Monthly Archives: May 2009

Kindle 2: Shiny Gadget Fun

 Kindle 2’s been out for a while.  Others have had plenty of time to review it, but I honestly threw it on my birthday gift list without waiting to hear from anyone.  So mid-March, I cheerfully unpacked my own.  I actually waited until after I’d used it for a couple of books to read what anyone else has to say.  I was also fairly uninformed about the first version of Kindle – it had been too pricey for what it offered, as far as I was concerned.  I offer the following comparison reviews for your own reading:  Engadget, CNET,  and Gearlive.  Having never touched the original Kindle, my own observations can’t address the differences.  I will say that Kindle 2 is a very fun gizmo.  Its lack of a carrying case is a pretty large failing point, since it’s so tiny for it to easily slide behind other things or easily escape notice, resulting in many a panic attack when you realize you can’t find your super expensive, shiny gizmo ON TOP of the flash drive that got away.  Along the same lines, the size is a double-edged sword.  It is completely awesome when you’re trying to conceal the fact that you’re reading at work in class at inappropriate times.  Most of the reactions I got from people who did take enough notice to comment on it were strongly leaning toward the curious.  A few people thought it was a game, though I’m not sure why, since off the top of my head I can’t come up with any game worth its salt that can be played simply by off-hand taps of the thumb.  At any rate, by this point the "Oooh!  Shiny gadget!" factor has had time to wear off, so I can give a perspective without being blinded by the novelty.  As I said, the size is really cool from a gadget standpoint…but without a carrying case, it could easily get lost among other things – especially if, like me, you carry enough in your purse to survive a week in the wilderness.  The biggest issue I had (and have continued to have) arose because the Kindle 2 was a gift.  My mother purchased it with her own Amazon account, which made life very confusing when I tried to use it to purchase books.  I know they say that you can just log in to your own account and put some number in or something, but it was a little more complicated than that for me.  I still haven’t quite gotten to the point that I can purchase directly from the Kindle 2 – but I can certainly send it books I purchase while on my laptop.  The screen is amazing.  I get headaches from certain light bulbs.  I get headaches from staring at the computer screen – in fact, I feel one coming on right now.  It’s fair to say I was extremely doubtful about the Kindle 2’s ability to actually eliminate that factor from my reading words on a screen.  My fears were completely unfounded.  Entirely.  The screen is fantastic.  It reads like paper.  It reads better than other e-book gadgets I’ve glanced at, so good job, Amazon!  The ability to make notes and highlight passages is also very cool.  I probably would have given an arm and a leg to have had one of these in college….loaded up with my textbooks.  My back would have thanked me, and it would have added an extra entertainment factor to the reading I was assigned.  Also, I could have avoided the hassle of carrying non-academic books to and from various dorm rooms, many being lost in the process.  I would have been equally thankful to have one during the "Katrina semester," when I was relocated to Chicago to continue school thanks to certain unpleasant conditions in New Orleans.  Riding the El is often either boring or uncomfortable, and I had to keep borrowing other people’s books or re-reading my own.  It would’ve been great to have a much less bulky alternative.  For the sake of college students everywhere, all textbooks should be available through Kindle.  The controls can be a little confusing at first, but that may also be because I’m more of a "play with it ‘til it does stuff" person as opposed to a "read the manual first" sort of gadget-lover.  It didn’t take long to figure out, and in all honesty, the only control complaint I can make is that the page-turning keys take a little too much pressure…but only a tad.  I’m not saying everyone should go out and buy one.  The thing costs a fortune.  At the same time, if you have some gift-worthy event approaching (graduation, birthday, Flag Day, Tuesday), it’s worth trading out several smaller gifts for this pricier one.  The same goes for those of you who may have to give gifts for graduations, birthdays, Flag Days, or Tuesdays – think Kindle 2 before you go on a scavenger hunt, especially if you know the recipient has a book collection too large for his or her book storage furniture to handle.(if you’re not paying for it)(if it’s coming out of your own pocket) […]

By |May 4th, 2009|MyBlog|0 Comments|

Shatnerquake!

 Right up there with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on the idea-so-bizarre-it’s-brilliant scale, we find this gem of a book. I have not read it, but the product description is too delightful not to share: It’s the first ShatnerCon with William Shatner as the guest of honor! But after a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians, a crazy terrorist cult that worships Bruce Campbell, all of the characters ever played by William Shatner are suddenly sucked into our world. Their mission: hunt down and destroy the real William Shatner. Featuring: Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker, Denny Crane, Rescue 911 Shatner, Singer Shatner, Shakespearean Shatner, Twilight Zone Shatner, Cartoon Kirk, Esperanto Shatner, Priceline Shatner, SNL Shatner, and – of course – William Shatner! No costumed con-goer will be spared in their wave of destruction, no redshirt will make it out alive, and not even the Klingons will be able to stand up to a deranged Captain Kirk with a lightsaber. But these Shatner-clones are about to learn a hard lesson…that the real William Shatner doesn’t take crap from anybody. Not even himself.  Muahahaha! It’s worth the $9.95 price tag just in sheer camp value. No matter who wins, Shatner still takes a beating.    […]

Jane Austen Boxing Match, Round #1,736

 You know how literary-minded girls sometimes sit around and put their favorite Jane Austen novels in order?  There’s the obvious ‘order by favorite novel’ list.  Then there’s the ‘order by favorite leading lady.’  If you like a little pepper in your diet, there’s ‘order by leading man I’d most likely shag were we ever  to meet in the real world.’  Or, my personal favorite, ‘order by villain I’d most likely shag were we ever to meet in the real world.’  Herrherrr.  There are so many possible ways to arrange them, and since there are only six novels, you can do it over and over again.  Normal people think about Jane Austen books like this all the time and– What?  They don’t?  You’ve never done that? Hm.  Well, I’ll have to ask you to bear with me and my insanity for just a little while. What I was about to point out was that, while it’s really fun to think about which books you like, it’s even more fun to think about the film and TV adaptations.  See, Austen only completed 6 novels.  But lets just think about how many adaptations we have to choose from. *counts on fingers* … *counts some more* … Wow.  That’s a whole heck of a lot.  Filming Austen novels is one of the most brilliant things mankind has ever done with technology.  There. I said it.  I mean, what else would we have to do if we couldn’t sit around and argue about which Mr. Darcy is better?  There’s Laurence Olivier (*sizzle*) in a horrifically unauthentic adaptation, Colin Firth (*rawrrr*) in an almost too literal adaptation and then Matt McFadyen (*swoon*) in the sweeping not-as-literal-but-gorgeous-to-look-at adaptation.  I know there are even more Darcys (Darcies?) than I mentioned here, but I’m sure you understand how the fun begins. You see, that argument is only about Pride and Prejudice.  The arguments about cinematic vs. television adaptations of Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility are still raging, especially since ITV recently released a rash of brand new and very beautiful miniseries with hot new actors in the beloved roles.  It’s been so fun to play a rousing game of ‘Spot the Doctor Who Guest Star’ as we watch the new versions.  In all honesty, there have been so many screen versions (more than 10 of P&P alone!) that I have trouble formulating my opinions about them all. For this reason I’ve rather enjoyed the lull during this last year while the Austen films paused and Masterpiece Theatre graced us with the exquisite version of Dickens’ Little Dorrit.  I’m all for adaptations and I do believe what I said about them being the best thing to happen to mankind since the pocket protector; however, the debate over ‘best version’ does get tiring and we all need time to regroup and rest up for the next round. Well, my literary geek darlings – lace up your boxing gloves, because here we go again. In this round we have a brand new and shiny adaptation of Emma set for a UK release in the fall of 2009.  I know, I know.  Did we really need another adaptation after the great BBC version starring Kate Beckinsale and the completely cheesy and inaccurately adorable cinematic version starring Gwyneth Paltrow?  I suppose that BBC execs thought they just couldn’t live without blessing the world at large with one more.   So, I shook out my shoulders, toweled my brow and got ready for the news as it came. First up was casting news.   There were countless speculations and debates online about who should play Mr. Knightley.  Richard Armitage’s name came up.  Oh, sweet mercy, how I love that man.  James Purefoy’s name came up.  Mmmm.  Yeah.  I could have gotten really comfy with that choice, too.  See, George Knightley is my Jane Austen Love Match.  If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it.  Suffice it to say that I care very much about who plays the role in a new adaptation. Of course, I never expected them to cast Jonny Lee Miller.   Sure, he’s done Austen before and I’ve enjoyed him as an actor, but… *scratches head*   I guess I’ll just have to close my eyes and trust them on this one.    The rest of the production info is quite exciting, starting with Romola Garai in the title role.  She is a bit old, but who doesn’t love her to death?  Her performance in Amazing Grace is one of the best things I’ve seen in a costume drama, and I’m excited to see what she’ll do.  I’m also glad to see Dumbledore Michael Gambon on the cast list as I think he will be a delightful Mr. Woodhouse. However, I believe the best thing about this series will prove to be the screen writer.  Sandy Welch is a genius who wrote the screenplays for my very favorite TV adaptations including Gaskell’s North and South, Brontë’s  Jane Eyre, and Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend.  I’m thrilled that she is the pen behind this new version of Emma, as it can only mean good things for the series. In spite of everything this miniseries has going for it, we as the fans continue to bicker and harangue.  After all, a Jane Austen boxing match would be no good without a knock-down drag-out fight, would it?  A set of pictures taken during filming surfaced last week and fed the roaring flames of debate.  Here’s a sample (Romola Garai and Jodhi May as Emma and Miss Taylor, respectively):   As you can imagine, the Austen corner of the internet immediately went crazy.  Is  Emma too frumpy?  (ooo! Are they at a book sale?)  What’s with her hair?  And that wacky hat?  Are they going dowdy to be more realistic?   Is that even dowdy?  Oh no, is this director going to have hogs walking through the scenes like Joe Wright did in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice??   Hey, I liked the hogs!!  Oh, the HORROR!  The thrill of the argument!! *DING* Looks like this round has begun.  Try not to get blood on my DVD collection. […]

X-Men Origins: Only for Use by People With Severe ADD

Wow.  I really don’t know where to begin here. Well, I didn’t get kicked out of the theater.  That’s always a plus.  Sadly, the reason I didn’t get kicked out was that I was too busy trying to process what the hell was going on and attempting to make logical connections between Wolverine and the other X-men movies, since presumably they take place in the same universe.  Please know that THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.  I cannot explain the choppy, discombobulated nature of this film without spoilers.    […]

By |May 1st, 2009|MyBlog|4 Comments|