29 December 2009


Parajunkee Design Contest

Why aren't there more contests like this one?

Parajunkee is both a Book Blogger and a professional Web designer who is offering a custom background, header and button (as well as image hosting) to the winner of this contest. That package usually retails for US$90, so it's an amazing deal.

(You can tell I want to win, right?)

28 December 2009


A Cheesy Childermas
(A Companion Post to "Los Inocentes!")

Yes, we remember the Holy Innocents here. It's the Fourth Day of Christmas, after all, and Christmas and children go together like Advent and candles.

In honour of One Who must have enjoyed His own childhood so much that He would later say, "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to Me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such," I have put together a Top 5 List which makes peace between the manly man and the meddling kid.

My Top 5 Action Star Au Pairs:

1) Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop

This is arguably the movie which started it all. I'm sure a "prequel" to tell the story of Detective John Kimble's life up to the moment he trails Cullen Crisp at that LA shopping mall would be every 80s Action Movie cliche and then some. ("I'm the Party Pooper," anyone?) I know I wouldn't mind seeing it! Yet no matter how great it is, it will never be as great as Kindergarten Cop. (Follow the live blog--if you dare.)

As a teacher, I appreciate the way Kimble finds common ground between what he knows and can do well and what the children need. His Police School model should be taught in Colleges of Education everywhere!

And as someone who has serious issues with single motherhood, I'm glad that this movie actually tells the truth about it--and does so with great compassion and humour.

Finally, there's just something about Schwarzenegger . . . Admit it: you'd trust him with your own kids. He's had such great, natural chemistry with all his young co-stars: Alyssa Milano in Commando (which I also live blogged), Eddie Furlong in Terminator 2, Austin O'Brien in Last Action Hero, Eliza Dushku in True Lies, and all the little tykes in this movie.

27 December 2009


Here's Another Good One . . .

My score was 82.5.

The only thing I want to complain about is that there was a song from the middle of the 70s in there.

Now for full disclosure . . .

26 December 2009


More Quiz Fun

You Scored 86% Correct

You are an 80s expert,

You never confuse New Order with the Pet Shop Boys.

You know which classical musician Falco rocked.

When it comes to 80s music, you Just Can't Get Enough!

Why only 86%, you may be wondering. Mea maxima culpa: I was never really into Thomas Dolby!

To make up for that now, I share the music video for the song which would have given me a score of 100%, had I only known about it . . .

25 December 2009


Merry Christmas, Everyone!

You Are a Vintage Christmas Card

You find Christmas to be the most peaceful time of the year. The holidays relax you.

Some people may get stressed out or frazzled, but not you. It's like you're celebrating a completely different holiday.

You take pleasure in the small things the holiday season has to offer. Candy canes. Happy children. Your favorite Christmas music.

Christmas may be more complicated than it used to be, but you refuse to get mixed up in the drama. You're bringing simple holidays back.

You may be wondering why you didn't receive a Christmas card from me. In that case, dear friends, know that this is the Christmas card.

(I'm really bad about greetings . . . but I do wish everyone a Merry Christmas!)

23 December 2009


Reading Diary: A Lady's Secret by Jo Beverley

It isn't often a man hears a cursing nun.

Robin Fitzviry, Earl of Huntersdown, was finishing his meal at a table by the window and thus had an excellent view of the woman out in the coach yard. There could be no doubt. She was muttering curses, and she was a nun.

She was standing beneath the outside gallery that gave access to the bedrooms upstairs, so her grey clothing blended with the shadows, but her clothing was a nun's habit or he was a mother superior. Her plain gown was belted with rope, and a dark head cloth hung down her back. There was even a long wooden rosary hanging from the belt, and perhaps sandals on her feet. She had her back turned, but he thought she might be young.

she exploded. Italian?

The reason I came to love Jo Beverley so much was that I learned I could trust her. Many Historical Romance novelists will write what Romance readers call "Wallpaper Historicals" populated with modern characters in period dress, but not Beverley. Her dedication to research has always guaranteed a high degree of historical accuracy, but the main reason I trust her so much is her writer's sensitivity to people from different times that I can only describe as historical honesty.

Now that I've read one of her latest books, however, I'd like to qualify everything I've just said about her.

18 December 2009


Before He Was the King of the World

So James Cameron has a new movie out and I'm not even interested enough to blog its name.

It may be because US$500 million is a big budget for a movie that demonises the kind of industry and technology that make such a movie possible.

It may also be because someone who directs a Da Vinci Code-ish documentary like The Lost Tomb of Jesus can't expect to have any credibility left.

And yet . . . there was a time when all you had to say to get me to watch something was that James Cameron had been involved in its production . . . though, given that he had been involved in so few movies for someone who had been in Hollywood for twenty years, I probably would have seen it already.

My Top 5 James Cameron Movies

1. The Terminator

In this movie, a Resistance warrior from the future travels back to 1984 in order to save the mother of the future's greatest general before the cyborg sent by a self-aware computer system can kill her and thus "retroactively abort" her son. It's one of the most gritty and realistic movies I've ever seen!

Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd coined the term "Tech Noir" for what was then a new theme in the SF genre: the dark and dehumanising side of technology. Then they refused to give audiences a happy ending, instead assuring them that, in the future, machines would launch a nuclear war against their human creators and imprison the survivors in labour camps. The Terminator is a dark movie with a grim ending . . . and yet it has one of the most optimistic messages in the world.

Perhaps it is because Sarah and Kyle are recognisable as "types" of Mary and St. Joseph, which makes the story of John Connor a kind of evangelium. Indeed, I can still recall the sense of wonder I felt after watching this movie for the first time. It was as if it were 1984 again and the future had just opened up for me the way it had suddenly opened up for Sarah. Anything was possible; anyone could change the world; and as yet the only mistake Cameron had made was writing, "The future is not set," when all serious time travel theorists know that it is the present that is never set.

(If you're into FF, you might like to read my slightly cheesy Terminator Fic Nox Natalis.)

13 December 2009


Buffy vs. Edward
(A companion post to Because It's St. Lucy's Day)

Just adding more of my humble "blogger's mite" to the Team Jacob Team Charlie pool . . .

The video is described as "proto-feminist" and having the objective of exposing "patriarchal Hollywood themes," all of which disturbed me at first. And yet, in all fairness, it makes a great point.

From this we can learn that feminism is like the proverbial blind sow that will manage to find an acorn or two once in a while. (Note the politically correct gender of the sexist pig! Only appropriate, yes?)

12 December 2009


Tutor Tales, Volume 10

There haven't been any Doctor Nemesis stories in a while because he has been incorrigible and I've just been angry at him all the time. Last week, I finally broke through to what was wrong--and it was nothing I had imagined at all. While rummaging about in his school bag, I came across one, and then two, and finally three little white tablets, each sealed up in its own plastic pack.

I looked up just in time to keep him from carving his name into one of the centre tables (again) and then roared: "You've been off your meds all this time?!!?"

Then I frisked him and found a fourth little white tablet in one of his trouser pockets.

It explained absolutely everything.

I will spare you the gory details.

Now, I'm no fan of medicating little boys just so they conform to Prussian-style school systems, but as a minor part of the system, I have to work for the good from within. And right now I can think of no other alternative . . . save putting the poor lad in military school. (I'm not very creative.)

After Doctor Nemesis finally forgave me for telling his mother about the pills ("Why did you tell my mom? I thought you were my friend!"), were were able to get back to studying without anyone getting hurt. (You think I jest, don't you? That is because you've never seen me do a flying tackle! But never mind that now . . .)

08 December 2009


Team Taylor Tuesday: Thug Story

She's so "gangsta" that she bakes cookies at night . . . You know, I bake cookies at night. Now all I need is a name as cool as "T-swizzle" ("T-swizz" for short).

Or maybe not . . .

Before Rap was completely annexed by HipHop, it was a new, experimental sound that seemed to go well with pop genres as diverse as Electronica and Punk. The first commercially successful song to use Rap with any effect was Blondie's Rapture. (See the pun?) Before that, way back in the 1970s, there was Aerosmith's Walk This Way, which 80s HipHop group Run DMC had the edgy taste to cover. (Can you say "crossover gold"? How about "80s crossover gold"?) Finally, I remember Yoko Ono saying in an interview that if John Lennon had not died so young, he might have put out a Rap album.

So now let me kill two birds with one stone feed two birds with one hand and treat to you a rap-a-riffic Top 5 list.

My Top 5 Rap Songs by Non-Black People

1) Rock DJ by Robbie Williams

I tried to look for something G rated--or even PG rated--but this was all that was available. Then again, the lyrics themselves push the boundaries of innuendo, so the video, which I have long known was one of Robbie's cleverly disguised cries for help, is hardly out there. Besides, what better way to advertise your misery than in a clubbing standard actually fit to hold a candle to anything the BeeGees ever wrote? (So now you see how Robbie thinks . . .)

05 December 2009


Fourteen Things about 2012

14. The first scene foreshadows so much: a careless taxi driver doesn't notice that a little boy is playing with a toy boat in a puddle, and creates a mini "tsunami" that capsises the little craft.

13. This movie actually made me happy that I studied "Evangelical Geology." Who knew that Catastrophism was so cool?

12. The scenes of destruction are just beautiful--and director Roland Emmerich does a great job of distancing our minds from the millions of people who must have perished in terrible fear and agony. Ah, CGI, late have I loved you . . .

11. Speaking of Emmerich . . . 2012 is vastly, vastly superior to his earlier effort The Day after Tomorrow, because in this one the survival of humanity isn't centred on over-privileged, unsupervised teenagers, no matter how geekily wholesome, and snarky eccentrics . . . but on the nuclear family.

04 December 2009


Friday Night Movie: Conan the Barbarian

ConanBarbarian Poster

My dear Bloggians, there is good news and there is bad news.

The good news is that I will no longer feel bad whenever I think of Christopher and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the same time.

The bad news is that we are once more facing those four hated words: "Embedding disabled by request."

Yet what's a little disabled embedding between friends? =P

Watch Part 1!!!
(The music alone is awesome . . .)

0:18 "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" (Frederick Nietzche) I once translated that into Latin because I wanted it on my coat of arms . . . but I never got around to the rest of the project
0:25 That would be the grandfather of Giada de Laurentiis!
1:00 The "sons of Arius"? Our Arius? The heretic?
1:16 "It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga." Why do I have a feeling this chronicler is going to turn out to be quite the character?
1:24 High Adventure!!! (As opposed to low adventure, which is all we seem to get these days . . .)
1:55 I love Basil Poledouris! Anyone who has scored a trifecta like RoboCop, Red Dawn, and Conan the Barbarian has an unlimited supply of cool.
3:17 Is anyone else wondering what Sigmund Freud would have to say about this sequence?
3:52 John Milius is someone else who had a hand in Red Dawn. Don't you love the man already?
4:11 What do you think of the child actor they cast as the young Conan? Compare and contrast to Schwarzenegger at around the same age.
4:53 "We who found it are just men. Not gods. Not giants. Just men." And that's why this story is good!
9:38 I don't believe this! With all the time in the world to run and hide, did they just cower there the whole time???

03 December 2009


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 5

Lucy faced the situation bravely, though, like most of us, she only faced the situation that encompassed her. She never gazed inwards. If at times strange images rose from the depths, she put them down to nerves. When Cecil brought the Emersons to Summer Street, it had upset her nerves. Charlotte would burnish up past foolishness, and this might upset her nerves. She was nervous at night. When she talked to George--they met again almost immediately at the Rectory--his voice moved her deeply, and she wished to remain near him. How dreadful if she really wished to remain near him! Of course, the wish was due to nerves, which love to play such perverse tricks upon us . . .

It is obvious enough for the reader to conclude, "She loves young Emerson." A reader in Lucy's place would not find it obvious. Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice, and we welcome "nerves" or any other shibboleth that will cloak our personal desire. She loved Cecil; George made her nervous; will the reader explain to her that the phrases should have been reversed?

I'm very sorry that I didn't put up an Open Thread last Thursday. My Thanksgiving post took precedence, but everything is back to normal again. =)

02 December 2009

01 December 2009


Team Taylor: Swift and Lautner?

If you heard her Monologue Song (La La La) when she hosted SNL, then you'll know that our Taylor is likely a member of Team Jacob as well!

Unfortunately, the bootlegged videos keep on getting pulled, so here's an audio clip with lyrics instead: