Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Finds

Should be Reading hosts Friday Finds—an opportunity to share on their site “books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list.” Mine is Spheres of Influence by Ryk E. Spoor.   

The vivid cover attracted my attention, and when I looked it over in a bookstore, I found the writing style was somewhat similar to mine: A minimal amount of dialog tags (e.g., he said, he asked, he whispered, he shouted, etc.). The way the dialog is included in paragraphs should show who is speaking. 

I made an exception to my current practice of buying fiction in the form of e-books. I bought it from that bookstore as a way of rewarding them for allowing me to grab it off their shelf look it over, and as a way of having the cover artwork lying around. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ender’s Game Joke Fail

On Sunday evening, I visited my church’s youth group, which I’ve done on other occasions. I purposefully arrived late because I knew they were having a nerf gun battle at the start. You have to imagine over thirty middle schoolers and high schoolers battling it out inside a church building. I watched the last part of it from outside and decided it wasn’t the size of the gun, it was speed and strategy that mattered. 

photo by JKDesigns 

After that, they all sat down, and we were asked to name things we were thankful for. I decided to start with something funny, so I said, “I saw Ender’s Game, so I’m glad I got here after your foosball game.”

Obviously, I made a mistake by saying “foosball” instead of “nerf gun,” but I don’t think it mattered. A couple of the kids chuckled. The rest of the 30+ kids stared at me, not making a sound.

So I don’t think I should quit my day job.

I recovered from that and made a strategic statement. I said, “Not all the adults in church will say this, but I’m thankful for the internet. It makes research a lot easier. And as long as you watch yourself, it’s no different from walking into a bookstore.” I was indicating there was no real moral difference, because I didn’t want them to think that all the adults are a bunch of stick-in-the-mud types.

Not long after that, I realized the senior pastor had walked into the back of the room and must have heard what I said. He likes to rail against the internet from the pulpit.

They had leftover pizza from earlier in the evening that they were urging people to take. I wasn’t going to eat anything, but I finally snagged a piece and ate it on the way to my car. That night, I had bad food poisoning and was desperately trying to rip the cellophane open to some pink bismuth (the generic form of Pepto Bismol).

So that was my sparkly evening.

(To see my review of Ender’s Game, click here.) 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review of Ender’s Game

I remember reading the novella Ender’s Game in a 1979 issue of Analog. I never read the novel it was expanded into, but I remember the original story: Ender’s training, the weightless game of propelling themselves towards the opponent’s goal, and Bean. I remember vividly one of the battles in space, and the concern of one of the commanders that they were “pounding the nails in”—meaning that they were crucifying Ender. Then there was the final game, where Ender would be up against their finest game master, hopelessly outnumbered in ships. There was the odd reaction of the commanders, who went into despair because they didn’t understand Ender’s strategy—odd for adults to react to a game that way. And of course, the climax of the story, and how Ender fared. After all these years, I remember the story.

This movie delivers. Eleven year-old Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield) is chosen to lead humanity’s efforts to fend off an alien threat. Trained from a young age in strategy, he simply thinks and reacts differently than a normal person would. Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees him as a thoroughbred and keeps pushing and pushing him. But as Major Anderson (Viola Davis) asks, “What will be left of the boy?”

The supporting actors playing the other children in the combat school are terrific. Normally, the temptation would be to show child actors doing cutesy things, but the movie shows them in all their earnestness. The weightless games they play are astounding, and it was right to wait until the special effects business was sufficiently mature to make this movie. All the moral quandaries are there on whether it is right to make Ender such a matchless child soldier, but we know how this will be resolved, we know Ender will be in it for the finish.

Ender’s Game is the best movie I’ve seen this year. (As a note of caution, this movie features children, but was written for adults. Middle graders and below will not truly understand the moral quandaries. Think of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Blockbuster Closing

It’s the end of an era: Blockbuster announced it’s closing their remaining stores. Personally, I preferred Hollywood Video. Remember those? Anybody? Anybody?

photo by Dwight Burdette

Someday you will tell your grandchildren about how you had to rent these disks to see movies, from physical stores. Then you had to drive back and return them in a few days. And sometimes, you even used paper money to pay for them. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carrie publicity stunt

I don’t plan on seeing the remake of Carrie. But here’s a publicity stunt that was done before the movie was released, pulled on unsuspecting customers at a coffee shop. 

The woman with the sunglasses perched on top her head had the best reaction. But the guy wearing glasses who kept hold of his coffee cake for at least part of it was pretty funny.  


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