Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Samhain !!

    It's Samhain for us Druids; Halloween for the rest of yooze.  We'll be doing the usual routine tonight.  Liz will be answering the door and handing out candy.  I'll be in the computer room, conquering a world, with the three rude, yapping dogs shut in the room with me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy 191st Birthday, Fyodor Dostoevsky

    I read The Idiot earlier this year.  It is an absolute masterpiece, and that's not even reading it in its native tongue.  He suffered through poor health, 4 years of exile & hard labor in Siberia (for revolutionary activities), and a lifelong gambling addiction.  Yet he is unparalleled in the literary world.  Born 191 years ago today (we're ignoring the Gregorian calendar), they don't make writers like this anymore.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “I will be disgraced.”

    “Yes,” I said, “and it will be richly deserved.  But you are young, and will live to redeem yourself in the eyes of your kindred and friends.”

    “Why are you showing me such kindness?”

    “An elf once spared my life.  He taught me to eschew what is wrong, and understand the meaning of brotherhood.  I no longer have a stomach for wanton violence or meaningless revenge.”

     (from Viele Tausende, by Devin Patrick Bates)

     3*/10.  The full review is here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


    Wow.  Happy Monday, East Coast.  Glad I'm high and dry in Arizona.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Demotivational Saturday

    I gotta get me one of these.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “I met him once, with my dad.”  She paused.  “But I thought his specialty was Phoenician history.”

    “It is, but you know how it is with the Templars.  It’s like archaeological porn, it’s virtually academic suicide to be interested in them.  It’s gotten to the point where no one wants it known that they take the subject seriously.  Too many crackpots obsessed with all kinds of conspiracy theories about their history.  You know what Umberto Eco said, right?”


    “A sure sign of a lunatic is that sooner or later, he brings up the Templars.” 
    (from The Last Templar, by Raymond Khoury)
  7½*/10The full review is here. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

on this day in 1969

    If I was stranded on a desert island and could only have 5 CD's/albums to listen to, one of them would be Pink Floyd.  In fairness however, it wouldn't be Ummagumma.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

RIP - Rosa Parks

    Rosa Parks, aka "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement", passed away seven years ago today.  On my short list of personal heroes, she ranks at the very top.

    In 1955, she was arrested and booked in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat to a white person and move to the back of the (city) bus.  It was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement.

    RIP, Miss Rosa Parks.  You are a true American hero.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

this is a spatula

    Ann.  Sweetie.  I know you want to convince us that you're an average housewife, just like 99% of the other women in America.  But that's not how you hold a spatula, dearest.  You twit.

Monday, October 22, 2012

as for the Senator from Missouri...

    It amazes me that Representative Todd Akin (R - WTF?) is even allowed to be out in public without a chaperone, let alone run for Senator.  Go CLAIRE McCASKILL !!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

   It was in this way that dinner continued.  The professor happily talked away about islands in the tropics, rough seas and primitive natives with only the fewest of steering questions from Evelyn.  The man’s ability to talk whilst slipping in a mouthful of food or a slurp of wine was impressive.  It was as if his recollections were his breathing and the food an awkward cough to be hurriedly passed over.

    (from The Adventures of Augustus Fuller, by James Rickon)

    6½*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

does Mitt care about you?

    Man, I got eliminated on "Are you rich?"

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    He smiled and knocked at the door.  Surprisingly quickly, the door opened.

    “Good afternoon,” Bedevere said.  “We’re looking for Atlantis.  Can you put us on the right road?”

    The woman who had answered the door looked as if she probably could, in a sense.  She struck Bedevere as the sort of woman who has a son called Oak and two daughters called Skychild and Mistletoe, and she was wearing rather a lot of that jewellery that nobody ever buys at craft fairs.

    “Sorry?” she said.

    “Atlantis,” Bedevere repeated.  “You know...”

    (from Grailblazers, by Tom Holt)

     8*/10.  The full review is here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Horse-Drawn Carriages

    It's not every day you see one of these.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Tea-Baggers are Panicking!

    All that $$$ that the Koch brothers spent to spawn the Tea-Bagger Movement, and Obama's still in the driver's seat.  What's this world coming to when you can't buy an election?

    Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.  A number of fat-cat executives have issued memos to their peons, essentially saying "Vote for Romney or you're fired".  You can read the MSNBC article on it here.

    All I can say is : Foch the Kochs!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marriage vs. a PhD

   Which is why I stopped with a Bachelor of Science.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Something doesn’t compute.  It’s like I’ve been reincarnated, but God or whoever let me remember every damn thing from my past life.  Then I come home to Dave, and I think to myself, wait, did I hire a substitute Mark?  And shouldn’t this kid I have be my grandchild?  Shouldn’t I be handing him off to some nice, sensible daughter-in-law somewhere?  How many more husband iterations am I going to go through?  Two hundred years from now, will I realize I married my eighth husband five husbands earlier?  I go to buy oranges, and I end up tied in an existential knot.  So that bats my head around the tetherball pole pretty good.”  She stuck out an open bag of chips.  “Dorito?”

(from The Postmortal, by Drew Magary)

  8*/10.  The full review is here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Demotivational Friday

    I mean, really now.  How can you motivate yourself to conquer the universe when you're hugging a Unicorn?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

VP debate

    Old Joe Biden is thoroughly outclassing the rookie.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    String theorists can be likened to a primitive tribe excavating a buried spacecraft onto which they’ve stumbled.  By tinkering and fiddling, the tribe would slowly establish aspects of the spacecraft’s operation, and this would nurture a sense that all the buttons and toggles work together in a coordinated and unified manner.  A similar feeling prevails among string theorists.  Results found over many years of research are dovetailing and converging.  This has instilled a growing confidence among researchers that string theory is closing in on one powerful, coherent framework – which has yet to be unearthed fully, but ultimately will expose nature’s inner workings with unsurpassed clarity and comprehensiveness.

(from The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene)

  9*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "Why are you still asleep?  It's ten a.m. and I've been working for two hours."

    "Only insane birds and low-brained vampires work this early.  Besides, the world is round and I'm three hours on the other side."

(from The Tortoise Shell Code, by V. Frank Asaro)

  2½*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Hey, Mitt! It's Big Bird on Line 1.

    And he and his friends have a message for you.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Debate

    I have to admit - I only watched the last 30 minutes or so.  Mittens was definitely the aggressor; Obama seemed like he'd popped a Quaalude.  Of course, it's easy to sound flashy when you're spouting out one lie after another.  And the problem for Mittens is - most voters have made up their minds already.  So I doubt he'll get much of a "bump" from this.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

It's Banned Book Week

   The 100 most books most banned/challenged in the US in 2000-2009 are given below.  The list is courtesy of your friendly, local subversives - the ALA (American Library Association).  The ones I've read (fully; partial reads - such as just one volume of the Harry Potter series - don't count) are marked in pink.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
96. Grendel, by John Gardner
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank

    So that's 11 out of 100.  Not bad.  I really should pick another one from the list and start reading it this week.  Or next, since I've just started a matvelous Tom Holt book (The Grailblazers).  I'm leaning towards #21, #88, or #90, but we shall see.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "That's where he got those scars, you know," Disten said.  "The ones on his arms.  He got them at the Pits, from the rocks on the sheer wall he had to climb to escape."

    Harmon snorted.  "That's not how he got them.  He killed an Inquisitor while escaping - that's where he got the scars."

    "I heard he got them fighting one of the monsters that guard the Pits," Ulef said.  "He reached into its mouth and strangled it from the inside.  The teeth scraped his arms."

    Disten frowned.  "How do you strangle someone from the inside?"

 (from Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson)

    9*/10.  The full review is here.

Monday, October 01, 2012

A new personal hero - Whitney Kropp

    And if you don't know who Whitney Kropp is, google her name.  A fantastic story.