The Gherkin Scale
Fair to middlin'
Has some good points
Oi! Wot you playin' at?
Don't be givin' me evils!
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- ► 2009 (114)
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
I know many people, like me, are anxiously awaiting the start of Downton Abbey, Season 5 on January 4. To help ease the wait, PBS has a slew of great British programming lined up to tide you over until you can get your Downton fix!
On Sunday, December 21 at 8:00 pm, Tales from the Royal Bedchamber will be shown. This series,
|Host Dr. Lucy Worsley. Photo: Courtesy of |
© Tiger Aspect Productions 2013
|The Great British Baking Show with (l to r) Sue Perkins, |
Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and
Mel Giedroyc. Credit: Love Productions
Finally, to put you in the mood for some spring planting, The Queen's Garden airs at 10:00 pm on Sunday, January 11th (so start out at 8:00 with all the food and drink refreshment you need already assembled, cause you've got a great evening of viewing ahead of you!). This program follows the Buckingham Palace Garden (in the middle of London) over the course of a year. If, like me, you've yet to be invited to a Royal Garden Party, you'll enjoy this opportunity to explore the beautiful urban garden. Plants and animals that make up the garden, as well as a lake and a 15-foot marble urn (previously owned by Napoleon) are shown in detail.
If you should happen to forget to mark you calendar to watch these wonderful programs, they will be available to stream the morning after broadcast from a variety of sources, including the PBS video site, PBS iPad and iPhone apps, and PBS digital platforms on ROKU, Apple TV and Xbox. While winter is normally a bleak and depressing time of year, the wonderful "Best of Britain" programming that PBS is going to showcase in the upcoming weeks gives us something to look forward to!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
The story centers around 3 women. Madeline is the mother of 3 children. Her teenage daughter was from an earlier marriage, and she has two younger children with her current husband. Her first husband left her when their daughter was just a baby, and now that he has remarried and has another child, he wants back in to the older daughter's life -- much to Madeline's disgust.
The second main character is Celeste. She's impossibly beautiful and married to an absurdly wealthy man. Unfortunately, he also lashes out violently toward her on a regular basis. She's never told anyone about her situation, both because she's ashamed and because she sometimes fights back and feels that she's also to blame. She and her husband are the parents of twin boys.
The final female lead is Jane, a single mother to young Ziggy. Jane works from home as a bookkeeper, and moves around a lot. She had a traumatic experience with Ziggy's father, and has spent the years since he was born restlessly moving from one place to the next, never settling down.
All of these characters come together when their children start kindergarten together. The mothers at the kindergarten turn out to be cliquish, gossipy and vindictive. Things start out on a bad foot when on the first day, one little girl is assaulted by a classmate. Her mother demands to know who hurt her, and the little girl points out Ziggy as the culprit. He denies it, but this taint on his character has terrible consequences. A petition is started by the other parents to get him expelled from the school, and most of the other mothers shun Jane.
At the start of each chapter are hints that something terrible happens to someone. Other parents are discussing the aftermath of some tragic event, and even police officers are quoted as saying they think people are hiding something. A school trivia night, where all the mothers dress up as Audrey Hepburn and all the fathers dress up as Elvis, is looming, and that seems to be where the horrible thing happens . . . whatever it is!
As I was reading I was trying to guess which of the characters was going to meet a bad end, and who would be responsible for it. Most of the characters seem to have something to hide, so there were numerous possibilities. I enjoyed the book overall, but I did feel that the resolution to the whole bullying scenario was a bit rushed. Otherwise, it was a great read!
Final verdict for Big Little Lies: Four Gherkins, for being an inside look at the cut-throat world of kindergarten politics
Monday, December 8, 2014
The book is illustrated with black and white drawings showing how to construct your scary character from scratch.
Also, there is lots of advice and information for artists that I probably would never have considered. Such things as how to vary the shapes of eyes to convey different emotions (stunned, puzzled, suspicious, etc.) and how placement of features can be used to vary expressions are explained and illustrated. Classic traits for the various "monsters" are also included. For instance, no self-respecting vampire would be seen without his trademark fangs, shadowy eyes, fussily-styled hair and "ears that suggest that his mom had a fling with Mr. Spock."
In addition to covering the stock horror characters, the author also has advice on how to come up with your own characters and tweaks you can use to make the drawings unique. It was also very interesting to see how an artist can convey such things as movement and action based on how the character is posed.
The final chapter of the book discusses how to place your characters in scenes. While this might sound labor-intensive, examples show how easy it is to create a background in which a few elements will help to set the scene. Overall, this would be a fantastic book for the budding cartoonist. Even someone as artistically challenged as myself can be inspired to follow the easy directions to create ghouls and zombies of my own!
I think this book would be very useful and inspirational to a young person who was interested in drawing or doodling. The author shows how to develop characters at each stage of the drawing, and the creepy subject matter is both entertaining and interesting.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Once Peter arrives on the planet, he is struck by several things. The planet is hot, and the concept of a "day" is somewhat misleading, since their hours of light and darkness are very different from what he's accustomed to. The atmosphere is very unusual, with tendrils of air that move along the body and inside clothing. The food is also very odd. It's all made from a native plant called whiteflower, which can be prepared to taste *almost* like any familiar food you'd care to imagine, based on when it's harvested. He's very nervous about meeting his flock. The pharmacist, a woman named Grainger, drives him out to the Oasan settlement, which is located quite a distance from the USIC base.
The people in the USIC settlement trade medicine to the Oasans for the various foods they've made from the harvested whiteflowers. Peter is a bit shocked by his first glimpse of the "alien" Oasans. They are all clad in robes (each a different color so he is able to tell them apart), but their faces don't resemble human faces at all. Still, the group he meets are "Jesus Lovers" who have been converted by the earlier pastor. They are identified by numbers -- Jesus Lover One, Jesus Lover Twenty-Four, and so on. Not everyone is converted, but the devoted Jesus Lovers are the only ones that Peter interacts with. He needn't have worried. The Oasans are calm, kind and placid. They immediately get to work building a church. They call the Bible "The Book of Strange New Things" and already know many of the stories from it. However, they have trouble pronouncing the letters T and S, so Peter sets about making small booklets paraphrasing sections of Biblical passages to avoid these troublesome letters. He spends several weeks with the Oasans, then goes back to the USIC headquarters for a while.
Peter eventually begins to experience some changes. He loses a lot of weight, suffers severe sunburns (although he doesn't seem to notice) and has problems remembering people and events from his life. He communicates frequently with Bea via "the Shoot" a sort of email communication device. The news from home isn't good. There are many natural disasters, food shortages and general mayhem taking place on earth. Peter feels both helpless and detached from the events, but he is worried about Bea and tries to reassure her.
As I was reading, I was trying to figure out where the book was going. Were the Oasans as calm and "Jesus loving" as they appeared, or was there something more sinister about them? What happened to the previous minister and another employee who disappeared? What is USIC's real agenda? Are there other animals on the planet other than the strange, small birdlike creatures they observe at times? Why are all the other employees so devoid of emotion?
Some of the questions are answered, but overall, there's no big conflict or resolution to the story. I feel a bit disappointed, because I was expecting something major and shocking to happen, but this was really just Peter's story of his journey through life. He grew to realize what he valued and how he should live his life to reflect that. I can't see Hollywood making it into a film without adding a few explosions or evil-doers, though! I did enjoy the story, it just wasn't what I was expecting, so it was a bit of a letdown.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review
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