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If I Could Just Get It On Virtual Paper

Monday, August 29, 2005

Book 46: Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

I'm a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen going all the way back to his very first novel, Tourist Season. Hoot is his first children's book, and it's a deserving notable for the Newberry Honor. Given the fact that his novels have tended to be quite adult in nature, this is no small feat. The movie centers on a teenage boy who makes it his mission to assist another kid in his efforts to save an owl population from destruction via construction of a new restaurant. The book is charming and ideally targeted toward pre-adolescents in particular. And since Hiaasen has a second book targeted at this same audience in September, now is the perfect time to get a youngster into his stories.

Hoot is also currently being developed as a movie project, produced by longtime Hiaasen pal Jimmy Buffett. Walden Media is handling the movie, which bodes well since the company has traditionally done fine work with family productions.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Widget of the Week: Tigergotchi

If you loved having a virtual pet back when Tamagotchi was huge, yet don't quite have the cash infusion to get yourself a Nintendo DS along with Nintendogs, Tiger Dashboard has a solution for you. Tigergotchi is a virtual tiger who lives on your dashboard. You give him food, water and love to keep him going, and as long as you devote enough attention to him, he'll be alive and happy for a long time. On the off chance that he does die, though, there's a display to tell you exactly how long he lasted.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

Next in the Queue
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell
Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville


Music

Currently Listening To:
In between continuing to listen to XM Radio (football season is coming), I'm also enjoying the various soundtracks from The O.C.


Movies

Most Recently Seen
I've commented on all of the following movies on my Big Board:
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Red Eye
Broken Flowers
The 40 Year-Old Virgin


Most Anticipated
The Brothers Grimm

Monday, August 22, 2005

Book 45: Wrecking Crew, by John Albert

I've got a full review of this book up today. You can read it here.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Widget of the Week: SuperBrain Widget

I used to love this game as a kid. Back then, it was called Mastermind, and I would spend hours on end puzzling over it. Now it's back and in yummy Widget form. The game combines a bit of luck and some skill at working with combinations. It's a nifty little time waster and a cute little desktop addition.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

Next in the Queue
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi (I've put both these poor ladies off for long enough.)


Music

Currently Listening To:
XM Radio - in particular, Tony Kornheiser's show and ESPN Radio. With the Terrell Owens debacle going on, this is some seriously compelling listening.


Movies

Most Recently Seen
Four Brothers - A very solid revenge flick that is predictable, but engaging. Chiwetel Ejiofor steals the show.
March of the Penguins - A gorgeous film about fascinating creatures. A warning, though: it is *quite* frank about death.

Most Anticipated
Broken Flowers - I *still* can't wait for this one to finally hit my indie theater

Monday, August 15, 2005

Book 44: Possession, by A.S. Byatt

I spent a good long time with this marvelous novel, as it was such a complex and engaging tale that I wanted to give it all the attention it deserved. At its surface, the story could be viewed as a simple literary mystery. A young researcher whose work centers on a poet named Randolph Henry Ash discovers some unknown letters in a book that he is supposed to be taking notes on. These letters are written to an unnamed woman, and our protagonist takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery of who she might be. As he works to discover the truth, he comes to join forces with a formidable woman whose work centers on the poet Christabel LaMott - who does in fact turn out to be the woman of the letters. From there, the two join forces to try to uncover what happened in that long ago past - and what they learn might change the entire interpretation of what the pair wrote.

Of course, I can't begin to do the story justice with that simple synopsis. It's 555 pages long, and they are not quickly read, as I noted above. We see the tale unravel from all different viewpoints, and included in the book are poems and letters by Ash and LaMott, who were not real-life poets. This means that the author was able to convey the tale from a variety of different voices, and does so very successfully. It's particularly impressive to realize that she would have had to write a number of epic poems to be included in this work. Possession definitely was a thrill for my inner English major, and a novel I can't recommend highly enough for people who have enjoyed such recent stuff as Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It has that same Victorian feel.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Widget of the Week: SimpsonBot

As anyone who has read this site with any frequency is aware, we here at BOP are huge fans of The Simpsons. I don't mean casual fans. We're fans of the sort that can break out into long strings of Simpsons quotes that completely relate to the conversation topic at hand. We own Simpsons trivia games. We continue watching the show even though several of us contend that the show is a long way from its zenith.

And so it is that the SimpsonBot widget is so perfect for us. Every time Dashboard is refreshed, it brings up a new random quote from one of the many characters that populate the city of Springfield. It helps give a quick fix when you can't be in the middle of a favorite episode.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Man Booker Prize Longlist 2005

We're getting into awards season for the publishing industry, and while I have ignored the Quills (they're essentially for whatever books are selling the best as opposed to being awarded for quality), the Booker Prize always has some interesting offerings. This year's list includes:

The Harmony Silk Factory, by Tash Aw
The Sea, by John Banville
Arthur & George, by Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way, by Sebastian Barry
Slow Man, by J.M. Coetzee
In the Fold, by Rachel Cusk
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
All for Love, by Dan Jacobson
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, by Marina Lewycka
Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel
Saturday, by Ian McEwan
The People's Act of Love, by James Meek
Shalimar the Clown, by Salman Rushdie
The Accidental, by Ali Smith
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith
This Thing of Darkness, by Harry Thompson
This Is the Country, by William Wall

This group will be narrowed down to a shortlist on September 8th, with the winner announced on October 10th.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Possession, by A.S. Byatt (yes, still)

Next in the Queue
Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates, by John Albert
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi


Music

Currently Listening To:
Michael Doughty - Haughty Melodic


Movies

Most Recently Seen
Sadly, the only film I have seen in the past week is the television flick 10.5, which had been re-airing on USA. It wasn't good, and yet I couldn't look away.

Most Anticipated
Broken Flowers - I can't wait for this one to finally hit my indie theater

TV

Currently Watching
I've certainly given it love before, but I have to toss some additional warm fuzzies to HBO's Entourage. The more the show runs, the better it gets. This season's "casting" of Vince as Aquaman is pure genius, and has allowed for numerous terrific plot twists. Additionally, the idea of The O.C.'s Melinda Clarke playing herself still has me laughing. I'd like to take this opportunity to warn Malcolm McDowell to stay away from swimming pools as they may be bad for his health.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Widget of the Week: To Do Tracker

I am a compulsive list maker. I make lists of things I need to get for the house, lists of books to read, lists of movies I need to see, and lists of daily projects. And I've probably forgotten four or five lists that I tend to accumulate. Thanks to my Mac Dashboard, I now have a Widget that will allow me to carry this compulsion to my desktop. While nothing ever quite matches the perfection of list-making on little pieces of paper that you carry around with you until they're completed, this one is a handy substitute.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Pop Culture Weekly

Books

Currently Reading
Possession, by A.S. Byatt

Next in the Queue
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi
Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi

Most Recently Purchased
The Plague Dogs, by Richard Adams*
Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain (purchased for my charming husband)
Underworld, by Don DeLillo*
White Noise, by Don DeLillo*
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro*
The Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem*
Beloved, by Toni Morrison*
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson*
Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth*
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith*

*all acquired in trade at the local used book store

Music

Currently Listening To:
Smoosh - She Like Electric (I'll cover this album in an upcoming blog entry)

Movies

Most Recently Seen
Sky High - I went to see this film solely for Bruce Campbell, and it wound up being the most pleasant surprise of the year. Highly recommended.

Most Anticipated
Junebug - I just love that dreamy Ben McKenzie.

TV

Currently Watching
Footballers' Wives - It's dark, engaging and oh so British, which works for me.

Most Anticipated
Naruto - This anime series begins airing on Cartoon Network on September 10th and I can't wait. It's one of the best shows to come down the pike in years, animated or live.

Book 43: The Rope Eater, by Ben Jones

This genre of book isn't my cup of tea, I guess. It centers on a young man who deserts the Union Army during the Civil War, and then finds himself invited to be on the crew of a ship called the Narthex. They're headed on a mysterious journey with a very motley crew. In fact, none of the men save the captain, the ship's doctor, and the man who is financing the venture (but keeps to himself in a private cabin) know where they're going. All they really know for certain is that they are headed into the arctic and the adventure will be a dangerous one. Some of them speculate that they'll be whaling, others believe there's a hidden mine. The actual purpose of the trip will surprise them - and reveal the darkest heart of man.

While I didn't particularly like the book on a personal level, I did admire it for several reasons. First off, I think the author did a superlative job of creating an atmosphere of paranoia and claustrophobia. There were even times that I had to put the book down because I was starting to feel a little queasy from feeling so enclosed. Additionally, he doesn't fear to venture down some very shadowy paths. People do terrible things in this book and behave extremely erratically. Finally, the book did put me in mind of both Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, though I was wishing that I was reading their stuff instead. I can't wholeheartedly recommend the book, but for readers who enjoy survival stories, it's probably worth a look.


 
     


 
 

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