Monday, June 17, 2013

Dirk Gently: Not A Review of The Hitchhikers Guide

Sometimes it's more obvious than others, but I love "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."

As evidenced by the fact that I own this t-shirt.

I've read each volume twice, except the new one, but that's only because it very recently even became available. I have yet to watch the television show, but it's in my Netflix queue. And even though it was a flop, I loved the recent movie. I mean, how could you not? There was space travel, old school puppet creatures used to depict alien races, and a wonderfully droll robot, not to mention the casting choices! Martin Freeman, Zoe Deschanel, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry...that's just an all-star cast right there. Watch this clip and try to tell me it's not some of the best film you've ever seen. See? You can't do it.

But I digress since this, as I mentioned, is not a review of The Hitchhikers Guide. But now it makes my recent foray into other Douglas Adams related matters make sense. I had heard wonderful things about his other books, and when I picked up the first in the Dirk Gently series at the library, well, lets just say it was love at first read.


This book was much more Dickensian than any of the Hitchhikers volumes, and it took awhile for the book to really hit its stride in terms of me feeling like I knew what was going on. But I'm a Dickens fan, which means I always stick with a book. This has both worked to my advantage and been to my detriment (I'm looking at you, "War of the Worlds"). In this case, it was my love of Dickens and Douglas, and the skill of character development, slow as it may have been, that kept me pressing forward. It was worth it.

It was delightful, snarky, Britishly witty, and people, it involves time travel. You cannot go wrong here.

Now excuse my while I go listen to some "Journey of the Sorcerer" by The Eagles. I had forgotten how good the Hitchhiker's soundtrack really is...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

My husband and I just a recently visited San Francisco for the first time. I loved the city. It was weird to be in the presence of iconic architecture that I've seen in photos and on TV since I was a kid (I grew up watching FULL HOUSE).

The weekend after we got back, the library told me that it was finally my turn to read the much anticipated Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

Let me just tell you right now: This. Book. Was. Fantastic.

Mr. Penumbra's was the perfect post-San Francisco read. Set in San Fran and surrounding areas, I was able to picture the city as it is and even occasionally knew exactly where the characters were. While a perk, it is not necessary in order to enjoy the book.

Cute puppy not required either, but it doesn't hurt the experience.

I won't go into too much detail (no spoilers), but the story starts out with the main character taking up employment at a mysterious 24-Hour bookstore. What follows is a charming, enchanting, techie, noir-ish tale. It blends the old and the new in perfect symbiosis. The newest technology of old meets the newest technology of now, and the story unfolds so organically, it feels like technology intertwining is the way it was always meant to be. And really, I think it is the way it was meant to be. Old meets new, and the presence of one makes us appreciate the other more than we already did.

It's a quick read that will leave you sighing contentedly. You can check out the first chapter of the book on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Word Day: Rake

I love words that have a alternate meaning than the I normally associate with it. There's always a nice reward for looking it up. It's like a digital Easter egg.

I think that's why I have an affinity for the word "corona" even though I associate that with a certain brand versus a definition. Similar principle applies, though.

So today's word is rake. Immediate thought? The thing you use to drag leaves across the ground in order to form piles of them. Ah, but as always, context matters, so I immediately knew that the garden tool was not the thought the writer was trying to bring to mind.

What was it, then?

Ah yes, of course! And what says dissolute and promiscuous more than a hairy man riding a unicorn?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time: not a review

SPOILER ALERT: This post may contain light spoilers in regard to the book "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. I didn't give away major plot points, but do discuss the tone and general outcomes of some of the characters.


Show of hands, who had to read "A Wrinkle in Time" in school? I never did. I only recently began hearing about the book, and there were 2 main reasons I decided to read it:

1) my affinity for all things time-travel
2) the fact it has been included in lists of challenged and/or banned books in the US

Enough for me (although it also didn't hurt that it also won a Newbery Award).

I grew up in a conservative environment, so there were always plenty of "banned books" to go around. I think that might explain my attraction for them today. What can I say? I'm a rebel.

While I was reading it, my husband would ask, "How's your book?" to which I always replied, "Slow. And I still haven't figured out why it was a banned book."

The answer never became clear. I hypothesized it was because the book mentions Jesus in an almost off-handed way, seeming to put him equal with Da Vinci and other great thinkers, artists, and philosophers. That was it. That was the only damning evidence I could find.

Since I didn't want to spoil the book, I looked up the reasons after I had finished. Turns out, I was right, at least partly. The fact that L'Engle mentions Jesus like that, and the fact that there is a "witch" with a crystal ball and magic is the reason that some considered it too appalling to let their children read.

Yet, there are other reasons to find the book overtly religious, including instances of Scripture being quoted and characters talking about a divine God.

This article points out the irony of one side thinking the book is anti-religion, while the other side of the same coin applauds it for its religious overtones.

So that's that. There are plenty of other books I could understand being "banned" in the sense of not kept in the Children's section or something along those lines, but not this one.

What fascinated me more than this, especially as I read the book, was why it had won an award and was lauded as a classic and wonderful book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. And I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, including award givers, but I found it slow. And I especially didn't like the main character. I thought she was just a big ball of annoying.

Again, after I finished, I did a little research. Back when the book was published, it was one of the first science fiction stories that featured a female lead. I can dig that.

I think ultimately I was just disappointed that she was so whiny, and she only seemed to do the right thing when there was literally no other option. I love that she had flaws. I love that she wasn't perfect. But none of the other characters were perfect, either, and they weren't nearly as irritating. Had she gone through some sort of transformation throughout the book, I think I would have had a different opinion. Instead, she felt the same. There was even a perfect set-up in the beginning! She could have been a different person by the end!

And isn't that what we want to see from characters? See them struggle and learn and come out different in the end, even if just a little? Isn't that what makes them relatable, but also gives us hope for OUR stories, for OUR outcomes?

Have you read the book? What do you think? Why do you read?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Introduction of Word Day: Corona (nope, not that one)

In college, I was required  had the honor of  kept a list of vocabulary words. It was a love/hate relationship. I liked learning new words, but I hated the effort of looking them up.

In MY day, my mom would tell me to "look it up" if I came across a word I didn't know, and this  required unreasonable amounts of effort. We used to have to walk all the way across the room to the bookshelf, up hill both ways, to find a dictionary. I mean, the first iPhone didn't even come out until halfway through my junior year of college, and do you remember what looking stuff up on a phone was like before then? Nobody does, because you just didn't.

One of the beauties of our technological age is our new-found ability to look things up on a whim. We're always with our phones, in front of our computers, or within arms reach of an old fashioned paper dictionary...nope, just those two things.

My appreciation for vocabulary hasn't changed, but my apathy and laziness toward actually looking up words has. Now all I have to do is type a few characters into my phone and, by the powers of tiny computers, satellites, and magic, I get answers wherever and whenever I want. It's like a super power or something. I now have the capability to do something about my word ignorance.

And that is my introduction to Word Day: a random day where we'll post a word and a picture. Maybe it will be a word you don't know. Maybe it will be on a Monday, or maybe a Friday, or maybe even a Wednesday. You'll never even see it coming!

I have to admit, when I initially read today's word, my first thought immediately went to that mediocre drink that only becomes marginally less mediocre by shoving a lime down its neck. But I knew this couldn't be what the word actually meant (after all, context and stuff).

I've kind of already tipped you off to the word by the title of this post. There are several definitions of the word "corona," and, surprisingly, none of them are beverage related (see what the rest are here).

You can download as a desktop background here

Admittedly, there aren't many times you can whip this one out in conversation. But it might just come in handy when you least expect it (perhaps on a moonlit walk with someone you're trying to impress). Remember: words save lives, and dates.

Any unique words you've come across lately?

Thursday, February 28, 2013


I think we can all agree that grammar and punctuation are important members of our society that oft go overlooked.

That is not to say there is no room for improvement, modification, or adaptation. After all, language is a fluid, ever changing art form. Sometimes you have to follow the rules, and sometimes following the rules will get you killed.

Had these seals been following the rules, they'd be dead. Instead, they're enjoying some techno.

In the spirit of improvement, College Humor provided this helpful series of new and innovative punctuation marks. My three favorites are...

You can find all 8 of them here

They have even created a downloadable punctuation font (found here). I approve of this very much as I cannot wait to use the Morgan Freemark on every thing I ever write ever.

Now, if only they I could use them while texting...

And with that, she gave a contented sigh, and pressed the publish button.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

What can you do with a library card?

finally got a library card. I mean, I got one when I first moved to California. I could walk to the library from my apartment (although I didn’t as frequently as I would have liked). The only book I can recall actually checking out was a book about After Effects, but I’m sure I used it more than that one time.

access to the world

It’s been years (literally, YEARS) since I lived in that first California apartment and since the “new” (now YEARS old) apartment is in a different city, it requires a new library card. And I just never got one. I was busy, I didn’t read as much as I had wanted, etc. etc. excuses excuses. But this year, one of my goals is to read more. I’m trying for a book a month, but have already failed because the book I’m currently reading is big and long and wonderful. So wonderful that I don’t really care that it’s taken me this long to read. I’m going to try to catch up, though, and read TWO books in one month when I’m done. I’ve been meaning to read “A Wrinkle in Time” and something of Neil Gaiman’s, and I think both will end up being relatively quick reads (depending, of course, on which Neil Gaiman book I choose).

Which brings me back to the finally acquired library card. It felt so good to get one, so right. But it got me thinking that there are some people out there who might not see the benefits of a library card. So, what can you really do with one?

Well, you can: