The trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron and also the How It Should Have Ended video for the trailer

I've enjoyed all the recent Marvel superhero movies, and it looks like I'll enjoy the next one:  

James Spader does the voice for Ultron.  His current tv show, The Blacklist, is one of the two shows I'm currently keeping up with (sort of - we're three to four weeks behind on both of them)(the other show is - Surprise!) - Agents of Shield).  

We all got a big kick out of the How It Should Have Ended video:

Honest Trailers: Star Trek Into Darkness ("Are we sure we don't want to put a colon in there?"

I never got around to writing the post I came up with on how women are portrayed in Star Trek Into Darkness.  This Honest Trailer sums it up pretty well in less than half a minute (1:48 to  2:13).

[Obviously, spoiler alert]

I don't like the preview photo so click here to watch.

The Jurassic Park one is good too - I love the 70's R&B music during "Re-witness... The Goldblum" - for a scene we've always considered to be pointless.  


  • To watch more Honest Trailers, click here.

Tom Hiddleston must have a sense of humor...

...either that or he's a really good sport.

On The Mary Sue this evening, I ran across this video with Cookie Monster:

... which reminded me of this Comic Con 2013 video of Tom Hiddleston hamming it up as Loki...

... which reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from The Avengers:

[I barely blogged tonight - after a voice lesson, choir, and a Skype conversation with daughter, I almost forgot.]

"The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making" - Catherynne M. Valente

CircumnavigatedFairylandIn September's world, many things began with pan.  Pandemic, Pangaea, Panacea, Panoply.  Those were all big words, to be sure, but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying. - p. 51

Some of the most common reviews don't affect me at all.  I don't really care what the New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, etc. think about a book.  

I do look carefully at books recommended by some of my favorite bookstores - Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, and Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville.  I love to browse in their "Recommended" or "Staff Picks" sections.  At Malaprop's, the staff member whose tastes are the closest to mine usually has her recommended books at the bottom right hand end of the "Staff Picks" shelves.  

That's where I found The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (back in June when I had my vacation in Asheville).  Granted, I was already looking for it because of a review that they'd had in a Tumblr post.  Unfortunately, I can't find the exact post, but it highly recommended the book and said to ask any staff member if you couldn't remember the title while you were there.  

The book had three recommendations which also almost sold me on it right away.  Neil Gaiman's recommendation was on the front cover, Tamora Pierce's was on the the second page, and Peter S. Beagle's was just below hers.  When three of the most creative fantasy authors recommend a book (and I don't know if I've ever seen another book recommendation by Peter S. Beagle), then I look at it very seriously.*  

Recommendations aside, I always read the first few paragraphs of a book.  If I love the writing style, the plot isn't actually as important to me - or... maybe it's that, if I love the writing style, liking the plot seems to flow naturally from that (as long as the plot isn't too depressing/gory/etc.).  If I don't like the first few pages, I'll read a bit from various points in the first few chapters.  If I don't like the writing style, I probably won't finish the book.  

The first paragraph charmed me:

 Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.  Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday.  He was dressed in a green smoking jacket, and a green carriage-driver's cloak, and green jodhpurs, and green snowshoes.  It is very cold above the clouds in the shantytowns where the Six Winds live.

 I bought it at Malaprop's.  It continues to charm me, and I'm about 1/4 of the way through.  It's one of those books that I only read when I have lots of energy and attention so that I don't miss any little detail.  

However, I'm not sure I'm going to continue where I am.  I was reading it this evening, and realized, about the time that I got to the quote at the beginning of this post, that it would be a beautiful book to read out loud. 

Younger son is 14 yo now so, before June, it had been a while since I read out loud.  In June, I injured my hand and there were lots of things I couldn't do, including dishes and cooking.  I started reading out loud to dear husband while he was cooking, and younger son and older son usually ended up in the kitchen listening too.  So far, I've read many chapters of Let's Pretend This Never Happened** by Jenny Lawson, which is a hilarious book, and the first chapter of The Americans:  Fifty talks on our life and times by Alistair Cooke,*** which is as thoughtful as you'd expect from him.  

I think I'll start reading this new fantasy out loud soon.  

*  Here are the three reviews:  

  • “A glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian fairy tale, done with heart and wisdom.”—Neil Gaiman 
  • “September is a clever, fun, strong-hearted addition to the ranks of Bold, Adventurous Girls. Valente’s subversive storytelling is sheer magic.”—Tamora Pierce, author of The Immortals series 
  • “When I say that The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making reminds me simultaneously of E. Nesbit, James Thurber, and Eva Ibbotson, I don’t mean to take anything away from its astonishing originality. The book is a charmer from the first page, managing the remarkable parlay of being at once ridiculously funny and surprisingly suspenseful.  Catherynne M. Valente is a find, at any age!”—Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

** Also bought at Malaprop's on vacation.

*** Bought at The Book Exchange on vacation.  It was a wonderful vacation for bookstore browsing!


"Abarat" by Clive Barker

Abarat Abarat is what Alice in Wonderland would be if it weren't so normal and sedate, and if it had more adventure.  I would love to quote parts of it. However, I don't want to say much more because meeting all the strange characters is part of the fun!  I do like this song they sing (to the tune of "O, Christmas Tree"): 

O woe is me!
O woe is me!
I used to have a hamster tree.
But it was eaten by a newt,
And now I have no cuddly fruit.
O woe is me!
O woe is me!
I used to have a hamster tree.


To pass the time

A selection of links, heavy on musicals and movies, in honor of the Awkward Blogger, who is recovering from major surgery.  When you get a chance to get online again, here are some things to distract you:

The Adama Glare (also known as the Glare of Death) is a formidable psychological weapon in the arsenal of William Adama. It is an alternative to Bill Adama's other main weapon, the Shield of Disapproval, activated by sudden eye-aversion. It is used to instill loyalty and to punish disloyalty...

Eucharistic Prayer C and also a performance at the Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

2010_03_15_2300s My voice is gradually returning, and I went back to church (and sang!) for the first time since my series of posts on faith (and the first time in over six weeks).  I decided that I wasn't going to expect anything in particular of myself at church.  For instance, instead of trying hard to get some lesson from today's Gospel, or trying to react to it properly, I just said to myself, "Neat - a story about Jesus."  I also allowed myself to just have whatever opinions I had, rather than trying to turn off my opinions. 

My strongest opinion was in reaction to the Eucharistic Prayer.  They used, I think, Eucharistic Prayer C, which I'm not very familiar with.  I didn't care for it because it didn't seem very focused, and (as you saw if you read my long series of faith posts) I could use some focus right now.

However, I looked up Eucharistic Prayer C this evening.  The first website I ran across, Blogula Rasa, which mentioned it, referred to it as The "Star Trek" Eucharistic Prayer* because of how it begins:

God of all power, Ruler of the Universe
you are worthy of glory and praise.
Glory to you for ever and ever.
At your command all things came to be:
the vast expanse of interstellar space,
galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being...
(click here for the complete Eucharistic Prayer)

Blogula Rasa also says:

It’s also known as “Star Trek” because it invokes “galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,” and I always loved hearing it. We also used it whenever there was a NASA shuttle mission “up.”

...which gives me a different feel for it. 

In keeping with this theme, here's a performance at the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. [Hat tip to a friend who posted this on Facebook]


* Actually some churches even refer to it that way in their bulletins.

[Photo from last weekend of St. Phillip's Church in Charleston, SC]

I was really just returning a book...

... to the newly built and recently opened Orange County Library last week.  Although I thought younger son might find something he wanted, I wasn't really intending to get any out.

Silly me.

Here's what I got:

Amazon included it in their Best Books of the Month:  December 2009:

Crafted with a musician's ear and an historian's eye, Pops is a vibrant biography of the iconic Louis Armstrong that resonates with the same warmth as ol' Satchmo’s distinctive voice. Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout draws from a wealth of previously unavailable material – including over 650 reels of Armstrong's own personal tape recordings – to create an engaging profile that slips behind the jazz legend's megawatt smile. Teachout reveals that the beaming visage of "Reverend Satchelmouth" was not a mark of racial subservience, but a clear symbol of Louis's refusal to let anything cloud the joy he derived from blowing his horn. "Faced with the terrible realities of the time and place into which he had been born," explains Teachout, "he didn't repine, but returned love for hatred and sought salvation in work." Armstrong was hardly impervious to the injustices of his era, but in his mind, nothing was more sacred than the music. --Dave Callanan
  • WeeFreeMenThe Wee Free Men:  A story of Discworld - Terry Pratchett:  I didn't know that Terry Pratchett had Discworld books in the children's section.  I can pass this on to younger son after I finish, and then, oh the conversations...
At first, the worst week of Janzen's life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can't afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster's long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up... The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes...  Janzen is always ready to gently turn the humor back on herself, though, and women will immediately warm to the self-deprecating honesty with which she describes the efforts of friends and family to help her re-establish her emotional well-being.
  • The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent:  Selected Essays - Lionel Trilling:  We studied him in the American Intellectual History class I took in graduate school.  Back then, I intended to read more of his work, but, with two young children at the time, that didn't happen.  I think his name is still probably on a book list in the depths of my desk.  I found this while looking for something else.  We hadn't parked close to the library, I hadn't brought a book bag, and I already had enough books to carry, but I got it anyway.

The new library building itself is lovely, well organized and has lots of space for books, unlike the old library space which didn't have enough room, had to put the children's non-fiction in the lobby because the floors in the children's room weren't strong enough, and was in the auditorium of the former Hillsborough High School.

But... it will take me a long time to get over the old space which had very high ceilings, also had huge windows, and was delightfully quirky. 

The school district would like to use the space for offices.  However, the Cultural Center Committee proposes that it should be used for an arts display and performance space for local groups.

You know, of course, which one I favor!