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Eileen showed us living room viewers the George R. R. Martin and Stephen King mutual interview, and King was talking about how we always remember the killers but rarely the victims.

It got me to thinking about a story plot, something along the lines of a Black Mirror episode, where potential victims become major celebrities a la royalty, dead victims become saints, and somehow an entire society manages to revolve around these concepts. People WANT to be attempted murder victims. Sociopaths/psychopaths are welcomed and even nurtured. Attemptees, as they are called, become the tabloid fodder, the socialites to see and be seen with (kind of like the survivors of the Hunger Games in a way). They get sponsorships and interviews and even movie offers. Oh, and someone who has been a Double or even A Fated Triple Attemptee© - those rare folks are set for life.

The internal struggle of the story could actually be with one of the psychopaths. They are like the equivalent of stunt doubles. Nobody actually knows who they are. They can walk around in full daylight and nobody recognizes them except for the occasional oddball fan that for some reason bothers to look up and research mass killers. And this person, this otherwise-would-be-famed murderer actually wants his moment in the spotlight. Maybe one of his fans keeps pushing him to get into the spotlight. Thus the story begins, with one hopeful psychopath, looking to tell his story...

I don't know, just brainstorming an idea out loud.
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A while back, Lolotehe and I went to see Crispin Glover's Big Slide Show which includes a Q&A after the presentation of his movie (which included the showing of It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.).

The biggest takeaway from the event was Crispin's take on movie endings and the messages movies are trying to convey. It's what started his feud with the creators of Back to the Future and now fuels his own creative juices toward making his own movies.

In Back to the Future, Marty McFly is rewarded with the girl, the awesome family, and most importantly, the truck, representing the materialistic component of the reward both for the character and the viewer. Crispin felt this sent a bad/negative message to the audience.

At the time, I had bad feelings about that scene in the movie, but I never thought too much about it nor tried to put those feelings into words. Crispin nailed it. Not only that, but it made me start paying quite a lot of attention to that aspect of movies - the endings and the message that such rewards present in the denouement.

At one point a while back Lolotehe had also lent me a book called [Strange Minds - I can't recall exact name, but she'll see this and correct me later] which included the philosophical concept that "WE" are nothing but our brains talking to one another. Our bodies are our husks, but the conversation is actually taking place with one brain talking to another brain. The outside is just the shell.

Deadpool spoiler, so I figured a cut might be in order )

PS - Crispin also mentioned his involvement with the Wolf PAC, to which I'll give a shout out.
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It's also real life sometimes.

Can you feel the undercurrents brewing?

I still own my copy of the The Wave book that my Honors World History Teacher gave us after conducting our own in-class Holocaust experience. It was small, it was simple, yet it was palpable. And it was a lesson I'll never forget.

Study Bug

Aug. 28th, 2016 10:38 am
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Along with GRE lessons, I'm also learning Japanese with my eldest nephew. )

As another development, eldest and his friends started playing D&D. They've been playing the World War Z and the Walking Dead games that are based on similar RPG mechanics, but one of the boys has officially bought a couple of the D&D books, and they're branching out into that arena as a group. I'm such a proud geek aunt. I was initially toying with the idea of getting eldest into Pathfinder a couple months ago, so hearing of this new development thrills me.

Eldest is doing the math of the future in his head. He knows I'm trying to teach his younger brother programming, and he would like to learn to draw/animate anime, and he's really digging into the RPGs. He'd like it if the two of them managed to make their own games.

I'm thinking it's time to introduce him to Persona or some of the other visual novel type games. This seems to be the direction he's heading.
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"We should vouch more often, if we’re not going to avouch. But then we don’t aver much either, and Fowler states that avouch is a solemn averring. So be lighthearted in the use of aver, but be solemn about avowing (or avouching, or vouching.)"

I work on easy and moderate level crosswords often. This has been going on since I was a teen. Right now, I attack the daily puzzle at USAToday during my lunch hour at work, and sometimes at home on the weekends.

I'm quite used to a lot of the repetitive words and clues that pop up, but as I mentioned in my last post, I'm consciously paying more attention to words, word roots, and word meanings in an effort to study for the GRE.

So, when "declare firmly" is given as the clue, and I am not sure if the answer is avow or aver, I take to the internet to figure out the differences between the two. Most websites are of no help at all, but the one I linked above has a wonderful description of the two along with their etymological histories.

Here's how I'm interpreting the results. )
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I made a comment on Friday that was a word play on the title of Shel Silverstein's book Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Today, there's a Woot Shirt making a similar word play on the title.

Ah, timely coincidences are always so much fun.
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I have re-listened to Manuscript Found in Accra at least 5 times now during the course of the 2-week check out period, and some sections many more times than that.

Written by Paulo Coelho, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, and read by Jeremy Irons (yes, THAT Jeremy Irons)

What I find most absolutely fascinating about this book is it's setting. The primary speaker, known only as the Copt, wants to talk about life on the eve of battle, and not just any battle. It's the Siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusades.

That setting brings home the messages presented by the Copt as he answers the questions of the attendees. When he talks about life, it's on the brink of destruction, and as history shows, it was the destruction of many. Given the setting, you can assume that easily 80% or more of the attendees will die during the upcoming battle, but in this moment they are just a group of people talking about life, hanging on to whatever shred of hope they can. The brief one or two sentences introducing each character still manage to bring the reader close to those characters, because with just the right amount of info you can so easily imagine this or that person to be people you know in your day-to-day life today.

Another thing I like about it is that although it's set in Jerusalem during the Crusades, and although there are religious undertones, that's the extent of the religiousness of this book. It draws more on the combined view of man as a simple biological creature making his way through his life with all his faults and glories trailing along with him. Yeah, there's a reference here or there to a soul or God, but even those references take a back seat to the overarching concept of basic decency and a universal view of existence.

A review of the book likens the writing style to an iPod shuffle where "anything and everything can be read selectively in order to provide either insight into or justification for one’s particular perspective." This is true because each of the aforementioned characters is in a different state of life and past affairs. They have all gathered due to their shared current-moment state of affairs (the threat of the siege), but they each come from different backgrounds and histories and have differing perceived futures before them. The questions remind the reader that every person on the planet has their own "things" they are going through, even on the eve of battle, or perhaps, ESPECIALLY on the eve of battle.

It reminds me of Robert Fulghum's books, which truly are iPod shuffle books, and with just as much life insight.
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The 5th Game of Thrones audiobook - A Dance with Dragons - became available via my library after many weeks on hold, so Koontz's Kunt (yeah, I'm being quite mean about that female protagonist) will have to wait a couple weeks before she can annoy me some more.

In the meantime, I dreamt about wolves last night. We had to corral my parents' dogs into the garage last night to get them to stop barking at the lightning, and the Prologue and most recently read chapters in the book involve a pack of warg wolves. So I managed to dream about corralling the warg wolves. It was a cute dream.

In other news, Mom wanted to go for Mother's Day dinner, which I said was a bad idea. We met up at The Olive Garden only to see the crowd waiting outside the building for a table, which indicated at minimum an hour wait time, if not longer. I parked my car, my sister conveyed messages to me from their vehicle, and we all decided to take the truck, leaving my car behind, and try our hand at Mexican Inn. We had only about a 5min wait while they got us a bigger table, while in the meantime groups of 2-4 were able to be seated immediately.

While driving to our second destination, Mom asked why a church sign said, "He Is Risen," instead of, "He Has Risen." (Welcome to the Buckle of the Bible Belt.) Apparently, it's a common question. I started to mention the differences between verb tenses and risen as a verb versus risen as an adjective (as I actually wasn't aware of the simpler answer of, "That's how it is in older versions of the Bible using older forms of English," although I'm aware of that now), but instead went with, "It's like saying, 'She is female'. You wouldn't say, 'She has female.'" That seemed to quickly calm the qualm. I learned a while back that many times an example is better than a full explanation, although putting that into practice is more difficult for me.

Listening to Game of Thrones includes hearing a lot of older English, like people stating that they are going to break their fast, or she is breaking her fast, versus the modern way of saying, "I'm going to breakfast," or, "I'm having breakfast," wherein we've turned the process into a more succinct noun instead of using the original verb phrase. I was also thinking of Doctor Who just a few days ago and the cryptic sentence, "He has a secret he will take to the grave, and it is discovered," keeps playing on repeat in my head at the moment. Mom bringing up, "He is risen," only added fuel to my head worm, so now there's two sentences playing on repeat, and my brain keeps wanting to interject the image of the Doctor in place of Jesus.

"The Doctor's grave is discovered, and He Is Risen!"

Good grief. Zombie Doctor.

As a complete aside, the boys finally broke out the World War Z board game I bought eldest for Christmas, and they've been playing it non-stop since Saturday night. It's similar to Risk, and much simpler to our Arkham board game, although eldest also talks about playing The Walking Dead board game at a friend's house, and I have a feeling it's much more like the Arkham game. Maybe a little less insanity inducing.

In the meantime, I keep thinking that George R.R. Martin better write faster, because I don't think I want to hear any of his Game of Thrones books being read by anyone other than Roy Dotrice, but bless him, unless his mission in life is to stay alive long enough to read to the end of the series, his end will come sooner, and I will be quite mournful of such a loss.
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I'm listening to this book by Dean Koontz.

I would like to strangle the female protagonist.

She opens her mouth CONSTANTLY without thinking, without care. She has got to be one of the most infuriating characters I've ever had to endure. She gets into these stupid hysterics, and I really wish the main character would slap her, but he apparently has the patience of a saint.

I know that by making her have such emotions, that gives her more life and reality, but ugh she drives me up the wall when she gets into one of her tizzies.
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The Three-Body Problem movie is in post-production. Here's a very short behind-the-scenes video.

I am very much looking forward to this, along with reading the second book and awaiting the translation of the third.

Also, this is kind of long, but KEEP WATCHING.

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The Three-Body Problem

Even Gizmodo says to pick up a copy and read it.

Chinese Cultural Revolution
Military Exploits
Virtual Reality
Exceptionally Interesting Characters
Quantum Mechanics
Mind-Blowing Virtual Reality
Chaos Theory
Astrophysics and Roche limits
The Most Simplistic Man on the Planet
...Having to Interact with some of the Smartest Men and Women on the Planet
A Never-Ending Universal Countdown
von Neumann creates the Human-Formation Computer

and did I mention a freaking Virtual Reality game that blows Ender's VR Game not only out of the water but more like out of the solar system?
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I was looking for another book to delve into until again my Game of Thrones becomes available, and I came across The Three-Bodied Problem. After checking it out and finishing up the tail end of Think Like a Freak, I managed to completely forget the synopsis of The Three-Bodied Problem. All I could recall was that it sounded interesting enough for me to pick it as my next book, but beyond that, absolutely nothing about the synopsis was remembered.

So, if you pick up this book and start reading without reading the synopsis, or forgetting the synopsis like I did, it's going to come off as a very trippy book. Now that I'm a couple parts into the book and thinking about it while at a computer, I looked up the synopsis again and still find it to be a bit of a trippy book, although now things are starting to make sense, and I remember why I picked out this book in the first place.

I now realize that I know absolutely nothing about China's history over the past few decades. I also realize I how much I hate stupid, nonsensical revolutions. The first couple chapters reminded me of The Wave, which classroom experiment my own Honors World History teacher* utilized in a smaller, more controlled fashion to introduce our classes to WWII. I had read The Good Earth as part of that same class, but, as that book cover says, it's set in pre-revolutionary China, so I have little knowledge of the revolutionary China period. This book, The Three-Bodied Problem, is my first introduction to it, and I'm now interested in learning more about the details. I love it when a book can manage to pique my interest in a new subject like that.

* About That Teacher )
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I'm in the middle of the next-to-last chapter for Dark Orbit, and throughout the entire book, I just keep shaking my head in annoyance.

I love the concepts in this book, but I loathe how SLOW people are to realize the (to me) obvious. I would like to say it's because the author is trying to tell a story by little crumbs at a time so as to "bring the audience along," but most times I think it might be because she herself is not a scientist, nor of a scientific mind.

Too many times I have figured out, if not the answer directly, a simple test that they could use to prove this or that if they would just stop and think about it for a minute and stop with their seemingly endless circular, non-helpful discussions on it. My time spent as a physics major and all my studies regarding neuroscience and child development might be giving me a background that makes such a book unbearable to read (listen to).

The very first thing that happened on board the spaceship was a murder, and I had it worked out during that same chapter. They only just now figured it out, right near the end of the book, even with a supposed full scientific team of physicists on board. The character's closed minds are levels of astounding, and I find this book not near as tedious when I consider it more a study in human ability and interactions than I do a sci-fi who-done-it, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. I don't like the thought that this is what +/- 2to3 standard deviations of the human population are actually like on a regular basis. Not to mention, the main character is supposed to be a First Contact exoethnologist (sic) expert, and I doubt she would have ever even come close to passing the xenobiologist test discussed in the Ender's Game world (read: Speaker of the Dead).

I think that's why I like Doctor Who. He's smart and witty, and as he says, very, very clever. Aside from the bad science episodes, the show does a much better job keeping someone like me on her toes and entertained. This book has a character that spends quite a lot of time in pure darkness (in a cavern) and talks about how she feels like she's mentally drowning from the sensory deprivation. Hell, that's about as good an explanation I could give regarding how I feel about the sheer lack of cleverness in this book.

My final review recommendation - meh. The concepts are awesome, but if you're really smart, be prepared to be bored and annoyed by how long it takes these folks to figure anything out.

I can

Jan. 19th, 2016 08:53 am
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No sooner than I learn about a little bird, its little beak, and a huge diamond mountain, do I turn around and hear about it again in The Wee Little Men by Terry Pratchett.

The voice actor in this is great, because he really does bring out both the strong Scottish accents of the Nac Mac Feegles, but he also still imbues them with individual voices that distinguish the main character Feegles when possible.

He does such a good job, I was totally in agreement with Tiffany when she had to ask the frog to interpret what the Feegles had just said.

Every time Nac Mac Feegle is said in my head, it's said via the Cat Scratch Fever tune of Ted Nugent's song.

I'm pretty sure I'd heard the phrase before, but this book has the characters saying, "I can," and, "You can what to do," so often that it's impossible to not start picking it up yourself. I could easily tell the Feegles were using the word "can" in lieu of the verb-phrase "to know". I had to look it up and get a better understanding of its origins, since of course by today's standards, "You can what to do," sounds so archaic and lacking. When we say, "She can knit," we are technically saying, "She knows how to knit." I find it kind of interesting the manner of interchangeability there.

Also, during that internet searching, I found this video which reminded me of the elephants in Leaving Time.


Dec. 28th, 2015 10:24 pm
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I listened to The Dead in Their Valuted Arches, which apparently is book 6 in the Flavia de Luce series. So, once I'm back on the Game of Thrones waiting list again, which I know I will again be eventually, I'll look into starting back on book 1 of this series.

It comes off as a child/young adult series, with the main character only 8 years old, but listening to her talk so "prim and proper" (and occasionally a little on the snobbish side of things), her character is precocious enough to keep my attention.

I keep landing on what appear to be young adult books via my Overdrive and Library searches for audiobooks, but they do pretty well at passing the drive time to and from work.
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by Jodi Picoult

This book made me cry during the first chapter while driving to work. I had to pause the book, wipe away the tears, understand what kind of book this was going to be, and be prepared for more tearful, or at least heart-wrenching, moments.

It's not that often you will come across a book like that.

It is an excellent book. It sometimes feels slow, but I think that's the result of being used to fast-paced movies as well as fast-paced books that I've been listening to, like Game of Thrones and Neil Gaiman books. For instance, Good Omens was a non-stop cluster hell (literally, since the whole plot of that book is to follow around demons on earth preparing to enact Revelations) with the sound of the Benny Hill theme just there on the edge of your mind during the bulk of it. So when I say Leaving Time has some slow passages, that's not to say it isn't good, just slow by comparison. I do have to say that the voice actress that read the mindset of Alice always read her passages pretty slowly, though, and there were many times when I hoped she would speed up the voicing pace. Then again, all of her thoughts were in the form of past-tense memoirs, so maybe there was a point to it to give it a bit of an "other-worldy" feel. I don't know.

The book has a really great twist ending, going through the whole thing wondering if Alice is alive or dead and what happened to her and her co-worker at the elephant sanctuary on that fateful night. As a secondary plan for the book, it's chocked full of explanations and descriptions of elephant cognition and emotions. THAT made it a very unexpected book, because it wasn't just about solving a murder/missing person mystery. I found so much interest in wanting to hear about the elephants, I would forget that there was a mystery afoot.

Now, back to book two of A Song of Ice and Fire (Games of Thrones, season 2), now that after 2 months on the waiting list for it I finally get to listen to it. Unfortunately, book 1 took 4 weeks and two check-outs to get through, and I can only hope I'll get through this one faster, as having to wait 2 more months to check it out again and finish it will drive me mad.

Story Time

Dec. 9th, 2015 08:38 pm
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The attics at Buckshaw are a vast, aerial underworld containing all platter, the castoffs, the debris, the dumpings, the sad dusty residue of all those who have lived and breathed in this house for centuries past.

Piled on top of the moldering prayer chair, for instance, upon which the terrible-tempered Georgina de Luce had once perched piously in her powdered periwig to hear the whispered confessions of her terrified children, was the crumpled wreckage of the home built glider in which her ill-fated grandson, Leopold, had launched himself from the parapets off the east wing scant seconds before coming to grief on the steel-hard, frozen ground of the visto, bringing to an abrupt end that particular branch of the family.

That's two VERY long sentences from The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.

(Quoted from the the audiobook, so I may have misspelled or punctuated incorrectly.)

As a visual reader, one who creates vivid pictures in my mind constantly while reading, I had to listen to that second sentence four times before I could fully follow and understand what was being presented. First we're in an attic, then we're not in an attic and there's a lady with a wig, but then there's children around her, and they are afraid, presumably because she a witch, but she's taking confession which must be why it's called a confession chair, but then I don't know what a confession chair looks like as opposed to any other chair in the world, so now I'm stuck presuming that maybe it looks special but I don't know, so I question the image of the chair I have in my mind and hope I'm not too far off, but then she's not in the chair and we're back in the attic and there's a crumpled glider on it, but then we're talking about her grandson and not her children, but then we're on the roof, and then we're on the floor, and then we're looking at the HUGE family tree my own uncle sent to our household and I'm recalling how family tree branches just stopped, and then.....I think we're back in the attic.

Odd Art

Sep. 24th, 2015 09:03 am
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I'm currently listening to Proust was a Neuroscientist.

The concepts in it are fascinating, but going into chapter four I started feeling odd about the book, without being able to place it. This is funny in my view, because if there's one thing I have learned from neuroscience and cognitive psychology it's how our subconscious minds will perceive things prior to our rational, conscious mind being able to explain them. (reference the Wisconsin Card Sorting cognitive test)

To be fair, this is in stark contrast to when I first sat down to read Dianetics (prior to ever hearing any "news" about the book or Scientology as a whole, so I was completely untainted by bias when I read it), in which by the second chapter I was boiling over trying to figure out what the hell kind of dribble I was reading. I continued reading it to the end out of morbid fascination to see exactly how horrible it was going to get.

It would appear my underlying suspicions regarding Proust was a Neuroscientist have already been proven to have merit.

One thing I like about that review versus this review is that the first review is pointing out factual idiosyncrasies versus putting fourth a simple opinion. Granted, I think they both point to the odd feeling about the book I was getting.

I still think it's a good read, because it is forcing me to look outside of science alone in wanting to uncover the secrets of thought. I'll just be sure to read it with that little grain of salt in my head.

On a separate note, I can't stand the way the reader, Dan John Miller, is reading this audiobook. At least it's still a narrator rather than the computer reading it to me, but I do wonder if I wouldn't have been better off with a monotonous computer voice rather than this narrator. It's very grating to me.

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