Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Iron Duke

It's a romance novel, can you tell?
I read a book, and here's my "review". It's in quotes, because it's kind of ranty. This is my first actual "Steampunk" novel, and, well, you can read the review here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lip color with sunscreen on the cheap!

I just spotted this new spf 15 lip color from Wet n Wild at the drug store yesterday and bought one even though Paula Begoun hasn't reviewed it yet. It actually has real SPF ingredients (oxybenzone and octynoxate) so I'm guessing it really will protect your pout. There's a good amount of pigment for the price, but it's super greasy and will need to be re-applied throughout your day. I'm fine with that, because it's Wet n Wild, folks: $3. Tip: use lip liner before applying. This not a barely-tinted gloss, but a decent lipstick; the lip liner will help keep the color from bleeding into any lines around your mouth. I'm trying "Bare-ly Legal" (sigh...the names they give these things) and it's a nice muted earthy warm color that looks good for day time...which is when you need a lip color with sunscreen. The only really negative thing about this product that I can see so far is the packaging: why the packing-tape-esque sticker sealing this thing? Once removed, it leaves the expected gooey mess. I can clean it off with WD40, but why should I have to do that?! Oh well. Again: $3.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Good Books: Good Omens

Good OmensGood Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful romp through the apocalypse! OK, not really, more of a bouncy trip through the intersecting lives of natural and supernatural beings as the Last Days head for the inevitable clash of Armageddon...or is it more ineffable than inevitable? Only the Anti-Christ knows for sure, and he's got other things on his mind. Needless to say, this is yet another lovely, fantastical bit of storytelling set in a dualistic universe, and not a font of theological orthodoxy. I found the characters engaging and the situations, even when utterly absurd and improbably, believable within the confines of the world of the book. Some of the characters and situations remind me of my favorite James Blaylock writing, and therefore I did a lot of giggling, especially toward the end. Nothing like brilliantly written hapless heroes in hopeless situations to make me smile.

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Good Books: American Gods

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd been wanting to read this for some time, so I was happy to find it at my local library. A bit melancholy but often wry and sometimes whimsical, it poses an interesting view of a world full of very fallible, contentious, and conflicted gods operating behind the scenes of our human lives. The protagonist stoically endures the attentions of a pantheon of lesser and greater deities and associated humans while traversing the more odd elements of the American landscape. I enjoy Gaiman's lyrical writing style, and really appreciate his ability to paint scenes of terrible majesty and fearsome loss with sensitivity instead of ponderous gloom. Don't pick this up looking for conventional theology of any kind, just ride the wave of storytelling.

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Good Books: Next

NextNext by Michael Crichton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is what I would call a hybrid fiction/non-fiction novel, and as such is not a great piece of fiction, but more of a well-written piece of fiction that carries a well-researched message of caution regarding genetic manipulation, gene therapy, cloning, and genetically modified plants and animals. I listened to a recording, and even without the printed page in front of me I found it easy enough to follow the science. I would recommend it to fans of Crichton, Azimov, Clarke, and other writers who have something intelligent to say about the course of scientific innovation.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

The big valley

A couple of times a year I dream about driving east of Seattle, up toward the Cascade Mountains. At some point I arrive at or pass through a wide, grassy valley. On the gentle slopes are several large structures, a few miles apart, on either side of the valley. One is a huge beehive-shaped wooden building. Whether it's a barn or a house, I don't know. On the eastern side, I think, is a grey stone "castle", probably 19th century or early 20th century, with squared-off battlements and paned windows, like an English country house made to look Medieval-esque. There's a crossroads down by the narrow river, and at one juncture, on the West side, there's a small farm and nursery where I sometimes stop to look at unique plants. They also have chickens for sale, pullets and hens of unusual colors and shapes. Some are breathtaking tropical colors. One breed is white with china blue accents on the neck, tail and wingtips.

I'm always happy to drive through this area. It feels like a place from my childhood, and I always feel happy anticipation of an exciting road trip when I visit there. Driving north along the west side there's a large cemetery and war memorial with amazing statues and a museum of some kind. It's high on the slope and overlooks the valley. Sometimes this cemetery/monument is located on the road up in the mountains to the east, or along the gorge of a river that looks like the Columbia, but that runs more NE to SW than East to West.

Last night I dreamed about this valley, and it's been on my mind all day. The sense of it is so strong that I'm having a hard time visualizing the real topography of the Sammamish Valley or Snoqualmie River area, which is what I'm sure my subconscious has cobbled it together from. The valley in my subconscious is at least twice as wide as the Samammish Valley, less developed, and dotted with more grandiose structures. I'm going to have to start mapping it. The next time I dream about it, I'll try to sketch it out upon waking. I've been dreaming about it for at least twenty-five years, along with other places that exist only in my subconscious. There are whole worlds in there that I keep re-visiting, along with a few people and plot lines. It's all very surreal and only seems logical when I'm in there. Sometimes I'm aware that I'm re-visiting, sometimes I'm lucid, and sometimes I think I'm really there in waking life and then it's "At last, I'm finally here!" Then I wake up. Usually when I awaken I'm just disappointed that it was only a dream. Today, however, that place was so strongly imposed on my consciousness that I could only see it instead of the real topography East of Seattle. I find this very interesting.

Wranglers of horses

Here's a little April fools thingy that Gordon and  I worked on a month or so ago for Zombie (ha) Orpheus Entertainment. It's a faux movie trailer for the upcoming (not) zombie western: "Wranglers of Death!" Enjoy!