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Book Review: Siren by John Everson

January 3, 2013 2 comments

Woman crawling out of the ocean onto a rock.Summary:
Evan walks the seacoast of his small town every night reliving the horror of watching his son drown.  But one night he hears a beautiful song and discovers a perfectly naked, perfectly beautiful woman attached to it.  As he begins an affair, willfully oblivious to anything about the woman beyond her beauty, he fails to realize he is falling for the siren of Delilah.

Review:
I picked this up during one of the monthly kindle book sales on a whim, and am I glad I did!  This book was simultaneously terrifying and electrifying.  The flip-flop between fear and titillation was a truly delightful reading experience, and it came with a well thought-out plotline and delicious settings to boot.

Evan is not a likeable guy. In fact, Ligeia, the Siren, is more likable than he is, and she routinely rips people’s throats out with just her teeth.  But disliking Evan works for the story.  It lets the reader invest in Ligeia and see her side of things.  There are ways in which she is a monster, yes, but there are also ways in which she is quite human.  Having a deeply flawed male “victim” to her charms allows the reader to see the monster in us all.

Both the horror and the sex scenes are adeptly written.  The sex scenes are titillating without being too much, and, similarly, the horrific scenes are grotesque without going too far.  The presence of both in the story makes for an ever-changing, exciting read.  Similarly, the plot is complex without being overly so and managed to keep me guessing.  It also strikes the balance quite well.

I also really enjoyed the light commentary on hunting and eating another species.  It provides a depth to the story beyond simply lust leading one astray.

Kind of puts a whole new spin on fishing, doesn’t it?  Here you men are always out there reeling in the fish, and here’s a half-fish woman who’s reeling in the men.  (page 146)

Of course, there is also commentary on cheating and the other woman. There has to be, since Ligeia is Evan’s mistress.  I must admit that that basic plot can sometimes upset me, so I do think it distracted me a bit from enjoying the book as much as I would have otherwise.  On a similar note, the ending is not quite what I would have hoped for, although it did make sense in the context of the story.

Overall, this is an interesting mix of horror and erotica that is fast-paced and enjoyable.  Those sensitive to cheating as a plot device or explicit deaths may want to exercise caution.  Recommended to those who would enjoy their horror and erotica together.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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In Response to Folks Who Didn’t Like This Week’s Episode of Lost

Spoiler Warning: If you have yet to see Lost Season 6 Episode 15 “Across the Sea” and wish to remain spoiler-free, skip this entire post!

I’ve had it.  I’m fed-up with my fellow Losties whining about this week’s episode, and I am frankly starting to doubt their mental capacities or ability to appreciate anything beyond “ooo Sawyer’s got his shirt off” or “Hah! Hurley said ‘dude’ again!”

This week we got treated to entire episode revolving around the history of the island.  We found out where Jacob and the MIB came from, as well as some other things we’ve encountered on the island previously, such as the donkey wheel and the skeletons in the cave.  After watching this episode I engaged in a lengthy, intellectually-stimulating, philosophical discussion about various aspects of not just the Lost story and mythos but in life in general.  I then awoke the next day to my fellow Losties whining on the internet and tv.  I am going to now respond to their criticisms  in turn.

  • “Omg why are they focusing on minor characters this late in the game? wahhhhh”
    If you think that Jacob and MIB are minor characters, you are a total idiot.  The entire reason Flight 815 crashed on the island is because Jacob needed a replacement.  The reason they’re still battling it out is that MIB needs to kill all the candidates to get off the island.  Let me repeat:  THE ENTIRE REASON YOUR PRECIOUS FLIGHT 815 CHARACTERS ARE ON THE ISLAND IS BECAUSE OF JACOB AND MIB.  They are not minor characters.  They are the central characters that the entire plot revolves around!  I’d be pretty pissed-off if we’d never found out anything further about them.
  • “Fine, have a Jacob/MIB episode, but it should have been earlier in the season.”
    Think about how many things you got to speculate or were surprised about because you didn’t totally understand the rivalry between Jacob/MIB or Smocke’s motivations.  The 815 folks weren’t sure what the motivations behind everything were and neither were you.  If this episode had come earlier, it would have removed all that suspense, and Lost is a show that is all about the suspense.
  • “It should have switched between this flashback and the current storyline or at least the sidewaysflash.”
    Do you seriously think that, given where we left off last week, it would have made for a smooth episode or even an enjoyable one to switch between Jacob/MIB and the current story?  We are clearly just about at epic battle in the present/sidewaysflash.  It would have been just plain awkward storytelling to switch between the two, not to mention that I’m betting a bunch of the information we found out this week is critical to the next step in the current story, and we needed to know it before they could move on.
  • “Why the hell doesn’t MIB have a name?!”
    Ok. Obviously Mother named him.  It would be insanely impossible to raise a child without a name to be able to use to call them, etc…  The writers obviously purposefully wrote hiding his name.  Clearly we aren’t supposed to know it yet.  It’s probably symbolic or at least super-important to something else, and we can’t know it yet.  Seriously, people, he has a name.  The writers are using obvious writing techniques to work around having to say it for a reason.
  • “Various whinings about typical myth elements such as the twins, sibling rivalry, and the glowing light in a particular place that needs to be protected and I signed up for a scifi show, dammit.”
    Actually, if you started in Season One Episode One, you signed up for a deserted island show, but anywho.  Science versus faith has been a core theme in Lost from part-way through Season One.  The appearance of the light doesn’t mean science has been thrown out the window.  Even the mythology that Jacob/MIB learned as kids doesn’t throw science out the window.  Humanity explains mysteries in the best way that they can with the materials that they have.  That’s why people used to explain thunder and lightning as gods fighting with each other instead of the rapid expansion of air and electrical discharge we now know caused them.  Jacob/MIB were born in a far less scientific time, and it is quite possible that Mother was just working with what she had to explain things.  While it’s obvious that there’s some super-natural stuff going on (hello, immortality), that doesn’t mean that all science is going to go poof.  It is entirely possible that the glowing light is actually some nuclear energy or some such.  Additionally, I have the distinct feeling that we’re going to be left to decide for ourselves in the end whether to believe a scientific or supernatural explanation for the island, so they need to put the backing in place for the supernatural end of it.

Really, fellow Losties, when you whine about these things, you’re just showing that you understand next to nothing about the art of storytelling and that you really just tune in week to week to ogle Kate’s boobs or Sawyer’s chest (depending on your particular sexual preference) with the occasional garnish of something blowing up.  Fine, whatever, you tuning in helped keep the show on the air for those of us who can appreciate the actual story.  However, can you please keep your confused whinings to a low roar so the rest of us can enjoy the series finale?

The “Eating Healthy Is Expensive” Myth

January 6, 2010 9 comments

There is this huge misconception in American culture that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk food.  That’s the case if you don’t want to put effort into your meals and you want to buy gourmet food, but with a bit of effort it is simply not true.  I know about the dollar study where a guy went into a grocery store to see what he could buy for a dollar, and the worst foods had the most calories, aka “bang for the buck.”  However, I’m speaking from personal experience here.

Three years ago, I went vegetarian, and everyone told me how much more expensive my grocery bills would be.  You know what?  They aren’t.  On average, I spend about $50 every two weeks on groceries, and my groceries usually wind up feeding more than one person for around 5 nights a week.  That works out to approximately $100 a month, minus eating out, which happens about once a week.

For healthy eating, you need fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and other pantry needs necessary for cooking.  Whole grains are key, because they help your body feel full on fewer calories, and they are super-healthy for you too!  Let’s look at the facts on these food groups.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables can be a bit expensive, it’s true, but you just need to be a smart shopper when it comes to this.  Buy only what you will eat before it goes bad.  For me, this means I need to grab veggies once a week.  Also, store them properly, or they will go bad before their time.  If you really want to save money, buy fruits and veggies that are in season.  Produce that are in season are cheaper, because the stores can acquire them from closer sources.  I used this technique last night, and I found out that *all* of the produce I wanted was actually on sale, most of them for under $1 a pound.  A great resource for knowing what’s in season is eattheseasons.com, which also has an option for UK for my British readers.  For nights that you’re in more of a hurry, buy frozen fruits and veggies.  If you have more of a budget crunch, buy store brand ones.  These are cheap, and you usually can get two meals per bag.

Whole Grains
A box of whole grain pasta costs $1.29 at my local market.  That’s it, and I get at least 5 or 6 meals a box.  Whole grain rice appears expensive, but remember that a bag of it lasts a long-ass time, because it grows when it cooks.  Also invest in whole wheat flour and regular flour (you need that so it doesn’t get too heavy for some recipes).  A bag of either is around $2 in my market, and lasts months.  Any other whole grains you want are similarly priced.  It appears a lot to people, because they’re used to buying single-serving foods in the grocery store, but that $6 or $7 you’re spending on the bag of rice will make many many meals.

Protein
The most expensive proteins are the most highly processed.  This means that fake meats like tofurkey are the most expensive.  One box of tofurkey slices for sandwiches costs around $4.27 at my market.  You know what though?  It’s highly processed, and isn’t that healthy for you (though, healthier than meat).  A box of tofu, on the other hand, is usually somewhere between $1 and $2, and one box makes 4 meals.  Tempeh is similarly priced.  Beans, which you need to diversify from soy anyway, cost under $1 a can, and one can make around three meals.  If you want to go uber-healthy, you can buy bags of dry beans and cook them yourself, which is even cheaper than buying canned beans.

Other Pantry Needs
Since I’m not vegan, I do need to buy eggs, cheese, and butter, and these are usually the most expensive purchases I make.  However, one dozen eggs last me around 1.5 months.  Another purchase that, similar to the bags of rice, seems prohibitively expensive because of a single serving meal mindset is cooking oils.  Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils for you, and the bottle I bought last night cost $12 and some change.  However, one bottle lasts me at least 4 months.  Again, buy store brand.  The fact of the matter with all the pantry needs is their price can seem a bit high, but you use a little bit at a time in cooking–like with soy sauce for instance–so really per meal the cost is a few cents.

There you go. That’s my real-life shopping for healthy groceries experience.  Yes, you need to actually cook your meals instead of buying frozen and sticking it in the microwave, but trust me, it is not so hard to learn to stir-fry, sautee, and bake.  Stir-frying and pastas especially just require you to be able to stir things around in a pot.  Plus, you get the added benefit of burning some calories while making your food instead of just sitting on your butt on the couch watching tv waiting for it to heat up in the microwave.  It takes a bit of up-front cost to get your pantry equipped with the long-term use items like rice, but once you’ve done this, you’re down to buying a few quite cheap items a week, with the periodic need to replace the long-term items that never run out at the same time.  It is not too expensive to eat healthily if you know how to do it.