Thursday, May 31, 2007

8 Things Meme

Well, Camille has forced my hand. She's broken the longest no-blogging-for-Jackie streak in ages.

Rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. When talking on the phone I have to multi-task. For instance, while talking to Rachel M the other night, I cleaned my toilet, then had to interrupt the conversation to complain that the new cleaner smelled like spearmint gum and that it grossed me out. Sorry Rach.

2. I played trombone for 10 years. Fifth grade through sophomore year in college. I was the only girl until college. Yes, I wore the uniform. Yes, it was wool. I also went to band camp. Six required times and 4 times just for fun.

3. I watched entire sections of Spiderman 3 between my fingers. No, not the action scenes, the parts where Peter embarrassed himself. Like when he was 'walking' down the street. I can't handle embarrassment on the screen. Possibly the main reason I can't watch Will Ferrell, and why I haven't been sucked into The Office.

4. I have a love for all garbanzo beans. In any form.

5. I have only traveled to English-speaking countries. Canada, Bahamas, England, Australia

6. I took Latin in college because it didn't have a pronunciation lab, was only M-Th & I wanted to know what the heck I was singing in choir (did you know that Carmina Burana contains a raunchy drinking song?). It proved to be challenging and amusing. The vocab was all about sailors, farmers, daughters, swords and fighting. Much better than sad Rene looking for the bathroom.

7. I live exactly 2,000 miles from my parents and 3,033 miles away from my best friend. It sucks.

8. I can wiggle my nose like Samantha on Bewitched. The Elizabeth Montgomery version. Not the crappy Nicole Kidman version. That was just pitiful.

I tag:

Miss Erin
Alan Gratz

Sorry, guys.

And now I've run out of time for a review. A girl's got to sleep, right?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What's the point of a prince... if... argh

I should start out by saying that I listened to this. I was this close to pulling it out of the player for the entire time. The alternative was the NPR pledge drive. I stuck with Shiva's Fire by Suzanne Fisher Staples. I loathed it, but I hate the pledge drive more. People really seem to like it, though, so it's possible that I missed something on the audio.

It was like a fable, or a fairy tale, but you know how those are satisfying with their tendency for endings with payoff? This one, not so much. The first disc and a half was pretty much her mother's story. Which was boring. I didn't like the tone story, which may have been influenced by the narrator. I'm unsure whether it was the story or the narration that was condescending. Maybe a little of both. I really wanted to get to the point. I wanted to start hearing about the girl. And it dragged. And dragged.

Furthermore, YOU CAN'T HAVE A MYSTICAL CROW SHOW UP IN THE BEGINING AND NOT HAVE IT COME BACK. Or at least explain it's presence in the realm of the story. It's like, against the laws of mythology. And ticks me off. The whole darn 7.25 hours I waited for the crow to fit back into the story, and nothing. Ultimately, I didn't buy into the realm. I'm a pretty forgiving audience. I'll let a lot of things slip, but the universe has to jive. Magical realism or any other genre.

Parvati can charm animals and dance in fire without getting hurt. But while that may sound wonderful, the villagers don't understand that this girl they already hate is actually blessed by the gods and has a tremendous fate. Parvati was born on a day of great sorrow for her village. All Parvati wants to do is dance. It is her calling, and when rumors of her talents reach a great teacher, Parvati is offered a scholarship that will not only allow her to dance, it will help her escape a village that can't comprehend her.

The most interesting part is the section when Parvati is at the gurukulam and there's a Robin Hood-like thief on the loose. The tiger attack was good as well. Those sections really had some motion, but they didn't really fit well with the rest of the story. And then there's the Yuvaraja, the Crown Prince. His life mirrors Parvati. They were born on the same day. They both blame themselves for the storm and famine. They both posess a special link with the gods. Staples has said that she doesn't like tidy endings, but you can't set up two people like that, and not follow through. I don't know. Whatever. It's folklore. Fable. Fairytale. Take your pick, but don't expect your edges to be trimmed and even.

It is very much about Hinduism and the melding of art and religion, not that it really comes right out and says that. Meh. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't for me. It will be good to remember it for world religion lists, and it's not like we are drowning in teen books set in India (although this is getting much better, I notice*). Shiva's Fire is a good counter-point to some of the others - it's a very different direction.

*Think: Homeless Bird; Sold; Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet; Monsoon Summer. To name a few. These books are so vastly different it's almost hard to believe that they all have roughly the same setting. Country-wise, at least.

note the showdown of the 2 runners-up in the poll ---->

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

yes. I'm talking about Veronica Mars. Again.

oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Did anyone else see the preview* for the Veronica Mars season finale next week?! Piz! I knew you were doomed on this show as soon as you appeared on Grey's, but I never expected that from you! And how will this affect Veronica's summer plans!? I'm aghast! Agog! I tell you!

*and speaking of previews, wtf has happened on One Tree Hill since I stopped watching? It seems to have become completely ridiculous. If they cancel VM and allow that and trashy Cat crap stay, well... I'll be really sad, but not terribly surprised. Those people always cancel the cool stuff. Just look at Drive. And countless others. Firefly. Joan of Arcadia. My So-Called Life. Angel. Freaks & Geeks. Sports Night. And that's just with my drowsy head. Rest assured that if VM gets canceled and The Gossip Girls gets on, I'll seethe. Seethe.

Jackie Goes Country. Weird, right?

I was never that girl. You know the one, or I perhaps should say the legion, who went through "The Horse Phase." It's not that I didn't LIKE horses, per se, I just wasn't that interested. I didn't read Black Beauty or The Black Stallion or any of those books. By then I had already learned that in books (and on TV), beloved animals tend to meet untimely deaths. I didn't need that baggage or heartache.

I have ridden horses occasionally in the past. The last time I remember I went on some church retreat with a friend in high school (where I was one of 2 Catholics. It was...strange, to say the least.) where horse ridding was one of the 'activities.' I learned that riding horses hurt. From time to time I think that it would be nice to give it another go, but nothing comes of it. Anyway, and this is going somewhere, my horse experience is mostly theoretical. Which is akin to my general view toward nature. Theoretical. I like nature. In theory. I like hiking and camping and geocaching and letterboxing. I just really, really hate dirt. This impedes my outdoor adventures as dirt tends to be, well, the basis of nature.

And then, somehow, these two things, nature and horses, collide. I offered to 'horse sit'. In the country. It was fairly low-impact. Mostly just feed the horses twice a day. I wielded a pitchfork. heh. I can't believe someone gave me access to a pitchfork.

Mud and Jay think they deserve treats for posing.
They are richly rewarded.

Pie just really wants to eat the camera. He's the one who
yells at me if he thinks I've taken too long to feed him.
And yes, horses can totally chastise you.

I'm just really glad I don't have to feed that thing.
I was scared just walking under it. If it fell on me,
there's no way I'd survive. Even if I wasn't
impaled by those pointy bits.

It's actually gone off without a hitch*, which, given the pointy prongs, is a little surprising. I'm sure that when I feed them for the last time on Thursday morning, and then go hop on a plane for the mini family reunion in Vegas, there might be a little shell shock.

Anyway, this is pretty much what I've been doing since I've not been blogging. I've only come home tonight to the Internet because I really couldn't NOT watch Veronica Mars. The country didn't have Internet OR the CW.

*well, there was that one large winged creature that attacked me, but I survived. I hate insects. Oh, and that time the wind whipped the top off the grain bucket. I had to venture out into the well fertilized horse turf. That was harrowing. More so than when the horses thought that my jeans might taste good.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Probable. Not certain.

I couldn't help but compare this to the movie Practical Magic. I haven't read the book version.

Old crumbly house? check

Community that's equally scared & mesmerized? check
Three generations of women? check
Estranged relationships? check
Inherited magical talent? check
Wronged ancestress? check
Madman intent on Murder? check
Love solves all? check

So you might be able to understand that I was less than impressed by this. Add a plodding pace, little momentum, and a couple whining characters to the tired plot...and, well. sigh. It's a shame really, since the concept was fantastic. Someone just needed to take a more firm hand in editing. Or something.

Each Sparrow woman wakes on her 13th birthday with a unique talent. Rebecca felt no pain. Elisabeth could make anything edible,* Elinor smells lies, Jenny sees other people's dreams, and now, Stella. Stella wakes with the ability to see how a person will die. It's an alarming gift, and one that forever changes a family.

What kills me is that there was a built-in opportunity for suspense and Alice Hoffman didn't do anything with it. I think that she tried - there were some red herrings, but the potential was so much greater. Had she exploited it even just a little more it would have done wonders with the pace. Meanwhile, the reader is sitting there, everyone, even the characters know that there's a killer out there who's looking for the family and their big solution is to have Stella live at a different house, and for the father to jog around the town looking for suspicious things every morning. It was totally lame. The father seemed mildly concerned, but not much. It's barely a blip on Elinor & Jenny's map, and no one really even bothers to stress caution to Stella. She may just be 13, but she wasn't a moron. Furthermore, the end of that storyline with the killer? Completely lame. Compounded by the fact that Hoffman left it with just a passing mention and a comment about fate. I could go on about other issues I have, but I think I'll stop now. Horribly disappointing.

A telling bit of the discussion: When I referred to the climactic scene? Book group was all, "there was a climax?" No joke. We were all a little surprised at how many people we knew outside of book group who love, really, really love this book.

At some point, I need to realize that just because I revere Green Angel, it doesn't mean everything else she writes is good. I'll keep trying, though. Incantation was better, even with its faults. At least it was fresh.

*Nine-frog stew, anyone? Don't forget to strain the mud and mosquitoes out... Other Sparrow women talents: somebody could run really fast, another could hold her breath for 20 minutes, something about forecasting weather well, not burning in fires...etc.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's sparkly

It's not something I do. I don't read series books in any order other than chronological. I don't. It upsets my world. If I'm going to invest anything of myself (and I do, with every single book I read), it will be as the author intended; I will will be with the characters as they learn and grow, as the plot evolves. I don't want to miss anything. Which, come to think of it, may be why I don't sleep enough...

And then there were the Cybils. There were a lot of books and we all had to read our fair share (which, for us meant at a minimum about 33 books each. Everyone read far more than that.) Thus, my need for proper order had to be overlooked. I lived.

Jumping into More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet without having read True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, it was obvious that I was definitely doing exactly what I hate - landing unaware right in the middle of the plot. However, not knowing wasn't really that big of a deal. The concept is...common, and I'm familiar with the formula, so really, I didn't feel like I missed much. It's absolutely nothing that anyone hasn't read before, several times. That doesn't, however, get in the way of enjoying Lola Douglas's sequel for what it is: cute with a touch of substance.

Morgan's cover in Indiana has been blown. Everyone knows who she is. Her mother wants her to return to L.A. and kick-start her career, but Morgan isn't ready to face that life again. The problem is that she's not really sure she wants to deal with the fallout in Indiana, either. She just wants everything to go away - she wants to live the lie. However, her past and her future are about to collide with her present, things long repressed will rise, and boys hoped for just might have some trust issues. (Can you blame him?)

There seems to be a bit of a tie in the poll right now, so please, make my decision for me and vote! --->

Thursday, May 03, 2007

TV. Blame it on Alan Gratz.

Did anyone else keep shouting "It's Piz! It's Piz!" at Grey's Anatomy tonight? "You aren't supposed to drool over Piz!" But this does give me an idea where THAT storyline will be going on Veronica Mars. And when did Tim Daly become the ├╝ber hot combination of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale? (and has he always been that old, because now I've icked myself out a bit after looking at imdb.) I hate TV. I hate its power over me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Review Debate & Most Importantly, GEEKERY

I am, by no means a queen of news stories. I'm not fast enough to add anything to the forum, so I generally figure that everyone else in this 'verse will cover that which needs covering. Such as the NYT article Are Book Reviewers Out of Print, which discusses the decline of print reviews and whether the Internet is an acceptable substitute. No, I'll leave the discussion and deep thought to esteemed Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray.

However, being a total geek (if nothing has convinced you of this absolute in the past, I present Exhibit A: my recent binge of Battlestar Galactica...), who loves (among other things) WORDS, let me lead you to...another NYT article: Inspired by the Spelling Bee Comes the ‘Define-a-Thon’. Basically, I read this and said: I WANT! I WANT! THAT IS SOOO COOL!!! (and: can I make a teen program out of it? nah, I'm geekier than they are...but maybe...)

I've always been a really lousy speller (my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Murray, told my mother at parent-teacher conferences that I "would survive without being able to spell."), so spelling bees were a special torture, since just because I may not be able to spell (or pronounce - macabre, anyone?) the words, doesn't mean I don't know what they mean!! (the curse of a not-very-social reader) I have been playing this very game for YEARS! Well, without the multiple choice part. That would make the game SO much easier. In my world you have someone just blindly choose a word out of the dictionary and then you attempt to define it. Like Balderdash, without the board. I'm really not too bad at it. And yes, it DOES amuse me (now you believe me about being a geek, don't you.).

From The NYT:

"Houghton Mifflin created — and trademarked — the Define-a-Thon, which is modeled after a spelling bee but instead asks contestants to match words to definitions (and gives them a helpful list of words to choose from). The publisher has dispatched Steve Kleinedler, supervising editor at American Heritage, to hold events across the country."

and, most amusingly:

"For Mr. Kleinedler, who has a tattoo of the phonetic vowel chart on his back, it is not just about fun; it is about the business of making dictionaries seem sexy. Part of his job is to debunk the notion that lexicographers are “gray-haired people hunched over a drafting table who never see the light of day,” he said."

You know, if I were to get a tattoo... nah.