600 Million Years and Counting…
I was pretty bored so I decided to make some GIFs of the last 600 million years of our planet’s plate tectonics.
The first GIF is a global mollewide projection. The second one is of the Colorado Plateau and the North American Southwest. The next GIF is of the entire formation of the North American Continent. The fourth GIF is of geologic and tectonic evolution of Europe. And finally the last one is the same as the first except in rectangular format.
I obtained the images from Global Paleogeography and them compiled them one by one into Photoshop with the end result being the above GIFs.
Time for my book reviews of the night… or the day (that depends on your location). The two books here are Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods and Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle.
Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Okay, for the first book, of course we all know Percy Jackson (I hope). Percy Jackson, half-boy, half-god, and one whole dramatic queen when he describes about… wait for it… Greek gods. Duh, what else would that demigod talk about anyway? Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods is a collection of short stories, but they are not really Percy’s short stories. If I may put it, the short stories are basically ancient Greek mythology being retold by Percy, and boy, Percy makes a really good storyteller.
“Greek mythology? It’s boring!” you said. You know what? Pray that Zeus won’t zap those butts of yours. Greek mythology is a serious matter and there are thousands and thousands of stuff related to Ancient Greece out there, be it stories of gods and goddesses, creatures, demigods and mortals. I won’t be surprise if Giorgos Sampanis is a demigod… (okay, haha, he’s not… Who’s that you ask? He’s a really awesome Greek pop artist. Yeah, a Malaysian listening to a Greek artist. What gives?).
So, this novel is mainly about the creation of the Earth by the Protogenoi or the primordial entities, the first entities that come into existence, followed by the Titans, and finally (and this group plays a large bulk of the book), our peaceful, people-loving Twelve Olympians… okay, I’m just kidding. They are not peaceful or people-loving. Many other gods and goddesses and heroes and immortals and mortals and nymphs and satyrs and giants and… well, a lot of stuff is also touched by Percy.
Honestly, knowing Percy Jackson from his original series and the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, Percy is never, never, never a guy who likes to be serious (unless when he’s fighting, wielding his Anaklusmos or bidding the water to do his commands). Rick Riodan always makes Percy Jackson likable with his wit and attitude. We don’t learn much about Greek mythology in our schools, and usually the teaching of History subject in our school system is ughhhhh, but Percy, with all his sass, sarcasm, funny anecdotes, and rather ingenuous dialogues manages to bring the stories of Greek mythology in an all-around fun and comedic manner. Forget those Homer or Herodotus-styled prose. Percy is a modern kid, and like a modern kid he brings to us these tales. He even employs a little bit of dramatic license. I mean, of course, they didn’t have cell phones, Facebook, One Direction, or Justin Bieber back in Eighth-Century-Before-Common-Era Greece, but you can bet that the mythical characters all behave like they live in the current time. It’s a totally hilarious, non-boring way to learn about Ancient Greek myths. Me? I’m smitten with Percy, so yeah… uhhhhh, moving on…
Of course, I need to tell you that Greek stories can be a bit, mature I supposed? Besides, we’re talking about Greek gods here. So, expect rape, or murder, or incest, or revenge, or just about anything bad, but as usual, Percy Jackson (and Rick Riordan) describes those acts in a total family-friendly manner. Also, there are some community messages and really good advice on life, because hey, these Greek tales are also stories of human endeavours, failures, mistakes, and triumphs. Ancient tales are reminders of our way of living, even if they are told in a highly super-exaggerated manner involving immortal beings.
Speaking about ancient tales, Greek myths are a bunch on messed-up stuff! From this novel, I learn that Greek gods and goddesses were born out of every imaginable way you can think of (heck, I even think if bread toaster existed during those days, maybe a Greek god would be borne by jumping out of it. God of Toasters… think about it). Also, be prepared to be changed into either plants or animals of you ask for help from the gods. Don’t forget that they like to kill humans who do wrong things from their own perspectives, even if the humans are actually innocent. Oh one more thing, the book is HEAVY!!! I felt like asking a satyr to hold it for me while I’m reading it.
Anyway, this book is a whole pack of smart-arse-ness courtesy of Percy. Pick this thing up and sacrifice a cow, or maybe a goat, or a chicken or… you know, I’ll just leave it to your own decision.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
This book… this damn book! I knew that this novel is about giant insects destroying the human civilisation. I knew that the main character is torn between choosing his girlfriend or his good friend. I read this book expecting it to be… well, a good read.
And then, everything changed when the Fire Na… wait… that’s not it. I mean, my perception of the book did change, and changed it did, like a lot! The book is rather bizarre. Well, basically this is the kind of book that you’ll get if you combine stories about a sexually-confused Polish-American boy known as Austin Szerba, testicle-dissolving corn, a secret experiment gone wrong that resulted in human-size praying-mantis-like creatures that are sex-crazed and love to eat people, a small town in recession, and possibly the highest number of mentions on teenage horniness you’ve ever read in a novel.
Teenage horniness… trust me when I say the other books that you read before only have like 1.999% of the words semen, sex, horny, boner, and everything on par with those words. Like, I know teenagers have raging hormones (I’m a student teacher, I know what my students feel…), but really, Austin is like a dynamo, I don’t think he has ever had a day where he doesn’t feel… perk up after he reached his puberty. This is not the kind of book you would categorise as family-friendly, especially for those young uns’.
Like I said, it’s bizarre. I mean two-headed babies and testicles in a globe-like container? Of course, you can’t forget the large praying mantis. They only know how to eat and copulate. These insects are the annihilators of humans worldwide. Pitbull can forget his Mr. Worldwide title because probably those insects might have chopped his head off during their own world tour.
Austin Szerba is a Polish-descended horny boy (I mentioned that before), and he smokes cigarettes. I don’t care about his sexuality, but really Austin, that boy could not make up his mind that he’s a bisexual. He’s quite funny, with his sometimes mundane or peculiar explanations and views of stuff, but I like it when he talks about his family and friends, and I like that everything in his life is connected like a spider’s web, a chain-of-events, because I totally believe in that, a butterfly’s flutter in Gaborone, a raging storm in Montreal sort of thing. There were times though when I wondered on how he manages to actually know about the things happening in like what 150 years ago involving his great-great-grandparents up to his grandparents, you get the idea. He’s really omniscient that way, way too omniscient. But hey, that kid knows, so…
Austin has a friend, Robby, and Robby’s a gay. Their relationship is typical, only that in many cases, Austin seems to deny that he loves Robby, which is of course what you would do if you’re in a relationship with a girl. Austin’s girlfriend is Shann, and as much as I want to believe that Austin really loves Shann and vice versa, I could not help that Austin is using Shann for his own pleasure. I don’t really feel the love between them… it’s more like lust. Anyhow, together they live like the usual American teenagers in Ealing, a town that’s facing recession. Truthfully, and I don’t kid you with this, I felt claustrophobic reading this novel, mainly because of Ealing’s deprived, dreadful conditions (it’s not that bad, but hey, my mind likes to exaggerate stuff, yeah, that brain). To make matters worse, Austin and Robby may have caused the insect-infested apocalypse.
The writing of the book is quite slow in the beginning, but after the first 100 pages, the pace begins to pick up. The book has a large number of flashbacks and history lessons courtesy of Austin, and he likes to repeat certain things (and I don’t just refer to his hor… well, you know what, I stop writing that). Of course, Andrew Smith managed to weave in his wonderful prose to the book, making simple things to hold a higher meaning than what we always think. Also, the book is gory (I haven’t mentioned that, have I?). The way those insects copulate and eat are, how shall I put this, explain rather ‘thoroughly’ that I may not look at praying mantises the same way again. Again, this is not a family-friendly novel. But really, the explanations of the bugs are only introduced during the last 1/3 of the book. It bugged me (bugged, see what I did there haha) as I was itching to know about it earlier. Nevertheless, the book ends with a quite hopeful resolution. Although the book is about apocalypse and experiments and underground bunker and big insects, it is not really a sci-fi oriented story. The novel hashes teenage plotlines of self-identity, relationship, and the human life. Andrew Smith does well in describing Austin’s indecisiveness and troubles in life. If you readWinger, you’ll vouch on that.
Grasshopper Jungle is a really non-traditional book. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure some conservative schools out there will ban the book for you-know-what reasons. Some of you readers may not appreciate its unusual plot, but for me, this highly strange convoluted novel is quite a ride. It may not be the best book I’ve read, but it sure is fun and funny and in many times, my brain managed to do 360 degrees rotations… Read it, and feel free to feel the same. You know what I mean.
So there you have it. My book reviews of the night! Hope you’ll enjoy the books if you read them!
The City of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, during sunset. Taken from Signal Hill Observatory.
the cobbled ground barely makes sounds as
the boy walks slowly through the street.
It is midday. The boy looks up, in contrast with
the mud-coloured walls, dusty brown road
the sky is an open sanctuary. If this is a dream,
it doesn’t feel so bad to die in a sleep but this is life.
Red pomegranates in a plastic bag, a football
under his left armpit, short cut jeans
a shirt white as jasmine, a smile and a quick dash.
“A boy killed —” one headline says
cease to exist
Violence creeps like termites devouring wood
until only faint traces of the living can be seen
the headline doesn’t say this:
“A boy is in a sanctuary.”