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Showing posts from August, 2016

Human Ancestry Through DNA

We Need *THIS* Goran Dragic in 2016-17

My Reaction When Otherwise Reasonable People Defend Donald Trump's Insane Ranting

Elves Need Love too.

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SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoy David Sedaris's humor. This story has a very original perspective on the holiday season. The protagonist is a Macy's elf, Crumpet/Blisters, and - through him - we get a behind-the-scenes look at the business of manufactured levity.

There is a bitter tone to much of the story, and it's a useful vehicle for us to dress in the skin of the elf, to make it all more believable. It's very credible, especially the anecdotes about how the outrageous parents and their needful children live without regard to the people around them. The elves and santas, of course, forge bonds to get through alive.

A lot of the humor stretches the imagination. Transposing Santa and Satan for example... "Satan will be right with you." "Everyone loves Satan." That just couldn't happen, right? But there is enough purchase of credibility that, well, maybe it could have. Oh, I forget this is all a story, but no, …

Grave Peril - Harry Dresden #3 - by Jim Butcher. A great ride!

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Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such an enjoyable story, but to be honest, I found Harry to be pretty annoying until the last third of the book. His arrogance and chivalry bordered on absurd. He needed to be pressed up against the edge to find his solution this time though, and the climax was a sheer delight. I also sometimes find Michael to be an annoying character, and that doesn't bode well for the rest of the series, does it? He seems to be taking on a larger role as the white knight, whereas I like darker aspects of Dresden.

Here's my only problem with the story: I thought for a while that I was gaining a good understanding of magic, death, vampires, Faerie, and the power of God in the story, but there an air of ambiguity seems to pervade this story, as if whatever's necessary is fine. That's not OK. I like when there is some sense to the nonsense, if you get my drift. Don't just invent new things, because there is no other way out.

At the sa…

Real Situation

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Margaret Atwood on Science Friday

Lunch Time

Over the Fall

J.R.R. Tolkien Reads from The Hobbit

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Part 1: Part 2:
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Map of the Surface Winds of the World.

A map of the world's wind, temperature, waves... A useful tool for worldbuilding.

Legion II (Skin Deep)

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Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Brandon Sanderson's imagination. Mistborn and the world of The Rithmatist are two of my favorite places to dream about being. My expectations for Legion were, therefore, unrealistic, but that's the danger when your audience becomes acquainted with dining gourmet. A lesser meal just isn't the same.

Why was I displeased? I think it comes down to the tone. It's just too whimsical. There never feels like anything worth losing is at stake.

Also, one thing I loved about the Rithmatist is that the magic system was so well defined that you could even think about the ramifications of a line here or there. What would this do? Etc.

Not so with Legion. Stephen Leeds can solve any problem by just having a new personality join him, and I don't see the cost. If it's his madness at stake, why don't I feel more his pain?

There is no question that Legion will be popular. There is already a deal for its TV rights. It m…

Revisiting An Old But Still Relevant Gem

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book where I make a new discovery each time I read it. As a youth, I adopted some of the character's contempt for fitting in, and then in the 90s, when I went on a literary beatnik immersion, I understood the humanizing aspects, how Holden just wants to protect his sister and the other children, how his angst springs from genuine concern rather than a willful nature alone. I think that I identified with these traits because I was in a nurturing phase myself with my young children.

This time, in 2016, I admired the writing, especially the voice: all the quite this and quite that, interspersed with goddam this and goodam that. When he scrubs obscenities from the wall of the elementary school and museum, the irony is breathtaking.

I love this book. I love its crudity and the visceral impact of the words. It's not beautiful prose, not at all. Like the protagonist the prose itself has contempt for society's…

A good collection of short stories - check it out!

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The Heaven of Animals: Stories by David James Poissant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable. In these pages you will meet many troubled people, each struggling with the enormity of life's challenges. They will make you laugh, cry, but most of all, they will open themselves to let you use their lenses, so that the world you perceive grows in every direction a little more. There are parallels between some tales (for example, the elementary school and neighborhood in "Refund" & "Disappearing Boy" are the same) and Dan & Jack populate the first and last stories, but what is most striking is the wide range of trials that must be overcome. These people are facing enormous obstacles and are only human, but being human is both a weakness and a strength.

One curiosity about how these affected me: I cannot point to many of the stories and say it is hopeful or encouraging (the lovely amputee girl's humor is dwarfed by the scepter of death, the couples strivi…