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2009-07-08 03:31 pm

Reading Contest - June Report

Books finished:

The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking up the Workplace by Ron Alsop (2 pts) - Yet another book that tries to talk about an entire generation based only on the actions and attitudes of its elite East Coast representatives. The author makes a few good points about that select few, but then reverts to repeating himself. A lot. The first chapter or two would make a good, long magazine article. The rest of the book is unnecessary.

The Foolish Virgin by Kathleen Norris (2 pts) - A tepid romance novel written and set in the mid 1920s. Though interesting from a historical perspective, the story, itself, doesn't offer much.

Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes (2 pts) - An excellent and very readable analysis of the history and politics surrounding the Kitzmiller, et al vs. Dover School Board trial of 2005 that legally challenged Intelligent Design's status as a science.

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose (2 pts) - Roose, a typical freshman at Brown University, decides to do a semester "abroad" at Liberty University to try to learn more about the Evangelical Christian Right, a segment of his own culture that he freely admits to knowing nothing about. Well worth reading.

Encyclopedia of The End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes (1 pt) - Purported as a children's book, though clearly meant for older (say 10+) children, this is a straight forward encyclopedia on death, dying, and various practices and customs associated with it. Each entry is succinct, clearly written, and tasteful. That such a book is even necessary goes to show just how far we've driven death and dying out of our lives.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn (2 pts) - Kitty goes to Las Vegas to get married and ends up on the bad side of Murphy's Law. The series continues to be enjoyable, though the series is obviously going through a transformation at this point and may be about to embrace a lot more of the fantastical/horror elements than it has previously dealt with.

Total points for the month: 11
Total points for the year: 76
Year end goal: 160
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-06-13 12:06 pm
Entry tags:

"The Listener"

That makes two.

Being Human knocked my socks off. As far as shows about angsty, supernatural creatures go, this has become the paragon in my mind. So I eagerly await the second series.

Two months later, another show has come along that nearly took my feet along with the socks. NBC has been burning off a Canadian series called The Listener. Naturally, I missed the first two episodes, which were aired together, because NBC is not one of those stations I watch. Ever. So I downloaded them. Watched them. Researched the show. Learned that we're the last country to get it.

I've now spent the last week watching and surfing the thirteen episodes in the series. It is everything--absolutely everything--I want in a superpowers show.

Want to know more? )
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-06-07 11:38 pm

Reading Contest - May Report

Books finished:

Seek by Paul Fleischman (audio) (1 pt) - An audio book that simply would not have worked in text form only. The main character is a high school student who was raised by his single mother. His English teacher assigns him to do an autobiography, so he creates his from the sounds that shaped his life. As his absentee father was a DJ, the sounds are primarily based on the character's search for his father up and down the airwaves.

Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, Stephen R. Bissette, and Terry Pratchett (3 pts) - A biography of Gaiman centered around the genres to which he contributed. Most of the information is redundant for people who are already fans of Gaiman, but wouldn't be interesting to people who aren't, unless they're not familiar with his entire body of work.

Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar (2 pts) - A literary mess. There's a lot of stuff happening in this story, but it's all jumbled together with a lot of abrupt transitions between scenes and voices. The characters are difficult to distinguish and even more difficult to like.

Bloodlist by P.N. Elrod (2 pts) - An early entry into the good guy vampire and paranormal noir genres. Set is 1930s gangland Chicago, the main character is a newborn vampire who needs to solve his own murder. This is one of the few series for which I eagerly anticipate new entries and periodically reread the older ones.

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros (2 pts) - The stories detail very mundane events in the lives of very ordinary people. All of the stories are told from a woman's perspective and from a feminist angle. They also feature characters who are Mexican or Mexican American. The author has a poetic voice, but also has a propensity for lists as a descriptive device. Most of the stories are character studies, which makes them thin on plot or action.

Scarlet by Stephen R. Lawhead (2 pts) - The second book in the Robin Hood trilogy, this one focuses on Will Scarlet and his joining of the band of Welsh freedom fighters lead by deposed prince Rhi Bran y Hud. It's told mostly in flashback with frequent interruptions to highlight the fact of the storytelling. Like most second entries in a planned trilogy, this one builds on the structure established by the first, but has problems with stagnating in the inevitability of the story.

The Devil You Know by P.N. Elrod (1 pt) - A self-published novella set following the ninth book in the series, but dealing with events revealed in the third. It's a standalone story, so people who don't get the chance to read it won't be missing anything. However, it does serve as a fitting conclusion to the first trilogy that clarifies some of the points raised within.

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher (audio) (2 pts) - YA. A teenage girl who is firmly in with the outcaste art crowd at her school falls for her best friend and a hotly sought after jock at the same time, only to have both of them express interest in her.

Peter Pan and Other Stories by J.M. Barrie (2 pts) - The story based on the play Peter Pan reveals a whole side to the characters that Disney conveniently left out. The story is dark and dangerous and suggests itself to be more of a commentary on child death than on the ostensible plot of growing up. A follow up story "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" is also included. This one appears to be the testing ground for some of the ideas that did eventually make it to the play, but is otherwise unremarkable.

Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories by Owen King and John McNally, eds. (2 pts) - Billed as being a collection of short stories about superheroes for the 21st century, this anthology mostly reveals that the authors didn't understand what made the iconic heroes of the comic book Golden and Silver ages so super. Some of the stories--especially toward the back half of the book--are quite good. A couple would have been better if they hadn't been under the umbrella of the anthology and its stated purpose. A few, though, only reveal a meanness, pettiness, and vindictiveness that is not in keeping with how superheroes are supposed to be.

Total points for the month: 19
Total points for the year: 65
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-05-06 09:55 pm


Good sheep that I am, I've decided to join the exodus to Dreamwidth. It's ladyslvr over, there too. Friend me if you already have. I won't be leaving LJ until LJ leaves me.
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-05-05 06:30 pm

Reading Contest - April Report

Posting a couple days late, here.

Books finished:

The Wanting Seed by Anthony Burgess (2) - A satire about a future world suffering from out-of-control human population growth. This story was probably a lot funnier when it was published in the 60s because of how many taboo ideas it proposes as reasonable solutions to dealing with population growth. Unfortunately for the satire, it's not the 60s, the world has changed quite a bit, and many of the taboo ideas aren't. As a result, I had a hard time seeing and appreciating the satire; and, at times, couldn't identify what was supposed to be satirical.

Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology by Nick Gevers, ed. (2) - A collection of short stories with a couple of short novelettes that nominally represent a cross-section of steampunk fiction. Most of the stories seemed rather weak, though people more familiar with the steampunk genre might very well have a different view.

The Short History of a Prince by Jane Hamilton (2) - A coming-of-age story told across three decades, and centered around the defining year in the main character's life when his older brother succumbed to cancer. Another story that would probably appeal more to a reader who likes this genre.

The Know-It-All: One Man's Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World by A.J. Jacobs (2) (Audio) - Jacobs details his quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A-Z in one year. During this year, he also comes to terms with his relationship with his father while pursuing his quest to become a father. This non-fiction story is perfectly suited to being listened to in fragments over the span of several weeks. While interesting, it's very repetitive and thin on depth.

Total points for the month: 8
Total points for the year: 46
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-04-05 12:23 pm

Bye bye,

Yesterday the domain name expired. For the few days leading up to April 4th, I pondered whether to renew the domain, then decided not to. A gaming site had asked to buy it off me last year (for courtesies, not money), so I decided to just let them have it.

But the things I was hosting on that site are still out there in cyberspace. So I guess I need should get a new domain for them. While I'm at it, I should probably also update those sites, or at least make sure the bulk of them works.

Since the latter isn't likely to happen anytime soon, I'll concentrate on the domain. I know I don't want to use any variations of my name, real or otherwise. Beyond that, I'm stumped. Suggestions?
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-04-02 12:35 am

Reading Contest - March Report

Books finished:

The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross (2) - An unholy cross between cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos that shouldn't work, but does. This is the story of an IT man for a secret English government organization called The Laundry whose job it is to, basically, prevent people from misusing math and accidentally summoning the Great Old Ones.

The New Kid by Temple Mathews (1) - A YA story that pretends to be a novella, but is actually a thinly disguised treatment for a screenplay, complete with cues for staging and lighting. The story is chock full of every kind of cliche associated with the occult and paranormal, and features the most egregious male Mary Sue to ever grace the pages of a story.

A Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man by Norah Vincent (2) - Vincent goes undercover as a man to try to crack the mystery of who they are and how they got that way. While spending time on a all-male bowling league, in strip clubs, at a monastery, and in a male-empowerment group, she challenges her own assumptions about men and masculinity and discovers that men have problems, too.

Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2) by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser - Written by two members of Generation X, this book seeks to outline the problems and potentials of those born after 1985 who make up the increasingly large population of people raised with one foot in cyberspace.

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin (2) - The discoverer of the tiktaalik roseae undertakes to show how the human body can be traced through our various ancestors, and how knowing where our systems arose can help us understand their strengths and limitations. This is the book for anyone who has ever wondered how evolution qualifies as science.

Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander (2) - Based on the blog of the same name, this book provides entries highlighting the stereotypes (many of them earned) of American white urban professionals, including Coffee, Religions Their Parents Don't Belong To, and Netflix.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley (2) - In a world where creatures of the darkness are commonplace, Sunshine, the main character, gets kidnapped by bad guy vampires. This unwittingly places her on the path to learn far more about her own reality and herself than she ever knew there was to learn. The first 50 pages are cause for much eye-rolling. After that, the story settles in and won't let go.

The Woman Who Watches Over the World by Linda Hogan (2) - A memoir from a Chickasaw native about the pain and losses in her life.

Total points for the month: 15
Total points for the year: 40

Currently reading: Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology by Nick Gevers, ed., Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, The Short History of a Prince by Jane Hamilton, Amazonia by James Rollins, and others.

ETA: Sunshine, which somehow didn't make it in either my database or the list, despite having been sitting next to me at the time I compiled both.
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-04-01 09:18 pm


Why do I keep checking my LJ to see if I've updated yet?
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-19 11:42 am

MEME: Which Science Fiction Author Are You?

I am:
Hal Clement (Harry C. Stubbs)
A quiet and underrated master of "hard science" fiction who, among other things, foresaw integrated circuits back in the 1940s.

Which science fiction writer are you?

ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-11 11:42 pm

Seeking legends and fairy tales

Spring break is next week for me. While I can't guarantee that I won't spend it sick, wellness is looking pretty likely. I have nowhere to go, and nothing except a pile of papers and several presentations to work on.

The thought of finishing a fiction project has been nagging at me. And, oddly, the story that is nagging the loudest is the one I started for NaNo '05. One of the narrative structures used to tell the story is legends, particularly of the "how X came to be" variety. I've got the Grimm's fairy tales and Native American (Algonquian and Pomo style) legends covered; what I really need is legends from other places in the world, especially if they have a distinctive structure. Ideas?
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-09 10:42 pm

DST Blues

Here we are in DST--the six months of the year when, no matter what I do, I just can't quite wake up.

Why do we do this to ourselves again?
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-07 02:51 pm

WisCon '09

For the first time since I moved to Wisconsin a decade ago, I'm finally remembering that WisCon exists before the weekend of the event. Its proximity makes it very tempting, though the timing may be problematic since it's right after finals when I'll be inundated with grading.

Since Cons are always more fun if one isn't attending alone, here's the general question: Is anyone else on my flist planning on going to WisCon?
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-05 12:51 am

The flush of new love

There has been a fair amount of television being aired recently that I like. Usually I feel lucky to find one show a season that doesn't feel like a waste of time. Now that we've become a DVR household, however, I seem to have also joined the ranks of those people who let their DVRs do all their TV watching for them. Back when I taped everything, I considered the act of taping to be only a part--albeit an essential one--of the viewing. The digital equivalent seems to have gone the other direction, with the viewing being only a small, almost irrelevant add-on.

Now that I can rest assured that Life on Mars (US), Leverage, Psych, and Aaron Stone are being recorded, it's become hard to get around to viewing them, even though I thoroughly enjoy the episodes when I do. Leverage is easily my new US favorite, and is one of the first shows in a long time that's compelled me to seek out fanfic.

The real winner, though, is the BBC3 drama Being Human. After a series of flukes brought it to my attention, I torrented the original movie--and fell completely head-over-heels in love with the show before the title shot. The first series just finished airing last Sunday, but the flush of new love still remains. The characters! The story lines! The camera angles! The metaphor! It's everything I want in a TV series, except decent long form fanfic. And I can't stop watching it. It's strange, since I also can't remember the last time a show so thoroughly consumed my every waking moment. I think it was Buffy.

The best part is: My DVR knows nothing about it!
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-03 06:06 pm

Small towns in a nutshell

My grandfather used to describe small towns as being "six saloons and a grocery store."

After I moved to the town I currently live in (pop. ~2000), I wrote him and confirmed the statement, as our Main Street at the time was comprised almost entirely of bars. The town up the road from us (pop. ~9000) had slightly more variety, as it had about twelve bars to accompany the grocery store. Both towns have about the same ratio of hair stylists and barber shops as well, which is something of a point of annoyance with me: If you're opening a new business in a small town that has almost no options for shopping, why on earth would you open another version of what already exists?

While driving down Main Street in that town today I noticed that one of the empty store fronts had just gained an occupant. No, not a bar. It's a hair styling place. Another one. Three others have opened in the last five years (that I know of) between the two towns. All three of them are now defunct.

Now I see that my grandfather's definition needs updating.

Small towns should now be described as six salons and a grocery store.
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-03-01 11:34 am

Reading Contest - February Report

Books finished:

The Little Book by Seldon Edwards (2) - A time travel story in which the main character wakes up from an accident in 1896 Vienna. Loved it, though it took a while to warm up to the story. The end was a let down.

Still Me by Christopher Reeve (2) - Fascinating insights into the life of a person who suffered from a tremendous personal loss, but who managed to turn it into a social gain.

The Dead Girls Dance by Rachel Caine (2) - Book two in the Morganville Vampires series. A new favorite because it manages to bring something new to the vampire genre.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers (2) - A dating fantasy for 14 year old girls. Not much value for anyone else.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman (3) - An expose on how the business world is changing, and has to change, because of the development and proliferation of information technology. It's an interesting argument, but is very clearly aimed at the type of old school CEO who still thinks that the Internet is a computer program.

Total points for the month: 11
Total points for the year: 25

Currently reading: Self Made Man by Norah Vincent, Amazonia by James Rollins, One Hundred Pages for the Future by Peccei, The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, and others.
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-02-01 03:37 pm

Reading Contest - January Report

Books finished:

The Little Book by Seldon Edwards (2)

Small Favor by Jim Butcher (2)

Gifts by Ursula K. LeGuin (2)

Inventing English by Seth Lerer (2)

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell (2)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2)

It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (2)

Total points for the month: 14
Total points for the year: 14
ladyslvr: (Default)
2009-01-18 11:38 am

Almost there

The My Secret Identity download finally finished. I had a moment of exasperated horror when I tried to play an episode and got nothing. A week on the d/l and the files didn't even work? Then I turned up the volume and realized that the audio was working fine. Real Player wouldn't play the video; Windows Media said the files were corrupted. The solution was to download a new AVI player, which it turned out could play the files just fine.

After over a decade, I finally got to rewatch the two and a half episodes that I accidentally taped over. They were just as I remembered them.

It was strange, though. MSI is easily my second favorite show of all time, behind only The Tomorrow People. It had a huge impact on my life. It was the first show to which I wrote fanfic, although at the time I thought I was writing a spec script. And in rewatching the episodes, I came to the realization that I really don't like the show that much. Have never, in fact, liked the show that much. This isn't a matter of outgrowing the show. I don't, and have never, liked physical humor nor humor at the expense of another person. I'm also not fond of plots based on the characters making stupid decisions. A lot of the first season of MSI has both these elements. The show grows up a little in the second season, and that's also the one I've always considered my favorite. But, looking at the third season list, I was hard-pressed to find an episode I actually wanted to see besides the two erased ones. There are scenes and bits of episodes that I adore, but the episodes as a whole just don't bear rewatching.

In pondering this, I noticed a lot of similarities to my other favorite shows, especially including The Tomorrow People. It's not the show itself I like--it's the concepts and ideas presented in the show. I love the idea of MSI; I love what the show was in my head. I'd still like to write and read fanfic for it (if any existed); but I have no desire to watch what was produced. Likewise, I've not seen any TP in years, and really don't want to. What I love are the almosts and the possibilities, and most especially the way I remember it.

It's wonderful to own the episodes again, especially so I can fact check the canon should the need arise. But, after I figure out how to burn them on to DVD, I doubt I'll ever watch a whole episode again.
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2009-01-15 05:15 pm

Burn, Baby, Burn

Santa was good to me this year. Amongst a host of books and DVDs, I also received a video recorder that plays VHS tapes and burns them to DVD. Although quite a bit of my TV collection has been released on DVD over the last few years, a substantial portion likely never will be, and my VHS collection is really starting to age. So, one of my projects over the last couple weeks has been to try to transfer the collection to DVD before the tapes finish distintegrating.

In the process, I've realized just how bad the quality of many of the recordings really is. I got two seasons into burning My Secret Identity, then discovered that some of my recordings (made 20 years ago from an actual analog broadcast and recorded into SLP mode because video tapes still cost $15 each, then re-recorded a couple times as my archiving methods matured) were so bad that the audio and video weren't synching on the burn, sometimes by as much as five minutes.

The latter got so bad that I went seeking Torrents, and discovered that MSI is available online. I'm a week into the download, so whether the effort is worth it remains to be seen. On the plus side, no matter what happens, I'll get the three episodes I'm missing, one of which was a favorite.

Burns are already completed for VR.5 and Do Over. I also found the four unaired episodes of Do Over online. They are not in a form that I can download and burn, but at least I got to finaly see them. As of today, I'm also two seasons into Big Wolf on Campus. Next stop is probably going to be Haunted.