Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Forgotten (Season Premier)

This is one of the new television series that I thought looked promising. As it turned out, it was a good mystery show.

The volunteers of the "Forgotten Network" pick up where the Chicago police are forced to leave off on unidentified murder case victims. They have a limited time to find the identity of the victim, and hopefully find the killer. The time frame is determined it seems by the closing of the case by Chicago police and the time of the funeral in a "Potter's Field" grave.

Members of the Forgotten Network in Chicago are:

Alex Donovan (Christian Slater) who leads the group and is a former cop.

Candace Butler (Michelle Borth) who has a mind-numbing day job.

Lindsay Drake (Heather Stephens) A High school teacher whose husband is in prison for murder.

Walter Bailey (Bob Stephenson) a gentle giant who works for the phone company and who has a picture of himself and Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue in his car for inspiration.

Tyler Davies (Anthony Carrigan) an artist who reluctantly helps the group re-create the victims faces from what remains as part of a community service sentence.

Alex Donovan's contact at the police department who shows up whenever he needs a practicing cop is Grace Russell (Rochelle Aytes).

I feared this might be a little grisly, as these shows can be these days, but except for quick shots of the victims, emphasis is on solving the puzzle of the victim's identity and not on the crime itself.

It is a quirky but so far effective plot device to have the victim narrate their own story.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This wonderful sequel to Suzanne Collins "The Hunger Games" finds Katniss and Peeta living in the Victor's Village along with Haymitch, their drunken mentor.

Katniss tries to live as she always did, sneaking out into the forest, hunting and trading what she acquires there in District 12 proper. Her friend Gale is now working 12 hours a day in the mines and can hunt only with her on Sundays.

There is no time to settle in to life in the Village, as she and Peeta, her co-victor in The Games, are scheduled to go on a Victory tour of the districts, stopping in each one and paying homage to the fallen players from each area.

Before the tour begins, Katniss has a visit from the serpentine President Snow, who tells her he is not convinced of the love Katniss and Peeta supposedly share, and he lets her know that her every move has been watched since her return to District 12. Coldly he tells her that she must convince everyone in the Districts as they tour and especially that she must convince him of the great love she and Peeta share in order to avoid any further spark of dissention with the government or the games. He hints that there have been uprisings already and she must help quell them.

The Tour shows just which districts are in or near revolt, and Katniss is as careful as she can be. The presence of Peeta and Katniss in some places only fuels the flames, unfortunately.

Upon their arrival in the capital, there is a stunning announcement, there will be a new game called The Quell and it will feature past victors from all previous games from all Districts. It is sort of an All-Star Game of previous victors, of all ages and abilities. With two chosen from each District, it is a foregone conclusion that Katniss and Peeta will once again be thrown immediately back into the Arena to fight for their lives.

This has all of the elements of the previous novel, the purely entertaining Arena challenge, the relationship of Katniss and Peeta, and the added romantic element of Gale, her old friend who finally lets her know he loves her, and rumbling through it all, the possibility that the entire structure of the totalitarian civilization is about to fall.

Great characters, great novel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Survivor Samoa Episode 1: The Devil and the Deep Blue Innocents


We're off to a great start. Tribes had already been split up by the time they got to the island and the first order of business was to have each group vote for a leader. They didn't know names so everyone wrote down descriptions of what the intended chief looked like, which was humorous.

Zooming right into the first challenge, the chief had to pick:

The best swimmer
The strongest
Most agile

This all without knowing anything at all about his fellow tribespersons. They had a huge coil of rope which they carried over a set of three tall steep ramps (the entire tribe had to go).

Tribe Galu led by Russell the Lawful (a lawyer, and a good guy as opposed to Russell the Oily, our robber baron oil exec) worked together pulling each other over the ramps nicely.

Tribe Foa Foa led by Mick the Doc sort of had an everyone for themselves thing going until Jeff shouted out how much better the Galus were doing working together.

Next they pulled a heavy box of wooden puzzle planks up a ramp. On the Foa Foa side Russell the Oily looked like a caricature of a wild orc trying to pull the rope up seemingly on his own. He honestly looked like he was being filmed in fast motion. Most entertaining of our little troll.

The puzzle contest was won out by the cooperative Galus and they won reward. This was particularly satisfying since during the challenges and in the opening Russell the Lawful was being such a nice guy and saying encouraging things about his tribe to the sneers of a few Foa Foas...so needer, needer the nice guys finished first.

Standout personalities were:

Mick the Doc

Russell the Lawful

Russell the Oily

Hillbilly Ben


For more Survivor Samoa tidbits:

Entertainment Weekly's interview with Jeff Probst.

Survivor Samoa.com

TV Grapevine Recap

Survivor Fever Site

CBS Official Survivor Page

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger

I happened to have had the opportunity to read all day long today. Lucky I had my copy of Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger along.

Krueger's books are always beautiful, thoughtful and suspenseful. This one is that, plus it's a page turner from the start, and it never stops till the end.

Cork O'Connor's wife Jo has left on a chartered plane, accompanying clients to a summit of sorts on Indian Casinos and gambling laws. Before leaving, Jo and Cork argued over Cork's proposal that he apply for an open deputy position.

When word comes that the plane has gone down in an area near Hot Springs, Wyoming, but the plane is lost, all Cork can think of is not saying goodbye, and not saying he was sorry.

With his son Stephen, he goes to Wyoming to try to aid in the search. Although local law enforcement are not comfortable with their intrusion into the search process, they allow Cork and Stephen to take some harrowing helicopter rides to help search.

In the midst of another storm they fly through Giant's Gate, Baby's Cradle and Sleeping Baby Lake. Don't you love the names?

Months after all hope is lost, there comes word that it is possible that the plane did not crash after all, but that it landed someplace. This sends Cork on a deadly trail back to Wyoming in the hope of finding his Jo alive after all.

Krueger is such a master of characterization that you feel you know everyone he meets, and you want to trust everyone though you know some among his new friends are part of the unsolved tragedy.

One character, whom I never trusted and who I kept expecting to take off his mask of civility and reveal himself a villain is Hugh Parmer, a wealther developer who drops everything to put himself and his monies at Cork's disposal. He just sticks to Cork's side like glue, and as the plot unwinds and we see there is some larger force for ill at work in this plane crash, I really thought ok, say he's it, but nooooo.

This is maybe the last Cork O'Connor story, but I don't think so. Hugh needs to be unmasked.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pretzel Jello...eeek!

I've just started helping with donations. Ladies Church Cookbooks are hot items for the booksale, I'm betting, because of recipes like this:

1 1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1/2 cup melted margarine
Mix margarine and pretzels together and press in 9X13 pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Mix together and spread on cooled crust:

1 8 oz. pkg softened cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 8 oz. container Cool Whip

Mix and stir till set:

1 6 oz. pkg. strawberry or raspberry Jello
1 cups of boiling water
2 small pkgs. frozen strawberries or raspberries.

Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Chill.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Which Betsy-Tacy Character Are You?

Via the Book Club Girl Blog, one of those irresistible quizzes.

Which Betsy-Tacy character are you?
Your Result: Betsy Ray

As a child, Betsy is lively and imaginative, a story-teller and a ring-leader. As she grows up, Betsy is popular with both boys and girls because of her fun spirit and love of a good time. She loves traditions, having fun, parties, and boys, but she sometimes undervalues herself and her talents. In the end she learns to love her true self and comes to realize and value her love of writing, and makes her dream a reality. Although she has had many beaus, she ends up with the one best suited to her (Joe Willard!), who understands her love of writing and encourages her to be her real self.

Tib Muller
Emily Webster
Tacy Kelly
Carney Sibley
Irma Biscay
Winona Root
Julia Ray
Which Betsy-Tacy character are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I get to be the heroine of the tale! I've never read any of the books, but they are always right up there on my "I should read these" book list. At least this time I didn't turn out to be some simpering side character. There's hope yet.

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

This month's local mystery book group selection was Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. Though it was published in 1987, it is not dated in any way.

The essence of the story is that a female prosecutor has been found dead in her apartment, bound and bludgeoned. In classic mystery fashion, there are many possible suspects. The actual killer isn't someone you'd guess until you're told in a rather nonchalant manner at the end of the novel. None of us guessed who it was in advance, in any case.

The protagonist and teller of the tale is accused of the murder based on evidence found at the scene. It is very clever that he does not convincingly let himself off the hook. He could be guilty.

A large portion of the book, and the most compelling reading in it involves the court room testimonies. Here all of the foibles of the victim and the suspects are revealed, question by question.

I personally disliked most or all of the characters, including the accused and the victim.

(Side note: I did not see the movie version of this before reading the book because no way was I going to think Harrison Ford had done anything wrong. I do wonder if they chose him for the role because otherwise the Rusty Sabich character is pretty unappealing.)

I still wished to see justice done. In a way it was, because the innocent man went free.

Justice was not served by the real murderer going free, and there was no censure for the crime. No guilt, no consequences at all. Given the killer's identity, there should have been loads of fallout and consequence.

I can see that legal thrillers aren't for me, but they are wildly popular. If legal wrangling, bending of facts, and the crisp dialogue of a trial setting is for you, here is a list of legal thriller authors you may wish to read:

David Baldacci Non-series writer his first book was “Absolute Power”

William Bernhardt Ben Kincaid series begins with “Primary Justice”

Michael Connelly Mickey Haller series begins with “The Lincoln Lawyer”

William Diehl Martin Vail series begins with “Primal Fear”

James Grippando Jack Swytek series begins with “The Pardon”

John Grisham Non series writer, his first book was "A time to kill"

William Lashner Victor Carl series begins with “Hostile Witness”

John Lescroart Dismas Hardy series begins with Hardy as a bartender in Dead Irish. He becomes a lawyer in book three “Hard evidence”

Philip Margolin Non-series writer, his first book was “Heartstone”

Steve Martini Paul Madriani series begins with “Compelling Evidence”

Brad Meltzer Non-series writer, his first book was “The Tenth Justice”

Perri O’Shaughnessy Nina Reilly series begins with “Motion to Suppress”

Richard North Patterson Christopher Paget series begins with “Degree of Guilt”, and the Kerry Kilcannon series begins with “No safe place”

Nancy Taylor Rosenberg Lily Forrester series begins with “Mitigating Circumstances”

Lisa Scottoline Rosato & Associates series begins with “Everywhere that Mary went”

Scott Turow Non-series writer, his first book was “Presumed Innocent”

Scott Turow, unlike his characters, seems very likeable. Visit him at his site.

Picking your own assigned reading: the Reading Workshop approach to literature

From the New York Times, The Future of Reading: a new assignment: pick books you like

In a novel approach to teaching literature, educators are allowing kids to read books they like for credit rather than having the entire class read and discuss the same set of books for coursework.

I think this is a great idea. We all have books and authors who we were required to read in school which we now despise. For readers and non-readers alike, having this school experience of reading literature and having had a bad experience of it does noone any favors. The non-readers come to hate reading even more, and the readers suffer silently.

Avid reader though I have always been, never mention Bartleby the Scrivener or The Red Pony to me.

Teaching method does play into this hugely, of course. A really excellent teacher might have made even Bartleby bearable...Nah! I would prefer not to even think of it!

They are talking about middle grade level readers in the article, so do not think high school or college students are what is being discussed. This age is one where kids can just abandon reading for the many other activities available. If you can let them read fun and engaging material, but require the same literary analysis that you would expect if they were reading more traditional texts, you might just hang onto alot more readers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CNN's "The Future of libraries, with or without books"


The stereotypical library is dying -- and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.

So sayeth John Sutter of CNN who has probably not darkened the door of any type of library in years. Judging from the narrow dark aisle in the accompanying photograph, he set up his shot in an academic or special library. Look at those narrow stacks and the books are clearly not a range of fiction or Dorling-Kindersley-esque brightly colored non-fiction either. No, we're talking TOMES.

Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas.

So...in reality we have two children's gaming pcs, with a smattering of educational games and the dread Barbie Horse game. Teens and adults do gain the wrath of others waiting to use our public computers by playing games such as Runescape or various card games in the case of the adults.

"Loud rooms" that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet.

Is he talking about our meeting rooms? These are not new 2.0-ish attractions. Libraries have had meeting rooms where people talk and discuss and meet at their own sustainable volume just plain forever.

Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.

Good grief, Charlie Brown. I have three blogs and I'm no "hipster". And isn't that word from the 1950s or 60s? What oily can did this guy crawl out of? I do know a certain *cough* Floating personage who adores Twitter, and who happens to be a librarian, so he's got one point so far.

Unfortunately he scores one more point:

Meanwhile, many real-world libraries are moving forward with the assumption that physical books will play a much-diminished or potentially nonexistent role in their efforts to educate the public.

As far as information resources go, these can be updated so much more quickly in digital format. For the informational and educational purely reference needs of our customers--meaning we are looking for a specific bit of information to answer a specific question-digital can be better. We still must answer questions from verifiably authoritative sources. Some subject areas are not as easy to find valid digital sources of authoritative information. This is something we can and should continue to judge and recommend for people.

Still speaking of educating the public, we have rows upon rows of biography, books on nature and animals, large colorful books on crafts and collecting that people want to take away with them. Books that fulfill the educational needs and interests of our customers are still in high demand.

Libraries 2.0

The arguments for using Facebook and Twitter and other social media and forums-- absolutely we should be conversing and using these as promotional tools. During my brief sojourns on Twitter and Facebook, I found libraries were actually embracing Twitter as a quick way to get the word out, but they seemed less comfortable doing the same on Facebook.

Sutter has this odd statement The one-way flow of information from book to patron isn't good enough anymore. He's been talking about how people get information in his entire article, and it is still a one way street between the person who is tapping out their digital query and the source they find. It doesn't really fit into this paragraph on social interaction.


They're also no longer bound to the physical library, said Greenwalt, of the library in Skokie, Illinois. Librarians must venture into the digital space, where their potential patrons exist, to show them why the physical library is still necessary, he said.

There are people lined up down our sidewalk waiting for us to open every day of the week. For the incredible variety of things we offer, they need help.

They use the public Internets but they are not saavy searchers, they cannot fill out forms, they do not have email accounts, they do not know how to print.

People always need bibliographic instruction, they cannot use the catalog, they cannot see what is checked in or out, after all these years, they do not understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and finding either thing often requires us.

Everyone likes reading recommendations. They don't remember the name of the author they like, or they want someone else to read who is just like that author. They'd like recommendations for books to read aloud to their children. The book they want says its checked in but they can't find it. Where are the diet, exercise and dinosaur books?

Do you think people aren't still asking the same questions every single day they've always asked? Sure they're looking for those same bits of information, and we're still there to help. We'd better be there to help. We're a reliable place to go where they can always find help and we're nice to them. We make them feel a bit better about themselves and the world. Some come to us every day, or every week. That isn't changing.

We have more to work with, better tools in some cases, some of the old tools are incomparable. Things are more complex and we're just hanging out and explaining it a person at a time.

Frederick Pohl: The Way the Future Blogs

I was taking a peek at Locus Online this morning and there on a sidebar they listed a blog entry by noted science fiction novelist Frederick Pohl! What a find! I had no idea he was writing a blog.

The blog is called The Way the Future Blogs The longtime author, editor and legend of the science fiction field shares his thoughts on many topics, including stories about his fellow science fiction authors over the eighty some years he has been writing.

Here's an article from the New York Times (who are not so stuffy as I have always thought since someone there is writing nice things about my old heroes, such as Pohl and Jack Vance).

My favorites by Pohl are:

Man Plus
Rogue Star (with Jack Williamson)
The Starchild Trilogy
The Way the Future Was
The World at the end of time

His latest novel is The Last theorem co-written with Arthur C. Clarke.

Pohl's main website is here.

Weasley side note: I actually met Frederik Pohl very briefly when he came to a science fiction convention hosted at my alma mater. I shook his hand! Die of envy, go ahead! hehehe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Onward little Hobbit!

Tolkien's estate has settled its suit with New Line Cinema in order to gain monies from the previously released Lord of the Rings film trilogy (for which they apparently received nothing) and the upcoming Hobbit films (they are splitting the story into two films).

Read the full story at the Guardian

Also a nice write up at TheOneRing.Net

Bilbo Baggins by the Brothers Hildebrandt

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Fall TV Lineup

In the eighties, when I lived alone, I watched alot of television. I watched much less once I started hanging around with the wily Mr. D.O.A., and even less once baby D.O.A. came along.

In the last few years, I've bought some TV shows on DVD, and I just watch those in commercial free bliss, picking them up when ever I want and returning to the storyline at will.

This was all ruined by Lost, which I had for a couple of years before watching any episodes, then once I'd seen the first one it was just boom boom boom till I had caught up with the series and had to be tortured last season along with everyone else waiting a whole week between episodes. Fiendish.

I'm currently losing sleep watching Smallville till the late hours (for me). I am appreciating as I watch good science fiction based TV, how nice it is to see characters develop and storylines unfold, and to have a bit of time between episodes to absorb what has happened and ponder what might be.

I am looking this season to actually watch some new shows:


Moved into a November release, this series is a remake of the old V for "visitors" from another planet series. Starring Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost's Juliet) as an FBI agent suspicious of the motives of these aliens who promise us everything, but mean to destroy us, this is my favorite of the new offerings. It is classic science fiction at its best, with those nasty invaders smiling and being up to bad bad stuff.

Clips from the new and old V!

Looks like good production values and good acting.

German subtitles but the clearest video clip!

Flash Forward

Based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer, the premise is that everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. When they come to, those who survive have visions of their future six months from now. The question is, what happened during the blackout, and are the visions real? Can you change what you see for yourself and should you even try?

Since most television shows last 6 or seven years, you have to wonder how the tale could be stretched out that long.

On this show I really like actress Olivia Benford, Dominic Moynihan and from Star Trek(!) John Cho. I just loved Cho as the new Sulu, so I'm ready to like him here as well.

The Forgotten

In the mystery vein is The Forgotten starring Christian Slater and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. A group of volunteer amateur detectives take on cases where victims are unidentified and they try to find who they were and solve the crimes if they can. It sounds like just letting families know what has become of their lost loved ones is a large part of the story, as much as solving a crime.

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I'm not an NCIS watcher at all but something about the clips from the new show NCIS: Los Angeles with LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell (Robin in my mind :) seemed appealing.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Survivor Samoa September 17th, Yo Ho

Twenty people this time, so that means they chop off four people at a time in some early challenge. Something to pare down the numbers quickly, in any case. I'm not going to try to look at their pictures and decide who gets the bootski first this round. I could not have been more wrong last time. I am watching all of the videos slowly and reading the bios.

Standouts so far:

Ashley, a perky girl from lovely Minnesota. I think she'll hang in there for awhile because her intended strategy is pretty good, plus there are some real big time odd balls. She can stay well under the radar for awhile.

Dave!!!! Holy cow dude. Your shirt shouldn't look like that till 15 days in. Plus he's like wired for bad sound. He is not going to have the patience or ability to be strategic in any way.

Erik...too pugilistic and cocky. I can see the target on his back from here.

More after I pour over all the information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Q-Ball's Hubby and Skull Cap

It must be skull season! My co-worker made this hat for her fisherman spouse. He sure is shiny! If you look at the enlarged picture she is reflected in his face, as it were.

See more of her work at her Knitting in the Stacks blog.

Facebook Wars!

I recently deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I'm certainly not missing them at all but apparently there is supposed to be some guilt level associated with stepping out of these social circles.

A New York Times article entitled Facebook Exodus talks about a trend of abandoning these sites, and the reasons people might say sayonara. None of the reasons they have listed are my own (but I have a list of about ten things that bothered me about Facebook, especially). It is really fascinating how people interact or not in these milieu.

I found a bent-world mimic site called Lamebook that is just loaded with the worst possible behavior that you can find on any "personal interaction site" that I don't recommend you look at unless you have a tough stomach for vile language and truly idiotic human behavior. It has screen shots from Facebook, lots of ex-boyfriends and girlfriends dukeing it out publicly. What's under that social rock? Bad doggies!

Even More "Why I quit stories"

You can't friend me, I quit!

15 Reasons to Quit Facebook

Bill Gates: I quit Facebook because of 10,000 people wanting to be my friends

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Take a look at this cool librarian roller-mama!

I can't even stand up on skates, let alone sail along and be this amazing. Zoom!