July 28, 2005

Blogroll Added!

I've been meaning to add a blogroll to my website for a while now, I just didn't know how to do it and didn't want to bug Michael about it too much. But now it is here! Michael set it up and I was able to add it to the list of "Pixie Pages" on the sidebar. I read some great blogs and they totally deserved to have a link here (putting them on the sidebar would have made the page absolutely huge, so they get their own page). Go check them out!

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July 27, 2005

Book Quiz!

Ok, this was a pretty cool quiz. It has over sixty possible matches! I'm apparently "The Giver".

You're The Giver!
by Lois Lowry
While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you're pretty sure everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by your prior upbringing and now you're tormented by how to reconcile these two lives. Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose wisely.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

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July 24, 2005


Good comic today from Doonsbury.

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July 23, 2005

Standardized Tests are the Worst Things Ever

Go read this wonderful piece about why standardized testing is a very very bad thing as it stands in this country. Many of you who know me in real life have likely heard my very vocal views on the subject, but this piece is much better written than my rants usually are. It's great. Now I wonder if I could find a way to send 5,000 copies of it to every official who advocates standardized tests? Probably not. I can't afford either the paper or the time, I'm too busy brushing up my Latin for the SAT II subject test. Oh well.

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Book: Where's My Teddy?

Where’s My Teddy?
Jez Alborough

This is a cute picture book about a little boy who goes looking in the woods for his lost teddy bear, only to find a giant teddy instead. The story is cute, and the end is funny, but the book felt rather unremarkable. The text is all rhyming and there are many rhymes in the book that feel decidedly forced. I would much rather the text not have rhymed.

The illustrations were cute, but very exaggerated, almost too much so. The style was extremely typical of picture books and thus it didn’t stand out as anything particularly special.

This is a cute book, but it’s not anything remarkable. I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this book, but I would read it to a child if it was around.

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Book: The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf

The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
Gerald Morris

This book is a children’s fantasy novel that elaborates on the story of Lynet from the King Arthur legends. The story as it was written in L’Morte de Arthur is rather confusing and doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Morris does a decent job of sorting through the various pieces of the story and creating a background that fuses them together in a way that makes much more sense.

The writing is decent throughout the book, but it really shines in the dialogue where the characters become very human and a healthy dose of humour is aloud to show through. In the passages that are not funny, however, the writing is average for a novel of this type. The characters are decently drawn, if somewhat two-dimensional at times. They are much more real that L’Morte de Arthur shows them to be.

I enjoyed this book, but it wasn’t anything particularly spectacular. If you like Arthurian legends, this is a great read and makes much more sense than the legend it is based on, but if that aspect of it doesn’t matter to you, there are better children’s fantasy books out there.

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July 22, 2005

Book: The Wedding Ceremony Planner

The Wedding Ceremony Planner
Judith Johnson

Obviously, I read this because I’ve been working on my wedding ceremony. A non-denominational minister who has been performing weddings for some time wrote this book. It is laid out with guidelines for dealing with attendants, family, finding an officiant, and countless other issues that come up in dealing with a wedding ceremony. The most useful part of the book for me was the section that broke down the parts of a wedding ceremony and provided tips of what works and what doesn’t as well as sample passages, statements and vows from ceremonies she has performed in the past.

The book was excellently written and laid out; it is designed to be used as sort of a guide to planning the parts of the ceremony. It has useful worksheets and tips throughout the book, but the worksheets are also collected at the back for easy reference. I found the sample vows and readings wonderfully helpful, but there were some things wanting in the book. The section about rituals from religions and cultures other than Christianity was a bit wanting. She only described a few rituals and she isn’t very clear how to work them in. The section kind of feels like it was tacked on because some said she should have it. I would have liked a much more comprehensive chapter, or at least a list of suggested reading for finding rituals from non-Christian traditions.

In general, I really found this book useful. It had some flaws, but is well organized and interesting. I recommend it to anyone trying to plan a wedding ceremony, but also suggest you find some other sources if you want anything non-Christian in your ceremony.

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Pooh Adore*Ables Books

There is a new series of books for babies, toddlers and preschoolers from RandomHouse publishers that look really cute. They are called Pooh Adore*Ables and I think they look wonderful. I want to find these books and look at them to see if they are really as good as they look. I love that at least one of the baby songbooks seems to be based directly on an actual song from A. A. Milne's books! The art is darling and I love that Piglet is just as featured as Pooh (more on the website). Check them out. I'll try to get my hands on some and give you a review or at least more educated opinions later!

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Firefly Quiz

Viv posted a link to a quiz based on the characters from "Firefly". She got Jayne (which does seem weird to me). I went and took the quiz and my results were that I am most like Zoe. I love Zoe, but I'm not sure about those results. Oh well, it was fun to take!

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July 21, 2005

Scholastic to Publish Children's Graphic Novels

Scholastic announced at ComicCon that they are launching a new line of books for children. Each one will be a graphic novel. Some are original material while others will be adaptions of books originally written as novels (a series of Babysitter's Club books, a Goosebumps series and an adaption of The Last Unicorn were all mentioned).

Graphic novels have been a touchy subject with parents and teachers in the past, often being dismissed as void of educational value and rarely considered "real" books, but lately that has begun to change. The problem of "reluctant readers" (children who either don't read because they struggle with it or children who don't read because they simply don't like to) has become a major issue, and so many studies on the subject have been given more weight when considering appropriate reading material for children. Many of these studies show that graphic novels are a really good way to get "reluctant readers" to read. The kids find them more accessable (pictures, fewer words in a line, and other visual cues make them seem easier to approach) and so are often more likely to read them than traditional novels. Seeing them as little more than long comic books (which never go over terribly well with parents and teachers), schools and libraries have been reluctant to supply them. Many schools and libraries are now far more open to carrying graphic novels, however, because of the marked difference it makes in getting kids to read.

Scholastic has always been big on supporting education and printing books that will help teachers and parents without turning off kids too much. This is a pretty big move for them, but it is not out of line with their track record either. I look forward to seeing these books published, hopefully seeing other publishers follow suit, and seeing a growing respect for the genre in the field of education. I will be interested to see if it makes a noticable difference in reading level and willingness among kids to have more access to these kinds of books (my suspicion is that if they become easily avalible, it will).

You can read about the announcement here at Comic Book Resources.

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Things that Make Me Happy Today

Ok, the news has been really really depressing lately. Rather than spending my time ranting about it when so many other people have already covered everything I might say many times over, I've decided to post some links! These are things that made me smile today. So go look at them and smile too!

Ava's artwork posted today over at The Ward-O-Matic is wonderful, and the comments about it are so cute! I loved how she did the lettering on the artwork, it is just priceless!

Literary critisism on Carroll's poetry from a child as told by Bitch. Ph.D on her blog is just great. Kids point out the most wonderful things, and then proceed to baffle their parents. And if you haven't read "The Walrus and the Carpenter" from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll recently, do so. It's a fun poem.

I don't normally read this blog, but a link from something that I do read (I forgot which blog it was, sorry!) sent me to this great Daily Kitten post. It's about a kitten (who is adorable, by the way) that thinks it is a dog. I know what a dog who thinks it is a kitten is like (read: Gracie), but I've never thought about what a kitten who thinks it is a dog is like! And cute pictures are always good, right?

For some free fun, go play dress-up at Legacy Designs. It is a great paper doll site that lets you dress up the paper dolls online! My favourite of their newest batch is the Gay 90's doll.

Those are the things that made me happy today. I may do random posts like this more often because cute happy things deserve to be linked to more! Go look at happy things!

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July 20, 2005

Sorceress Announced!!!!

I'm totally jazzed. He-Man.org just reported that the third wave of Masters of the Universe "staction figures" (statues that are remarkably like action figures with little to no action) has been announced. It will be released next spring sometime and will be made up of Tung Lashor (blah), Manteena (ok) and SORCERESS!!!!!! Yay! I'm so excited. I was sure we were going to have to wait forever for a female figure. And Sorceress is awesome. I'm going to get her. I wasn't totally sold on the idea of "staction figures" to begin with, but I have Hordak and I have to admit, he's pretty damn cool. He looks really creepy. I look forward to getting Sorceress. I only *hope* that they make Marlena. Then I would just be in heaven. But they probably won't. At least not for a very long time (and they will probably lose interest or run out of money before that). Anyway, here is the picture from He-Man.org (click on it for a bigger image). More images can be seen on their front page.

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Serenity Discussed at ComicCon

Go read about it, it's really funny! I'm excited for Serenity to come out! Yay!

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July 19, 2005

Book: The Little Island

The Little Island
Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Leonard Weisgard

This is a charming book. It’s simple and yet full of complicated concepts. There isn’t really a plot, per say, but the text is a lazy poem about a quiet little island. It is well written, as most of Brown’s books are, and even though there isn’t much plot the book is enjoyable to read. It makes the reader feel like they are on a quiet, relaxing vacation. The book does touch on some pretty big philosophical ideas, but none of them are pushed very much and the reader is only required to think as much as they want to. Few books manage that.

The pictures are equally wonderful. They share the text’s lazy pace and feel. They have bright, vibrant colours and show an island teeming with life. Each page feels like a painting that might grace the walls of a vacation home on Cape Cod.

This book is wonderfully well put together and it is completely obvious why it won, and deserves, the 1946 Caldecott award. I highly recommend this book (especially for summer) and plan to buy this book myself sometime!

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Book: Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings
Robert McCloskey

This is an absolutely adorable book. It is the 1941 Caldecott Medal winner and absolutely deserves that honour. The story is sweet and simple, about a pair of ducks finding a proper place to raise their ducklings. They choose a park in Boston. The writing is simple, but wonderful to read. You can’t help but like the ducks and want to help them (like the policemen in the story do).

The illustrations are just great. They have a sketch-like quality gives the pictures a charm that more fleshed out illustrations might have lacked. There are a few pictures near the beginning of the book that particularly intrigued me. They show the duck pair flying over the landmarks of Boston. The details in the famous landmarks are so well done and I instantly recognized them. They were wonderful.

This is a true gem of a picture book. I definitely recommend it and fully intend to add it to my collection when I get the chance!

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Interesting WOTC Program

Wizards of the Coast has recently (in the last year and a half or so) begun publishing two new young reader series - the Kights of the Silver Dragon and the New Adventures Dragonlance Series. I've read some of the Knights books and generally enjoyed them, although the range of authors means a range of quality that I'm not entirely happy with. The first on, Secret of the Spiritkeeper by Matt Forbeck, was excellent and I would certainly recommend it if you like fantasy (and even more if you like Dungeons and Dragons, but that isn't necessary).

Anyway, they just announced a program for librarians and teachers around these books. The program is designed to encourage kids who don't like to read to do so. WOTC is calling the program "Adventures for Reluctant Readers" and is using the idea that simple adventure stories are usually what reluctant readers latch onto first to develop the program. It sounds very interesting, but (as is usual for them) WOTC hasn't really given much information about it. You can read about it on the Mirrorstone announcement page. I am very interested in the program and pleased that WOTC is doing it, but I would really like to know more about it. They are offering it free to librarians and teachers, but they don't give many details. Hopefully more information will be released about the program soon.

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July 18, 2005

Voice of Aslan Announced!

Disney confirmed that Liam Neeson will be the voice of Aslan in the upcoming movie of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! I'm very happy they finally announced who was doing it. I think Neeson could be really good. Obviously, I can't really form too much of an opinion yet, but I'm excited and look forward to it. James Earl Jones would have been the perfect choice, but barring him, I think this could be good.

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Origins Videos

Ok, I forgot to post this link and I really meant to. The guys made a video using pictures taken during our trip down and our trip back from Origins. They had a camera set up in the windshield of the van taking a picture every five seconds as we traveled. A camera beeping every five seconds gets very annoying. Luckily, my Shuffle largely drowned it out most of the time. Anyway, the video is kinda cool and I promised I would post a link to it. The train in the video home is particularly disturbing (especially when you remember that we were driving at 75 mph or so and there are something like 24 pictures per second of video). The videos and some more explanation can be found on Ben's webiste, monkeysushi.net. Go check it out, it's amusing and fairly short.

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July 14, 2005

New Additions to Wish List

Added to my wish list today:

Women of Camelot: Queens and Enchantresses at the Court of King Arthur by Mary Hoffman and Christina Balit
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Boys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt): A Dad's Advice for Daughters by Phillip Von Munching
Orphant Annie Storybook by Johnny Gruelle
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

Posted by Katie at 01:06 AM | Comments (1)

July 12, 2005

Wish List

I started a page for my wish list of books. It's here. This list is still very much in the works and is by no means complete. I will keep working on it as time passes and will update it when I get books and when I see new ones I want. This is more for my reference than anyone elses, but you are perfectly welcome to check it out! This list is just books and is alphabatized by author's name for ease of finding things (unlike Amazon wishlists). And, yes, I am aware it's random. This is me, what did you expect?

Posted by Katie at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2005

Yay for Justice League!

I just read this awesome interview with Dwayne McDuffie, a writer for Justice League Unlimited. I love this show to pieces, and lately it's been just amazing. The interview was fun to read and I loved the comments about Batman not being paranoid. Now if only Oracle would show up on the show it would be absolutely *perfect*...

Posted by Katie at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2005

Worst Bridal Magazine Ever

Ok, I'm really not picky about bridal magazines (pretty much all I ask is pretty pictures). However, the magazine that I picked up at the grocerie store yesterday is absolutely dreadful. Not just 'not having what the cover promises' dreadful, but almost offensive dreadful. For those of you who really don't give a damn, I'm going to rant for a little while now, so you may want to ignore this post.

Ok, so the magazine in question is the "Celebrity Special" edition of Wedding Dresses Magazine ("The Magazine for the Multidimensional Bride"). I can't say I've ever read this magazine before, or ever seen it on a list of recommended wedding magazines. I did not pick this up for any wedding advice. Besides being somewhat beyond the point of wanting or needing magazine advice for my wedding, this wouldn't be one I would get for that. I got it because the cover promised celebrity wedding dresses, which are always interesting to see. I used to get celebrity wedding issues of People Magazine to look at with my mom when I was a kid. Anyway, I'm not expecting much. Pictures of famous people in wedding dresses getting married is about it. Well, this magazine has lots of other stuff, but very little in the way of celebrity wedding dresses.

Let's start at the beginning - the letters page. Every single letter is glowing about how this is the bestest magazine ever conceived of. Not a good sign. Then we have five "celebrity wedding dress designers" profiles. These are glorified ads, which is fine (most of wedding magazine content is), but since each is chosen for having designed wedding dresses for famous people, one would expect pictures of said dresses on said famous people. Instead, we get bad PR shots from weddings that show nearly nothing of most of the dresses. Ok, whatever, it's not technically the focus of the article anyway, right? There have to be more pictures later on.

So let's keep flipping. Then we get to the question and answer part of the program. Every bridal magazine has this. This is where people write in to ask "can I make my dog wear a dress?" and the writers reply "sure, but everyone (especially the dog) would rather if you didn't". Again, I don't ask much, just common sense. No, this magazine can't handle even that. A woman says that she and her fiance can't afford to rent a wedding site and are getting married at her mother's house. She asks for advice in decorating it to be not boring. The answer: use antique silverwear, give local villagers bottles of champaign and strew your swimming pool with tea candles and water lilies. Hello, if she can't afford to rent a place do you really think she can afford any of those things? Another bride asks for suggestions for coordinating the overall look of her wedding. Their solution: make your guests all wear specific colors (e.g. black and white or pastels). They do suggest you not ask them to wear fuchisa or marmalade yellow.

Then we have an article about wedding related happenings in reality TV shows. First of all, who ever came up with this very very stupid idea for an article? I couldn't even read the whole thing! I just skimmed. Nevertheless, I found some gems. The author writes: "What is a Bridezilla? I've never heard of that word until it was the title of a wedding reality show." Ignoring the less than wonderful grammer, my reaction is "Huh?!?!?" You write for a BRIDAL MAGAZINE and you have never heard the word before? It's pretty common, especially in the bridal industry. Then he proceeds to describe how he knows what that word means because when his sister's ring for her husband fell down an air duct on their wedding day she cried in the back for a few minutes while they tried to retreive it, then used someone else's borrowed ring for the ceremony and replaced the ring for her husband later. Yes, that is *exactly* the kind of irrational behavior the word refers to. *eyes roll*

So then we get a section telling you how to imitate celebrity wedding styles (go to capri to get married, have a wedding in Vegas for a marriage that lasts 55-hours, spend a million dollars, etc. None of the pictures show anything remotely clear about any given celebrity wedding dress. Then there is a section about how to use red-carpet jewelry as inspiration for wedding jewelry (colored diamonds the size of your hand are apparently in), suggested wedding rings for various types of brides (athletic - aka Serena Williams who is not a bride to my knowledge - brides should buy giant geometric rings), and where to buy giant glass swan centerpieces.

Then they have suggestions for registries. Each page has a "celebrity couple" as it's theme. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are "Mix 'n' Match" while Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham are "Splurge". Ok, besides this being a very dumb theme, the suggestions are awful. Usually the things on wedding regestries are stuff you can't or otherwise wouldn't buy for yourself. This means there should be a range of prices in reasonable ranges. $450 per place setting for dishes Vera Wang flatwear may qualify, but they are not practical unless you *are* Demi Moore or Oprah.

Can you tell this magazine made me angry? Just wait, we haven't gotten to the part where I got offended and yelled at the magazine yet.

There are the obligatory celebrity hairstyles and make-up sections. Pages of "hollywood trends" dresses follow (they have no idea what vintage styles look like). A list of their top ten movie wedding dresses follows. It's ok, but some of their choices are suspect and their comments even more so. As far as I can tell, the only part of Maria Von Trapp's wedding dress they liked from "The Sound of Music" was the train. There's an article showing dresses that fit themes like "princess bride" and "return to romance". A spread of pages with dresses and make up and jewelry that are gold follows. Then there is a one page article with five pictures that cover what everyone else (besides the bride) should wear. There is a list of the "Couture Bridal Awards" given out by such a high authority as this magazine. Then it's pretty much just ads.

In the exact middle of the magazine is the article that made me angry. It the closest to celebrity wedding dresses that we get, and none of the celebrities have been married or are shown wearing wedding dresses. They picked four wedding dress designers (none of whom I have heard of before) to choose a dress from their line that they would dress five different celebrities in for their weddings. First off, if this isn't totally cheating I don't know what is. So, each celebrity is supposedly chosen for her body type and brides are told to look at the suggestions for the celebrity with her body type and buy a dress like that. I usually hate these things because magazines have the worst image of what women's body types are. Anyway, Lucy Liu is their example for "petite", although they also deal with petite as one of Salma Hayek's problems. The fact that being short is dealt with as a problem to be hidden by all of the designers and the magazine itself made me angry. What if I'm a woman who doesn't want a dress that makes me artificially tall? What if I (horror of all horrors) actually *like* that I am short? I'm apparently strange and deluded. Ok, so I'm short. Does that really have to define my body type? I know women who are short stick people, short with feminine curves, and short with muscles. Apparently that doesn't matter. Short is short. It's evidently a big enough problem that just dealing with that predicates anything else. I can't even tell you how mad this made me. Most of the magazines do this stupid "body type" thing, but most are not this bad about seeing shortness as a problem to be fixed. I've read Vogue articles that even celebrated it!

Anyway, I know that was a very long post, but no one actually has to read it. I just got very angry at this dumb magazine (angry enough to be trying to figure out how to get my money back) and wanted to write about it. I'm done now.

Posted by Katie at 10:51 PM | Comments (1)

Lessons from Origins: Boys are Stupid

And no, that isn't news to me.

I got back from Origins on Sunday night. I'm still kind of recovering, but expect a long post about why Origins was proof of the stupidity of boys from beginning to end (and a blast too!). I love the guys to death, and I met some wonderful new guys in the process, but the running arguement seemed to be about boy stupidness and why it is there and why they don't care. I'll write it up in the next few days.

Posted by Katie at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)