November 30, 2005

Computer Not Working

My computer isn't working. I'm very sad about this. I don't know when it will be back, but hopefully soon! There probably won't be a lot of updates while I wait for it (unless I really decide that the laptop is ok, which I may or may not since I hate the mouse). *sigh* Hopefully this won't last long.

Posted by Katie at 12:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Stan Berenstein Has Died

I read on Drawn! just now that Stan Berenstein, one of the co-creators (with his wife Jan) of the Berenstain Bears, has died. It's very sad. They have been publishing Berenstain Bear books since the 1970s and many of us grew up reading them. And they are as popular today as ever (believe me, I pick them up off the floor of the bookstore nearly every shift I work). New books in the series were still coming out all the time. Stan will be sorely missed!

Posted by Katie at 12:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Christmas Meme

I haven't done a meme in quite a while, and I liked this one, so I stole it from Whirled Peas. I'd love to hear other people's answers if anyone else wanted to answer it too.

1. What you want for Christmas... if your friends were millionaires. Only one item, but the sky's the limit.

I'd like a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. They are incredibly rare and expensive, but I would just adore owning one.

2. What you want for Christmas... for real. One tangible, real item that a normal human could buy in stores.

I would really like the big pretty book about the musical "Wicked". I think it's called The Grimoire, but I'm not positive. It's big and green and designed to look old.

3. What you want for Christmas... in abstract. True love, world peace, whatever. With explanation.

I would like for no child to ever go without a chance at good education and good books to read. I don't think any child should ever want for intellectual stimulation or be denyed the ability to read as much as they want. Every kid should have access to good books and interesting ideas.

Posted by Katie at 12:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 27, 2005

Book: Eye of Fortune

Eye of Fortune
Denise R. Graham
illustrated by Emily Fiegenschuh
2004

This is the fourth book in the “Knights of the Silver Dragon” series. I very much disliked the books immediately before and after it in the series, as is probably evident to anyone who read my reviews of them, but this one was much better. It is my favourite of the first five books. Not only does it feel like a good Dungeons and Dragons adventure, but the characters are accurately portrayed and the writing excellent.

I loved how the characters were shown in this book. They were very much their character class (wizard, rogue and bard), but also very three-dimensional. They made logical conclusions and put pieces together intelligently. The plot flowed well. There were no breaks for sneaking out scenes or other unimportant filler scenes. They even managed to logically create a balanced party by running into a fighter and a cleric. The cleric was one of the most amusing characters I remember encountering in recent books. He was a half-orc who seemed totally unaware of his powers (intelligence far below average). I would love to see someone run such a character in a game.

The illustrations were wonderful. I loved the cover illustration with the fortune teller gazing into her magic eye as Kellach looks on critically and Driskoll looks on amazed. It captures the characters wonderfully. The interior art is just as good. I am continually impressed at Miss Fiegenschuh’s ability to capture the characters and essence of what this series strives to be (and occasionally achieves).

This book is wonderful. The adventure is beautifully done and could make a wonderful Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The characters are perfectly portrayed and the writing and illustrations complement each other quite well. This book I would definitely recommend!

Posted by Katie at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Book: Return to Oz

Return to Oz
Joan D. Vinge
1985

This is the novelization of the 1985 Walt Disney Pictures movie “Return to Oz”. The movie was based on the second and third books in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. I’m not generally fond of movie novelizations, but this one wasn’t awful. It didn’t offer anything new, and the movie gave more insight to the characters’ heads than did the novel, but the story was laid out simply and well.

The movie had a delightful Oz feel to it (even the darkness was very Ozian). The novel, however, with it’s dry retelling of the movie events, somewhat missed out on that. The story is perfectly straightforward with few little mistakes. The problem is just that, there is no personalness to the story, no character. Each action is meticulously described, but not the reasoning or feelings behind it. I have no idea what was going through Dorothy’s head when she was conceiving of the Gump plan or choosing trinkets in the Nome King’s vault. The book was so transcribed that it was hard to care what happened. It completely lacked a human touch.

This book is a good reference for the story of the movie, but as a novel it fails miserably. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Posted by Katie at 10:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2005

Book: Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming

Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming
Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley
1991

This book is light and funny and thoroughly enjoyable to read. The plot is a novel idea – a demon tries to set up a fairy tale (Sleeping Beauty) so that it comes out wrong to prove that evil is more at work in the world than good. To do this, he constructs the principle characters (Beauty and the Prince) from parts of other people that are expressly chosen to make their task unlikely (cowardly legs for the prince and a scorned woman’s head for Beauty). Through it all he is fighting a bureaucratic system of evil (of course evil is entirely bureaucracy, it only fits) and an angel who can summon whatever he needs at a moment’s notice. The book and the writing are delightfully funny.

This is a very well written book. The plot is paced well and the pace is generally good, varying from laid back to fast paced. The characters are also extremely well done. Azzie, the demon, is creepy and very much trying to be evil, even if sometimes one can’t help but feel for him. His “assistant”, Frike, is perhaps creepier than the actual demon, although his is human. His desire to partake in any questionable activity that Azzie can come up with is endlessly entertaining. Babriel, an angel set to make certain Azzie doesn’t cheat, is another fascinating character. He isn’t good as one generally thinks of angels, but he is good to a fault and the dichotomy there (he helps everyone, because that is good, even a demon) makes him an interesting character to watch. My favourite of the main characters was the witch, Ylith. She was funny and realistic at the same time. She added a much needed touch of human common sense to the book. The cast was very well balanced.

This is a light book and generally a pretty quick read. I enjoy it a great deal and defiantly recommend it to anyone else!

Posted by Katie at 11:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 24, 2005

Book: Sign of the Shapeshifter

Sign of the Shapeshifter
Dale Donovan and Linda Johns
Illustrator: Emily Fiegenshuh
2004

This is the third in the “Knights of the Silver Dragon” series. It isn’t the worst I’ve read from the series so far, but it is far from the best. There were a number of problems with the book, but the most glaring was the lack of a good plot. There just wasn’t much there to work with. The characters were done alright, they managed to remain pretty much the same people they were in the first two books, which was good. Overall, this book was unsatisfying and disappointing.

The idea of this series, as I understand it, is to provide stories about kids having Dungeons and Dragons adventures. The problem with this novel is that they aren’t having much of a D&D adventure. Only one of the monsters they meet in the book is one from the official Dungeons and Dragons books. There are literally hundreds of official monsters, many possessing the qualities needed for the plot, so I really don’t see any excuse for not using them.

The other big thing that is required in a D&D adventure is that the heroes seem at least marginally heroic (it really doesn’t take much), but this book makes it painfully clear that the writers don’t think the kids could have this very un-heroic adventure unless the adults are safely out of the way. The excuses for the adults to not be remotely involved are flimsy and feel contrived. That isn’t necessary and it felt artificial and cheapened the accomplishments of the main characters. The ending was very frustrating in this book. It felt extremely rushed and slapped together. There wasn’t a lot of plot to wrap up, but it still felt like the authors weren’t sure how to end the story. It was awkward.

The illustrations in the book were good; as good as they have been in the rest of the series. The cover is probably my least favourite so far, but the interior illustrations were extremely well done. The chapter heading illustration (one small picture that heads each chapter and is different in each book) is probably my favourite in the series thus far. It is a symbol that is important to the plot and very interesting to look at. I continue to wonder about he fact that the kids wear the same clothing every single day, but that is pretty typical of D&D (where you can’t change the clothing on the little metal figure that represents your character), so it actually fit with the concept very well.

This book isn’t very good, and I wouldn’t recommend it (even for people who don’t care about the Dungeons and Dragons aspect of the book). If you are going to read the series, read the first book and the fourth. Skip the second, third and fifth.

Posted by Katie at 11:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

Book: Spectacles

Spectacles
Ellen Raskin
1968

This is an old picture book (mine was chewed on at some point, probably twenty years ago since I don’t ever remember it in a non-chewed up state), but it is still entirely adorable and wonderfully amusing. It follows the story of a little girl who finds out that she needs glasses after reporting to her mother and teacher that she sees some truly extraordinary things (like a dragon and a giant caterpillar). She absolutely doesn’t want glasses, but ends up deciding they are ok.

There are two things that I think make this book remarkable and worth writing about. The first is the illustrations themselves. Each two-page spread has the little girl and either what she sees or what is really there, and we always see both over the course of four pages. What she sees are wonderful, but slightly fuzzy and monochrome, images. What is really there is always an interesting and creative collection of people and objects that could make the image the girl sees if you didn’t have glasses (and really needed them). Thus, and image of Santa Claus with escalators in the background on one page is a fat kangaroo on another! The pictures always line up completely, which makes them so much fun to look at. A tiny kitten on a couch becomes a giant bulldog! There is so much creativity and skill that must have gone into the creation of these images (especially since she couldn’t have just made the “real” image and played with it in a computer to make the “vision” image).

The second wonderful thing about the book is the layout. As I said before, it’s all about four-page units made up of two two-page spreads. There is no more than a line or two of text on any given left-hand page and each small bit of text is accompanied on that page with a simple black line drawing of the little girl and sometimes the person she is telling her vision to. The right hand page always contains the coloured image. For the first part of the book (before she gets glasses), the first image in a pair is always what the girl sees and the second image is what is really there. After she gets glasses, that flips (showing she sees reality, but can still take off the glasses for some fun fantasy images). It is a very structured layout, but a very effective one. I’m really impressed with it.

I think that part of why this book has remained a favourite of mine for most of my life is the implicit idea in it that magic exists everywhere, if you know how to look at it. How cool is that? And as a kid who needed glasses for the vast majority of my life, I was always privy to that world. I loved taking off my glasses and looking for dragons and lions and Christmas trees in my living room! It’s just such a fun idea!

This is a wonderful book. It’s probably a little hard to find these days (I don’t think it’s in print), but it is well worth it! This is a fun book that really does remain magical for every reading!

Posted by Katie at 12:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Book: From the Back Pew

From the Back Pew: Life and Love in the Last Small Town in America
Wendy Lestina
2003

This is an entertaining book that is made up of the collected “From the Back Pew” columns Mrs Lestina has written over the past few years for The Ferndale Enterprise. Her subjects range from a surplus of Zucchini to the events of September 11, 2001 and her commentary is always amusing. She lives in a small, Victorian town in Northern California called Ferndale, and it happens to be where my father grew up (which is why the book came to my attention). It is a small town where everyone pretty much knows everyone else and the makers of pot-luck dishes can be easily identified by tasting the dish itself.

Mrs Lestina has a wonderful, flowing writing style and an extremely casual and comfortable voice (made largely possible by the medium – newspaper columns). The book is fun to read and feels more like a conversation than anything else. Even when I didn’t know who the people she was talking about were (although many I at least recognized by name), I could follow the flow of what she was talking about. It really made me want to move to a small town! I also liked the episodic format of the book. Each column is completely self-contained (even when they occasionally have running themes or jokes that jump from column to column) and that makes it easy to pick up and put down. I also found it wonderfully good at cheering me up quickly! Nearly every column made me laugh at least once.

I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it, even if you have never lived in a small town. It’s funny and light and wonderfully well written!

Posted by Katie at 02:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

List Updates

These lists have been added or updated:

Alphabet and Counting Books
Animal Stories (Cats, Cows, Dogs and Horses have been incorporated into this page)
Award Winners
Bedtime Stories
City Stories
Dinosaur Stories
Family Stories (Fathers, Grandparents, Mothers and New Siblings have been incorporated into this page)
Fairy Tales Retold
Holiday Stories
Mystery Stories
School Stories
Science Fiction Stories
Teddy Bear Stories

Posted by Katie at 02:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2005

Book: Son of a Witch

Son of a Witch
Gregory Maguire
Illustrator: Douglas Smith
2005

Son of a Witch is the sequel to Maguire’s wonderful book Wicked. It is the story of what happened to Liir, the son (probably) of Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). While Wicked had a very broad scope where you were always aware of the world around Elphaba full of political, social and religious depth, Son of a Witch generally has a much narrower view, largely focussing just on Liir and the people around him with little concern for the broader picture. The result of that shift is that readers have much less of a grasp of what is going on in Oz and why certain things might be happening. The political situation is extremely fuzzy and unclear and the religious issues are much harder to understand. This kind of hurts what could have been a very interesting book.

Maguire’s writing is excellent in every book of his that I have read (four in total now), and it remains strong in this book. He is very good at making words sound good together. That skill is impressive and lots of fun to read, but it can’t save a flimsy story. The plot in this book is very hard to follow. The beginning of the book, before we go back into Liir’s memory and find out what has been happening to him since the Witch’s death, seems rather irrelevant by the time you get past it. Nothing is revealed and little of flavour or depth is gained because it focuses entirely on the petty squabbles of the maunts (nuns) in a rather secluded place. Many of the characters are very well written, often with delightfully distinctive voices, but there are also an awful lot of very one-dimensional characters.

The plot is complicated and often changes focus completely. Many plot threads are all but dropped completely and forgotten, while others persist even beyond when it feels like they should. There was a certain amount of frustration in Wicked when information about certain things never appeared, but there always seemed to be a point or statement made by that very lack of knowledge. Son of a Witch does not always have that point or statement for missing information, and so it just feels absent and is, consequently, rather frustrating and irritating. I really missed the deep philosophical ideas about society and human nature that are present in many of Maguire’s other books. The other strange detraction from focus was little references and bits of information that have nothing to do with the plot, but persist in being talked about. The most glaring of this was the strange inclusion of Tip, the protagonist from L. Frank Baum’s second Oz book, who appears for apparently no reason and does nothing of interest. Tip is included momentarily and then referred to often throughout the rest of the book, but it is never explained who he is or why he is important and the changes he made in Oz in the classic books never happen in this one – Ozma never returns. In fact, she is barely mentioned. It was very strange and distracting (and I assume confusing for someone who doesn’t already know who Tip is).

The wonderful woodcut illustrations at the beginning of each section of the book are excellent, as they are in Maguire’s other books as well. The fantastic dragon at the beginning of the third section is particularly impressive. I love the dust jacket cover illustration of the Witch looking out her tower window next to her gazing ball with the image of Liir in it. The illustration under that, however, (on the book under the jacket) is strange and I’m not sure that I like it. It doesn’t feel like the book or the character to me. I love the style, though, and am impressed with the skill required to create those images.

In general, I wasn’t terribly happy with this book. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it either. Maguire’s other books are far superior and I would recommend them in an instant, but this one I could have lived without reading.

Posted by Katie at 01:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Book: Figure in the Frost

Figure in the Frost
Lana Perez
Illustrator: Emily Fiegenschuh
2005

I had very high hopes for this series when I saw it for the first time at GenCon a little over a year ago. And the first title, Secret of the Spiritkeeper by Matt Forbeck, was excellent. Each book thus far has been written by a different author, so each has a very different flavour. The second and third books were not terribly good, but the fourth was wonderfully creative and well done. The qualities that have made the first and fourth book in the series so good included excellent writing, respect for the characters, a coherent world with realistic people in it, a sense of heroism in the adventures and overall a very Dungeons and Dragons feel to the stories. The second and third books lacked some of those qualities, but neither was anywhere near as bad as this, the fifth book in the series. It is absolutely dreadful and I was actually offended by the time I got to the end of it.

The first and most glaring problem with the book is a fundamental lack of respect for the central characters and for the readers. The characters were most definitely not the same people they were in the first four books (throughout all four they were fairly consistent in character) and many things made me wonder if the author had even read the first books. Moyra, the rogue, was decidedly not rogue-like and somehow became exceedingly girly between the last book and this one. Driskoll, who had begun to have distinctive bard skills in the last book, lost all useful skills, all useful intelligence and most of his personality. The three children not only couldn’t figure out what was going on when the answers were dropped in their laps, but they also seemed oblivious to the most obvious clues. And the adults were totally useless. Throughout all of this there was the implicit understanding that the readers would make the same nonsensical leaps of “logic” that the children made and be just as clueless. Nothing was presented well or with really any sense.

The plot really has potential. It is interesting, connected to perfectly interesting and valid historical information in the series world, and full of danger and potential adventure. The mysterious parts could have been a great treasure hunt. However, it doesn’t work the way it is written at all. The plot is confusing, it feels very random and contrived and the reader is kept totally and completely in the dark until the very end of the book when the adults return to save the day. Where exactly is the heroism in that and why would I want to read it when it assumes I’m so dumb? Even if I were the target audience, kids aged 9-13 or so, I would have been offended by the lack of respect for the readers. None of the first four books had that little respect for their audience.

The high point of this book was the wonderful illustrations. There weren’t many, but the ones that were fit the story exceptionally. This illustrator has been excellent throughout the series and her work remains wonderful in this book. The characters look very appropriate and very Dungeons and Dragons and the backgrounds are wonderfully done. Each picture is clearly drawn to match a particular part of the text, and the illustrator clearly read the whole book. The pictures match each scene in nearly every detail, from clothing to setting to little background details. I am constantly impressed with Miss Fiegenschuh’s work for this series.

One peculiar thing about this book that I feel bears mentioning is something from the author’s bio inside the back cover. It says “Lana Perez is the pen name for an author of novels for older teens”. I have not been able to discover who Lana Perez is, but she has written this book and two “Star Sisterz” novels for Mirrorstone under this pen name and nothing else. I’m not sure that I would want to read her “novels for older teens” if I did know who she was, but I do wonder if the lack of respect is a problem she only has for children. If she is used to writing for teenagers, perhaps she is so used to their mindset that she can’t imagine younger people having any intelligence to speak of. But then why did she decide to write this and her “Star Sisterz” books? I really wonder if she is too embarrassed to take credit for this book, because that is really the only thing that I can think of! But then why admit that it is a pen name and she writes “real” books under a different name? That seems odd to me.

This book is terrible and insulting. Don’t read it. In fact, don’t read anything with “Lana Perez” on it. The pictures are wonderful, but they are just as wonderful in the better books from the “Knights of the Silver Dragon” series. Hopefully Mirrorstone will realize the mistake this book was and publish better children’s books in the future!

Posted by Katie at 12:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

New Quiz: I'm Batman!

Stolen from Viv.

You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight

79%

William Wallace

63%

El Zorro

58%

Indiana Jones

54%

Maximus

54%

Lara Croft

50%

James Bond, Agent 007

50%

Neo, the "One"

46%

Captain Jack Sparrow

46%

The Amazing Spider-Man

42%

The Terminator

33%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com
Posted by Katie at 03:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

Superstupidity

Ok, as most of you are well aware, I like comic characters and their stories. I love stories about the lives of Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson and Clark Kent. I watch superhero movies regularly and dutifully tune in to "Smallville" once a week. I just really enjoy looking at the lives of people with super powers. I've enjoyed it since I was a kid reading old "Wonder Woman" comics at the library and watching "Batman: the Animated Series" on TV.

But I do have one giant pet peeve with nearly every superhero out there right now. I absolutely don't understand the necessity superheros see of keeping your powers and identity a secret from the people closest to them. I've heard over and over the excuse "if he/she knew who I was, villians would use them to hurt me". Ok, first of all, that doesn't even make sense! The logic doesn't connect without a lot of wobbly explaining. Second of all, in all cases I've seen, not knowing their superhero friend's identity has done absolutely NOTHING to protect someone from being targeted by villians! Seriously, how many times was Mary Jane Watson or Jana Lang or Lois Lane or Steve Trevor kidnapped or otherwise hurt by a villian, despite having no idea that they were friends with a superhero! Wouldn't it be safe to assume that if Lana *knew* she was dating a superhero she would work on better taking precautions to protect herself? Maybe carrying a panic button to call Clark in the event of that inevitable kidnapping? Or how about some self defense classes or something? I mean, seriously, the "I'm protecting them" excuse doesn't work!

The episode of "Smallville" from last week brought the issue up again when Clark was infected with silver Kryptonite and made paranoid. Not knowing about his powers, Lana tried to help. For her troubles she ended up in the hospital... again. She should have a room with her name laminated to the door given how often she needs to be there! "Smallville" has come up with sort of a new excuse. They planted the fear deep in Clark's mind that Lana won't accept his powers and will blame him for her parents' deaths. Besides the fact that even Lana hasn't shown herself to be anywhere near this dumb, not knowing who Clark is has created so many problems that it's starting to seem like Clark not telling her is evident of him not really loving her. If he loved her, he would tell her so that she can act accordingly. Instead, he ignores pointed comments from Cloe (sorry, no idea how to spell her name) and his parents to tell her and instead comes up with so many flimsy excuses that one has to wonder what love spell he has to keep her so unable to see through them! Maybe her own powers and her lies negate his and make her unable to see what is going on.

Even Batman, a hero who usually acts fairly rationally, pulls out the "my enemies will hurt anyone I love" excuse sometimes. In "Justice League Unlimited" he used that excuse to justify not having a relationship with Wonder Woman. Come on, it's Wonder Woman. Sorry, but she can totally take care of herself against pretty much anyone, especially Joker or Penguin!

I know that superheros are almost required to have lots and lots of drama and angst (that's how Marvel got so powerful), but seriously, this is just stupid. Notice at the end of Spiderman 2 how learning about Peter's identity didn't cause Mary Jane to spontaniously die? My guess is that now, knowing who he is, she will be more aware of dangers, more likely to call for his help when she needs it with no fear of him not showing up, and more willing to fight for herself secure in his back up! Not to mention, it makes all the crappy stuff that has heppened to her over the past few years make a hell of a lot more sense! If I were her (or Lana or Steve or anyone in that position) I'd certainly want to know why every supervillian who blows into town chooses me as a victim! Especially with all of New York or Gotham or Metropolis to choose from!

But maybe I'm just missing the point. I would totally welcome any help in understanding, so if you can explain it to me please do!

Posted by Katie at 07:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

Fun Blog

One of the blogs I read every day is Conditional Reality. I think I've linked it here before, but it has been particularly amusing lately, so I decided to mention it again. It is a blog with one entry a day of about 100 words (maybe exactly, I don't know since I don't actually count the words). Each entry is a fairly self-contained little story. They are generally delightfully bizarre. Yesterday's was about politically rejection the law of gravity. Today's is about tatoos revolting. There was a good one a few weeks ago about robots who want to understand death. They are always good and often contain interesting ideas. I highly recommend it! And it's only 100 words a day, so it's not a big chunk of time out of your life or anything.

Posted by Katie at 03:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 12, 2005

New Bill in Congress

A new bill is being presented in Congress that would call for support services for pregant and parenting students at colleges and universities. It is S.1966 in the Senate and H.R.4265 in the House. The bill would provide grants to encourage colleges and universities to provide councelling, medical care for children and pregant women, access to day care and other care services, access to needed supplies (baby food, clothes, furnature, etc.) and general support for families, pregant women and their husbands/whatever, and students considering adoption.

This bill is a big deal because as it is, it is nearly impossible for many women to be mothers and students at the same time. Many student health care providers will pay for an abortion but not for a pregnancy or infant care. Many student councelling services will discuss abortion, but not adoption. Women are discouraged from carrying pregancies to term because it is assumed that it will adversely affect their status as students and schools don't want to deal with that. Women are passed over for grants, jobs and even class spots because of being pregant. Many women are pushed into "special education" programs due to pregancy (despite it being illegal) or hassled about absences, even when they provide doctors notes stating that they couldn't attend because they were giving birth (this is illegal too). Many schools won't allow parents to miss class due to a sick child, even if the parent never misses any other class session.

This bill would encourage schools to support these women, and the men and children in their lives, as they persue their degrees, but undergrad and graduate. This is a big deal and could be a wonderful thing if it passes. I'm going to keep an eye on this one and I hope that it passes easily. It is a bill that both parties should support and it should have lots of supporters from all sides of the abortion issue. It doesn't deal with abortion, just families. No matter what your view on other issues, you should want to support families and a woman's right to choose to have her baby even if she is a college student.

In the meantime, Girl-Mom has a good page about the rights of pregant women and mothers (and fathers too) in education as well as who to contact if you or someone you know is being descriminated against.

Posted by Katie at 12:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 09, 2005

New Comics News

Two bits of news:

Neil Gaiman is planning a graphic novel version of Coraline. This could be pretty cool, as it is his story to begin with and he is a skilled comic writer.

The other bit of news is that Joss Whedon is planning to write an eighth season of Buffy as a comic series and, more interestingly, is considering other projects, including an ongoing "Serenity" comic series. That would be very cool.

-----

Edit: For some reason Movable Type deleted a trackback for this entry that is very worth reading. Check it out at Acephalous.

Posted by Katie at 11:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lots of Updates

Ok, I have lots of updates for the site today.

First, I have four new dolls. One is Velma from "Scooby-Doo" in honor of the Whately game this past weekend. I'm working on Daphne too. Velma can be found on the Cartoon Characters page in the Dollz section. The other three are new Mini Barbie Dolls.

The next new thing is some Book List updates. The lists that were added or expanded are:
African Stories
Asian Stories
Ballet Stories
Bedtime Stories
Cat Stories
Cow Stories
Dinosaur Stories
Dog Stories
Dragon Stories
European Stories
Fairy Stories
Fairy Tales Retold
Father Stories
Grandparent Stories
Horse Stories
Mother Stories
Mystery Stories
Native American Stories
New Sibling Stories
Pirate Stories
School Stories
Science Fiction Stories
Sports Stories
Teddy Bear Stories
Winter Stories
Books Without Words

There are three new TV Snippets. The theme songs from Scooby-Doo and Firefly as well as Jayne's Song from the "Firefly" episode "Jaynestown".

Last but not least, there are several new Movie Lessons from the movies "Braveheart", "Titanic", "Jurassic Park" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Silk Stocking".

That's it for today, but I'm working on a few other things that will hopefully be up in the next few days.

Posted by Katie at 09:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Church supports Evolution

The Vatican has stated that the Bible is perfectly compatible with Darwin's theory of evolution. They voiced strong criticism of the fundamentalist movement in the United States that rejects evolution in favor of a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Posted by Katie at 12:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 08, 2005

Snow for Charity

There is a wonderful charity auction for cancer research going on right now called Robert's Snow. They are auctioning off wonderful snowflakes decorated by some very talented children's book illustrators. Many of my favorite illustrators participated, Graeme Base, Tomie de Paola, Tony DiTerlizzi, Jane Dyer, Brett Helquist, Betsy Lewin, Patricia Polacco, Ruth Sanderson, Mo Willems, and Jane Yolen to name a few.

My three favorite snowflakes are:
Susan Gaber
Shadra Strickland
Paul O. Zelinsky

Check out the auctions here.

Posted by Katie at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2005

Another Random Quiz

I found another random quiz to take today. I scored well, but given the questions, I'm not sure how accurate it could really be. Oh well, it was fun to take!

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 7.9
Mind: 6.8
Body: 7
Spirit: 8.8
Friends/Family: 7.4
Love: 9.1
Finance: 7.2
Take the Rate My Life Quiz
Posted by Katie at 01:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2005

Girls Don't Exist on the Internet

Michael sent me a link to an article today that I wanted to point out to everyone. I would particularly love to hear other reactions to it (Viv?).

Ok, I'm a girl (no really) and I play video games (besides the Sims) and I exist on the internet (I do!). I know that doesn't make sense, but it's true. Oh, and I'm pretty cute. I'm totally not lying! The thing is, I'm usually assumed to be. A recent article from The Escapist discusses girls on the internet really well. It's funny, read it.

I swear I've had conversations much like the ones she describes and transcribes. I've never used a voice program like Ventrilo, but it doesn't matter much. Any indication that I am a girl causes instant requests for pictures (which are never believed to be mine if I do, for some reason, show one) and shocked disbelief. I have had conversations and met people who were happy to believe I was a girl (yay Lioncourt!), but often it is assumed that I found a random collections of pictures of some hot girl and said they were of me while I pretended to be a girl. Oh, and any descriptions of what I look like without a picture get the same incredulous reaction and often replies like "yeah, I'm six-foot-seven and built like Hercules".

So, to echo Whitney Butts' statement, I'm a girl and I do exist and I am on the internet and I do play games. My characters are usually "pretty" in games only because all the female avatars in games are generally "pretty". I make fun of that and bitch about the lack of clothing a lot. Believe me, my husband is pretty sick of that rant. Oh, and my avatars are usually short because I am short and I like being short. That's it. Nothing more than that. Ok? Girls on the internet do exist, I promise!

Read the article, it's really well done and funny. Especially if you are a girl on the internet.

Posted by Katie at 03:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 03, 2005

Quiz

This quiz was actually pretty accurate for me! Found at Feministe.

You fit in with:
Spiritualism


Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.

60% spiritual.
60% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com
Posted by Katie at 09:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Girls in Comics and Games

Yesterday I read two very good articles that I wanted to mention.

The first is the latest "Girl in the Clubhouse" article from Johanna Stokes at Comic Book Resource. It is about girls can do for comics and, like her other articles, it is excellent. Her biggest advice: if you like a book, buy it so the publisher knows you liked it. It's a great article, so go read it. She uses buisness sense as well as passion for the product to show how women can help support comics and graphic novels that they appreciate in order to encourage more in the same vein.

The second article I read was one from The Escapist and it discussed the portrayal of women (both their physical appearance and their roles and attitudes) in video games and the impact that has on consumers. The author of the article, M. Junaid Alam, discusses not only why the images might be bad for buisness, but also why they are bad for the industry and it's customers. He points out that the portrayal of women in many games is not only bad for drawing female consumers, but also bad for the male consumers. The article made me kind of wonder what makes gaming companies so certain that games with strong, interesting women with small breasts won't sell if they've never tried it. Without the data on it, how do they know it won't work? Granted, you still need the mechanics and plot to be done well, but is that really too much to ask? That is pretty much a requirement for any good game. Why don't we get some variety in character types and heroes then?

Both articles are wonderful and well worth the time to read. And if you haven't read Johanna Stokes' other "Girl in the Clubhouse" articles, you really should. They are interesting and extremely well done.

Posted by Katie at 12:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack