31 May 2010

+JMJ+

Announcement: Contest/Giveaway!

It was about time I did one of these things, aye? ;)

When I first joined the Book Blogging community as the red headed stepchild who was the understudy for Asia Viera in Omen IV: The Awakening, I didn't think I'd ever host a contest. Or a giveaway. Whichever one this is--though as far as I can tell, the terms are used interchangeably. Ah, now I've lost my train of thought . . .

I never thought I'd host a contest/giveaway because I am in no position to offer my readers new releases, much less those brass rings of the Book Blogging community, Advance Review Copies. And being one of those "international" bloggers who is ineligible for 99% of the contests/giveaways out there, book-related merchandise like pretty bookmarks or slipcovers would cost me ten times as much to send as to buy or get my grandmother to make . . . and you can finish the rest of that sentence.

Recently, however, it occurred to me that there is one thing I can offer that would make some sense as a prize: a book that has been published only in the Philippines! We have quite a lot of literature written in or translated into English, and some of it is even pretty good. (LOL!)

And then the only challenge is actually getting people interested. =P

30 May 2010

+JMJ+

Summer Study, Volume 2

One thing I wish my brothers and I had done while reading Maniac Magee was put up a progress tracker. The natural reader in me finds such props superfluous (My growing/working/living library--I have yet to decide on the perfect participle--is the ultimate progress tracker for me!), but I can't afford to be a snob where my brothers' reading is concerned.

I showed them one of my many "teacher's guides" and told them we could: a) thread beads on a string, b) raise a caterpillar, c) heat up a thermometer, d) slice up a necktie, or e) grow a beanstalk . . . And for some reason, they really went for the beanstalk.

29 May 2010

+JMJ+

Locus Focus: Take Three!




It's another wonderful Saturday for settings! This Saturday happens to be, as I have said earlier, the birthday of one of my favourite writers, G.K. Chesterton. So today I offer a short write up and reflection on one of his most magical settings . . .

27 May 2010

+JMJ+

Character Connection 6



Read about Tyrion Lannister and other fantastic creations
at this week's Character Connection round up!


In anticipation of the birthday of one of my favourite writers, this week's Character Connection and Locus Focus posts will be based on his most famous novel.

Now let me apologise in advance for being completely indulgent in my choice of a character this week, for I could not stick to one . . . or even (as I've done before) to two . . .

25 May 2010

+JMJ+

Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown, Final Winner!!!
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, Round 3A, Round 3B, and Round 4.)

The Terminator: 4 votes
Total Recall: 2 votes

Was there really any other way to go? =P

24 May 2010

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about Iron Man 2

12. So that you don't have to read the whole thing to get what must be your main question answered, I'll get it out of the way at once:

Yes, I liked it.

11. Wouldn't it be the coolest thing ever if Robert Downey, Jr. won an Oscar for playing Tony Stark? Horror movies got some recognition at the Academy Awards last year; it's the Superhero movies' turn!

10. Speaking of the stars, I think that Stan Lee just had his greatest cameo ever. Larry King, aye? ROFLMAO!

9. I once read Gwyneth Paltrow described as the sort of actress women are crazy about but men can't see the appeal of . . . and I remembered all those movie nights with my favourite uni roommate, who would invariably pick a Paltrow flick while I chose something respectably SF. Not that I'm a man or anything. (Bwahahahahaha!) I've just always found Paltrow snotty and think that she takes herself too seriously. But . . . I can totally respect her in a superhero movie.

23 May 2010

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week X

(Catholic blogging: I can't live with it and I can't live without it! But I can close comments so as not to encourage a circus.)

Perhaps the only thing worse than speculating about which people are going to go to hell is speculating about which people are going to get canonised.

Well, okay, they're not equally bad. I just needed a good lead. =P To continue . . .

22 May 2010

+JMJ+

Locus Focus: Take Two!




First of all, thank you to everyone who wrote a post about a great setting and linked it up last week! I loved reading about your favourite places--and though I was kind of miffed that two settings I had hoped to write about myself will have to be postponed for a while because they've already been covered, that's half the fun of it, right?

Secondly, I saved all your links in the main part of last week's post, so that they aren't lost when they "disappear" (That's a long story, but if you ask, I'll tell you!), and the post itself is already archived in the Locus Focus page.

Now let's get down to business, shall we?

21 May 2010

+JMJ+

LycanCath = Villain???


This week's topic:
Best Villains!


While I was putting the following Tenner together, I had a real moment. It suddenly occurred to me that some people in the Catholic Blogosphere must find me an awful villain--or if not a villain (which is an accomplishment one actually has to work at, which I'm too lazy to do), then a pathetic, unctuous villain wannabe. (You know, like Igor.)

It took all my self-control not to ask the person I was chatting with at that moment (Yes, the same moment! I'm a multitasker!): "Why in the world do you like me???"

I had only met him online; he was a reader of my old blog who had started writing me, and he was tolerant enough to follow me to this one. But would he like me if he knew me in real life???

Then I started musing that if I were someone else I wouldn't like me very much, and that the main reason I even do like myself is that if I didn't I'd be suicidal. A coping mechanism, you know.

Just as I was feeling really low, I recalled some significant facts . . . I had recently published an unpopular opinion on my old, supposed-to-be-defunct Catholic blog . . . which had attracted back my old troll . . . who helped to remind me that someone whom I had thought was one of my best blog friends was the one who misunderstood me the most . . . who in turn had reinforced my special Catholic blogger's neurosis (We They all have one!) that I didn't believe that anyone who liked my online self would care to know my real-world self.

Then it dawned on me anew that I don't have to be a member of the Catholic blogosphere, if I'd really rather not be!

And just like that, I was over my moment. I mean, of course ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE reading Shredded Cheddar would love to know me in real life . . . watch an 80s Horror movie together . . . form a book club for YA novels . . . sing along to TV Themes that I can play by ear on Christine . . . join Locus Focus tomorrow . . .

Because, this corner of the blogosphere isn't about following people's blogs
mainly so that one can find points of disagreement
and have an apologetics-flavoured debate in the comboxes.

And because, as you well know, I'm a likable villain. =P

A Tenner:
My Favourite Role Models Likable Villains

20 May 2010

+JMJ+

If Books Could Sing . . .

First of all, let me assure you that this will be the last post on Maniac Magee! I promise!!!

(My brothers and I have already started reading a whole other book, though, so brace yourself for heaps of posts about that.)

One consequence of growing up in the decade of the best movie soundtracks of all time is that I like to think up soundtracks for books as well. Sometimes I have rules, like making sure the song was recorded around the time the book was being written; but I usually go with what feels right. In the case of Maniac Magee, which has such a great sense of place, I knew the only music that would feel right was American music, and I suspected that Country would dominate my track list. But I was wrong about that . . .

3 Songs
For a "Maniac Magee" Mix

19 May 2010

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My Stockpile
(For a meme hosted at Lost in Books)


This week's topic:
What's been on your TBR list the longest?


Let the guilt tripping begin!

There was a time I was opposed, on principle, to the idea of a "TBR" (To Be Read) pile of books. If you don't have the time to read something, I thought, then why would you buy it? And if you're busy reading something else, why would you worry about what to read next?

I also used to like having a lot of "down time" after reading a good book, when I don't have to think about anything other books. Well, I still like it; I just don't get to enjoy it that often. I have this week, with Maniac Magee, because it's the book I'm reading it with my brothers, who, being my students now too, need a lot of that "down time" between books. So we do their worksheets and bake "browndies" and make a crafty "chapter meter" to chart our progress on the next novel on their reading list . . . and I get to let the wonders of Jerry Spinelli's greatest novel swim around a little more in my mind.

But I see I just lost my train of thought . . . What I had meant to say was that I didn't use to have a "TBR" pile and couldn't understand why other readers did. Then I entered their world--a world of disposable income that isn't as high as one would like, which makes sales at bookstores a time to stock up--and I soon had a tidy pile (well, drawer) of my own. All of which explains my stockpile's existence, but not the fact that some books don't get read even when prices go back up and stop stockpiling . . . or the fact that I've been able to join three Shelf Share Thursday linkups. For that, each book has to be looked at individually . . .

3 Books
That Have Been Waiting Years for Me to Read Them

18 May 2010

+JMJ+

Summer Study and Tasty Tuesday



See which book called for Turkey a la Divine at Dearest Dreams!

There are lots of ways to appreciate a book--especially a book as good as Maniac Magee and especially if one is a blogger.

Last Thursday, I wrote about the character of Earl Grayson. Last Saturday, I wrote about the fictional setting of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. Today, I shall prove that I did more than just read and write. I baked, too.
+JMJ+

Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown, Round 4
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2, Round 3A, and Round 3B.)

Now for the moment you have all been waiting for . . .


Terminator poster vs. TotalRecall poster

I wanted to call them "You're Terminated" Two, because it totally fits this final round, but then I worried it would influence the vote unfairly.

(Ha! Obviously, I didn't worry too much, because I'm mentioning it here. LOL!)

16 May 2010

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about A Nightmare on Elm Street (The Reboot)

12. By accident of timing, I hadn't got enough sleep the night before, and so walked into the first screening of the day--the only one my mother was willing to watch with me--sleepy. That kind of messed with my mind a bit . . . and I liked it. =P

11. There's no way this movie would not be compared to the original, which was--though it may be hard to remember, over twenty years and seven sequels later--something really new. I recently reviewed the first Nightmare (partly in anticipation of this one) and was struck by how fresh it must have been when it first came out.

Freddy's extra long arms . . . an invisible force dragging Tina all over her room . . . Freddy's face pushing through the wall over Nancy's bed . . . the fountain of gore pooling on Glen's ceiling . . . Not to exaggerate for effect or anything, but Nightmare on Elm Street must have been the Star Wars of Horror. And just try to remake Star Wars! (Oh, the hubris! And yet . . . I can totally imagine Michael Bay wanting to try!)

But . . . I do want to give this reboot a fair shake, so I'll try to let the comparisons end here. =)
+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week IX

Back in my postmodern, proudly secular university, I enrolled for a Level 100 "Asian Studies" paper. (Don't look at me like that! I needed an easy A.) The lecturers came from different departments and had different specialisations. For instance, someone from the School of Religious Studies gave the lecture on "Asian religion"--which, of course, included nothing about Catholicism, even though the Philippines didn't have any culture (or any geography or even any name) until we were Christianised.

15 May 2010

+JMJ+

Locus Focus: First Post!




Welcome to the very first Locus Focus linkup! =D

We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others. This week, I am rereading a childhood favourite with my younger brothers (who need to read it for school) and finding myself wishing that I could step into the world being described in the pages.

14 May 2010

+JMJ+

A Music Memoir
(Get it? =P)

I've been looking for an excuse to feature Fredrik's excellent medley of TV themes . . .




(I think I love him. I really do.)

Now, who says we can't have two Top 5 Lists in one week? I usually take a while to determine a Top 5, but this week's musical theme of "Top 5 Theme Songs" (from either movies or TV) gives me something I could whip up on the spot.

My Top 5 TV Themes

1) The Muppet Show




The intro to end all intros. And they never stopped working on it. There was something different each time, even if it was "only" one of Fozzie Bear's new jokes. I chose this one because Statler and Waldorf (My favourites! Can't you tell?) get to sing, too. What would the show be without those curmudgeons?

13 May 2010

+JMJ+

Character Connection 5



Read about Rilla Blythe and other fantastic characters
in this week's great roundup!


I hope Jen won't mind if I use this entry in her weekly meme to plug my own. =P

Remember that Locus Focus debuts this Saturday! To join this weekend meme, write about a really great setting from a book you've read. (See more details on the Locus Focus page.)

Incidentally, the character for my latest Character Connection post and the setting for my first Locus Focus post come from the same novel . . .

11 May 2010

+JMJ+

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

I am so glad I decided not to randomise the "F*** You, A*****!" Four, but chose the pairs myself, because I can't think of any two Schwarzenegger movies that go together better than Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator. No, not even the two Conans and the first two Terminators.

We could do THEME vs. THEME: "Come with me if you want to live!" vs. "Do you want to live forever?"

Or even SCORE vs. SCORE: Brad Fiedel's paranoid Electronica vs. Basil Poledouris' soaring symphonic themes.

Try KICKASS HEROINE vs. KICKASS HEROINE: Sarah Connor vs. Valeria.

Just how I like it . . . even if it's not how I do it.

10 May 2010

+JMJ+

Sets of Four

There are some characters you can have a la carte and some characters you have to take as a set. Try to take them away from the characters they come with, and they aren't half as wonderful. I thought I'd honour a certain type of set--the four sisters--with a special post. =)

A few weeks ago, I learned that the Henricksens of HBO's Big Love, who almost made my Top 5 TV Families post, are planning to add a fourth sister-wife to their family. But since that hasn't officially happened yet, the following will be the second Shredded Cheddar Top 5 List they almost make. =P

My Top 5 Sister Act Quartets

1) Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)

They're usually the first to come to mind, aren't they? Indeed, they just might be the most famous sisters in all of fiction--and for good reason!

The four of them couldn't be more unlike. Without Marmee as their centre of gravity, they'd fly away in different directions and never miss each other: Meg, the pretty, domestic eldest sister who just wants her own home and family; Jo, the outspoken rebel who wishes to be a great writer; Beth, the shy musician who is such a little angel that Alcott treats her to an early death; and Amy, the artistic one who likes the things only money can buy and isn't ashamed of the fact. (Amy doesn't get enough credit for it, but she was really more of a rebel than Jo.)

With different talents and trials (Oh, how Puritan!), they are not just vibrant characters, but also archetypes of girlhood. In any corner of the world where there are girls who love books, you will find readers who can relate to the Little Women. And each one will always have her favourite--the character she identifies with most! There is something true about these four sisters which transcends different time periods and cultures. Alcott fiddled with other character sets in later books like Little Men and Eight Cousins, but never again captured the magic of these first four.

09 May 2010

+JMJ+

Punk Catholic Thought of the Week VIII

Catholic blogging makes me feel like a reasonably well-adjusted former smoker indulging in "just one stick" for old time's sake. I hope you all don't mind if I light up . . .?

Apologetics is for Fundies.

(Do you hear me? Fundies!)

08 May 2010

+JMJ+

Are You Free Next Saturday?
(And what linky do you recommend?)
(UPDATE: I've added a new page just for Locus Focus! I'm already loving this meme!)


First of all, let me apologise for the dearth of posts! Where teachers are concerned, the school year doesn't end with the last day of school--even if it is a homeschool. I still had a lot of paperwork to do after Fire Storm and I closed the final quarter.

Then there was my copy reading work, which I do on the side . . .

But now that I'm back, I'd like to talk about LOCUS FOCUS! =D

04 May 2010

+JMJ+

Tutor Tales, Volume 16

You may be wondering where the promised death match between Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator is. In that case, I have to admit that it's on the back burner while I work on something that actually pays me real money.

Tomorrow will be my last day at Fire Storm's homeschool. I won't be back next school year because he finally passed the entrance exam of a decent school and will be going there instead.

In a last hurrah of extra credit--and a testimony to the fact that both he and I work best at the eleventh hour--I have just whipped up seven new worksheets (each only one page long) he can spend two hours answering tomorrow. Four are on Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne, which he pretended (unconvincingly) to read for the third quarter; and three are on the five-book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, which he chose for himself for the fourth quarter. (Yes, he really did read Riordan!)

And that is why this is the only image of the greatest actor of our generation (and then some!) that I've been able to look at today:



03 May 2010

+JMJ+

More Wishing . . .



Read all the other linked up wishlists
for this week in the Book Blogosphere!


Some time ago, when I joined the Top Ten Picks meme for the first time with my list of Favourite Series, I saved a subcategory for Romance novels because series are practically as popular among Romance readers as they are among Horror movie lovers. Of course, while Horror movies kill everyone off, Romance novels marry everyone off. (You can tell a lot about a person by which scenario he finds more frightening.)

But a fan's delight can sometimes be a publisher's headache. Romance author Leigh Greenwood has revealed in an interview that publishers are now trying to avoid series, because there are some readers who won't buy a book in a series unless all the other books are also available. And it happens to be very expensive to keep make sure even part of an author's backlist is always readily available.

The interview was several years old when I found it, and Paranormal Romances seem all about series these days, so maybe the tide has turned again. Or maybe it's just Westerns that don't get any love from the budget. Anyway, the fact remains that none of the big bookstores I know carry any of Greenwood's novels; everything I've ever read by him, I had to buy secondhand.

So this will be a tough wish list . . .

01 May 2010

+JMJ+

Twelve Things about Hackers
(It is considerably easier to write a "review" of something one has actually seen. My TV Guide editor has also asked me to write about this movie--an assignment made easier and more enjoyable by the fact that it's available in its entirety online.)

12. This must be a huge Cult favourite. I mean, a movie with a pre-Trainspotting Jonny Lee Miller, a pre-Tomb Raider Angelina Jolie, a pre-Scream Matthew Lillard, and a pre-Swimfan Jesse Bradford is all kinds of win!

11. Remember when all of this was so cutting-edge? We were on the brink of a new millennium and dial-up modems made us feel that the future had already arrived.

10. This story begins with a quick look at 1988 before zipping straight back into 1995--and that's perfectly all right! While Hackers has clearly taken its lessons on atmosphere and excess from the 80s, it is a beautiful gem of 90s pop culture.

Beepers! Flannel! Floppy disks! Rollerblades! Cordless phones with long rubbery antennae! A reference to Boy Meets World! Love for the whole "Nintendo generation"!