Saturday, August 30, 2008

I <3 Sarah Palin

What's not to love?

  • She's so anti-choice, she wants abortion criminalized in cases of rape and incest.
  • She wants Creationism taught in science classes.
  • She supported Pat Buchanan in 2000.
  • She is a climate change denier.
  • She's been governor for one and half years, and has zero national or international experience.
  • She would be next in line to deal with Putin and the rest of the world behind an ailing and aged John McCain.
On the other hand, she would be a good model for Lenscrafters, should the whole right wing VP thing not work out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Campaign for Change

Monday at noon I start working (volunteering) for the Barak Obama's Campaign for Change in Oregon City. I don't know what took me so long, but after donating about as much as I could, it was time to do some work for the campaign.

Last night Alison and I went to a great MoveOn "Yes We Can Party" party at a neighbor's here in Lake Oswego. We watched the best speech in my lifetime (and I'm 52) as Barak accepted the nomination. The only questionable moment was when I tried a cherry flavored beer....

It was great to be clapping, cheering, and tearing up in a party of people eating hot dogs and doing the same. The entire convention has been inspiring, and it was great sharing the culimation with my neighbors. As we left, I kept saying, "It's up to us now."

So I went to and signed up last night. Monday can't come too soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

John Marvin for President?

My stealth campaign.

Forest Mage

I first met Robin Hobb at the Tacoma's Writer's Convention in 2004. She sat at our table, and I was a total dolt. I hadn't read her yet, so was a bit tongue tied. I asked her about breaking into writing, and she suggested getting a few short stories published before trying to sell a novel. Good advice, taken badly:

"I don't like short stories." I told her. "I don't read them, I don't want to read them, I wish they would just go away. My ideas can't fit into a short story."

I am such an idiot. And now, when I'm not writing short stories, I'm often reading Robin Hobb.

Forest Mage (The Soldier Son Trilogy, Book 2)Forest Mage by Robin Hobb

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This sequel to Shaman's Crossing was a bit of a let down. I don't mind when a book takes its own good time, but this was glacial.

Many authors will use narrative time to skip ahead, but Robin Hobb teased the reader with lines like "It was twenty days before..." and you think you are about to skip twenty days. But no. "On the first day..." "The second day..." and so on.

If you use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey model, this book, and the first, find the protagonist stuck in the Refusal of the Call for two, thick, slow, books.

On the other hand, the details were great, the characters felt real, and the magic was new, different, and magical. And the book is about something. The tension between nature and civilization. Between two conflicting rules of conduct. Yes, even good and evil, and the big grey/green area in between.

If you have time, and you enjoyed the first book, I'd say keep going. If you want to see her at her best, try the Tawny Man trilogy, starting with Fool's Errand.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pashazade Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a great read.

In an alt-Alexandria (Egypt, not Virginia, and part of an Ottoman empire that lasts past the present day and into the near future), a minor Seattle criminal finds himself treated as royalty and gets implicated in murder. He has very little idea of who he is supposed to be, and there is dangerous conspiracies on all sides.

Much of the book is told in flashback, where we learn of his past in Seattle. I found these tedious at first. He seemed more three dimensional in the book's present of El Iskandryria than the spaced out small time crook in Seattle. As the book goes on, you get a better sense of him in both places, and the flashbacks stopped annoying me, and I became engaged in both threads.

The setting contained a nice mix of historic plus modern Muslim with a cyberpunky youth culture and high tech surveillance. The protagonist is the classic outsider, but with the twist of everyone thinks he's a high powered insider.

The plot is very noir detective, and the characters end up very memorable and over the top.

I will definitely read Jon Courtenay Grimwood again.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kennedy at the Podium

Watching Senator Ted Kennedy speak at the Democratic convention last night flipped all my emotional buttons. I was sad, moved, happy, and enraged.

There was a man with terminal brain cancer whose doctor told him not to go to Denver, whose wife asked him not to go, who checked himself out of the hospital and took the stage and gave a great speech. While he did praise Obama as a commander in chief who would never commit our servicemen and women to a mistake, "but always to a mission worthy of their bravery," his main focus was on health care.

Which is what really made me mad. Listen to each of his lines, delivered with force, he did not say what was on my mind.

What was taking America so long? Why had he spent his life pushing the rock of universal health care uphill? What is wrong with us? Health care is a basic human right. This should have been done long before Kennedy grew old...

Friday, August 22, 2008


The Complete Persepolis The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this after listening to Marjane Satrapi speak in Portland: http://johnwsmarvin.blogspot.c...

This is one powerful story. Marjane is a very intelligent person and a great storyteller who lived through the Iranian revolution and watched it turn against her and her family. When war with Iraq breaks out her parents send her to she study abroad in Austria where she becomes unhinged, lost in a culture she can't relate to. Back in Iran the war grinds to a halt, as she becomes a mature woman.

The stark black and white comics look fits her story. She must cover herself in black to go out on the streets. The simplicity of pen and ink draws you into the facial expressions and the eyes that take all this history in.

Some events that Americans are very familiar with are new again when told from her Iranian perspective. When Kuwait is invaded by Iraq the Iranian mood was one of relief that they were out of the war. She is propositioned by a Kuwaiti "refugee" in a big car who assumes she must be a prostitute even though she wears the veil because she is alone and drinking a coke.

She has boyfriends, sex, and a husband. Eventually she leaves for France, where she take up art studies and produces this book.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Children of Chaos

Children of Chaos Children of Chaos by Dave Duncan

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a fun and fast read, but ultimately lightweight. It's the first part of a two part story, and it never really engaged me.

The setting is a twelve sided world. At the start of the book, a group of children are taken from one of the pentagonal faces to another, as war hostages. The siblings are split up, and the book takes place years later, after they have all grown up among their people's occupiers.

Each chapter uses one of the children as its point of view character. The plot is fairly simple, which can be fine, but so are the characters. One of the characters, the sculptor, is so unconcerned about his own life that it was very hard for me to care about him either.

The sister is the most interesting character, as she pursues forbidden magic in order to survive in a nest of vipers.

There are some nice twists, but ultimately I found the book overly simple. As far as I could tell, it wasn't about anything.

On the up side, it moves fast and is written in a clear and direct style. This is my first Dave Duncan, I enjoyed it, and will try him again.

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