Folly of the Faithful Canine|
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|Sunday, April 9th, 2017|
This will probably be the last post I ever make on LiveJournal. I simply cannot abide by the new terms of service.
I hope that the few LJers who've been reading me recently will join me at Dreamwidth
, which is almost the same thing with more freedom. With some luck, I may be able to transfer the last few years' entries there as well, but in any case, I'll keep a link to my LJ open for the time being.
|Sunday, April 2nd, 2017|
I’ve grown rather fond of the cheetah,
Not just for how fast it can run.
Of all of the African wild cats,
Its body’s the slenderest one.
While its spots aren’t as cool as a leopard’s,
Its face has distinctive black “tear” lines,
As if it had cried in Goth makeup,
Unlike all the other great felines.
It also is said to be doglike
(The reverse of the catlike red fox?),
From its face shape to claws unretracted.
But to me, the main feature that shocks
Is the noise that it makes in recordings:
A high chirp that’s disarmingly cute.
And it purrs, so some call it a “small” cat.
What a term for a dangerous brute.
|Sunday, March 26th, 2017|
|How Far They'll Go
The first three Disney princesses
Had basically no flaws.
Their princes fell in love with them
The sec their paths would cross.
When thirty years had passed, the trend
Was ladies who rebelled,
Especially against their dads,
Who wanted rules upheld.
The princess set diversified,
At least in terms of race.
There’s still not much variety
To body type and face.
More recently, they don’t all care
To marry right away.
Some even end their films unpaired.
(I don’t presume they’re gay.)
I welcome these developments
For letting young girls know
You needn’t be traditional
To let your glory show.
|Saturday, March 25th, 2017|
|Book Review: Bolos, Book 4: Last Stand
I was mistaken earlier when I said that Keith Laumer wrote this. He had died by 1997. Instead, various writers ran with the premises he laid to create nine stories ranging from 25 to 89 pages each, followed by a set of technical notes. Naturally, they don't have the same sense of continuity that short-story compilations by one author have. In fact, I'm not sure they could all be true in the same universe.
Bolos, FYI, are the ultimate sci-fi army tanks. Enormous, heavily armed and armored, and granted advanced AI. Obviously night beholden to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics if human nations use them against each other (tho later stories concentrate on alien battles), but they are programmed with unflinching loyalty to their given side. As the title suggests, these stories focus on Bolos that are nowhere near peak condition; in many cases, neither are the civilizations they defend.( The individual storiesCollapse )
The last few pages advertise other space operas: the Honor Harrington series, Anne McCaffrey's Brainship novels, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. I'm happy to say I've read and enjoyed one book of each and reviewed them all on this LJ. Kinda renews my interest in them. But I give a higher priority to checking out what Laumer himself wrote about Bolos. I want to see what they were like before physical and mental battery. After all, you don't really know Superman if you've seen him only in the presence of kryptonite.
In the meantime, I'm reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
by Fredrik Backman, who's best known for A Man Called Ove
. I don't think it's fantasy, but the protagonist is clearly familiar with popular fantasy, which is why my mom suggested it to me.
|Sunday, March 19th, 2017|
|Cashing It In
The Style Invitational in The Washington Post
has a challenge
to write this kind of poem
, albeit without necessarily using LOLspeak. I opted to keep it easy to read.
I’m Johnny Cash,
The Man in Black.
Just hear my songs:
I had a knack
For not just one
But many kinds.
I sang real deep;
I wrote the lines.
|Sunday, March 12th, 2017|
|Low on Black Ink?
In the mid-1890s, the comics began
With The Yellow Kid
gracing the papers.
While it hasn’t aged well, it is honored today
For the start of a long line of capers.
I’m impressed that the medium gained such momentum,
Considering how it debuted:
The whole point was to sell what the news alone couldn’t,
With drawings artistically crude.
Each comic strip takes us mere seconds to read;
That’s a punchline or two for the day,
Which is nothing compared to a comedy show,
So how long would the readership stay?
Nonetheless, a few genius cartoonists arrived,
And their work would amuse and amaze.
Some comics were made into full animations
Or live-action movies or plays.
I’m afraid that’s unlikely to happen again
As the newspaper business declines,
For the Net’s not as great for the fame and the money
From drawing hilarious lines.
|Saturday, March 4th, 2017|
|I Do Not Like That...
You have to wonder ‘bout that Sam
Who offered up green eggs and ham.
I get his story’s lesson: “Try it;
Maybe you’ll expand your diet.”
Even so, he goes too far
With such persistence; how bizarre.
He’ll follow any place you go
And won’t accept the answer “no.”
He doesn’t know or doesn’t care
That some are vegans; he’ll be there.
What’s more, he won’t explain the green.
Can we be sure the meat is clean?
It prob’ly isn’t good for you.
You might just be allergic, too.
In pushing what could make us ill,
Is Sam a wretched corp’rate shill?
|Tuesday, February 21st, 2017|
|Book Review: Temple of the Winds
In order of release, this is fourth volume of The Sword of Truth
. In order of story events, it's sixth. Regardless, it's my first taste of author Terry Goodkind. I have no idea of the volumes' relative popularity; I just wanted to check out some part of the tremendous series, which I must have learned about from a list of recommended fantasy novels.
Clearly a lot happened in the previous books, especially if they're all close to this one's 822 pages. Much of it gets touched on herein, with enough explanation that I never felt lost. Alas, since there had been apparently surprising twists, in order not to spoil the earlier volumes for anyone who wants to read them, I'd better put plot and character details behind a cut.( You've been warnedCollapse )( Non-spoiler assessmentCollapse )
Part of me wished to have started at the beginning of the series and possibly read right up to this point. Another suspected that the earlier volumes were relatively hackneyed, from what I know of them. Still, they almost certainly had more for the Sword of Truth to do. This curiosity might get me to pick up the next in the series from my shelf, but not any time soon; I need a break.
So what am I starting now? Keith Laumer's Last Stand
. That too is the fourth book in its series, specifically that of the Bolos. I don't know that it'll be uplifting, but the summary reads like an inversion of the Berserker series, so it's worth a shot. Plus, a collection of short stories can always be put aside as needed (like I ever do that).
|Sunday, February 19th, 2017|
|Sorry, Mr. Washington
It’s Presidents’ Day weekend, but I’m working Monday morn.
I didn’t choose to do that out of any kind of scorn.
I simply have some tasks to do that start and end that day.
They might just last all afternoon before I go away.
Besides, I’m apprehensive when it comes to PTO.
My job has gotten less secure; I want my boss to know
That I can be relied upon when others aren’t around,
So work on minor holidays seems positively sound.
|Sunday, February 12th, 2017|
Listen to the music that the radio plays,
Whether newly released or from the good old days,
And it barely even matters which genre of song
Or what station you’re on, because it won’t be long
Before somebody sings about falling in love.
You would think that that topic’s been covered enough,
But there’s always a new heart to steal or break.
It’s a lover’s world; make no mistake.
If you watch the ads on TV or online
When the program’s not kiddie, you’re likely to find
That they want you to think that whatever they’re selling
Will cause another person to find you compelling,
Be that person a stranger or a current date
Or a spouse who hasn’t been affectionate of late.
Exploiting this desire makes many a sale.
It’s a lover’s world; they can hardly fail.
When you ask a waiter for a table for one,
You are keenly aware that it doesn’t look fun.
When a service doesn’t cater to a single adult,
You may start to feel as if you’ve entered a cult.
There’s an expectation that you’ll find a honey.
If you say you won’t try, people look at you funny,
For isn’t this something that everyone wants?
It’s a lover’s world, as it plainly flaunts.
About that last stanza: As much as I meant it,
I don’t want you thinking that I really resent it.
I’m not one for bitterness on Valentine’s Day.
(It helps that the candy chases doldrums away.)
I’ve found my peace as an unattached guy
In a culture that barely understands why.
When others have romances pleasant to see,
This lover’s world is all right by me.
|Monday, February 6th, 2017|
Would you welcome the chance to go back to the past,
Affecting historic events?
We’ve thought of it often, but many decide
It would come at an awful expense.
Could making a paradox cause us to freeze
Or explode, as Doc Brown once surmised?
If not, could we still make things worse for the future?
I wouldn’t be very surprised.
But one thing I’ve realized is how many stories
Pretend that the present’s the end.
In truth, every action we make is a gamble
We someday may have to amend.
What brings ill in an era might better the next.
We’ll never know which route works best.
The most we can do is be morally sound
As we follow the path that we’ve guessed.
For my part, I’d hate to be given the option
To alter the timeline at will—
Couldn’t fix every problem, but where would I stop?
The thought of it gives me a chill.
|Sunday, January 29th, 2017|
|An Engaging Subject
If ever I wish to propose to a woman,
The question won’t simply be “popped.”
Getting down on one knee with a ring at the ready?
That practice should really be dropped.
Such a vital decision concerning two people
Is better discussed in advance.
Putting pressure on one to say yes in a hurry
Means taking a terrible chance,
Even worse if you ask at a public event
Where some thousands of people can see.
Your intended may jump without thinking it through
Or refuse you embarrassingly.
(Having said that, I realize I’ve never been close
To engagement in all of my life,
But I like to believe that I’d keep my advice
For the sake of a promising wife.)
|Sunday, January 22nd, 2017|
|Well, That's Just Super
In youth, I wished that I could fly,
But fun like that gets old real fast.
It also turns more heads than I
Would like, so now that wish is past.
I thought I’d want to teleport
To save on time and travel fees,
But how’s it work? I might fall short
And die. (Do I sound hard to please?)
Perhaps it makes more sense to dream
Of doing what I can already,
Only to a new extreme,
But that might feel a tad unsteady.
Nowadays, I fantasize
Of subtle powers. Yeah, I’m sure
For all the truths I realize,
I’m still a little immature.
|Sunday, January 15th, 2017|
|L.A. Must Hate It
It’s been attacked by giants, mutants, aliens, and ghosts.
It’s sometimes underwater thanks to being on the coast.
The president once bombed it to avoid a bigger woe.
It’s had so many criminals, the good guys had to go.
With these and more examples as depicted on the screen,
You’d think that New York City wouldn’t be a crowded scene.
|Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle
When I saw the Studio Ghibli adaptation in 2005, it pushed ahead of Spirited Away
for my favorite Hayao Miyazaki movie. But for all its popularity on the three big rating sites, I've found a number of people who didn't think much of it. Those people consistently had read the Diana Wynne Jones novel first. I decided I would have to compare it for myself someday, but I kept putting it off, both because I thought I still remembered the film too well and because I was afraid of falling out of love with the film. The mood finally hit me when I wanted a feminine fantasy and saw no others on my shelf.( Book summaryCollapse )( My opinions on the bookCollapse )( Revised thoughts on the movieCollapse )
My current book is Terry Goodkind's Temple of the Winds
. I didn't expect to start the Sword of Truth
series on the fourth volume, but my sister and brother-in-law found this and the next two. Goodkind must be doing something right, because these tomes are huge.
|Sunday, January 8th, 2017|
Allison Bechdel is most widely known
For a comic strip episode setting the tone
For a sort of eponymous feminist test
To see how a matter of gender’s addressed.
It featured two women. One wanted to see
A new movie; the other was doubtful, as she
Would demand that two women converse on a thing
Besides one or more men. Now, is that hard to bring?
You might be surprised at how few works will meet
The criteria, even with words bent to cheat,
Like when “women” are broadened to girls under six
Or to animals talking in CGI pics.
It’s not just in cinema; video games
And most other media fall short on dames.
If you think this is trivial, might I point out
The reverse test, whose passing is rarely in doubt.
Some people find Allison’s test overhyped.
I admit it says nothing of stereotypes
And other key factors to see whether works
Were most likely made by male chauvinist jerks,
But I still like its use as a rule of, ah, thumb
(A phrase that’s not sexist; that origin’s rum).
|Sunday, January 1st, 2017|
I once read the news that a “psychic” declared
Her competitors launched an attack.
I thought, “If you’re psychic, you knew that they would,
So why didn’t you sneak out the back?”
But that’s when it struck me: If they’re
Then they’d know of her future as well.
When two sides see what’s coming, a stalemate’s assured,
So there’s really no fortune to tell.
|Monday, December 26th, 2016|
|Not Really a Green Christmas Either
“Jingle Bells” and “Let It Snow” and “Winter Wonderland”
Are always played as Christmas songs; it’s gotten out of hand.
Not only do they never mention holiday décor
Or Santa Claus or gifts, much less what “Christ” and “mas” are for,
But I recall the first noel took place in Bethlehem.
This snow would hardly fall at any time of year for them.
These “carols” also seem unfair to people further south….
But I should end my rant; it’s not the time of year to pout.
|Saturday, December 17th, 2016|
|"Not Me"? Yeah, Right
The innocence of children is a widely held belief.
When I remember how it was, I have to say, “Good grief.”
Kids rarely mind their manners, even after you remind ‘em.
A slight offense will start a fight; you almost have to bind ‘em.
For my part, I was big on half a dozen deadly sins
Compared to now, and lust was also stronger in my teens.
I guess that very little kids have yet to come out racist;
They haven’t had it taught to them. The only other basis
For calling children innocent is what they rarely do,
Like murder and embezzlement, but let us think this through:
Is this for lack of interest or ability, pray tell?
I’m betting on the latter; children don’t do most things well.
Don’t get me wrong: I still like kids, if only ‘cause they’re cute,
But branding them as innocent is something I dispute.
|Monday, December 12th, 2016|
|Is This Classification Good, Bad, or Ugly?
Just why do we have westerns?
Most genres aren’t defined
By era or location.
It’s awkwardly assigned.
We never speak of “easterns,”
Though samurai comes close,
And then there’s sword-and-sandal,
But neither one of those
Is counted as a genre
At many stores and sites
That think a western isn’t
An action flick by rights.
Perhaps this has to do with
How long they’ve been around.
The label dates back further
Than cinematic sound.
In any case, I find it
A silly tag at best,
But still I like some movies
With a setting in the West.