Element of Fire by Martha Wells
I really liked this book, but I spent the entire time I was reading it wishing it were Science Fiction instead of Fantasy. See, one of the things I like most about some of this author’s other writing is that she writes science fiction that is believably otherworldly where I am neither pointing the the earth culture some author blatantly ripped off nor am I wincing at the implausible technobabble. Her stuff is the closest to good hard sci fi that I have read in a while. So I went into this book looking for that itch to be scratched, and I got fantasy.
Still, there’s wonderful political intrigue, and an amazingly understated and limiting system of magic that feels wonderfully plausible. Every single character has dimensions and motivations and regrets. I ended up wanting to spend a good deal more time in this world.
The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells
Luckily, I already had another book set in the same world as Element of Fire. Only this one – is set in the future of the other book – possibly a steampunk future. So there’s that rich texture of fantasy, but the magic has faded a bit in the way of technology and there are whizzing gadgets and whamframits and legacies of wizards and the ways different cultures have been shaped by developing in a world with magic. It’s almost an anthropological study, but it’s also swashbuckling and quirkiness. There are so many elements in this world, but they are all clearly defined and interesting and I need to go buy the next two books in the trilogy right away.
There were times when I was grinning uncontrollably, thinking, “Awwww… Neil Gaiman, your message is showing.” Geek boy makes good! People love you, even if you’re different! Overconfidence will do you in every time. N’awww!
But aside from that, totally aside from Neil Gaiman’s input, this was an awesome movie. The visuals were stunning! The acting was wonderful – there was just the right balance of scenery chewing and subtlety. And I have never seen costuming and special effects work together so well before – with the way they did the witch’s magic, her incredibly awkward dress totally worked because it matched the smokey magic effect and made it looks like she was trailing off into vapours at the edges – and both were enhanced by the other. I loved that the pretty pretty princess looked like a real person, and beautiful. I loved that one of the essential parts of becoming a hero was acquiring Keanu Reeve’s hair – I had never understood before. Robert De Niro was great, but I really wanted to squish his first mate’s cheeks – who was he? OH! – well, this movie really suited him.
Kiss of the Spider Woman
This movie has been available for me to watch ever since it was released and we had a copy on Beta. Finally got around to it.
First off. I hate William Hurt. Far too many times, I have gone into a movie really excited that it will have John Hurt in it, only to be tricked into having to watch William Hurt, instead. Not a fair substitution, I tell you! I think he managed to single-handedly ruin the last third of History of Violence, which would have been one of my favorite movies, if only they had cast someone other than William Hurt. I don’t like his voice, his mannerisms, the way he manages to be smugly modest, and he has stupid hair. Or I might just be projecting that all because I am bitter that he isn’t John Hurt.
And the movie starts off with William Hurt’s voice talking painfully slowly he’s really savouring his own nasal tone, and I almost turned it off right there. But my mother has been trying to get me to watch this movie for years, so I kept going.
I sure was glad that my closest neighbors have moved because I was a bit embarrassed at times to have, “Faggot,” shouted out through my windows so frequently – not a polite movie.
But it was a good movie. I liked how the characters developed and didn’t compromise. I liked how the story was built up in layers that seemed superficial but weren’t.
I have an urge to rewrite bits of it. On the other hand, I like that I have to fight the text at that point.
Saga of the whole wheat banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
It all started with overripe bananas. And I was going to make banana bread, but I always make banana bread. So I looked through my cookbooks for something new to bake with bananas.
I have checked out from the library a cookbook for Clueless Bakers, and it had a recipe for whole wheat banana peanut butter cookies. What could go wrong?
So I started off following the recipe exactly, and the recipe said that throwing in chocolate chips would cause nothing but good things, so I did that.
The result? Lumpy, grainy, yucky cookies of blech!
I thought back to the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had, and they had been made from a fairly thin batter with melted chocolate drops on top. So I went to the store to buy Hershey’s Kisses, and I set out to thin the batter.
I looked in my fridge and decided that the small cup of vanilla yogurt would be the perfect choice, after all I was planning to put yogurt (plain) in the banana bread, if I made it, and a bit of vanilla would do wonders for the taste. I also decided that a teaspoon of powdered ginger would also do wonders for the taste, so I added that.
The batter was thin and spread out just the way I wanted, but it didn’t get crispy at all. The outside was cooked, but the inside was still mushy – and they were thin now!
Apparently, yogurt was the wrong choice. When I called my mother to whine about my cookies, she said that I should have used an egg but that a dairy product would trap too much moisture.
The Hershey’s Kisses were also not as charming as the chocolate drops made special for the other recipe because they didn’t melt – the just got a bit droopy around the edges but maintained their shape perfectly even after baking. Creepy. Possibly, I should have been tipped off by the paper tags under the foil that said, “Oops,” and, “I hate Mondays!”
At least the dough was tasty. If it weren’t for cultural indoctrination against salmonella, I’d prefer to eat most cookies as dough.
Nevermind, I packed up the entire lot of them and left them in the staff room for people to try.
I’m good at savoury food, but for some reason I am bizarrely incompetent at baked goods.
ETA: The free cookies at work were not tempting enough at all – at the end of the day, I ended up throwing out half of them.