30 April 2010

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Friday Night Movie Vlog!!!



This week's topic:
Favourite Young Adult Novels



I fell in love with YA novels when I was twelve. Less than ten years later, when I realised I had absolutely no interest in the more "grown up" books available to me, I wondered whether I was emotionally backwards to continue preferring YA over every other genre in the bookstore.

Then I discovered that grown ups make up a great segment of YA readership and realised that there was nothing wrong with me: it was the whole generation that was backwards!

(That was a joke, by the way.)

29 April 2010

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Speaking of Characters . . .


Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?
Which L.M. Montgomery Heroine are You?


. . . Does anyone actually know who Valancy is??? =P
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Character Connection 4



Read about the rest of this week's "book crushes"
@The Introverted Reader


One of the rules of this meme is: "No spoilers!" And I totally stand by that. =)

This time, however, I have a character impossible to discuss without a sprinkling of spoilers, because he is someone we meet over several books. As he is only a minor character in most of the novels, however, I don't spoil the main plots of those. Anyone who reads this post can still pick up the first three titles without much trepidation . . . but really, it's the fourth book I love the most.

28 April 2010

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Reading Diary: Father's Arcane Daughter by E.L. Konigsburg

The Invisible Game was her favourite. The chief rule was that everything was invisible to everyone except Heidi.

Everyone really meant me, for I was the only one who ever played with her. I was blindfolded and seated at the far end of the library. Losing the full use of one of my senses made me Heidi's equal.

Heidi brought me things to identify. Each item was given a value, depending on its difficulty. If an article had a value of three, and I identified it correctly, I was permitted to take three blindfolded steps out of the library. If I bumped into a piece of furniture, I had to take double that number of steps back. Once I made it to the door, the game was over.

My English Lit professors loved to start every exam with a passage from one of the required texts and the instruction to explain why the part is a good representative of the whole. I remembered that today when I carefully chose the above passage. Father's Arcane Daughter is the kind of style-conscious novel that takes me back to those golden days of reading and analysis.

27 April 2010

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown, Round 3A
(Revisit Round 1 and Round 2)

There's good news and there's bad-if-you're-Christopher news.

The good news is that I made the completely arbitrary decision not to use Random.org for this round, which means that the film face-offs will actually make some sense!

If you're Christopher, then you already know what the bad news is.

Let's get started with our first two movies now, shall we?

Round 3A
The First of the "F*** You, A******!" Four
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Where in the Lore . . .

Q: Where did your reading take you this week?

A: Where didn't my reading take me this week??? I started out in swampy Southern Louisiana; made a quick trip to the mountainous Northlands; went deep into the dangerous Amazon; and ended up in rainy Scotland. And the adventure isn't over yet!

(See the rest of this week's answers at An Adventure in Reading.)

Once again, I regret to say that my new meme LOCUS FOCUS isn't ready yet. =( It's partly my fault for insisting on a professionally designed badge by the artist who created my header; she has a real career to think about first (not to mention her own blog), so she'll get to my order when she gets to it.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is thinking of a favourite setting to feature when the meme does make its debut!

26 April 2010

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Summer Study

Summer reading, had me a blast . . .

I shouldn't use the past tense yet, though.

My mother has put me in charge of my younger brothers' summer schoolwork, which is mostly Maths and English. They have to complete a whole bunch of worksheets for the first subject and read at least one novel for the second. Brother #1 still has lots of trouble reading, but hardly ever makes a mistake when numbers are involved. Brother #2 can read anything (though his comprehension is yet to be measured), but is stumped when it comes to numbers. This will be . . . fun.

24 April 2010

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Writing Diary, Entry #17

It's official. The word "review" has meanings in Philippine English that are not--and may never be--in an Anglo-American dictionary.

Remember when my editor asked me to "review" a movie which hadn't even come out yet?

Well, now I get to do the same for a TV series which has yet to air in Asia, though this time I don't get to be so indignant because it has already premiered in the States.

22 April 2010

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Negative Ten
(Joining the weekly "Top Ten Picks" meme at Random Ramblings)


This Week's Topic:
Worst Books You've Ever Read


When Jillian announced this topic a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would have to pass. I may seem to delight in my snarkiness, but I don't actually like featuring anything "bad" unless I think it has something "good" in it to redeem it. I do like most of the stuff I publicly put down (at least on this blog); and for the same reason I had decided to do only "Top 5 Lists" and no "Bottom 5 Lists", I was planning to wait for the next "Top Ten Picks" topic from Jillian before joining her link up again.

Obviously, my "bad" side won out! LOL!

Just so that I don't feel too horribly guilty for "trashing" these books in public, I'm not going to reveal their titles! I will, however, leave enough clues for interested readers to make some educated guesses. =)

First clue: The books are listed in alphabetical order!

A Tenner: The Worst Books I've Ever Read

21 April 2010

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Wednesday Night Midnight Trailer: "In every neighbourhood, there is one house . . ."




The People under the Stairs gave me one of the most satisfying viewing experiences of my entire film buff life. If I had to choose a "Midnight Movie," this would be it.

Okay, the movie is weird--I'll grant you that. But the weirdest thing about it is that it is very well made and very appealing to a great cross-section of movie lovers. I should know. Exactly three other people were with me when we popped this video into the player in our student hostel's biggest common room . . . and before it was halfway through, our ranks had swelled about five times.

And now you may be wondering what a "Midnight Movie" is . . .

20 April 2010

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Where in the World . . .

Q: Where did your reading take you this week?

A: To thirteenth century France, still reeling from the death of King Louis the Lion and facing an uncertain future with a new king who is still a boy. We know that he would grow up to be King St. Louis IX, but they certainly didn't. And boy, did they have other worries . . .

(See the other answers at An Adventure in Reading.)

As you can see, this isn't my meme, which has yet to be launched . . . or dropped . . . or revealed . . . or whatever verb applies where memes are concerned. But it's one of the inspirations for mine, and I had this post ready to link up to it for the past few days.

Last night, I reread some parts of The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars by Elena Maria Vidal--a story that could only have happened in the Middle Ages.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown, Round 2
(Revisit Round 1)

Someone who runs a movie blog started following me this week. It's probably because some of Schwarzenegger's natural coolness rubbed off on me. This smackdown is gold!


Round 2
The
"Hasta La Vista, Baby!" Eight

True Lies vs. Conan the Barbarian

This pairing doesn't make sense to me, either. It's the logic of Random.org. True Lies may be great fun, but it's really Helen Tasker's story--and James Cameron's transition movie bridging his Schwarzenegger period and his Chick Flick period. And now that I think about it, Conan the Barbarian was a kind of transition movie for Schwarzenegger, too, bridging his B-movie body builder period and his Hollywood heavyweight period. So there's really only one way this choice can go . . .

Winner: Conan the Barbarian--because I could listen to Basil Poledouris' score all night, but fall asleep if I had to watch Cameron's tiresomely expensive Harrier sequence again.

19 April 2010

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Book Blogging Brainstorm

By now, you must have noticed that I am inordinately fond of book-related memes. It was really only a matter of time before I started one of my own.

While I was tossing around my first few ideas, my main question was a worried, "If I meme it, will they come?" I used to participate in a meme that was cancelled due to lack of outside interest, and am trying to encourage another blogger not to give up on her own relatively new meme. It would be embarrassing to throw a party and have no one arrive!

Then somewhere along the way, I realised that, despite the success of a meme being dependent on the number of people who link up to it each week, its real value comes from how much the people who do participate get out of it. And I think that one could get a lot out of the new meme I have in mind . . . even if the only one who tries is myself!

18 April 2010

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Punk Catholic Thought of the Week VII

Lewis HeadSpanishGirlMantilla Photobucket
What does a mantilla have in common with the mohawk hair style?

15 April 2010

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More Character Love



Read about other bloggers' favourite characters
in this week's Character Connection link up!


We all have characters we love . . . We do? . . . Oh, yeah . . .

When I first tried this meme out, I didn't think I would like it so much. Not being much of a people person even when I'm not reading (which is why I'm such a reader in the first place), I tend to think of characters as drivers of the theme and the theme as the whole point of the story. And I really would rather discuss impersonal things like theme, structure, genre, or setting, than characters.

Impersonal elements, you see, can be taken in terms of "what works" and "what doesn't work." They appeal to the part of me that does algebra problems for fun. Characters, on the other hand, are like those dreaded people. They can't be taken or rejected in terms of what they do for the story; they have to be loved (or hated) for themselves. Like their real-life counterparts, they deserve a chance to grow on us over time--and maybe even grow with us.

But what am I babbling about? This meme needs to get posted . . .
+JMJ+

Shelf Share Thursday: "G" Is for "Good Books"
(A weekly meme hosted on Bippity Boppity Book)


This is the place to give a little love to the books
that have been lingering on your shelf for a little while . . .



In a short discussion on another blog, someone estimated that book bloggers likely own an average of thirty unread books at any given time. (When did the "TBR pile" enter the reading culture, I wonder. Probably when reading became a consumer's hobby.)

Though I do have a little over thirty books waiting to be read, I take some comfort in the fact that I haven't been able to participate in most of Holly's "Shelf Share Thursdays"--and definitely won't be able to join next week. (No H books!) If my pile grew any bigger, I'd have nightmares about it coming after me . . .

But never mind that now as I think happy, positive, meme-worthy thoughts:

3 "G" Books
That Need More Love from Me

14 April 2010

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Reading Diary: Violet (Seven Brides) by Leigh Greenwood

"If you want Jeff to be truly happy, you'll have to go to Virginia."

"That's the last place I want to go."

"The part of Jeff that's missing is there. He'll never find it anywhere else."

"I don't understand."

"Jeff's bitterness over his arm is only part of what was wrong with him. He could have stood the losses of the war if there had been anything to go back to. But the South he loved was destroyed. Not the plantations, but the idealism, the chivalry. It wasn't a perfect world. Some of us can live without it, but others would rather die than try. . . Something died during those four years that can never be replaced . . ."

(Please don't ask me why the title is Violet but the cover is green. LOL! But I do have some funny trivia on the cover model for this book, if you're interested in some cover chat in the combox.)

I always knew I'd get to feature a Leigh Greenwood novel someday. It was just a matter of finding one that was good enough to keep me from being embarrassed to share the cover. And, though I didn't realise it until I was drafting this post, also a matter of finding one that wasn't about ranches and cows. Cattle just don't do it for me. (I'm sorry, Christopher!)

13 April 2010

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown!!!

Having been inspired by this fan-made video in tribute to the finest actor I have ever had the privilege of watching . . .




. . . I have decided to dedicate my next humble tournament bracket to his illustrious and critically acclaimed movie career.

Here is what to expect every Tuesday hereafter until we find our winner:

Round 1 -- Since I have yet to watch all of the carefully selected sixteen movies, this round will be Premise vs. Premise: the movie that, on paper, sounds like the better Schwarzenegger movie, will advance to the next round.

Round 2 -- The movie I would rather watch (again or for the first time) will win--because I will be watching it . . . and reviewing it . . . and therefore entertainment value and pop cultural significance are major criteria.

Round 3 -- This round will be Movie Merits vs. Movie Merits. Let's see which competitors best meet my impeccable critical standards.

Round 4 -- Readers get to vote for the final winner!!! Because I really love you guys, even though I pretend I wish you didn't complicate everything for me.

I guess that covers everything! Let the smackdown begin!

Round 1
The "It's Showtime!" Sixteen

Red Heat vs. Total Recall

Nooooooo! How could Random.org be so cruel and pit these two against each other??? This choice is really going to hurt me . . . Okay, Red Heat may not be a classic . . . but there's something about casting Schwarzenegger as a Russian police officer who has to find a way to work with a mistrustful Chicago cop (played by Jim Belushi at the top of his wisecracking game!). On the other hand, Total Recall, though best known for its cheesy dialogue and unabashed atmosphere of 80s excess, asks some of the deepest philosophical questions you will ever find in SF.

Winner: Total Recall--because Schwarzenegger movies can be educational as well as fun.

12 April 2010

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Christine's Chords: Imagine Me (Jerrica's Song) by Jem and the Holograms

For some strange reason (which in itself isn't really strange), I thought of this song today and wanted to try playing it by ear . . .




Later, after more time than I'd like to admit, I came up with a rough arrangement of chords that managed to sound okay. Note that they're not in the same key as the original "single"!

10 April 2010

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On My Wishlist: Something for a Saturday


(See all the other wishlists linked up at Book Chick City.)

This seems like the wrong meme for someone with over thirty books in her possession that she still has not read. (Some of them were loans; many of them were gifts; most of them were on sale when I happened to be browsing that day.)

Filipinos have a term for someone who wants more than he can finish: takaw-mata. It means one's appetite (takaw) comes not from the stomach, but from one's eyes (mata). I'd say I'm very takaw-mata when it comes to books--which is another kind of gluttony I should probably talk to my confessor about.

But there has been one book I've seriously wanted to read for years. It's not available in the Philippines, and I don't have a credit card, so I can't order it off the Internet. It is one of the reasons I have so many unread books in the first place.

09 April 2010

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Hopping to It: The Book Blogger Hop!
(A weekly event hosted at Crazy for Books)


Find other book blogs at this week's Hop!

I guess this means that I'm officially giving in and declaring myself a "book blogger"? (Sigh!)

This week was actually pretty good for book blogging. Just look at what I got done:
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The Alphabet Assignment: R

Our first list of the season! Believe it or not, I was having trouble finding enough Rs, and it wasn't until the Easter Vigil liturgy that I came up with the last entry for this list. Guess which one . . . =P

(You might recall that Easter Vigil made my E list.)

1) Resurrection

To have this as #1 spoils my alphabetical order, but asserts my theological order. Happy Easter!

08 April 2010

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Let's Try This Again, Shall We?
(A weekly meme hosted on The Introverted Reader)



Read the rest of this week's Character Connection round up!


This time around, I am ready to follow the rules and pick only one character to feature this week.

She was actually my first choice when I heard about these types of features on readers' blogs, but I hadn't picked up her book in ages and didn't know whether I'd be able to her any justice.

Then, just this afternoon, I grabbed my old, yellowing copy from the "Classics" section of my library, read a few random lines . . . and everything came rushing back to me. I was so ready to write this . . .
+JMJ+

Reading Diary: The Last Station by Jay Parini

The station was empty at that hour. As I sat by myself on the platform, I studied the silvery tracks that trailed off into infinity.

It occurred to me that the life of the body and the life of the soul are like these tracks, running parallel into the invisible future. We like to imagine a meeting point, a junction where the earthly body joins the heavenly one. But this is an illusion. The body rail, somewhere, at a definite point in time, stops. The spirit rail continues, perhaps, to infinity. Who can say?


-- from one chapter narrated by Dr. Dushan Makovitsky, physician and friend to Leo Tolstoy

This book was my crash course on Leo Tolstoy, a writer I am now ashamed to know next to nothing about. More so than any other living writer of his time, he shaped his own country's sense of identity. I'd name Charles Dickens for England, Victor Hugo for France, and if you twisted my arm while threatening to set my entire library on fire, also Jose Rizal for the Philippines . . . but the first two didn't live through a bloody and earthshaking revolution (though the latter famously wrote about one), and the last died far too young to be a living national treasure like the elderly Tolstoy we meet in Parini's novel.

That is especially fascinating if you recall that all this was happening when Russia had not yet become a "book culture" . . .

07 April 2010

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Raised by TV . . . with Reunions on YouTube

TV Guide Magazine, the great-grandmother of the humble publication I occasionally contribute to, has made a list of TV's Top 50 Families.

This was a list concept close to my heart, and I couldn't wait to totally ignore the editors' picks so that I could decide on my own. For like many children who were born after the analogy "Book : Library :: TV : Living Room" started to make sense, I had an extended family tree which included people on the other side of the thick glass pane of the telly. (You know, characters.)

Being a bookworm as well--and someone inclined to live in her head in general--I also felt related to a whole bunch of families from literature. But never mind them now. This is a TV-themed post!

My Top 5 TV Families

1) The Lubbocks of Just the Ten of Us

If I didn't know better, I'd blame an anti-Catholic conspiracy for the fact that this wholesome and hilarious family didn't make the original list at all. (A more reasonable explanation is that they were simply booted in favour of two Reality TV families: a non-denominational editorial decision.)

My favourite element of this show has always been the cheesy, 80s take that the four eldest daughters (aka the Lubbock Babes) had on Louisa May Alcott's "four sisters" model. They didn't have much privacy in that big attic bedroom they had to share, but I don't think they minded very much.

I also liked that everyone had lots of personality. When one is part of a family that huge, one has to fight a little just to survive breakfast. This could easily have been a character-driven drama. I'm glad it was a character-spiced sitcom. Because, you know, the best thing about family is that it's funny.

Now let me warn you that the Lubbocks are the only "traditional" family on my list.

06 April 2010

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Tasty Tuesday: A Meme Is Born!
(A weekly meme hosted at Dearest Dreams)


The first thing that came to mind when I heard about this meme was an unusual interview question from Nick Mag, the Nickelodeon channel's magazine. (I don't know if it's still in circulation, but it was when I was still watching Nick.)

Every interviewee would be asked (and I paraphrase heavily!):

"If a sandwich were named after you, what would be in it?"

In other words, I've been thinking about people in terms of sandwich fillings, breads and sides for about ten years.

I tried to get my students to do a variation of it when we were taking up the Twelve Olympians. How would a Zeus cookie be different from a Hades cookie? Ideas like that. Exactly one group took the culinary challenge . . . and let's just say they weren't very creative about it. (I mean, Hestia cookies? That's like Poseidon bottled water or Athena olive oil . . .)

But never mind my gone-but-not-forgotten girls. Let's do this meme!

A Secret Garden Sandwich

+JMJ+

These Dreams: Bloggably Blond

Q: What do the following light-haired characters have in common?

Photobucket

KyleReese2 Terminator

Nikki BigLove

A: (Use your secret decoder ring!) I have been all of them in my dreams.

05 April 2010

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Authors in the Combox: Yes or No?


Should professional authors leave comments on the blogs of amateurs/hobbyists?

(Yes, that's a big question. I'll be making it more specific in a short while.)

A few months ago, I would have been all for authors leaving comments. The blogosphere is free, after all (unless you live in China), and bloggers who enable comments surely welcome all sorts of feedback from anyone who reads their stuff.

I know I'm still pleased that Romance author Jo Beverley read my personal appreciation of her work several years ago, and left me a warm comment. (It's a post from my old MySpace blog: Where Beverley Meets Chesterton.)

Not that it was some huge achievement: I had messaged her with a link to that post a few days earlier! LOL! Still, it was as good as a personalised reply to a fan letter; and even though one of her later releases made me decide not to buy any more of her books, I'm glad I was able to make her happy in return for all the enjoyment I had received from previous novels.

*** *** ***

More recently, another writer whose name I must withhold (for reasons which will soon become obvious) took issue with a post I had written about some of his books. In it, I had shared the story of why he had graciously offered to send me some copies for free, rolled my eyes at the marketing pitch on the back covers, and shared an unimpressed third party's first reaction to some actual content . . . and he was not happy about that.

Oh, well. You win some, you lose some, right?

This time, I had done nothing to bring the post to the author's direct attention; some anonymous reader had sent him the link. I can see why he was upset at my tone, but he took it so badly that I felt sorry for the poor publicist in charge of his books. I wouldn't want any of my authors behaving that way.

*** *** ***

04 April 2010

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The Book (Cover) List
(A fun meme hosted at Lost in Books)




This was actually last week's topic--and I'm edging in now by the skin of my teeth. Originally, I wasn't planning to do this because I don't really care about covers.

Unless they're really bad. In which case I all but wrap my current read up in brown paper.

Good covers, on the other hand, can blend into the wallpaper for me: if they're not unsightly--heck, even if they're really gorgeous--I just forget about them after I start reading. (It doesn't seem fair, does it?)

Yet there are some covers in my personal library that have gone above and beyond their call of duty to "sell" the texts they bind together, by "selling" their reader as well, and I remembered them today . . .

3 Covers
That Have Complemented My Clothes

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week V . . . and VI!
(A Special Easter Meditation)

The difference between Catholics (and Orthodox) and Protestants is the difference between people who light their Easter Vigil candles from the Paschal candle and people who whip out their lighters and light their candles from those.

Now, fire is fire. And--to crack open my own metaphors for you--the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. So why is this distinction a big deal?

Well, yeah, in one sense (the Protestant sense) it's not a big deal at all . . . Oh, wait: maybe the fact that everyone is carrying his own means of lighting his candle would be a big deal to a Protestant--because, you know, it means that nobody actually has to rely on some cleric putting himself between God and the people, as a mediator where no mediator is actually necessary.