eregyrn: (-wolf rally)
I am taking a page from Katie and Cofax, and am going to start doing "what I'm reading" entries... which I understand should be a Wed. thing, and I'll get on track with that soon. But to start...

Finished relatively recently...

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo, and Twelve Days of Terror: A Definitive Investigation of the 1916 New Jersey Shark Attacks by Richard G. Fernicola.

Read more... )

Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom.

Read more... )

What I'm reading now...

Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Musem, by Richard Fortey.

Read more... )

Arizona: A History, Revised Edition, by Thomas E. Sheridan.

Read more... )

Tony Hillerman's series of mystery novels set on the Navajo Reservation.

Read more... )
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For the first time this morning, I felt a sense of distance and detachment from the whole HP mania going on, and actually had a little tiny twinge of regret about it. Not a big twinge at all. Just a, "yeah, that must be kind of fun for the folks who are participating."

Me, I'm behind on my HP reading and my HP watching, so it would be useless to even try to participate. Haven't seen the latest movie yet. Haven't even read book 5, let alone book 6, so don't really know about all the plot developments and what's what. I'm not, however, afraid of spoilers at all. Which isn't to say I've seen any. Everyone seems to be being very conscientious about it. I just figure I'm *going* to be spoiled for parts of the ending, before I get to it. Doesn't really bother me, I guess. (I've already read this one huge SG-1/HP crossover fanfic -- no, really -- that I think depended heavily on book 5 at least, and I was a little perplexed by some HP details, but not very.)

I'm thinking that book 5 may go with me as good airplane-reading. Got 21 hours' worth of flying time looming? An 800-page book seems like a good bet.

Yeah -- for those who didn't know (which is probably most people, as I've been really bad at talking about it), I'm a few days away from leaving for a big trip to New Zealand. (!!!) Am going down there for about 3 weeks to visit various friends who emigrated there a few years ago. There's going to be road-tripping around both islands, braving winter weather, and much LOTR sight-seeing, and llama/alpaca-interaction. (And guanacos! Apparently!) Yup.

I am at the point where I am stressing the hell out about leaving. And about the aforementioned 21 hours of flying (not including one significant 7-hour layover in LA, where I'll get to hang out with [ profile] rednikki, YAY!). I can already tell that I am over-planning for possible forms of entertainment, to keep from being bored. (I'm the over-packing type, though for this trip I'm really going to have to try to rein that in.) I hope there are good movies on the flights.

I haven't been gone from home for this long in... well, ever, probably, as an adult. [ profile] lynxreign will be taking care of the kitties, but I am really feeling stressful about leaving them. I know it won't be so bad when I'm there and doing stuff, but in anticipation, it seems like a really long time.

Today... today is house-cleaning. Ugh.
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... Happy birthday, [ profile] _minxy_!!! Hope it was filled with wonderful things!


... Happy birthday to CANADA!

...Which I now appreciate ever so much more after (this week) finishing my TOME OF CANADIAN HISTORY, so that now I know stuff like what Confederation actually *is* and when it actually *happened* and all. Also? I can now name about 3 times as many prime ministers of Canada as I could before. Although now that I think about it... before, I could have named Trudeau, Chretien, and Harper (but I think Harper probably doesn't count, in the sense that he's such recent news that if I couldn't remember him I'd need to have my head examined), and I'm afraid that I don't think I could name 9 now. Hmm.... While I had heard of Lester Pearson, I was not actually aware that he had been PM, per se. And I started watching "due South" only *after* starting the TOME, so no, I wasn't precisely aware that Diefenbaker had been PM, before, either. So!

I personally celebrated by hitting REFRESH eight skillion times on the Canucks board I'm on, while watching the first day of free agency in the NHL 'splode all over the place. (Summary: Jovo signed with the COYOTES? WTF? and Yay! Mitchell!)

To top it off, I think I shall watch some "due South". Yes, that will do nicely.
eregyrn: (Default)
Huh. I haven't updated in a while. Mostly because I haven't really been doing anything update-worthy.

I fell off the wagon with regard to writing up thoughts on SciFi Friday, was too anal to skip the weeks I'd missed and just pick up with where-ever I was at, and now it's over. My little local viewing-group is replacing it with a grab-bag of "Dr. Who", "Deadwood", "Action!" (brilliant, so *of course* FOX cancelled it), and possibly S1 of SG-1, sometimes (we reserve the right to skip the really awful ones).

On my own, I am watching "due South" for the first time. (About midway through S1 right now.) Am finding it interesting, in the sense of, here's this show I've been aware of, and especially aware of tangentially through fandom, but I'd never seen it. I can't say that seeing the "Icebound Stream" vid and the "What's My Age Again?" vid at Escapade had nothing to do with finally pushing me into trying to see it. I'm also kind of on a "Canada is interesting" kick at the moment (evening pick-up reading at present is the new edition of "The Illustrated History of Canada"; it's extremely sobering when you realize that you don't know much that's specific about the history of a country that large and that much your neighbor).

Anyway. due South. "Sweet, and cute" is my assessment so far. I'm enjoying it, if not falling head over heels in fannish love with it. (That's not a slam. That describes my relationship with many beloved shows over the years.) Biggest "surprise" so far: the subtle humor and comedic timing that Paul Gross brings to Fraser. (Second biggest surprise: the number of humongous, boxy cars from the 70s apparently still being driven in "Chicago" in the late 90s.) I have this feeling that [ profile] raqs would go for Fraser, although she is dubious about this. I dunno. I can't even quite explain why. I just think so.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to making my way slowly through the series. I'm also interested, on a low level, in the show's fandom's meta, since that's something that's been hovering around the edges of my fannish participation for years, but I didn't have anything to connect it to. I hope somebody gives me the low-down on what I'm *sure* were issues of vital interest to dS's fandom, such as the RayV-RayK switch.

What I'm reading: Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" series, which I've enjoyed the hell out of. I have the 4th book in hand but have been taking a break (after blowing through the first three in a weekend), both to draw it out, and because I have a baaaaaaaaaad feeling about plot developments on the horizon and I'm trying to work up to it. Also, Cherryh's latest in the Foreigner series, the somewhat misleadingly-titled "Pretender" (in that the titular character never actually *appears*, although I suppose you can argue that the entire book is about disposing of him, so...). Unfortunately, this was a bit of a disappointment to me. I loved loved loved the first two books in the series (what is she on now, the third trilogy?), but have felt "ehn" about the rest, though I still read them to follow the advancing story. My problem, I've concluded, is that I want different things out of the world and the narrator character than Cherryh wants to focus on; she keeps giving me glimpses, but that's it. After the last one, I had hopes of this latest book in terms of action and plot. But it felt very repetitive to me, like it had nothing new to say, and like the actual action in it was all stuff we'd been through before. There were no surprises, and with relation to the narrator, no real sense of *peril* any more (to him, especially; or to those around him), which makes reading about him going through faux-peril kind of irritating. Ah well. Of course I'll still read the next one. But this one, I got from the library, and the next I will too.

I am *poised* to read Naomi Novik's series, too; just *poised*. To my surprise, my local library system has ordered "Temeraire". Yes, you read that right. "Temeraire", not "His Majesty's Dragon". Already, I'm intrigued by that. (For those not in the know: I had understood that "Temeraire" was the title of the first book in Britain, but that it was being released in the US at the end of March under the different title "His Majesty's Dragon". Hmm.)

What else? Renewing my car's registration has been needlessly fraught this year. Let's just say that it involves a parking ticket from *2003* that I hadn't realized I failed to pay, and that I'm scrambling to avoid getting any more $100 citations, and... would it kill them to issue a *warning* first and then give me a short grace period to, like, *deal* with all this stuff, rather than slamming me with a hundred bucks off the bat? Grrr.

Recently acquired the soundtracks to many of the Broadway musicals of my youth (meaning, that my parents owned the LPs of, and that I therefore grew up listening to): the Burton "Camelot"; the Mostel "Fiddler on the Roof"; the Dean Martin "Bells are Ringing"; "Fiorello!"; the movie "West Side Story"; and "Godspell". Ah, they take me back. Am still frustrated by the fact that they do not seem to have ever released ALW's *original* (short) "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". The precise recordings that one grew up on are the *only* ones that sound "right". I don't *want* any of the umpteen expanded stage versions of "Joseph". I want *that one*.

My cat has dandruff. I have to figure out what to do about that. I had no idea that cats could have combination skin. This is the cat that gets -- no lie -- chin pimples. And I had *no idea* that cats could have acne, but... apparently so. Now she's got dandruff too. Is this normal, I ask you?

Finally, the Canucks have been *sucking*. Right now they are battling hard just to make it into the playoffs. (*crossing fingers for another win against the Oilers tonight*) This appears to be the most fraught lead-up to the playoffs that anyone can remember recently. There are presently 7 teams within 6 points of each other, all scrabbling for 5 playoff slots. It's madness. And then wacky schedule stuff happens, such as right now, when the Canucks are playing the Oilers 3 games in a row, and 1 point separates them. Yikes. The Canucks won the first of the three, and immediately went from 10th place in the Conference to 7th. (Only the upper 8 go to the playoffs.) Madness, I tell you.
eregyrn: (Default)
(This will matter to very few people out there, but...)

AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! [ profile] raqs kindly informed me that the latest Suzanne Brockmann book is out, which is good, as I totally wouldn't have thought it was yet. But she totally neglected to say that it's not just Max and Gina's story, it's also more Molly/Jones, as well! EEEEEEEEE! Man, I TOLD HER there was no possibility that there'd be a story set in Africa but NOT include them.

Sounds like Jones's popularity remains about the same no matter which continent he tries to hide out on. (Seriously; I would suggest, like, the Yukon, only one presumes in a Brockmann novel you'd find yourself running afoul of... I dunno... cutthroat logging conglomerates or shady oil pipeline companies or... terrorists interested in caribou, or something.)

Now am wondering how long I will hold out before needing to go get this...
eregyrn: (Default)
So, weeks ago, we all remember when Dove's "real" models made such a splash, and that was cool, although one's glee was somewhat tempered by the contradiction inherent in what they were being used to sell.

Now Dove can move over for Nike, apparently.

Salon's article today on this new ad campaign points out that the nice thing about the Nike ads is that they aren't selling anything in particular, just the Nike brand and slogan ("just") -- and certainly nothing that contradicts the use of the models or the sentiments described in the (sometimes head-scratching, but kind of charming) ad-copy.

See for yourself:

You know, honestly -- the hips one is something I could see putting up on my wall.
eregyrn: (Default)
And now... "Suna no Utsuwa": What Really Happened (in the book, which unhelpfully, is different from the TV adaptation in several important respects, but which kind of made some things clearer nonetheless).

Book vs. TV: Fight! )

ETA: if by this point you are hugely curious about this series, go here:

Up at the top, there is a scrolling menu -- let it scroll until you see the choice "Gallery". Click on that, and it will allow you to click on each episode number, whereupon it will play for you a little montage of screen-shots from each episode. Not complete by any means, but takes way less time to watch than, say, the series itself.

Odd choices, though -- there is no shot of Adult Eiryo, at *ALL*. There is only a shot of the victim in Gallery 11, from the flashback sequences. Weird. Gallery 03 has a shot that shows Artsy Girl/Rieko talking to a little boy and his mother -- that's the Inspector's wife and son, and the next shot is the Inspector at home with his son. It's freakishly weird to me that the entire Gallery was assembled to show highlights of the story... with not one shot of the main character. I mean, sure, next to Eiryo, Rieko and the Inspector are the most prominent characters, and they are both *amply* represented.

Even odder... next to Gallery there is a choice for "Photo", which features many production stills. Eiryo is severely unrepresented there, either. I wonder if it's something odd to do with the actor who plays Eiryo? Yeah, gotta be -- because when you go to the "Cast" section, next to his name, Masahiro Nakai, there is a photo only of the young-boy-Eiryo, not the adult actor. How utterly odd! So, just for the sake of completeness, here's Adult Eiryo:
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Just recently, I purchased on VCD an 11-part Japanese drama called "Suna no Utsuwa", for the sole reason that it co-stars Ken Watanabe, plus it looked intriguing from the stuff I could find out about it on the web. I purchased, and just finished watching, these VCDs, despite the fact that they are subtitled only in Chinese -- and needless to say, I speak/read neither language.

And the thing is -- watching Ken Watanabe's performance aside -- I really, really enjoyed the experience. Even though I have now laughingly recounted it to several friends who all think I'm wacked. But, bear with me on this. )
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Ah, the New Year is now truly upon us; today I took down the tree.

I have a fondness for books about the history of the English language. Or, I should say, I have a fondness for Bill Bryson's two books, Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way, and Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States. Indeed, for several years I wasn't even aware that he'd written anything else, let alone extremely funny travel books, all of which I also now treasure.

Right now, I am reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, which is a delightful little book that is a great deal funnier and more charming than its subtitle, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, would indicate. I admit, I fall under the heading of what she terms a "stickler". I can't see the misuse of apostrophes in its/it's, your/you're, and so on, without screaming (internally, usually) IT ISN'T THAT DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND, YOU MORONS. Certainly nowhere near as difficult as trying to puzzle out some English spelling idiosyncracies. How hard is it to remember that "you're" is a contraction of "you are" while "your" obviously isn't? Didn't Schoolhouse Rock do a catchy segment on this? I guess nobody remembers much of "Grammar Rock" beyond "Conjunction Junction", anyway.

So anyway, Truss's book is a little gem, and I thought I'd share just two bits with you, in the hopes of causing you to run out and read it (bearing in mind of course that I got my copy for free, because [ profile] raqs received two for Christmas). For its entertainment value or else the sense of vindication, if not for actual corrective purposes.

"Sticklers unite, you have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion, and arguably you didn't have a lot of that to begin with. Maybe we won't change the world, but at least we'll fee better. The important thing is to unleash your Inner Stickler, while at the same time not getting punched in the nose, or arrested for damage to private property."

"Some historians of grammar claim, incidentally, that the original possessive use of the apostrophe signified a contraction of the historic "his"; and personally, I believed this attractive theory for many years, simply on the basis of knowing Ben Jonson's play Sejanus, his Fall, and reasoning that this was self-evidently halfway to "Sejanus's Fall". But blow me, if there aren't differences of opinion. There are other historians of grammar who say this Love-His-Labour-Is-Lost explanation is ignorant conjecture and should be forgotten as soon as heard. Certainly the Henry-His-Wives (Henry's Wives) rationalisation falls down noticeably when applid to female possessives, because "Elizabeth Her Reign" would have ended up logically as "Elizabeth'r Reign", which would have had the regrettable result of making people sound a) a bit stupid, b) a bit drunk, or c) a bit from the West Country."
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The overwhelmingly massive *SNORT* that I let out when I got this result means that I have to share it... Let's all have a resounding chorus of, "No DUH."

Lord of the rings
J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are
entertaining and imaginative, creating whole
new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you
have a whole league of imitators, none of which
is quite as profound as you are. Stories and
songs give a spark of joy in the middle of your
eternal battle with the forces of evil.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
eregyrn: (Default)
You know what I want? (*pause*; I can hear Judith's voice now saying, "No, Hol, I never know what you want.")

I would like a book that did a survey of world geography, and examined the difference between what things are called in English, and what they are actually called by the people who live where the things are found, in their own language. And that explained, in the first place, the origins and meaning of the name in the original language; and furthermore, explained why it is that the thing is called what it is called in English.

This is something I've been curious about off and on for a long time, but I thought of it again recently because of a book that I'm reading, that mentioned that the Yangtze river is actually called something like the Chang Jiang by the Chinese (who, I am willing to bet, do not call themselves "the Chinese"). And that brought me up short. Because I know about certain obvious examples of this (we call it "Greece", they call it "Hellas"; etc.), but there are many, many more examples that I've never noticed. I would have assumed for years that "Yangtze" was in fact an accurate English transcription of the river's actual name. And you know, maybe in some twisted, etymological way, it is (bearing etymological history in mind, "Yangtze" is not that far removed from "Chang Jiang", you can kind of squint at it and imagine "Yangtze" as some earlier English-speaker's attempt to transcribe what he was hearing.) But, I don't know, and I'm curious.

And I'm even more curious about things like the Greece/Hellas example. Hellas is quite obvious as a name for the country -- I mean, we have had the term "Hellenic" as a synonym for "Greek" for forever. But where the hell (pardon me) did we get the term "Greek" from, then? And why?

(And I don't just mean -- examples where our official term for a nation is one thing, but in the nation itself it is something a lot longer and more complicated. That's a different phenomenon, although interesting in itself.)

Why do we persist in calling foreign things by our names for them, instead of using the names that the people themselves use? And don't give me the obvious answer, "because we, like the British before us, are imperialist bastards" -- even though the phenomenon probably has its roots in that truth.

So I could look it up. I could try to look up Yangtze; I could try to track down the Greece/Hellas thing. But my point is, there are hundreds of examples of this kind of thing all over the world. And I've love to read a book that delved into all of them, or at least, into many of them. For countries, ethnicities, famous natural features, etc.

If anybody knows whether such a book exists, please tell me!

The book I am reading right now that sparked this train of thought was loaned to me by [ profile] raqs, who in turn was loaned it by Thomas from Munich (which, I would like to point out, is actually called "M√ľnchen" by locals).

The book is called Last Chance to See, and it was written by Douglas Adams. Yes, that Douglas Adams. He wrote it along with a naturalist named Mark Carwardine, and it is a nonfiction account of the two of them embarking on a project to travel around the world and try to see in the wild a number of extremely rare and endangered animals (komodo dragons; white rhinos; mountain gorillas; kakapos in NZ; river dolphins in China; etc.). It's part travelogue, and part intelligent musing on the problems of extinction and conservation. And all of it is wrapped up in the kind of wry, witty writing that you would expect from Adams. I can't recommend it enough.

(Since this copy must, alas, go back to Thomas eventually, I plan to order one for myself; actually, I didn't even think to check to see if it is available in the U.S. Huh, apparently so! I wonder if the U.S. edition has the photos in it, though. Worth trying, at least.)
eregyrn: (Default)
The Book-List Meme )
eregyrn: (Default)
A thousand thanks to [ profile] narcissisme for this link. I needed this!

Ye Legende of Troie
eregyrn: (Default)
Tonight, I get to go out for dinner, on the department's dime, to Dali's Restaurant & Tapas Bar, where I will drink a lot of sangria, and eat many fine things, including, possibly, baby eels (if I can convince them that it's worth blowing the money on them; and if they are in season, of course).


This wonderful event may make me miss the airing of the series finale of Angel.

Not a total loss, because I've set it to tape, so I won't entirely miss it; but still, I will be moderately disappointed if I get home too late to share the experience with, say, [ profile] raqs. And yet, I shall be full of sangria, so it all evens out.

Cool thing: Fantagraphics Books has started publishing The Complete Peanuts, which will (eventually) be 25 volumes covering every strip in the 50 years of the comic's history. They've just come out with the first two volumes, 1950 - 1954, and I'm quite excited about it.

Maybe you had to have a father who was nearly a professional cartoonist and who was born in the 30s, so that his adult professional career took place in the shadow of Schulz's rise. My formative years were big on the appreciation of the history of cartooning and comic strips, and while I had all of the usual children's books, I honestly did learn to read from collections of things like early Peanuts paperbacks, Doonesbury, and New Yorker cartoon collections.

I have longed for years for someone to republish the early Peanuts strips, because good luck trying to assemble a complete collection of those cheap old paperbacks that I grew up on (and anyway, those were never complete compilations). The evolution of the strip and its characters is fascinating, and I have a real fondness for the early stuff, which was quite different from the minimalism that came later -- it's more biting, sarcastic and sardonic; more literary and adult, and denser in its dialogue. (One has only to remember "A Charlie Brown Christmas", with its often-dense monologues, theological discussions and Biblical quotes, and then to realize that much of that show was assembled from material previously found in various strips, to get a sense of that.)

I'm really looking forward to the chance to have them collected in one place.


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