Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Donald Trump is an IRL Troll- but he won't go away even if we ignore him

I do not even have the words to express how disgusted I am with the racist core of the Birthers, specifically one Donald Trump. The amount of rage and sadness that I am feeling right now has deprived me of any eloquence that I could ever muster on this subject, so I'll let others who are able to beautifully express the complete wrongness of this situation speak for me.

Required reading for the disgusting issue that is Donald Trump and Birtherism:
Goldie Taylor's Powerful Piece- "Why Obama shouldn't have had to 'show his papers'"

And everyone should watch this heart-breaking video by Baratunde:

Also, quotes from ontd_political that express how I feel:

"I want this man to run for President. I want him to sink all his money into it, lose in the most humiliating way possible, go bankrupt, and not be able to pay for his hair." - dangerousdame

"Also. This transcripts bullshit is even more infuriating because everyone knows Bush Jr. was a crap student. You don't hear shit from people saying Bush didn't deserve to go to Yale. What you'll hear and see are people saying his daddy paid his way and they'll shrug it off. Because apparently drowning in white privilege is totally cool, guys, but a black man working his way to get to where he is? That's AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, guys. The poor white menz have been ROBBED. Obviously Ivy League schools should only accept students with loaded parents while everyone else gets gruel and community colleges." - thechangingwind

"I really hope people see what's going on, and how it's escalating past the point of ANY form of logic, and look at themselves, question themselves, about why they fell for any of this BS in the first place." - zanzou_chan

"He quite literally can do nothing right at this point. He won't hand out his grades? He's trying to hide something and how could he have gotten into good universities when he was clearly educated in a hut in Kenya or Indonesia or someplace else we don't know about and so what if all evidence clearly demonstrates that he grew up in Hawaii? Lies! His father was African, so clearly he only got accepted to Harvard because of affirmative action and must've had terrible grades. Oh, he's graduated from top universities with an undergraduate and a law degree and went on to teach law at yet another top university? Well, that just shows how elitist and out of touch with the American people he is, not like good 'ol boy George W or down home girl Sarah Palin who don't use those big fancy words or act all ~smarter~ than everyone!" - mooyoo

"We would not be having this conversation if Obama was white. Period. The racist birthers ought to be ashamed, but they won't be. 

This is so fucking embarrassing. We ponce around calling ourselves "the greatest nation in the world," and then in a time of crisis, a sizable minority attacks the president aboutwhether or not he was born in this country. Not about his policies, not about what is and isn't getting done, not about why those things are and aren't getting done, but about his birthplace--something that is verified long before he moves into the White House. And they do it because he's multiracial.

I am ashamed" - hauntermooneyes

and this entire thread.

On the plus side, as a Democrat, this is doing wonders for the Democratic Party as the issue of the next Presidential elections comes up. Trump is soaking up all the publicity on the GOP side and generating massive amounts of disgust from moderates and democrats. If he gets the Republican nomination (unlikely), the most likely result is a massive landslide in favor of the DNC. If not, he's still destabilizing the GOP- crazies against rational Republicans.

This has given me a massive headache. I'm off to bed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reader's Disappointment

Has there ever been a time when you've felt utterly let-down by an author?

This has happened to me. I won't say that I felt betrayed, only because that is simply too dramatic for something as silly as a fantasy book. This happened a few years ago when I found out that, after five amazing books and a slow build-up towards a sixth and final novel centered around the past of my Favorite Character Ever (who had been an peripheral character- an important one, but peripheral nonetheless), this sixth book would never be written and published. Ever. 

Honestly, I understood her reasons- she just couldn't write it to her satisfaction and it was set in a MMORPG fantasy world wherein she wasn't the only writer and there are higher-ups that can do things like a massive time-skip, etc etc. I understood- but I had so so so been looking forward to this book and the shock of never being able to read it (and that the time-skip would probably kill off said favorite character) had pretty much turned me off from books and series set in this particular fantasy world. I haven't touched one in years.

Something like this had never happened to me before. I've never been wound up to anticipate a finale so much and had it...just not happen. Imagine the worst cliff-hanger end-of-a-book you've ever read. Now imagine the author just said, "...yeah, no, it's not going to work, so we'll leave it off here, sorry!" Imagine if the Hunger Games had ended with "Katniss, there is no District Twelve", forever.  Yeah, that's basically how I felt. Maybe not that bad because all five books of the series were complete stories by themselves, but this sixth one would have done so much for Favorite Character Ever.

But I just now stumbled across news dated last June that this author is set to have a new book come out next year. This new book would be set in this same fantasy world (post-time-skip, I assume) and be about Favorite Character Ever's daughter.

I am so conflicted.

On one hand, I want to grab it and devour it eagerly for what closure I can scrounge up on this character and this world. On the other, a part of me is bitter and just wants to be done with it all. I'll probably end up buying the book to support the author (feelings of betrayal aside, she was still one of my favorite for a reason!) and decide whether/when/how to read it.

The point of this entry is, all endeavoring authors, please try not to do this to your future readers. We can get book PTSD from this, just saying.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shades of Grey- Jasper Fforde

Title: Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde

Summary: This is the story of Eddie Russett, who lives in a world where social hierarchy is determined by what colors one can see and how much of that color they can see. Eddie is traveling with his father to the town of West Carmine, where he gets entangled in plots, loopholes, lies, spoons, and a Grey named Jane. The book opens with Eddie's imminent demise within the maw of a carnivorous plant.

Review: I'm not usually a fan of first-person narrative, but this book really drew me in. Eddie as a narrator is refreshing and humorous in his storytelling. For instance, this line from the opening paragraph: "So instead of enjoying aspirations of Chromatic achievement, I was wholly immersed within the digestive soup of a yateveo tree. It was all frightfully inconvenient". Eddie's narrative remains drily hilarious throughout the entire book and I really enjoyed reading from his point of view. 

The world that this story takes place in is deliciously eccentric. It's a world where spoon production is outlawed (and so spoons are immensely valuable) and everyone follows the Rules. Everyone's favorite pastime is also finding loopholes, which is amusing to read about. Much of this book is setting up the world and the book is basically comprised of small details (and enormous details) that reveal themselves  slowly to help the reader piece together an understanding of the society that Eddie lives in. Honestly, I think that this book is world-building at it's finest. Fforde holds no hands as he tosses us into unfamiliar territory, but he does leave clues that lead to questions that lead to answers that lead to more questions.

This book is the first of a planned trilogy and it is fairly heavy on world-building and light on plot, though it does have it's moments and it is definitely setting up for the upcoming sequels. There is plenty of character development from Eddie- from someone who wants nothing more than to move up the hierarchy to someone who questions the arrangement of society and is able to make difficult moral decisions. Jane, the main female character is mysterious and volatile (she punched our hero in the face upon her introduction)- a badass female, no doubt. She also displays a nice side and is very ruthless and intelligent. I can't wait to read more about these two. 

In conclusion: I loved this book, far more than I expected to. I originally picked it up out of idle curiosity but found the story-telling and world-building fascinating. I'll admit that some of the love is due to my history in fine arts (a dystopian fantasy about color theory?! How could I not be on board?) I am impatiently looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out in two (two!!) years. We will see if Fforde manages to make Painting by Numbers as fantastic as Shades of Grey as he moves slowly from world-building into actual plot. Until then, I will gladly reread Shades of Grey endlessly. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Game of Thrones Premier [HBO] Review

I'm not big on television, but I picked up Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin a few days ago, through Amazon's recommendation system and started reading with a general awareness that it was a television show now. I had no idea that the show hadn't started and that I had started reading the book just in time to watch the premier on Sunday.

Season 1, Episode 1: Winter is Coming 
Runtime: 62 minutes

The visuals: Gorgeous. You can really tell that the budget for this show was fairly enormous. I was especially in love with the shots of the Wall as well as the shots of Danerys and Viserys and their location. I do wish that there had been more pops of color (other than the heart tree), but the dark somber color scheme obviously fits with the story better.

This is also my first time watching a HBO show, so I was a bit startled by the nudity and sex. I know sex is pretty important in the books, but I can't help but feel that they could have accomplished the same effect in the show in a classier fashion. Same for the nudity- not sure if all of those breasts were really necessary. Some were, but some seemed to be just there because they could be.

The acting: The acting was mostly spot on. All of the actors are very talented (it's especially evident in the younger cast members). I understand that Sean Bean was the fan favorite for the role of Ned and he did not disappoint. He vibed well with the other actors and I can't wait for the political intrigue Ned's about to be stuck in.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow (my favorite character from the book thus far) was a bit too emo and intense at times for my taste, but it is a character with a lot of issues. He was perfect with Arya though and I look forward to seeing him really develop as a character.

Emilia Clarke was perfect as Danerys. I was a bit skeptical at first, but from the previews of future episodes, I can really see that Clarke is can deliver her lines magnificently, especially "I pray for home too". Wow. I really wish that they had kept the scene with Khal Drogo true to the book though and I wish they had kept in her line "Tell him he has given me the wind"
I only have one small problem with the acting and it's Lena Headly as Cersei Lannister. She's perfect in her role as ice queen for the most part (more please), but something about the way she walked as she exited the carriage and let Ned kiss her hand bothered me. I not sure what it is, because that was basically Cersei's attitude....I think I felt that her very brief fake smile was a bit...too modern and too brief. I still can't pinpoint what it is exactly, but that scene...argh.

The story-telling: I had no problem keeping up with the plot because I had just read about what happens in the first episode a day ago, but I can definitely see that people without prior experience with the books (or people who haven't read them in awhile) could get lost. The transition from Winterfell to the Targaryens is a case where I'm not sure everyone would have realized how important those characters are and how they relate to the plot (or even their location in relation to the others). You can tell the producers tried to make it clear what information a viewer should keep in mind, but there really is a tad too much information being presented at once and I think some viewers may lose track of the important points. It is the first episode though, so I expect the next nine will be better and won't be as information-vomity.

In conclusion: Would I watch the rest of the show? As of right now, yes. This episode was a good set-up and I want to see how the rest of the considerable plot developments come across on-screen. Also, I hear that this will be a very true-to-the-book rendition, so I want to see how that is handled. The books are definitely my priority though and it'll both help and hinder to have the visuals from the show in mind as a read.

And I definitely hope for my direwolves in the upcoming episodes! And more Jon Snow! Emo or not, he's not horrible to look at and his character will really pick up soon. :)

2011 Reading List

List will be added to as needed. Finished books will be indicated by strikethrough and will likely link to a review.

Date Started: April 16, 2011
Projected Finish Date: December 31, 2011

1. On Paradise Drive by David Brooks
2. Bobos In Paradise by David Brooks
3. Monkey by Wu Cheng En (translated by Arthur Waley)
4. Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Song Ling (translated by John Minford)
5. Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guan Zhong (translated by C.H. Brewitt-Taylor)
6. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
7. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
8. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
9. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
10. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
11. The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
12. Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb
13. Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
14. Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb
15. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
16. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
17. Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
18. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
19. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
20. Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
21. Wither by Lauren Destefano
22. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
23. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
24. If I Stay by Gale Forman
25. White Cat by Holly Black
26. Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xue Qing (haven't decided which translation version)
27. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
28. The Death Cure by James Dashner (assuming it comes out in 2011)
29. Caleb's Crossing  by Geraldine Brooks
30. The Girl Who Was On Fire by Various Authors