A -- Alfheim: It's the place where the elves live. There's lots of elves there with bows, and they have long blonde hair and pointy years. The wear archer clothes and stuff.
B -- Balder: The God of Light (is he the God of Light? Maybe he's just goodness. No, he's the God of Light too). He was always happy. He was never mad. He just smiled the whole time. I can't remember a time when he was mad. He died because Frigg asked everything not to hurt him except mistletoe, then Loki, disguised as an old woman found out it was unsafe, then made an arrow out of mistletoe, gave it to Balder's blind brother, then Loki helped Hod shoot Balder, and Balder died.
C -- Chess and Chessmen: Almost everybody plays chess, the gods that is, and I didn't know that chess was made back then. The gods probably invented it, the god of gold that is because they were golden chessmen. Or maybe it was the Gnomes. They seem more like the building type.
D -- Draupnir: I think it would be cool to have a bracelet like Draupnir. It was cool that Odin put it with Balder in his funeral pyre.
E -- Embla: Embla is one of the first humans created by the Gods. She was the first woman.
F -- Fenris: He's Loki's son who is the big wolf who grows too big to control. He's not scared of anything, so he's fearless, and he's very big, and he can open his mouth so wide his bottom jaw can touch the Earth (Midgard), and he bites off Tyr's hand. Plus, he's stuck at the bottom of Yggdrassil.
G -- Garm: He's the dog who guards the gate to Hel.
H -- Hel: She's Loki's daughter who rules Hel, which is named after her.
I -- Ida: The green field of Asgard with a whole bunch of buildings that I expect are huge, and it is very busy.
J -- Jotuns: The Jotuns live in a very, very cold world on the tree. Instead of their beards being soft and furry, they're cold and hard like icicles. The Aesir and them don't agree with each other. Thor challenges every Jotun he sees, and kills it and stuff, declares war on it, I'd say.
K -- Kvasir: Wasn't that the drink that made people smart? Odin was wise after drinking it or something.
L -- Lidskjalf: That's the seat where Odin sits and he can see everything.
M -- Midgard's Serpent: It's scary. Very, very scary, and it's always angry, and apparently it's not too heavy for Thor.
N -- Nanna: She is the wife of Balder. She is pretty nice, and she is my favourite of all the ladies in Asgard.
O -- Odin: He is the All Father and the ruler of Asgard. He has a very, very, very fast horse with eight legs named Sleipnir. He only has one functional eye, and he pulls his hair down over his missing eye. In the Norse myths, he's my (Miloš') favourite.
R -- Rungnir: He was a pretty big Jotun, really tall, and he had the second fastest horse on the entire World Tree. He's pretty cool, and fairly strong, and Thor beat him in a duel, but his head isn't fairly strong becaues Thor smashed it, right?
S -- Sif: She is beautiful, and she has the best hair. If she was a Charlie's Angels she'd be Jill. Her hair was blonde but it became gold.
T -- Tyr: He is very brave, and he is pretty strong too. Fenris ate his hand, so he has only one hand. He is also pretty nice. He is one of Odin's sons.
U -- Utgardsloki: He was super smart. It was awesome how he made all the tricks, the illusions, to trick Thor. I thought Thor would win. I loved the fact that Thor didn't win and that Utgardsloki won.
V -- Vanir: The battle between them and the Aesir was pretty interesting. They were pretty cool, and some of them joined the Aesir.
W -- War: The Norse Gods fought too much, definitely. They were really violent. Whenever somebody died nobody even cried, except for Balder, or then their wives die too. It's weird the way they were with death and war.
Y -- Yggdrassil: It's a cool tree. I like how it is holding all the Nine Realms in place and stuff. It is there to keep everything in place. I like that Yggdrassil is so important, and trees are because they give us air and stuff, but this tree is more important because it is holding our worlds together in one space so Midgard, Asgard, Jotunheim and all the rest would probably spin off into space without the tree.
Æ -- Aesir: Whenever they said something they promised, they had to do what they promised, so instead of being fierce they did what they said they would, but when they failed to do what they said they would something bad happened, and eventually it caused Ragnarokk.
*I just finished reading this to my twins last night. We start the Greek Myths tonight. (less)
The post-mortem Dr. Seuss money grab by Audrey Geisel continues apace -- and continues to diminish the greatness of the Seuss oeuvre -- in Miles and M...moreThe post-mortem Dr. Seuss money grab by Audrey Geisel continues apace -- and continues to diminish the greatness of the Seuss oeuvre -- in Miles and Miles of Reptiles: All About Reptiles.
Seuss, a man notoriously reluctant to lend his name and characters to dubious pursuits and monetary gain, authorized very few adaptations based on his work, and even fewer merchandising schemes. But then he died and Audrey promptly authorized toys and theme parks and live action films and CGI films and shit like Cat in the Hat's Learning Library -- for which she has made more money than Theodore Geisel, the actual creator of the books and characters, made in his entire career. Going, it would seem to me, against his express wishes.
Perhaps not, though. Perhaps I am looking at the situation through Brad-coloured glasses that can only see an artist's vision compromised through the greed of a "loved" one.
Regardless of whether or not there should be such a thing as Cat in the Hat's Learning Library (at least for now), Miles and Miles of Reptiles: All About Reptiles remains a piece of crap. Worse than even the worst of the National Geographic levelled readers, and abysmally awful compared to NG's best, Miles and Miles pretends to use Dr. Seuss's voice and art to teach kids about reptiles. It fails miserably.
The art is a poor simulation of Geisel's beautifully alive creations. Part of this surely has to do with the attempt to render living creatures into Seuss art while still maintaining enough of reality to make them recognizable (and to suggest the difference from reptile to reptile), but even when the Cat in the Hat makes an appearance it is plain that the artists -- Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu -- are copiers of the lowest calibre. They never capture the spirit of Seuss, and I can only imagine them sitting in a room with countless Cat in the Hat pictures copying what they see rather than drawing something new and fresh.
But it is the writing that is the worst. Have no expectation of Seuss-like meter and rhyme because your disappointment will be exponential. And forget about scientific accuracy.
On the Florida coast in a swap or lagoon, you may see a crocodile swimming by soon.
Really, Ms. Raby? Crocodiles in Florida? That's right, the University of Florida football team is called the Florida Crocs because of their indigenous reptile.
Piss poor by any standard. This book is crap. Super crap. Crapulous. A big reptile crap. And I am pretty sure I can say with a pretty high expectation of accuracy that Dr. Seuss himself would never have approved of this trash being published in his name. All other money grabs aside, Audrey Geisel, this is the one you should be most ashamed of. The others don't expand the Seuss oeuvre in his own medium. This crap taints his genius. Shame on you. (less)
I imagine this was a charming book when it was released in the late fifties. I suppose I can see the appeal. It's a simple book for kids who are learn...moreI imagine this was a charming book when it was released in the late fifties. I suppose I can see the appeal. It's a simple book for kids who are learning to read. It has a goofy looking dinosaur. It has a polite little kid. And they have fun little adventures in some nondescript American city.
But it's not the fifties anymore, and I am a jaded bastard who likes his kids books on the salty (or maybe just interesting) side. So the sweet dino and the sweet boy are like the syrupy skein of goo at the back of the tongue after 5 cans of warm, flat Dr. Pepper. Every once in a while I get a craving for Dr. Pepper despite that coating, and the same thing happens with Danny and the Dinosaur. I gorge myself, hate the after taste, then wait a year or two for the craving to return.
Lately, though, my little Scoutie's developing a taste for Danny and the Dinosaur, so the book is overstaying its welcome, and the after taste is making me gag. I'm going to try and redirect her into Harold and the Purple Crayon. Wish me luck. (less)
I had no expectations at all when I downloaded this book. I only did it because one of my groups was reading it, and a fellow member chose it, so I th...moreI had no expectations at all when I downloaded this book. I only did it because one of my groups was reading it, and a fellow member chose it, so I thought I would support him. I am glad I did.
It is a mash-up of something old and worn -- a couple of things that are old and worn, actually -- with a little of the new and kitschy. It's a bit of low brow hack and slash Fantasy fun with a kooky Goddess at its heart; it's a pretty straight forward Detective Noire -- including the requisite smart mouthed detective; and it's an Urban Fantasy with more than one urban centre.
It does them all with a refreshing bit of hip carelessness that manifests in the ways of Alex Bledsoe's world. The world is pretty much exactly like ours, except they're still using swords and crossbows as weapons and travelling on horseback. By exactly like ours, I mean that the concerns of any given populace are for working infrastructure, employment and getting by; I mean they're entertainment is the scandals of the rich and famous (in their case, Kings and Queens); I mean that nightclubs and casinos and bars are just like ours, name tags for servers included; I mean that leaving your horse parked somewhere overnight will get you a ticket, warning you not to do it again or face a fine; I mean that our hero is named Eddie LaCrosse, and the girls he loves are named Janice and Liz and Cathy. It's a clever way to approach a Fantasy world, this stripping away of all medieval pretensions, and it works wonders because it allows Bledsoe's sense of humour, which is decidedly contemporary, to come through without sounding dissonant. It fits because he makes it fit. And damn is it fun.
I want to keep going. I want more of Eddie. And that doesn't happen to me often when I stumble upon a series in the B-range of literature. Sure I'll bump against it, I may even like it well enough, but I tend to visit only once and never come back. I think this time may be different. The tales of Eddie LaCrosse are just too much fun for a one off. (less)
I took up a writing about reading challenge recently, and I ran into a question asking, "What is your favourite series?" I'd have thought this was an...moreI took up a writing about reading challenge recently, and I ran into a question asking, "What is your favourite series?" I'd have thought this was an easy topic to write about. How man good series can there be? Turns out quite a few.
Yet with all this choice, and all these series that I love (and more than a few that I've left unmentioned), there really is only one choice for me -- Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books -- so it turns out to be an easy question after all.
O'Brian wrote twenty books in the series, and died in the middle stages of his twenty-first. Twenty books about two men: Captain Jack Aubrey, the big, brash, reluctantly bellicose Captain of many ships (but most often the HMS Surprise), and his best friend, Dr. Stephen Maturin, the half-Irish/half-Catalan natural philosopher with a talent for espionage and a dangerous temper. We get to know their characters in ways and depths that I've never experienced anywhere else, and O'Brian never strikes a false note. Not once. Everything his men do are exactly what these men would do and when they would do it and how and why. We get to know all the people they love, all the people they hate, all the things they believe in, but most of all we get to see two men love each other over decades. Two men for whom the most important person in the world is the other.
We see Jack save Stephen from torture at the hands of the French, and carry his best friend with the delicacy of a father carrying a newborn, fighting back his sorrow because he must remain a Captain in charge. We see Stephen buy Jack a ship when Jack's been ignominiously drummed out of the service, and somehow he manages to give the gift without wounding his friend's pride.
I came to this series quite late, just before my twins were born eight years ago, and already I am back to book five in my reread (though much slower this time than last). Meanwhile, I am listening to the original book, Master and Commander, with my son whenever we get a chance to sneak into my office, all wood panelled and candle-lit (like a small cabin on the Surprise herself), and lose ourselves in the earliest meetings of Aubrey and Maturin. I've even passed these books onto my non-reading father (despite our longstanding problems), and even he has become a fan (no surprise, really, considering his nautical background).
For sheer comfort there is no series like Aubrey/Maturin. I love spending time with them. I love the action when it comes; I love the women they love; I love the intrigue and political machinations and way the wind and the sea make them the most themselves. More authors need to dedicate themselves to characters the way O'Brian dedicated himself to his men (not to plots and tales, but to the characters themselves). The literary world would be a much richer place. (less)