Unholy Night Trailer

Now this is a messed up (fabulously so) book trailer!

From the official website:

In Grahame-Smith’s [author of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies] telling, the so-called “Three Wise Men” are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod’s prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod’s men begin to slaughter the first born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It’s the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.

It’s done. I’m in. It’s officially on the Kindle list of books to read.

Y U NO TELL ME?

I was at a Minnesota Skeptics Drinking Skeptically last night and we moseyed into the topics of religion and the bible. Someone mentioned that there are two creation stories in the book of Genesis, and I was a little bemused to realize I didn’t know what they were talking about. I read the bible in its entirety back in college, but it’s been a while. I looked at the group and said, “I hate to say this, but I think I’m going to have to read the bible again.” One of the guys got a huge grin on his face and told me that he had the perfect version for me:

Of all that is unholy, Y U NO TELL ME THIS EXISTED?

The book contains some of the more better-known biblical stories, but the LOL Cat Bible Translation Project that started in 2007 has translated everything into lolcat.

Here’s an example of Adam wussing out before God (Ceiling Cat, of course) and blaming Eve for his decision eat the apple:

*sniff* I love my life.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry?

I have a new book to read on the plane ride to Reason Rally on Friday!

Greta Christina is the author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss of the Godless. The first part of the title is funny because it plays off the common misconception that atheists are angry all the time because we don’t know God, or don’t have God’s peace, or something like that. Greta Christina steps up and makes the argument that while we’re often very happy people, we ARE angry about some things, and we have very good reason to be angry about them! As she mentions in the upcoming documentary Scarlet Letter, “Anger isn’t necessarily a sign that there’s something wrong with you. Sometimes anger is a sign that there’s something wrong with the world.”

You can read Greta’s blog about her new book, and you can order it for Kindle from Amazon. Why Are You Atheists So Angry should also be up for Nook and Smashwords in a week or so, and a paper edition is slated for April.

Upcoming Show: Atheists Talk with Alex Rosenberg

I had (great intentions for conceiving and writing) an awesome post for yesterday, but instead spent most of the evening (you know, after cooking dinner, preparing lunch for today and eating dinner over some Mythbusters with the Hubby; I totally knew those breast implants weren’t going to expand at high pressures!) writing up my first-ever Atheists Talk radio program notes for the MN Atheists website! And then I had to muddle my way through navigating the website for the first time. I admit, there were a few frantic emails between me and the other administrators last night and this morning (frantic on my part, not theirs), and at least one header that included the plea “HALP!”. But I finally got all of the content in the right place and in a format that I’m almost happy with(dadgummed HTML!).

On Sunday we’re interviewing the American philosopher Dr. Alex Rosenberg about his new book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions. I’m currently halfway through it and I’m enjoying his writing style. It’s a lot of science and deep reading, but every so often Rosenberg will slip in some completely unexpected humor and I’m reminded that, oh yeah – this is actually really fun stuff! 

I’ll be interested to hear the interview because there are a few things in the book that I’m not completely on board with, and I’m excited to hear Dr. Rosenberg expound on his ideas. This will only be my second time hosting, so I’m still allowed to be a little star-struck about our guests, right?

If you want to learn more about the upcoming radio interview on this Sunday October 30th at 9am (and see my shiny write-up!) visit mnatheists.org

That was a good Monday

Not the work part. At work there were some things, and then there was some stuff, so the work part of Monday was just meh. But after work has been fun!

Last week I was invited to write a blog post about my experience with Virtual Drinking Skeptically, a social videoconferencing group that brings people together to discuss skeptic topics. My piece is just a write-up of a recent VDS event, but I was honored to be asked to write about it, and today it was published on the Virtual Drinking Skeptically website. So that was cool.

After work I went to the doctor for a routine check up and then I had dinner plans with some friends. My appointment was done at 4:15 and dinner wasn’t until 6:30, so I decided to stop in to Half Price Books. I don’t know why I did that; I have an entire five-shelf bookcase filled with books that I haven’t read yet. But (as always), I made a great find:

Background: So, I’m all excited about going to Dragon*Con this year, right? I’m so excited that I forced my Mom to listen while I listed and described all of the different tracks that will be available at the convention. She perked up a bit when I told her that there is an entire track devoted to Anne McCaffrey. I confided that I hadn’t read anything by McCaffery and she ordered me to go read The Ship Who Sang. I’m easy so I put it on my must acquire and read list.

I couldn’t get it at Barnes and Noble without a special order, and there weren’t any copies conveniently located at the local library. I went online to purchase an e-book, but ended up finding a free PDF of the book instead. Unfortunately there were typos in it and I couldn’t download it to my phone without paying for it. But, I started reading it on the computer and was hooked.

It’s a really interesting story: In the future those who are born with physical disabilities but healthy brains are either euthanized or turned into “shell-people”; brains that control machinery. They are individuals with rights, and are self-aware, highly intelligent and possess a wide range of human emotions. They are employed by the Central Worlds to do things like man spaceships. The Ship Who Sang is about a shell-person named Helva and the adventures she has with her various “brawns” – the pilots who accompany her on her missions.

So, to bring a long story to an end, I was very excited to find the first three books in the series at the used bookstore, and as soon as I’m done with this blog I intended to spend the rest of the evening finishing The Ship Who Sang.

This next part is a little gossipy and petty, but I like it.

After Half Price Books I still had a little over an hour until dinner. I stopped in to a Caribou Coffee to sit back in one of their big comfy reading chairs, drink a frosty summer coffee drink, read and check the Twitters. Sadly, the comfy chairs were taken up by a man and his two young daughters. And when I say taken up, I mean I think they had moved in a few days ago. They had two netbooks on the table, the girls were laying on the couch watching a movie on a third computer, magazine were strewn every which way and the dad had his socked feet on the coffee table and was reading a book. Ah well, there were plenty of the hard high-back chairs so I took a table nearby the comfy chairs in case the man and his daughters left.

About 10 minutes after I sat down I heard the Dad say, “Girls, let’s go next door and have some dinner.” So they get up and leave their shit all over the comfy chairs. All over MY comfy chair. That’s not cool! You don’t get to hog all of the good comfy chair seating in the coffee shop while you go to dinner! And they left all of their expensive stuff just sitting there for any yahoo to steal. So…I go up to the barista and say, “I just heard that man tell his daughters that they should go get some dinner, and they left all of their computers and stuff behind.” The barista gave me a look like she understood the situation perfectly, and with a slightly naughty look said, “Really? They left? Hmmm…maybe I should put it behind the counter so nobody steals it.” And she did. She gathered up all of their junk, put it in a box and put the box behind the counter. When dude came back 30 minutes later he saw me reclining on “his” chair and said, “Hey, I had a bunch of stuff over here.” I gave him big doe eyes and said, “Yeah, the barista put it behind the counter so no one would steal it. You had, like, three laptops just sitting out in the open.” He got all sputtery and mad.

And then it was exactly time to go to dinner.

Dinner was…oh, dinner was fabulous. I went for sushi with five lady-friends and we had a ball talking pop culture, books, travel, food and all of those other relaxing dinner topics. We ordered a ton of appetizers, drinks, one of those big sushi boats, and a few desserts at the end of the meal. The food was very good and reasonably priced. If you’re looking for sushi in the Lakes/Uptown area of Minneapolis I highly recommend Wakame.

And now if you’ll excuse me…the shell-people are waiting.

Interwebs – you waited for me!

I wasn’t sure you’d still be here when I got back!

So, yeah. Hey.

How ya doing, Internet? My name’s Brianne, and I’ve been out of you for about a week and a half now, but I’m super excited about getting back into you.

Work has been crazy, but in a good way. I like being busy, having challenging goals and deadlines to meet. The frustrations are frustrating, but the wins are AWESOME. But there have been some long hours…about 120 of them in the past two weeks.

So I’ve been struggling to stay abreast of the latest online news, and holy crap has there been some. Sadly, I haven’t had a lot of time to process – let alone blog – some of the best stuff. And the Tonys…I missed the Tonys! I was going to bring chicken pot pie, chocolate salty balls and cheesy poofs to a friend’s house to watch the Tonys and show my support for The Book of Mormon, but turns out they didn’t need my contribution – they took home NINE  freaking Tonys! Woo-hoo!

Oooo…oh yeah, and I have a netbook now, and I’ve been doing my Rosetta Stone for Spanish. If there is ever a young male underneath a table, or if a boy and girl are in a boat, I can totally tell you so in two languages. Awwww yeah!

In between running assays and writing reports, I have managed to sneak in a few chapters of Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. I’m a grudging fan of the Discworld series; I grew up on Piers Anthony’s Xanth - back then there were no other fantasy worlds as far as I was concerned. So, I missed out on Ankh-Morpork until just recently when some good friends re-introduced me to the books. And actually, these friends are involved with putting on the North American Discworld Convention that is taking place in Madison in a few weeks – there are still tickets available, you guys. If you’re a fan, you should go; Sir Terry is going to be present and there are all types of art, theater, role-play, storytelling, costuming and other Discworld merriments to be had. Did I mention that it’s in Madison, Wisconsin – a mere four hours away from the Twin Cities?

So, no news or rants today, but to wrap it up I want to share a couple of my favorite quotes so far from the Harper paperback 2008 edition of Pyramids: 

On gods physically walking among men:

And Dil was realizing that there are few things that so shake belief as seeing, clearly and precisely, the object of that belief. Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed anymore. -page 178

On camels, the greatest mathematicians in the history of Discworld:

Human mathematical development had always been held back by everyone’s instinctive tendency, when faced with something really complex in the way of triform polynomials or parametric differentials, to count fingers. Camels started from the word go by counting numbers.

Deserts were a great help, too. There weren’t many distractions. As far as camels were concerned, the way to mighty intellectual development was to have nothing much to do and nothing to do it with. -page 193

Absolutely awesome, odd, engaging fantasy storytelling.

See you tomorrow!

Books – How They Work

I’m out of town traipsing around the woods this weekend, so I’ll most likely be unable to respond to comments and the like (we’ll see how good the 3G is in the state park this year). But I do have a few posts queued up until I return to regular blogging on Monday (or so). Have a great weekend.

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The is one of the most motivational Demotivation posters I’ve ever come across:

Seen on Facebook via J.Blaze Ward. Original source is demotivation.us

30DaysofBiking: Day 27

Where: Lynlake and Uptown (1.5 miles)
Why: Recreation – To Magers & Quinn for #30DaysofBiking #sololocal event
When: Wednesday April 27th
Weather: Cloudy and gray, light hail on the ride back, cold, 38F (3.3C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

#sololocal description from 30DaysofBiking: Every Wednesday in April is the Solo Local ride, where you venture off on your own to your favorite local establishment—by bike! This week, route your way to your favorite local book store. Huzzah for local business!

Look – books on biking and a Twin Cities bike trails map right in the front window display!

Time is way too one-directional.

This was my To Do List last night.

Make dinner.

I made this – Fancy Hot Dog Stroganoff from simplyrecipes.com.  I substituted quinoa for the egg noodles and added spinach.  This picture is from that site – My dinner was so yummy that it was all gone before I remembered that I wanted to snap a photo.

Change the litter box.

Blech.

Research wireless routers and make a decision on which one to purchase.

Ah, technology.  How I take you for granted until you break.

Transplant my tomato plant, and also the parsley and chives.   Plant new lettuce and spinach seeds to replace the ones that drowned in last week’s summer deluge.

Done!  I can’t believe how much the tomato plant exploded!  This is my tomato plant on April 17th:

Practice my Italian.

Aprenda a hablar italiano.  Verb book, flashcards, iPod Italian language apps, Easy Italian workbook.  Crappy, blurry photo.

Update the biodork blog with Sunday’s Pride Parade post.

See this big empty rectangle?  That’s my Pride Parade post – no Pride pictures for you!   You get this post with me whining about how busy I was last night instead.  But I’ll have Pride pics on Thursday.

Start rereading Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic and be done in time for CONvergence on Thursday.  Come up with some costume-ish thing for Saturday night at CON.

240 pages – no problem!

Plan rail transport from Rome to Perugia for 7/19, book my scuba dive in Sorrento, go to the bank and let them know that I’m going to be using my credit card overseas so they don’t shut down my account while I’m in Italy, figure out where/when to exchange USD for Euros, figure out how to pack enough clothing for two weeks (allowing for trips to la lavanderia) in my tiny little backpack, and…and…

Okay, that last one was really all about making the list, rather than accomplishing everything on the list.

Phew!

Local Books and Food

I don’t always read the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Metro section because it has a tendency to be depressing.  It seems like a lot of the stories are about local people involved in drunk driving crashes, child abuse cases, murders, robberies, scandals,  etc.  Yeah – go neighbors!

However, yesterday’s Metro had two inspiring stories – one on the James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, and the other about EBT being used at the Midtown Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis.

In the James J. Hill Library story, author Jean Hopfensperger introduces us to the James J. Hill library.  For some of her readers I’m sure it was a re-introduction, but I had never heard of the JJH Library in St. Paul.  And I love libraries!  Especially old libraries with leather chairs and lots of wood and marble accents like JJH Library has.  Look at how gorgeous this library is (source):

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The library’s board of directors is renting out the space for conferences, music and art exhibits and weddings.  I found these pics in a google image search – gorgeous!


I can’t wait to get over to St. Paul and check this place out!

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The other article was by Gail Rosenblum and it was all about the Midtown Farmer’s Market, located by the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, and “Market Bucks” available for users of EBT.  EBT is what they used to call “food stamps”.  The USDA defines EBT as “an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received.”

So low income families can go to Minneapolis Farmers’ Markets and use their EBT to buy groceries, just like they can at most retail grocers.  The Minneapolis and Northeast Farmers’ Markets also accept EBT, but Midtown is offering an additional benefit: For the first $5 spent in EBT, a user will be given $5 additional “Market Bucks” that they can use to purchase additional food!  The program isn’t funded by taxpayer money, but by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.  From the article:

Blue Cross is funding the Market Bucks pilot, using proceeds from its 1998 Big Tobacco settlement. The effort is one of many created by Blue Cross (think “Do” campaign) to get all Minnesotans to eat better and fight rising obesity rates.

I think this is an excellent use of Big Tobacco money!

I mentor a teenager whose mother uses EBT.  One time several months ago I offered to take her to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market on Lyndale and she told me that she didn’t have the money to shop there.  I can’t wait to tell her – I hope it will give her an opportunity to enjoy the Market and have a unique shopping option.

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The vegetable photo above is not from the Midtown Market, but I thought it was a very pretty composition and it does resemble the open air atmosphere of Midtown.