Books 3 through 21…

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So my plans on writing briefly about every book I’m reading this year as part of my 52 book challenge hasn’t panned out – but I am reading way ahead of schedule. According to Goodreads, I am 40% done with the challenge and we’re only 10 weeks into the year. And that’s not including the random TPB here and there.

It’s been a mix of geek-related fiction and memoirs and various non-fiction science stuff.

3 – Mental Floss Presents: Instant Knowledge
4 – The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
5 - Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger
6 – The First Phone Call from Heaven, by Mitch Albom. Quick review: It sucked.
7 - A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley, by Neal Thompson
8 - Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach - who has so far been my favorite go-to author to read this year (see 10 and 18)
9 - If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, by Bruce Campbell.
10 – Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach
11 – Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. This may be one of my favorite books ever. It felt like it was written just for the teenage version of me. And the 35 year old version too.
12 – Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton
13 – The Nerdist Way, by Chris Hardwick
14 – Nerd Do Well, by Simon Pegg
15 – The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, by Jennifer 8 Lee
16 - Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, by Jeff Ryan
17 - Redshirts, by John Scalzi. Another one in my all time favorites.
18 - Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, by Mary Roach
19 - Doctor Who – The Clockwise Man (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #1), by Justin Richards.
20 - Doctor Who: The Resurrection Casket (Doctor Who: New Series Adventures #9), by Justin Richards. Good thing I don’t have necessarily have to read these in order.
21 - Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA: Enhanced Edition, by Sam Pettus.

I had that!

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On 2 June, as Sean Jeffries was travelling to London to see Return of the Jedi before me, I was getting into my pyjamas and climbing into my bed on ward 34 of the BCH, being looked after by a number of delightful nurses, all of whom I fell in love with. I watched the original Star Wars on the ward’s video cassette player as a consolation for missing the fun in London, and Mum and Richard went into Bristol and bought me a Biker Scout action figure, one of the new Return of the Jedi range, released in conjunction with the opening of the film. Even now, I can still feel the thrill of studying the packaging before ripping it open to get inside (would have been worth a fortune today if I’d left it in the box, stupid child). The smell of the fresh plastic and the sophistication and newness of the mould compared to the older, now well-used figures in my collection filled me with a wonder and excitement that completely dispelled my nerves about the operation.

Simon Pegg – Nerd Do Well

I had that same Biker Scout action figure! I remember having exactly 3 Star Wars action figures as a kid – Darth Vader, the Hoth version of Luke Skywalker along with the Tauntaun, and that Biker Scout. I also remember sitting outside near the bushes around our apartment pretending that Luke was a villain and that Vader and the Scout were the real heroes.

I guess I still do.

A boy and his bird…

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IMG759

James O’Barr, the creator of one of my favorite comic book characters of all time, The Crow, will be appearing at Megacon 2014. I don’t believe he shows up at many conventions, least not one down here in Florida.

See that tattered copy of The Crow towards the bottom, right on top of a pristine copy of the Special Edition version? I’m hoping to get that one signed. The one that’s been read a dozen times. I wasn’t familiar with The Crow when it first came out, but I can remember sitting at the bookstore after the movie was released and being in awe of how much darker it was than the movie itself. After reading it several times on subsequent visits, I figured I may as well buy a copy myself.

Several years later, one of my favorite authors, Poppy Z. Brite,  wrote a novel set in the world of The Crow called The Lazarus Heart. Subsequent novels, and collection of short stories and poems came out, and I was quick to grab them off the shelves. O’Barr wrote some more graphic novels in The Crow universe too, which sad to say I haven’t followed religiously – but hope to this year.

52 weeks…52 books…

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Kindle

Inspired by the 52books subreddit, my New Year’s resolution is to read 52 books this year. I’m aiming for a book a week, but hopefully I can manage to fit in two or three.

Towards the end of 2013, I was on a bit of a World War II kick, reading The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, by Robert Edsel, Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose, and Beyond Band of Brothers, by Major Dick Winters. I started reading The Pacific, by Hugh Ambrose, but can’t seem to read more than a chapter or two at a time.

I decided to start 2014 on a bit of a happier note, so I downloaded a copy of Jim Henson: The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones. I’m about halfway done so far, so I’m off to a good start.

Next on my To Read List (in no particular order):

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
Tinkers, by Paul Harding
The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp through Civilization’s Best Bits, by Erik Sass

 

Thunder Road

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You have an unlimited budget and space is not a problem. What piece of Hollywood memorabilia would you want hanging around in your batcave? Via Cool and Collected

Had to ponder this one for a while. The normal answers popped into mind – The Batmobile, ECTO-1, an X-Wing, the Enterprise, the TARDIS, but…I want something that no other collector would have in their batcave.

Then I remembered what I wanted to build as a kid in my backyard! That is, if I had a backyard…

The Thunder Road! Yep, the heap of junk spaceship from the movie Explorers

I loved that little red ship built from scrap! Sure, it can’t fire photon torpedoes or travel through time, but it gave a kid like me hopes that I could launch into space and meet pop-referencing aliens just by welding together scrap metal and a garbage can. And I can’t forget the NASA logo in the back, just to make it all legitimate!

It’s the Final Countdown…

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What movie is, or was, your “go to” Saturday matinee — the comfort movie you always popped into the VCR on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the movie you watched over and over again, driving your parents crazy while you recited the lines along with the characters on the screen? Via Cool and Collected

For me, my “go to” movie as a kid was The Final Countdown. No, not the Europe song. It’s a little-known movie, starring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen, about a US aircraft carrier entering a freak storm, and somehow ending up back in time. December 6, 1941 to be precise. So, do they perform their sworn duty and defend Pearl Harbor from the impending attack and alter the course of history? Historic time travel and ethical issues aside, as a kid the only important part of the movie was…a dogfight between Japanese Zeroes and two F-14 Tomcats, complete with epic orchestral score!


 

I recorded it from HBO one night (sorry MPAA!) and wore the tape out. I had to check out our TV Guide weekly to see when they were going to air it again so I can re-record it. I remember searching eBay when it first started to see if I could find a copy. Used rental store copies were selling for an arm and a leg. Fast forward a few years later and someone managed to copy a VHS onto DVD – and sell it for your other arm and leg. Blue Underground, which specializes in cult classics, finally released a crisp DVD version for a normal price, which I promptly watched over and over again. Now it’s streaming instantly on Netflix. Kids these days will never know what it’s like to hunt down your favorite film.

Interlibrary loan

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A student walked up to the reference desk asking for a book on interlibrary loan. I referred her to the front desk to pick up any materials on interlibrary loan. She then clarified herself by telling me she wanted books about interlibrary loan. Which later led me to wonder what the discussion at the front desk would be like if I were to request a book on interlibrary loan via interlibrary loan.

mind

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Today on the bus I observed a man, calmly reading some celebrity gossip magazine. I watched him flip the pages, and then suddenly, yet calmly, started tearing the pages out. He’d rip one page out, slowly put the rest of the magazine down, and fold that page in half and placed it in a slot where transit schedules and maps are kept. He’d then pick up the magazine and flipped a few pages, and again would carefully tear out one page, fold it, and place it in the same slot. He continued doing this for another 20 some minutes. Just minding his own business, ripping and folding a handful of glossy pages.

I wonder if he knew what he was doing. I wonder what was going on in his mind. Does he suffer from panic attacks and ripping and folding was his way of coping through a bus ride? Or was he just tired of looking at articles about Jersey Shore and Charlie Sheen’s latest escapades? I wonder if I do weird thing like that, just calmly going about my day, not knowing that it’s extremely peculiar. I often wish I could just witness myself go about my day, and wonder what is going on in my mind.

attention last minute shoppers…

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(Originally posted January 9, 2004)

By the numbers:

Number of students in a high school, honors English class: 35
Number of public libraries within close proximity to high school: 2
Number of opened, public libraries not currently undergoing renovations: 1
Number of students from said honors English class here at that library: 35

Number of students from said honors English class looking for poetry criticism: 35
Number of students from said honors English class asking for Emily Dickinson: 15
Number of students from said honors English class asking for Elizabeth Barrett Browning:15
Number of students from said honors English class asking librarian to “pick a female poet”: 5
Number of books currently on the shelf about Emily Dickinson: 0
Number of books currently on the shelf about Elizabeth Barrett Browning: 0
Number of books currently on the shelf about poets that students would be interested in: 0

Number of students who can use a card catalog, encyclopedia, or Gale’s Poetry Criticism: 1
Number of students asking that one student who can use a card catalog, encyclopedia, or Gale’s Poetry Criticism for help: 34
Number (total) of found materials that can be taken out: 0
Number of photocopy machines utilized by 35 students: 2
Number of students who has change to use said machines: 0
Number of minutes library is about to close: 5
Number of Excedrin this reference library assistant had to take after library closed: 2

Number of days students has to research and write a term paper: 60
Number of days students has left to finish said term paper: 1
Number of pages term paper has to be (minimum):6 (not including cover, outline and works cited)
Number of pages written by average student thus far:1/2 (including cover page)

Of course, I didn’t really complain through that whole ordeal. It actually amused me, because around 10 years ago I was doing the exact same thing. Feels strange to be on the other side of the reference desk this time.