deckardcanine: (Default)
A’s for agouti, a rodent that’s big.
B: babirusa, a curvy-tusked pig.
C’s for coati, a type of raccoon.
D is for dik-dik, so cute I could swoon.
E’s for echidna, with spines and a snout.
F is for frogmouth, a bird that looks stout.
G is for gharial, kin to the croc.
H is for hyrax, and one type is rock.
I’s for ichneumon—the mongoose, no wasp.
J’s for jerboa; it’s known for its hops.
K is for kea, a mostly green parrot.
L is for lapwing, so shrill I can’t bear it.
M is for mara, related to cavies.
N is for narwhal, familiar to navies.
O’s for okapi, with upper leg rings.
P is for pangolin, oddest of things.
Q is for quokka, which looks like it’s grinning.
R is for rhea, whose looks are not winning.
S is for serval, with rather large ears.
T’s for tamandua, which termite-kind fears.
U is for urial, long-legged sheep.
V’s for vaquita; I hope it will keep.
W stands for wapiti, a deer.
X: X-ray tetra (what else could go here?).
Y is for yapok, the water opossum.
Z’s for zorilla, whose odor is awesome.
So goes the alphabet. Now, kids, I ask:
Will all these animals help with your task?
Saturday, 20 May 2017 10:51 pm

Oh. My.

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I opted to celebrate my 35th birthday three days early due to family convenience. Tonight happened to be Nerds Trivia Night at Politics & Prose, so we went to that after I opened my presents. My brother-in-law was tired and never does have much confidence in his trivia abilities, but we talked him into coming with us. Good thing, too, because he knew some answers the rest of us didn't. He and my sister did not stick around for the final results. Too bad for them.

The theme of the night, as we gleaned from the poster, was Cher, who had her birthday today. We bombed severely on the visual round, which entailed matching Cher album images to titles. Dad thought we were going to get one of the lower overall scores -- until they started announcing scores from least to greatest. First place had only 23 points out of a possible 36; usually it's more like 33.

We remain convinced that the graders messed up in giving us 19 points instead of 21. Another team lodged a comparable complaint, tho admitting they wouldn't have won or placed. Still, if not for this error, the ensuing events probably would have been less interesting.

When two teams tie for a prize-winning place -- be it first, second, or even last -- one person from each team enters a dance-off, to be judged by the audience. A team could forfeit instead, but that has yet to happen. Since I was the only halfway-young member of our team, I was tapped and offered no resistance. I didn't actually get nervous until I was one of two guys standing in a cleared space, waiting for the song.

Please understand: I used to fear public dancing more than death. It was one thing to do a choreographed dance in a play, but improvising for fun? I felt altogether too gawky. At 15, I even once snatched my hand away from an attractive girl who wanted to dance with me at a gathering with only about a dozen people, most of whom were not in the room. This fear abated gradually, but tonight I was literally being judged by maybe a hundred people.

If this were a livelier Cher number, I might have been in real trouble. Instead, it was "Welcome to Burlesque," from the little-appreciated movie Burlesque (2010) with Christina Aguilera. (It was included in the music round of the trivia, but absolutely no one got it.) This tango is open to interpretive dance, as the host said.

My mind raced back to the last time anyone was impressed at my dancing. I was 13, in an avant-garde camp production. The song was Rusted Root's "Back to the Earth." In our practice, I thought the beginning of the song evoked the kindling of a flame (less evident in the linked recording), so I imitated a growing flame myself. The director told me to keep at it, only with more dramatic movements.

So tonight, I started out similarly: eyes closed or nearly closed, moving my arms more than my legs. Occasionally I'd do a yoga-like sweep. The important part in my mind was to keep changing it up. Not all motions very abstract. Maybe a little sultry, in a facetious way.

Because of my mostly closed eyes, I couldn't rightly tell which of us got the most cheering. I later learned that the other guy gave up after watching me for a bit.

Somehow, this feels like more of an accomplishment than the time we came in first. Or either of the times that I supplied the night's best team name.

Sadly, neither of my parents figured out in time how to work the video function on their phones. Well, sadly for them. I'd just as soon not show the Internet. But I don't mind telling you all about it.

BTW, one of my presents was Just Dance 2017. That ought to prepare me for next time, if there is one.

Alas, the organizer will be quitting soon. I almost want to take over for him. Perhaps I will do something like it someday. If so, I'll have to decide whether to subject others to the dance-off.
Sunday, 14 May 2017 11:42 pm

Motherly

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My life has been most blessed
On account of you in part.
The way you chose to raise me
Helped me get a decent start.
Emending my misdeeds, you
Really thought before you’d shove,
Lent ears, and showed me virtue.
You have earned my lasting love.
deckardcanine: (Default)
I knew this was not going to be much like the previous seven volumes of the series, starting from its status as a play and only partly written by J.K. Rowling, with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany doing the rest. The fan cartoonists of Harry Potter Comics, which similarly begins with the epilogue of book 7, act like this play is the next Go Set a Watchman. But since they differed significantly from my opinions on the Fantastic Beasts movie, I took their razzing with a grain of salt. Anyway, I got some enjoyment out of The Phantom Menace by knowing from the start that it wouldn't be in the same category as its predecessors, so hard could this be?

Plot gist, with spoilers of previous books )

About the characters )

Further reactions )

It's difficult for me to weigh, but overall, I think I put this volume in seventh place. It didn't feel like a chore -- not for long, anyway -- but neither would it have made me a fan of the franchise if I weren't already. I hadn't been utterly itching for more HP, and this provides only a slight scratch. Nevertheless, I won't dismiss it as quasi-canonical in my heart. It still reads more authentically than any fanfic I've known. If nothing else, it may refresh your memory of past events in the series and give you a new perspective on some.


I have now picked up Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Apparently, this too involves some measure of temporal manipulation. Am I ready for it?
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Mario Bros.? A ludicrous game
For calling them both by one plumber’s first name.
And what’s with the ape who got named for King Kong?
That’s “Donkey,” not “Monkey”; it sounds rather wrong.
But “right” gets too obvious: Take Metal Gear
Or Metal Gear Solid. What’s going on here?
And how many fantasies claim to be last?
Well, “final.” Regardless, that series ain’t past.
Is Mega Man mega or even a man?
The Smash Bros. titles—who thought of that plan?
Whatever the reason, it sure seems to me
That silly names reign in the game industry.
Friday, 5 May 2017 12:36 am

Horsing Around

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The Style Invitational has repeated its ever-popular contest of "breeding" Triple Crown nominees. The winners and honorable mentions this year are good, but alas, none are mine. And I had submitted the maximum number allowed. See if you think any of mine were worthy:

Hieroglyphics x The Walk = Like an Egyptian
Archimedes x Filet of Sole = You Reek-a!
Warrior's Club x Confederate = Mace & Dixon Line
Excavation x The Hardest Way = Cheap Spork
Mo Town x My Blue Heaven = Mo Better Blues
Gorgeous Kitten x Midnight Pleasure = Cathouse
American Anthem x Foggy Night = Oh Say Can You See
Dangerfield x Term of Art = Minecraft
Sonneteer x Rowdy the Warrior = Shake Spear
Gorgeous Kitten x Solo Saxophone = Careless Whisker
Vanish x Term of Art = Without a Trace
Industrialist x Practical Joke = JK Morgan
Hey Mike x Classic Rock = Hey Jude
Bobby Abu Dhabi x Downhill Racer = Bobsledder
Classic Rock x High Frequency = Good Vibrations
Gorgeous Kitten x One Liner = Catsphrase
Midnight Pleasure x Iliad = Midnight & Paris
Iliad x Pat on the Back = Pat-roclus
Rowdy the Warrior x No More Talk = Silent Knight
Bee Jersey x Classic Empire = Buzzantine
Fast and Accurate x Term of Art = Quick Draw
Glacier x No Dozing = Ice Wide Open
Baseline x Iliad = Homer
Irap x It's Your Nickel = 5 Cent
True Timber x Pollock = Lumberjackson

Oh well. I still have until Monday the 15th to enter the follow-up contest: breeding the winners of this one. I did get an HM for that once.
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My mom was raving about A Man Called Ove, but the title never grabbed me and Ove sounds too bitter. Instead, she talked me into borrowing another Fredrik Backman novel with a reportedly similar format, one whose protagonist sounded more my type.

That protagonist is Elsa, an "almost-eight-year-old" as the present-tense, third-person limited narration puts it. (Think I used enough hyphens?) Early in the story, she loses her grandmother, whom she considers her only friend, to cancer. But Granny has one last treasure hunt in store; it involves finding and delivering letters of apology to everyone who lives in their building. In the process, Elsa learns a lot more about her and them, with valuable information unfolding like a mystery. She'd actually heard much of it before, in the guise of fairy tales....

More details )

After the story come two things I've never seen before outside of a textbook: a set of questions for discussion and a few suggestions to "enhance your book club." I doubt I'll take advantage of either, but it might be good to put these features in more books.


For obvious reasons, I have now picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This also is borrowed from my mom. So far, it's...different.
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I’ve finally noticed that cats on the screen
Will often do something that I’ve never seen
In reality, namely produce a meow
With their mouths closed completely. I’d have to ask how.
It’s obvious filmmakers wanted to add
A “natural” sound that just couldn’t be had
On cue, but why bother? We see it’s a cat.
They don’t make noise always; just leave it at that.
Well, maybe not everyone’s quite so attentive
And cinematographers aren’t that inventive.
What’s more, a meow can be simply adorable,
Making the practice much less than deplorable.
Nevertheless, in this age, it seems cheap
Not to animate mouths (in a way that won’t creep
Out the viewers) to match any noise that’s been made.
But the error is subtle, and that’s why it’s stayed.
Sunday, 23 April 2017 11:02 pm

Last but Not Least

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In a world of four nations divided by power
(Of water, earth, fire, and air),
There used to be peace, but now things have gone sour;
One kingdom is being unfair.
The Fire Lord wishes to conquer the rest,
And his power is hard to combat.
It’s said he’ll be toppled by none but the best—
Who’s a seemingly twelve-year-old brat.
In truth, the boy spent the last century frozen
To hide from the ones who would kill him.
He’s still a remarkably immature “chosen”
Who always craves playtime to thrill him.
But nobody else can assume the command
Of all classical elements here.
With the help of a preteen and teenager band,
The Avatar’s getting in gear.
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Of holidays, Easter is likely unique
In a way I’d not noticed before.
While others get kiddie with simplification
Of history, purpose, and more,
And while secular Christmas relies on a mage
Who brings millions of gifts in a hurry,
Only Easter has lore of an anthropomorphic
Delivery critter. How furry!
Sunday, 9 April 2017 11:25 pm

Humaning

deckardcanine: (Default)
So many different animals have names that act as verbs,
Like “badger,” “ferret,” “dog,” and “cow.” Would this get on their nerves?
If they spoke English also, what would “human” come to mean?
To greatly change the landscape and/or dominate the scene?
To make and/or depend upon a plethora of tools?
To run upon one’s hind legs or to babble on like fools?
To hunt for sport? To go to war for very little reason?
To cover up one’s private parts? To mate in every season?
With luck, it might allude to humans’ rare consideration
In giving other animals our love and adoration.
Of course, we tend to figure they’ve at best a mixed opinion
Of humans as a species, with our overdone dominion.
Sunday, 9 April 2017 10:53 pm

(no subject)

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
This will probably be the last post I ever make on LiveJournal. I simply cannot abide by the new terms of service.

I hope that the few LJers who've been reading me recently will join me at Dreamwidth, which is almost the same thing with more freedom. With some luck, I may be able to transfer the last few years' entries there as well, but in any case, I'll keep a link to my LJ open for the time being.
Saturday, 8 April 2017 11:26 pm

Hello, everyone!

deckardcanine: (Default)
Like many LiveJournal users, I found the new terms of service to be the last straw and figured that this site was the closest match with (so far) acceptable policies. Until I learn a good way to import my LJ posts, you can view them here.

Since I gained a Facebook account, I haven't had much incentive to short posts elsewhere, but I still like to have a place for longer posts. Not only does FB not really welcome those; it offers no spoiler tags. That's especially troublesome for reviews.

Anyway, you can expect my first poetic DW post tomorrow night, as I usually write them on Sunday. Hope you like it.
Sunday, 2 April 2017 10:58 pm

The Cheetah

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
I’ve grown rather fond of the cheetah,
Not just for how fast it can run.
Of all of the African wild cats,
Its body’s the slenderest one.
While its spots aren’t as cool as a leopard’s,
Its face has distinctive black “tear” lines,
As if it had cried in Goth makeup,
Unlike all the other great felines.
It also is said to be doglike
(The reverse of the catlike red fox?),
From its face shape to claws unretracted.
But to me, the main feature that shocks
Is the noise that it makes in recordings:
A high chirp that’s disarmingly cute.
And it purrs, so some call it a “small” cat.
What a term for a dangerous brute.
Sunday, 26 March 2017 10:37 pm

How Far They'll Go

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
The first three Disney princesses
Had basically no flaws.
Their princes fell in love with them
The sec their paths would cross.
When thirty years had passed, the trend
Was ladies who rebelled,
Especially against their dads,
Who wanted rules upheld.
The princess set diversified,
At least in terms of race.
There’s still not much variety
To body type and face.
More recently, they don’t all care
To marry right away.
Some even end their films unpaired.
(I don’t presume they’re gay.)
I welcome these developments
For letting young girls know
You needn’t be traditional
To let your glory show.
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I was mistaken earlier when I said that Keith Laumer wrote this. He had died by 1997. Instead, various writers ran with the premises he laid to create nine stories ranging from 25 to 89 pages each, followed by a set of technical notes. Naturally, they don't have the same sense of continuity that short-story compilations by one author have. In fact, I'm not sure they could all be true in the same universe.

Bolos, FYI, are the ultimate sci-fi army tanks. Enormous, heavily armed and armored, and granted advanced AI. Obviously not beholden to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics if human nations use them against each other (tho later stories concentrate on alien battles), but they are programmed with unflinching loyalty to their given side. As the title suggests, these stories focus on Bolos that are nowhere near peak condition; in many cases, neither are the civilizations they defend.

The individual stories )

The last few pages advertise other space operas: the Honor Harrington series, Anne McCaffrey's Brainship novels, and Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. I'm happy to say I've read and enjoyed one book of each and reviewed them all on this LJ. Kinda renews my interest in them. But I give a higher priority to checking out what Laumer himself wrote about Bolos. I want to see what they were like before physical and mental battery. After all, you don't really know Superman if you've seen him only in the presence of kryptonite.

In the meantime, I'm reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman, who's best known for A Man Called Ove. I don't think it's fantasy, but the protagonist is clearly familiar with popular fantasy, which is why my mom suggested it to me.
Sunday, 19 March 2017 10:36 pm

Cashing It In

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
The Style Invitational in The Washington Post has a challenge to write this kind of poem, albeit without necessarily using LOLspeak. I opted to keep it easy to read.

I’m Johnny Cash,
The Man in Black.
Just hear my songs:
I had a knack
For not just one
But many kinds.
I sang real deep;
I wrote the lines.
Sunday, 12 March 2017 03:30 pm

Low on Black Ink?

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
In the mid-1890s, the comics began
With The Yellow Kid gracing the papers.
While it hasn’t aged well, it is honored today
For the start of a long line of capers.
I’m impressed that the medium gained such momentum,
Considering how it debuted:
The whole point was to sell what the news alone couldn’t,
With drawings artistically crude.
Each comic strip takes us mere seconds to read;
That’s a punchline or two for the day,
Which is nothing compared to a comedy show,
So how long would the readership stay?
Nonetheless, a few genius cartoonists arrived,
And their work would amuse and amaze.
Some comics were made into full animations
Or live-action movies or plays.
I’m afraid that’s unlikely to happen again
As the newspaper business declines,
For the Net’s not as great for the fame and the money
From drawing hilarious lines.
Saturday, 4 March 2017 04:33 pm

I Do Not Like That...

deckardcanine: (Venice fox mask)
You have to wonder ‘bout that Sam
Who offered up green eggs and ham.
I get his story’s lesson: “Try it;
Maybe you’ll expand your diet.”
Even so, he goes too far
With such persistence; how bizarre.
He’ll follow any place you go
And won’t accept the answer “no.”
He doesn’t know or doesn’t care
That some are vegans; he’ll be there.
What’s more, he won’t explain the green.
Can we be sure the meat is clean?
It prob’ly isn’t good for you.
You might just be allergic, too.
In pushing what could make us ill,
Is Sam a wretched corp’rate shill?
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In order of release, this is fourth volume of The Sword of Truth. In order of story events, it's sixth. Regardless, it's my first taste of author Terry Goodkind. I have no idea of the volumes' relative popularity; I just wanted to check out some part of the tremendous series, which I must have learned about from a list of recommended fantasy novels.

Clearly a lot happened in the previous books, especially if they're all close to this one's 822 pages. Much of it gets touched on herein, with enough explanation that I never felt lost. Alas, since there had been apparently surprising twists, in order not to spoil the earlier volumes for anyone who wants to read them, I'd better put plot and character details behind a cut.

You've been warned )

Non-spoiler assessment )

Part of me wished to have started at the beginning of the series and possibly read right up to this point. Another suspected that the earlier volumes were relatively hackneyed, from what I know of them. Still, they almost certainly had more for the Sword of Truth to do. This curiosity might get me to pick up the next in the series from my shelf, but not any time soon; I need a break.

So what am I starting now? Keith Laumer's Last Stand. That too is the fourth book in its series, specifically that of the Bolos. I don't know that it'll be uplifting, but the summary reads like an inversion of the Berserker series, so it's worth a shot. Plus, a collection of short stories can always be put aside as needed (like I ever do that).
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