Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Reviews I: The Mythical Creatures Bible

Today I'll be reviewing; Mythical Creatures Bible: The Definitive Guide to Legendary Beasts (by Brenda Rosen, Sterling, 2009).

(Note: I am in no way affiliated with Brenda Rosen, Sterling, or Octopus Publishing Group. I am reviewing this book from my own personal copy I bought, and was not commissioned or compensated in any way.)

For those of you that like stars, I’m giving this book a 4/5, it’s good, but definitely not without flaw.

The Mythical Creatures Bible is well written and laid out in a organized way that makes sense. A table of contents would have been helpful here, but the index in the back of the book makes it fairly easy to find the creature you want.

It’s also full of beautiful illustrations, public domain images, and photographs, which break-up the text and support many of the entries. While 400 pages, the book is still fairly small, making it easy to bring along with you; but the trade off for that is of course, the size 8 font.

The book’s content is reasonably good, and somewhat encyclopedic. It’s a good reference guide if you want a basic explanation on a wide range of creatures. However the entries are short, and there are several errors that make other references necessary if you’re studying a specific creature.

In the introduction is a image of two headed animal labeled as a Yale from the Aberdeen Bestiary. However there is no further explanation, and it doesn’t match the image and description given for Yale later on in the book, or the online images and description of Yale from the Aberdeen Bestiary. This is probably because it’s actually an Amphisien, a winged two-headed snake. - And since this is my own personal copy, I went ahead and wrote that in. We can discuss the fact that I think it's okay to write in books, but not to dog-ear the pages, later. . .

Among the biggest errors I noticed was one pertaining to the *Holy Bible. Under the section titled Dragons of the Near East, the author describes the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den (which can be found in the book of Daniel within the Holy Bible) as being the result of Daniel slaying the King’s Dragon. This is complete fiction (okay, well, maybe there’s some mention of this in another work, but it's certainly not the story presented in the Old Testament of the NKJ Holy Bible).

(*Bible means book, and the book I'm reviewing is also called a Bible, so using the proper title, Holy Bible makes a clear distinction here.)

Overall I think this is a good reference for people thirteen and up, who want a basic knowledge, or ideas for stories and RPGS, but for serious study of cryptozoology you'll need to consult some other works to be sure the info you've gotten is correct.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And How do You Name a Horror Movie?

I've noticed in recent years, some pretty poorly named horror movies. Not that the names are poor, but that they don't match the movie, and are probably just relics from the earliest drafts of the script.

For example I just watched Dark Skies for the first time. The name conjures up imagery of UFOs blacking out the sky, dark thunder storms, and/or and all out war from above. While the movie did involve aliens, and tons of conspiracies related to aliens, abductions, and UFOs, there was not a single UFO in the film. There wasn't even a single shot of the sky really. It also wasn't dark, being fairly well lit for like, 95% of the film.

Overall it wasn't a bad movie, not great, kind of a mish-mash of things that had been done, but well paced and just mysterious enough to keep the viewer’s interest. However, I also feel like it probably would have gotten another half a star if it had a more accurately named.

Another example of this is Silent Predators, a movie in which the main threat is anything but silent. The main threat, while a predator, is also to small to predate human. It, or rather they, are several aggressive hybrid rattlesnakes, that were, until recently hibernating. The main plot being that you hear the snake rattle, then it bites you, and you die.

Come on guys. Many classic horror movies were named by friends of the director who'd get drunk and watch the film from dusk to dawn, when hung-over they'd called the director and mumbled a name into the phone. Still, it was more accurate then the examples above.

Which isn't to say that there aren't some well named horror movies recently, Sharknado comes to mind. Very descriptive of the small part of the movie I saw, sharks flying through the air, riding a vortex!