Month: February 2010 Page 1 of 3

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Mystery Project! And Choco Story update.

I’m working on a Mystery Project.

I’m not one of the kinds of writers that doesn’t talk about her works in progress; you may assume there’s a reason.

[Insert smug here.]

I’m not done with the Chocolate Story yet – I keep having to back up and say, “Does this really do what I want it to do?”  I think the answer is that I just have to finish the polish and give the story to people to read and give feedback.  Honestly, I think the answer is “No, it doesn’t,” but maybe it does and I’m just thinking too hard.

So what, really, do I want it to do?

I started out wanting it to be a fun entertainment for my family, a gift. But that’s so wide a purpose as to be almost useless.  Also, my siblings (and significant others) are a somewhat non-normal group, so someone reading the story outside my family group would likely be confounded that I had had an even reasonable expectation of satisfying that purpose with the story in question.

So, to attempt a more succinct purpose – I want to write an interstellar  espionage romantic comedy in which the main character does not fall in love with the guy who seems to be perfectly wrong for her at the beginning of the story, because he’s an ass, thank you very much.

Book Review: Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

by Trenton Lee Stewart.

The inside flap states, “Is this the end of the Mysterious Benedict Society?”

I have to wonder.  When you tie up your loose ends, it’s usually time for Season 2 of a TV show or the end of a book series, lest one jump the shark.  However, for fans of the Society, I confirm the shark has been successfully not jumped.

A middle-gradish book (for ages 10-13) about four varied adventurers who outwit their adult opponents (with the aid of other adults), PD is, oh, almost as good as the first book (which gets extra points for surprise attack) and better than the second, whose cleverness was only apparent at the very end.  The only thing I didn’t care for was the depiction of the Prisoner’s Dilemma – a game problem in which one tries to determine whether cooperation or competition is the better strategy, and why.  The answer, in this book, is to cheat – that is, to walk away from the situation and create one’s own solution.

Not a bad message, per se, as long as one follows through on the consequences.  But not a terribly clever one, and thus disappointing.

Nevertheless, characters engaging, plot engrossing, prose amusing.  A good read.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-21

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The Tale of the Guinea Pig and the Tale of Onion Boy

Two late-night stories.

Ray:

Once upon a time there was a Guinea pig who ate everyone on Earth.  Except his owner.  The Guinea pig was huge.  And one other person, who was hiding.  The person who was hiding came along and kicked the Guinea pig in the stomach, and the Guinea pig threw everyone up and became small again.  The end.

De:

Once upon a time there was a woman who hated onions.  She hated them so much that she ate them, because she wanted them to die!  One day, she was cutting an onion and found a seed inside.  She cut it open carefully and found an onion baby inside, a human baby who was tiny.  But because she hated onions, she hated the baby, too, and was mean to him.  Finally the baby ran away.  One day in the forest the onion baby found a giant who hated all people who hated onions, and who decided to find the onion-hating lady and kill her.  The onion baby followed the giant, knowing that the onion-hating lady still hated him but determined to save her anyway.  The giant yelled at the woman who hated onions to come out of her house.  She did.  The giant who hated the woman who hated onions challenged the woman who hated onions to a duel.  The two would stand inside giant bowls and cry into cups, and dump their cups into the other’s bowl, and see who drowned first.  The giant was very large, and each of his tears was the size of a car, so the woman’s bowl filled up very fast, on top of which, she wasn’t tall enough to dump her tears into the giant’s bowl, so she was drowning twice as fast.  Well, the onion boy was on the back of the giant’s shoulders, and when he saw what was happening, he cried so much that the giant’s bowl filled up faster than the woman’s bowl, and the two were up to their chins in tears.  The onion boy cried some more, and the giant started to drown.  The woman finally said, “Well, that’s enough of that.  I don’t deserve to be drowned just because I hate onions.  And the onion baby, who will drown that giant out of pure sadness if I can’t help it, doesn’t deserve to be hated just because I hate onions, either.”  So she started swimming (she was very smart) until she reached the edge of her bowl and jumped out.  Then, because the giant wasn’t smart enough to swim, she threw a hook over the edge of his bowl and tied it to the back of her truck and tipped the bowl over, saving the giant.  The giant left and the onion boy lived with the woman who hated onions, who loved the onion boy, even if he did stink.

“NOW GO TO SLEEP!”

Pictures!

Most of the half-way decent pictures from last week were from Physics day.  Here are the rest:

La Lune, through the playhouse window.

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Glasses at the Warehouse.

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Mural at the Warehouse.

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Lee, somewhat amused at my taking his picture, at the Warehouse.

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The wine altar at the Warehouse?

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Ray’s picture selected for Black History Month at the Sand Creek Library.  It’s a lion.  I think it’s based on a traditional African art style they were studying.  I had fun talking to Ray’s art teacher, who has a toddler with destructive tendencies.  “Don’t worry,” I said.  “That means you have a creative kid.  Especially if they’re sneaky about getting in trouble.”  “Oh, yes.”  “Well, look at Ray.  She turned out okay.”  “Good.  I was worried.”

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L’artiste.

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Some fantastic masks, from the same exhibit.

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Ray’s friend Xavier’s picture. X-man moved to a different school, which was too bad, because we both liked him.  But In Different Ways.

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Book Review: Artemis Fowl, the Lost Colony

by Eoin Colfer.

Lest you think that all I did this week was read (and cook), I listened to Conrad’s Fate and The Lost Colony as audiobooks at work during a marathon session at work of doing something that required little brain power and a lot of time.  I was about to go maaaaaaaad.

Arty, Arty.  You’re almost too nice now, aren’t you?  So ruthlessly noble.

I’m tempted to say The Lost Colony is a book to teach kids to be tolerant of outsiders, including gay people.  Or, if you are an outsider, how to tolerate yourself.  The plot revolves around the lost colony of fairies (demons), who have taken their island off to limbo for a number of millenia.  The male demons (you don’t hear much about the female ones) are split into two groups, regular demons and warlocks.  The regular demons go through a warp that changes them from World-of-Warcraft sized imps into full-grown demon stock, in a twisting, agonizing rush of testosterone.  The regular demons sound like your stereotypical jock, slavering over the thought of violence.  The warlocks, however, which are thought to be extinct, never warp and are always imps, but have more than two brain cells to rub together, enjoy cooked food, and can hold a conversation.  And never fall in lust with violence.

Hm.

Well, I have no problem with that.  We outsiders have always tried out out-outside each other, to make ourselves slightly more inside, whatever that happened to mean.  Nevermind that; we’re too interesting to not get along with each other.

Fortunately, none of the characters is the slightest bit preachy.  In fact, the warlock is almost hopelessly whiny, at first.  He doesn’t get handed anything – he hands it to himself.

Anyway, enough about theme which may or may not be intended.

Book Review: Beyond the Deep Woods (Edge Chronicles)

By Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

Mark from work loaned this to me; I read the first page and knew I’d like it, so I picked up a copy for myself before I’d even read it.

The book falls into the same category as the Trenton Lee Stewart (Mysterious Benedict Society) books:  I like them so immediately that I have no way to assess the books objectively.  I finished Deep Woods in a couple of hours.  A few pages before the end, I  said, “This book is a travelogue of a fantasy world with no plot whatsoever, and I shouldn’t like it at all.”  And then I happily finished it.

The book is filled with gorgeous interior illustrations, too, little ones that flow with the text, that seem as though they must have been drawn before the text was written – the descriptions of the same things, in the text, seem as if the author were seeing the picture and describing that – the descriptions remind me of the vividness you find in the Ghormenghast books, but not nearly as dark.

Book Review: Conrad’s Fate

by Diana Wynne Jones.

This is a YA, one of the Chrestomanci books.

Having read so many DWJ books, upon finding out that Conrad is doomed to die within a year if he doesn’t kill someone that he was supposed to kill in his previous life, I said, “Who benefits?” and was consequently not surprised by anything further that happened in the book.

Which is not to say that I was not delighted.

This book covers Christopher Chant at age 15, but was written after the first four Chrestomanci books.  It’s a little odd seeing Christopher at that age, knowing the kind of person he grows up to be and knowing what he was like at a younger age, but it’s wonderful seeing Millie at that age, and how much she hated that boarding school she begged and begged to go to.

The plot goes on and on, and somehow you know that half of it could have been cut out an not really affected the ending, but I didn’t care.  It’s the characters, stupid 🙂

Book Review: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats

by Mario Acevedo.

Yes, there are nymphos in this book.  No, this is not a porn book.  It’s a book about a…wait.  Let me just quote the first paragraph for you:  “I don’t like what Operation Iraqi Freedom has done to me.  I went to the war a soldier.  I came back a vampire.”

If I could write first paragraphs like that, I would be making the big money.  Okay, not the big money; Stephen King makes the big money.  I’d be making the “doing this for a living” money.

Think think think…

Anyway, what this book is, is perfect.  For what it’s trying to pull off, it pulls it off perfectly.  Whether a light comedy about a vampire detective in Colorado floats your boat is a question for you to answer in your own heart.  If the answer is yes, then you may read this book.  If the answer is no, then you may not read this book, because you’ll say asinine things about how shallow this book is, and I’ll have to say something like, “Farce rhymes with arse and your brains are sure sparse.”

Nyaa.

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