Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, was the breakout young adult novel of 2012.  This science fiction take on an old fairy tale is well worth your time. 

The main character, Cinder, is doubly despised:  her stepmother can’t stand her, and society looks down on her for being a cyborg—some of her limbs are artificial after an accident she can’t remember.  However, she makes a living by being the best android mechanic in New Beijing, and her desires are modest—just a new mechanical foot to replace the current one, which is too small.   But then Prince Kai walks into her stall one day as a customer. 

She tries not to be overcome by his easy laugh, his undeniable charm, and his friendly interest in her as he engages her in a prolonged conversation.  She keeps in mind that she’s just a mechanic, and that he would recoil in horror if he knew her cyborg nature. 

Looming in the background is the threat of war:  the Lunar Queen may invade Earth, and a prospective marriage to Prince Kai is her best way to advance this plot, with everything coming to a point at a grand festival ball.  Kai would much rather have Cinder show up at the ball with him. 

Well, do you think Cinder will go? 

This is a delightful story, written with as much charm as these characters deserve.  Don’t get me wrong; Cinder has its doleful moments as a plague victimizes some of the characters.  But we admire Cinder all the more for the compassion she shows, at great risk to herself.  The measures taken to combat the plague are disturbing, and some scenes involving the removal of embedded chips from people inadvertently bring to mind some real problems facing teenage girls, but it’s wholesome overall. 

Most young adult novels don’t hold my attention, but this new take on an old story has a confident writing style that carried me along. 

For my account of the time I met Marissa Meyer, look here.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Navy Uses All Caps To End All Caps

When I was a child, a friend of mine showed me an Army typewriter, which typed in all capital letters.  The tradition goes back to the 1850s, when teletype machines used only capitals.  Now the Navy has become the first branch of the military to dispense with the tradition.  Of course, it used all caps to announce Navy personnel are   


As someone I know who spent time in the Navy remarked, “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Navy way.” 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nicolas Cage as Superman

In anticipation of the new Superman movie, I’ll bring up the little-known fact that Nicolas Cage was once cast for the part. 

photo by Kirk Weaver

This was back in the 1990s.  When I heard it, I could not imagine Cage doing the part.  But recently, the test photos of him in the super suit surfaced.  I can’t show you them without my blog violating copyright, but the New York Daily News shows them here

For those who ask WHY? I’ll just say that Cage obviously didn’t think it beneath him to destroy the legend. 

For better or worse, the new movie coming out has Henry Cavill, and he has the advantage of actually looking like Superman. 

photo by Sirab

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mowing the Lawn

I mowed my parents’ lawn today.  I was not the kind of kid who had lawn jobs, so this was quite the arduous chore. 

photo by Charles & Hudson

He had some dye injected into his back to see what’s what, so he was told not to exercise for a couple days.  Still, he insisted on doing some of the mowing himself, to show me how to do it just right. 

It’s kind of a typical generation gap:  His garage is filled with power tools, and he had quite the expertise in putting up fences or fixing the cars they owned, as well as setting up lawn gardens that people in the neighborhood remarked upon.  I was the more bookish type—and they encouraged that, buying me whatever book I wanted when I was a child.  So I read and write. 

My wrists are so sore, I better not do any more keyboarding today.  


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