Showing posts from May, 2008

Starship Troopers

Last night I finished up Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. First off, it is significantly better than the god-awful movie. No dumb love story, no cutesy, bouncy girls, no goofy happy ending. Not that it has an unhappy ending. It is actually a very simple story. War, and the training for it. I went into it expecting a lot of politics and political theory but it wasn't as much as i thought. Heinlein articulates the side of military might, the shoot first ask questions later, firm father discipline. He writes a damn good defense of the position. But it is a good book even without the politics. Training for war, future suits, weapons and battle tactics always make good reading for me. It is a 5 for me.

I got an Early Review copy from LibraryThing. Well, I won a copy and should receive it shortly. I am super excited and intend to read it as soon as I get it. The book is On a Day Like This by Peter Stamm.

His Dark Materials

Today I finished The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I loved it. I love this series. This series is a 7. I am using this as one for my YA challenge as well as OUaT2.

As The Subtle Knife ended darkly, this one starts out grim. Lyra, our heroine, is lying in a drugged sleep. Her mother, Mrs. Coulter, has kidnapped her and they are hiding in a cave. Will is searching for Lyra with the help of angels and the Iorek, king of the ice bears. When they find each other, they must journey to the land of the dead. Everyone is trying to get the pair, the Authority in Lyra's world, Lord Asriel, Mrs. Coulter. We get battles, ghosts, angels both good an evil, more Dust, love. Evil characters redeem themselves and characters die fighting for their beliefs.

Now I am going to say something I hadn't expected to say so soon. I like these better than Harry Potter. Please don't hurt me. I love Harry, and his world, and the last books were so mature. But I feel like the His Dark Ma…

Book about SEX!!!

This post is going to be about sex. No, not about my lack of ability to get any, but about a book about sex. Bonk, by Mary Roach, is about sex. Sex researchers, studies on sex, bizarre inventions that came out of studies on sex, etc. It was really interesting and not at all titillating. You don't get all excited reading it. Mostly I was cringing. The various remedies for ED are particularly bad. Metal. Bendable insertable metal. That's all I am going to say about that. She details a lot of studies, some of which she even participated in! I have to say I might have signed up for some of the studies given the opportunity. Definitely a 6.

I really liked her previous two, Stiff and Spook, and I think this one is as good. They are all relatively short books and informative. It sounds stupid to say "it really makes you think" but Roach's books do make you think. She's made us think about what happens to your body when you die, about the scientific bas…

Ren Fest

I went with R to the Renaissance Festival Saturday. It was a good day all around. No sunburn, yummy turkey leg, beer, kettle corn and lots of entertainment. R posted pics on his flickr page so I am showing them off! Click on any to see!

The joust referee.

Dancing gypsies!

Girl fight!


Friday night we went to see Indiana Jones. We both liked it and I can see why it was number one this weekend since at least 3 showings on Friday were sold out. I liked it ok but it really could have been SO MUCH BETTER. Even with the same story, just adjusting what the characters said and did would have really improved it. I loved Marion for the first 10 minutes or so she was on screen but then she didn't have anything to do but make googley eyes at Indy. Just giving her a little more to do and say would have helped. I liked Mutt well enough though the whole swinging vine scene with the monkeys was way too much of a play for the kids.

I really liked the whole opening sequence. The secret wa…

Thriller and Politics

One of the reasons I've stopped reading thriller/crime novels is that they tend to be the same: The cop/FBI agent/CSI/private detective finds evidence of murder/serial killer/rapist/child sex ring. Gruesome and/or poignant scenes describe the killings/victims. The hero has some personal flaw or disorder (PTSD, alcoholism, anger issues, paralyzed) which he must overcome to continue the case. The powers that be don't think there's a crime/think they've caught the right person/feel the hero is "crossing the line" so he is pulled from the case. Another awful crime happens. Then the hero is called back to the case or sometimes he goes off on his own (or with the help of the attractive love interest) and stops the bad guy. Sometimes there's a twist where the love interest is killed or perhaps the bad guy is one of the hero's superiors/acquaintances.

But yesterday, due to getting an extra 3 hours off work, I read Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. It is out…

In Defense of Food

Finished Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food today at work. At only 200 pages it gives a great overview of how to shop and what to eat. His premise is summed up several times: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. The first part of the book is about nutritionism, or the idea that we can reduce foods down to their component nutrients and, if we could just find out which ones in what ratios, that would solve our diet-based health problems. The second section deals with the problems in the Western diet and how food trends (moving from quality to a focus on quantity, moving from whole foods to refined versions) that most benefit industry hurt human beings. In the third part he breaks down his solution further with various suggestions, some of which are: buy whole foods, shop on the edges of the supermarket, go to farmer's market, if grandma couldn't buy it we probably shouldn't either, slow down, don't eat alone. While i don't know if anyone could follow all the s…

WG 4

This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

I need to get this post up! when I first read the blurb at Weekly Geeks I thought "I'll do the dumbing down of America" but now 2 people have done that. Then I thought "I could write about local food or going green" but now there are two of those posts as well!

So I am writing about being an atheist. In case you hadn't realized, I am. This to me falls under a political issue because other people make their religion political. My lack of religion is more of a big deal in Tennessee than it ever was in south Louisiana. I guess in Louisiana it is just kinda assumed you're Catholic unless you advertise otherwise so it's no big deal. Nobody asks what church you…

BTT for 5/15

Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….
Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?
Do you ever read manuals?
How-to books?
Self-help guides?
Anything at all?

Big complicated gadget that I don't know about: heavy skim. I won't read cover to cover but I will keep it around to make sure I know what I'm doing.If i get something i already know how to use like a camera I wouldn't read it at all probably. I do read furniture instructions usually.

How to books: really only cooking books on any kind of regular basis. I know I've read a few dog training books, books on scrapbooking and photography but i don't really practice my other hobbies much so i don't read those a lot.

Self-help: hmm. I am trying to read books on depression. The problem is I really can't get to into them because reading about the symptoms, the automati…


This week's is about books you loved as a child. This, for me, is going to be a very weird list. I remember reading little kid books at maybe age 5 or so. I remember reading adult novels, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, at age 8 or so. I don't know that I had much of a "proper books for my age" stage. I remember reading a few and liking them, like Stuart Little and The Hobbit,and I remember not particularly caring for some, like Nancy Drew and Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High. I didn't get into comics until middle school so they weren't a big deal when i was really young.

So here's a random list of things I do remember loving very much and reading multiple times. Yes, I was a strange kid. I know I am forgetting a ton of books that i probably loved.

The Westing Game by Ellen Rankin, The Shining and The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg, some greek mythology book with intricate illustrations …

10 out of 100

More work on the 1001 list. Mee at Books of Mee is hosting a challenge on the 1001 Books list. For this, you read 1 out of each section of 10, skipping any sections that you have already read a book from. End date is October 31.

01-10-skipping, I've read The Plot Against America
11-20-Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd
21-30-The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
31-40-Youth by JM Coetzee
41-50-Don't Move by Margaret Mazzantini
51-60-Nineteen Seventy Seven by David Peace
61-70-skipping, read House of Leaves
71-80- Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson, also on my TBR challenge.
81-90-Amsterdam by Ian Mcewan
91-100- skipping, read Memoirs of a Geisha
Speaking of the 1001 list, I finished Foundation by Isaac Asimov yesterday. Also a book on my TBR challenge. This makes the fourth I've read by the author. Caves of Steel and Naked Sun were both murder mysteries and I, Robot and Foundation are more a series of short stories that are linked. I really liked Foundation. In a weird way i…

Weekend Update with Melanie

Movie first. R and i went to Speed Racer on Friday night at the IMAX theater here. Yes, I have since read the bad reviews. But what did they expect from a PG movie about a cheesy cartoon that includes a pet chimp? High Drama? We went to the 9:40 at night showing and we had a bunch of people our age in line, as well as several dads with kids between 8-12 who all seemed very excited. I personally really liked it. It was a candy-colored explosion. It was fun. Ridiculous car races, a great Evil Villian (though i did want to yell "England Prevails" a few times), good chemistry between the actors. Nice to see Matthew Fox as something besides intense Dr. Jack from LOST. Christina Ricci is still hot, John Goodman seems to have lost weight? A nice 5.

Speaking of V for Vendetta, R and I were headed to Noshville for breakfast (though as we slept late it was about 11 and we both felt like lunch when we got there. I had the best roast beef sandwich and they have incredible coffee too.) a…

Last Post Today I Swear!!

So Carl V at Stainless Steel Droppings had an interesting conglomerate post, the first section of which was on literary tattoos. The article he linked to concerned both people's tattoos of literary works and a short story that the author tattooed onto over 2000 people, one word at a time. I had never thought about getting words tattooed on myself until that moment (i prefer black and white mandala type things when i was considering getting one) but i knew immediately what i would get:

By heaven, I think my love as rare as any she belied with false compare
Any guesses what it's from?



WG Week 2 and Progressive Politics

For the second week of the Weekly Geekschallenge the idea is to try, going forward at least, to link to other people's reviews when you review a book that is the same. I feel like I am making it sound more complicated than it is. So I am announcing I intend to do this but I don't know how much I really will be able to. I tend to read on my own sort of whims, incorporating a lot of older stuff and not necessarily the newest best sellers or most raved about blogosphere books. I read a lot of politically progressive books as well as other non-fiction which doesn't seem to be as popular to write about.

Soooo, speaking of progressive non-fiction, i finished George Lakoff's Whose Freedomthis morning at work. It is a 7. It discusses the differences between what liberals and conservatives are saying when we speak of freedom. At only 266 pages, not counting the suggested reading and endnotes, it manages to perfectly articulate the progressive mindset. It shows what we think and…

The Movie Marathon has Begun!

May is off to a great start. Hit Iron Man today after work since I had a rough weekend and couldn't make it out before. Iron Man wasn't a comic I ever read; I believe the character may have wandered into a few of my X-men comics at some point but I really know almost nothing about the comics. I loved the movie. Robert Downey Jr was wonderful; I am so glad they didn't cast some young dumb face in this role. For a comic book movie it had some great themes: redemption, the purpose of life, loyalty. Sure, the effects were cool but this isn't an effects-based movie. It is character driven. Definitely a 6.
Going to catch Speed Racer on IMAX Friday night.


I am not going to call BF "BF" any more. I guess if i end up referring to him i guess I'll use "R". We've been separated for a while now but we are just in a sort of "holding pattern" with no resolution in sight. So I just have to accept it. I'm not good enough for him. He's almost definitely not going to want me around like i want him. I love him but he doesn't love me the same. He says he loves me and wants to spend time with me, and we do, and i just have to be content with that. that has to be good enough because I screwed up so badly i don't deserve anything better. I regret everything I've done for the last 9 months, every decision was wrong. This is just how it is.

Girls Rock

So before i go on my mass media movie binge,diving into an orgy of bright lights, colors, superheroes, explosions, fast cars, talking animals and guys with whips, I decided to take in one more real movie. Another documentary, Girls Rock! is awesome! It is a film about the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR. Over a week of day camp, girls from 7-18 learn to play instruments, create a band, write songs, scream, dance and meet plenty of non-traditional female role models.

On the surface this could be just a fun, cool movie about kids making music. It is truly so much deeper. It is one thing to read the statistics about girls' self image and another to see a girl, maybe 10 years old, who is literally afraid to scream, to be loud. To hear the 15-yr old talk about how much she hates herself. To hear the 7-yr old's really dark lyrics or how sad the 8-yr old is because she's shunned at school. We get to see them change, open up and become free to be themselves. …