Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Watching

There are lots of fine Christmas themed movies out there, but before I get to those, I want to mention one episode of a T.V. show that is one of the best Christmas themed shows I've seen in a long time:
The T.V. show is MacGyver, and the episode in question is The Madonna from Season 5.
The episode blurb from the season is:
A mysterious homeless woman comes to stay at the Challenge Center, and with her pocketful of miracles, ends up teaching MacGyver and the kids the true meaning of Christmas.
The blurb:
MacGyver faces a busy Christmas Eve: he tries to help a priest reclaim a stolen Madonna figure, aids Cynthia in keeping the Challenger Club's doors open, and comes to the rescue of a bag lady preyed upon by thieves.
To be honest, I prefer the first blurb, but either way, this is an episode worth watching. I saw it a couple of weeks ago as part of watching the whole series through in order for the first time and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.
This is also the time of year for Christmas movies, and there are almost too many to count out there. Who can forget the Charlie Brown Christmas though?

That's a family tradition to watch, although I haven't gotten around to it yet this year.

How about A Christmas Carol? There are several versions of this movie out there, almost too many to count, but the most recent is the Disney version.
Another first for me this year was watching The Polar Express. Great music, and a very warming storyline, although I found the red/blue 3D glasses rather disconcerting to use. At least part of that though is that I wear glasses, and so don't really like any of the 3D glasses out there. Even so, it was quite the experience to see a movie at home in 3D - without needing any special technology.

What's your favorite Christmas movie or T.V. show?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013


I've started playing around with photomanipulation for the first time in about a decade. I'm reasonably happy with the end result I got on this first attempt too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Some photos

I haven't been doing a whole heck of a lot of reading lately. But, I have gotten back into editing and posting my photos, so here's a couple of them to tide you over until the next book review.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Take A Thief - Mercedes Lackey
Take A Thief
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright Date: 2002

The product description:
Skif, a young orphan living with a miserly uncle, is taken in by a gang of pickpockets and becomes a master of the thieves' trade, until he is chosen by one of Valdemar's magical horses and is transformed into a herald for the queen...
I hadn't realized Take A Thief came out so long ago. Skif is one of those characters who pops up in several of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar novels, including the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy (Arrows of the Queen, Arrow's Flight, Arrow's Fall), the Mage Winds books (Winds of Fate, Winds of Change and Winds of Fury). As a result, it's rather nice to know his story from the beginning.

We knew he was a thief, here's how he became one. And, how does a thief get chosen? Well, that's a funny story - one Skif didn't think was as funny at the time. I certainly did though. As I also did with the snorer's chorus he ran into on one of his adventures.

I definitely enjoyed the read (or re-read as it were), though as I said, I'd forgotten how long ago the book came out. I definitely hadn't read it in a while, so it was rather new again.

Take A Thief serves as a good introduction to the world of Valdemar if you're new to the series, explaining who the Heralds of Valdemar are, the Companions and the roles that both serve in the running of the kingdom. It's also a book that's good for anyone from young adult on into adult.

Monday, December 2, 2013

100 Books In A Year - 2014 Edition

IIRC, I couldn't find the official page for the 100 Books In A Year Challenge the last couple of years, so I'm glad to see it again at Book Chick City.

My reading's been a bit sporadic too over the last few years so I don't know if I'll make a hundred books next year but I'm going to try.

The rules for the challenge are:
Challenge Info
  • Timeline: 01 Jan 2014 – 31 Dec 2014
  • Rules: Read 100 books in 2014 (any genre)
  • You don’t have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront you can change them, nothing is set in stone! The books you choose can crossover into other challenges you have on the go.
  • You can join at anytime. All books read in 2014 count towards the challenge regardless of when you sign up.
  • Audiobooks are accepted.
  • Only fiction, no non-fiction.
  • This challenge can crossover with other challenges.
  • You don’t have to have a blog to join in – for those without a blog but who use Goodreads, Amazon, LibraryThing etc, you can add the URL to where you track your books. If you don’t have a URL at all then choose a name you would like to use and then copy and paste the following link:
  • At the beginning of each month I will be posting an open thread so you can discuss the books you’ve read and/or link up your reviews.
I never noticed the rule about no non fiction in previous years. That's going to make things a lot more difficult, as I've got two non-fiction challenges that I'm participating in, which I was hoping to overlap with this one. Not to mention, my reading of non-fiction has been growing while my fiction reading has been decreasing proportionally.

Oh well. We'll see how things go.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pre-Printing Press Challenge Start Date Reminder

Just a reminder, my Pre-Printing Press Challenge starts today.

Christmas Music - A Little Different

Now that December is on us, the stores are filled with Christmas - gift ideas, trees, red and green decorations, and of course, the music. I know I'm going to be heartily tired of the most common carols and tunes by the time Christmas rolls around - simply from hearing them day in and day out for the next three and a bit weeks.

On the other hand, I'm firmly into Christmas mode myself and need something to keep the mood up. Despite the repetition, it's the music that does it the best - but not always the traditional Christmas music.

These are some of my favorite Christmas albums:

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is on here twice, because their albums are so different. Each one tells a story as the music progresses, which makes it interesting listening. At the same time though, it's possible to tune out the story and just listen to the music - which is what I've been doing as I write Christmas letters this year. These are definitely NOT your traditional carols, although they are the carols for the most part. There's a gorgeous rendition of The Holly and the Ivy on one of the two discs - just to name one of the many songs.

My favorite is Christmas Eve and Other Stories and the story it tells.

The Enya album is, for the most part, a collection of winter themed songs, though there are a few Christmas ones on there, including a gorgeous version of Silent Night.

Loreena Mckennitt has an album of traditional Christmas songs including Good King Wenceslas, The Holly and The Ivy, the Coventry Carol etc. All of them are done in her signature style too. Very different from the standard Christmas music you hear in the stores for the most part. One of the best value Cd's I've seen in a while too, with seventeen tracks.

Sarah Brightman's A Winter Symphony album is another one that changes the mood from that found in stores to something a bit more contemplative and classical. The first few times I heard the first track though, I was puzzled. It took me a little while to figure it out, but the "Arrival" track on this album is the title track for the Arrival album by ABBA. Different lyrics though. I love this album.

Boney M does a Christmas album that's more or less the standard Christmas songs you hear on the radio, but done in their own style. Their Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord is one of my favorite Christmas songs - and, to be honest, it's a song I've been known to put on during the rest of the year too.

Sting's Christmas/Winter album is one that reminds me of the Loreena Mckennit one I've listed earlier. Some of the songs on here are traditional British, and the others are his own compositions. This was the first Sting album I ever listened to as well, and still my favorite of his.


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