Tri-Weekly Roundup August 30 – September 19

Can you spot the praying mantis?

Welcome to the weekly roundup on Ink in the Archives! Every week I will share what I’ve been up to and interested in and ask you to fill me in on your week too.

Eventful Events and Happening Happenings

My partner and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary with sushi and an evening of watching Lucifer on Netflix. Who says we don’t know how to have a good time? My wonderful partner bought me an espresso machine to celebrate and we have been having so much fun learning how to use it.

Plus we are so excited that my sister-in-law came down to visit us (which is the reason that this post didn’t go up last week like it was supposed to)! It was so lovely to have her. Of course, with COVID and the terrible air quality, we were pretty limited on what we could go and do, but it was still lovely. We went to the Full House house, got a cake from b. Patisserie, and then walked up to the edge of the Presidio. I hope next time she comes everything will be open and we can take her to the Haight, Castro, and Mission.

This weekend it’s Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. I had a really hard time deciding whether to make challah or apple cake, but I finally settled on apple cake. I made it from an old recipe I found in a Jewish community cookbook from the late 50s. It was layered and was almost like an apple lasagna. I love adapting old recipes.

On the very sad side of things, you’ve probably hear that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 after a long battle with cancer. She was my absolute hero, and I have to admit I cried while reading her NY Times obituary.

Books Read

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost One of my best friends told me this book really resonated with her and I had to read it because I would see so much of her in it. She’s not wrong, since, like the author, she’s a international affairs major who loves to jump into travel with both feet. This book is hilarious–travel writing that will make you laugh and gasp. He has some horrific experiences on a small island in the Pacific, but he also learns and grows and adapts, which is fun to read about. Recommended for: anyone who likes travel narratives, funny books, or knows an international affairs major.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell I found this book to be really refreshing. Odell talks about how doing nothing, allowing yourself time to think, process, and observe, becomes a radical act in a society that’s designed to keep you as busy, productive, and distracted as possible. She argues that this time for reflection is necessary for sustained action. She draws her conclusions from humanities sources, the arts in particular, and writes about her own experiences as well. While it doesn’t suggest certain strategies or prescribe certain actions, reading it becomes a meditative experience in itself. Recommended for: anyone who needs a break.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester I honestly feel like the title sums up this book pretty well and still manages not to give some of the juiciest bits away. A relatively short but fascinating look at 1800s life and how mental illness and scholarship are often closely related. Recommended for: anyone interested in the Victorian era, people who like dictionaries.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movies Watched

You can probably tell by this list that I’m desperately trying to shorten my Netflix queue. I swear sometimes it takes longer to go through it than it does to watch something on it.

Carrie Pilby (2016) I don’t know why I waited so long to watch this movie. It is utterly adorable. Carrie is unbelievably bright (having graduated college at 18), but she’s also incredibly lonely and isolated. With the help of therapist Nathan Lane (who I loved in this), she overcomes a past trauma and moves on with her life. This is a book adaptation, but I’d never heard of the book. I may have to pick it up though because I really liked this film. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Polka King (2018) I should start off by saying that I love Jack Black and his earnest hilarity. This movie is not hilarious despite an abundance of some very fun and funny actors. It is earnest and rather sweet and an interesting look at how people who want to do good things sometimes get caught up in a mixture of enthusiasm and naivete to do some very bad things. Like run a Ponzi scheme. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Luka Chuppi (2019) A fun Bollywood farce where things go so, so wrong before the ultimately happy ending. Comical misunderstandings about a couple’s marital status (or lack thereof) threaten to disrupt two very traditional households in India. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Candy Jar (2018) The smartest kids in school hate each other? That probably means they’re perfect for each other. A relatively clever high school comedy about two star debaters with moms who hate each other that explores the pressure to achieve. Netflix original.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

No Kiss List (2015) It’s hard to say what the worst part of this film: the acting, the music, the writing, the subject matter, the cinematography, the directing…I don’t think there’s anything good about this movie. I watched it with my sister in law to have something to make fun of, but it was even worse than we could have predicted. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Parasite (2019) I was really hesitant to watch this movie because the title has horror movie written all over it and I do not watch horror movies. I was sure that this movie, academy award winner though it was, was going to involve bugs. Or deadly diseases. And I don’t need that in my life. However, my sister-in-law swore to me that this wasn’t the case and that we needed to watch it with her. So we did. And she was right. Though there are horrific moments in this film, the parasites are all of the human variety. This film has so many interesting things to say about wealth disparity and though its set in South Korea, it reflects United States culture as well. The movie builds really slowly and is just gorgeously put together. I am really glad she convinced me to watch it. Streaming on Hulu.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Please know that I’m not paid for my opinions about anything. I just like to share things that strike me as interesting, useful, or engaging.

Chi Luu examines the linguistic elements of memes in this really interesting article on JSTOR that relates the meme to the evolution of language online.

Need a reading recommendation? Check out this list of 9 Black women authored books in translation from Words without Borders.

Did you know that Monopoly was supposed to teach people how negative capitalism can be? Eula Bliss writes about the game’s origins.

I just picked up this beautiful deck of tarot cards based on fairy tales and folklore by California based designer Yoshi Yoshitani. Also available on Amazon.

How are you doing? What are you reading/watching? Let me know in the comments!

Nitrate Film: Degradation and Preservation

There’s a scene in Cinema Paradiso that I find utterly wrenching.

The projectionist, Alfredo, has just changed the position of the projector to show a film outside against a building, since the manager has closed the theater for the night. Salvatore watches in the square below. In an instant, the image bubbles and the reel catches fire. Alfredo tries in vain to put the fire out, and is severely injured in the process, losing his sight.

Why did the reel catch fire?

Films up until the 1950s were printed on nitrate, which is a highly flammable material. It can catch fire at extremely low temperatures, and once it catches fire, it’s extremely difficult to put that fire out.

Image from the NFPF site. See those bubbles? The deterioration will slowly progress until you can’t see the image anymore.

Nitrate films are, in many cases, considered hazardous materials. They are also susceptible to other kinds of deterioration. They get brittle, emit noxious gas, and bubble–eventually losing their image forever.

This material was used for films up until the 1940s or 50s. In archives, reels are often kept in cold storage to prevent decay, but because films weren’t thought worthy of preservation for many years, we have lost so many early films. According to the National Film Preservation Foundation, only 20% of feature films from the 1910s-20s still exist in complete form.

These movies are part of our cultural heritage and in my opinion they should be taken care of both in their original formats (for as long as possible) and digitized so they can be enjoyed and taken care of for years to come.

Want to see a short film that shows the nitrate degradation process? Watch Walk,–You Walk! (1912) about a couple of gals outwitting some troublesome men, which was preserved by NFPF.

Do you have nitrate films at home? My guess is no. Unless you have feature film reels (35mm), you don’t have to worry about nitrate. If you do have feature film reels, you should probably take them to a conservator or specialist. You can also learn about how to identify nitrate film here. However, 16mm and 8mm films, which is what most amateur and home film makers used, were always made on safety film (acetate). While this film type also has preservation issues (it can shrink and give off a vinegar smell and also produce channels), it’s not going to spontaneously combust.

What I’ve Been Reading This Week

I subscribe to lots of things–probably too many–and as such whenever I go on vacation (or don’t feel like reading things), I develop a huge backlog of reading. While I was cleaning this week, I’d take I-can’t-stand-it-one-more-minute breaks that I told myself were productive because I was clearing out the back log of feminist newsletters, book/literary news, and daily poetry.

Here are a few pieces from Lit Hub that I really enjoyed reading this week:

Poetry is one of those things that I never seem to be motivated enough to buy and read collections of, which is a shame because there’s so much good poetry out there–even if you don’t think you like poetry. This list is broken down by types of readers and includes some great poets–ancient, modern, and contemporary. A lot of them are famous enough that your library might have them, which is great because I don’t often return to a book over and over again.

I may be borderline obsessed with Jane Austen, but it’s only because I think she is such a great observer of humanity. Korducki shares her opinion in this essay that marriage is still mired in the bizarre mix of practical considerations and affection that was just starting to make itself known in Austen’s time. She also shares her own experience of coming to Austen’s work, which is less of my fan-girl type experience and more of a this-is-an-18th-slash-19th-century-English-class-and-you’re-an-English-major-so-reading-Austen-is-compulsory type of experience.

I love 90s movies. And adaptations. And Shakespeare. Some of my favorites like Much Ado About Nothing and 10 Things I Hate About You are on this list as well as some others I haven’t seen and now have to add to my watch list, which is always growing.

And, saving the best for last:

My obsession with Shakespeare, Austen, and film is only rivaled by my love of fairy tales. Fine’s essay about the nature of desire in fairy tales (and the consequences of getting what you want or wanting too much) was riveting for me. A totally different way of looking at what a fairy tale is meant to do.


Have you read anything that sparked your interest this week? Let me know in the comments.

Books that Would Make Awful Films


The other day, I read this article on LitHub about books that would make terrible films. It’s an interesting concept, especially when you think about how many books are made into movies and how many stories seem perfect for this kind of adaptation.

I’ve only read one book on the author’s list, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I agree that the film has a mystical, lyrical quality  that would be quite difficult to capture, but I’m not sure that the resulting film would be horrible.

In my opinion there are several things that make a book difficult to film:

  • When the book rests on the interior head space of the main character (there’s not that much happening except thinking). Some films are good at capturing inner struggles, but there has to be something visual to hang the film on.
  • A book that relies too much on its own intelligence. When the allusions, references, and larger literary conversation define the writing, it’s not easy or maybe even desirable to adapt the work.
  • When the book’s time has passed. There are some books we read because they define a time, but I think that most films (even when they show a different time) help reflect our own. If there’s nothing timely, it probably won’t interest people or the filmmaker enough for it to get produced.


But now I’ll turn the question over to you–what book(s) do you think would make a terrible film?

Page to Screen: Me Before You


Film Adaptation–love it or hate it, it’s an undeniable part of our culture.

For my part, I love it. Even when it’s done poorly (and goodness knows it is), it still has the power to get people talking critically about art and adaptation.

Some Pertinent Facts:

  • Film release date: June, 2016
  • Director: Thea Sharrock (in her directorial debut)
  • Book release date: January 2012
  • Author: Jojo Moyes

The film version of Me Before You is actually really close to its source material. Part of this is due to the fact that the author had a pretty big hand in writing the screenplay, but that’s still not always the case. Joan Didion wrote a screenplay version of her book and still felt that film did not really capture the original.

However, unlike Joan Didion’s work, I think Me Before You is much more visual and externally focused. In that way, the book can sort of come to life. The setting near the castle helps to anchor the story, while Louisa Clark’s costumes help to bring her character to life for us. They mark her as more complicated than she appears to be.

Though I think that the film for the most part really captures its source material, there are a few interesting parts of the book that are left out of the film, and I thought I’d look at a few of those and discuss the choices.

There are a few spoilers here (from the book), so if you want to be surprised by them please stop reading.


Most of the characters in the book make it into the film, but the character we don’t get to see is Will’s sister. In the book she is very angry with her brother and with her parents for honoring Will’s decision. She isn’t in the book very much, and honestly the decision to omit her makes sense–she doesn’t really add anything.

The difference in Mr. Traynor’s character however, is a little more interesting. Will’s father definitely comes off as aloof in the film, but most of this we put down to his “Englishness.” He tries to be there for his son and respect his wishes. The relationship between him and Mrs. Traynor seems to be fairly solid, despite the emotional stress they’re under. In the book however, we see two people who were on the brink of divorce sticking it out for their son as well as the sake of appearances. Mr. Traynor is clearly unfaithful to his wife, and is often absent at crucial times.

The character’s change in the movie makes him seem far more rational and more of the concerned parent, but it also makes him way less complicated.

By far the largest omission in the book concerns the main character. We learn that the real reason for Louisa’s life choices is not that she has felt obligated to her parents, although she does, or that she’s willing to settle for less. Instead, Clark has been a survivor of sexual assault and she’s leading a very safe life because it’s the only way she can feel secure again. Will helps her to work through that.

I think maybe this was omitted because it’s one more heavy thing to deal with in a film that’s already pretty emotional, but in the light of the #metoo movement, the omission feels a little glaring. Why deny Lou’s complicated past?


What did you think of Me Before You? Have you read the book or seen the film or both? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book-Movie Adaptations I’m Excited About


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from the Broke and the Bookish.

Okay so I’m not very good at keeping up with the kinds of things that are being made into movies. I usually don’t know what’s playing unless I’m looking at a showtime schedule, and even then my favorite theater right now plays older movies and has cheaper tickets (as in date night with popcorn and a drink for less than $20, even in 3D). So I usually have no idea what’s going to be coming out. Unless someone tells me. Or a random trailer ad preview plays on YouTube (why are the ones I get always horror movies?!?). Or it’s something too exciting to miss. Like Star Wars (which I am super pumped for, by the way. Any other Star Wars fans out there?)

So I had to do actual research for this post. And here’s what I came up with. Some of the other movies I’ll probably see and they seem like fun, but I tried to pick mostly the ones where I’d already read the book…which didn’t work too well since I feel like I haven’t read any of these, or if I have, I’m not particularly excited for the movie. Since I’m not up to date on my movies, some of these are 2015 releases. You can let me know if the movies were any good.


Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: I haven’t read this one, but it’s set in NY in the 1950s, so I want to see it.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith: Remember what I said about things set in the 1950s? Glad we’re all on the same page. But I haven’t read this one either.

A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion: I feel very attached to Didion, since I spent an entire term just studying her work. And I think Christina Hendricks is perfect for this role.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Does reading the Wishbone version count? I actually got scared of the Wishbone version in second grade and haven’t tried reading this since, though I recently bought the book. Maybe Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy will provide my needed inspiration.


The BFG by Roald Dahl: I read pretty much read all of his books as a kid. Matilda and I are soul sisters. This book is a little less well known, but still super good. And now it’s going to be a movie with Bill Hader, whom I love. So lots of love going on.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling: Even quasi related to the HP series? Um… yeah I’m watching it.

The Silver Chair by CS Lewis: So I wasn’t all that enamored with the recent-ish Chronicles movies. But maybe this one will be the one? I’m hopeful.

Allegiant Part I & II by Veronica Roth: This is kind of a cheat because I haven’t actually read these books, but I liked the first two films a lot and want to finish the series. Who knows, I might even read the books.

The book I really want to them to make the movie of and which is already optioned, so it basically fits the criteria:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Please, please, please make this movie so that all my bookish dreams can come true!

Did any of these movies make your list? What upcoming film are you most excited for?