Tag Archives: reviews

Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part 3

Lyda here.

I finally completed the seemingly-endless Reading on Discworld Challenge which was inspired by the books of Terry Pratchett. I wanted to read new books for the challenge, which is why it took me so long. Oh yeah, plus getting my masters. And life. I already reported here on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15, and here on the books I read for item #s 6, 8, 12 & 14.

These are the remaining parts of the challenge that I completed:

3. ‘Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?” Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?” There was silence. Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ‘em right.”’  Mort

Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about. What is string theory, really? Who was Deep Throat? And, now that we’re thinking about such things (y’all know you are)… How have attitudes and morals about sex varied and changed by country and era? (That book was my sister’s college graduation present to me – my first graduate course, she said.) Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Pyramids” (mathematics, philosophers, why camels look smug, and what really happens to mummies), “Monstrous Regiment” (why military intelligence isn’t always an oxymoron).

I read “The Walking Dead  – Compendium One” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn.

What? I’ve always wondered about graphic novels – I had never really read any before – and specifically, I wondered about these graphic novels.

I love “The Walking Dead” TV series, and I knew from watching “The Talking Dead” that the graphic novels (on which the show is based) were different. Some of the characters and their character development are different, important plot points are completely different, and reading the graphic novels is a totally different experience from watching the show. They are both excellent, too.

7. ‘The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.’  Guards! Guards!

Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf  and read it. One way to do this is to look in the new books section, and pick something from a category you don’t usually read. Just don’t interfere with the nature of causality while you’re there. Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Good Omens”, “Nation”.

I read “The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size” by Julia Cameron. (I actually bought this book, so I can use it over and over like her other books.) Y’all, I never ever read diet books. But this one is different. For one thing, it is written by one of my favorite authors, who wrote “The Artist’s Way” and many other awesome books about which I

just (blog post link #1)

won’t (blog post link #2)

shut (blog post link #3)

up (blog post link #4).

This book is really about expanding one’s creativity and shrinking one’s use of food as a block to emotions and creativity. It does not contain a food plan or rules. Instead, it give tools to use to explore one’s relationship to food and get free of old patterns and unhealthy habits. Those familiar with Julia Cameron’s work will recognize some of the tools, like Morning Pages, and find new tools, like keeping a food journal.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try out the program.

13. ‘It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.’  Equal Rites

Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics. I think y’all can find one of these on your own. Terry Pratchett book suggestion:  “Equal Rites”, “Sourcery”.

I read “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide” by Maurine Dowd. I wasn’t crazy about this book. Some of the science is out of date, and I didn’t agree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, she quotes a survey that found that 86% of women would quit their jobs if they didn’t need the money. This supposedly shows that women are less invested in their jobs than men are. But I immediately wanted to know: what percentage of men in equivalent jobs would quit if they didn’t need the money? I’m guessing it would be neck-and-neck.

But agreeing with her is not the point. She made me think, and that is the point. Plus, she is a good and occasionally funny writer. While discussing the ‘war between the sexes’ she says, “Will there ever be peace? I doubt it. But there should always be laughter.” And I’ll drink to that.

16. ‘To Rincewind’s annoyance the Luggage barreled after her, cushioning its fall by dropping heavily onto a slaver, and adding to the sudden panic of the invaders because, while it was bad enough to be attacked with deadly and ferocious accuracy by a rather pretty girl in a white dress with flowers on it, it was even worse for the male ego to be tripped up and beaten by a travel accessory; it was pretty bad for all the rest of the male, too.’  Sourcery

Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, or any of the books with the Luggage in them.

I read “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind. There is a sword that is essential to the plot, and is practically alive. Plus, there is a talking magical doll in it. I realize as I’m typing this that “talking magical doll” sounds really creepy, but in this story it actually isn’t. No, really.

17. ‘ “It would seem you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said.
“Have you thought about going into teaching?” ‘  Mort

Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.  Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (you will find out more about rats than you ever thought there was to know).

I read “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I feel as if I found my homeland – it is a land of truly weird stuff and wonderful off-kilter people, and Jenny is our leader. Also, I learned quite a lot of very bizarre and not-useful stuff, including things about taxidermy. See this post for my full review.

18. ‘… human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium…’  Pyramids


‘It’s not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It’s because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations.’  Pyramids


‘It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.

‘Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected.’  Small Gods

Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Small Gods”, “Good Omens”, “Wee Free Men”… really, any of his books.

I read “River Flow: New & Selected Poems” by David Whyte. I love his writing. It feeds my soul. I discovered his work at school, where several of his books are required reading. Which shows you how awesome my school is.

19. ‘He [Vimes] wasn’t strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (Did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?)’  The Fifth Elephant

Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Fifth Elephant”, “Thud!”.

I read “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s not a traditional mystery, but it definitely fits the bill. The plot twists like a corkscrew, the characters are unique, the ending is surprising, and the world is fascinating.


I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. Witness the digressions…


Pollyanna’s All-Dancing, All-Mutating Zombie Review

Lyda here. I really should finish teaching my Zombie Army the steps so we can get out on the road. There should be opportunities for dancing zombies, right? Unfortunately, we had to drop the tap number – their arms and legs kept falling off.

While waiting for the reattachments, I’ve had some unexpected time off to quilt and read, and of course to watch more TV and movies. Ya’ll know where this is going:

Movie reviews! I got two movies from the library and watched them over the weekend.

I watched “Damn Yankees” (1958.) Yes, I am a theater geek from way back, and I love musicals. Except for Tab Hunter as Joe, this fun version of Faust has the original Broadway cast, including Gwen Verdon as that vamp Lola who always gets what she wants, and Ray Walston as Applegate also known as the Devil – they both won Tony awards for these roles. Bob Fosse did the choreography, and performs a famous mambo number with Verdon. Fosse and Verdon were married, and she preferred working with him to any other choreographer. This is a fun romp in the ballpark, and the trademark Fosse dance moves are wonderful in every number.


I also saw “Planet Terror” (2007). I saw the extended and unrated version, which was released as a 2-disc set, not the film as it was shown in theaters. I’m guessing that the version I saw has more nudity, and possibly more gore and extended gross moments. 

See, the bad guys release this experimental gas which mutates people into zombies when it touches them, and everyone the zombies come in contact with mutate, except some people are immune for some reason. As the infection spreads and more mutated zombies are created, the plot becomes more and more unreal. In a weird – and above all disgusting – way. Full plot and cast list here.

The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), and released theatrically as a double feature with Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Tarantino has a cameo as an infected soldier and gets to mutate in a particularly disgusting way. Yuck.  Rose McGowan stars as an exotic dancer who loses a leg to the zombies fairly early on. But it’s okay – she’s up and walking an hour later, because her former boyfriend and expert zombie fighter (played by Freddie Rodriguez) attaches a table leg to her stump, and later a modified M4 carbine and rocket launcher – which she can shoot at will. Somehow. Without pulling a trigger or anything. What? Does that seem far-fetched to anyone?  Bruce Willis plays the crazed Lt. Muldoon, and gets to chew the scenery in a couple of over-the-top scenes and then mutate. There are various other loonies and tough men and women – and lots and lots of zombies, shooting, explosions, and fires. Of course.

Some parts of the film were intentionally damaged to give it a 70’s grindhouse theater effect. At one point, a scene is interrupted with a “Missing Reel” reel sign, and when the film continues, the plot has moved on. This is confusing but also kind of fun – if you are in the mood for this kind of weirdness.

Being in the mood for this movie is crucial for enjoying it. You have to suspend disbelief and just go with it all.

Zombie survival tip: During a zombie invasion, avoid hospitals.

And, apparently, barbeque restaurants. I guess your average zombie likes secret sauce as much as the next guy.

Which reminds me: Do not try to eat while watching this film. Don’t watch it right after a meal either, or plan on eating right after. Particularly barbeque. I may never eat barbeque again. Well, okay, not “never” but… for a while.

This film is definitely not for children, dogs, or anyone with a sensitive stomach. The unrated version at least is for adults only. Even I, your intrepid zombie reporter, had to look away from the screen rather a lot. But it’s not only the gore and extreme grossness that makes this inappropriate for teens; there is one rather explicit sex scene, an attempted rape, and pointless random deaths of a child and a dog.

On the Pollyanna West Zombie Scale, this film gets a 2 out of 5 Brains for Zombie Fun – and 5 out of 5 Brains for Gore. Plus – in a Pollyanna first – an additional 100 Brains for Grossness.

Hopefully, the next zombie movie won’t be this disgusting. I’ll be sure to let ya’ll know…

Pollyanna and the Bad Sheep

Lyda here.

I know ya’ll think any fiber-producing animal is a good one. But Sunday I watched “Black Sheep” (2006) and these sheep are definitely bad.

In the best possible way.

And I loved every wooly mutant freaky moment of it!

On the advice of his therapist, sheep-phobic Henry returns home to the family farm, and discovers his brother Angus (Peter Feeney, who nicely underplays the role, giving his character even more creepiness) has been genetically altering the sheep. When the sheep go on a flesh-eating rampage, Henry (played by Nathan Meister, who is blonde and very cute, even when splattered with blood) must stop them, with the help of the brave ranch manager Tucker (played by Tammy Davis, who is a gorgeous dark-haired hunk of a man), and a cute hippie eco-activist chick (Danielle Mason) named Experience heh heh heh.

Oh, and did I mention that humans bitten by the mutant sheep become weresheep – like werewolves, only woolier? And if they were killed by the sheep, they become ZOMBIE weresheep! No, you don’t want to get bitten by the mutants just to grow your own fleece. That would be bad. Try to focus, ya’ll.

A snippet of the fun:

Tucker asks Henry why he is so freaked out by sheep – even the non-mutated ones.
Henry: “I have a phobia.”
Tucker: “What’s that?”
A murderous sheep crashes part-way through the door.
Henry: “The irrational fear that someday this is going to happen.”

Just because you’re sheep-paranoid doesn’t mean a sheep isn’t really out to eat your intestines.

The heart-pounding scary moments are interspered with humor, and the plot has some great twists. A good story, well told – written and directed by Jonathan King. The excellent and gory effects were done by WETA (the studio that won four Oscars for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Richard Bluck, the director of photography, is a multiple Oscar winner for cinematography. David Elsley, who did the creatures for Farscape, was the Creature Supervisor. I love that job title. I wanna be a Creature Supervisor.

The actors are very good. And the two guys are seriously crush-worthy, with New Zealand accents too. Oh, did I already mention their cuteness? The guy with the dark curly hair has an amazing smile and sexy mischievous eyes. I’ve always gone for dark eyes… What? Oh, right. I’ll just save that digression for my alone time… Back to the review. 

The female character is spunky and tough. There are some nicely sly references to “animal husbandry” wink wink nudge nudge. Dr. Rush, the evil scientist (Tandy Wright) is wickedly slinky, and the elderly Mrs. Mac (Glenis Levestam) is a hoot.

This is a very funny movie, and also very gory. Definitely worth watching; just not during dinner.

On the Pollyanna West movie scale, I give it:

4 out of 5 brains for gore, and 5 out of 5 brains for bloody good fun.

And be sure to watch the extra stuff on the DVD. I’m fascinated with the “making of” – these people have so much fun at work – and two of the deleted scenes feature the dark haired hunk being.. well, hunky and adorable. At least ya’ll have to watch the special bonus scene. Trust me on this.

How could I not love a movie with these lines, and I quote – yes, I wrote down the lines as I watched, that is the kind of geeky devotion I have to blogging movie reviews for ya’ll. Yes, I am a bit of a mutant myself, but I digress.

My favorite quote:

After several encounters with the mutant sheep, our three heros enter a eirily quiet cottage.

Experience: “Oh my God!”

Tucker and Henry: “What???!!!”

Experience: “The feng shui in this room is terrible.”


Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Eyebrows of Doom

Lyda here. I got your movie reviews right here, baby.

Warning: Links may contain plot spoilers.

First, an apology to my Zombie Army  (per this AntiM post and the comments; Hi, Maren, still stalking you!):

I’m sorry, my zombie-lovin’ friends. Eww, zombie lovin’. Just. So. Wrong. No zombie movies to review today. I’m still looking for my next undead favorite. Suggestions appreciated, but nothing too gory please. We don’t want to give the Dread Cat Tommy too many ideas. 

Anna-Liza told me about “Black Sheep” (2007) . What could be more perfect? Sheep, zombies, gorgeous New Zealand scenery (check out the center photo in the film gallery here) – and the countryside is attractive too. This film has it all! Fleece may become imperiled in this film. Fiberholics, be warned. But I haven’t found it to rent yet.

Ya’ll, just look at all the zombie movies listed on Wikipedia. Now I really need to track down a copy of “The Astro-Zombies” (1969) with John Carradine as the mad scientist. Check out the trailer – “You will die a thousand deaths…”. Oh my. Ah, if only I could watch them all…

The good  zombie news – – if there is such a thing, and I think there is, although “good zombie” might seem an oxymoron to those of you who haven’t seen Fido (reviewed here)… but I digress – – is that I Am Legend is out on DVD. Definitely not good zombies in this one. Bad zombies, bad! My review here. Scary, kids. Really. Don’t let the kids watch it at all. Trust me. I don’t suggest you watch it alone at night either. I’m just sayin’. This is a DVD that I will be purchasing, myself. And watching in the daytime. With my son on guard. While the cat is sleeping.

Wow. That’s a lot on zombies for someone who hasn’t seen any lately. I seem to be zombie fixated. What a surprise.

So far, this whole post is a digression.

“… Two, three, four, and then there was the time…” *

(* for Gorgeous and Available Engineer brother)

“What movies have you seen lately, Pollyanna?” I’m so glad you asked.

Oh the excitement – I’ve got good movies to tell you about today. And even more soon. What do you mean, get a life? I have a life. A life of watching movies. What do you mean, maybe I should occasionally leave the house? I do, I go see movies.

When I saw “Stargate – The Ark of Truth” (direct to DVD, 2007) on the video store shelf, ya’ll know we had to rent it. I do love Stargate (not only because of the casting, although I certainly do appreciate the plethora of gorgeous men – even the extras are gorgeous).  We loved the movie. If you haven’t seen any “Stargate: SG1” episodes, you might be a bit lost at first, but it doesn’t matter – just hang on and enjoy the ride. It’s worth it for the three gorgeous leading men alone. The production values are good, and the acting is first-rate. And did I mention the gorgeous men? Oh. Yes. Yes, I did. And just for the record, I like the women in this too. Just not in the same way. If ya’ll know what I mean. And I’m sure you do.

By the way, I liked the original “Stargate” movie (1994) with Kurt Russell. At least partly because Kurt Russell was one of my first crushes. Remember, he was in all those Disney movies in the late 60s and 70s? “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and such? He always played the boy next door, and he was so cute, and my preteen self was smitten. I wanted to be Haley Mills and go steady with Kurt Russell and have wacky adventures that always ended up happy at the end. I wanted my life to be a Disney movie. Instead, it was more like an Afterschool Special.

As ya’ll know, Haley Mills as “Pollyanna” (1960, another Disney movie). So in a way, I am still emulating her. Trying to become her. Or something twisted like that.

But enough digression…

Stargate SG-1 is one of my favorite sci-fi TV series, which my local station shows Sundays at noon (even though it’s not in production anymore). I love that some characters have crossed over into “Stargate Atlantis (which I like too – and which the station shows next). Now ya’ll know where I am for two hours each Sunday. Hey, don’t start.

As the Resident Sith Master had never seen it, we also rented “Dr. No” (1962) with Sean Connery in his first outing as James Bond. I had forgotten that it was the first of the Bond films. Sean Connery’s first line is “Bond. James Bond.”

We had a lot of fun watching it. The action and special effects are 60’s hokey, and the costumes and interiors are a hoot – it’s worth seeing again just to remember what was cool back then. Although Connery is suave in his tuxedo, of course.

Sean Connery is my favorite Bond – I know lots of people disagree with me, and nothing against the other Bonds, but he’s the one I grew up with and watched as a kid with my dad, and I just like him best, so there. Although Daniel Craig, the newest Bond, is closing in on him. Mr. Craig is certainly gorgeous and manly, and has an amazing body. Hmm, I seem to be drooling. Let me just wipe that off…

Ursula Andress in her famous bikini was the first Bond girl, here with a casual but still impeccably dressed Bond:


Look how curvy! Awesome! All the women in this movie are lush and the actual size of… well, real women. But that’s a digression for another day…

We were surprised and pleased to see Jack Lord, of “Hawaii Five-Oh” fame, in the film. We joked about the epic competition between The Hair (Jack Lord’s) and The Accent (Sean Connery’s).

And we decided that Bond’s secret weapons in this film are his Eyebrows of Doom – none can stand before them! All tremble before the Eyebrows of Doom!! Really, his eyebrows are astonishingly huge in this film. Only an actor with so much charisma could overcome them.

Upcoming movie reviews: “Gladiator” with Russell Crowe. “Michael Clayton” with George Clooney. And more…

Hmm, I seem to be drooling again…