The Women Behind the Curtain: Uncovering NASA’s Hidden Figures

Show Notes for Bonus Episode 2.3

Check out the free version of the episode below:

If you are interested in hearing the full version of this episode, head on over to our Patreon and sign up for the Book Ninja or Book Mage tiers!

Main Points from the Episode:

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
  • Learn more about our author of the week, Margot Lee Shetterly by visiting her website.
  • Paige Presents Fun with Comics: an exciting deep-cut pick that isn’t for everyone, Paige introduced Injection this month. A mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, this comic focuses on a government project gone wrong: mixing magic and technology together to produce one killer machine.
  • The Wikipedia article on the film has a section that addresses historical accuracy as well as some of the comments screenwriter Theodore Melfi made that Jennifer referenced in the episode. However, take this section with a grain of salt as some of the sources are blogs which may or may not have accurate information.
  • Surprisingly, we would actually prefer the movie over the book on this one. However, we still recommend giving the book a read because it has so much good contextual & historical information.

Coming up next time is our September bonus Movie Magic episode! This month we will be comparing the book and film adaptation of Hidden Figures. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can buy books mentioned in this episode from our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

Love in the Time of Cholera was a Bad Time

Show Notes for Bonus Episode 2.2

Quick Links from the Episode

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1985)

He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.

Gabriel Garcia marquez, Love in the time of cholera

Main Points from the Episode

  • What were our overall thoughts/impressions of the book? Hahahaaa….so. Let’s simplify and say that we both kinda hated Love in the Time of Cholera. Paige was most bothered by the character, Florentino Ariza, who she (accurately) describes as a predator, but who is presented as a hero in the story. Jennifer was stymied by the fact that she had to listen to this as an audiobook, which ruined the effect of the writing style for her. Both of us were very confused about why this book is often touted as an inspiring romance.
  • Does Fermina Daza love Florentino Ariza? Does anyone actually love anyone else? Categorically we agree that Florentino Ariza does not love Fermina Daza, rather he is obsessed with her, which is a different thing altogether. However, it is trickier to decide if Fermina loves either Florentino or Juvenal Urbino. Is this just a matter of comfort? The stability of knowing another human well and the ability to be yourself around them? Fermina is such a fascinating character, and despite being given a lot of time in her head, it is still not clear what Fermina feels other than occasional bursts of anger.
  • How do the book and movie compare? As for the movie, choices were made, and they were not good ones. Poor Florentino was aging wildly throughout the movie in ways the other characters did not, in addition to a weird switch of actors from young Florentino to slightly older Florentino (played by Javier Bardem). Characters were added in, while other important characters from the book – mainly Leona Cassiani – were written out. The subtlety of the relationships was completely lost. While some of the cinematography was breathtaking, this was overall a flop for BBE. However, if we are weighing book and movie, at least the movie was shorter? All jokes aside, it is clear that the book is of much higher quality (don’t walk away from this thinking Marquez cannot write well), it just comes down to the fact neither of them were for us.
The two love birds Florentino and Fermina, as played by Javier Bardem and Giovanna Mezzogiorno in the feature film.

Coming up next time, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving us a review or following us on social media. If you’d like to support the podcast, you can buy any of the books mentioned in this episode from our Bookshop store, or head on over to our Patreon for bonus content. Until next time, cheers!

Show Notes – Bonus Episode 1.1

Dwarves are Trash and Other Thoughts on Tolkien’s The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien as a young man (24)

What is your first memory of reading The Hobbit? Is it super nostalgic for you? Does seeing the classic illustrations or reading the chapter heading “An Unexpected Party” have you reaching for some tissues or staring mistily off into space? Jennifer first remembers her mother reading it aloud to her when she was perhaps six or seven, complete with a set of dwarvish voices. Or perhaps your first encounter was more similar to Paige’s with the animated movie leading then the book? However you came to read Tolkien’s classic, welcome to our first Deep Dive episode on Big Book Energy! There is no judgment on Tolkien nerdiness here, Jennifer’s computer is named Smaug after all. What is perhaps most shocking is that Paige has yet to read The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion. Or is it? Tolkien has perhaps become increasingly difficult for readers to sink their teeth into, especially when the highly palatable and action-packed Peter Jackson movie interpretations are now available.

This Deep Dive series seeks to do exactly what it says: dive in! And this season we are featuring Tolkien’s works as our point of focus, with The Hobbit being the logical starting place for such an excavation. We decided that for this month’s Deep Dive, we would have the added theme of Tolkien and Verse, i.e. an exploration of how Tolkien uses verse or poetry in The Hobbit, what that might mean, and what we think about it. Now, neither Paige or Jennifer are literary scholars, so walking through how poetry works in Old English – one of Tolkien’s many sources of inspiration – was a struggle. Despite this lack of knowledge, Jennifer attempts to break down alliterative verse anyway.

You can still see Bilbo’s green door in the still existing set of Hobbiton. Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash.

There are also inevitable references to the latest films and how they compare to Tolkien’s written work. Overall, both Paige and Jennifer were struck by how unimpressed they were with the dwarves in the book. While the most recent movie adaptations portray Thorin and company in a relatively good light, the book is much less kind to them. Over the course of the entire season we are also likely to discuss news items related to the latest endeavor of Amazon to not completely trash the Tolkien legacy. Our fingers are crossed, but Jennifer is nervous about what they will do with her treasured childhood realm of Middle Earth.

This episode comes at a particularly bittersweet time. Only a few days before recording, news broke that Christopher Tolkien had passed away at the age of 95. Tolkien’s contributions towards his father’s legacy cannot be understated. Without him, we would have been left with only The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. That is it. The Silmarillion, The Lost Tales, The Children of Hurin, The History of Middle Earth, Beren and Luthien, The Fall of Gondolin, and all the others that came between them would have been lost in Tolkien’s Smaug-worthy hoard of assorted paper and the incredible richness and depth of Middle Earth would have mostly been lost. Christopher Tolkien has our sincerest thanks for the countless hours spent organizing draft after conflicting draft and editing his father’s sometimes only partially finished works into a consumable form. BBE wishes him well on his voyage to brighter lands and fairer shores.

As promised, here is a terrifying image of Thranduil, king of the wood elves from the animated movie, The Hobbit (1977)

And here’s the BBE approved Thranduil, as played by Lee Pace in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. As you can see, there are some differences.

Here are some links promised in the episode:

  • Tor’s tribute to Christopher Tolkien and his legacy.
  • Here’s another tribute to Christopher Tolkien from NPR.
  • Jennifer is currently reading Christopher Vogel’s The Writer’s Journey, but is also super interested in contrasting this to Hayao Kawai’s The Japanese Psyche that explores common motifs in Japanese myths and fairy tales.
  • Here’s a couple great articles on recycling in America by NPR and The Atlantic. If you are interested in learning about going zero waste, Jennifer is really enjoying the book she is reading right now, Kathryn Kellogg’s 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste. Anyway, it is terrifying how wasteful we are with our limited resources, and Jennifer encourages everyone to evaluate their habits to reduce above all their consumption of single-use plastics and plastic in general.
  • Link to amazing Wikipedia page on alliterative verse so you don’t have to only rely on Jennifer’s mediocre explanations.
  • According to Wikipedia, Tolkien served in varying positions at Oxford from 1925 to 1959.
  • The Wikipedia page on the Inklings is a good source, and if you are further interested in the Inklings, be sure to check out the Journal of Inklings Studies.
  • Amazon show, what’s going on?
  • If you haven’t visited Tolkien Society yet, are you even a Tolkien fan??? They specifically have a page for Tolkien related readings, and many other awesome links.
  • Also, check out Tolkien’s Poetry, as mentioned on this month’s Deep Dive episode.

To catch our full discussion on why dwarves are terrible, why Bilbo is an absolute treasure, and why the recent Hobbit films succeed in some ways while failing completely in others, you’ll need to hop over to our Patreon page and subscribe! However, we have also uploaded a short summary/teaser of this episode where all podcasts live. Give us a follow on social media (links above) to keep up with all the BBE news. Until next time!