Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maybe We Ought to Have a National Credit Card Burning Fiesta

Three years ago, economist Christopher Thornberg was one of the first to suggest housing prices were likely to collapse, dragging the rest of the economy down with them. He even used the hated word, "recession."

...“Thornberg said there are no quick fixes because an entire country was living on people who were dreaming about wealth and trying to make it come true on credit. They looked at the paper profits from their homes or stock portfolios and felt like millionaires.

‘We’re at the back-end of a 15-year consumer party,’ Thornberg said. ‘This country is now carrying a massive debt load. Why did we do it? It’s because we wanted to feel rich.’”
--taken from this article.

Now folks who got used to sucking out their equity to live large are tapping out credit cards to keep the lifestyle as long as possible.

We got us a national disease of borrow-against-future-itis. We're materialistic slaves to debt. The saving rate got down to near zero. Can't live without that stainless steel kitchen appliance or granite countertop or iPod or boob job or European vacation or designer handbag or shiny, gas-hogging SUV or case of chi-chi vitamin water or (in my case) that x-thousandth box of shiny books and Levenger products.

Our thrifty forebears are howling in their crypts.

Time to rediscover frugality and simple living.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proverbial Wisdom for Our Era

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle
--Proverbs 23:4-5

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wright Pull(man)s a Funny in the Dark (Flow)

John C. Wright is having some SF-ey fun with the astrophysics about dark matter, dark energry, and the dark flow...oh, and a famous, anti-God-n-Church novel:

I know! I'll write a book about a lying little girl named (let me see...) Lyre, who dwells in an alternate universe of London, where everyone has a familiar and worships a horrible devil called The Question Authority. (Great idea-- now we are cooking with gas!) It will turn out that Lyre's father sacrificed her best friend Chumpsy in order to investigate the Dark Energy, which turns out to be the source of all life, as well as the thing that makes Orgasms, or something. Ann Coulter, bitter conservative humorist, will turn out to be the girl's mother. So, Lyre goes to the underworld, find a group of ghosts awaiting reincarnation or last judgment or something, and commits mass-euthanasia on them. Because they're bored.

It turns out that the Question Authority is NOT actually teaching people to get in touch with their true selves, but, instead, is turning them into brainwashed robots who all recite the same boring bumpersticker slogans, all vote for Obama, and do not know how to construct a syllogism. And the bad guy dies by falling out of bed or choking on a chicken bone or something, and at the end of the trilogy, Lyre either loses her virginity or only misplaces it, with a guy whose name I won't bother to make up, because he ends up not getting the girl anyway. Then I will halt the plot and the action to have Francisco D'Anconia give a twelve-page-long speech on why making money is moral and heroic. It will be called THE GOLDEN RUMPUS, and be aimed at the Harry Potter crowd. Can't miss. Sure fire. My name will be up in lights.

Oh, the Dark Energy comes into the plot because it is the background material from which angels and devils are recycled, and the driving purpose of the plot is to make sure that the Dark Energy get recycled, so we have to commit euthanasia on just about anyone we meet. The five percent of normal matter is a mistake created by Evil Jehovah, and it all has to be annihilated, along with all human life, because thta is what inanimate blind mother nature has planned, and mother knows best. That is an uplifting message. The kiddie will love it.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog tour: Beyond the Reflection's Edge by Bryan Davis

Our October CSFF Blog Tour spotlights Beyond the Reflection’s Edge by a name that's familiar to CSFF bloggers and Christian young adult fantasy enthusiasts--Bryan Davis, he of DRAGONS IN OUR MIDST. The latest novel is the first in the ECHOES FROM THE EDGE series published by Zondervan.

Here's a bit of what it's about:

Sixteen-year-old Nathan Shepherd has a great life traveling where the careers of his father, an investigator, and mother, a renowned violinist, take him … until his parents are found murdered. Left with only a mirror and notes from his father’s last case, Nathan goes into hiding at the remote country home of Tony, his father’s college buddy, and Tony’s teenage daughter, Kelly. The mysterious mirror must be a clue to what happened to his parents, and when images appear in it—people and things that don’t exist—Nathan and Kelly painstakingly gather evidence. But the killers want the mirror too, and danger threatens the teens at every turn. As it becomes evident that Nathan’s father had stumbled upon dark forces at work in the world, several questions arise. Could it be that the mirror is a portal to a parallel world? Could this technology be used for evil purposes? And could his parents still be alive, trapped in another dimension? Nathan and Kelly struggle to solve the mystery before they too become victims.

You can read a five-page excerpt over at CBD.

You can find out more about Bryan, the book, and other authors who joined him on the MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour at the tour's site.

Make sure to visit Becky Miller's blog for a really cool quote from Bryan which she posted Oct 20 about what he wants to achieve with his writing. Her link is below with my other tourmates.

Visit with them, won't you?

*Participants’ Links:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Lord of The Rings Should Have Ended

Actually, a pretty smart solution. It just would have meant a book about 100 pages long. Oh, wait, it's Tolkien: 350 pages long.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Surprisingly NOT Disappointing: The US version of LIFE ON MARS

The Brit series LIFE ON MARS was terrific. Excellent acting, plotting, conflict, era music, and dead-on awful '70's hair, sexism, and clothing.

The two males leads--Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt--had chemistry to spare during their frequent sparring and their increasing cooperative spurts. The romance was pleasant. And the ending made you wonder if it really was speculative or just a comatose dream. (I could go either way.)

When I heard there was gonna be a US version, I groaned. Why, oh, why, do we insist on redoing what was done right the first time? Look what we did to COUPLING (the American first episode--word for word near as I could tell to the Brit episode--was so bad my husband and I needed sick bags (almost). Cringe-bad. Thank God that it was swiftly cancelled.

So, with trepidation, I watched the first episode of the American LIFE ON MARS.

Not bad. Pretty good, actually.

Harvey Keitel is weird
(yet again) and less pouty-and-ready-to-pound-face than the Brit who played Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), but not as hair-triggery and pub-drenched. I loved un-PC Brit Gene. He was wonderfully awful.

The new Sam Tyler, the comatose/time-traveler(maybe), is played by Irish actor Jason O'Mara, who's handsomer than John Simm, but not nearly as good at looking confused. I grew to really like Simm in his role, and it's possible this cutiepie will grow nicely on me, too. Okay, so I like him already. Let's see if he can be consistently good and increasingly intense like Simm.

I actually prefer the quippy secondary male cops in the US version better than the Brit one. One is the guy from THE SOPRANOS, whose name escapes me. His moustache is formidable...and ugly as sin. Gretchen Mol as Annie is, so far, okay. Bonier by far than the Brit Annie, and hugely bleached on top, so less comforting and approachable in her appearance.

And Lisa Bonet still can't act.

The music is no less cool in this version, sending me and hubby into aural flashbacks. I sang along to a couple of tunes. (Yeah, we were 13 in 1973. We remember this music!) This one was particular fun:

West side, east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he's the king around town
Dancing, glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shooter shimmy shuffle down
way past one and feeling alright
cuz with little Willy round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down now

'Cos little Willy, Willy won't go home
But you can't push Willy round
Willy won't go, try tellin' everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won't go home

You know you had fun singing "star shooter shimmy shuffle down."(That yellow outfit in the video scares me!)

Whether yankee LIFE ON MARS will stay at its level of quality, move up to super-terrific, or slide down to so-so or worse is yet to be seen. If they intend to copy the original pretty much scene by scene, it should be at least good. If they expand and take off to new paths, it will be interesting, but no guarantee.

Bottm line: We sat through it and had a good time.

Considering we've already seen this story, that's not a bad recommendation.

If you didn't see the nifty Brit version, give the US one a try.

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Zombie Anthology, Zombie Art

Well, it's getting closer to Halloween, and I came upon two zombie-related goodies for those for those of you who appreciate the brain-sucker sub-genre:

1. Halloween Zombie Art by MonsterbyMail.Com: I voted for which art piece will be the Halloween offering (Both are cool, but I voted for the colorful one, though I prefer the composition of the blue zombie one. It was the blue zombie that won and is offered as a limited edition print.) Then be sure to check in later on in the month at the main site, as next up on his to-do commissioned art agenda is "Dexter: America's Favorite Serial Killer Zombie." (I love the show DEXTER, btw. Superb characterization. Creepy and funny. Just wish they'd shoot more of it in Miami.)

2. THE LIVING DEAD, an anthology of zombie stories from the past three decades by authors that include Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Clive Barker, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, et al. Gotta have some gems.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

MLP Books Available at Amazon

Yep. You can save shipping charges if you meet amazon's minimum for free shipping (or you can get it fast if you have amazon prime). These titles are listed so far:

Summa Elvetica by Theodore Beale
Hero, Second Class by Mitchell Bonds
The Personifid Invasion by R.E. Bartlett

The covers aren't up yet, however.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cool Reading for Halloween Month: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

I'm sure I don't need to expound on how much fun Neil Gaiman's writer's voice can be for those of us who like dark humor and macabre fantasy goings-on.

If you liked THE JUNGLE BOOK as a kid, then you should have a good time with Gaiman's homage to Mowgli's tale.

In this story, we open with a family massacre. Yeah, really cheery, huh? And yet, watching the young toddler of the family escape the clutches of the assasin who's already murdered the mother, father, and sister, we see the gumption and smarts and adventurous spirit that will eventually bring this pseudo-Mowgli into his own years later, when he finally overcomes his foes.

The toddler wanders into a cemetery--an old one, a historic one, not very much visited anymore--and it's the ghosts and the lone outsider among the dead (named Silas, & you'll be able to guess what sort of creature he is in short order, though it's never said outright) who come to the boy's aid, essentially becoming his family, his community, his instructors, his mentors, and his protectors.

And he needs protectors, for the assasin intends to complete the job he was selected to do that fateful night when the toddler lost his kin to the killer.

The story follows Nobody Owens (his name, given to him by the dead denizens and his adoptive ghost parents, Mr and Mrs. Owens, dead for over a century) as he learns all the ins and outs of cemetery living and develops ghostly skills. His friendships with a living girl, a dead witch, and his run ins with evil humans and ghastly ghouls and a dread creature dwelling far below in a burial mound so ancient everyone's forgotten about it are exciting and fun in typical Gaimanesque delightfulness.

A quick read (a good thing, as my eyes can't read all that much these days),a fun read, and some of the chapters--like the one about the Danse Macabre--are amazingly moving.

The value of love, learning,courage, and community, as well as the role of destiny and prophecy, and the damages caused by avarice and evil--these all play their part in Nobody's story. The ending is bittersweet and very appropriate. I would love to read a sequel, though one is not needed. It's simply me.

Big Mir thumbs up.

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One of these things is not like the other...

So, I'm home from my Pilates training session, hungry and pooped and thirsty--and slurping on a skinny cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks--and I'm surfing channels. I come across "Heroes" on G4-TV with this summary for the episode "I am Become Death":

"Peter takes on a dark power in a gamble to prevent the future; Hiro and Ando are at odds while stuck in Level 5; Tracy looks for answers about her strange ability; and Suresh becomes impulsive."

Suresh becomes...impulsive?


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See it before it gets yanked

SNL skit on bailout

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Gimme more FRINGE, speed up SANCTUARY, and stifle a PRIMEVAL yawn

So, a few new TV shows for lovers of SF. I had been looking forward to FRINGE for months now, not that long for SANCTUARY. PRIMEVAL has been showing for weeks now on BBC-America.

FRINGE: Hubby and I are officially hooked. While it really is like X-Files light, the "mad" scientist dad is reason enough for me to watch. My fave character of the show and the new season, period. The show wouldn't be half as cool without him. If they could put uptight Sheldon of THE BIG BANG THEORY with Mad Doc as his new roommate, I would be most happy. I also appreciate seeing Blair Brown doing her P.R. thing for Massive Dynamics. She's a terrific actress and she doesn't look plastic surgery-ed up to the max. She's also got a nice air of genteel menace. Me likey.

SANCTUARY: ZzzzzZZzzzz. Twice I tried to get through the two-hour pilot. The pacing would make a snail proud. They would have been better off with a one hour pilot sans the ponderous air. The show needs pizzazz. But it's nice to see the Geico Caveman get a chance to butle. (Okay, so it's supposed to be Big Foot. Doesn't seem hairy enough or big enough. Should have just let him be a de-iced caveman.) I might give it one more shot, and if it loses my attention once more, then it's bye-bye.

PRIMEVAL: We're done. After the first few ones, I got tired of the "primitive Earth creature of the week" format. It's too much like those crappy "monster critter" flicks that Sci-Fi channel foists on us with frightening regularity, only with better acting and charming accents. I really wanted it to grab me--Doug Henshall is likable, and a couple of the supporting actors are appealing--but it got old on me fast. I don't want to watch supposedly brilliant folks run after ancient animals. I want more brainy stuff than that--and smarter villains. Maybe it'll get better. But I haven't watched in a couple weeks, and I don't miss it.

Now, gotta wait until January for DOLLHOUSE by Whedon. While I'm not thrilled he picked Eliza Dushku for the lead--come on, has she been good at anything since she was Faith? And even at that, her acting was hardly the best--it'll be nice to see Amy "Fred" Acker again. (I miss Buffy/Angel. Sniff.)

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Marcher Lord Press Launches TODAY!

Jeff Gerke, former CBA editor, Christian fiction writer, visionary leader of Where the Map Ends site, and head honcho of MARCHER LORD PRESS--he's been a busy boy!-- is a guest blogger over at Rachelle Gardner's blog. And the reason is obvious from this post's title:

MLP launches today! It's live!

Contests winners
have also been announced.

Lots of fans of CSF have been waiting for this day.

Me, I've been quite absent from my previous usual haunts online--even missed the blog tour for MLP last week--but I wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those excitedly spreading the news.

Here are the first available fiction titles. If you buy one of the novels today at MLP, you'll get free bonus e-books. The speculative art bonus book is the one that appeals to me. :)

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