Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: The Truth of All Things


     The Truth of All Things starts out with a bang-or rather a stab-when a prostitute is found with a pitchfork stuck into her body, candles nearby, and an incantation in a Native American language written on the wall above her. Pressure is put on Archie Lean, the deputy marshal of Portland, Maine. Despite his initial distrust, he accepts the aid of Perceval Grey, whose father was of the same tribe who uses the language the killer did. Grey, a Pinkerton detective, uses budding forensic technique and his own perceptiveness of criminal behavior. When they realize the prostitute was killed in the same manner one would dispose of a witch, they enlist the aid of Helen Prescott, a historian specializing in the Salem witch trials. It appears the killer is not only using an ancient spell book that has been lost to the ages-but he plans to kill again and again until his ritual is complete.
     This book was…good. Not bad. Not great. Just good. I feel like Shields had some great ideas on where to go, but didn’t follow through with them. We have a medium, who is able to prophesy on some things, but other than that there is no hint that this is nothing more than a Crazy Serial Killer and His Rituals book. I suppose part of my disappointment was that the book is listed as a fantasy novel, but nothing but the brief use of the medium really justifies that label. My other problem is that Shields tried to insert a romance, but it didn’t really work at all. The woman shows some interest, but there’s no more mention of it till the end when “suddenly they’re together”. The end felt slightly disjointed, and I don’t feel that Shields tied up his plotpoints very well. The novel had some great ideas, and was entertaining enough, but it could have been done better.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

BEST. PRESENT. EVER.


But in all seriousness, Merry Christmas everyone. I still don't get why Google says a generic "Happy Holidays" when it's obviously Christmas, and if they wanted to be generic they should've had "Happy Holidays" up for basically the entire month of December, and possibly sooner if you count Thanksgiving. But I digress. Church was lovely, I have a Kindle, my parents went on a Blue Person kick for presents, and husband tried to find a copy of the Necromonicon, but they were sold out (which is rather distressing actually; what are all those people doing with the Necromonicon...?) so I just got a copy of Lovecraft's stories instead.

Merry Christmas, and please, please, try not to summon Cthulhu. He's just kind of a drag at Christmas parties.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Hobbit: The SERIOUS Review


     I’ve occasionally shouted things about Peter Jackson that were very mean. I feel I have good reason. On the one hand, I really loved the LOTR films as a whole. On the other hand, he pretty much took several characters and flanderized them into something completely different. Aragorn was not the reluctant king, he was biding his time to take back the kingdom. Faramir was not another Boromir; he rejected the Ring’s temptation and did not take Frodo fifty miles out of his way so some Nazghul could come have a looksie. Frodo did not succumb to Gollum’s lies about Sam, because Frodo was smart enough to know Gollum couldn’t be trusted, no matter how nice he was to him. (Blindness and kindness? Did you read that line?) But I digress. Overall I liked the movies, and overall I liked what Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit.
     We knew before that he planned on adding the supplementary material we only hear a bit of in the books. While I question the need to give Elijah Wood a cameo, I’m not complaining too much, because the rest is wonderful. Jackson maintained the lighter tone that The Hobbit has (which Tolkien hated, but I’m not complaining). I also appreciated the greater focus on Thorin’s character, and seeing more clearly why he’s so grumpy (pun not intended). And I liked our divergence to Radagast (WHO IS THE MOST AWESOME WIZARD EVER AND I WILL FIGHT ANYONE WHO DARES SAY OTHERWISE) and his notice of the Necromancer’s *coughSauroncough* evil. Also spiders. I really don’t like spiders.
     The movie flowed well, and even though I found the literal rock giants a bit odd, it was okay. If there had been more explosions I would have suspected Michael Bay was the true director though. I was a bit amused that even though Gandalf technically outranks the elves, he still seemed awed by Galadriel. Then again she was totally flirting with him. Okay, maybe not. Either way, I enjoyed the movie, diversions and all. However, teasing us with Smaug-that was mean, PJ. That was very mean.
     Awesome movie. I MUST SEE IT AGAIN.

    Also Radagast.

I bet he has a huge army of songbirds.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket


     Lemony Snicket (i.e. Daniel Handler) is a very odd fellow. Which is probably why I love his books so much. He packs them full of references and wry, off-beat humor, while still maintaining a mostly light-hearted tone that helps his books appeal to children as well. I read through A Series of Unfortunate Events rather quickly, and appreciated that he didn’t end it on a “happily ever after” note, but still left it on one of hope.
     His new series, “All The Wrong Questions”, has a similar approach. The series is meant to follow the fictional Snicket’s first cases in the VFD, that secret organization that seems to have been established because…reasons. The first book, “Who Could That Be At This Hour?”, jumps right into the oddness, and bizarrely imitates a noir mystery. The young Snicket, only 12, has just “graduated” from the VFD spy school/academy/whatever-it-is. He goes through a very convoluted process of meeting up with his new mentor, who is meant to show him the ropes of being a volunteer. However, a change of plans means he cannot carry out a scheme with a fellow volunteer, and is stuck in the middle of nowhere with an incompetent chaperone, solving a crime that may not have been committed, for a woman who may not exist. (Typical Snicket fare, if you couldn’t tell.)
     The tone of this book was just a little more serious than the Unfortunate Events series. The incompetence of the adults is a little less humorous and seems to be a bit more realistic, if you can even use that word in conjunction with Snicket’s writings. It’s clear this new series is for somewhat older children, who are more likely to catch some of the subtleties. There were also some more amusing references to other books. I especially liked one line, which was something like “one of those books where elves and other people fight over a piece of jewelry that no one can wear, and there’s a very powerful wizard who doesn’t do anything”. I giggled over that one for a while. The book ends, in classic Snicket fashion, on a cliff-hanger hinting that there’s more to come. And I am ready for it.

And for extra lulz-"Scream and Run Away" by the Gothic Archies:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hate Groups and Free Speech


     The shooting in Newton was a tragedy of the worst sort. However, like all tragedies, you have the vultures that try to benefit from it as much as possible, or use it for their own agendas. Enter Westboro Church, who I refuse to call Baptist because I’m not even sure where their theology is from at this point.
     Apart from their complete lack of Biblical knowledge, they seem to have a funeral fetish. They want to use any tragedy to show that God is judging this land, and they do so by shouting how He hates mainly gay people, but this hate seems to extend to everyone. Since they forget the idea of sin and death infecting all creation and “the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked”, they insist all their ideas are Biblical. Here is where the big controversy comes in though.
     Some people want to have them placed on a hate group list, pretty much stopping them protesting. However, others insist that this will prevent their free speech, and thus could extend to any of us. But that won’t happen.
     There is a difference between expressing your opinion and harassing other people. I could sit around and shout all day about hating people as much I want, and that would be okay. If I went up to someone and started telling them how much I hate them, even if I was standing a good distance away, I could still be arrested for harassment. "Harassment covers a wide range of behaviours of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive. In the legal sense, it is intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing" (from Wikipedia) and "the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, including racial prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job or grant sexual favors, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious." (Harassment)Why, then, is Westboro’s actions protected under free speech but the other is not? Simply put, people don’t want to fight their lawyers and prove that it isn’t protected after all. What Westboro is doing is harassing large groups of people under the claim that they have permission to protest. But if everyone at the funeral stated they felt harassed, could Westboro not be told to stay away? It won’t prevent them protesting, but it will prevent them from protesting near the funeral.
     So don’t use the term free speech to defend the actions of the evil. If they can find loopholes, so can we.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silly Hobbit Review: Possible Spoilers if you don't read

ZOMG so Bilbo was all like "So Frodo that Smaug guy was a real jerk" and then Gandalf was like "Imma troll Bilbo a bit here" and then dwarves happened and they trolled Bilbo some and then Bilbo fainted then he was all like "CHANGED MAH MIND" and then trolls happened and Radagast is like "I'M CRAZY AND SAURON SCARES ME" and then giants and then Thorin's like "I hate elves!" and Elrond's like "LOL U MAD BRO" and then Galadriel's like "Oh God does Saruman ever stop talking?" and Gandalf goes "lol no" and then more orcs happened and Gollum is saved by puppy eyes and then even more orcs and then Bilbo hides the ring in his pocket and Gandalf's like "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME" and then EVEN MORE ORCS and then eagles and then Bilbo's like "well I guess that was the worst of it" and Gandalf's all "SHUT UP BILBO YOU FRIGGIN JINX" and then Smaug's like "lol hi" to the audience and I want more.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quick Update

So I'm going to just disappear for a while until finals are over.

And I can stop reading these ridiculous Seedeater blogs. New non-Slendy horror to keep me awake at night! Yay!

Ain't he just precious?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

OH THE HORROR

So they're making another Slender game. Slender: The Arrival. LOOK AT THE LINK JUST LOOK AT IT.

I...I don't know how to describe my feelings...This is as good a picture as any...

I can't feel my legs. What should I do?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Argo by Antonio Mendez

     This year, we've had two big spy movies hit theaters. One was, of course, James Bond, and James Bond is all well and good. But the other was Argo, and this one? This one actually happened. (Although word has it that the film played fast and loose with facts. Go figure.)
     I decided to read the story behind the film before seeing the actual movie. I wasn't disappointed. There was little action involved, but it was very suspenseful, and gives a good picture of the not-so-glamorous life of a CIA agent, which appears to involve mainly bureaucracy and astonishing amounts of coffee.


     In 1979, militants took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, taking over 50 hostages, believing them to be “spies”. Six diplomats, however, managed to escape, and eventually took shelter in the home of the Canadian ambassador. When they made it out of Iran safely, Canada was allowed to take full credit for their rescue; but now, some 30 years later, Anthony Mendez, a CIA officer, has told the story (in as much detail as the Department of Redundancy Department will allow).
     “Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History” recounts the history leading up to the embassy attack and the harrowing months spent in devising plans to rescue both the hostages and the escaped diplomats. Mendez does not hold back on describing the various political elements that led to the unrest in Iran, including those elements that reflect badly on the U.S. (Ah, well, wouldn’t be the first time.) We also get some good description of how the CIA operated 30 years ago. Pretty sure they’ve changed things since then, and that’s the reason Mendez is allowed to write this book now. He also does a good job of portraying just how much Canada really helped us. One criticism of the movie I’ve been hearing is that they take much of the credit away from Canada, even though it’s pretty clear we never would have gotten very far without them. They provided shelter, and fake passports and IDs to the escaped diplomats, who wouldn't have gotten far if they were suspected of being American. The book is tense, which shows that Mendez knows how to tell a good story. We know the diplomats escape, yet even to the end you start to wonder: Will it really work? Will the multiverse open up and you get thrust into a world where it failed?
     Joking aside, this is an excellent book, and a fascinating look into real spy life. (Also, Mendez has apparently written other books about his life as a CIA agent. Sounds like more fun reading.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pure Unmitigated Nonsense For Your Entertainment

Theoretically, I could be doing other things, such as putting up laundry, studying for Psychology, or washing dishes. However, I saw that we have an "unspoilery" Marble Hornets screenshot.

Naturally, I immediately devised several hypothetical situations as to what would happen in Entry #65. However, seeing as how we've had no hints as to what will happen from the IG twitter, I had to come up with my own nonsense.

As you see, the screenshot is of a lake. It appears to be near the area where Jay filmed at the beginning of Season 2. This is of clear importance. I know what will happen.

Jay will follow TiMasky back into Rosswood. Again. Because going into the Woods of Death (TM) is a great idea. Rather than going into the tunnel, Jay will simply walk around. Alex is shocked, and the Operator cries.

Jay will find himself at the edge of a lake, where there is a large amount of gopher wood, hammers, and a surly and half-drunk Noah Maxwell waiting. Hoody will appear right out of nowhere, excited because Jay finally led him to the ark. Upon which Noah will point out, "ARE YOU F***ING CRAZY, IT'S NOT F***ING BUILT, IT'S JUST F***ING WOOD, WHY AM I EVEN IN THIS F***ING PLACE, WHAT DOES THE F***ING OBSERVER WANT ME TO F***ING DO, I MEAN WHAT THE F***?"*

Everyone will back away slowly, and thereafter pretend this never happened.

*NoahSpeak not recommended for public places, particularly near children, cameras, or tall faceless men in suits.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman


     Imagine: you’re living the under-appreciated life of a secretary, when suddenly, someone calls to tell you that you’re the heir to (an admittedly small) kingdom. Oh joy! You get to be king! And we all know, it’s good to be the king, right?
     Well, not entirely. At least not for everyone. Lucky that the village of Otuam got Peggielene Bartels for their new king, and it is this story we read in the book King Peggy.
     Bartels was secretary at the Ghana embassy in Washington, D.C. when her uncle, king of the village of Otuam, passed away. The council of elders, through a traditional ritual, had decided she would be king. (The ritual, by the way, is that they pour schnapps onto the ground for each possible successor. The one whose schnapps steam up has been chosen by the ancestors to be king.) After much debate, Bartels went for it.
     And promptly found herself fighting widespread corruption tooth and nail, as well as widespread poverty. The council of elders were hoping that a woman king would be quiet and obedient. Needless to say, Bartels quickly disabused them of such a nonsensical idea. It was an uphill struggle for her as she dealt with all the struggles that come to royalty-rituals, bureaucracy, and corruption. But Bartels has already made a huge difference in her little village. They now have clean water pumps, a new ambulance, and new schools, thanks to Bartels catching the attention of Shiloh Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland.
     This book was hard to put down. You go through all the ups and downs with Bartels, and when she puts the corrupt elders in their places (several times, actually, they  seem rather hardheaded), you can’t help but cheer her on. It was also fascinating to learn about such a wildly different culture. For example, after Bartels becomes king, the priests of a local god visit her, and through alleged possession the god demands tribute. Apparently Bartels was rather freaked out by the whole thing, and you can’t really blame her. It’s also very amusing to see how conversations go. The elders love using metaphors, but if the metaphors are turned against them, they suddenly begin taking everything very literally and playing dumb.
      This is a fantastic book, and very inspiring-it’s amazing how much Bartels accomplishes on her secretary’s salary and fishing fees. Definitely one you’ll want to read.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Babylon 5 Book Reviews


     Most unfortunately, Babylon 5 is done and over. Plans had been made for another movie, but then Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas (and now Michael O’Hare) had to inconvenience everyone by dying. Luckily for us, we had dedicated people to write books. Unluckily, not all those books are created equal.



     My first review is of “The Touch of Your Shadow, The Whisper of Your Name” by Neil Barrett, Jr. We start off with Babylon 5 being more chaotic than usual. The Trinocular Film Festival is going on and the Consortium of Live Eaters are rioting (and have plans to, well, eat someone/something alive). The Life in Transition group, who believe life was a terrible mistake by the Universe, are in a fight with the Fermi’s Angels biker gang. (Yes. There is a biker gang on Babylon 5. No, I do not understand this either.) And there’s this giant green wormy-thing floating around in space and freaking everyone out. Including Kosh.
     You know it’s bad when Kosh is freaking out.
     So it appears the green wormy-thing is giving everyone horrible nightmares. Lennier dreams of running about in a loin cloth, Delenn dreams that Sheridan tries to kill her, Sheridan dreams Delenn is trying to kill him, and Martina Coles, the telepath that is there because the author set the book in the post-Talia pre-Lyta days, is having nightmares and having Kosh poke at her mind. Why does Kosh poke at her mind? It’s never entirely explained. Something vague about warning people. I think he just likes female human telepaths. He does tend to get overly personal with them. *cough"energytransferral"cough*
     Meanwhile, Earth Alliance is doing, you guessed it, nothing. Also the Centauri and Narn are fighting, but that’s old hat.
     The book revolves around the growing crisis as the worm grows closer, affecting everyone’s minds, causing them insomnia and making them more and more aggressive. It’s…okay. It’s not a bad book, but it wasn’t really that great. I feel like so much more could have been done with this storyline. We get some anvils dropped about our fear of things different from us, but…that’s about it. I mean, I know Straczynski dropped anvils from time to time, but his anvils felt poignant and meaningful. These anvils felt stale and over-done. Naturally, everything pans out according to the dreams, which means Hilarity Ensues. (Lennier is running around in a loin cloth. Do not ask me to take that seriously.) So, nice try, but it could’ve been better.



     My second review is of “To Dream In The City of Sorrows” by Kathryn Drennan. This is considered the first purely canon novel for the Babylon 5 series, as it was written by Straczynski’s wife, who has 24/7 access to his brain. In it, we find Sinclair when he is first stationed on Minbar as ambassador. He is frustrated by his attempts to get in touch with Catherine and his lack of news from the outside world. Catherine, meanwhile, is mucking about on the Rim and finding oddly exploded planets and getting chased by strange black alien ships, which is a great idea I’m sure, and Marcus is trying very hard to be a good boy and manage the family mining company while his brother travels the galaxy looking for ancient conspiracies to fight.
     Then, Sinclair is told the real reason he is on Minbar-they believe he has Valen’s soul (OBVSLY) and that he must take over the Rangers and prepare them for a coming war against the Shadows. We get a fantastic line where Sinclair says something about “even I could have come up with that”, and a great deal of giggling ensued. We get to delve a little more into the Minbari political system. We also get to meet Ulkesh, whose main job in the Vorlon hierarchy is apparently to be a pain in the butt to everyone, and watch as he and Sinclair bicker like an old married couple. In fact, between Ulkesh and Neroon the jerk quota is more than filled up for this book. Then, our three storylines converge: Catherine arrives on Babylon 5 to find that Delenn and Garibaldi already set up a plan for her to get to Minbar; Marcus’ brother joins the Rangers and returns to recruit Marcus (“Hello, are you willing to let Valen into your life?”), only for the Shadows to come RIGHT THE EFF OUT OF NOWHERE and blow up the mining colony. Marcus promptly heads off to seek revenge.
     This book is not only well-written, it feels like Babylon 5. I felt like I was getting a good back story to what was going on with Sinclair while Babylon 5 devolved into its usual chaos. And we also get some intriguing little hints about Catherine’s fate. (In fact, I recall hearing something elsewhere about how Valen’s family was somewhat…odd. HMMMM.) All in all, an excellent book, and a good addition to the series.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler


While shelving in the long ago days of pagedom, I noticed a set of mysteries that had the same subtitle: Peculiar Crimes Unit. As Peculiar Crimes are much more interesting than Ordinary Crimes, I thought I’d give them a shot. I had to go elsewhere to get the first in the series, but I’m glad I did.

The story follows two separate arcs: one set in the present, and one in the past. Present day, an explosion at the Peculiar Crimes department has seemingly killed off Arthur Bryant, one of the founders. His partner, John Mays, tries to find out what his last case was, the case he was working on when the department exploded. To his surprise, he discovers his partner had reopened their very first case.

This leads us to England during World War II, where John Mays, a young nineteen year old, has been hired as an amateur detective to a unit dedicated to solving all the strange crimes that the regular police won’t deal with while the bombings continue. According to Bryant, studies show that an observant civilian is just as useful as a trained detective. Mays is his first hire, followed by a rule-abiding police officer shunted over to the unit for being too, shall we say, zealous.

They get their first taste of a peculiar crime only a few days later, when a dancer’s severed feet are found on a vendor’s cart, and the dancer’s body later found in the elevator of one of the few theaters still open. The theater is on the verge of putting on a daring opera, yet it seems that a curse dogs their every move. As the bodies pile up, Bryant and Mays fight the deadline to discover the perpetrator before anyone else dies, or worse, the theater closes.

Fowler does an excellent job, weaving the plot between the past investigation and the present one. It’s intriguing to see the young, naïve Mays in contrast to the older, wiser, and much more sober Mays that has been bereaved of his best friend. Fowler has an excellent sense of atmosphere as well. You can feel the tension and the desperation for people to “keep calm and carry on” as the bombings rage around England, and the funereal air that dogs the present story line as Mays follows his partner’s last steps.

Characterization is done well. Fowler picked well when he put two highly different men together, as well as giving them their own contrasting characteristics. Mays is young, naïve, and open-hearted, yet he remains rational and logical throughout. Bryant is cynical, gruff, and sometimes cold, yet he is the one consulting mediums and considering the prospect of an actual curse.

Fowler’s book is as peculiar as his crime unit, yet it does him no disservice. He’s an excellent writer with the dry English wit we all love.

I give a 3.5 out of 5.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why, Robert Chambers? Why?

Me: Hmm, I should probably read something instead of rewatching Marble Hornets. Oh look, I have The King In Yellow by Robert Chambers! That certainly isn't...

"In The Court of the Dragon": *is about a slim, pale man in a black suit relentlessly stalking the protagonist*

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Is A Blog For Mom

It is Mom's Birthday. Therefore, I am writing a blog for Mom.

Happy Birthday Mom.






Lol

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Definitions for the Day

While doing a bit of research for an English paper, I came across the Agitator blog. The blog itself isn't that bad. It's ranting, just as mine is. But the comments are a hoot, especially when discussing police officers: Truly an evil conspiracy.

To sum up the comments, police officers are all sociopaths who only become cops to act out their horrible ways, and they are planning to eat your soul. OMNOMNOM.

Sweeping Generalization-A sweeping generalisation applies a general statement too broadly. If one takes a general rule, and applies it to a case to which, due to the specific features of the case, the rule does not apply, then one commits the sweeping generalisation fallacy.-Logical Fallacies

Paranoia-a mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others, sometimes progressing to disturbances of consciousness and aggressive acts believed to be performed in self-defense or as a mission.-Dictionary.com




Clearly all cops are exactly like this.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review: The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Sometimes a book comes along where I feel strange about it. Not good, not bad, not even indifferent. Strange. And this book did that to me.

The Crossing Places is focused around two kidnappings, one older and one recent, both related to old Druidic practices. Our heroine is Ruth Galloway, a professor of archaeology. One day she is summoned by DCI Harry Nelson to the marshes near her home. They have found a child's bones and he believes they belong to a little girl named Lucy who disappeared ten years earlier. They don't, but that doesn't stop another girl from disappearing, and Ruth from deciphering the cryptic notes Harry has been receiving for the last ten years. Time is of the essence if they are to save the recently kidnapped girl-and possibly Lucy as well.

I was rather torn about this book. On the one hand, I liked both the setting and the basic storyline. We're in the foggy marshes of England, rather isolated from regular civilization. We find evidence of old human sacrifice, and possibly new sacrifice. We have cryptic letters filled with babble about religion and Druidism and magic. It sounds like a smashing good tale. But so much of it was taken up with Ruth's neuroses and grumblings about Christianity that the story fell somewhat flat.

First off, she wrote in the present tense. THE WHOLE TIME. While interesting, it wound up being distracting on the whole.

I really didn't like Galloway as a character. She was sort of bland, almost a stereotype mixture of "curious scholar" and "fat woman"-because we don't stop hearing her talk about her weight, trust me. We don't really get to know her, not as a person. We know her as a series of characteristics. She is divorced. She is annoyed by her Christian parents (oh, we don't stop hearing about that either). She likes her cats but IS NOT, I REPEAT IS NOT a crazy cat lady. She likes archaeology. She likes living vicariously through her friend who constantly complains about men using her, even as she tries desperately to attract their attention. The author tries to interject her with emotion, but I wasn't feeling it. We're supposed to believe she and Harry are attracted to one another, but I couldn't believe it from the first. Harry had a little more depth as a character, but not much. We know him mainly as "tough cop/adulterer-if-he-gets-the-opportunity", and "guy who apparently never paid attention to his own culture", as I knew more about what was going on than he did. And Ruth's mentor and the local Druid both scream "WE ARE HIPPIES".

It was an odd mixture of "let's try to write a scary mystery" and "woman wants to lose weight in the middle of solving mysteries" (no, seriously, there are books out there like that). It seemed like the author was trying to give Ruth some character development by the end (she understands her own hypocrisy, she comes to appreciate her parents while disagreeing with their religion) but it was rather forced. It feels like it could have been done so well, but it went so wrong.

Its redeeming factor, apart from the set-up, was the ending. I have to say, that ending was fantastic and heart-pounding.

If only the rest had been the same way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Entry Countdown Begins

"Going back to Rosswood with Tim on Sunday."-Jay, announcing his movements to the world even as he attempts to hide.

Oh, Jay.

How did they come to this decision? I'm going to assume alcohol was involved. I could post a list, I could post a "I bet this is what will happen" and make an obligatory "Tim tackles things" joke, but instead, I'll just post this.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pop open a cold one, people



Got this from WOC 1420's Facebook.

Beware alcohol poisoning if you try this.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Film Review: The African Queen


I can’t recall where precisely I read it, but at one point I read something by Dr. Laura in which she described “The African Queen” as the ultimate date movie. Being a Bogart fan, and with an anniversary close, I had the perfect time to give it a try.

Best idea ever. “The African Queen” is truly one of the classics everyone should see. It has everything in it: humor, romance, action, edge-of-your-seat tension. Not to mention a strong, capable heroine that doesn’t have to wear tight leather and do roundhouse kicks to prove herself.

The story begins in a small African village, where Rose Sayer and her brother Samuel are in charge of a small missions church, isolated from the outside world except for occasional mail delivery by Charlie Allnut, captain of The African Queen. But their peaceful world is interrupted when World War I breaks out and the Germans burn the village, forcing the villagers to fight for them. Broken by grief and despair, Samuel catches a fever and dies, leaving Rose and Charlie to find their way down the treacherous river and past the German’s prize battleship, the Louisa.

While the movie isn’t precisely non-stop action, there are enough tense moments to keep the viewer engaged. The interaction between the proper Rose and coarse Charlie are both amusing and sweet, and their romance is surprisingly realistic. It takes them a while to warm up to one another, and Charlie, while rough around the edges, is still a genuinely decent and caring person. Rose, though she is proper, is still a woman who moved to the African jungle and has lived there for some time, and she shows herself quite capable of handling herself in a crisis and has no problem with being dirty. (And unlike the heroines of many modern movies where their hair and clothes, despite everything, somehow remains close to perfect with only a few attractive smudges and flaws here and there, poor Rose starts genuinely looking like she’s been soaked, mud-splattered, and unable to bathe for days.) In fact, it is the character of Rose that fascinates me most. Despite seeming almost prissy, her first act of heroism is to plan to blow up a ship. And to do that, she has no problem boating down the Ulanga River, helping Charlie make repairs to the boat, steering the boat while under fire from Germans, and pulling and shoving it through a muddy bog to make it to a lake. The only time we see her really lose it is when they’re swarmed by African flies, and to be fair, Charlie has a freak out when he gets covered in leeches, so they get equal wimp time.

By the time we got to the end, both Dale and I were sitting forward in our seats, waiting breathlessly to see if they would succeed. This movie really is the perfect date movie.

I give it a 5/5.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hey kids, it's F5 time!

That's right, we'll be getting a new Marble Hornets in the next day or two. I could be studying for Psychology, but pshaw! I need to write a blog entry.

To get everyone geared up for the upcoming Halloween season (NO IT IS NOT SATANIC), I've decided I'll write about things that scare me that aren't related to the Slender Man.

1.)

I babbled about this before, but I figured I should do it again

Now, this is the movie poster, but I'm talking about the book by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. This book seriously scared me. I was looking around corners and fearing the dark for a long time after reading it, keeping the flashlight right by my bed and leaving the lights on wherever I could. Preston and Child do creepy so well. They got the atmosphere perfectly. The setting is in a sprawling, creepy labyrinth-like museum, and the creature is never fully described. The build-up to each time Mbwun appears is perfect. The instinct you're being watched, the strange smell, and then WHAM. Before you can even blink. Most notable is when it is chasing Margo Green through the closed-off museum exhibit. In the dark. There's a reason the Kothoga called it "the mad god".

The movie's okay, but definitely, definitely read the book.


2.)

The Colour Out Of Space by H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft was a master at his chosen genre, and that's because, as I'll rant about time and time again, the key to horror is atmosphere. Furthermore, the scariest stories he wrote were about characters who had no clue what was going on. They weren't the scholars researching the arcane, they were simple farm folk suddenly beset by horror.

The colour is some sort of alien being that has taken up residence in someone's well. It slowly destroys everything around it, turning everything to ash. You see the family fall into madness and death, in a horrible way, and it's clearly a metaphor for nuclear radiation poisoning. The worst part? Lovecraft pretty much sets the town right in the area where a real-life water reservoir was made the same year. Bottled water comes from that reservoir.

Maybe we should drink from the tap.


3.)

The X-Files gave us some creepy stuff. Alien abduction, government conspiracy, monsters, and a very disappointing Jersey Devil. One that really creeped me out, however, was X-Cops. They were chasing what amounted to a Boggart, a creature that can become your worst fear-and it can harm you. It even turned into a disease. And a giant wasp.

Yeah. It was a nasty piece of work.


4.)

Straczynski got in on the creepiness in the Babylon 5 episode The Long Dark. A long-distance ship carrying two cryo tubes arrives. One has been damaged, and the guy inside has been drained and had his organs eaten. The woman is alive, and suffering nightmares. G'Kar keeps babbling about a Soldier of Darkness (pictured above), and a guy suffering PTSD keeps trying to chase the thing down. It's invisible, it will eat you, and it's hella hard to kill.

Sheridan: So, we're being hunted by an invisible organ-stealing being?
Garibaldi: I think I saw an ARG like that once.


5.)

Away out in Utah, there's this ranch, and aliens like it. I mean, really, seriously like it. I'm pretty sure there's an intergalactic bar somewhere around there.

Skinwalker Ranch is not only located on what the Indians consider to be forbidden ground due to being the favorite hang-out spot of Native American werewolves (NO NOT JACOB), but also known for its very frequent UFO sightings, cattle mutilation, and all-around weirdness. (Including something which sounds, oddly enough, like a Soldier of Darkness. And something else that sounded like a Shadow. Run.) It's actually rather creepy to read about, even if you're a skeptic.

And then you get into the dimensional portals and there's no Doctor around to protect you and it's just kind of scary.

Also, these aliens will not only abduct your cattle, they will troll you by moving your tools. No, seriously.


So there ya go. I have to go study now, but hopefully I'll have a beautiful little entry to wake up to tomorrow.



"Fear Of The Dark"
Iron Maiden

I am a man who walks alone
And when I'm walking a dark road
At night or strolling through the park

When the light begins to change
I sometimes feel a little strange
A little anxious when it's dark.

Fear of the dark,fear of the dark
I have constant fear that something's always near
Fear of the dark,fear of the dark
I have a phobia that someone's always there

Have you run your fingers down the wall
And have you felt your neck skin crawl
When you're searching for the light ?
Sometimes when you're scared to take a look
At the corner of the room
You've sensed that something's watching you.

Have you ever been alone at night
Thought you heard footsteps behind
And turned around and no-one's there ?
And as you quicken up your pace
You find it hard to look again
Because you're sure there's someone there

Watching horror films the night before
Debating witches and folklore
The unknown troubles on your mind
Maybe your mind is playing tricks
You sense,and suddenly eyes fix
On dancing shadows from behind.

Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a constant fear, thought you heard
Fear of the dark, fear of the dark
I have a phobia that someone's always there.

When I'm walking a dark road
I am a man who walks alone

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Eyes That Weren't There; or, Erica Attempts a Slendy Story


     Rachel’s first sight of the house happened under a gloomy autumn sky, the threat of rain heavy in the air. All she knew about the place was from rumors in town, and a folk story the old people used to scare kids.
     This was the home of a murderer. So they said. He had lived here with his sister and her husband, back in 1904. Supposedly, he had been sweet on a girl from town, and kept courting her; but in the end she chose a farm boy. The day of their wedding, the jilted lover followed them up the mountain and through the woods, right past his sister’s house, chasing them down, until they fell, horse, wagon, and all, into a sinkhole, now known as the Murder Hole.
     That was the extent of the story. The man insisted he had been trying to warn them of danger; that they had been driven to their deaths by “the watcher in the woods”, an even older legend about a vengeful forest spirit. The judge decided the man wasn’t in his right mind, and sent him back home so his sister could care for him.
     But it seemed there was more to it. Rachel had looked through some old genealogy books, and found the name of the man that was supposedly the Sinkhole Murderer. The page was marked by a very old, very yellow newspaper clipping.
     “His body was found in a tree near his sister’s house. The sheriff believes he was attacked by wild animals. A small funeral service will be held at…”
     It was certainly intriguing, and Rachel couldn’t resist a mystery. To her parents’ lament, she was a very abnormal teen. She spent her time watching the “educational” channels, especially when a program focused on true crimes. Unsolved cases drew her in, especially when they had one in their own town. James Abbott, the sheriff’s brother, had disappeared one morning, his car abandoned on the mountain. That was twenty years ago. No one had seen or heard from him since. He had disappeared into thin air.
     And that was why Rachel was here now. Because James Abbott’s car was found next to the murder house.

     Rachel picked her way through the overgrown yard, trampling firmly on thorn bushes and lifting her arms almost over her head, until she made it to the porch, creaky and rotted. People had tried to live here over the years, and ten years ago a young couple started fixing up the place; but they left after their toddler fell down the stairs and died. It had been abandoned since.
     She stepped up to the door, confident at least that the porch would stay intact, then tried the handle. It was locked, but a brief shove was all it took to open the door. She slipped into the musty entrance hall, then pulled a flashlight from her pocket. It was the first thing she had grabbed when she decided on this excursion. That and her digital camera.
     Now she shone the light around. The house was small. One door lay straight ahead; two others sat on opposite sides of the hall. Though she wanted to move straight, she chose to explore the one to the right. This led only to the kitchen. It was empty except for a very old square table, unadorned, except for what appeared to be burn marks all over the surface. Rachel ran a finger over the marks, then felt a sudden chill run up her back.
     Nerves, of course. She had expected them. She was in a mysterious old house all alone. To get the shivers wasn’t surprising in the least. One other sensation she hadn’t anticipated, though. It felt as though eyes were boring into her back. She gave into the impulse to turn around and look, but all she saw was the small window above the kitchen sink, looking out into the woods.
     Rachel left the kitchen and walked into the other room. This was a sitting room, with a small fireplace set into the wall. She edged closer; she didn’t want to risk stirring up a snake’s nest by accident. But she saw only ashes through the grate. Then she paused, looked closer at the brick. Ash was swirled in a pattern, almost like letters. She focused her flashlight and leaned in.
     “He…” Rachel squinted. “He did it.”
     That was it? Mysterious, but hardly revealing. Rachel pulled out her digital camera and snapped a picture. It was blurry, but it would do.
     She stood, looked around the room, once again feeling a slight shiver. Was it darker? But no, she hadn’t been here that long. Yet when she slipped back out into the entry hall, she saw that it was evening.
     How did time slip away so fast? Rachel gave her head a shake. No matter. She only had one other room to investigate. If she found anything, should she call the police? Would a hundred year old murder be worth solving?
     Unless she found evidence of a more recent murder. And what else could that ash be referring to? It had to be…
     No. The young couple? Did the father really murder his own son? But no, that wasn’t possible. The parents had both been downstairs. Surely they wouldn’t have conspired against their son. Then that meant there was a third party involved…someone who had never been caught…
     Rachel gave her head a shake and moved on to the room at the end of the hall. If someone had murdered that poor child, then they wouldn’t still be here. That would be ridiculous. Rachel turned the knob with a soft click, swung open the door, and shone her flashlight into the room.
     With a gasp, she stumbled back, dropping the flashlight. It wheeled away across the floor, momentarily casting crazy shadows along the walls. She stood back, shaking, hardly daring to breathe, or even move. Then, regaining her sense, she picked up the flashlight and looked back into the room.
     All across the wall, interrupted only by the window, were words, written over and over in large letters.
     “THE EYES THE EYES THE EYES THE EYES THE EYES THE EYES THE EYES”
     Rachel stepped in, crept toward the wall, then examined the letters. They were written in some type of brown substance. Rachel glanced down at the floor, saw more of it caked on wood, and suddenly realized what it was.
     Blood. They were written in blood.
     Rachel swung the flashlight around the room, heart pounding, looking at everything. It was evidently a bedroom, but the bed sat on only three legs, and the old dresser was collapsed, as if something heavy had fallen on it. Some old yellow papers lay scattered across the floor near the dresser, and Rachel walked over and picked them up, glad to get away from the bloody wall.
     Call the police now? Get arrested for trespassing but maybe help solve a murder? But she didn’t know how old that blood was. It could have been there for ages. Surely the couple noticed it when they bought the place.
     Something wasn’t right here, and for whatever reason Rachel was uncomfortable with calling the police right away. She sifted gingerly through the papers, and realized many of them were the small paper found in diaries. Very old diaries.
     Steadying her light, she squinted at the old handwriting and skimmed the documents.
     “I wish my brother would not moon over this girl, yet he will not listen. I fear for his health…”
     “He will go to the wedding, though I have warned him against it. What he means to accomplish I do not know.”
     “Dead, and he insists he did not do it! Yet how am I to believe his story? The Watcher is a story. A story we were told to keep us out of the woods. My brother will not speak to me anymore. He stays in his room. He insists on keeping all the curtains shut. He says the Watcher is always outside now. That he is coming for him. I do not understand him…”
     Then, a last page, abrupt and frantic, handwriting losing its form and barely legible.
     “he was right my brother was right the watcher was here he killed him no it killed him what is it what does it want what does it want we must leave this place leave before it comes for us as well god save us all”
     Rachel dropped the papers and rubbed the goosebumps from her arms. God, does everyone just go crazy here?
     Then she spotted it. Lying by the bed. A wallet.
     Shaking, she flipped it open with a finger. The license in it read “Abbott, James”.

     Rachel started taking pictures like crazy, of the blood, of the room, of the papers, of James Abbott’s wallet. Then, she knew she had to leave, call the cops, because now, this was immediate, this wasn’t just some stupid adventure, this was real, maybe he was killed here, maybe it was the same person that shoved that child down the stairs…
     She stopped in the middle of her mad activity. On the window, she noticed a mark. She knelt down, and found it was merely a stick figure. From her child’s eye view, it appeared as though the figure was placed directly in the trees behind the house. What, did the child see the murdere—
     And then Rachel’s heart was in her throat.
     For now she saw a figure, standing at the edge of the forest. The man was very tall, and very thin, almost freakishly so. And it appeared he was wearing a suit.
     Feds. Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. The house was getting to her, and here she was flipping out over some FBI agent. Probably doing some double checking on the James Abbott case. She was in trouble, but she’d explain herself well enough. She left the room, slipped outside, and rounded the house.
     She paused.
     The man was gone. Did he see her leave? Did he think she was dangerous? It was getting dark, and Rachel wondered where he was now. She held up her hands shakily and called out.
     “I’m not armed or anything! I was just looking around!”
     No answer. Did he have a gun trained on her? But surely he would just come right out and arrest her if he thought she was doing something wrong. Rachel lowered her arms.
     Well, she’d just head back to her car. She jogged down the steep drive, deciding right then and there that she needed some friends, and a social life, and less hiding in her room. That would do the trick.
     Then Rachel let out a strangled scream. The man was standing in the middle of the drive. He was closer now, much closer, and it occurred to Rachel that there was something utterly wrong about him. The way he stood there stiffly, unmoving, as though he’d been waiting, yet a moment earlier he hadn’t been there at all. And how tall he was…no one was that tall. He must have been eight or nine feet. What was he, some mad circus freak?
     When she realized he was wearing something pale that concealed his face, she knew he was a mad circus freak. This must be the killer, though a fleeting burst of logic told her he couldn’t possibly be connected to the killings in the early 1900’s, the child’s death, and James Abbott’s disappearance. But all she knew at that moment was stark fear, and she darted back up the drive, sudden panic giving her the energy to make it up that hill.
     Her cell phone wasn’t getting a signal. It wasn’t even turning on. Where to go? The house? No, he’d find her there. The neighbor’s? Could she make it that far? She’d have to go through the forest. With that thought, she turned her steps, still sprinting, into the woods, fumbling with her flashlight until she could see where she was going, shoving aside branches with impatience. He must be pretty fast, but he wasn’t that fast. She had a good head start. Rachel leapt over a log, dodged a tree, and…
     The Murder Hole. She nearly toppled over into it, but caught herself last second. Inside lay the skeletal remains of a horse and the rotten wood of a wagon. She twitched her flashlight around to find a path away from the sinkhole, then paused.
     Slowly, she raised her flashlight higher and higher into tree next to the Murder Hole. What she saw petrified her with horror.
     A man’s body lay in the branches of the tree, blood dripping from a large wound in his chest, forming a puddle of blood in the grass. Without a second thought Rachel turned to flee.
     And suddenly, he was there. Rachel wasn’t aware of any footsteps, but just a few feet away stood the same tall man, still unmoving, still absolutely wrong. It was then she realized…he wasn’t wearing a mask. There was simply nothing there.
     Something broke inside Rachel’s mind, and she threw herself into the forest, a loud, high-pitched sound filling her ears, and she thought maybe it was her own screaming, but it didn’t matter, because that thing was still here, it was the Watcher, it must be, she could feel those eyes on her back, the eyes that weren’t there, oh God, was this why the kid fell down the stairs, so terrified he wanted only to run, no matter where, no matter how…
     The forest gave way to the overgrown lawn. Stars wavered above her head, but Rachel kept stumbling on, gasping for breath now, steps taking her straight to the house. She dragged herself up the stairs, into the house, and to the only open door.
     As if acting under some other influence, Rachel mechanically shut the door, locked it, then drew the ratty curtains over the window and backed away. Safe. Finally safe. Finally alone. Away from the eyes that weren’t there.
     Rachel felt something behind her. She turned. Floating above her in the darkness was a pale orb. She didn’t have time to scream.

     For several weeks, the small town was abuzz with the news. “That poor girl”, neighbors clucked, bringing casseroles to the bereaved parents as well as whatever new gossip they could glean from the sheriff’s office. It wasn’t much. The police were absolutely puzzled. What the girl had been doing in the woods, how her body got in that tree, why James Abbott’s body was found in the same place and who in their small little place would do such a thing?
     The sheriff was puzzled by the fresh wounds found on his brother’s body, but he was also puzzled by something else.
     The girl’s camera had been recovered. It held some pictures of nature, blurry flowers, and then, suddenly, pictures of the house. The fireplace inside, with something written in ash. And then, a bedroom with crazy writing on the walls and a ground floor window looking out into the forest, a stick figure drawn on the glass.
      Funny, the sheriff thought. It almost looked like the stick figure was really a man in the woods.

The Eclectic Blog Mantra: It's Just A Pizza, You Should Really Just Relax

Pizza: The Political Menace

I decided to comment on this because, while trivial in general, shows a problem. Perhaps I can explain best by showing my immediate reaction to reading this article.



This was it. Are these people really stupid enough to suddenly become enraged because someone they buy food from happens to have different political views, or are they just trolls that have nothing better to do with their lives?

Or both, as the case may be.

The guy likes the president. HE REALLY REALLY LIKES THE PRESIDENT.

While the bear hug was incredibly awkward, and probably had Secret Service having heart attacks and scrambling for their guns and trying to eat that last bit of pizza before they had to do something, the guy is harmless. He thinks the President is doing a fine job. I question his judgment, but whatever.

It's one thing to decide, "Well, he's probably using his money to support the Democrats, and I do not agree with them, therefore I will have pizza somewhere else."

It's another thing to react like this.

"BLARGHARGARGARG HE IS LIBERAL THEREFORE EVIL EVIL PIZZA BAD PIZZA NO LIKEY GO SOMEWHERE ELSE" and essentially scream this to the whole world, thereby making an ass of yourself in front of MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

You know, like Snooki.

I digress. Great, boycott the guy if you want, but your reaction is so over the top that I can only conclude that I am surrounded by idiots.

Thank you. Thank you for affirming my own intelligence.

Now look at this picture and tell me it doesn't make you smile even a little bit.




TL;DR: Shut up and eat your freaking pizza.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


The last book in the Hunger Games trilogy, this broke completely off from the “formula” of the last two, and quite frankly I thought it was excellent.

Katniss has, beyond all odds, survived two Hunger Games, and is ensconced in the safe, if totalitarian, underground society of District 13. But her home is destroyed, and Peeta is a prisoner of the Capitol. And it soon becomes apparent that District 13 may, in some ways, be just as bad as the Capitol.

Collins dealt with some very heavy material in this book. It’s clear Katniss is still suffering from PTSD. It’s also clear very early on that District 13 is using her just as the Capitol used her. We also see the horrors of war. Strategies begin to look more and more like what the Capitol uses, and the Capitol itself pulls out all the stops. The violence in this is much greater than in the last two books, and some of it is rather disturbing. The descriptions are not excessively graphic, yet I wouldn’t recommend this to any kid not yet in high school.

The tone of this book is even darker, as Katniss slowly loses her hope in humanity as the war rages on. And yet, despite it all, Katniss in some ways manages to cling to her own humanity much better than many people involved. Still, we get a painfully realistic description of what happens to the innocent that get caught up in war.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say it is rather bittersweet. We get a glimpse of hope, but filled with all the sorrow that has built up over the course of the story.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review-Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


Once again Collins has delivered a book that is engaging and very difficult to put down.

As the book opens, we find that Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 to the Victor’s Village, where their families can live in prosperity and peace. But all is not well. PTSD has clearly set in. Katniss’ friend Gale keeps a cool distance from her since the events of the Games, and Peeta will have nothing to do with her. Katniss survived the Games because everyone thought she and Peeta were too much in love to kill each other, but a visit from President Snow reveals that he saw it as nothing more than an act of defiance, and that many people feel the same way. Katniss has unwittingly caused the first rumbles of rebellion, and if she does not convince everyone of her love for Peeta, her family will suffer.

These books are so very readable. Katniss is an engaging, realistic protagonist. She isn’t perfect. She has a temper, she’s very clueless, particularly when it comes to love, and she’s occasionally selfish. But her voice is strong, and she herself is stronger than she realizes.

It also helps that Collins give us a diverse cast of supporting characters, as well as a good contrast to those who are more black-and-white in their morality. On one end of the spectrum you have President Snow, an amoral, bloodthirsty dictator through and through, and on the other end you have Peeta, selfless, giving, and kind. In between you have Katniss, rather selfish, temperamental, yet fiercely loyal to those she loves; Haymitch, the cynical drunk who nonetheless clearly cares for his two charges; and many vain, shallow, yet ultimately kind-hearted people they meet in the Capitol.

The story is very tightly written. It moves quickly, but each moment counts, each moment builds up toward the conclusion.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Takers: A Short Story; Or, Erica attempts creepypasta


     To this day, I cannot explain the incident that occurred one hot evening in the summer of ’99. I fear, or perhaps hope, it will forever remain a mystery. Truly, ignorance is bliss.
     My family lived in Virginia, in the Appalachians. While not “hillbillies” in the traditional sense, the area was rather cut off from any city, surrounded as it was by ridges. Our house sat near a back road, with a large stand of trees on the opposite side. We had the usual problems of country living-opossums, coyotes, and the occasional bear. Yet these were known factors, and easily dealt with if one had a shotgun and good aim.
     What happened that summer, however, can never be quantified.
     The noises began at 10:00 pm, just as it had grown very dark. My mother sat by the window, and straightened at the sound.
     “What is that?” she asked. I strained my ears.
     At first, I thought it sounded like a large group of hoot owls, and I said so. But as we listened, I became aware that there was something wrong with the noises. The “hoots” came too fast, were too high-pitched, to be owls. Curiously, I thought of monkeys.
     Mom and I stepped out onto the porch and peered across the road into the woods. We saw nothing moving, not even squirrels or birds. I was getting spooked. The noises were entirely unnatural, and I fled inside.
     After an hour, the noises died down, and the world was blessedly, mercifully silent.
     Yet that night, I struggled with sleep. I had become acutely aware of how little glass and wood could protect us, should someone or something choose to invade. As I tossed and turned, hating the darkness, I heard it.
     A soft clicking noise, as of something hard walking across the wooden porch, reached my ears. I lay absolutely still, holding my breath. The noises paused outside my room.
     I was petrified. Even if something burst in on me, I would be able to do nothing but lie there.
    From outside came a noise like a huff, then a soft rustle, as though something was pawing at the screen. After a moment, something snorted, and the clicking noises continued across the porch, then ceased.
     Then the wretched hooting began again, but grew quieter, fading into the forest.
     The next day, after a sleepless night, I discovered my cat had gone missing, as had the neighbor’s. One girl lost her bike; the dog-catcher, the tires from his van.
     One loss, however, struck me to the core.
     My friend, who lived just down the road, went to wake her little brother that morning, only to find him gone. The police scoured the area. All they found were odd prints in the mud outside the boy’s window, but they were too vague to give a hint as to who or what had stood there waiting.
     I hate sleeping on the ground floor and wherever I have lived, I have made sure to take an upper story. But at this apartment complex, all that was available was the garden level.
     Perhaps this is what brought the incident to mind. Or perhaps it was the news story about a possible group of escaped zoo monkeys living at the park, making racket every night. Or perhaps it’s that strange clicking I can hear on the sidewalk…



A/N: This is partly based on a true story. One night we did hear some pretty freaky sounds in the woods. But nothing walked across the porch. Okay, that's not true. There was another incident with a deer walking on our porch, but I decided to mix it up with this. As far as I know the government has not experimented with monkey-owl hybrids, but if anyone sees a green lady on a broom, run.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Slender: Needs a health warning for people with weak hearts




Slender: This is basically Marble Hornets in video game form. Even watching it played by a guy with a strange voice and constantly spazzing (I really don't get PewDiePie), I was still freaked out, and possibly had a heart attack or two as a result.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The first I heard of this book was in a conversation with a few coworkers. One was extremely concerned about her daughter reading "The Hunger Games". It was an extremely violent book in which kids are forced to kill each other for the entertainment of a dystopian government. It sounded like Battle Royale, and I put it out of my mind.

One movie later, and everyone is talking about it. And the more I hear about, the more I realize I may have gotten a too-biased view from an overly-concerned parent. (The daughter in question, by the way, is already in college.)

So, curiosity got the best of me, and after waiting months to get the book (the waiting list for the others are just as long), I got it, and read it. And I'm glad I did.

The setting is dystopian North America, where several wars have been fought for power. The land has been fractured into twelve districts under the total control of the Capitol, the thirteenth district having been utterly destroyed in the last rebellion. Also, due to the rebellion, the Capitol has instituted the Hunger Games. Two children from each district are sent to fight each other to the death in an arena. The winner gets a lifetime supply of food and luxuries for their family and district. This reminds the people of how much control the government has over them, and supposedly keeps them docile. (The Capitol isn't very genre savvy.)

The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in the coal mining District 12, poaching in the forest to keep her mother and sister fed. Then, to everyone's surprise, her little sister Prim is chosen as "Tribute" for the Hunger Games. To save her sister, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead. She and the other "Tribute", Peeta, face overwhelming odds, as many other districts train their children in anticipation for the Hunger Games. They must use their wits to survive.

First, I'm going to address the elephant in the room: the violence. And, honestly? It's not as bad as people say. Collins uses enough detail that you can get the picture, without going overboard. In fact, compared to some of Tolkien's death scenes, these are pretty tame. Obviously one still wouldn't let an 8 or 9 year old read it, but (going back to my coworker) someone being concerned about a 20-year-old reading it is just a little silly.

One thing that no one seems to have mentioned, however, is the subtle theme throughout. Not only of rebellion, but of a respect for life. Even in the middle of fighting for her life, Katniss fights for something else-keeping her humanity. She takes no pleasure in what is happening, unlike some of her opponents. The only two times she directly kills, the first is for the sake of another person, the second is out of mercy. She even puts flowers on one of the other "Tributes" to shame the government who has turned them into entertainment. Despite her attempts at a gruff exterior, she is a remarkably caring person inside, and, as part of her rebellious nature, she refuses to let the Capitol take that from her.

This was well-written and fast-paced. Collins' characters jump off the page, even the minor ones, and Katniss makes for an engaging and sympathetic protagonist.

This book gets a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Have I mentioned the English Fail Blog?

Because, really, you need to go read the English Fail Blog.

Some typos may be naughty. All are hilarious.




Also this picture. Because, hey, why not.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Embrace Your Inner Geekness Day!

No, seriously, it's actually a thing.

It is the day we obsess over sci-fi. In which we spend hours on Unforum because I totally don't do that now at all. The day that we talk in Elvish, and see if anyone understands us. And on that note, I shall list all my geeky obsessions.

1.)

In fact, if you don't like Lord of the Rings, I'm going to go ahead and assume something is wrong with you. Same as...

2.)

Dumbledore and Gandalf are BFFs. IT'S TRUE.

3.)

I chose this picture because it has Kosh. YAY KOSH.

4.)

SLENDER MAN Y U GIVE ME NIGHTMARES???

5.)

No, seriously, this cartoon is amazing. AND HILARIOUS.

6.)

Home of all things geeky.

7.)

The summer getaway of all things geeky.


8.)

Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, the origin of cosmic horror.

FYI I will be voting Cthulhu this November. I suggest you all do the same. Currying favor with the blobby god thing is always good, right?

10.)

Giant robots blow things up and fight. THERE IS NOTHING TO DISLIKE ABOUT THIS.



And tonight, I plan on starting a new geeky thing.



*puts on sunglasses*

OHHHHH YEEEEAAAHHHH



P.S. Happy Birthday Mr. Jones. Never lose that hat.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows

Since I'm still up at this ridiculous hour, I might as well write a blog post.

But first, a little warning. My computer is sideways. Not that it's infected by Sideways, I hope, but it is sideways. Therefore most of my bloggery ideas are...well...who knows, they may be GONE FOREVER. I plan on giving the Geek Squad a call in hopes that their pocket protectors can save me.

Now, on to the review!

"Game of Shadows" is, as expected, Holmes vs. Moriarty. Holmes has started making connections between some very odd happenings, including several industries being bought up by an anonymous investor and bombings in Germany and France. They all lead back to one man-Professor James Moriarty, "the Napoleon of Crime". And thus fiction's greatest rivalry was born.

But enough of that. Here are my thoughts on the movie.

I admit, despite involving Moriarty, it really wasn't as good as the first movie. I feel like they were relying too much on "Holmes acts funny" pratfalls. In other words, despite the darker story line, they seemed to focus ever more on comedy. Holmes in disguise, Holmes flirts with Irene, Holmes does something funny but it turns out to have a good purpose...

While these elements were somewhat present in the stories, they seem to be taken up to eleven in this movie, and I felt detracted from the story.

I also felt that, while funny, the "Holmes and Watson HoYay" was just getting silly. Okay, all right, some of the fandom believe they are totally the One True Pairing and whatnot. But you don't have to keep nudging and winking at us "Oh look they're SOOOO CLOSE. REEEEEALLY CLOSE." Believe it or not, some of us don't see subtext in every little thing we read. This too was rather unnecessary.

And last complaint...the slo-mo. Dear Lord, the slo-mo. It's okay every now and then, to show what's going on in Holmes' mind as he plans his next move, but the scene in the forest was absolutely ridiculous. YOU DO NOT NEED THAT MUCH SLO-MO TO SHOW THAT PEOPLE ARE SHOOTING BULLETS AT THEM. It's a cool effect. You overdid it. Stop that.

Now that I've complained, though, let me put out that I did like the movie. I loved the cat and mouse game between Holmes and Moriarty, the occasional odd comedy (that wasn't centered around Holmes pratfalls and fandom slashfics), and seeing Mycroft (played by the inimitable Stephen Fry). Seeing Moriarty's ultimate Xanatos Gambit was a treat as well. You realize just how ingenious-and how twisted- Moriarty is. Forget Lex Luthor. Moriarty was the first supervillain in fiction. (Well, apart from Eris, but you know.) Perhaps they got a bit too symbolic with the chess match near the end, but that was all right. It was still a nice addition all the same.

Overall, it was a good film, but not the best. I'd give a 3 out of 5.

Now, as for the next movie-because you know they'll make another one-I would really REALLY, INCREDIBLY, TOTALLY love for a new adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles. There is just the one, which, unfortunately, is sort of...so-so.

We need a new one. We need a "Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law muck about in Devonshire" version.

Please. Make this.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

It's Independence Day, and you all know what that means.




NO.

Well, all right, there were probably quite a few ID4 marathons running today. You really don't get much better than combining the Great American Holiday with aliens and improbable hacking abilities.

No, today we celebrate a bunch of old guys. Really, incredibly awesome old guys. Old guys who decided England could sit in their corner of the world and drink their tea, and we would stay over here and wrestle bears. Or something similar to that.

(I got in trouble, by the way, for being flippant about the holiday. Was disrespectful, or something. I dunno. I think cool old guys giving King George the finger is a great image.)

ANYWAYS. Cool old guys. With hair ribbons. (Oh 1700's...you and your bizarre hair styles.) They decided England wasn't being quite right, and decided to do things their own way.

They made the United States a republic.

People insist on calling it a democracy.

Either way, we don't have to listen to a king order someone's head chopped off. We can just listen to the president rant about Fox News. And conspiracy theorists insist the president is going to declare himself king,  or dictator for life, or something.

But that's the beauty of America. If the crazy conspiracy theorists can spout off their nonsense, intelligent and rational people can speak as well.

It's almost one and I'm really not sure where I'm going with this blog post. It's a bit stream-of-conscious-y.

Either way, remember. We are still a free country. Occasionally annoying, rather silly, and invariably bullheaded...but still free.

Did I mention we kicked England's butt?