Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Reading Spectacular #3

I finished reading Legends of the Dark Crystal: The Garthim Wars by Barbara Randall Kesel, Heidi Arnhold, and Max Kim. It's the first volume of a manga from TokyoPop. It's a prequel to the movie (of course, there's a sequel planned on film) and follows the adventures of two young Gelflings, Lahr and Neffi.

So far it hasn't entirely gripped me, but you know I'll still buy the other two in the series, just because it's The Dark Crystal. It's not bad, by any stretch. A breezy little read with a bit of nostalgia built in.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer Reading Spectacular #2

Today, in the midst of a boisterous (but short-lived) thunderstorm that knocked out the power in the neighbourhood, I finished another book (sheltered on the porch from the storm).

My Folks Don't Want Me to Talk About Slavery, is a selection of 21 oral histories from former slaves in North Carolina. Originally collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project, Slave Narratives, these stories have been selected and edited by Belinda Hurmence. What makes them particularly fascinating (apart from the raw, first-hand narratives in and of themselves) is in the wide variety of attitudes which the former slaves (mostly in their eighties and nineties when interviewed) towards their experiences both as slaves and in the days following.

I was struck by a few things.

1. Good people can be found in the worst of situations, even among the "bad guys". Several slaves spoke of masters who treated them with dignity and compassion even while acknowledging that others were not so lucky. For some, though in a corrupt system which sought to degrade them, forged genuine, close bonds with their "masters".

2. Bad people can be found among the "good guys". Some of the Yankees were not nice to the people they were campaigning to free.

3. As often seems to be the case, the "heroes" rushed in to right a wrong and didn't really think ahead to plan what comes next. The Yankees marched through, set the slaves free, and then left them with next-to-nothing with which to pick up the pieces and start their new lives. In the words of Patsy Michener in the book, "Slavery was a bad thing, and freedom, of the kind we got, with nothing to live on, was bad. Two snakes full of poison." Not that that kind of thing would happen today, would it? Would it? Hmmm...

4. The N-Word has a complicated history.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Reading Spectacular #1

In the interests of posting on here more frequently, I've decided to write briefly about the books I finish reading in the next two months, up to Labour Day, if all goes well. One of the best things about summer is the chance to sit on my porch (my porch which desperately needs some work) with a cup of tea to read. I can't promise that I'll always post about a finished book on the exact day it's finished (or that I'll post about every book, period), but I'll do my best.

You'll notice a lot of children's and young adult books in the mix. There are many reasons for this (if you know me you'll not be surprised), not the least of which is that there's a lot of good stuff out there being written for young people.

And so, on that note, let me start off with...

Amulet: Book One -- The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.

This is the first in a graphic novel series for kids. I'm trying to check out some kid-friendly graphic novels this summer (I'll be reporting on Bone at some point, I'm sure) and so I picked this one up on a whim. It's definitely intended for older kids, but I quite enjoyed it. The written text is sparse, making for a quick, visual read. It starts with a death (yeeha!) and features a rather emotional bunch of robots including one in the form of a pink bunny. How can you go wrong?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

World Wide Weird

Now and then, I will pop onto eBay, head into "Weird Stuff" and see what odd things are for sale. I don't buy anything, I just sit and shake my head.

Apart from the usual array of toys for adults, it's amazing what odd things people will list and, perhaps, even buy. (I'll apologize in advance for the fact that these links won't function for long.)

Things like two empty cigarette packs featuring health warnings from those wacky Canadians. All of this for ten cents ... plus $7.99 shipping and handling. $8 to send two empty packs? I think not.

Things like two red squirrel skins (hoping to be sold for 99 cents and $5 shipping -- less than the cigarette packs). In the words of the seller, "Went camping 2 weekends ago and my husband killed 2 red squirrels and we skinned them." Um ... pardon me, ma'am, but both you and your husband are creepy beyond imagination.

"Hey, honey! See those squirrels?"


"Wanna kill them?"

"Can we skin them afterwards?"

"Of course."

"Then let's do it."

Then there are the people trying to sell a box of Kraft Dinner (for $24.90 and $14.47 shipping) and those trying to sell a cotton swab ($2.25 and $1 shipping).

And just to top it all off? A cane made of a bull's penis ($13.20, $18.40 shipping). 'Cause that's what you're dying to walk down the street holding.

The world is a strange, strange place.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

I'm not even going to get into the tomato situation.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tag (and not that body spray with bad commercials)

Yeesh. I've been tagged with a meme-ish thing. And since even John followed through, I am pretty much on the block.

At least it's book-related.

Here's how it works...

- Pick up the nearest book.
- Open to page 123.
- Find the fifth sentence.
- Post the next three sentences on your blog.
- Then tag five people (and don't forget to name the lovely soul that thought so much as to include YOU!)

A whole slew of books are pretty much equally distant on the shelf over there (yes, over there), so I'll go and close my eyes and grab one at random.

[Hum something to yourself while I do just that.]

Seriously? That's what you hum to yourself? Weird.

Anyway, I came back with "The Cheese Monkeys" by Chip Kidd. (Apart from having a fantastic title, the book is written by a graphic designer and is very interesting to those who look closely. Find a copy in hardback and pay attention!)

In any case, page 123. Fifth sentence...

Wait! What if it starts mid-sentence, having begun the sentence on the bottom of page 122? Would that count? Would I write the fifth complete sentence or the fourth complete sentence, the fifth sentence to be represented on that page?

Oh. No matter. It starts at the beginning of a sentence.

"Keller, your calligraphy teacher.

[And now continuing for the next three...]

Was she any better at embossing?"

She digested this, then tried to make speech. Finally, she managed, "That's, that's --"

"THAT'S the only explanation for the aborted fetus of letterforms that you've stuck to the wall."

Oh, happy good times with things taken completely out of context, making them mysterious and conundrumous. (Conundrumous. Add that to the list along with "procrastinatious", alright?)

I don't really have five weblogging type of people that I wish to tag, so I think that all ... um ... I mean ... BOTH of you who read this should complete the meme in the Comments section. Even if you already did it on your weblog. Just do it again. For fun. So. Yeah.