Tag Archive: Books


Sometimes Toronto surprises me. The city has a reputation of being fairly uptight, self-satisfied and more than a bit arrogant. But every now and then a little something shakes loose and we get a glimpse of something really wonderful beating behind the Hogtown façade. This is one of those things:



I’ve been by Type (883 Queen Street West) a few times but haven’t had a chance to stop in. I’m thinking it’s about time I do, especially if I can manage to hide out until after closing time.

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JRR Tolkien

Caricature by gaumgospel

Today would have been JRR Tolkien’s 120th birthday.

To celebrate, Tom Hawking, the contributing editor over at Flavorwire has put together a gallery of beautiful and strange editions of Lord of the Rings  and The Hobbit from around the world. The list includes Professor Tolkien’s *least* favorite cover art as well as bizarre interpretations from Poland (which really should surprise no one who has seen CHUD’s extensive coverage of Polish movie posters) and other international editions.

To see an exhaustive listing of Tolkien cover art, please visit the Tolkien Book Covers Gallery and The Tolkien Library

Here are my personal favorites, some from Tom’s list and others from The Tolkien Book Covers Gallery.

The original | Polish Edition | British Folio Edition | 2005 Houghton-Mifflin set | Finnish Edition

So, please join me in raising a glass and toasting the author of one of the most enduring and beloved books in the English language:

“THE PROFESSOR!”

Suck It Wonder Woman
Suck It Wonder Woman!

The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek

Author: Olivia Munn with Mac Montandon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Rating: Rating System!Equals 1/2 purse / 5 Handbags

Another birthday came and went recently and one of my DH’s presents was a copy of Suck It Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Attack of the Show’s Olivia Munn. I have never seen Attack of the Show, but I had heard of Olivia as the reigning Geek Goddess and remember her from a brief appearance in a season 4 episode of Chuck.

It’s weird being a geeky girl. There’s not a lot out there for us and the expectations are pretty low. The stereotype is either an unattractive, socially awkward girl who hangs out with the nerds in hopes of getting some attention from these poor schmucks once they realize there’s no hope in hell of dating a cheerleader, or gold-diggers who go out with computer and science nerds for their increased earning potential. So, here comes Olivia Munn, talented, beautiful, popular and an unabashed geek who looks to break the stereotype. I was really interested to read what she had to say.

Boy was I disappointed.

Firstly the book is written like a blog, which would be fine if I wanted to read a blog, for free. But DH shelled out $20 bucks for the thing, so an over-arching theme and a little cohesion would be nice. Instead, the book reads like a stream of consciousness cross between Mean Girls and Men Behaving Badly. It is little more than a series of anecdotes which have less to do with being a Geek in Hollywood as it does with simply being in Hollywood.  Her reminiscences  are neither insightful as to the being a geek in Hollywood, geek culture within Hollywood/LA or celebrity members of that culture.

The other thing is that this book is definitely written for the fanboys. With chapters about getting laid (Chapter 6: Sex: What You Can Do to Help Yourself  Have More of It and Chapter 17: Dating Tips to Help You Score), hooking up with a bridesmaid at a friends wedding (Chapter 12: Muscle Relaxers and Swimming Fully Clothed Really Don’t Go Together So Good [sic]) it’s obvious that this books main audience buys Clearacil in bulk and lives in their parent’s basement. Even her gallery of great women which features historical heavy weights like Catherine the Great and Eleanor Rosevelt – women who are Munn’s supposed ‘inspiration’ – are reduced to caricatures as conceptualized by Joe Francis and Hugh Hefner.

BORING!

There is nothing new here, and that really does a disservice to those Munn says she’s trying to champion – those awkward, shy girls, who want desperately to fit in yet have interests and passions that set them apart from the crowd. Yes, we *know* it’s hard growing up when you like sci-fi and play D&D. It’s nothing new, get over it. Show us how you used your geekdom to forge an identity and a career for yourself, not complain about how hard it was to be true to yourself while surrounded by mean kids then take pot shots at people who are overweight.

Olivia Munn on Playboy

"She haz to be naked! If not, why is she do Playboy?"

All this isn’t to say that the book is a total washout. There are some hidden gems buried in here, most notably My Worst Day Ever which had me reaching for my hanky and On the Playboy Cover Shoot, Scandinavian Stylists and Picking out Panties was absolutely hilarious and give a glimpse of the real Olivia Munn as someone who is strong, passionate, sensitive,funny and not afraid to stand up for herself.

Someone I would really like to hear more from.

In the meantime,unless you are interested in girls who take swan dives into giant chocolate cream pies whilst wearing nothing but a fetish French maid outfit, this is a book to avoid. We geek girls will just have to make due with tweets from Amber Benson and Felicia Day until such a time as they write their own memoirs.

The New York Public Library is facing a budget cut of over $37 million – the worst in its long and storied history. This means the closure of 10 library branches, the loss of adult job search support as well as other programs, children’s programming, and a reduction of service from 6 days a week to 4.

So, when faced with a budget crisis, who do you think they’re gonna call? You got it, The Ghostbusters.

Thanks to the guys at Improv Everywhere for promoting this amazing cause.

The New York Public Library approached us about a month ago and asked if we would want to stage an Improv Everywhere mission on their property. The library is facing serious budget cuts, and they thought having us do something awesome there might serve to remind people of how great the NYPL is. We couldn’t say no to the opportunity to do something in their gorgeous, 100 year-old Rose Main Reading Room.

Improv Everywhere, you are more than welcome to come to Toronto. This city could use a shot in the arm!

I was on the board of the Kapuskasing Public Library before we relocated down south, so I know how vital they are to their communities. Libraries are not only repositories for knowledge and entertainment, but invaluable resources for people from all walks of life.

Please support your local public library.

Iron Man 2 - Tony Stark

Iron Man 2 - Chick Flick?

Lisa Schwartzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote an excellent article about the studio’s surprise that Iron Man 2 is playing so well to female audiences. According to Indie Wire, the report upon which Schwartzbaum’s article is based:

“What you’ll see on Sunday is people taking their moms to see Iron Man,” says Paramount distribution executive vp Don Harris. “You can’t make a statistic like that up.” In tracking, the female figures for Iron Man 2 were so high, adds Harris, “you would expect such numbers from a film like Sex and the City 2.”

Why? Why is it, that in this day and age that it’s surprising for women to enjoy science fiction/comic books/action movies?

There has always been a strong fan base among women for the nerdy and the geeky. How many little girls grew up playing Princess Leia or Wonder Woman or Jamie Summers? Take a look at Science Fiction literature; some of the greatest authors of the genre are women. Mary Shelley, Andre Norton, Ursula K. LeGuin, Sheri Tepper have all created iconic tales of speculative fiction. As a mater of fact, the concept of the secret identity was originated by a woman, Baroness Emma Orczy, author of the Scarlet Pimpernel published in 1903.

Ursula K. LeGuin - Left Hand of DarknessIf women write the stuff, it would follow that women would read it, right?

The simple fact of the matter is that comic books and Spec-Fic is rife with themes that interest women and draw them in. It may not be the same things that interest men, but they are there just the same. For example, the Xmen comic deals with lots of masculine themes, but there are also the relationships that interest  women readers – Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Jean and Scott, Storm and T’Challa all have a strong appeal to female readers. We may not care so much about the bang bang shoot’em ups, but the outcomes and the consequences are far more rewarding for a woman reader than for a man.

This obviously translates to the big screen and television. Buffy, Ripley, Trinity and most recently Avatar’s Neytiri have all drawn in female audiences. These are our role models. We don’t see many iconic female characters outside of Science Fiction/Fantasy movies that as girls we look up to. So of course we’re going to go see films in these genres to find more of the same. And we’re going to bring our daughters with us, growing the audience.

It just makes sense.

A few years ago, Hollywood was hot for female action movies. They were going to revolutionize the genre. What did we get? Catwoman and Elektra, two of the worst superhero movies ever made. The suits didn’t understand it at the time. There was a huge demand for women in more heroic roles, why did these films fail? Why didn’t they get the audience that they expected?

Buffy the Vampire SlayerProbably because the writing was crap. All there was to these movies were women in skimpy clothes prancing around. There was no human interactions, no relationships that women could be invest in. The stories were practically non-existent, the acting was wooden and the premise was ridiculous. As a result Hollywood has pretty much turned it’s back on the prospect. The Wonder Woman movie has been sitting in pre-production hell for 3 years because the studios can’t wrap their head around the fact that what women want are great characters, strong stories and compelling relationships. Having a female centric film is icing on the cake.

It was my mother who sat down and watched Wonder Woman and Doctor Who with me. She’s the one who introduced Sprout to Star Trek – another show with some amazingly strong women characters. Women have always been interested in Science Fiction and related works. The reason why Iron Man 2 works with women is because the main character is charming, his struggles are compelling and relationships are believable. Yes, we do enjoy the special effects and the explosions just as much as the guys, being a FX-geek I can say that. But they aren’t what brings us in. If the studios can keep making movies of Iron Man’s caliber, women audiences are going to keep coming and the numbers are going to grow.

Maybe this is the start of Hollywood actually getting it and start handing off these fantastic properties with strong women characters to great writers and directors. It’s in their best interest, but we fangirls have to demand it.

Via: Entertainment Weekly, Indie Wire.

I *MUST* have these:

AWESOMESAUCE!

Via: Stargazing

Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. ClarkeMy poor DH has been waiting for the screen adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama for years. He even bought the video game. You should have seen him back in 2003 when it was announced that Morgan Freeman had optioned the movie for his production company Revelation Studios.  He was positively giddy. Over the moon would be how I described him.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that excited for a movie, ever!

The release date was slated for 2009.

Unfortunately, the movie never got off the ground. Director David Fincher confirmed it’s demise back in 2008,

“It looks like it’s not going to happen. There’s no script and as you know, Morgan Freeman’s not in the best of health right now. We’ve been trying to do it but it’s probably not going to happen.”

That didn’t stop an enterprising film student Philip Mahoney from The Vancouver Film School and visual artist Aaron Ross from making their own trailer. Check it out:

Talk about flawless. It is beautiful. I love that you get the vastness of the ship without ever really seeing the whole thing.

Hopefully this will generate a little bit of buzz and maybe something will happen with the project. I would love to see Fincher direct Rendezvous with Rama. I think he has the right vision for the project.

At any rate, cross your fingers and I’ll try to pry DH off the ceiling.

Via: SciFi Wire

Instructions by Neil GaimanThis is probably my favorite piece written by Neil Gaiman. I’m so glad to see it’s coming out as it’s own illustrated volume.  The water colours (I think) by Charles Vess are gorgeous.

I can’t wait to pick this up and read it to the kidlets.

It goes on sale on April 27th.

Still not sure if your literary masterpiece that eclipses the great works of Tolkien, Steinbeck, Dostoevsky, and Austen is really ready to be sent off into the big bad publishing world? Follow this handy checklist to make sure:

Are you really ready to publish your novel?I know so many potential authors (and former roommates) who could benefit from this advice.

Designed by Anna Hurley, you can get your own at 826 National.

Two big events are being hosted by the Toronto Public Library.

Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel KayThe first, at 7:00 pm on April 15th The Toronto Reference Library will be hosting world wide launch of Guy Gavriel Kay‘s newest novel, Under Heaven. Kay will be be presenting a reading from his new novel that draws its narrative inspiration from the Tang Dynasty of ancient China.  Under Heaven tells the story of Shen Tai, who is finishing his 2 years of official morning for his father among the dead of last great battle between the imperial Kitai and Tagur.  As he prepares to return home, he receives an extraordinary gift from a surprising benefactor.

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favorite authors.  I think his novel Tigana is my favorite book ever. No one makes me cry like this man.  Even after more than 10 readings, I am an emotional wreck after finishing the Fionavar Tapestry and have not yet forgiven him for killing of Diarmud.  Hopefully I will be able to keep my ire under wraps for the reading.

I’m planning on asking if there is any interest in making his novels into movies.  If not, there will be a copy of Tigana mailed off to Peter Jackson the next morning.  😉

You can get more details here.

Tanya HuffThe next event,  Vampire Fantasy: why are vampires the hottest idea in fantasy fiction? panel will be held at The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy on Friday, April 23rd at 7:00 pm.  The panel will be hosted by Chris Szego and will feature writer extraordinaire, Tanya Huff, author of the Blood Books (and perennial favorite, Summon the Keeper series).  Guests will be discussing the current resurgence and popularity of the Vampire in pop culture.

This should be fun.  Wonder if I have time to make up an ‘Austin Lives’ t-shirt?

More details here.