Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Robin McKinley

Robin McKinley has been a favorite of mine for quite a long time. Now, realistically, that statement doesn't mean a whole lot since I have quite a few favorites that I've known about for a long time. But, some of her books fall into my favorites category, regardless of how many are in that category, so I'm going to fill you in on her.

What has she written? Well, let's take a look.

The Blue Sword
The Hero and the Crown

The Door in the Hedge
The Outlaws of Sherwood
Rose Daughter
Spindle's End
A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories

And then a few I haven't read.

Imaginary Lands
The Stone Fey
Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits
Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits
Pegasus (soon to come out)

Some are better than others. I particularly loved Beauty and The Blue Sword. At some point I'll get around to reading the rest of her books. When I do, maybe I'll tell you how they are. Or you could find out for yourself and let me know.

The Complete How To Speak Southern: P

Pare: Strength, authority. "Never underestimate the pare of a woman."

-Steve Mitchell

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: O

Own: Opposite of awf. "Cut own the radio and let's listen to some music."

-Steve Mitchell

The Complete How To Speak Southern: N

Naht: The opposite of day. "You might say Dracula was a naht person."

-Steve Mitchell

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: M

Madge: A state of wedlock that any preacher can put you into, but only a lawyer can get you out of. "Seems like a lot of madges end in divorce these days."

-Steve Mitchell

Good Times on the Road

I just got back from taking my little sister and her friend to a book fair in Indianapolis. We came back with a number of books.

On the way back as we were driving, I was rocking out to my music, and my sister and her friend were in the back reading. About fifteen minutes from our exit I passed a car on the right because they were cruising in the left lane. I glanced at them as I passed by, since I'm always curious as to why people cruise in the left lane when there is no one in the right lane. It was just two guys in their mid-twenties doing their own thing. No cell phones or food or anything like that. I continued on in the right lane and realized after a short time that they weren't falling behind me but were instead keeping pace with me, although just a smidge behind me. As in, their front passenger side window was about even with my back passenger windows. I laughed, realizing the cause. Smiling to myself, I minded my own business and sang along to my music as they inched forward and backward, all the while generally keeping pace with me. After awhile of doing this they finally inched forward enough for me to once again glance in their window, at which point they waved, and I waved back.

At this point they dropped back but kept pace. I was using cruise control, so all the speed variations were completely up to them. After a minute or two behind me, they picked up their pace and came even with me. The passenger side guy held up a little white board which said,

"Lookin' good."

I smiled, laughing, and mouthed a "Thanks" to them. It must have given them courage because they slowed down again and came back a few minutes later with a sign that said,

"Going to Cincinnati?"

To which I smiled and sadly shook my head. We'd mostly just been passing cars but another car had finally caught up with us so I slowed down and the guys got over in front of me and the car whizzed past us.

I realized right around then, that my exit was coming up, so I sped up a little and brought myself even with them again to wave goodbye. However, they passenger side guy held up a sign that said,

"My name's Michael. What's your name?"

I laughed again, but this time just at the sheer absurdity of the question. How was I supposed to answer? I indicated my problem and the guy mouthed "Mouth it," which I then did, realizing that there was very little chance that they would get it right, since my name isn't an overly common one. Just as they were attempting to verify my name, my exit came and I waved, and off they went.

I'm fairly certain that both my sister and her friend were completely oblivious to the entire exchange, which I didn't really mind.

Next time I go for a long drive I'll need to bring a white board with me. It certainly seemed like an excellent method to quell the empty moments of a drive, for everyone involved. :)

The Complete How To Speak Southern: L

Lectricity: A mysterious force that gives us heat, illumination, television and all sorts of wondrous things while bringing great profit to the pare (power) companies. You cain't see lectricity, but it's there."

-Steve Mitchell

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Extensive Works of Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce.

So much there. And so good. People have raved about books that have come out more recently, such as the Harry Potter books and Twilight books (though I’m not making any comparison between the two because they’re on entirely different literary shelves (Harry Potter is fantastic and Twilight is…well….whatever)) but I’ve got to admit that I probably reread Tamora Pierce’s books more often than I reread almost any other books and I always wonder why people don’t rave a little more about them. There are quite a few of them, but they’re distinguishable, as in, they don’t appear to go on and on forever like some other fantasy series out there. There are set stories and while later stories may refer to earlier characters, you feel like you’re reading about new people and new plots. You don’t know what is going to happen. So you actually want to read it and find out. Anyway, here they are, if you’re interested.

The Song of the Lioness
Alanna: The First Adventure
In the Hands of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Lioness Rampant

The Immortals
Wild Magic
Wolf Speaker
Emperor Mage
The Realm of the Gods

Protector of the Small
First Test
Lady Knight

Daughter of the Lioness
Trickster’s Choice
Trickster’s Queen

The Legend of Beka Cooper
Mastiff (yet to come out)

Circle of Magic
Sandry’s Book
Tris’s Book
Daja’s Book
Briar’s Book

The Circle Opens
Magic Steps
Street Magic
Cold Fire

Will of the Empress

Melting Stones

Tamora Pierce (obviously) has a good amount of text behind her. And I own just about ever book she’s written. One of the things which she does best is incorporating a variety of world cultures and world issues into her work. While I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her, I particularly like some of her most recent work, such as the Trickster books and The Legend of Beka Cooper series. I look forward to anything else that she might write.

Note: I've had a load of trouble trying to publish this post, and I had to find all of the links twice. So, if you notice anything wrong with it, let me know. Thanks!

The Extensive List or Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede: Being the Transformation of a Freakin' Long List to Something More Manageable

Ok. I just spent about half an hour working on a post that was going to list twenty five of my favorite books, but as I was writing it I realized that great percentages of it were devoted to one or two authors. So, instead, I'm just going to talk about (list books by) one author at a time. Or maybe two in one post.

First, Caroline Stevermer.

- A College of Magics
- A Scholar of Magics

Both of these books are pretty interesting, and there is even a third (When the King Comes Home) that I've read, but don't recall being particularly impressed by. I liked them because they presented an interesting plot along with a somewhat unique look at the whole fantastical idea of magic. Magic was presented as a science, but one that was never blatantly taught. Sort of. Anyway, it was a refreshing look at something so common to the genre.

Second, Patricia C. Wrede.

- Dealing with Dragons
- Searching for Dragons
- Calling on Dragons
- Talking to Dragons
- The Book of Enchantments

Patricia C. Wrede (I could probably just refer to her as Wrede, but in my mind her entire name is what triggers the recognition of her work.) has written a number of other books, but it was this series, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, that I originally read a long time ago. They're filled with personality and once again there is an attempt to describe magic rather than just assuming that it always works.

And third, the combination of Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede.

-Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country
-The Grand Tour or The Purloined Coronation Regalia: Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greater Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality
-The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm

The names alone make me smile. The first book is the best, although I also enjoyed the second two. The authors wrote the first one by actually writing letters to each other (which gives the book a fantastic quality) and then got together after to sort out the details and turn in into a cohesive thing. It is one of my favorites.

When I was in high school one of my best friends moved off to another state and I decided that it would be amusing to try something similar with her. However, I excel at letter writing and enjoyed trying my hand at storytelling but it wasn't really her thing. So I wrote lots of letters and got a few in return. I even sent a package at some point with a scarf in it to match the plot. The idea was wonderful, but the realization not as much. I'd like to try it again some day though.

The Complete How To Speak Southern: K

Kumpny: Guests. "Be home on time. We're havin' kumpny for supper."

-Steve Mitchell

Thursday, June 24, 2010

California Dreamin' (or rather, the adventures to and from)

I just got back on Tuesday from a short trip to California for a small family reunion. It was really short, but also really good. Plenty of good company, good food, and, in general, good times.

On the way to California our flight was long enough for them to play a film. Sometimes the films on flights are good, but it's sort of a hit and miss business. This go around they played Invictus. Invictus is a film surrounding the election of Nelson Mandela and the unification of South Africa through the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Given the present location of the Football World Cup, I thought it was cool to just learn a little more about the history of South Africa in this way. Not to mention that it was a pretty good movie.

The poem that plays a small part in the movie, but a big part in the overall idea of the film, is also entitled Invictus (I know, you're shocked that it has the same title, as if the film was named after the poem.). It is a beautiful and inspiring poem.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matter not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

As a side note, I realized while watching this film that I'm completely addicted to the Internet. When I'm watching a movie, even though I sort of enjoy suspense, I don't particularly like it. As in, if I can, I'll look up the movie to figure out what is going to happen and then after reading the spoilers and plot summaries, go on my merry way and enjoy the movie. As I was watching Invictus I kept wishing I could look up the end result of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. But I couldn't, and I still survived.

On the way back from California we were flying out of Sacramento, trying to catch the 12:40 red eye to Minneapolis and, of the three of us, I was the only one who ended up getting on the flight. Fourish hours later we arrived in Minneapolis. At this point I had gotten almost no sleep (maybe an hour and a half), and had jumped forward two hours, as if I were pretending that I had had the opportunity to get at least five hours of sleep (since the flight time was from about 12:40 to 6:20). I walked to my connecting gate and sat down to wait for my second flight to leave.

So, I'm badly sleep deprived and sort of feeling queasy because I'm hungry and yet recognize that it is too early for food. As I was sitting there a man came and sat down next to me and tapped his foot along to the roaring music coming from his iPod. At some point after he had been sitting there for awhile he said something. I kind of ignored him because I assumed that since his music was still blaring, he couldn't possibly be addressing me. But then came a "Hellloooo. Are they boarding yet?" I turned to him, obviously surprised, and realized that he had stopped his music and had even pulled out one of his ear buds to ask me this stupid question. I finally replied that I didn't think that they were boarding and he laughed at me and said that I must still be in "security shock." I responded that it was probably a lack of sleep rather than that and he just continued to laugh at me.

As I continued to mind my own business after that (his music blared on) he chatted with a couple heading to Virginia next to us and mentioned "security shock" again. I don't know what this guy's problem was, but neither the couple, nor I, had gone through security in that airport. Both of us had come through from another airport. Anyway, I got on my flight and shortly into the flight this guy had somehow lost his iPod shuffle and had one of the flight attendants down on her hands and knees with a little flashlight looking for it. I just laughed a little bit and was glad I wasn't sitting next to him anymore.

While I had a fantastic time out and about, I'm glad to be home where fairly sane people live. :)

The Complete How To Speak Southern: J

And finally for today's post:

Jawja: Southern state just north of Florida. "Sherman burnt Etlanna when he marched through Jawja.

-Steve Mitchell

The Complete How To Speak Southern: I

Innerduce: To make one person acquainted with another. "Lemme innerduce you to my cousin. She's a little on the heavy side, but she's got a great personality."

-Steve Mitchell

The Complete How To Speak Southern: H

Ok. Crazy couple of days. Time to catch up. One post at a time.

Hale: Where General Sherman is going for what he did to Etlanna. "General Sherman said, 'War is hale,' and he made sure it was."

-Steve Mitchell

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: G

Gummut: A large institution operating out of Washington that consumes taxes at a fearful rate. "Bill's got it made. He's got a gummut job."

- Steve Mitchell

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: F

Fummeer: A place other than one's present location. "Where do we go fummeer?"

-Steve Mitchell

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: E

Eyetalyun: A native of Italy or an American ethnic group of that heritage. "You don't have to be Eyetalyun to like spaghetti."

-Steve Mitchell

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: D

Danjuh: Imminent peril. What John Paul Jones meant when he said, "Give me a fast ship, for I intend to put her in harm's way."

-Steve Mitchell

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: C

More from Steve Mitchell:

Chekatawlfarya?: An expression that is rapidly disappearing because of self-service gas stations, but one that still may be heard by baffled Yankees at service stations in small Southern towns. It translates as "Check that oil for you?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Literal Music Video: Take On Me

One thing often leads to another and today we've gone from Pat Benatar's Shadows of the Night to Pat Benatar's Love is a Battlefield to Pat Benatar's Love is a Battlefield: The Literal Version. And now, on to the literal version of A-ha's Take On Me. But first, the original.

(a-ha - Take On Me (Official Video))

And now the literal version, perhaps one of the best of its kind.

(Take On Me: Literal Video Version)

Also, this makes 50! :)

Pat Benatar: Love is a Battlefield: Literal Version

Speaking of Pat Benatar, I also very much enjoy her song Love is a Battlefield. So when I first saw the video below, I laughed pretty hard because I was familiar with the normal video and lyrics. So, if you haven't seen the original video or heard the original song, listen to/watch it by clicking the link above. It will still be funny if you aren't familiar with the original, but I think it is better when you've seen both.

Pat Benatar: Shadows of the Night

Yesterday I was listening to a random assortment of songs and Shadows of the Night by Pat Benatar came on. I first remember being consciously aware of this song when we used part of it in a showchoir performance my freshman year of high school. Since then I've actually taken the time to look it up online and watch the video. I wouldn't have thought to combine the lyrics to the music video, but I enjoy the combination anyway.

Edit: The music video no longer appears to be available online, but it's still a good song.

The Complete How To Speak Southern: B

Here's our second installment from The Complete How To Speak Southern by Steve Mitchell.

Bard: To obtain the use of, not always on a temporary basis. "He bard mah shovel and never did bring it back."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Complete How To Speak Southern: A

Yes, I know. The title sounds slightly off. And maybe it is, depending on where you're from. But we're not going to worry about that right now. That's a discussion for another day. Right now we're just going to enjoy the differences in language and dialect.

Several weeks ago I was perusing a book store and came across The Complete How to Speak Southern by Steve Mitchell. The link to it will give you a pretty good idea of what the book is all about. However, for those of you who aren't interested in going to the link and flipping through its pages that way, I'm going to feed you little bits via this blog. Just know that every single bit of it is the genius and humor of Steve Mitchell and not myself.

Starting at the beginning of the alphabet, I'll give you one new definition a day until we get to the end of the alphabet, and then we'll see from there. I don't want to give it all away, but if you're really interested or enjoy the definitions you see, you should just go out and buy the book.

ACit: That's it. "Ah (I) don't wanna hear no more about it. ACit as far as Ah'm concerned."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Body Teaser

So, when I'm bored and have lots of other things I should be doing, I often find myself on the internet, specifically on firefox, stumbling across the interwebs. Frequently I find very amusing posts that other people have tagged as being worthy of being stumbled upon.

Tonight was no exception to the idea of stumbling, and I just stumbled upon something that is quite fantastic. Here it is.

Of course, I had to give it a try. I started by turning my right foot in clockwise circles and then began turning my right hand in clockwise circles only to stop after a second because my foot seemed to be having trouble. I tried a couple more times with little success. Having tried it a few more times since those first attempts, I've found that I can do it right if I slow down and focus very carefully on what I'm doing. But, all the same, it was that initial response that really threw me off and made me smile. So, give it a try. Don't think too hard about it or go too slow. Just marvel at the interesting ways our bodies function.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Damien Walters

You may have already heard of Damien Walters and explored the wonder that he is, but if not, prepare yourself to be amazed. I know, that sounds kind of cheesy and over-the-top, but really. Seriously.

There are two videos here. The 2009 reel and the 2010 reel. My brother and Dad were looking at them and I happened to be around. Now having seen them, I thought I share them with all of you, just in case you hadn't already seen them.

(Damien Walters Showreel 2009)

(Damien Walters 2010 Showreel)

How many of me...

Once upon a time I was in a genealogy class and we played with a few different websites just for fun while completing our assignments.

One of these was Basically, you can look and see how many people have the same first name as you, same last name as you, and same first and last name as you. It's interesting at the very least. There are 52 people with the same first and last name as me. :) My middle name probably makes me unique, but there is no way to check that.

Another is You can enter any date into this one, like your birthday, and find out a bunch of information about that day and year. I like this website, but there are a number of similar sites online, so it isn't a particular novelty.

Anyway, enjoy!

Dammit, I'm mad! (I sound so angry! But I'm worries.) :)

By the title alone it seems more likely that people would want to read this post, but I assure you, it is a very tame post.

Since the 3rd grade when I was first officially introduced to the idea of palindromes (my teacher had M&Ms for each and every new one we could think of...I was sort of annoyed with the kid who used M&M as his palindrome, but you can't fault him for quick thinking) I've always kept an eye out for them and just enjoyed the idea that the word or phrase was the same if you spelled it backwards or forwards. I thought "race car" was pretty fantastic when I first heard it. But the best was yet to come.

More recently there was a conversation that took place where it came up quite randomly that "dammit, I'm mad" was a palindrome. We all sat there for a second and considered this odd but fantastic new fact of life and then, after processing and checking to make sure it was in fact what it claimed to be, exclaimed in wonder how awesome it was.

So, dammit I'm mad! Just because I know that being so makes me a little cooler in a very small way....or at least a little nerdier...