Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Worst Books Ever!

I was reading the "Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels" site, and read one of their articles/posts about the worst romance novels of all time. Well, I know which one gets my vote. Thankfully, I have managed to forget the name of the author and the title of the book. But the plot? Argh. I wanted to douse my brain and eyeballs in bleach, scour out the inside of my cranium with a steel-bristled brush, and complete the job by clawing out my eyeballs.

What made it so bad? That'll require a bit of explanation. The story is about a man and his niece. The niece is in her late teens/early 20's, and has finally met the man she wants to marry. The uncle is convinced that the man is bad for her... only wants her for her money, is a general cad, and so on. He tries (not very hard, IMO) to convince her of this, but she is in LOVE, and won't be convinced.

So, the uncle waits until the morning of her wedding, kidnaps her out of her house, drags her down to his boat in the harbor and sets sail to Italy while her fiancee is waiting at the altar. And then, to ensure she can't somehow get away from him and go running back to the man she loves, her uncle proceeds to rape her so that she knows she is "damaged goods" and won't force her fiancee to marry her. And this isn't the usual "seduction rape", where the heroine starts to enjoy herself because she is somewhat attracted to the man who's forcing her (although that's just as bad in my opinion). This is screaming, crying, doesn't feel anything but pain rape. You know, RAPE with all capital letters.

What really kills me about this book, is that the heroine eventually ends up falling for her uncle, and forgives him for what he did to her. Me, I wanted to cut the SOB's balls off with a rusty saw, and then some. Why did I keep reading? I wanted to see the Uncle get his comeuppance. Does he? Never, which is why the book made me so angry.

The heroine gets so depressed by this whole thing and the idea that she is now "damaged goods" that she stops eating and nearly dies. The uncle, while struggling to get her to take nourishment and forcing her to live, gets the idea that what he did was wrong. No! Really?! Ya think?! And then he treats her better and she gets attracted to him, falls in love with him (I think it was the Stockholm Syndrome, myself) and ends up marrying him. And her fiancee? Yeah, he turns out to be exactly the kind of asshat her uncle warned her he was to begin with. So, in addition to abusing the hell out of heroine, he gets the satisfaction of being right, too. Oh, it's enough to make me want to puke blood.

Worst Sci-Fi book? For this one I will have to go with an entire series, the "Hope" Series by David Feintuch. The hero starts out as a young man who has been abused, for seemingly his entire life, both mentally, emotionally and physically, by his own father. The father beat into his son's head that he is some horrible, nasty, abusive person who barely deserves to live. Nicholas Seafort constantly puts his own actions in the worst possible light. For instance, after he joins the space navy, he meets a young woman who is attracted to him. when they kiss and canoodle a little, he remembers it as him forcing himself on her, making himself out to be a sexual abuser. And when a man under his command breaks some of the navy rules and Nicholas is forced (by the navy's own regs, mind you!) to whip him before the space navy version of the quartermast, in his mind he is this horrible, abusive figure who is barely this side of Captain Bligh.

Now, I could understand if, eventually, Nicholas Seafort learns that he is actually a decent man and manages to put his father's abuse behind him. For despite his horrible self-image, he is a very heroic figure who manages to save ships, people and planets despite incredible odds. But he never manages to do so. Never. Or at least, not in the three books I read completely and in the two I looked at the end to see if he'd somehow managed to overcome it this time. Nope, didn't happen. And while there are seven books in the series, I could barely stomach the first three. The first one wasn't bad- I expected that at some point in the story Nicholas Seafort might manage to do something and overcome his own self-image. But he didn't in the first book, and that, frankly, left something of a bad taste in my mouth. I read the next two hoping against hope that the change would happen there. But it didn't.

Honestly, there is only so much self-loathing I can stomach in a character before I must stop reading. Reading the "Hope" series didn't give me any. Hope, that is. It got to the point where I was seriously saying to myself, "Must find a gun to put myself out of Nicholas' misery." So, the next two, I looked at in the bookstore, scanned the ending pages for some sign that Nicholas was pulling out of his "I'm a horrible person who doesn't deserve to live!" funk. If he'd managed it, I might actually have read the rest of the series, but sadly, Nicholas didn't learn anything, except maybe how to like himself *less*.

At that point, I just stopped reading. I couldn't read any more, and gave the rest of the series a pass. It may be great writing, but to me, they were the worst Sci-Fi books I ever read. You couldn't *pay* me to read them again.

Worst "Men's Adventure"- Hands down, "The Crime Minister" by Ian Barclay. What can you say about a book that includes the line "Her center of gravity was her twat."? Bad writing, Bad plot and a character who shoots and screws his way through the world. Reminds me of a line from a filk about the Dorsai. "We'll steal or we'll screw what we can't shoot on sight. God, it's hell to encounter a fireplug."

More to come!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cute Kitten.... Aw!

Recently, a shop near my library underwent a change in ownership. Formerly a bookstore and ice cream shop, it is now a thrift store run by a cat rescue organization. As part of the thrift shop, they have all sorts of pet-related items (including a cat and dog chess set, with an elevated cat condo as the castle for the cat side, and a doghouse as a castle on the dog side.

They also sell peacock feathers (cat toyz!), catnip mice, jingle balls, catnip Mats stuffed with premium organic catnip, signs (like the one that says "Meow spoken here"), magnets, and all other things catly.

The most interesting thing of all in their shop today was a 10 week old kitten, Colby. A brown mackerel tabby shorthair that was the sweetest, most well-behaved kitten I have ever encountered. Colby was in the arms of another customer when I encountered him, and the lady soon set him down so he could roam, which he did, right into the arms of the shop owner, who put him up on the counter for both of us to ooh and ah at him.

And he had no fear at all. Seeing as how I smelled of cat (having my baby boo, Cleopatra, Queen of Denial, at home). he came over to sniff at me and lick my fingers with a little sandpapery tongue. I gently picked him up and rubbed his head with my fingers, and he proceeded to knead my nose with his little brown paws. He was a darling, a sweetheart, no doubt about it. Like the internet series of cat terms says, "Kitten
-a small homicidal muffin on legs; affects human sensibilities to the point of endowing the most wanton and ruthless acts of destruction with near-mythical overtones of cuteness. Not recommended for beginners. Get at least two." Do I want one? Hell, yeah, I do! More than one? Oh yeah. Will I become the crazy cat lady? In all probability. But my current cat, Cleopatra, would probably send me on a trip to the emergency room if I brought dear Colby home. And besides, there are two other people wanting to adopt him first. Oh well, not in the cards right now.

But he was so cuuuuuuuute!

Good Books... Just Read!

As anyone who knows me can tell, I am a bibliophile, i.e. someone who loves books and loves to read. In fact, I don't just love fiction books, although that is the main thrust of my reading. Countless subjects catch my attention on a more or less daily basis, not to mention various graphic novels, manga, manwha and so on.

So what have I been reading lately? A lot.

I read *very* quickly. How quickly is very quickly? I can read more than a book a day, depending on its length and how much time I can set aside for reading. For instance, in the last week, I have read the Forgotten Realms novel "Shadowbred" by Paul S. Kemp, the old novelization of "Mission Impossible" (the television series, not the movie) by John Tiger, "Hell to Pay: A Novel of the Nightside" by Simon R. Green, "Warrior and Witch" by Marie Brennan, "The Assassins of Isis" by P.C. Doherty, "John Constantine: Hellblazer- Warlord" by John Shirley (a novel rather than a graphic novel), "John Constantine: Hellblazer- All His Engines" by Mike Carey and Leonardo Maco, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation- Hell House"- a graphic novel, Ghost Hunt #3 and 5 by Shiho Inada and Fuyumi Ono, "Magic Study" by Maria Snyder, "In Stone's Grasp" by Christie Golden, and "Dragon's Lair" by Sharon Kay Penman. I enjoyed each and every one of them. So, if you are looking for a few good books, or even just one good book... keep them in mind.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Dresden Files

I had the chance to watch "The Dresden Files" on the Sci-Fi channel tonight, and I'll be the first one to say... It rocked! Admittedly, there were some things on the program that didn't quite match my mental perception of the books... namely, that I thought Bob (the skull) was more of a horndog in the books. Okay, he did ask Harry for details about his night with the lovely waitress, but still... I expected him to be more crude and rude... not the rather elegant, cultured guy the actor playing him seemed to be.

Paul Blackthorne did a wonderful job of playing Harry, showing he can be a bit of an asshat at times (when Murph asks for Harry's first thought on the completely skinned woman she has found, he says, "My first thought is that my car is still booted."- which happened earlier and which he wanted Murph to fix for him), but inside he's a big softy.

I was also somewhat unprepared for the sight of Bob as a full human, seeing as in books, he only appears as the skull, or as the skull with lights in his eyes (when the spirit is inhabiting the skull). But I do guess this was easier for an audience not familliar with the books to see the character, and it gives Harry someone else to be with besides a special-effects enhanced skull.

I also must add that I think the opening credits were wonderful, especially Harry's Hockey-Stick wand, which I loved in the books and think is wonderful here. I do miss Harry's Blue Beetle of a car. The car he currently has looks a little too... good for him. I mean, as a wizard, Harry pretty much does a number on modern electronics, at least in the books.

I do have some unanswered questions, though, which I look forward to the series answering. For one thing, will the series reflect the happenings in the books? Second, will we see the eventual war between the Wizard's Council and the Red Court Vampires? How about the Faerie inhabiting Chicago? Will we see Harry's "Godmother" Lea (for Leannansidhe)? Where is Mister (Harry's 30 lb cat)? And speaking of Bob, again, is he really an ex-human (as the TV series seems to imply), or an air elemental, as in the books?

And I also have a suggestion for the Sci-Fi Channel. If they want to do some more "Modern Magic"-type series, another good one to look into would be Simon R. Green's "Nightside" novels. Another mysterious protagonist with a strange power, this one with the power to find just about anything, although the special effects would cost a lot more for the Nightside series.

In any case, I give this series an A.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

New Shows for Old!

I picked up some new DVDs over the holidays.

To start off with, an old show, Mission: Impossible, the first season. I had seen some of these episodes before (on TVLand if I remember correctly), but certainly not all of them. To start off with, the first season was very different from what most people think as "classic" Mission: Impossible. Martin Landau, who was part of the cast in seasons 2 and 3, was merely a "Special Guest Star" in the first season. There was a cast of other guest stars as well, and an episode in which it was implied that the supernatural was real! (Zubrovnik's Ghost)

The biggest difference was the leader of the IMF team. It wasn't "Mr. Phelps" during that first season, but rather "Mr. Briggs". Dan Briggs, to use his full name, played by Steven Hill (well known in recent years for playing the D.A. on the original "Law and Order"). Why did he leave? Not for any failing as an actor, but because Mr. Hill was an Orthodox Jew. Apparently, the producers of "M:I" wanted him to work on the Jewish Sabbath, and he wouldn't do that. He brings a different dynamic to the team, as do the roster of guest stars.

Some of the episodes in this season are really good and interesting, like "A Spool There Was", where Rollin and Cinnamon travel to a lakeside resort in an Eastern European country to find a missing spool of wire on which is encoded vital information. This episode is unusual in that these are the only two team members on the mission. But, as usual, it is completed successfully. Another interesting part of this episode has Cinnamon talking to a pillow as though it is Rollin, which is actually very amusing.

Another series I have purchased on DVD is CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I got all of the first three seasons on DVD.

I can see at least one thing in common about the two series: they are both rather cerebral and focus on the "How?" of things rather than "Who?" or "Why?". In M:I the focus is "How are they going to do this (whether it is bring this guy down, steal the McGuffin, or whatever)?" and with CSI, we see the crime or dead body, and the question is "How did this happen? or How did this progress to this point?" And it's linked to my earlier interest in TLC/Discovery Channel programs such as "The FBI Files" and "The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science", which I used to watch many years ago. Another thing is that they are both "team" shows. Both shows cannot be the vehicle of a single actor or actress. The shows rely on all the team members doing their parts to be successful. In this way, the Mission: Impossible movies (yearg, blech!- and I really honestly *HATE* those movies) are completely different from the series, and only have the names in common. It is a betrayal of the series concept to have them be a star vehicle for *any* star, Tom Cruise or no. And the whole idea of Jim Phelps as a traitor expressed complete contempt for the series the movie purported to emulate. It leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many fans, including myself.

The cases of CSI are very interesting, showing the work of a modern forensics lab. In real life, the Crime Lab in Las Vegas is the second busiest crime lab in the country, after the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Virginia. (or, it may be located in Alexandria, I'm not all that sure of the exact location.) The producers of the show make every effort to ensure that the equipment and techniques are the same ones in use at actual forensics and crime labs. In addition, they intercut the information with real terms used by cops and CSI's, such as "DFO" or "Done Fell Over", used to describe a person collapsing and dying for unknown reasons. There is also "Murder Central", which is a hotel room at the end of a corridor, next to the stairwell, so named for an easy getaway (stairwell) and 50% less chance of being heard in the killing (because the room abuts only one other room). You also get to hear terms like AFIS and CODIS (The first being for identification of Fingerprints, the second for DNA).

Other DVDs I have picked up in the past few months harken back to either my childhood, or my extended childhood. In fact, I can really say I am still in my extended childhood, as I still watch cartoons. I picked up the Animaniacs, Volumes 1 and 2, the first DVD of the series Voltron, and the series "Blackstar". I already own one DVD of "Action Man" (the CGI version) and 4 volumes of "The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers". Are there other series I want to get? Heck yeah. But many of them haven't been released yet. When they are? I am *so* there!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


What is *your* Unitarian Jihad name?

Sister Lethal Injection of Loving Kindness