April 2nd, 2006


Yuck ...

Ew ... ew ... ew .. ew ... EW!

At least it was short. Everything that I'd feared that A Book of Angels was going to be, this one was, and then some! Why does this book exist? The publisher's quote on Amazon says this is a "perennial holiday favorite" which is just plain depressing. It's like all the "good" letters went into the first book, but they still were coming in and the publisher decided this was a way to cash in cheap. Bleh.

As you would guess, Sophy Burnham's Angel Letters are letters that folks have sent in to her in response to reading its predecessor. It doesn't have much of a real structure, but Burnham occasionally interjects some commentary to preface a grouping. And, frankly, there are not that many "Angels" in this book, with about the first 2/3rds being stuff like this:
"So there ah was, just finished eatin' and ah couldn't find the top ta mah ketchup bottle ... ah knew that if ah didn't cap it, mah ketchup would get all gummy and nasty, so ah looked every which where fo it ... but it was jus' GAWN! ... ah hated ta think ah'd have ta git me a new bottle, so ah prayed ta JEEEEESUS ta help me in mah hour of need ... ah went down on mah knees right there in the dinin' nook and when ah gots up, there it was! ... right in front of mah eyes! ... it shorely was a miracle! ... ah feel so touched by da LAWD!"
I mean, the sort of "common people being clueless" stories that I can recall from Readers Digest (and, needless to say, the above quote is my mockery of this and not an actual excerpt from the book). The last 1/3 of the book was not much better but it primarily shifted from Jeeeeeesus to newagy feel-good twaddle ("I never felt so close to the universe before!").

Frankly, there were maybe three stories in here which provided any help for "understanding Angels" (and one of those would be better classified as a story about ghosts), but as noted in regards to the previous book, "your mileage may vary" ... as if you want to hear "I must have been helped by God because that sort of thing doesn't happen naturally", despite there being assorted more mundane explanations, have at it!

One thing I find either amusing or sad is that the publisher for these books is Ballantine Books, the source for the magnificent military/political history books from the '60s and '70s published as "Ballantine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century", of which I have 48 volumes in my LibraryThing catalog! It's a long fall from the excellence of those books to the sort of drivel in Angel Letters.

However, if you want this sort of thing, you can have it for cheap, as the Amazon new/used vendors have copies of the hardcover edition for as little as one cent. I guess this is still in print in paperback, but this ain't worth the $3.49 to pay for shipping, let alone fifteen bucks for it new.

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Memetime ...

I snagged this one from itzwicks' journal ... I initially plugged in my info figuring that "poor pitiful me" was going to "not be popular" (just like in highschool, right?). I was very surprised when the following came up:

btripp's LiveJournal popularity rating is 4.56/10.
btripp is more popular than 99.38% of all LiveJournal users.
btripp is more popular than 69.9% of their mutual friends.

How popular are you?
LJ Popularity created by thehumangame.

The explanatory text says: "your 'popularity rating' is the probability of a user clicking on random Friends links to be at your profile page at any point in time. That's the essence of the PageRank algorithm—it's a traffic estimate based on the Web's link structure. It's presented on a logarithmic scale to make it easier to understand." ... which probably goes a long way towards explaining if I'm not even ranking 5/10, how I can be "more popular than 99.38% of all LiveJournal users"! Oddly enough, the median rankng is 1.25/10 ... so I guess there are one hell of a lot of journals out there which don't show up on anybody's Friends List!

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On a slightly better note ...

We went off to see Ice Age: The Meltdown this afternoon. The Wife had taken The Girls off on their usual Sunday morning trek to Daughter #2's art class, and asked if I wanted to meet up with them for the movie (I have, thankfully, been given a pass on some of the more mind-numbing kiddie films over the past year!). Since I figured this would be pretty good, I said yes ... got ready, grabbed the #66 Chicago bus, and met them for lunch at The Flamingo over by Navy Pier (the only cheap eats out that way!).

The movie was pretty good ... The Wife thought it was better than the first one, but for some reason Daughter #1 didn't like it very much (but she's sort of sensitive to "end of the world" themes ... which this had). Having the Queen Latifa female Mastodon be a goofy as she was was a good spin ... I would be giving out spoilers if I went into more detail on that, though! There was also a minor role voiced by Jay Leno ... which was sort of a surprise. I liked it well enough, although there were some things that didn't make much sense to me (some being scientific in nature, which could I suppose, be excused).

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