Bits and Pieces

A wonderful article about women writers in Uganda, including a great quote from one of the premiere women writers in Uganda, Monica Arac de Nyeko:

As I start to understand myself better, as I change, as my disappointments, hopes and visions shape my thought, I find that writing has become like a quest for me, mostly to understand myself, to explain myself to myself and then to understand that around me, why things are the way they are.

My writing is shaped by these battles which are my own, yet my anger and my quests are all so tied to my identify, history, my memory of many things, but especially of home the way it was and is with the war, the poverty.

As a writer, my own internal battles shape my motives and interaction with my audience to whom I try to offer an alternative for consideration, I question, I challenge, sometimes I rant, and shout and demand to be heard because in this space where so many things seem to be going wrong, I feel I have as much right to poke at people's thoughts with an offer of my own view of the way things should and can be/ It is my Uganda, my land, Africa, my world, my universe, too after all and it will be for my children.

Thank you to The Literary Saloon for the link. I've done some searching online, and unfortunately have not found a place in which I could purchase these books online or in the States. If anybody knows of a place, please let me know, it'd be really amazing for me to be able to read these new bright female voices from Uganda.

Hotel Steelers

Just a fun report on what the Steelers rules and requests are when they're staying in hotels on the road. My favorite is the "Heinz ketchup must be on tables at meal time" rule, ah, endorsements and all that BS just amuse me to no end.

Thank you to the Post-Gazette for that link.

A Quotable Threesome

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.
- Ralph W. Sockman
Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
- Gore Vidal
You probably wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.
- Olin Miller


The Sandman - Preludes & Nocturnes: A Review

The first volume of Neil Gaiman's famed Sandman series introduces us to the infamous Sandman. He is captured and imprisoned by a mere mortal by mistake, his capturer attempting to capture Death. In a quest to free himself and then regain his stolen possessions, The Sandman takes us to dark and interesting places. He seeks revenge and he gives relief. He visits hell and travels through people's dreams. He is The Sandman.

With art that is vivid and immaculate, the first Sandman book is dark and at times disturbing. The story is imaginative and makes you feel like you're watching a horror movie. Especially at the beginning of the book, you can almost hear the scary horror music in the background. It carries that creepy factor well throughout the book and pushes the line of creepy sometimes to just disturbing and icky. But it is well done and a really fun and interesting read. Of course if you're prone to nightmares, I wouldn't read this right before you go to bed as I did. The images definitely stick in your head and could haunt your dreams... if only you could call The Sandman to you...



The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: A Review

I had read and loved Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. It was beautifully written, the plot was imaginative and huge and the characters were memorable and interesting. Other than one weird part of the book that takes place in Antarctica or something that was kind of boring and didn't totally fit, the book was a masterpiece. So when I heard that they were making a movie out of Chabon's first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I thought I should check it out before the movie came out.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh started out a bit slow. The writing was great and the characters interesting, but it seemed plotless and aimless, much like the main character's, Art Bechstein, plans for life. But then it picks up speed and doesn't slow down. As Art becomes entangled in a love triangle with a man and a woman, self exploration and sexual identity become the moving force of the novel. Then the mysteries of his father's work and the tragic death of his mother begin to shape events as Art's friend, Cleveland, gets involved in the underground work that Art's father is involved in. In a novel about love, trust and secrets, Chabon creates extremely realistic and yet unique characters who are the heart of the novel. A novel about the decisions we make in life that propel us in one direction or another and the consequences of these decisions.

I cannot praise Chabon's writing enough. He's simply a master. The fact that this was his first published novel amazes me. His prose is flawless, unique and beautiful. As a writer, I'm desperately jealous. I'm a little unsure of whether or not I liked the ending of the book. It works, but I guess I was a little disappointed and wished that certain characters had turned out differently. The strained relationship between Art and his father was one that I wish had been fleshed out more and one that I wanted to end up somewhere different. That is my only regret in a book that was daring and full of life and honesty. I'm a little nervous to watch the movie because they combined two of the main characters and made another set married that wasn't in the book. I'm not sure if I like those moves, but I'll have to see the movie when it comes out to see how they do with it.

Overall, this is the ultimate coming of age story, full of very Pittsburgh-y settings and all the confused feelings of growing up. It's also a tribute to those people in your past who make a huge impact on who you are and that you carry with you even after they're out of your life. For a book that has been compared to such classics as Adventures of Huck Finn and The Catcher in the Rye, it is definitely worth reading and already a classic in its own right.



Quotes of the Day

Character is what you have left when you've lost everything you can lose.
- Evan Esar

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
- Robert Frost


Search Words

I've read on many other blogs how their blogs have been found with certain odd search word combinations... today I was checking my site meter and found that somebody discovered my blog with this word combination:

amy big brother glamour model karma calendar


Quote of the Day

The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.
- Robert Jackson


Steelers Win In A Convincing Way

Alright, alright, I know. It was just a meaningless preseason game, but either way, my Steelers looked good. Ben came out and in six plays drove down the field (flawlessly on his part) for about 80 yards and a touchdown with one 55 yard pass to Cedric Wilson. Then Ben was out. But Wilson stayed in for much of the first half, backing up his complaints of not getting thrown the ball much he played a great game with four receptions for 99 yards. He was basically catching anything thrown to him and making a strong statement to his QBs... throw to me and I will catch. Nate Washington, the WR from Tiffin U, Ohio whom everone has been talking up in training camp as going to have his break out year was disappointing. The first pass his way he let slip right out of his hands and continued to miss a couple of more passes his way, although one of them was back-up QB St. Pierre's fault, most were Washington's. He seemed to lack confidence and looked out of his element as he missed the passes thrown to him, and although he ended up catching at least one (I can't remember if he even caught more than that) he definitely hurt his position last night and disappointed the many Steelers fans (and players I'm sure) looking for that tall deep threat. However, Santonio Holmes who didn't see much action the first half of the game got some balls later including a 3 yard TD from St. Pierre. He also had an impressive diving catch on a short toss by St. Pierre. I'm looking forward to seeing Holmes come into his own and am expecting him to have a break out year, rather than Washington after watching last night's game.

Our defense looked sharp and our second round pick Woodley was impressive, matching the high praise I've been hearing about him from training camp. Timmons didn't play due to his groin injury. Rookie CB William Gay from Louisville had a sweet hit against Saints WR Meachem and later intercepted a ball... causing awe and excitement among Steelers faithful who haven't seen a CB who can actually catch a ball for years (Sorry Ikey boy).

With Willie Parker out due to swelling in his knees, we got to see a lot of our back up RBs, a couple of them unknown to me. Davenport was average at best as was Barlow. However, it was the unheard-ofs that interested me. FB Carey Davis and RB Gary Russell showed some promise and I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of them running with the 1st and 2nd strings to see how well they perform.

The major worry for me is again, our Special Teams. Even though now we have a plethora of Special Team coaches, Reed missed an easy field goal and should consider cutting back his crazy partying a bit. Actually, I'm hoping next year we draft a field goal kicker in the later rounds and give him some competition. Our return game was pretty sorry, with muffed punts, dropped balls and had little return yardage. Our hope that Willie Reid was the answer to our return woes has not come to fruition... yet. I still have hope that it will improve throughout the preseason. I can dream, right?

Final Score: Saints - 7 : 20 - Steelers

A Double Vampire Book Review.

Since both are Vampire stories and both were very short, I thought I'd be lazy and throw these two books into one review.

Tales of the Slayers by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon is a short comic book about the past slayers, before Buffy Summers. As an avid vampire lore lover and a complete Buffy addict, this was a great read! It's not too long but has some good stories and some interesting art depicting the slayers of the past. A fun read and a must if you're a Buffy fan as I am most obviously am.


The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike was a reread by me. I know what you're thinking, Christopher Pike is only one step above R.L. Stine, and I'll admit, I went through my R.L. Stine/Christopher Pike phase, but I got over it and gave most of those books away. However, Pike's Last Vampire series I always kept due to my love of vampire stories. I hadn't read these books since Junior High and thought what the heck, let's see if they are still any good. The Last Vampire was a very quick and easy read, but entertaining. It is well plotted and dives into many different levels of emotion and history involved with the main character, Sita, who has been a vampire for five thousand years and was made a vampire by the first vampire. It was a fun read and I'm glad I read it. Although it didn't compel me to read the rest of the series right away, I may pick at them here and there during my required reread every five books.



The Amber Spyglass: A Review

The Amber Spyglass, the last of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, is a stunning novel that has moved and challenged me.

I must say that I'm very impressed by the daring and intelligence of this series. For those parents scared to challenge their children's thoughts and imaginations in the form of Harry Potter, this series is perhaps their worst nightmare. However, for those parents who would like to challenge and stretch the minds of their children so that they grow into more conscious and insightful beings, then this series is a gift. For this series challenged me in ways that stretched me and made me grow, and I don't know if you all noticed out there, but I'm not a kid anymore. The gifts that this series can give to children are numerous and I know that my children will read this as soon as it is appropriate for their age. And if they won't read it then I will read it to them.

In an unfolding tale leading to what you anticipate to be a difficult choice for our beloved heroine, Lyra, Pullman paints the world as it is (with of course a few added other-world creatures): not black and white, good and evil as many would like to believe in order to make the world more manageable and simple. But in grays and indefinites. Those who were evil are in fact not, those who are good falter and make mistakes. And in the end love doesn't conquer all, it just partly does the job and then the actions of people have to take it the rest of the way.

In a novel full of adventure and learning, it is clear Pullman's message. That it isn't blindly following the church that will keep our wonderful universe in balance and at peace, it's being conscious, happy, loving, thoughtful, intelligent and caring beings. It is caring about the fate of the other people in your, and other, worlds and not about just your own desires and wants. And in this leaves the decision of our heroine and the heartbreaking lesson that is contained in this book.

In a way I still am not sure that I grasp all of the parts of the lesson, and it makes me feel slightly embarrassed. After all, I'm an adult and this is a children's novel (perhaps more specifically young adult), shouldn't I know all the lessons already and being at an age now that I can grasp all the intricacies that are in a series meant for children? Well, I have to say that Pullman is skillful and intelligent in this series, leaving many subtleties and complex ideas lingering in the series that will take any child, or adult, a while to grasp and to ponder. Perhaps the series is written imaginatively with an aim for children, but the story and ideas are for all ages and I'm happy to say that it has stretched my mind in a new way to look at the world and I'm better for it.

And of course, with the end of any series, I'm profoundly sad that it is over.

And I will be left with many long nights pondering what my daemon is. Do you know what yours is?



Tragedy In My Hometown.

A great tragedy has happened in Minneapolis, MN where I was born and in the state that I grew up in. My roots are deep there and I still have Family and Friends there, some of which I haven't been able to get a hold of since the phone lines are always busy when I try. I've had to resort to emailing those I care about in the city and pray that they email me back. My mother told me that when I was little we lived only five minutes from that bridge. A bridge collapsing is so unexpected that it does feel as if from a movie, but it wasn't a movie and four are already confirmed dead with 20-30 people still missing. The pictures and accounts of this tragedy are enough to make me cry.

Please read about the survivors' experiences, look at the devastating pictures and watch the videos. All we can do from this far away is to send our support and love.

Thank you to Speedcat for providing the links.

The Subtle Knife: A Review

The Subtle Knife, the second book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, was so tense and thrilling that I only took a day to finish it, even though it was slightly longer then The Golden Compass.

TSK continues the complex plot by taking us back to a world very familiar to us, our own world. There we meet Will, a daring boy who meets Lyra while running from some strange men into the world that she enters at the end of TGC book. The world, Cittagazze, that they meet is riddled with evil soul-eating Specters, but they are safe for the moment since it only attacks adults. The mysteries surrounding Dust are exemplified in this book as the scientific meets the spiritual and religious. As the different parts of the purpose for Lyra and Will begin to shape itself, there is intrigue and surprises in store. Indeed, Pullman sets the story up well where the characters still surprise you and it leaves you unsure as to what will happen in the end. You know that certain choices will have to be made by certain characters, but it is impossible to know what choice they will make. And it's even unclear what the right choice will be for them to make.

By the end of the book, sacrifices are made and the many worlds are all at the brink of war. It was impossible for me to not start the last book of the series immediately after finishing TSK, and it's been hard for me to put it down. This series is epic and intelligent, challenging us in the way we see religion, science, life and love. It is a smart book, carefully and brilliantly plotted and well written. The characters are complex, believable and compelling and although sometimes Pullman has a knack for being over-descriptive in setting up the scene (which I suppose can be important for the many different worlds we encounter in the book since the scenes are so unfamiliar to us - I'm just impatient and want to get to the plot and to what happens next) the book moves quickly and had me tense and on the edge of my seat throughout it all.

The last review for the third and final book of the series may indeed come to you tomorrow at the rate I'm going.


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