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In Honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day…

September 19th is Talking Like a Pirate Day.  In honor of that, let me present the classic Ray Stevens song, “The Pirate Song.”

In bad news for my taste buds but good news for my waistline, Krispy Kream has done away with the free donut for talking like a pirate.

I say they make the scurvy knave who came up with that idea walk the plank!

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Review: Eleanor Olyphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant may think she’s completely fine. But spend a few pages with her and you’ll find out that she’s not quite as fine as she thinks she is.

Eleanor wants for nothing physically. Her regular job provides a steady income that allows her to provide for the basic human necessities as well as a few extras. For example, enough vodka to pass the hours of her weekend until it’s time to go back to work again. She has her weekly conversations with her Mummy and she looks forward to certain documentary programs on the radio or television.

Yes, Eleanor is doing just fine, thank you.

Except she’s not really. Emotionally distant from herself and those around her (at one point, Eleanor points out that her foster child upbringing taught her to stop “wanting” things that weren’t vital to her survival), Eleanor has finally found the man of her dreams. He’s the singer for an up and coming band and while the two haven’t met, Eleanor just knows that once they meet, it will be love at first sight and things will start being more than just “fine.” Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: The Orville, “Old Wounds”

xzsw7urvcxqpskxv40ggBased on the promotional material and my expectations of what constitutes a Seth MacFarlane show, I expected The Orville to be a bit more Galaxy Quest than Star Trek.

Turns out FOX took all the “funny” and “zingy” one-liner parts of the premiere and edited those into a (much repeated) commercial for the show.

It’s almost as if Fox doesn’t quite know what kind of show Seth MacFarlane is giving them.

Which could be because The Orville doesn’t seem to know what kind of show it wants to be either. That’s my big takeaway from the first episode, “Old Wounds.” Continue reading

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Challenge Accepted: R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XII (RIP XII)

ripxii800Fall is finally here!  Cooler days, changing colors, football and, of course, fall reading!

With the return of fall comes the return of the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge.  Started by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, the challenge will be hosted this year by My Capricious Life and Estella’s Revenge.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:
  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.

There are a couple of participation levels and even a group read scheduled for October.

I’m in and trying for Peril 1. This means I’ll try to read four books of any length that fit the guidelines.  I’m pretty sure I can do it, especially in light of the fact that I’ve already got the new Stephen King book on reserve at my local library!

Find out more at the links listed above or you can just sign up here.

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Joss Whedon becomes more like Gene Roddenberry

josswhedon.jpgEver since “discovering” Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the mid-90’s (in season two, before it was cool to like it), I’ve had an admiration for Joss Whedon.  He’s a creative guy who wrote and directed some of the most memorable episodes of television of that era.

He’s since gone on to shepherd some of the best-loved loved TV shows and movies of the last two decades.  Much of his output has been about female empowerment and creating strong roles for women, up to and including Whedon seeming to earn the label of a feminist.

All of that seems to be crashing around Whedon with his ex-wife, Kai Cole, publishing an op-ed piece that says Whedon is “hypocrite” and that he had multiple affairs during the course of their marriage.

Reading Cole’s piece and then seeing Whedon’s response (it feels like a non-denial denial in addition to closing down a website devoted to his fandom), I can’t help but feel like Whedon has become Gene Roddenberry for a new generation.  For those of you who don’t live and breathe Star Trek, I’ll try to keep this short.

Roddenberry created Star Trek and founded his view of humanity’s future on some wonderful ideals.  As Ken Wray, co-host of the superlative Mission Log, recently put it, Roddenberry’s vision was that not only do we make it to the future, but we get past many of the issues that face our society today. Or as Trek put it, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

And while Roddenberry had a great vision for the future, he was still a human being with weaknesses.  One was that Roddenberry had a weakness when it came to women.  The guy put his then-mistress, later-wife Majel Barret into the pilot and then crafted a recurring role for her on the original series as Nurse Chapel.

And it feels like Whedon has almost followed a similar path.  The letter by his ex-wife says that Whedon had multiple affairs over the course of their marriage and

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.

And while I’m disappointed that both Whedon and Roddenberry didn’t live up the ideals or the image they portrayed themselves to be in pop culture, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to let Shortcake view their creative output (when appropriate for her.  I don’t think she’ll get a lot out of Buffy right now!)

Both men created women who are smart, funny, empowered and aren’t defined by their relationship to men.  As the father of a little girl, I’m grateful to them for creating pop culture heroines that my daughter can look up to and emulate.

I also think it could be a valuable tool to teach her about the difference between the public and private persona that people can have.

I still respect the output of both men.  And I understand the public persona they created, even if they were flawed and failed to live up the lofty expectations they and their fans created for them.

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Review: The Identicals by Elin Hildebrand

The IdenticalsWhen Eleanor Roxy-Frost and Billy Frost decide to go their separate ways, they decide to divide everything equally. This includes their twin daughters, Tabitha and Harper.

And so, at the age of seventeen, the sister play a game of rock/paper/scissors to decide who “wins” and gets to go with Billy and who “loses” and has to go with their mother. Decades later, the outcome of that game casts a long shadow over the lives of the estranged twin sisters.

When their father passes away, the sisters are forced back into each other’s orbit. Harper lives on Nantucket, where she’s done everything from landscaping to package delivery to being an unwitting drug mule. The last position has granted her a bit of infamy on the island (and the ire of the drug cartel she unwittingly helped bring down), but not nearly as much as the latest news that she’s having an affair with her father’s married doctor.

Tabitha lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her rebellious teenage daughter, Ainsley and works in her mother’s sinking boutique (based on her mother’s line of clothing and an infamous dress designed years before). Referred to by an ex-boyfriend as “a piss-poor parent,” Tabitha blames Harper for everything that has gone wrong in her life, including the death of her infant son, Julian, fourteen years ago. Continue reading

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Reading With Shortcake: The Pop Culture Edition

As an avid reader, I wanted to share my love of reading with Shortcake as soon as possible.   Not only are there benefits for her brain development but it’s a special time to bond.

Some of my fondest memories growing up involve read with my parents.  My dad and I used to have a tradition of reading the Sunday comics together (the weekly Spider-Man comic strip was a favorite and the smell of coffee often brings back memories of those Sunday mornings) and my mom read several books onto cassette for me so I could listen to them over and over and over again.

goodnightmoonEarly childhood educators and experts recommend reading 1,000 books to your child before he or she starts kindergarten.  And while that can seem like a LOT of books, our local librarian reminded us that most kids have close to 2,000 days from the time they are born before they enter kindergarten (so you if you miss a day, you don’t have to get too stressed out about it).

She also said that you don’t have to read your child a 1,000 different books before kindergarten, just a thousand total books.  So when your young toddler demands that you read Goodnight Moon every night before he or she goes to sleep, each time you read it counts toward the total.

As a good father, I want to ensure not only that Shortcake reads 1,000 books before kindergarten but that she’s also exposed to some of the classics, including some of my favorite characters and universes from pop culture.  (In other words, I want to sow the seeds of geek-dom early and often).

Thankfully we live in a time when books that celebrate and expose little readers to some of their parents’ pop culture favorites are plentiful.  A few of my favorites include:

startrekoppostiesThe Star Trek Book of Opposites:   Taking images from the original (and still the best) Star Trek, this board book covers things like calm (with an image of Spock) and surprised (with an image of Captain Kirk holding up his hands with a surprised look on his face).  Clever and colorful, this book is designed not only to amuse young reader s but also to the people reading it to them.

Doctor Who Meets Mr. Men and Little Miss series:  This mash-up of Doctor Who and the Mr. Men books is delightful for young and old readers.  Currently there are books with the first, second, fourth and seventh through twelfth Doctor either on shelves or on the horizon.  And since Shortcake will sit up and turn her head toward any television set playing the Doctor Who theme, I imagine these will  be read a LOT in our house.

xfilesThe X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird:  While you may not want your kids to watch The X-Files just yet (it’s kind of dark and scary), you can introduce them to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully with this delightful book.  Young Fox and Dana are camping out in the backyard when they discover weird, wild, possibly alien stuff going on around them and being to investigate.  (If you’re such a nitpicker that you point out that Mulder and Scully never met as children, remind yourself this is just a children’s book and enjoy it.)  Great illustrations and a clever story with lots of homages to the series have made this one of Daddy’s favorite books to read to Shortcake.

DC Superhero Series:  Share your love of superheroes with your young one with these delightful board books, including the heroes and villains of the DC universe.  So far, we’ve only read My First Wonder Woman (which also provides the opportunity to feel things like Wonder Woman’s magic lasso!) but I have a feeling there will be more of these in our future.

Those are just a few of the books/series that I’ve discovered during the first year or so with Shortcake. I’m sure there are others that I’ve either forgotten or overlooked. But I’d love to hear what you recommend we read together on our journey to a thousand books.

 

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