On My Shelves: Holst’s _The Planets_

There are a few classical pieces known to almost everyone; Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (from graduations everywhere), Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor. Many more are known, but not always immediately recognized by name, as they get played in part or in whole in many different settings. But in the world of SF geeks, there are some with special significance, and of these, few could compete with Gustav Holst's The Planets, a suite of seven pieces each representing one of the major planets (other than [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Watchmen

Alan Moore and David Gibbon's Watchmen is, justifiably, a landmark in the comic-book universe, a carefully-planned attempt to analyze and deconstruct the standard superhero universe while, at the same time, staying true to some of its most powerful tropes. Watchmen was also made into a movie, which in my view managed to stick fairly close to the original miniseries/graphic novel, but of necessity had to cut out some rather important elements (discussed below). If you don't want spoilers galore, don't read any farther! The setting of Watchmen [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Girl Genius

Soldier: Herr Baron! We need you! All the experiments have either been let loose or turned on! And everything's on FIRE! Baron Wulfenbach(facepalming): Unbelievable.   Agatha Clay is having a bad day. In the steampunk city of Beetleburg, where she's a not-very-good student at Transylvania Polygnostic Institute, she encounters a strange electrical anomaly, runs from that, is robbed by two out-of-work soldiers who steal the locket that's her only memento of her parents, and arrives – late – to discover that Baron Wulfenbach, ruler of [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Calvin and Hobbes

     "Spiff coolly draws his deathray blaster…"   For ten years – starting in late 1985 and going through the end of 1995 – readers of the comic pages were treated to the (mis)adventures of grade-schooler Calvin, his (usually) walking and talking stuffed tiger Hobbes, his long-suffering mother and sometimes clueless father, next-door girl Susie, schoolyard bully Moe, and a host of other chracters in Calvin and Hobbes. Someone growing up after that era – especially today – probably has a hard time understanding the way things worked [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Grand Theft Auto 5 (a partial review)

I was given this game for Christmas (2016) and I suspect that was partially intended as a joke. Nonetheless, I did install and play the game to an extent. This will be a "partial" review because it's extremely unlikely I'll ever play the whole game through, mainly because its basic premise doesn't appeal. Of the two characters I've unlocked and played a bit of so far, one is a basically decent, but apparently kinda weak-willed, young man named Franklin – he seems to know that a lot of the things his friends/acquaintances get up to are Just [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves (the Net): The Arithmancer/Lady Archimedes

As those who know me can attest, I rarely read fanfiction. I've written an awful lot of it (a million words or so with Kathleen in our Saint Seiya/Samurai Troopers/DBZ universe, and more elsewhere), but it's really very infrequent that I find a fanfiction story that is worth my time to read, and most of it is deep in the past, such as Ryan Matthew's Dirty Pair fics or Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Ranma (multiple authors). Harry Potter fandom, by its sheer volume, could be expected to produce a few real gems. Naked Quidditch [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Rogue One

I was at first unsure as to whether I would see this movie, as I am – in general – unenthusiastic about prequels, and I knew this one would be dark (at least for a Star Wars movie). But for the last day of winter vacation I took the whole family to the movies, and this is the one we chose. Capsule Summary: Rogue One tells the story of the events that lead up to the original Star Wars – the people and actions that eventually put the Death Star plans in the hands of Princess Leia Organa. This is a classic war story set in the Star Wars [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University

I've watched a lot of Pixar's output over the years, and never been disappointed, but for various reasons I'd missed both of these when they came out; Monsters, Inc. because of budget and timing constraints (and I never had a copy around the house to watch when I was at leisure later), and Monsters University because, well, it was a follow-on and I didn't see a point in watching it without having watched the first one. However, I've finally been able to watch them, courtesy of my friend Eric Palmer, and thus can review them! Both films [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Doctor Strange

Well, technically "soon to be on my shelves" since the movie hasn't been released to video yet!      Capsule summary: A near-perfect adaptation of the origin of Doctor Strange, updated without losing what made it work in the first place. Excellent acting, fine pacing, and clever scripting make this one of the better Marvel offerings, with only a few relatively minor flaws marring what is otherwise a stellar work. Cumberbatch was made to play Doctor Strange, continuing an amazing streak of beautiful casting decisions by Marvel. I look forward [ Continue reading... ]

Under the Influence: The Black Stallion

When I was young, there were quite a few things that interested me, but aside from reading, I had two personal passions: volcanoes… and horses. I loved horses. I had multiple horse models. I imitated horses. And I read about horses, read stories about horses, fictional horses and real horses, racehorses and wild horses, little prehistoric Eohippus all the way to the many modern breeds that ranged from tiny miniature ponies to the gigantic Shire workhorses. One of the only live shows of any kind that I insisted on attending when I was young [ Continue reading... ]