Category Archives: Reviews

Escapement, by Jay Lake

jIn Jay Lake‘s Escapement Paolina Barthes is a girl of fifteen born and raised in Praia Nova, a small coastal village in the shadows a Muralha, or the Wall. Women in Poalina’s village never amount to much in the world where men see themselves as superior to women. But Paolina is an exception. She has a gift unlike any other. Not only does she understand machinery to the degree that she can repair things that her village depends on, she also figures out how to invent something more powerful than any weapon known to man. Realizing Praia Nova has so little to offer her, Paolina sets out for England where she believes she will find wizards who can teach her more than she already knows. But she never makes it to England. Trouble meets her along the way and she finds herself hunted by the British Empire and the Celestial Empire, as well as two secret societies, the White Birds and the Silent Order. All of them want her gleam, which is the instrument she invented that can do the work of God.

An Extremely Goofy Movie (1999)

untitledSometimes I’m just in the mood for something more colorful, and what’s more colorful than cartoons? I went on Netflix and looked through the Children & Family movies that Netflix recommended.  Most  of them were animated movies, some by Disney and some by other production companies. There were several I had already seen and several more that I hadn’t. I decided to watch An Extremely Goofy Movie. I remember A Goofy Movie and I liked it, so I thought I might like an extremely goofy movie.

And I did. It was quite ridiculous, but enjoyable. It was just right for my numb mind. I really wasn’t in the mood for anything smart. I wanted something fun, relaxing and… ridiculous.

In An Extremely Goofy Movie, Max is grown up. Can you believe that? How long ago was Goof Troop? I used to watch that, even though I was well into my teens around the time it was airing. So, Max grew up, along with P.J. and Bobby. He’s in college, though he never did lose his passion for skateboarding. In fact, Max, P.J. and Bobby are a team competing in the college’s X-Games.

Goofy, after losing his job, decides to go back to college and get a degree. Max, of course, is horrified when his daddy shows up in groovy 70’s garment and sporting an afro the size of a beach ball. That might have been the style back in the day, but it isn’t quite fitting for Max’s 1999 college paradise. Needless to say, Max isn’t thrilled to have his dad on campus with him, you know, because his dad embarrasses him.

Goofy quickly becomes popular when he accidentally does some awesome stunts on a skateboard in front of the school’s X-Gamers and fans. Max, eager to have his dad out of his way, encourages Goofy to join the team of his rivals. And things get more crazy, ridiculous and fun from there.

At one point in the movie, Bobby asked a very interesting question. “Hmm?” he said. “Do you ever wonder why we’re always, like, wearin’ gloves?”

That prompted me to go looking for the answer on why cartoon characters often wear gloves. Turns out the tradition started way back when Mickey Mouse starred in Steamboat Willie. Disney had problems drawing Mickey’s hands and found it easier to draw them with gloves. Also, in the day of black and white pictures, it was hard to see the character’s hand gestures or what they were touching, etc, and I guess the white gloves helped with that. Some studios just wanted to keep that tradition going.

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Someone from The Collectionary emailed me and expressed an interest in featuring this blog entry on their very popular Goofy Facebook Page. The Collectionary is a company that promotes items for avid collectors and they have a department for Goofy items. I couldn’t see any reason not to go for it. In exchange for their featuring my blog entry, I’m linking to their site.

Goofy

Orchid Carousals, by Lucy A. Snyder – with Kaysee Renee Robichaud

2Lucy A. Snyder, along with Kaysee Renee Robichaud, mixes science fiction, fantasy and erotica in the recently released  collection Orchid Carousals.

These are erotica stories, but don’t confuse them with outright porn. Most of them have something built around the scenes where sex happens. To me, they are more like romantic stories with sexual scenes that are stronger than what is in most romantic stories. I have no complaints.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

untitledjjhI have seen The Lord of the Rings movies, but I haven’t read the books yet. Because I know The Lord of the Rings story began with The Hobbit, I decided to read that first. The Hobbit is a children’s book, but it’s quite fine for adults. Adventurous and entertaining. Bilbo Baggins is the star character. In The Hobbit he is much younger than he was in The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf is there too.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo meets Gandalf for the first time, along with a group of dwarves. Gandalf and the dwarves talk Bilbo into leaving his quiet, peaceful home and coming with them on an adventure through the wild lands to the mountain where the dwarves’ ancestors once lived. There is a dragon guarding a heap of gold that the dwarves want to reclaim and they promise to give Bilbo a share. The journey is long and dangerous. Along the way they encounter trolls, goblins, giant spiders, things like that.

It’s a strange world and there’s lots of singing. Most important, we find out how Bilbo came by the magic ring that is the cause of so much trouble in The Lord of the Rings. So, if you ever wondered about that, The Hobbit is the book to read.

Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow

untitled1I’ve been pacing back and forth for a while now, trying to come up with the right thing to say about Cory Doctorow‘s Pirate Cinema. While reading the book, I had one idea after another about what I would say, but now that I’m done I’m at loss. I suppose it has something to do with the ending, which left me feeling slightly numb. To Doctorow, I say: Jeez, man, you sure know how to twist a happy ending.

Set in the United Kingdom, in a time when Internet access is more of a necessity. But rich movie makers in Hollywood and thereabouts have the means to force the government to pass copyright laws that are ridiculous and unjust. When Trent McCauley’s family loses their Internet service due to him downloading copyright material, his father can’t do his job, his sister can’t study for her classes, and his mother can’t get her medicine and disability benefits, because everything is done over the Internet. No longer able to face his family, Trent leaves his hometown in northern England and resettles in London where he becomes a member of the Jammie-Dodgers, a group of homeless young people living in an abandoned pub in a rundown section of the city. There Trent gets involved in the fight against the unjust laws.

A Song for Lya, by George R. R. Martin

e4I finished reading A Song for Lya, by George R. R. Martin. This book had been in my bookcase for years, unread. I love Martin’s work, I just hadn’t gotten around to this book until recently. A Song for Lya is a collection of short stories and novellas that Martin wrote in the late 60s and early 70s. They are all very good. I have no complaints.

I also read these books by George R. R. Martin: Windhaven (Co-authored with Lisa Tuttle), A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, Shadow Twin (Co-authored with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham).

 

A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin

untitled2I finished reading the fourth book of George R. R. Martin‘s Ice & Fire series. It’s been about ten years since I read the third book, A Storm of Swords, but I remember the story well and there was no need to reread the first three books before starting A Feast for Crows.

Cersei Lannister is still the character who pisses me off the most. Oft times I want to reach into the pages a strangle that golden haired bitch. That ego of hers is unbelievable. Though, I confess, at the end of Feast I found myself feeling bad for Cersei in her current situation, though I can’t deny that she deserved what she got.

Jaime Lannister became one of my favorite characters in the earlier books and he still is.

Catelyn Stark, what the fuck? I’m very disappointed in you. You think Brienne betrayed you? No, Lady Stark, you betrayed Brienne. I can’t think of anyone in Westeros who is more loyal than the Maid of Tarth.

Wings (1927)

MV5BMzY5Nzk5NzA3M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzA5NzM2MzE@__V1_SX214_AL_The other day I watched Wings, the movie from 1927. Wings is a silent film. Music was used to set the mood. Character dialog was not heard, but instead appeared occasionally in decorated pictures between quotation marks. The movie is from a time when the advanced technology of today was difficult to imagine and Grandma and Grandpa Piehl were six years old.

And it was a pretty good movie. Mind you, Wings isn’t the first old silent movie that I’ve paid attention to, but it is one of the best. It’s a story about friendship, love and war. The characters were believable, even though I had to rely on their facial expressions to gather what was going on because not all of the dialog was displayed..

I’m impressed at how good some of these old movies can be. I’ve seen a lot of old movies that really sucked. I used to think it was because they didn’t have the technology necessary to make movies that would look good to people who’ve seen the modern films. But then there’s movies like Wings that blow me away.

One thing I keep noticing when watching old movies: People weren’t much different back then than they are today. I see all the different behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, etc, being featured in these old movies. And that tells me that people today aren’t any better or worse than they were in the past.