Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster)'s Blog (24)

Frankenstein and Fatherhood

Listen Jena (and unborn child), it’s October at last, the nights are cooling; it’s time for scary movies. I started with Son of Frankenstein because I wanted some Legosi and Karloff, and that’s the best movie starring both. It wasn’t until halfway through the film that I realized that I - an expectant, first-time father - was watching a movie in which a son tries to redeem his…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on October 4, 2012 at 3:00pm — 1 Comment

Put a Penny in the Slot

Listen Jena (and unborn child), in the wake of my blitz of Batman blogs several weeks back, I did not expect so many nice people to read. What I did expect, though, was that someone would eventually accuse me of giving Christopher Nolan too much credit. I think maybe I did, but that is the best way to enjoy a good story.

Many students struggle in English class with the question of the author’s intent. The teacher (or some…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on September 17, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Movie Violence and Real Violence

Listen Jena, the awful killings in Aurora shocked and saddened us all, but in our grief, many of us have once again started pointing fingers of blame at violent movies and video games. It’s a rhetorical crutch we’ve leaned on too often in the face of national tragedy. We can’t blame television when the problem is older than electricity.

The Plan…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on August 2, 2012 at 2:30pm — 12 Comments

Dickensian Dark Knight (Bat-Spoilers)

Listen Jena, I did my best to stay calm throughout The Dark Knight Rises. When Selina Kyle kicked Bruce’s cane out from under him, when I realized Bruce’s limp was from the fall at the end of The Dark Knight, when Alfred and Bruce discussed Rachel, and when Batman faced Bane in the sewer, I managed not to cry out or jump to my feet. But when Gordon quoted Dickens, when lines from A Tale of Two Cities were uttered in a Batman movie, I had to cover…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on July 26, 2012 at 5:30pm — 3 Comments

Three (Bookish) Ways to Prepare for "The Dark Knight Rises"

Listen Jena, when he was young, poor, and hungry in Paris, Hemingway used to go to museums. He said his hunger brightened the colors of every painting he saw. With critics giving The Dark Knight Rises a standing ovation at an advanced screening, the wait for this movie is killing me. So, rather than sit and listen to my stomach rumble, I thought it best to let the hunger brighten some other good pop. Here are three ways to prepare for The Dark Knight…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on July 11, 2012 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

In Defense of Romeo and Juliet

Listen Jena, you might’ve seen this thing posted around Facebook, and I want you to rest assured; the lady on this e-card is wrong about Romeo and Juliet. Don’t be tricked by her sassy glasses or smart suit. Maybe she’s still frustrated about the D she got in high school English and is now taking it out on Shakespeare. So let’s look at this pink nonsense one step at a time.

Body Count

First of all, Romeo’s and Juliet’s…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on July 6, 2012 at 7:30am — 8 Comments

The Guilty Pleasure Ghetto

Listen Jena, I know how much you enjoyed The Hunger Games books. You devoured those things. Then, when we went to Barnes and Noble to try and find something else you could have that much fun reading, we found ourselves unwilling to enter the "Teen Fiction/Fantasy" section. The implication, however wrong, was that to read these books you had to be either a fantasy nerd or a teenager. Suddenly you felt the books you wanted were less than respectable. Something you'd…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on June 19, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

TDKR: Catwoman and Madame Defarge

Listen, Jena, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Anne Hathaway. Since Nolan cited A Tale of Two Cities as chief inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), it’s hard to miss the shades of Madame Defarge, that Dickensian revolutionary, in Anne Hathoway’s Catwoman. Just going by the trailer, we see similarities in the way these two characters think and speak.

In the newest trailer for…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on March 19, 2012 at 12:02pm — No Comments

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Listen, Jena, old photographs are often beautiful and almost always creepy. I think they fall in the uncanny valley: convincingly human, but something in the color and unsmiling faces strikes us as alien. Ransom Riggs has taken the eerie, lonely feeling of looking at these images and made a book out of it: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. It's good but sadly, like every good detective novel, it solves all its mysteries and shows all its…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on March 12, 2012 at 11:34am — 1 Comment

Please, No Moral to the Story

Listen, Jena, I don't like talking about the moral of Green Eggs and Ham. We all loved that book long, long before we realized the doctor was teaching us not to refuse new experiences. Now that I know, I can still enjoy the book, and even learn from it, but not if someone starts talking about its message or moral. Now that a film adaptation of The Lorax is in theaters, I'm seeing way too much about the movie's message and not enough about story, that…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on March 7, 2012 at 6:30am — 1 Comment

Happy Birthday, Father Dickens

Listen Jena, two hundred years ago today, Charles Dickens was born. Nevermind the influence he has had on so many writers: his body of work alone could keep a reader happy and haunted and amused and outraged for years and years. If you’ve got five minutes, read the first few paragraphs of Great Expectations below, and see if you’re not clamoring by the end. You can read the whole…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on February 7, 2012 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

The time of insects to the time of stars

Wislawa Szymborska, a polish poet and Nobel Prize winner, died yesterday at eighty-eight years old. She was one of the greatest poets I've read, and everyone should benefit from her work. If you read nothing else this week, Jena, read the poem below, and Szymborska's…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on February 2, 2012 at 9:44am — 1 Comment

The Only Ship, the Only Wreck

Listen, Jena, I want to dig more into the scale of adventure. You know Daniel Defoe was sort of the father of the novel, but J.M. Coetzee's Foe goes after Defoe's best book, exploring the reasons we must tell stories, showing how details keep us speaking and listening.



Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on January 31, 2012 at 8:00am — No Comments

Batman and A Tale of Two Cities

Listen, Jena, it turns out Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was a key inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises. Seeing as the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth is this coming February 7, I thought it’d be nice to explore the themes Christopher Nolan might be drawing on.

It’s clear that Gotham explodes with civil unrest in the film. The trailer shows scenes of a wealthy house being  raided, the people inside it dragged down the stairs and…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on January 18, 2012 at 7:30am — 4 Comments

The Nook: Reading and Having Books

Listen, Jena, I’ve really been enjoying the Nook I got for Christmas (thanks, Mam and Dad). Three dollars and five minutes got all Mark Twain’s books onto this little eReader. I love our apartment full of actual books, though, so I thought I should figure out whether or not eReaders are going to ruin books. Also I photographed my newly organized library. You married into this.

Maybe the internet crippled the music industry,…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 28, 2011 at 8:30am — 7 Comments

Six Merry Facts about "A Christmas Carol"

Listen, Jena, I know I’ve gone on about Charles Dickens a bit this month, but it’s Christmas time, and no writer helps us define and celebrate the season like Dickens. So here are six interesting facts about his miniature masterpiece, A Christmas Carol.

  1. Dickens wrote the book in just two months (October and November, 1843).
  2. The first printing of 6,000 copies sold out in days.
  3. Within six weeks of its publication on December 19, 1843,…

Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 20, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments

Mrs. Charles Dickens vs. Me

Listen, Jena, if you get around to reading this entry, it won’t be because the title pulled you in. It’ll be because you love me, for some reason. This got me thinking about writing and mortality, and made me wonder; who’s better suited to enjoy Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: his wife Catherine, or me?

Dickens dabbled in mesmerism. He was an actor, a philanthropist, a maker of amazing punch, and able to read his works aloud so effectively that women…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 14, 2011 at 8:30am — No Comments

G.K. Chesterton and my Xbox 360

Listen, Jena. I know you’re looking at a picture of that video game you hate so much, and it might seem I'm going to rant about it, but I’m really going to talk about honor, courage, Lancelot fighting King Arthur, and a chapter from G.K. Chesterton’s book, “What’s Wrong with the World.”

Despite its futuristic setting, the combat in “Halo” is less like real contemporary warfare than the battles and epic duels of the middle ages. When knights in armor ruled the…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 7, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments

"A Christmas Carol" and Failure

Listen Jena, whenever I glance at the manuscript of my novel, it does me good to remember that Isaac Newton believed in ghosts, that he tried and failed to prove their existence, and that his successes overshadowed his failures.

Still, if one of the 8th graders I used to teach heard that genius scientist believed in ghosts, they'd surely answer with a sharp "fail!" That recently popular insult among kids and stupid adults is often enough to discourage…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 6, 2011 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Narnia and "Inception"


Listen, Jena. Cobb’s revelation at the end of Inception reminds me in a very geeky way of Puddleglum’s victory over the Emerald Witch in The Silver Chair, book four of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I think each scene might shed light on the other.

Spoilers follow. 

Even if There’s No Aslan

At the climax of The Silver Chair, deep in an underground country, the…


Added by Brian Beise (Books Ningmaster) on December 6, 2011 at 6:30am — No Comments

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