Venice fox mask

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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.
Venice fox mask

The Cheetah

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.
Venice fox mask

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.
Venice fox mask

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.
Venice fox mask

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.
Venice fox mask

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.
Venice fox mask

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?
Venice fox mask

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).
Venice fox mask

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.
Venice fox mask

Lover's World

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.