Crisp golden delicious apples with sharp cheddar cheese.
A good book on a cloudy day.
A bicycle ride on a cool morning.
A hot bath with scented candles.
Seeing the Milky Way.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
TV this week:
- Heroes: "Orientation" - I'm only vaguely interested in most of the characters. Hiro and Matt and that's about it. I was surprised how quickly I remembered what had happened in the last episode I watched. I guess it was memorable.
- Heroes: "Jump, Push, Fall" - Peter's fight amused the heck out of me. I don't know why, but when knifeguy suddenly pulled out two more knives I couldn't stop giggling. Claire's certainty that there wasn't a note and the junior detective story set-up is silly. And can Hiro deal with a best friend who suddenly isn't a loser? And poor poor Matt.
- Destination Truth: "King Tut's Curse; Swamp Ape" - The not-at-all subtle promotion of Orbitz.com is getting annoying. No, strike that, it's been annoying from the beginning. I'm very impressed that the team got permission to be in King Tut's tomb at night. I didn't think Egypt would let ghost hunters wander around the Valley of the Kings unsupervised. The investigation itself was of great interest to me, although I really would prefer this show to stick to cryptids instead of ghosts and archeology. One big question: why do they always eat food that will disagree with them right before an investigation? Most of the "cursed" moments could be blamed on the food. Moving on, their first investigation in the United States was more cryptid-y. The Florida Skunk Ape! And they found something very impressive on their camera traps, assuming that really was what the specialist thought it was. Frankly, I'm more interested in the panther than the cryptid. Good investigation!
- Ghost Hunters: "Little Drummer Boy" - I like the church, nice catacombs. Good job with the debunking. Steve is a pretty good drummer. I like the reactions of Father Michael, loving the personal experiences more than the fact that they caught nothing of interest on the equipment. The stark difference between science and faith demonstrated clearly in this one investigation. The Community Center was less impressive, both in stories and the actual location. Again, good debunking in this one with the slamming door and the footsteps. Seemed to be a happy conclusion for both places, though.
- Numb3rs: "Hangman" - Lots of allusions in this one, but not enough pure math. That's the problem with this show, the math itself has been less than impressive for the last couple of seasons. The drama is lovely, but I want the math as well. The plot is a timely one, as is most of their plots. A man born into politics hunted by an assassin. Interestingly stylish ending.
This week's movie was Sherlock Jr with Buster Keaton, a silent film from 1924. A very funny movie, with lots of jokes, most nicely visual. The plot involves a wannabe detective working at a movie theater who is accused of stealing and pawning a watch. I like when his dream-self attempts to wake himself up. It was also kind of cool to see the theater in action during a silent movie, and to see Keaton doing a bunch of camera tricks. Even though the scene changes didn't actually add to the plot, I'm sure they were amazing for the time. The motorcycle ride was something else entirely. A very strange and wonderfully cute little film. Gotta thank Mark Evanier for noticing it was on TCM and getting hubby-Eric to set the DVR.
DCBS comic book shipment that arrived this week, of books originally released Sep 2nd, 10th, and 16th:
- Wednesday Comics #9 - Flash was... different. Supergirl was cute, as usual. I wish Sgt Rock would move along a little. Wonder Woman was almost understandable for once. Needs more Aquaman.
- Justice League: Cry For Justice #3 - If Robinson does somehow manage to get me to care about Prometheus, it will be a miracle. At the moment, I'm just not impressed with this book.
- Northlanders #20 - If he's off in exile, how do people know where he is and how does he know about the songs the skalds sing? Clearly they have more contact than the narrative would let on. The ending is a little disappointing, as well. Get the kids out of the equation, yes, then... what the heck? What happened to Sven's advantages? I don't know, I'm not as impressed as I'd hoped.
- Doctor Who Ongoing #3 - Trial scenes bore me. And they apparently bore writer Lee as well, who turned this into more of a little farce. Love the cliffhanger. I was expecting to hate this issue, and I liked it a little, so it's all good.
- Wednesday Comics #10 - How many of these tales involve time travel? Ahem... I like Hawkman mocking the dino. I think GL was fairly good. Overall I'm not that impressed with this offering, though. Needs more Aquaman.
- Black Night: Batman #2 - DC Zombies in Gotham. Boring.
- Green Lantern Corps #40 - DC Zombies on Oa. Boring.
- DMZ #45 - Ok, what is Matty up to now? I'm feeling like I may have to do some rereading just to figure out what happened in this one.
- Wednesday Comics #11 - Ah, THAT's more like it! Aquaman! Again, the Hawkman strip is fine, if a little limited. The Teen Titans strip is slowly beginning to make sense. I wish I had about fifty pages of the Sgt Rock strip instead of just one. I love that last panel of Supergirl. Still needs more Aquaman, but at least we got a panel of sweet aquatic action.
- Blackest Night #3 - And... no Aquaman, except on the cover. However, Mera gets a crucial little role in this one that makes her cool again. No, she is not Aquawoman. Just Mera. Well, it's still DC Zombies, but at least it was more than just boring fighting.
- JSA vs Kobra #4 - I do like Mr Terrific. He's rapidly become my second favorite character in the new JSA (after Ma Hunkel), and it's nice to see him portrayed as intelligent enough to play chess with the villains.
- Tiny Titans #20 - I like seeing Alfred polish the Eisner award. And the other pictures in that scene were cute as well. And Aqualad was the responsible one, heh. I love this book. It's goofy and about 40 pages too short each issue, but I still love it.
- Doctor Who Classics: Series 2 #10 - And we finally get into some of the stories that I don't know. I remember the Japanese soldier and his fate, but everything after that is completely new to me. Yay!
My library book this week was Hitler's War by Harry Turtledove. This alternate history tale has two main divergences from our own history. The big one is that Chamberlain didn't appease Hitler by signing the Munich Accord. The second is that General Sanjurjo of Spain took the advice of his pilot and removed his extra uniforms, thus not dying in a plane crash (and preventing the rise of Franco). And so WWII starts early. When Turtledove wants to show how the whole world is changed in one of his books, he uses a large cast to give the reader differing viewpoints. In this book, for example, we get fourteen different main characters:
- Chaim Weinberg - A New Yorker fighting for the Communists in Spain
- Vaclav Jezek - A Czech foot solider
- Ludwig Rothe - A German Panzer commander
- Peggy Druce - An American caught in Czechoslovakia when the war starts
- Luc Harcourt - A French foot soldier
- Pete McGill - An American soldier stationed in Japanese-occupied Peking
- Hideki Fujita - A Japanese solider stationed in Mongolia
- Sergei Yaroslavsky - A Russian bomber pilot
- Sarah Goldman - A Jewish girl living in Munster
- Alistair Walsh - A British foot soldier in France, veteran of the WWI
- Willi Dernen - A German foot soldier in France
- Joaquin Delgadillo - A fascist Spaniard
- Julius Lemp - A U-boat commander in the North Sea
- Hans-Ulrich Rudel - A German bomber pilot
Here are a handful of Agatha Christie short stories that I've read but haven't done proper reviews for. These come mostly from The Listerdale Mystery and Hound of Death, though I may have read them in other collections, which is why some of them didn't get proper reviews earlier.
- The Listerdale Mystery - A formerly well-off widow finds suspiciously inexpensive lodgings. I liked the gentleness of this one. I did have it figured out well before the reveal, but it was still a happy little tale. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Girl in the Train - A man is thrust into adventure when a girl begs him to hide her on a train. The style was so English it almost hurt. The mysteries were amusing, but there's no way a reader could figure out what was going on. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Manhood of Edward Robinson - Edward decides to have his own way for once, and it gets him into a little adventure. I'm amused by this one, but not by the attitudes about women it tongue-in-cheek espouses. At least, I hope it's tongue-in-cheek. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- Jane in Search of a Job - Jane finds a job and gets into trouble. I liked Jane's take-it-as-it-comes attitude... and the bit at the end with the handsome young man. Ah, love! First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- A Fruitful Sunday - Out on a drive, Edward and Dorothy run into a moral dilemma. Ed sure has the brains of this outfit. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Golden Ball - George wanted a day off but ended up with so much more. I think Mary is insane, personally. But at least George did a good job of making her realize it. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Rajah's Emerald - James Bond has a little beach adventure. Ok, not that Bond, but that's the character's name. And he doesn't a neat little bit of detective work once he gets himself into trouble, as well. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- Swan Song - A performance of Tosca takes on new meaning. A tight little story that doesn't rely on the reader's knowledge of an opera to appreciate it... but if you know Tosca, it brings a new dimension to the tale. This is a good one. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Call of Wings - A rich man is content until he hears the music. I can't decide whether this is a tragedy or a tale of redemption or both. I know I find it very disturbing, though. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Gypsy - A young man is irrationally terrified of Gypsies, and ignores advice that could help him. Another purely supernatural tale, with star-crossed love involved. A fairly good one. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Hound of Death - In WWI, a nun destroyed a group of German invaders. Years later, a man discovers her secret in England. This is pure supernatural, nothing really mystery about it. It's creepy, good, but not her best effort. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Lamp - A widowed mother moves her family into a haunted house. This one is very sad, and a little chilling. Not my favorite ghost story. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Strange Case of Sir Andrew Carmichael - A specialist is consulted in a case where a young man seems to have lost his memory. A creepy little tale. Not scary, really, but fun to figure out what the doctor is missing. First published in The Hound of Death
Fortean Times #253, October 2009. Have I mentioned how much I hate getting this mag in a flimsy plastic bag? The cover story is about mass hysteria, and has some excellent examples from an upcoming book on the subject. I particular like the bits on the Hula Hoop and the Jumping Lumberjack.
The crop circle pictures were neat. People are getting really inventive. There's a good photo of the teen who was hit by a meteorite, posing so the injury on his hand shows while he holds the pea-sized meteorite next to the crater it left in the road. Ghostwatch has a haunted synagogue, which is unusual. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Archaeology section of the mag says about the hoard recently discovered by a metal detectorist in a field in England, but this issue's section had some good pieces. The piece on the possibility that the bust of Nefertiti is a fake was intriguing. The arguments for it being fake are fairly compelling, if the facts are correct. Nice long article on John Keel, sounds like a guy I would not have wanted to hang with.
I like the science article, which points out that science is about change, and that theories and ideas change constantly as new facts are uncovered. The theories change to fit the facts. But the article is more about the deniers, people who will not change their opinions regardless of fact. It's a good luck at the basic phenomenon, but only scrapes the surface of why it happens.
An article about people seeking exonerations for those accused of witchcraft raised some issues I hadn't thought of, particularly the fraud aspect of the convictions of some of the so-called "witches". The case that is brought up in the article raises a lot of questions with me, I'd love to see the details of that case.
Skipping over a lot of interesting stuff, there's an article of mild interest to Doctor Who fans about Peter Haining and his made-up monster. Seems that Haining wasn't always completely accurate in his books.
Finishing up the mag, the reviews and letters were great as always. This issue didn't have much in the way of duds, in fact. Overall another solid issue of the strangest magazine on the stands.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Banned Books Week is September 26th to October 3rd.
Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2008:
- And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
- His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
- TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
- Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
- Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
- The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
- Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
Friday, September 25, 2009
This is Mark Evanier's fault, via hubby-Eric (who forced me to watch it by making me promise to watch it before he left for work this morning). Also spotted on Kurt Busiek's Facebook page and The Beat. It's about 2 and half minutes long, and most of my readers will recognize the song, methinks.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
TV this week:
- 10 Dollar Dinners: "Supper for a Song" - ruining perfectly good ice cream and chocolate by adding coffee... bleah. I'm not a big seafood fan, but pasta is a normal food for us. The broccoli dish looked both simple and tasty. Maybe I could do the ice cream with just cocoa.
- Destination Truth: "Island of the Dolls" - That first place was a straightforward ghost hunt, nothing to do with cryptids. Any place like that is going to be naturally creepy, so their results just weren't a surprise. Nothing convincing there. Now, the Lusca! That's a cryptid! A giant octopus is a great one to be hunting. Much more to my liking. And they seemed to like going to the Bahamas as well. The evidence there was more intriguing, though equally inconclusive. I wanted to be Aquaman while watching that, visiting those caves.
- Dinner Impossible: "Ice Cream Meltdown" - I'm very amused by Robert's ice cream flavors. Now I really want some ice cream. Some nice cookie dough maybe. I spent some time over at Ben & Jerry's looking at the flavors. I want to try the Mission to Marzipan. And I need some Chocolate Therapy. I really want some Cinnamon Buns. And Key Lime Pie... wow. I just want to try most of them. I was surprised to find some recipes, but none of Robert's I think. Oh, back to the show... Robert batted .500 on the ice cream flavors, but his dishes went over pretty well. I'd say this one was a success.
- Ghost Hunters: "Judgement Day" - I love their tour guide, Sheriff Ralph, at the Union County Courthouse. He was very enthusiastic. The evidence they caught was also interesting. I wonder what made that figure? Not proof enough, but still neat. Nice debunking jobs at the second location. Old houses are often good places to feel like you are being haunted, when really it's just the way old houses are.
This week's comic book related review is Our Gang Volume III from Fantagraphics Books, reprinting Walt Kelly's Our Gang comic issues 16 (Apr 1945) through 23 (Jun 1946). I admit when I first got this review copy I sort of... well, dismissed it. I glanced at the cover and thought it was a new version of the characters. Since I was never a fan of Little Rascals in the first place, I didn't think much of it and put it in the reading pile and forgot about it. Then I noticed that the spine had the name "Walt Kelly" and realized I had to check this out. And it's excellent. You need no knowledge of the films to follow the action, and each issue was self-contained, so you can read it in chunks. There are references to earlier stories, which makes me want to lay my hands on the first two volumes. An essay at the beginning of the book puts the stories into the context of their times, very important for any comic book from that era. Yes, there are some cringe-worthy moments, but far fewer than I expected. Definitely worth a read if you are a fan of old comics that don't involve superheroes.
This week's movie was The Incredibles. I reviewed this back when I saw it in the theatre and it's just as good on the rewatch. Lots of fun, and enough stuff I'd forgotten that it was worth rewatching. This is a tight movie that really holds together well, and with the extras on the discs this is a great DVD package as well.
My library book this week was Ranger's Apprentice Book Six: The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan. This is the second half of Book Five, and the two books work well as a standalone tale. The end of this book isn't a bad stopping point for the series, although I know there are at least three more books. There is a tendency for everything to be a little too pat in this series, but even so you get enough of a sense of peril for it to work. This is a good young adult series, but as you get further into it, some folks might begin to find it mildly repetitive.
Agatha Christie this week was Witness For The Prosecution and Other Stories from 1948, a US collection that includes stories from The Hound of Death and The Listerdale Mystery which were both published in the UK and not the States. I was able to get my hands on The Hound of Death, but not The Listerdale Mystery, so this fills in my reading of some of the short stories I wasn't able to read in original publishing order. The first six stories are from Hound of Death, the next four from The Listerdale Mystery, and one story is original to this collection.
- The Witness for the Prosecution - A lawyer encounters a mistress determined to see her lover hanged for murder. This one has some nice little twists, and the thought processes of the lawyer are wonderful to read. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Red Signal - A discussion on premonition leads into a premonition of death. It was fairly clear what the twist was going to be, but just how it was revealed was nicely done. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Fourth Man - Three men on a train talk about a case of multiple personalities, until the fourth man in the car awakes and gives them more details of the story. A purely paranormal horror story, with no mystery involved. You know what the fourth man expects you to believe at the end. A creepy little tale, but it's hard to sympathize with the main characters. First published in The Hound of Death
- S.O.S. - A car breakdown leads a man into a family situation fraught with danger. Another creepy one, at least slightly, but with a little bit of mystery in there. The pieces all come together ok, but this one still manages to feel slightly disjointed to me, unlike every other Christie story I've read. First published in The Hound of Death
- Where There's a Will (aka Wireless) - An old woman with a weak heart hears the voice of her dead husband through the radio. Wow. This was a good little one, with all the irony you expect from a Christie tale. First published in The Hound of Death
- The Mystery of the Blue Jar - A young man hears a scream for help that nobody else can hear, and goes to lengths to get to the bottom of it. This one is just obnoxious. Clever, but obnoxious. First published in The Hound of Death
- Sing a Song of Sixpence - A retired lawyer is asked to solve a murder mystery by one of the suspects. A very quick story with an obvious clue. Not very satisfying, but ok. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl (aka Mr. Eastwood's Adventure) - A mystery writer with writer's block gets plunged into a murder mystery. I knew that something was up, but didn't figure it out before the reveal. Very cute observations on the difficulties of writing. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- Philomel Cottage - A happily married woman is plagued by bad dreams and an ex-boyfriend. Yikes. This one had lots of elements of mystery in it, but I loved how the main character stalls for time at the end. And the result is classic Christie Creepy. First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- Accident - A retired investigator recognizes a murderess and decides to stop her before she kills again. Nice thinking in this one, but the result was a bit depressing. I have to wonder if the other character suspects anything? First published in The Listerdale Mystery
- The Second Gong - Poirot arrives just as a man commits suicide after sending for the famous detective's help. I read this thinking that I'd read it before. Sure enough, the story "Dead Man's Mirror" from the Murder in the Mews collection is an expansion of this story. I liked it, but I was very distracted by trying to remember when I'd read it before.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Introduction to the Scientific Method. Holy Pasta Week, at its heart, is about the differences between science and religion. I have nothing against religion at all, and even feel that it's a very good idea for people to have some training in religious studies. If you are going to study literature, you really ought to have a good grounding in the Bible, for instance. But religion has nothing to do with science, and should not be taught in science classes.
I've always said that if creationism is taught in science classes, then science must be taught in Sunday School.
Pastafarianism is a joke, yes, but the point of it is valid. If one religion is allowed into science classes, no matter what name it's disguised under, ALL religions need to be taught. And at that point, you no longer have a science class. You have a class on cultural anthropology. Leave science classes to science.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today marks the beginning of Holy Pasta Week, a celebration of Pastafarians everywhere. Hubby-Eric and I generally celebrate with some sort of pasta dish each night of the week (which runs from the 15 to the 19), and I usually blog about what FSM is all about during the week. As Modern Reformed Pastafarians, we are pretty low-key about it all.
Happy Holy Pasta Week, enjoy your week, and ARRRR on Saturday.
Last night, hubby-Eric and I were getting ready to doze off to sleep when the hubby asked me, "How much do you love me?"
Tired, a little drowsy, I said, "How do you quantify love?"
Silence for a moment, then, "In ammos."
I pondered for a bit, then asked, "Ammos? Like ammunition?"
"No," he said, "AMO. Ay, Em, Oh! Like the root for love!"
"Oh," I digested this news, "Like Amor." More silence. "How much is an amo?"
Eric thought for a moment. "An amo," he pronounced, "Is the amount of love you have for an M&M as you eat it."
I thought about it. In the blissful evening quiet. Then, "So a kiloamo is 1000 amos?"
"Yes, a thousand M&Ms." He said, not giggling.
"So, a billion kiloamos would be a tiny fraction of how much I love you."
Happy silence for awhile. Then I said, "You know, a centiamo..."
"One-hundredth of an M&M."
"Yeah, wouldn't it be an insult to tell someone that your love for them could be measured in centiamos?"
"Not as much as a milliamo... or microamo... or even a picoamo."
"A dekaamo would be ten M&Ms. What would one hundred be?"
Neither of us could remember. And so to bed.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
TV this week:
- 10 Dollar Dinners: "Beyond Pork and Beans" - Well, some hints but not as much as usual for me on the two main dishes. The biscuits, on the other hand, were of great interest to me. Cold butter and very little mixing. Ok, gotta remember that.
- History Detectives: "Duke Ellington Plates; Scottsboro Boys Stamp; Civil War Bridge" - Wow, great story with the Duke Ellington plates. Very neat that the plates appear to be originals. The story of the Scottsboro Boys was a shameful piece of our history, but then the South back then wasn't a place to have dark skin if you wanted justice. The connections in that trial are just amazing, and the journey the research took was quite a combination. Wow. The guy in the Civil War Bridge story was taking on "the Man" to fix what he thought was a mistake. I admire that. I've seen many historical markers that I thought had minor mistakes and never thought twice, but I guess it is important that those be correct. Good for him.
- Ghost Hunters: "Essex County Jail" - As the guy was giving the tour I kept thinking that everything could be explained by old building sounds and creepy corners for the shadows. And while I don't doubt that Josh thought he saw someone, I saw nothing in any of the footage that seemed even slightly paranormal. They never revisited the extra head on the thermal camera that Josh saw, and that was the most promising piece they got that night. Just a creaky old building with some built-up anticipation. Not much of an episode, sadly. Not even for pure entertainment value (although the bat that attacked Steve was a good moment).
- Dinner Impossible: "Food Court Fiasco" - Seven restaurants, 30 dishes, 8 hours. I'm not sure what to make of that. Could be fun, might be horrid. Ah, kitchen problems. Always always always. The temporary kitchens are NEVER good. Doing the work of 21 people is crazy, but Robert was lucky enough to pick up another helper at the store. The results seem to be pretty good. The folks who tried stuff seemed to really enjoy it. But then, if you compare regular food court fare to what Robert can offer, I think Robert will generally win.
- Destination Truth: "Haunted Forest" - I don't know whether this episode is proof that you should never get in a small plane with Josh Gates, or proof that you should always have Josh with you when you risk flying in an ancient small plane. Except for the plane ride, the first half of the episode was like Ghost Hunters in the woods. Now, the experience with Evan and being tossed across the clearing was impressive. The man was sitting cross-legged, and was yanked upward on camera. I can think of ways they could have faked the footage, but if they were honest about it, there is no way Evan could've made that move on his own. That would be a place to really do some serious scientific research in. Pity we never got a good visual of the clearing during the day. The second story, down in Mayan-country, was fascinating to me for other reasons. The ruins, the wildlife... and the fact that they seem to actually be hunting a cryptid and not ghosts was also neat. "It's just nice to have a light that kills things." Heh.
- Ace of Cakes: "It's A Hard Knock Cake For Duff" - DALEK CAKE!!!! MOVING DALEK CAKE!!!! WANT!!!!!!!! But what's this, none of these people know Doctor Who? We'll make fans of Duff's crew yet. I loved the hatch in front that pulled away to show the dalek inside. I wish they'd shown the delivery of the cake. That was my only disappointment with the episode. The other cakes were good. I liked Brett.
For this week's movie, we rewatched Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It was great fun, and yes, Eric, I do wonder just how they get the floating rabbits in a claymation film. How exactly do you do floating at all in claymation, though? Careful camera angles, I guess. Watching it this time through, I spotted a few things I'd missed before, mostly neat little touches with signs or expressions. I admit I found the rabbits to be disturbingly cute. And the mouths on Lady Tottington and Victor Quartermaine to be terribly distracting for some reason. Still, a great little movie. Now, if only they can get off this Wallace love-interest-of-the-moment kick and find another way to drive a plot.
This week's comic book related review is Life On Another Planet by Will Eisner. It's the late 1970s, and a signal from another planet has been discovered. What will happen next? Well, when the KGB, a cult, and a third-world country get involved, just about anything can happen. And don't forget the evil corporation with plans for big profits anda mad scientist! Eisner gives us characters that we quickly understand and sympathize with, and tells the story like only Eisner can. If you've never read a thing by Eisner before, this isn't a terrible place to start. And you can wonder, is there life on another planet?
My library book this week was Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. Think Little House on the Prarie meets magic, and you have a tiny insufficient inkling of what this book is about. A family moves west to the frontier in a world of magic. Partly to get away from the stigma of having a 13th child, and partly to protect their seventh son of a seventh son from getting too full of himself. Told from the perspective of the 13th child, a child who some think is destined to go bad, this is a book about growing up with serious self-doubt in an uncertain world. It's written in a simple voice, but vividly enough to grab your attention. I hope there are sequels, because I enjoyed it a lot, and I want to know what happens to Eff in the future (NOTE: It's the first book of a trilogy! Yay!).
Agatha Christie this week was The Labors of Hercules, a collection first published in 1947 or Hercule Poirot tales. The conceit of the book, proposed in a short foreward, is that Poirot plans to take on twelve final cases before retiring to raise vegetable marrows (zucchini). He will pick special cases that symbolically represent the twelve labors of Hercules.
- The Nemean Lion - Poirot looks into the kidnapping of a Pekinese. Ah, the identity of the Lion was not something I was expecting. But, while the main mystery wasn't so impossible to predict (although I didn't quite get it), the clincher on this one was Poirot's prevention of another crime.
- The Lernaean Hydra - Poirot is employed to stop an insidious rumor. Stopping a rumor seems impossible, but Poirot takes the Gordian Knot approach to the problem.
- The Arcadian Deer - Poirot hunts down a woman for a love-sick garage hand. This one was bitter-sweet, but the end had that tiny grasp of hope.
- The Erymanthian Boar - Coincidentally on the spot, Poirot is asked to apprehend a killer. This one seemed a little over-complicated at the beginning, but cleared up nicely towards the end. Not her best effort, but fairly typical.
- The Augean Stables - Poirot is hired by the Prime Minister to do the impossible. Oooh, this was good. I knew Poirot wouldn't be able to help as soon as the problem was laid out for him... and then he manages to help. Wow. Quite a feather in Hercule's hat.
- The Stymphalean Birds - A young politician on vacation is embroiled in domestic issues. Very typical story of misdirection. You'd think I'd have this plot figured out by now.
- The Cretan Bull - A woman comes to Poirot for help when her fiance believes he is going mad. Figured this one out fairly quickly, but wasn't really sure I was right up until the end.
- The Horses of Diomedes - A doctor called in Poirot to help a girl who is becoming addicted to cocaine. Another story of misdirection, which is revisited again in the final story of the anthology. Disturbing story about the perils of drug use.
- The Girdle of Hyppolita - Poirot is called to find a missing painting, and a missing girl. The result was nicely satisfying in this one. I enjoyed how Poirot's attention was so easily diverted.
- The Flock of Geryon - A former criminal helps Poirot investigate a cult. The criminal from the first story expresses a desire for excitement, and gives Poirot a possible case. Then the two, along with some timely help, crack the case.
- The Apples of Hesperides - Poirot is hired to find a chalice missing for ten years. The key to this one is what Poirot does at the end, and how the "victim" of Poirot's crime completely understands.
- The Capture of Cerberus - Poirot gets involved in a restaurant run by Countess Rossakoff. Another overly complicated stroy, but hey, it fits the theme since it has a doggie! Not bad.
Fortean Times #252, September 2009. Still sent from Belgium in a flimsy plastic bag. Bleah. The cover story is about a 1974 UFO crash in Wales (the start of Torchwood Wales, maybe)? It's actually a wonderful debunking of an event that had its details blurred by time.
Strangedays started out with polliwog rains, and I had to cover the pictures on the next two-page spread because of the graphic eye injuries shown. The Lost and Found stories were good, and seem to indicate that things like that happen more often than you'd think. The "Unknown Monsters" story on page 10 made me wish for an episode of Primeval that explores the creatures. The ape stories all seemed plausible. The Konspiracy Korner tackles the insane Obama theories, and dismisses them with an analysis of previous disinformation campaigns. I liked the bit about the so-called Flores hobbits having large feet for their size... literally hobbits? And the bits on Operation Blackjack and Michael Jackson's death were both timely and, in the case of Jackson, eerie to ponder.
I did not enjoy the third part of the Hoax article as much as the first two, mostly because the language seemed to be trying a little too hard to impress. Or maybe my brain is just not in a state to read about it. Following that was a nicely skeptical article about pygmy elephants, with nice arguments against each of the cases presented.
The Ghosts and Haunting part of the Random Dictionary pointed out another thing to look for if you are investigating a haunting. The family in the story was affected by carbon monoxide from a faulty furnace. I think if I ever take up ghost hunting, it'll be so mundane that people will be disappointed. No psychics, because I don't accept them. I'll be checking for toxins and high electro-magnetic fields to see if I can't find a reasonable explanation for the haunts. And I'll be checking houses in the daytime first before any night hunting, just to be sure there are no obvious causes or pranking going on. It's not that I don't accept the possibility of ghosts, it's just that over 99% of what people think of as "paranormal" has totally normal explanations, and the rest probably has explanations that we just don't understand yet. Searching for ghosts might be fun and creepy, but if there is something else causing the problems that might actually be doing you real harm, like a faulty furnace spewing poisonous carbon monoxide, wouldn't you rather rule that out first?
The Forum provided an interesting explanation for lost time, called Transient Global Amnesia, that was a side-effect of a drug the person who experienced it was taking. Another article reminded me of lost friends, as it was about our afterlife online. What happens to our webpages and facebook profiles after we die? Mostly, they just go on. Book reviews were good as usual, although I would not pick up that Dissection book if you paid me. I enjoyed the letters, with people writing in about their own imaginary friends. Some freaky stuff there.
All-in-all another great issue of the strangest magazine I read. To my amusement, the next issue arrived just as I finally finished the review of this one. So Fortean Times remains in my review queue!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Well, as you should know by now, the H1N1 flu virus isn't nearly as scary as it first appeared to be. It's got the mortality rate of a normal flu. The problem is that it's spreading really fast because no one has any immunity to it. And experts predict that the vaccine won't come out before this flu hits its peak. Oops.
So, it's not so nasty, but it's very contagious... What can you do? Check out Flu Preparedness Websites and follow some simple guidelines:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Wash thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
- Make sure to wash your hands before eating, or touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- If caring for ill persons, wash hands after providing assistance.
- Always wash your hands after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing, or after touching used tissues or handkerchiefs.
- If hand washing is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve. Put used tissues in the trash.
- Don't share items such as towels, lipstick, toys or anything else that might be contaminated with germs.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don't share food, utensils or beverage containers with others.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- See your health care provider as soon as you can if you have a cough and a fever, and follow their instructions, including taking medicine as prescribed and getting rest.
- Use a mask when visiting your health care provider.
- Wash your hands frequently.
Some folks are going to get sick no matter what they do. Doctors and nurses are at high risk. So are teachers and anyone else who works with the public a lot. Be nice to those folks. They are out there on the front lines. Those folks are being advised to get the current flu shot, then get another shot when the H1N1 vaccine is available.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So, I'm sick. Hubby-Eric is sick. I'm working. Hubby-Eric has stayed home the last couple of days. Not much else to say than that. We're both tired and cranky and being mean to each other in that snippy-sicky way that happens when you don't feel well.
Aren't you so glad I updated you?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
TV this week:
- 10 Dollar Dinners: "Savory Savings" - Salmon cakes, orzo, and asparagus. I think I would like to try that meal. I think I wouldn't mind even trying to make it. Though... canned salmon? That just seems odd to me. I understand the need to keep it under $10 for the entire meal, but I'm not sure as a Northwesterner that I can approve of canned salmon, even for salmon cakes. But I still want to try the recipes.
- History Detectives: "Stalag 17 Portrait; Seadrome; Black Tom Shell" - That portrait, and the book it was in, were incredible. The historical value of that book is amazing. I'm glad we got to see some of it. The second story was interesting, especially how the technology later was used to create oil platforms. The concept of "rest stops" in the middle of the ocean is truly amazing. The third story was an encore, but a good one. I'd never heard of the Black Tom disaster before I first saw this segment. I still think the shell itself could have been in the disaster, just not the timing mechanism.
- Ghost Hunters: "Civil War Spirits" - Fascinating history on that first place. I wish I could see the actual flashlight and was sure that it didn't have any timer or anything on it. A lot of this show depends on how much you trust the investigators, and even though I trust Jason and Grant to a certain extent, this is an entertainment show with the goal of selling ads. Another cool location for the second place. They've been hitting the historical spots this year so far. I wasn't impressed by the stories of the house, virtually everything could have other explanations. Old house, settling, high EMF in areas... not much there. And the TAPS guys agree with me.
- Dinner Impossible: "Feeding Frenzy" - Philadephia Zoo. Feeding humans a menu based on what the animals are fed. The shopping trip was an utter disaster, wasting over two hours before Robert had even begun. Robert generally doesn't do as well in challenges where he loses too much time just getting ingredients. The food looked overall fine, except for the crickets. Chocolate covered, maybe, but NOT in a jello shooter or frozen pop.
DCBS comic book shipment that arrived September 1st, of books originally released August 19th and 26th:
- Wednesday Comics #7 - More Aquaman! Yay! I have to admit, the humor in Metamorpho is growing on me. I like the grenade in Sgt Rock. This rag needs even more Aquaman.
- Blackest Night: Superman #1 - Nasty. Um, when did Superboy come back? Clearly I'm not keeping up with the Super-family enough, because the whole Krypton thing made no sense to me, either.
- Justice League of America #36 - This makes entirely too much sense. Linking Amos Fortune and the Royal Flush Gang, and then expanding them. Add in Roulette and ... well, what? I'm intrigued.
- Super Friends #18 - "Hey, dopey fish!" Good-bye! Me no like this book. Me no think you should buy it. Hello!
- Tiny Titans #19 - Wow, way to get a song stuck in my head, guys! Fun, cute, not enough Aqualad. In fact, no Aqualad.
- Doctor Who Ongoing #2 - Yay, films! Nice recovery from the cliff-hanger. I wonder if everyone got back what was stolen from them? Didn't like the new cliff-hanger.
- Wednesday Comics #8 - No Aquaman, but it looks like he'll be making an appearance in Hawkman soon. Deadman isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, is he? I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying Supergirl, even without Aquaman.
- Black Night: Titans #1 - Eeeeuuwwwww. What is it with lovestruck Titans kissing their deceased girlfriends? Yuck.
- Green Lantern #45 - Not terribly impressed with this one. Now that we've got a bajillion characters on the stage, I'm bored with all of them.
- Justice Society of America #30 - This one is getting interesting, but that's got to be one of the stupidest cliff-hangers ever.
- Batman Brave and the Bold #8 - Ah, China. And Yeti. And one very cold Batman. It's always fun to see who they bring in next.
- Doctor Who: Cold-Blooded War - I am sometimes amazed when I am reminded that the Draconians only appeared in one Doctor Who story. It sure seems like they were in a lot, because they were such a well-developed concept (with great costumes). Nice to see them again!
- Usagi Yojimbo #122 - Another good Usagi story. Always consistent, always fun, I love this book.
- Incredibles #0 - Ok, good story I guess, but is there a bit of an implication that Jack-Jack's abilities are not ... um... natural by birth? Or is something else going on there?
This week's movie was Braveheart. Yup. Finally saw it. Initial thoughts? It's about an hour too long, and it is so incredibly historically inaccurate that it's hilarious. Unintentionally so, I think, but hilarious nonetheless. Half the fun of this movie for me was looking online to see just how much it got wrong. Still, when you consider that it's based on a roving minstrel's version of history and not real history, it's not totally bad. Just amusing. but the implication that Edward III was Wallace's son is just a lovely touch of absurdity.
Moving on, I know people consider the battle scenes to be pretty good, but I was a bit bored through them. I've never been a big fan of battle. Then there were the characters. Despite the length of the film, some of the supporting characters were hardly developed at all, leading to a bunch of cardboard stereotypes running around the screen.
I guess I just wanted more from a movie that won an Oscar. Pity I never saw it in the theater, as I bet the cinematography would have made me like it more on a big screen, but even if it was playing at a local theater I wouldn't try to see it now as I can no longer sit for that long without pain (and certainly not in a theater seat, ow!).
My library book this week was From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L.Konigsburg. It was oddly jolting to read this and think about the modern world in the context of this book. It is set in 1967 when the book was written, and it amazes me what is different about that world, and what is the same. The edition I read of the book was a 35th anniversary printing with an afterword from the author that includes a very unsatisfactory "sequel" that detracts from one of the lessons of the book (about secrets, and keeping them). Oh well, the sequel is so tongue-in-cheek it hardly matters anyway. But the afterword talks about the changes in New York from 1967 to 2002, and how they wouldn't affect the story as much as you might think. The book itself was great fun, and I think kids of all ages would enjoy it. Definitely a book for the young-at-heart. ...Although it is sobering to think of how old Claudia would be today.
Agatha Christie this week was The Hollow from 1946, also published as Murder after Hours. A troubled weekend at the Hollow turns deadly, but everyone has a motive. I had this one. I knew the murderer, and I had the motive and the method and everything down. There were a couple of things I didn't quite understand, but I was sure they would fit in just fine once the reveal came along. So I confidently read on... and I was completely wrong. BAH! I'm never going to be able to fully solve one of these, am I?
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Yay, there's finally an update to the Wii Fit coming out!
I've been using the Wii Fit regularly as part of my weight loss/general health plan. I do a body test every morning, and at least some exercises. I've often grumped about some of the less repeat-friendly aspects of the Wii Fit to people... like the annoying comments the trainers make ("Visualize your ideal body!" Yeah, I'm thinking of Eric already. "Try counting! One... two... one... two..." you just messed up my counting you stupid trainer! "You're doing great!" No, I just fell off!) over and over again during one session. I hope the update will allow you to scale down their comments, because otherwise I may have to mute them entirely more often.
The biggest change, however, seems to be a full workout option, so folks don't have to keep grabbing the Wiimote in the middle of a workout to select the next exercise. This will really help me.
Anyway, the Wii Fit Plus will be available on October 4th, and I've put it on my Amazon Wish List already. I figure if I take the plunge and buy it for myself (a distinct possibility), I'll remove it from my wishlist. Otherwise I'll hope for it for Christmas or my birthday (though I'd much rather have this (in XL)).
Because the Wii Fit Plus disc alone is only $20, I'll probably pre-order it sometime in the next month. I use my Wii Fit every day, so this will be a good investment for me, especially with winter coming on.
And hey, I can finally play on a virtual Segway, just what I've... um... always wanted?
Friday, September 04, 2009
WANT! (I want about a dozen of these for Christmas, so all of you know what to get me)
Comic Book Legends Revealed #219: censored Nick Fury, Next Men, and milquetoast. Comic Book Legends Revealed #220: X-Man credits, X-Men analogies, and Haunt of Fear.
Idioms from around the World.
Ah, you've got that beautiful glow!
New and Improved Chocolate? I'll have to try it before I decide. Wonder who I'd have to ask to get a review sample...
In a strange twist, the only known photo of Phineas Gage was found via the 'net. Flickr is good for something!
Speaking of pictures, here are some pictures of a Ravenna pit that are of interest to me because of family who lived in that area for a long time.
Library flavored ice cream! I want Chocolate Chip Bookie-Dough.
The Hum of the Earth is apparently the sound of crashing waves.
School credit being given for trolling the internet. For the non-techies, "trolling" is bad. It's posting a non-constructive comment in a forum where your opinion is unwelcome in order to start an argument.
Once again, children: tasers are guns. They can be fatal, and should never be used unless you are willing to kill the person you use it on. Police who pull our a taser as if it's a stun gun need SERIOUS retraining. Tasers should never be used unless you would pull a regular gun.
I just have to say this again: THE STUPID! IT BURNS!
Green Cement Absorbs Carbon.
Pug for the in-laws.
No, seriously, I want this. Really. All my family can join together and get me one (or two).
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Comic Book Legends Revealed #217: Flick, Summers Brothers, and Summers Brothers. Comic Book Legends Revealed #218: Thomas Nast, Kraven's Last Hunt, and Kingdom Come.
I love honey. We haven't been able to afford it lately... maybe I can find some in an old tomb or something.
Note to techies: always check for possible detrimental code before sending a test server to a company. If nothing else, just run the company's code on the server. Sheesh.
Speaking of techies, sometimes the techies are little old ladies who have the skill to weave copper wire into a hardware used for the Apollo moon landing. I wonder if my sister could knit me a computer?
Yay, the giant spitting worm of Palouse! A local cryptid that isn't Sasquatch. If you want to see a picture of it, there's one here (click on the smaller images for big ones).
Wells Fargo sues itself. Sigh.
Cacao of Conflict in Venezuela. I checked... the cacao in my favorite chocolate is from Africa and the Caribbean.
Reader's Block. Yup, happens to me. Fairly frequently. I can often break it with a children's book or comic.
Sherwood Smith graphically explains why she won't be going to see the new Avatar movie.
If you missed San Diego Comicon, but still want to see the costumes, you're in luck. There are 600 pictures there, and I actually recognized some of the folks! (Like, Cheyenne Wright... that's no costume, that's what he usually looks like). You know that these Aquapeople are some of my favorites.
A Guide to Your Pug's Facial Expressions for the in-laws.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The story of The Twitter Fail Whale. Don't miss the gallery. I like the LEGO one.
Spending $23 quadrillion at CVS is a worthy feat, indeed! But the real fun of this one is the comments below that try to figure out what happened. If you want to know, the real explanation is here. Some of the Boing Boingers figured it out.
This method of making electricity could be very useful, if they can make it work in a cost-effective way.
Speaking of electricity, the problem with windpower.
A drug that protects against radiation. If this pans out, the impact could be huge.
Ah, history.... remembering the San Juan Pig War.
An artist imagines what the 456 from Torchwood: Children of Earth might look like.
Very cool United States rearranged print. This is one that would work (for me) as a wallpaper.
I like penguins, I like LOLCats: what's not to like?
Pug for the in-laws.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Well, I'm catching up on a couple month's worth of links, so there will be some old stuff here...
Comic Book Legends Revealed #215: animated Captain America, Elfquest, and Angelo Torres. Comic Book Legends Revealed #216: VAMPIRES!
Here's a cute short comic strip about Charles Babbage.
A gallery of shrunken coins. Don't try this at home, at least not without some serious science knowledge. The Bad Astronomer has a link to a video of a coin being shrunk.
The dangers of advertising a party on Facebook. Oops.
A fascinating look at the healthcare industry from an industry insider. That's the transcript, you can watch the video here.
Truly disturbing Movies of the 1980s. Yup, there's my childhood.
I do love me some Simon's Cat:
And, in other news, cats exploit humans by purring. Well, duh.
Pug for the in-laws.