Cats and MBAs – Unusual Wikipedia Monday

There are dog people and cat people (and I have heard rumours about bird people, but I have never met one personally). I consider myself a dog person, but cats are nice, too. Anyway, ever since the dawn of time and the domestication of wolves and lions (or something), there has been the discussion about who has the bigger dick smarter animal. Dog people say dogs are smarter because they can follow orders. Cat people say cats are smarter because they won’t follow orders. [Ideologically speaking, I’m more with the cat people here.]

Well, finally, the matter seems to be settled: There is only one animal who has an MBA, and it’s a cat.

Colby Nolan on the day of his graduation.

Colby Nolan on the day of his graduation.

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New Moon and Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)

[My review for Twilight, the first book in the series.]

New Moon (second book) and Eclipse (third book) are just like Twilight. Altogether, it’s a very constant writing performance by Stephenie Meyer. Catchy and page-turner-y, written lightly and a very quick read (took me three days for each).

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

In New Moon, we get a whole lot more Jacob than in Twilight, which I personally enjoyed – I very much like Jacob. But then again, I’m a bit werewolf-phil, so that’s no surprise.

Meyer seems to have read Laurell K. Hamilton (at least until she got dirty), there are some things recognisable (like the love triangle).

And I loved Sam’s and Emily’s story. So very romantic. *sigh*

It’s a bit questionable that Bella can’t seem to survive without Edward… or Jacob. Her life totally depends on one of them being there. Don’t like that too much, but okay, I can live with that.

The book dragged a bit in the middle, but altogether, it was good.

In Eclipse, things move forward at a faster pace. The vampire-werewolf alliance was no surprise, on the contrary I wonderer about what took them so long to get there.

Jacob’s such a poor guy. He’s sweet and good-looking and nice and always there for Bella and still, he doesn’t have a chance with her, ever. How some people seem to think that he does, is beyond me. I don’t really like what she does with him in this book though. He gets so moody and sometimes behaves pretty crappy.

But then again, I don’t like how bossy Edward got, either. At least, Bella rebels against that.

Still, apart from that, I liked it. And I can’t wait to get Breaking Dawn.

Various links that I’ll just throw around

I mentioned that I have an extensive reader. In the two weeks I hardly went online, a lot of things have come together. I bookmarked the links I wanted to pass on, thinking that maybe I will make a post for each. But seeing as I already have posts prescheduled till Tuesday and most of the things are pretty self-explanatory anyway, this will be one collective post for collected links. Enjoy!

Alas, a blog brings us The End of The World and tells us, why it doesn’t matter if we are remembered or not.

John Kessel examines the morality and themes of innocence in Orson Scott Card‘s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.

Speaking of Orson Scott Card: he also writes crap about homosexuals for the Mormon Times. [And here’s the proper rebuttal, thoroughly researched, from Feminist SF.]

And while we’re on that issue, I really liked this (again Alas, a blog):

A California Court has ruled that proposition 8 — which, if passed, will change the California constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry — can be officially described as: “Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

On a slightly different note: I read this enraged review on The Dark Knight (and here’s Part Two) [Watch out, spoilers included]. Unfortunately, she’s right about the points she raises, but personally, I didn’t find them that enraging.

Anyway, continuing on this topic, did you know the Mo Movie Measure? The rules are that you should only watch movies who satisfy these three criteria: 

1. There has to be two women in it, who

2. talk to each other

3. about something else than a man.

I would even go so far and add another rule by saying that both women should have a name. It’s frightening, really, how few movies pass this “test”.

Speaking of sexist trends in movies, the Manic Pixie Dream Girlfriend is driving me insane.

So, yeah, that’s it for today.

Wow

I finally saw La Môme (aka La Vie en Rose). A fascinating film.

I grew up with the music of Édith Piaf, as my mother loves it. Songs like “Padam, Padam” and “Non, je ne regrette rien” were with me ever since I could think. Artists like Cássia Eller found their way into my heart because of Piaf covers. I really don’t know, why I haven’t seen this movie before.

But even if you don’t have any connections to Piaf’s music, this film is bound to captivate you. Piaf’s story is fascinating, she’s had so many highs and lows without ever giving up. The acting, not only Marion Cotillard‘s [I saw the making of. It was amazing how different she was, when she was giving interviews, already in make-up: she was Marion Cotillard in Piaf make-up. In the movie, she was Édith Piaf, with all the body language and everything.] but everyone’s, is perfect. The jumpy, not chronological directing fits the whole thing very well.

Altogether, a really, really good movie.

But what makes it extraordinary – and it is extraordinary – is the following scene:

A five minute in one cut scene is really hard to shoot. A five minute in one cut scene, which is good, is even more difficult. A five minute in one cut scene that focusses on one person is usually artistic suicide. A five minute in one cut scene that focusses on one person, who goes from happier than some people will ever be in their lives to almost dieing from grief and being successful with shooting that is more than extraordinary. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

Definitely a must see. Definitely.

[On a lighter note: Jean-Pierre Martins: Hot.]

The Best of Bulwer-Lytton 2008

Yes, here we are again, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest came to its end for this year. And, as last time, I will give you the best of. Here you can read everything.

The Winner

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”
Garrison Spik, Washington, D.C.

Winner: Adventure

Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay — the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make.
Shannon Wedge, New Hampshire

Runner-Up

“Die, commie pigs!” grunted Sergeant “Rocky” Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals.
Dave Ranson, Calgary, Alberta

Winner: Children’s Literature

Joanne watched her fellow passengers – a wizened man reading about alchemy; an oversized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch – there was a story here, she decided.
Tim Ellis, Haslemere, U.K.

Runner-Up Detective

The hardened detective glanced at his rookie partner and mused that who ever had coined the term “white as a sheet” had never envisioned a bed accessorized with a set of Hazelnut, 500-count Egyptian cotton linens from Ralph Lauren complimented by matching shams and a duvet cover nor the dismembered body of its current occupant.
Russ Winter, Janesville, MN

Winner: Historical Fiction

As she watched the small form swing backwards and forth from the crystal chandelier – hands on hips, sniffing the air and squeaking inaudibly – it suddenly became clear to Madame de Pompomme that she had done the wrong thing asking Jacques to find and bring back her long-lost sister: for, whilst her coterie would doubtless be enchanted for a short while, the novelty of Janine having been raised by bats since the age of two in caves of the North-west Congo would soon wear off in seventeenth-century France.
Simon Terry, Broadfield, Crawley, West Sussex, U.K.

Runner-Up

Our tale takes place one century before the reign of Alboin, the Lombard king who would one day conquer most of Italy and who would end up being murdered by his own wife (quite rightfully, I’d say, since Alboin made a drinking cup out of her daddy’s skull and forced her to drink from it), when our little Sonnebert was seven years old.
Edo Steinberg, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Winner: Purple Prose

The mongrel dog began to lick her cheek voraciously with his sopping wet tongue, so wide and flat and soft, a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through and oozing with liquid salivary gratitude; after all, she had rescued him from the clutches of Bernard, the curmudgeonly one-eyed dogcatcher, whose own tongue — she remembered vividly the tongues of all her lovers — was coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat.
Christopher Wey, Pittsburgh, PA

Runner-Up

The complementary crepuscularities of earth and sky shrank away from one another as the roseate effulgence of a new dawn burst forth, not unlike a reclining pneumatic beauty’s black silk stocking splitting apart at the seam to reveal the glowing radiance of an angrily sun-burned leg.
Graham Thomas, St Albans, Hertfordshire, U.K.

Winner: Romance

Bill swore the affair had ended, but Louise knew he was lying, after discovering Tupperware containers under the seat of his car, which were not the off-brand containers that she bought to save money, but authentic, burpable, lidded Tupperware; and she knew he would see that woman again, because unlike the flimsy, fake containers that should always be recycled responsibly, real Tupperware must be returned to its rightful owner.
Jeanne Villa, Novato, CA

Runner-Up

Like a mechanic who forgets to wipe his hands on a shop rag and then goes home, hugs his wife, and gets a grease stain on her favorite sweater – love touches you, and marks you forever.
Beth Fand Incollingo, Haddon Heights, N.J.

Dishonorable Mentions

He was a dark and stormy knight, and this excited Gwendolyn, but admittedly not as much as last night when he was Antonio Banderas in drag, or the night before that when he was a French Legionnaire who blindfolded her and fed her pommes frites from his kepi.
Leslie Muir, Atlanta, GA

Carmen’s romance with Broderick had thus far been like a train ride, not the kind that slowly leaves the station, builds momentum, and then races across the countryside at breathtaking speed, but rather the one that spends all day moving freight cars around at the local steel mill.
Bruce Portzer, Seattle, WA

Winner: Spy Fiction

Special agent Mark Park’s strong chin and firm mouth showed that he was a man to be reckoned with, while his twinkling blue eyes revealed surprising depths of kindness and humor, the scar on his cheek a past filled with violence and danger, and his left ear a fondness for M and Ms, but only the red ones.
John R. Cooper, Portland, Oregon

Dishonorable Mentions: Vile Puns

Jan Svenson, having changed his fortune in the annual “Scandinavian King of the Beach” in Santa Cruz with a bottle of black hair coloring and thus standing out in a sea of fair-haired rivals to win the coveted title, realized the ironic truth of the old adage “That in the kingdom of the blonde, the one dyed man is king.”
Matthew Chambers, Parsons, WV

Nell Gwynn, a descendant of the famous English actress and friend of King Charles II, decided she would help French aristocrats, who were being decimated by the guillotine during the French Revolution, cross to safety in England by hiding them under her voluminous skirts and putting off French customs inspectors by confronting them with a face and arms covered with angry red pimples, earning for her the sobriquet of Scarlet Pimple Nell.
Alec Kitroeff, Psychico, Greece

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

Behind his pearly white smile lay a Bible black heart, not like the Psalms with its, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” but like Revelations where God just smites people.
Elaine Deans, San Jose, CA

There are certain people in the world who emanate an aura of well being — they radiate sunshine, light up a room, bring out the best in others, and fill your half empty glass to overflowing – yes it was these very people thought Karl, as he sharpened his mirror-finished guthook knife, who were top of his list.
Jason Garbett, London, U.K.

Though her beloved Roger had departed hours ago, Lila remained in their rumpled bed, daydreaming about his strong arms, soulful eyes, and how, when he first fell asleep, his snoring sounded not unlike two grizzly bears fighting over a picnic basket full of sandwiches, but as he drifted off into deeper slumber, his snoring became softer, perhaps as if the bears decided just to rock-paper-scissors for it instead.
Lili R. Lillie, Alamo, CA

Emerging from the dark and dusty wine cellar of Lord Parker after a year of fattening up on wine, truffles, and caviar, head butler Hastings, sans his servility and his tan, was well larded and ready to slip into the Lord’s slippers after pickling Parker in a punt of port.
Jay Solmonson, Orinda, CA

The day started out as uneventfully as any other, and continued thus to midday and from there it was nothing at all to ease into an evening of numbing, undiluted monotony that survived unmarred by even the least act of momentary peculiarity-in fact, let’s skip that day altogether and start with the day after.
Jon Starr, Rumford, ME

Watching Felicia walk into the bar was like watching two fat Rottweilers in yellow spandex and spike heels that had treed a scrawny bleach blond cat at the top of a skinny flagpole that for some reason had decided to sprout casaba melons.
Melissa Alliston, Coraopolis, PA

Her name was Mauve, like the color of paint, which was apt: not only was she “pretty as a painting,” she was also “smart as paint,” and certainly as thin (assuming sufficient solvents had been added); she was, however, Arnold discovered when she stepped from the shower, a lot more fun to watch dry.
Steven W Alloway, Granada Hills, CA

When he concentrated, his thick black eyebrows furrowed, looking not unlike a pair of Hypercompe scribonia caterpillars on a collision course over the bridge of his nose, but unlike them, his eyebrows would never evolve into giant leopard moths, and would find better places to hover after nightfall than around her 40-watt backporch light.
Jane Auerbach, Los Angeles, CA

Earthy ochre and russet hues in the lifeless leaves which rustle under his feet, and spiral down from the majestic trees above, signal that October has now arrived, but of course he knew this already because he has a calendar above his breakfast bar in the kitchen.
Roz Black, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

As she skipped past the giant mushroom Alice was not surprised — because, after all, she had always suspected it was opium and not simply hookah, as many Lewis Carroll defenders had claimed, and tar heroin had since become a much cheaper and more available alternative — to see the track marks up and down the Caterpillar’s abdomen.
Chris Carlos, City of Industry, CA

The homicide detective was an aging woman with a crusty and somewhat ill-tempered personality, an individual who reminded me of the kind of woman my mother, a Sunday-school teacher, would have been if she had been a crusty and somewhat ill-tempered homicide detective.
Bill Crumpler, McKinney, TX

I heard her husky breathing as she came up the stairs, breathing exactly the way a sled dog breathes after competing in the Iditatrod as she sauntered into the room her hips swiveling from side to side like a Sherman M-4 tank with a 75mm gun forcing its way through the hedgerows of Normandy after D-Day in 1944.
Bruce Hanne, Citrus Heights CA

Carey, unnerved by an affair that had suffered through weeks of volatility, walked unsteadily, her dress etching complex runes in the fine patina of dust along the antiquated floor, to a rose-scented box of love letters in a vain attempt to find solace, like a security fund struggling to find liquidity in the US sub-prime mortgage market.
Ray Pasimio, Chicago, Illinois

As a cold winter sun was just rising above the lonely French village of Vicres-le-Buffeur, the forlorn figure of a man dressed in rich Arabian silks could be seen crouching in the center of the market square, crying softly and cradling in his arms the limp and lifeless body of what appeared to be a large hamster.
Arndt Pawelczik, Hennef, Germany

Like almost every other post-Hegelian neo-hipster angst monkey at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Rene flatly rejected the labels society placed upon him.
Bob Salsbury, Spokane Valley, WA

It was common knowledge around town that Bill drank like a fish, the kind of fish that consumes large quantities of cheap scotch on a daily basis.
Brent Sheppard, Morganton, NC

Although the family resemblance was almost palpable, there was no glint of recognition in the eyes of the separated-at-birth-but-nearly-identical quintuplets–Pixie, Trixie, Moxie, Gertie, and Howard–as they reached for the same size-10 champagne-colored lace Teddy in Filene’s basement that fateful Thursday morning.
Julia Tryk, Shaker Heights, OH

Rudy’s feline senses tingled as he watched Minerva pour a glass of milk, thrusting his tongue outward involuntarily, urging him to inexplicably lick his hand and smooth his cowlick, but he could not let Minerva know about the vampire kitten that had sucked his neck–attacking him with a feral ferocity that belied its adorable whiskered face–and how the meowing and purring that had become an integral part of their lovemaking was really just an injection of half-dead Calico.
Tara Lazar, Basking Ridge, NJ

Surveying his shattered and splintered ship, Baskin pronounced it wrecked, glanced at his first mate, Robbins, and began a careful assessment of his new surroundings: sand as white as whipped cream, lush greenery layered like a cake against the fruit-filled treeline, a vanilla sky blended into an evening as dark as chocolate with a pie-shaped moon, prompting him to wonder aloud, “what’s so unappetizing about being stranded on a desserted island?”
Jay Dardenne, Baton Rouge, LA

Prince Caspian and Me

I was very much looking forward to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. As preparation, I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and started reading the books again. Unfortunately, I just had time to finish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe before it was time to go to the movies, so I read Prince Caspian after seeing it. But no harm, no foul, I did read it before anyways.

Well. The story, though it remained basically the same, was altered quite a bit. But in a very good way. Where C. S. Lewis writes in the stenographical style of a police report, the movie took its time and explored things a bit more. Also, depth was added, where there was none in the original:

  • Peter got a character and stopped being this perfect little brat. His problems with acknowledging Caspian’s power and stepping back to let Caspian do his thing was interesting, and also more realistic than his immediate acceptance in the book.
  • The problems Caspian had with accepting that he’s to be king of Narnia did the same thing.
  • The love story between Susan and Caspian – so sweet. [By the way, I was convinced that it was in the book already. And when I read it again and saw that Susan and Caspian basically don’t even meet in the book, I was really, really sruprised.]
  • Do I have to mention the way the girls are treated? Like they actually fight in the movie and they have a brain and so on…

So, what I am saying is that Prince Caspian was a very good movie and if C. S. Lewis hadn’t been a misogynist and a crappy story teller, that’s what the book would have looked like.

[You may wonder, why I read the books, if I judge him so harshly. Thing is, I just think he had this wonderful picture in his head and wasn’t able to put it to paper. But when I read the books, I feel like it’s just around the corner, and I kind of get a glimpse of that.]

On a slightly different note: I could basically see all the teenage girls fainting because of Ben Barnes. What a perfect cast! And, he said that he based his accents for Prince Caspian on Inigo “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Montoya. And he’s going to play Dorian Gray, in the new movie with Colin Firth as Lord Henry.

They didn't even bother to make him blond... oh my... but at least, he's pretty.

They didn't even bother to make him blond... oh my... but at least, he's pretty.

Look what I got…

… for Christmas/Easter/birthday/The Dark Knight Premiere:

Thank you, deadra!

I think, it’s a subtle hint that I shouldn’t get too obsessed with Batman, when there’s other Superheroes around to obsess about.

Plus, it is absolutely huge. My guess (haven’t tried or measured it yet) is that you can fit 3/4 of a liter in there. If not more. I think it’s bigger than a Starbucks’ Venti Cup. And that makes it the perfect cup for me and coffee.

I guess you all know what this blog post will be about…

In case you don’t: The Dark Knight, Batman, Christian Bale, Christian Bale’s yummy ass, Christian Bale’s other yummy features, Bruce Wayne, The Joker, Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, Rachel Dawes, quotes, but also, sadly, refrigerators. And anything else that keeps me from swooning in the middle of this post.

So, yesterday was Christmas. And Easter. And my birthday. And every other holiday in the world that means anything to me or anybody else. And of course, yesterday was the premiere of The Dark Knight in Austria.

Where should I start? I guess, best by saying that my expectations were so high, they were nearly beyond achievable, but this movie did it anyway. It’s a wonderful feeling, when you can expect so much and still leave the movie theatre completely satisfied.

[If there’s anybody left, who hasn’t seen the movie yet (like all the Austrians, who didn’t get premiere tickets), be warned, after the picture and the break, there will be SPOILERS!]

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Potential

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a teenie slasher. But a teenie slasher, which got really good reviews, at least here in Austria. I was intrigued. I like horror movies, but am mostly disappointed with the splatter ones, so I had to see one that was almost reviewed as “art-sy”.

Well, unfortunately, AtBLML did not break the tradition. It was not scary, but forseeable [maybe I was looking for the twist, because everybody kept telling me about the unforseeableness, but seriously – SPOILER!!!!

Mandy Lane is involved in the killings herself? Where’s the news in that?

SPOILER END].

Also, I’m not sure about the acting abilities of Amber Heard. I’m not saying that she can’t, but in this movie, she didn’t (have to) act, she just had to look pretty. Which was no problem.

What I did like about the movie, were moments, when they didn’t take themselves seriously and used the soundtrack to counter the pictures.

Like the one scene, where one of the kids runs away from the murderer, who sits in a car. So, the kid runs and runs and runs, and the car follows at about 2 mph. [Which in itself is pretty funny.] And in some shots, we get the view from the car, and the car stereo is playing some rap song, which just doesn’t fit it the scene at all.

And the end credits are to “Sealed with a Kiss”, which you wouldn’t expect in a teenie slasher.

Well. Summarising: It’s an average teenie slasher (aka not good) with better than average moments. And just because it’s shot grainy, doesn’t make it art.

The Jane Austen Book Club (Karen Joy Fowler)

The Jane Austen Book Club is a sweet book. It’s not great, but it’s better than the average romance novel (believe me, I know…).

Karen Joy Fowler managed to write an unpretentious novel that entertains, while at the same time tackling a literary subject. The structure is good (six characters, each one gets one Jane Austen book and one chapter to reveal their life and personality), she makes jokes (unfortunately, the whole thing suffers in the translation I’ve read) and it’s generally very enjoyable.

Sometimes I would have loved a little more decision, though. Fowler tries to display diverse opinions about the books, which I like. But she or her characters never reach any conclusion and seem to be mostly of the same opinion anyway.

In any case, it’s a quick read and it also gives you some interesting view points on Jane Austen novels. But to be honest, what I enjoyed most, were the quotes in the end of famous people about Jane Austen. Some were really very funny, and it’s interesting to see how different the perception is.