Friday, December 06, 2013
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Well, when I last did a LEGO Advent story, it was mildly popular and amused the heck out of me, even if nobody else enjoyed it. So I think it's time to do it again.
This is Ed. He's a security guard on the night shift. He drinks a LOT of coffee to keep him going on the night shift, which is entirely too long during the winter. Ed used to be a police officer but left the job after that unfortunate incident with the sirens, whipped cream and the deputy police chief, but we won't go into that. He's now on the job late at night in December, waiting for whatever event may happen next.
To Be Continued...
The Five-ish Doctors Reboot - So, before the 50th anniversary special there were eight living actors who played the Doctor on the TV show. Of them, three made it into the special, one had a minisode, one didn't want to be involved and three... well, three of them were left out. In this short movie, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy do their darndest to get into the anniversary special by hook or by crook. Spoiler: totally against the odds, they manage it. This half-hour special features cameos by just about every living Doctor Who personality of the last... oh, 50 years. Some have much bigger parts than others. I particularly love John Barrowman's bit, although Georgia Moffat Tennant's bit was also hilarious. What Colin did to his family was just lovely (nice foresight to lock the doors). And Sylv's piece with Peter Jackson and Sir Ian McKellan, whew! Overall, this adds a lot to the ... um ... mythos. And is funny, to boot. I think, however, I need an annotated version.
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- Oct 2nd
- Forever Evil #2 - The Crime Syndicate, yeah, ok. Lots of bad things happening. Yeah. I like Lex's project: nice twist on the name, at least. I suppose I will have to wait and see what happens to the rest of the DCU.
- Green Lantern #24 - Massive destruction! Horrible events! A big villain! Oh my! ... yawn... Wake me when the "adventure" is over. Why does it always have to be world-shattering disasters? Why can't we just get a good story that isn't stretched out over five books and eight months?
- Earth 2 #16 - Very impressive fight, but it wasn't really a lot more than that, was it?
- Doctor Who Classics #5 - So, Sarah Jane back with the seventh Doctor. I enjoyed the story, even if it doesn't work entirely well with everything that's happened since.
- Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #9 - I should have thought of him. I just didn't think of him as ... anything. And yet he makes a perfect villain after what the Doctor did to him.
- The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #11 - Knowing what I know about the Oz mythos, I can't believe Jack hasn't figured it out yet. On the other hand, this *is* different. That final page... is she really back?
My library book this week was The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman. When Leo sees himself riding a time machine with a beautiful girl, he can only begin to imagine the adventure he's in for. This book is a companion book to The Grimm Legacy, which was quite excellent. There's some character reappearances from the first book, but this book can easily be read without reading the first book. Although there are spoilers for what happens in the first book, they are vague enough that a reader would be more likely to want to read the first book to find out what happened rather than be put off by it. Anyway, this book has time travel, which has the potential to be very annoying, but manages to stay safe and cute. I like Leo and his self-doubt (along with how he handles it). Overall, a pretty good read.
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Kindred by Mary Daheim. Gold nuggets, a stabbing and a stranger from far away are all tangled in the latest adventures of publisher Emma Lord in the tiny town of Alpine. Emma's love life continues to be complicated as changes are afoot at the newspaper, thanks in large measure to the new college in town. This book benefitted from all the various plotlines and supporting characters, as there was enough going on besides the mystery, which wasn't particularly difficult to figure out, that the book continued to roll along even when the action wasn't (or didn't seem to be) directly related to the main mystery plotlines. Definitely a good read. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
It's been a pretty good Thanksgiving this year... I got to see my folks over the weekend thanks to the Doctor Who anniversary events and Eric's folks came out yesterday to take us to the Red Lion in Richland for Thanksgiving brunch today.
Ever since we decided for sure we were going to go, I've been anticipating the meal. Last year we sort of just drove to Richland with the hopes of finding some place to eat. This year we actually had reservations for the buffet. We got there a little bit before our time and they couldn't find the reservation... that's the problem with a last name like "Gjovaag"... turned out they had put it under my father-in-law's first name!
Mother-in-law and I both accepted that the meal couldn't possibly be as good as we remembered from last year, and we were delighted to be wrong.
It wasn't perfect, but it was certainly a really good meal for Thanksgiving, with all the traditional stuff and other good foods. I, personally, had small servings of a macaroni salad, Waldorf salad, spaghetti squash, mashed potatoes, sage stuffing, yams, ham, poached salmon, turkey, pork, smoked salmon, gravy, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate mousse, plain cheesecake and pumpkin pie. I also was served a cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream, which was nice as it was freezing outside and the view from the dining room was an extremely foggy riverbank and trees draped in ice.
Inkwell is happily confused by the presence of strangers in the house, but seems to be mostly cool with it. He's a relatively cool cat, all things considered. As long as he gets fed on time and doesn't have to have a bath, he's happy.
As for being thankful, well, I'm thankful to have both sets of parents to celebrate with, and happy that we got to see them both in the course of the past week. I'm thankful to have a job, and thankful it's something I enjoy. I'm thankful we are healthy and rich enough to live pleasant lives. I'm thankful for family, friends and neighbors. I'm thankful I'm living in the future, where videophones are real and I can carry a device that acts as a phone, book, to-do list and game center all in one. I'm thankful that the internet allows me to keep in touch with my family and friends and to find new people to share my life with. I'm thankful that the holiday season is finally started, and I think tonight I will put up the Christmas tree.
I hope your Thanksgiving was at least as half as good as mine, because then it would have been spectacular indeed.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I didn't realize Seattle had so many Doctor Who fans...
Eric and I crossed the mountains Friday night with a very unhappy Inkwell the cat. We stayed at my folks' place in Renton (thanks again Lisa, for putting up with us). Inkwell wandered my mom's fabric collection and was given lovin' by my parents.
Saturday morning we headed out to Lincoln Square in Bellevue to watch the simulcast of Doctor Who on the big screen in 3D. We joined up with other fans while there, then we left hubby-Eric to wait for another fan while we went in and got seats. I found a pair of seats in the top row for Eric and I and when he came in I waved. He spotted me, then was greeted by somebody else, then by another person, so he threw his arms out and shouted, "For everyone who knows me, HELLO!" and got a surprisingly large response. That's how I know theater #4 had a lot of Androgums and other old school fans in it. We later learned many of our friends were also in theater #12.
When Eric made his dramatic entrance, I told the girls sitting next to his empty seat, "That's the guy you're going to be sitting next to." They giggled. Nervously I think.
What can I say about "Day of the Doctor"? Let's see... the opening sequence with Strax informing people of proper theater etiquette, particularly the screaming popcorn, was a delight. The 3D bit at the beginning showing how to tell if the person sitting next to you was a Zygon was a hoot. The episode/movie itself was ... wow. I mean, wow. It was... wow. I'm sure there were bits that I would quibble about, but frankly at the moment I still want to just enjoy the experience. There is a special aspect of watching anything in a theater full of like-minded people... Doctor Who seen that way was simply amazing. It just was overwhelming.
Eric and I eventually got out of Bellevue Square, I'm not sure how, and made our way to Marlow's place in Totem Lake to have a mini-Androgum party. We had pizza, dissected the episode and watched "An Unearthly Child" (just the first episode, not the rest of the story with the cavemen). We had a good discussion and made up some theories that I'm sure many other people will have made up, and then we carpooled (five of us) to Seattle to go to the Experience Music Project party.
There were Androgums at the head of the line, we managed to join them and pack the front of the line with Androgummy goodness. We stood outside in the cold for more than an hour and I got more and more hyper just to keep warm. Eric had changed into his fifth Doctor costume and I was wearing the Ace jacket my mom made as a costume for me more than 20 years ago for Visions '93. More than a few people recognized who I was supposed to be, although there was a large number of folks who simply, sadly, had no clue.
Getting in was easy enough, but there were so many people that my main goal was to get away from the crowds until the party settled a little. So I actually found the bar where the trivia was going to be held and settled down after my initial run-through of the building. Unfortunately, no soft drinks at that bar and even a cup of water cost $1. Yikes. Still, it was a relatively quiet place early in the evening and I managed to rest my feet and recover from the cold.
Then the trivia started and the place got packed. Eric came back, Dan arrived... we only needed Ryan to make the Doctor Who trifecta. As it was, Eric and Dan managed to answer most of the trivia questions without any trouble at all, and then they promptly left me alone in the bar before the results were announced. I was not at all surprised to find out that they'd won the contest, but because they were missing, I had to go and accept the prize. I then gathered them up and got the guy running the quiz to get his picture of the winners. We then divvied up the loot, which had some neat stuff. Nothing huge, but it was good.
I left to wander the building and see some sights while they watched our place in the bar. I got some pictures of some of the attractions (Wizard of Oz, mainly) and was recognized by more than a few people... either as Ace or for being the one who won the quiz. It was far too crowded for me to handle being out and about for long, so I headed back to the bar and enjoyed the boys, this time with Ryan, taking the second quiz. When the results were announced the trifecta had only missed one. They came in second... somebody had managed a perfect score.
They started with the best Doctor category and pulled up three contestants. A second Doctor, Eric as the fifth Doctor, and an eleventh Doctor. Eric was crowned the best, got a loot bag, and eventually found me and got a big hug. One of the people who was handing out prizes handed me a little prize, a Doctor Who minifigure, because I was wearing a costume and hanging out so close to the stage.
The other prizes were announced, they were well deserved, and then I went to get Eric's picture with the EMP's Cyberman.
I don't really remember much after that. I was tired, hungry, and mildly grumpy. Our group found the car and we all headed up Lake City Way and stopped at Dick's Drive-In for some cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes just before midnight. We eventually made it back to Marlow's house, then Eric drove us back to my folks' place where my mom was waiting up for us. I somehow got to bed... and we came back over the mountains with an EXTREMELY grumpy cat late this morning.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Doctor Who fans, if you haven't already watched this, WATCH IT NOW. I mean, NOW. Drop whatever else you are doing, and watch this. It's the prequel to the 50th Anniversary show. Watch it. Now. Don't wait until somebody spoils it for you.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
My library book this week was 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson. A boy moves in with his aunt, uncle and cousins to a small town in Kansas only to discover a wall of cupboards in the attic that is more than it seems. I think the writing in this one was at a level I'm not used to, because it seemed overly simplistic to me. And getting into the book was a bit difficult. Nothing really hooked me in the first couple of chapters. I kept reading because my husband said it's a good book and I believe him. However... once it got going it REALLY got going, almost too fast to keep up with. And while the writing was still simple, it became truly compelling. So, points off for the slow start, but the ending made me really want to read the sequel, so that's a positive.
Fortean Times #306 (November 2013). Stonehenge and crop circles, very Fortean cover! The cover story dissects the "best case" for crop circles not being manmade - namely the Julia Set formation that appeared near Stonehenge in 1996. There's the usual discussion of how it just magically appeared... which the author takes apart quite nicely. My personal view on crop circles is that the vast majority are manmade, but some of the really simple ones may in fact have been caused by wind and may have given people the original idea to make their own. Aliens? No.
Another main article is about the disappearance of Owen Parfitt, which turned out to be quite a fascinating little tale. I love little historical gems like this: just a bizarre tale with strange twists. Such stories are the spice that makes a place interesting. Getting back to the basic facts of the case, and taking out the pirate angle and such, was neat. The story is interesting enough without the extra fluff.
The last lead articles are about taxidermy and are, frankly, not my cuppa. In fact, I kind of cringed my way through them. Yuck. I have no desire to ever see the amazing works of Walter Potter, nor was I at all interested in the lame modern taxidermy, which appears to be more horror-story wannabes than actual art. None of that for me. Yuck.
Strangedays has a pentagram in Kazakhstan, the possible remains of Earhart's plane, people who've appeared to die but wake up and some freaky other medical conditions. Science examines the mysteries of lightning, particularly lightning that seems to produce gamma rays. Alien Zoo has a lovely picture of a bright pink slug, but also discusses the monster of Lake Washington (Seattle is stuck between Lake Washington and Puget Sound) so it's very much my kind of story.
Archeology had a variety of stories this month, including carvings, boats, bog bodies and the odd bones of the inner ear. Ghostwatch continues its look at unquiet graves and how some hauntings seem to be connected to human remains found at locations. The UFO Files talk about how easy it is to fool even trained observers, illustrated by an incident in which units of the Indian army thought they spotted Chinese drones, but appeared to actually be confusing Venus and Jupiter for planes. The UFO Casebook takes a closer look at a Welsh sighting that is still unsolved.
The Random Dictionary looks at Stigmata. A long look with lots of examples. The example in the footnotes of a supposed Satanist experiencing stigmata was particularly insane. Illustrated Police News was about Boulton and Park, cross-dressers of 1870 London. I loved the sketch of police officers holding up womens clothing with smirks on their faces. Fortean Traveller goes to Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, and it's a fun one.
Forum has an article about reclaiming the word "fairy" to be an adjective and not a noun. Another article tackles crop circle makers and their apparent desire to remain anonymous no matter what. Reviews are solid, when are they not? More than a couple of books I considered putting on my wish list, and would have if the subjects had interested me more. I also enjoyed the letters page and "it happened to me..." as I often do. Another good issue of the best magazine available.
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Not much this week...
My library book this week was The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder. I felt like I was fluctuating between liking and not liking the book as I read it, but I kept reading and in the end I think I enjoyed the story. It's utterly ridiculous, totally implausible on multiple levels, and lots of fun. And that's what steampunk ought to be, really. It's not a short book, coming in at nearly 400 pages, but it's got some decent world-building. I think another two or three edits would have done the book a world of good. I don't know if I'll be hunting down the sequels, but I was satisfied with this book.
Friday, November 01, 2013
So, it took me until about halfway through the night before I started to feel the joy of Hallowe'en again. I really wished I could have been more excited earlier. I would have done a bit more decorating and paid a little more attention to Eric as he got the candy and such. As it was, I think I actually told Eric that I didn't want to do Hallowe'en candy this year, and suggested we shut off all the lights or leave for the night.
Anyway, we estimated the number of children by the amount of candy Eric bought and how much we gave out. Eric got 11 bags that were supposed to be 80 count, and then a few more bags that were about 40 candies each. We got through all the 11 bags and made a good start on the rest. So we're estimating about 900 trick-or-treaters.
I took the video of Eric handing out candy about halfway through the rush, and it was a fairly normal rush for the night. I've already showed it to a bunch of people at work who were amazed at the crowds we have.
A suggestion has thus been made, which I will have to run past Eric to see if he thinks it's a good idea. My co-workers suggested that Eric and I throw a big Hallowe'en party next year with the price of admission being a few bags of candy to give out to trick-or-treaters. As Eric and I are teetotalers, we'd have to make it BYOB and hope that nobody gets out of hand. It would have to be a potluck, as well. But with a dozen adults and some children running around with extra bags of candy, we could probably handle the crowds much better and have a fun night as well. It's something to think about for next year. Most of my co-workers live in areas with little or no trick-or-treating, so they'd have the opportunity to see the little ones and party as well...
I'm sure there's a really good reason not to do it, but I can't think of it. Good thing I've got a year to think about it.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Eric and I finished watching Doctor Who: Enemy of the World and I have to say, the penultimate episode was fantastic, built up a ton of tension and started tying plot threads together... but the final episode let the whole thing down a little. The horrible bomb wasn't really all that horrible, the deaths of a couple of characters went completely unremarked by anyone and I kept feeling like there was at least one plot thread completely missing. The absolute ending of the episode, in the TARDIS, almost made up for it. But it wasn't nearly as solid a finish as I would have hoped for such a strong story.
I also watched Doctor Who: Web of Fear, the other story that had most of the episodes recovered. The third episode was still a reconstruction, but the rest was just excellent all around. Driver Evans was a nice bit of comic relief... but also added to the tension with directing that sometimes made him look pretty sinister. I particularly enjoyed the Doctor's distress at the end. Although it was a victory, it wasn't the victory he wanted. That leads very nicely into the future, doesn't it? Or was it the past?
My library book this week was Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. A young girl and her little brother living in the midwest are delighted when their father sends away for a bride. This was another one of those books that I've been meaning to read for a long time because it won the Newbery Medal and I was interested by what I heard about it. I enjoyed the read quite a bit. It seemed very short even for a children's book, but had some deep themes. It was deceptively simple on the surface. A pretty good book. I think maybe I should go back and read through more of the award winners in children's books.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Eric and I have certainly gotten our copies of the missing Doctor Who episodes, and are currently watching Enemy of the World with much squeeing and joy. So far I can say that Troughton's performance was amazing. His range was nicely proven by the two roles he takes in the story and how much range the characters have within themselves. The Doctor is both cheerful and serious, but his cheerful and serious are different from Salamander's same emotions. Supporting cast and guest cast are also pretty good in this one. I loved the tech... it's set in our near future and phones still have cords. The opening episode is worth watching a couple of times just for Troughton, by the way. The beach run alone is worth another watch or two.
DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
- Sep 25th
- Aquaman #23.2 Ocean Master - This version of Ocean Master bears almost no resemblance to the original, except in one aspect. In the Silver Age, OM was utterly insane and intensely jealous of Aquaman, even though he had forgotten his relationship to Arthur. But he did find a soft spot for Arthur's son that led him to be kind. That's the similarity between this version of OM and the original. That final splash page is very telling. If Aquaman in the 52 universe lasts, it will be interesting to see where DC goes with this.
- Justice League #23.4 Secret Society - That's really not who I would have guessed was behind it all, but it makes a lovely twisted sort of sense.
- Justice League of America #7.4 Black Adam - I did wonder a bit how he was going to come back. Wonder no more.
- Green Lantern #23.4 Sinestro - I'm really not sure how that one ended.
- Itty Bitty Hellboy #2 - Very cute, very silly, and just what I'd expect from this team. Just as long as they continue doing their brand of humor somewhere in the comic book universe, I think comics will be just fine.
- Bart Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror #19 - Gross as usual. The transformation story was amusing. And once again, Homer's love for Marge was a major plot point.
- Peanuts V2 #12 - Another decent book. I love Charlie Brown's reason to go to school.
My library book this week was National Geographic Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories edited by David Braun. This book presents a number of facts about the world taken from National Geographic Daily News, particularly the weird section. Eleven chapters break down the stories by type, from underwater weirdness to ancient rites. Each story is basically a blog post, sometimes with expert opinions gleaned from around the world. It's a good coffee table type book, something to dip into and read when you feel like it. To get any idea of whether or not you'd like it, definitely check out the weird stories at the website before buying.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Sunday, October 13, 2013
- Sep 11th
- Aquaman #23.1: Black Manta - Oh. So, get Manta ticked off and he goes after you, hero or villain, huh? Hunter, indeed.
- Justice League #23.2: Lobo - I care very little about Lobo in the best of times. In this case, he's even less interesting than usual.
- Earth 2 #15.2: Solomon Grundy - Um. ok. I guess. Why did we get these again?
- Smallville Season 11 #17 - Wow, an issue that actually hung together as a story and didn't need too much past history to get the gist of, although it certainly requires an understanding of DCU mythology to get it. Maybe if I just read all the Season 11 books straight through I would understand them better?
- Astro City #4 - Done in one, and fantastic as usual. Wow. This book just really reaches into you and makes you feel good, doesn't it? I gotta go reread 1-3 again now, not because they are related, but because I want that rush again.
- Spongebob Comics #24 - The usual nonsense. I kind of wish they would have gotten some seeds from that tree, though.
- Sep 18th
- Justice League #23.3 Dial E - Honestly, this one doesn't make a lot of sense, but I love the oddball villians that came up on the dial. Strange stuff.
- Justice League of America #7.3 Shadow Thief - Oooh, I actually kind of liked that origin story. Another villain who isn't so cut-and-dried evil, but is aware of wrong and right and has made a choice. Interesting.
- Batman '66 #3 - Ah, this is better. An actual explanation, if silly, for Red Hood. And a lots of horrid puns in the Egghead story. Amusing.
- Arrow #11 - Another good set of fill-in stories that make the series make more sense. Arrow is a decent show, and the comic isn't too bad either.
- Batman Beyond Universe #2 - Figures that Aquagirl would be an "outdoorsman" type. Decent bits, I liked Clark going on a date. Not sure about the Phantom Zone, though. And Batman... well, I have no idea where the story is going, looking forward to seeing it through, though.
- Powers: Bureau #7 - This book is so messed up it's not even... I don't even know where to start. However, in the case of this particular title, "messed up" is a compliment. I'm just staggered by it. And I'm glad it's been coming out regularly. Amazing book. Strange, but amazing.
- Fables #133 - Lots of little bits pulling together to make this a bigger big. I really wish Snow White had won that particular argument with Rose Red, though. Ug.
- Doctor Who V3 #13 - This one is pretty odd, but the mystery is nicely compelling. I like compelling. That's what I enjoy in a comic book.
- Doctor Who Classics #4 - A planet-sized library infested with some sort of bug... where have I heard that one before? I wonder if this is the precursor to the other infested library?
My library book this week was The Giver by Lois Lowry. Another Newbery winner that I decided I ought to read. I was not expecting it to be so intense. The society pulled me into it very quickly and I had trouble "waking up" and facing the real world. At first it was hard to decide whether or not I'd like living in a society so structured, but eventually it became clear. Just the definition of "seeing beyond" was enough. I know there are some "companion" books, but I'm not sure I'm going to read them yet. Without the further books, the ending of this one is ambiguous.
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Journey by Mary Daheim. Emma goes to visit a friend in Oregon, but to her surprise Vida insists on also going and traveling to the Oregon coast to visit family. This was a very strange one. Lots of red herrings tossed in, along with a much deeper sense of Vida's dedication to family, misguided as it sometimes can be. I'm not sure the solution made complete sense, but I suppose it works. There just seems to be physical issues not made clear enough. Overall, not my favorite, although it certainly moves the main storyline along with Milo and Emma's relationship. I wonder where that is going to end up... well, on to the next! If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Nine of the 106 missing episodes of Doctor Who have been recovered, as announced today by the BBC!
"The Enemy of the World" is now complete and "The Web of Fear" is only missing episode three. Both are available on iTunes right now. Rumors are swirling that more episodes were also recovered at the same time, but are not yet ready for release.
Down to 97 episodes still missing.
Sunday, October 06, 2013
- Sep 4th
- Forever Evil #1 - Eh, about what I expected. Nothing really surprising, since I knew how the thing was going to start thanks to all the previews actually showing them. Maybe if I got my comics on time instead of a month later it would have had more impact.
- Earth 2 #15.1: Desaad - Wow, a whole issue of Desaad being Desaad. How unexciting.
- Green Lantern #23.1: Relic - And this one is an absolute explanation of the new Relic character. Nifty. I'm not disappointed so much as mystified why I bought these.
- DC vs Masters of the Universe #1 - No Aquaman. That's really the only reason I was interested in this one. Well, that and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Skeletor as a villain.
- Ame Comi Girls #7 - So... Tempest... Um. Yeah. Ok. Right. I suppose it could have been worse, but I'm not sure how.
- A Distant Soil #41 - The red button... Well, I've caught up with A Distant Soil, and purchased the remastered first volume. I've read the entire story so far online as well, and finally started ordering it now, just before the story is finished. Better late than never, I suppose. This was a bit of a clean-up issue, if you'll pardon the expression. I wonder what happens next?
- Hoax Hunters #10 - I hate the art. There have been other sketchy issues, but this one just is annoying. As far as I can tell, the story is nicely solid, but the art is letting it down. Ug.
- Emerald City of Oz #3 - A little of the nomes plot sneaks in, but this is mostly a journey through some of the more bizarre places in Oz. I love Toto's look at the end. Dogs always know when they've been bad.
My library book this week was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I had assumed I had read this in school like everyone else in the world, but after a discussion on an online forum I realized that I probably hadn't. Sure enough, reading the book was a mostly new experience. There was a single section (the tsunami) that was familiar, the rest was all new to me. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially since it was a fast read after some of the heavier books I've been trying to tackle recently. Definitely a children's book, but certainly a piece of history as well (I admit I went to look up the real story to see how it really ended, and was very disappointed).
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Icon by Mary Daheim. When a former resident returns to Alpine having done well for herself, lives are disrupted in the town. The "icon" of the title was pretty obvious in this one and the subplot involving it felt like part of the overall arc of the series that could be important in later books, but is only character building at this point. The murder mystery was harder, and I didn't find it obvious. Defintely convoluted, but I thought it worked in the end. I'm still enjoying this series, even the soap opera aspects of it. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
I'm solid enough in my faith that this didn't detract from my own beliefs, but it certainly sharpened some of my thoughts on what I believe to be true and what I understand to be based entirely in faith. I cannot recommend it to any Christian unwilling to re-examine their own beliefs and comprehension of the Bible. Aslan isn't trying to destroy Christianity here, he just wants to paint an accurate picture of Jesus and his times: but some people might not see it that way.
To anyone who is likely to see any version of Christianity that strays from party lines as an attack, just avoid the book. You won't like it. Anyone coming to it with an open mind will probably learn a lot from it. Unless you are already a Biblical scholar, in which case you might have already read a lot of the works in the extensive bibliography and notes and find this to be a fairly good rehashing of other theories.
I will say that Aslan writes like a historian. At times the book just rolls along, but sometimes as you're reading you suddenly realize that he's already stated this bit before in a slightly different way. He develops his thesis well and supports it solidly, but be ready for a little repetition. He also tends to hedge his bets a little, and tries to make sure that people are aware of other theories that contradict his own. In fact, the notes are full of points of disagreement between scholars. It's a good read, not the most ground-shaking around, but interesting.
My mystery book this week was The Alpine Hero by Mary Daheim. When Emma discovers a murder, everything changes between her and Milo. I have noticed that sometimes the titles of the books don't always seem to have a lot to do with the events in the story, so I waited patiently for the hero of the title to show. I was not disappointed. I did have quite a big problem with one of the victims of the killer. Why is it that a human victim doesn't much bother me but when an animal is killed I'm horrified? I'd guess it has something to do with the vivid descriptions. As usual, the tale is a bit complicated by lots of red herrings and other events, kind of like real life, but the actual murder is fairly straightforward once everything is revealed. Another good one. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.
Fortean Times #305 (October 2013). As soon as I saw the cover I thought I'd seen it before. Comparing it to other covers in the cover gallery, I can't see any that look exactly like it, but some are similar enough to evoke deja vu. I think their graphic artist needs to refresh the layout.
The cover story is problematic for me. I've not only heard of gangstalking, I've been introduced to it second-hand. As much as I'd like to simply dismiss it as a mental quirk, I can't do that entirely. I wish I could come up with another explanation that made sense to explain it. That's how I tend to think anyway, as a Fortean: that much that we see as paranormal has another explanation we just haven't quite figured out yet. And gangstalking seems to be one of those things that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever... and yet there's a little too much evidence for it to be nothing at all. It's something for wiser minds than mine to figure out. Then again, it could just be a mental problem that needs a lot more study to understand and treat.
Another article is about the 1935 book "Crook Frightfulness" which describes a man's perception of being constantly harrassed by an unknown and often unseen foe. It's interesting how similar his symptoms are to modern versions of the same paranoia.
The final main article is about the artwork of witches going back 500 years. There's some amazing art reproduced as part of a preview of an exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. The article discusses the concepts of witches in culture during the times each work was created. Good stuff, overall.
Strangedays had the usual round-up of bizarre tales from across the world. The "favorite headlines" included a reference to the bicycle tree in Washington state. The list of super-centenarians was impressive. There are pictures of animal corpses (and parts of animals) in strange places. Another piece is about things that fell from the sky, including lead bars, ice chunks and even a meteorite. The medical round up had some shockers.
Ghostwatch was about unquiet graves, hauntings apparently prompted by the proximity of human remains. There's also a lot about funeral rites, including vampire graves. Alien Zoo looks back at paintings, supposedly based on life, that include animals that might be extinct. It also has sightings of a mystery parrot and a singing dog. Archaeology has a piece on the practice of deforming skills, an odd find under a pyramid under Mexico City and a discovery of a Mayan city using aerial photos.
Classical Corner is about ancient collectors of forteana and the stories they told. Konspiracy Korner is about people harassed by governments in unusual ways, including folks breaking into someone's home and rearranging furniture. The UFO files has a possible explanation for the Solway Spaceman: It was Templeton's wife, standing with her back to the camera, overexposed. Blasts from the Past covers tales of winged sea serpents. Police News is about cojoined twins and how they were presented in the worst newspaper in England.
Forum has a piece on the origins of an open-source monster that is a digital meme, the Slenderman. Even knowing the exact origin of the meme, it is still surprisingly creepy. The other two forum stories are about John A. Keel and Peter Costello. Reviews includes coverage of "Terry Nation: The Man Who Invented the Daleks" that earned a 7 out of 10. Other reviews are very good, including a couple I want to add to my wishlist. Letters were hilarious this month, particularly the Nixon toe, which you have to see to believe.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Once I put a little piece of string on the arm of the spinning bit, he started to attack it. Now the string is gone, but he still is attacking it. He got the gift from his grandma, who did in fact suggest putting a string or ribbon on. Never argue with grandma. She was right.