Thursday, June 30, 2022

Watch the Skies!

Today (June 30th) is International Asteroid Day.  It was founded in 2016 to raise public awareness of the asteroid impact hazard.  Of course, anyone who watches movies knows about the asteroid impact hazard.  But they might also think that you can send some miner up into space to save mankind.  So maybe we need International Asteroid Day to create a balance between science fiction and actual science.  

Watching Asteroid vs Earth might be a fun way to celebrate International Asteroid Day but it certainly will not help with that balance.  I'm not sure there is any actual science in this movie.

Asteroid vs Earth starring Tia Carrere and Jason Brooks

When a planet killing asteroid is discovered on a collision course with Earth, the military and scientists need to come up with a plan to avoid the impact.  Even if they have to move the Earth to do it.

With a name like Asteroid vs Earth you are not expecting an Oscar winning movie.  But it would be nice if you got the feeling someone was at least trying to make a coherent plot.  The science here is suspect at best.  It is impossible to move the asteroid enough to save Earth so, let's move Earth.  The US general immediately accepts this idea even though it is pitched by some arrogant, cocky, young guy he has never met before.  The question of what that will do to Earth is not brought up.  Will Earth still be in orbit around the Sun?  Who knows.  Apparently no one cares.  There is a group of soldiers schlepping nuclear warheads all over the globe.  One moment one man can barely shift one because they are so heavy and the next moment he is carrying two by pressing them to his chest with one hand on each.  I could go on but I think you get the idea.   There is also some overacting going on.  And I think Robert Davi's talent is wasted here.  If they played this for laughs it might be fun, but everything is very serious.  And the big climax was anticlimactic.  It wasn't one of those good in a bad movie sort of way movies that I was hoping for.  The whole thing was just lackluster.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

It's Paul Bunyan Day!

Today (June 28th) is National Paul Bunyan Day!  To celebrate you could go chop down some trees but I think it might be better just to read some of the stories about him.

Paul Bunyan by James Stevens

A collection of stories about Paul Bunyan and his legendary feats.

This if fun.  It is one big, long, tall tale.  And as a tall tale everything is exaggerated and impossible things happen.  Everything is the biggest, tallest, toughest, coldest, strongest of its kind.  But that's what makes it fun.  Paul Bunyan, who came from Canada to the United States and became a Real American (along with his blue ox, of course) invents the logging industry and proceeds to move across the country felling trees, inventing great inventions (he invented algebra too), and having great thoughts.  He is so large a man he uses a tree for a pencil and when he goes hunting he carries the game home in his pockets.  He is also responsible for some rivers, coves and canyons along the way.  It is from another time so some of Paul's ideas might not be popular today.  For instance, Paul doesn't understand what women are good for because they are too frail to be loggers and when his men start writing poetry he calls it 'poison' and comes up with a plan to get them doing 'manly' things again.  But part of the story is how Paul's time has come and gone so you can assume the same of his ideas.  The book is full of crazy stories that sometimes get silly.  Once is got so cold (400 below) that the men's words froze in the air and the men had to be careful not to bump into them until they thawed out.  But outrageous, larger than life, impossible stories are what tall tales are all about.  And this book is full of very entertaining stories just like that.  I would say that if you like folk stories and tall tales this is a must read.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Everybody Likes To Win Stuff

 If you want to win a year supply of tree-free toilet paper go to Seek Bamboo.

Click here to enter.  It is a monthly giveaway so you have until the end of the month to enter.  But if you don't win try again next month.

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Cali Squeeze wants to give you a camera.  Click here to win a free custom Cali Squeeze camera.  Ends June 30th, 2022.

Wonderful Pistachios want to send you on a trip.  Click here to win a trip tp Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Attraction in Las Vegas.  Ends August 28th, 2022.

Do you want to go to Korea?  Imagine Your Korea wants to send you.  Click here to win a flight to Korea.  Ends September 30, 2022.

At Book Riot there are several giveaways.  To win a pair of AirPods Pro click here.  Ends June 30th, 2022.

To win a Kindle Oasis click here.  Ends June 30th, 2022.

For a $200 gift card Books-A-Million click here.  Ends June 30th, 2022.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

A Not So Spooky Phantom


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

(from the back of the book)

For Milo, everything's a bore.  When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he's got nothing better to do.  But on the other side, things seem different.  Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason!  Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing.  Life is far from dull.  In fact, it's exciting beyond this wildest dreams...

Milo is bored.  With everything.  But when he goes through the phantom tollbooth and finds himself in a whole new world things start looking up.  He meets a watchdog, names Tock, who is horrified when Milo says he wants to kill some time.  It is bad enough wasting it, but killing it?  And so it goes.  He meets a Spelling Bee who is an actual bee, gets to the Land of Conclusions by jumping, makes a wagon move by staying silent because it 'goes without saying'.  The book is full of word play and puns.  I loved it, but I also think I liked it more as an adult than I would have as a child.  I think some of the wordplay would be lost on young children.  That doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun for children.  Milo goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of interesting characters that I think would hold a child's interest.  And our hero, Milo, learns some things along the way.  He is given some bits of wisdom like 'the only thing  you can do easily is be wrong, and it is hardly worth the effort', and 'so many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible',  He also realizes that all the learning that he didn't see the point of before comes in handy along the way.  It does tend to amble a bit.  At times it seems like Milo is going nowhere but I think the humor and wit of the story make all the stops along the way to rescue Rhyme and Reason worth it.  I think it is a fun adventure for young and old alike.

The Phantom Tollbooth starring Butch Patrick

One day Milo comes home to find a mysterious gift.  It is a tollbooth.  And since he is bored he decides to drive through it.  It takes him to a strange new world where he finds all sorts of adventures.

The movie starts out as live action, but as soon as Milo goes through the tollbooth he turns into a cartoon.  (He notices this and still goes through.  I don't think I've ever been that bored.)  He goes to all sorts of strange lands and meets all sorts of interesting characters.  He becomes friends with a watchdog named Tock, meets a which (not a witch), is forced to eat his words (literally), and goes on a mission to save Rhyme and Reason.  Milo goes on a grand tour of this new world realizing that all the things he was forced to learn, that he thought pointless before, are actually useful and maybe the world is not as boring as he thought.  By today's standards it is probably on the slow side.  It is full of wordplay and puns.  Which are fun and witty.  But it is based on dialog and there is some, but not much, action.  I think kids will like the crazy characters and fun concept and adults will appreciate the wit and wordplay.

Movie vs Book -

I liked the book and the book is a lot of wordplay and I think a lot of that works better in print than it does in a movie.  So I think the book comes out on top for me.  But I did like the movie as well.  And I was not disappointed like I often am by movie versions of books I like.  There are differences of course.  Some of the encounters Milo has in the book aren't in the movie and that changes the course of events slightly along the way.  And the ending, for some reason, is changed up more than I thought was necessary but I thought the movie stayed true to the spirit of the book.  And if you liked the book I think you will like the movie too (and vice versa).

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Do You Like To Sew?

 Do you like to sew?  Do you want to win some awesome FREE sewing stuff?  Then click on over to Annie's Craft Store and visit her Creative Studio and enter the giveaways!

Go here to win the Ultimate Quilt Sew Giveaway.  Contest ends June 30th, 2022, so hurry up.

Go here to win the Raining Cats and Dogs Giveaway Box.  With lots of yarn and crochet patterns you can't go wrong.  Contest end June 30th, 2022.

Monday, June 20, 2022

How Much is Your Life Worth?


The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson

(from the back of the book)

Our hero, a passionate film buff, leads a life that revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and a movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm.  When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything tumbles into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.

What is the price of a cherished memory?  How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day?  How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying what he owes, find a way out of this mess?

The protagonist in this offbeat story starts off sounding like a lovable loser.  But as the story goes along and the bill he receives for all the happiness in his life starts to add up, you begin to wonder.  This man that does not seem to have much going on is told that he has been happier than anyone else in all of Sweden.  And the more he tries to prove that his life wasn't worth the price, the more the price keeps going up.  Haw can that be?  What is it that makes his life so good?  That is what the story makes you think about.  About the value of lost love, about finding joy in the small things, about being happy with what you have.  You do have to grant the unbelievable premise that such a tally is possible, but it was delivered in a way that made you follow along without thinking about it too much.  The seemingly simple, short story, that is both funny and sad, has a surprisingly life affirming message.  It is a fun and thought provoking story.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Win Some Books!

 Books That Make You is giving away some books.

To win From the Potato to Star Trek and Beyond  go here.

Answer a very simple question and you are entered to win.  Bonus entries are available.

Contest ends June 30th.

To win five new books and some 'surprise bookish goodies' go here.

Again, all you have to do is answer a very simple question to be entered.  Bonus entries available.

Contest ends June 30th.

Good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Friday 56


* Grab a book, any book.

* Go to page 56.  Or 56% on your ereader. 

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

* Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice

My book this week is People I Want To Punch In The Throat by Jen Mann.  I want to start by saying I have never actually punched anyone in the throat.  I have, however, threatened to punch people in the throat many times.  So when I saw the title of this book I knew I had to read it.  It is a collections of essays about suburban life, PTA moms, neighbors and all sorts of things that make Jen want to punch people in the throat.

My Friday 56:

I found myself imagining what it would be like to borrow a cup of sugar from these people or carpool to school someday.  I let myself dream of a friendship that might be.

Given the title of the book and the fact that this comes from an essay titled 'Just Some of the Reasons the Neighbors Always Hate Us' I don't think this is going to go well. Jen is funny.  I like her blunt, sarcastic manner.  I look forward to reading the rest of the essays.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Let's Celebrate Bourbon!

 Today (June 14th) is National Bourbon Day!

I became a whiskey drinker later in life.  In fact, I didn't start to drink whiskey (or whisky) until I met my husband four years ago.  I never developed a taste for Scotch.  But Bourbon was another matter.  

Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with just pouring some bourbon in a glass and enjoying it just like that.  Or adding some ice and enjoying it chilled.  But bourbon also makes a great cocktail.

My go to cocktail for bourbon is the Old Fashioned.  Close to straight bourbon, but with some bitters and simple syrup.  

I love ginger beer, so I like the Kentucky Mule.  Like a Moscow Mule, but with bourbon.

Or you can try the Boulevardier.  Which is like a Negroni but with bourbon instead of gin.  

Also good, the New York Sour.  This one is like a Whisky Sour with a red wine float.  The red wine adds another nice fruity taste to the drink.


Also reminiscent of a whisky sour is a Derby.  This one has a few more ingredients than some of the others with sweet vermouth and orange liquor.  But with three quarters of an ounce of lime juice it was a bit much for me.  I would cut that a bit so I could taste the other ingredients more.

Similar to a Derby is the Man o'War.  But with lemon instead of lime and different proportions this one is not as sour and I think all the flavors come through more.

Almond Old Fashioned

If you want to go sweet instead of sour try the Peach Bourbon Cocktail.  The peach schnapps adds a nice sweetness and the orange juice give it a nice fresh flavor.

I like amaretto but I think it is too sweet to drink all by itself.  The Almond Old Fashioned is a good solution.  The amaretto is not lost in the bourbon but it is not too sweet either.


Another spin on the Old Fashioned is the Galliano and Bourbon Old Fashioned.  Again, the Galliano adds a sweetness and the bourbon tempers the strong anise flavor of the Galliano for a nice balance.

If you want to add a coffee kick to your bourbon try the Revolver.  The coffee liquor adds some nice deep notes and blends well with bourbon.


Also worth a try is a Bourbon Manhattan.  Just bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters.  Sort of Old Fashioned-esque but with some nice herbal flavors from the vermouth without it being bitter.

There are many more out there.  Go.  Explore.  Try different bourbons in the same cocktail and see how they change.  Have fun.  But, please, drink responsibly.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

Brandy might be a fine girl, but Mandy?


Mandy starring Nicolas Cage

Cage is out for revenge when a cult targets his wife, destroying their happy, peaceful life.

I have come to believe Nicolas Cage never turns down a role.  This is not the first of his movies I'm sorry I spent my time on.  The first half of the movie was shot with a red filter.  Everything was red.  All the time.  It lost all meaning.  The same with the ominous music.  It was constant.  Creepy cult members staring at Mandy as she walks down the road, ominous music.  But also, the couple at home watching TV, ominous music.  Until the ominous music became pointless.  And then it was Cage running around killing people and screaming.  He has special weapons stashed that hint at a violent past but we are never told about it.  Some of the bad guys seem to have powers that are more than human with no explanation.  It was a slow start that led to frenzied violence with a very thin plot barely holding everything together.  I'd advise you skip this one.

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Friday 56


* Grab a book, any book.

* Go to page 56.  Or 56% on your ereader. 

* Find a snippet, short and sweet.

* Post it and add the url to your post at Freda's Voice

My book this week is Paul Bunyan by James Stevens.  The title kind of says it all.  It is a book about Paul Bunyan.  It is fun to read if you like tall tales.  Paul uses a pine tree for a pencil and can uproot a tree with his bare hands and all those impossible things that an ordinary human couldn't do, but Paul Bunyan the legend can.

My Friday 56:

Among the other livestock on Paul Bunyan's farm, which was down the river from the old home camp, was a herd of grizzly bears.  The great logger often amused himself by playing with them, and he had taught them many tricks.

According to this Paul Bunyan invented logging.  So he is the reason that all our forests are disappearing.  Thanks, Paul Bunyan.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Let's Go Diving in the Abyss

Today (June 8th) is World Oceans Day.  

If you want to learn about the oceans, one book you might consider is The Brilliant Abyss.

The Brilliant Abyss by Helen Scales

(from the book jacket)
A golden age of deep-sea discovery is underway.  Revolutionary studies in the deep are rewriting the very notion of life on Earth.  In the process, the abyss is being revealed as perhaps the most amazing part of our planet, with a topography even more varied and extreme than its Earthbound counterpart.  Teeming with unsuspected life, an extraordinary interconnected ecosystem deep below the waves has a huge effect on our daily lives, influencing climate and weather systems worldwide.  Currently the fantastic creatures that live in the deep - many of them incandescent in a world without light - and its mountains, plains, trenches, and hydrothermal vents trap vast quantities of carbon that would otherwise poison our atmosphere.  Novel bacteria as yet undiscovered hold the promise of potent new medicines.

Scales gives a complete survey of the deep oceans.  She starts by introducing the reader to some very interesting creatures that live only in the very deep ocean.  There are some truly fascinating creatures, and they have some truly fascinating things that they do to be able to survive in a place that has no light, very little food, and some caustic conditions.  She goes on to explain how these deep sea habitats affect the oceans, the weather, and the climate of the entire world.  And how if these habitats are destroyed the consequences can be catastrophic in ways no one can foresee.  Then she outlines ways that these important deep sea habitats are being disturbed, by fishing, mining and pollution.  At the end I learned more about mining and rechargeable batteries than I expected (or, indeed, wanted) but the progression of the book shows how it is all related.  So it did not seem odd to start out talking about scaly footed snails and Yeti crabs and end up talking about how batteries are made.  It is a nice, readable account of all things deep sea.  From the way they are formed, to the animals that live there, to the impact of deep sea processes on people and people's impact on the deep sea.  If you have ever wondered what deep sea crabs eat, or what happens to all the plastic that is swept out to sea, or want to learn about why the things that happen so far below us are important to life on Earth this is a book worth your time.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Get Your Donuts Here! Or Is It Doughnut?

Today (June 3rd) is National Donut Day!  Go out and get your free donuts.  Well, sort of free.  If you have to buy a coffee to get a "free" donut, is it really free?  That is a riddle for another day.

To celebrate National Donut Day I learned all about the Donut King.

The Donut King starring Ted Ngoy

In 1975, Ted Ngoy came to America from Cambodia to start a new life.  He managed to build a multi-million dollar donut empire which he then used to help other refugees.

This is a fascinating story.  It is triumph and tragedy all rolled into one.  Ted fell in love with donuts and just decided that was what he was going to do.  He turned a job in a donut shop into one store than another and another and so on.  He then sponsored other Cambodian refugees so they could come to America and taught them the donut business.  It was interesting to see how he becomes a legend to the Cambodian community, a legend that continued even after he had returned to Cambodia.  It is a well told story that gives you the good and the bad.  It is a story that takes you to the highs and the lows of success.  And it is all the more impressive because it is true.