movie: awesome battle scenes featuring rock giants annihilating anyone who tries to reach the ark, drama involving one family member who is thinking about switching sides with the enemy, and a central bad guy who discreetly gets on the ark after the floodwaters rise. There is also an important message within the film to take care of the earth because it is clear that Noah’s family are stewards of the earth while the descendants of Cain express their dominion over the earth without any regard for the innocent animals. Noah expresses that all life is connected and this is a good reminder for viewers. “Noah” is not a bad movie nor a great movie; I think it is intriguing and worth getting on a boat with “Noah” because of director Darren Aronofsky’s unique imagining of the infamous biblical tale.

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Following “Odd Thomas”

Recently, I watched the movie “Odd Thomas” with my husband and parents. I picked this film to watch with my family because I had seen the title on a book spine in my dad’s bookcase. Since I knew he liked the book with the same title, written by Dean Koontz, I hoped the film would be a good choice for a movie to watch after eating dinner. Released on video, March 25, 2014, “Odd Thomas” tells the story of a man with either a gift or a curse. With an odd name and an odd power, Odd sees dead people and helps them with requests until they feel free to move on to the afterlife. In addition to seeing the deceased, Odd sees spirits called bodachs, which appear in times of death and disaster. When Odd sees a multitude of bodachs, he knows something is awry and aims to prevent the foreseen tragedy.

Odd’s power is introduced when a dead girl leads Odd to her killer. “I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it,” Odd says. Odd accuses the man of having dried blood in his pockets. The culprit senses that Odd knows the truth about him and attempts to flee. Odd follows him and subdues him by any means necessary. Luckily, Police Chief Wyatt Porter knows about Odd’s affinity for finding murderers and he keeps Odd out of legal trouble. The viewer then learns about the origin of Odd’s odd name and a bit about his family. Odd currently works as a restaurant cook. While not a prestigious job, Odd is content with his place of employment. Odd has a girlfriend and one true love named Stormy. She works at an ice-cream shop at a mall and is truly in love with Odd. The couple is said to be destined to be together ever since a fortune teller said so when Odd and Stormy were young children.

While at work, Odd spots a bunch of bordachs surrounding a mysterious man. Odd is careful to not let the bordachs know that he can see them. Odd knew another person who could also see bordachs; as soon as the boy’s secret was revealed to the bordachs, he died in an accident seemingly caused by the strange spirits. Therefore, Odd remains careful upon encountering these shadowy figures. Presently, Odd sees so many bordachs that it is obvious something disastrous is soon to occur unless Odd can stop it.

Odd and Stormy team up together to prevent the impending tragedy. Stormy says that Odd has psychic magnetism, which easily allows Odd to find the mysterious man from the restaurant. Odd follows him home and discovers more bordachs as well as a gateway to hell. Trouble is definitely brewing and Todd must find out how to stop it so that he can save many lives. When the mysterious man is found dead later, Odd realizes that there must be multiple people plotting together to kill a number of people.

Odd must find out where the future rampage will occur as well as how and why. Odd finds a woman who has had an eerie dream that is perhaps a premonition. By using clues Odd finds and by following bordachs, as well as help from Stormy, Odd aims to prevent the future criminal act. While this premise sounds interesting, I became bored during the film. Rather than a feature film, “Odd Thomas” seems more like dropping in on an extra long episode of a supernatural crime drama without being connected to any of the characters yet. Characters are introduced but perhaps not developed enough since I found it difficult to feel connected to them. My dad said the film was much different than the book and although the movie is available to check out at the Sweetwater County Library System, it is probably your best bet to follow “Odd Thomas” with the seven novels and two graphic novels for a detailed and probably more personable account of Odd’s adventures, which can also be checked out in multiple libraries in the Sweetwater County Library System.

 

 

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Movie Review of “Blue is the Warmest Color” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 04/02/2014)

Finding ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’
Ashley Jo Will

Nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and a recipient of many awards around the world such as at the Cannes Film Festival, “Blue is the Warmest Color” is a love story between two women. The French film “Blue is the Warmest Color” is based on the French graphic novel with the same name, written and illustrated by Julie Maroh. The film is rated NC-17 for explicit sexual content as it doesn’t shy away from anything the protagonist feels and experiences. The movie was released on video recently on Feb. 25, 2014 and in addition to a love story, the film tells how one young woman finds her identity as she struggles with school and adulthood.

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Movie Review of “The High Cost of Living” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 03/26/2014)

Discovering ‘The High Cost of Living’
Ashley Jo Will

I follow my favorite actor Zach Braff on various social media sites and I discovered he was starring in a movie titled “The High Cost of Living” premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 15, 2010. I recently found this film on Netflix after forgetting about it and I just had to watch this film I had missed starring Zach Braff. “The High Cost of Living” is a somber film with minimal comedic moments. This role is quite different from Zach Braff’s role as J.D. in the television series “Scrubs” that is often more funny than serious. The cost of living is explored when an accident between two strangers tragically changes their lives forever. Watch “The High Cost of Living” and see what happens when one person tries to make amends for the past which cannot be erased.

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Movie Review of “The Station Agent” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 03/19/2014)

Riding with ‘The Station Agent’
Ashley Jo Will

Currently, Peter Dinklage is best known by many people as Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series “Game of Thrones” which begins its fourth season on April 6, 2014. Dinklage was born with achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism. Although “The Station Agent” is an older film released on DVD on Jan. 10, 2012, I had only heard of it recently while volunteering at the state spelling bee when another woman volunteering recommended this film to me as I was waiting to grade written spelling tests. The woman wrote the name of the film down for me and when I looked it up on the Internet, I learned that “The Station Agent” included Dinklage’s breakout performance when he earned multiple awards for his acting in a leading role. “The Station Agent” also received accolades at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. I decided to take the advice of my fellow volunteer and see a previous performance from the actor I knew by name because of his role as Tyrion. Like Tyrion, Dinklage plays a serious role in “The Station Agent” but as a friendless man who has inherited a train depot.

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Book Review of “Spirit of Steamboat” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 03/12/2014)

Discovering ‘Spirit of Steamboat’
Ashley Jo Will

Many people are familiar with Craig Johnson and his Walt Longmire mystery novels, which take place in Wyoming. If not familiar with the books, some people may recognize the name “Longmire” because of the television show on A&E which is based on Craig Johnson’s characters. Whether or not you know Walt Longmire, “Spirit of Steamboat” may have been under your radar. Unlike Craig Johnson’s other stories about Sheriff Longmire, this tale is a lot shorter and only a total of 146 pages. There is no need to read any other Walt Longmire books before considering this story. I have never read any story concerning this character besides “Spirit of Steamboat” and I was not confused at all because many characters are introduced to the reader as they appear. Released to read on Oct. 17, 2013, “Spirit of Steamboat” is a fitting book to read on a snowy wintry day because the story takes place during a blizzard around Christmas. “Spirit of Steamboat” begins when a strange girl appears in front of Sheriff Walt Longmire while he is reading Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, an annual tradition of his.

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Book Review of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 03/05/2014)

Encountering ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’
Ashley Jo Will

One of my husband’s favorite sets of novels is the Haruhi Suzumiya series, written by Nagaru Tanigawa and translated from Japanese to English. There are ten volumes total and the first is titled, “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.” According to the back cover of the edition I read, more than 4.5 million copies have been sold in Japan and are now available to read in English. Although not under the radar in Japan, it is probably under the radar in Wyoming. The story’s popularity has spawned various manga adaptations and an anime series as well. What sets the novels apart from the manga is the ability to be inside the narrator’s mind throughout the story because of the story’s first-person narrative. The narrator is a boy named Kyon who is about to begin his first year of high school. He laments his boring life and wishes that his life was more like a television show with aliens, time travelers, monsters and more.

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Review of “Walking Dead” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 02/26/2014)

This column was written by a substitute because I had a surprise guest – my aunt from Texas – so I spent all the time I was able to with her and since I didn’t know she was coming I did not plan ahead. Since I do not work at the newspaper this prints in, I am not sure how the final version looks which is running in the paper but hopefully rather similar to the following which is written by Chris Haggit and edited a bit by me for my blog:

“The Walking Dead” has always done a phenomenal job of adding realistic human motives, drama and life into a post-apocalyptic  zombie thriller and most people will agree as proved by the season four premier claiming the title of the most watched basic cable drama telecast of all time with 16.1 million viewers and the series has been nominated for various prestigious awards.

“The Walking Dead” Season 4 Episodes 401-08:

The following is a brief overview of the first half of season four and includes spoilers and assumes the reader knows the characters of the show.

The name of the first episode, “30 Days Without an Accident” is a wonderfully dark title, eluding to the inevitable, and may I add, guilty pleasure of mine, death by zombie.

Rick has been replaced by a council of peers as the decision-making powerhouse of the community after his subsequent mental collapse at the loss of his wife and the pressures of leadership. His mental state has vastly improved and has began to look at farming and ranching inside the prison walls as a way to maintain the security and productivity of the prison as a long-term home, although Carl doesn’t quite see it the same as Rick.

Everything has really quieted down since the overthrow of The Governor and destruction of Woodbury and the integration of his subjects into the primary cast. So quiet in fact some of the younger children don’t realize the threat just outside the fences and have even gotten to the point of looking at the zombies as pets almost, naming them, feeding them and giving them a back story. Carl and Carol find themselves mentoring and instilling the reality of the situation upon the younger, sheltered children.  Because of the feeding of rats to the “walkers” they have converged on one section of fence and has begun to break down.
As the season continues, the group faces more radical adversity starting with a super influenza bug that quickly spreads through the median aged of the population, quickly killing and turning the victims. A big shock and interesting turn of events stems from these initial events as Carol attempts to snip the spread by murdering two infected characters, one of which is closely tied to one of the main group. This ripple makes waves later in the season.

Due to the lack of medical supplies at the prison, most of the healthy adults make a run to a medical school quite a distance away and having plenty of trouble themselves and end up being gone longer than expected. All the while this is happening the walker numbers on the parameter fence keep increasing nearly to the point of collapse.

These next episodes and this season as a whole have been a bit different than previous seasons, with more foreshadowing and if you pay attention to character development, you can start to see a pattern leading up to the death of the main characters. A couple of interesting interviews with two actors who are killed off during this season explain how their roles in the show changed just prior to the death of the character.  Most pointedly, Hershel begins to have more lines and becomes much more proactive in his role prior to his execution.

The situation continues to deteriorate at the prison, more sick patients are dying. Glen has became sick and ends up with a breathing tube and the second doctor of the group has died. Because the situation has taken such a turn for the worse Carol and Rick are forced to go on a quick supply run in which Rick confronts Carol about her involvement in the murder at the prison. Carol admits it was her and Rick makes an executive decision and casts her out in the wild.

Rick returns to find the situation has worsened at the prison. Outside, the herd of walkers has continued to build in numbers and it’s quite clear things are going to climax. Which they do; in a quick, and violent way, the victims of the flu die off faster than can be managed by Herschel and as they turn they begin to overrun the makeshift hospital.
Maggie and Rick are on fence duty as the situation worsens inside and the sound of gunshots turns Maggie’s attention from the fence to the interior. The fence finally collapses and this leaves Rick with a tough choice, keep Carl in quarantine and face the horde of walkers on his own or enlist his son’s help and expose him to the danger. Rick decides the danger is too great and with Carl’s help and a stockpile of weapons the swarm of walkers is cut down. Quite predictably, the the group sent on the supply run returns just in time to save what’s left of the sick.

The next two episodes are based around The Governor and what he has been up to since the collapse of Woodbury. The Governor, after a period of aimless wandering has assumed the name of Brian and has been befriended by a small family that has survived by staying isolated inside of their small apartment. After choosing to move on as a group, The Governor and the family run into other survivors.

This is where The Governor begins to show his true colors as he murders opposition in the leadership of the group and brainwashes the remainders into attacking the prison while holding hostage Herschel and Michonne.

With the precarious situation at the prison the group isn’t prepared for the inevitable attack by the Governors and his goons. After a brief standoff The Governor decapitates Herschel and all hell breaks loose. The following gunfight leaves the prison in ruins and the groups scattered, ending here for the midseason break.

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Movie Review of “Labor Day” (in Rocket-Miner Marquee 02/19/2014)

Passing Over ‘Labor Day’
Ashley Jo Will

Released in movie theaters Jan. 31, 2014, “Labor Day” tells about a series of events which take place over the titular holiday weekend. “Labor Day” is based on a novel written by Joyce Maynard, which is available to check out at Rock Springs Library in the Sweetwater County Library System. Kate Winslet stars in “Labor Day” as the lead female character and she has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in this film. This award-winning actress plays a broken woman named Adele whose life is changed in a positive manner when a mysterious stranger enters her life.

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