Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh Ya-Ya

Okay, it's true. I just read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (1996). I know I bought this book (it certainly wasn't Dr. M's), but I have no idea when or why or why I still have it. I didn't really have an urge to read it, but it was in my collection, so when it came up on my randomly generated book list, I decided to go for it.

Honestly, I liked it better than I thought it would. At least most of it. This tells the story of Sidda, a theater director living in New York City with her gorgeous, perfect (and very one-dimensional like all the men in this book) fiance. She gives an unintentionally revealing interview about her childhood to a reporter for the New York Times, who runs a piece blasting Sidda's mother, Vivi, for being a bad, drunk, child-beating mother. This really pisses Vivi off, and she cuts off all contact with her daughter. Sidda responds by calling off her wedding and going to an isolated cabin in Washington State to be alone and think things out. While trying to make amends, Sidda writes Vivi and asks for her help with a new play she is directing. Vivi has a group of three close girlfriends (the Ya-Yas) who have been inseparable since they were little kids. Sidda asks to learn more about them and their friendship as research to give her play more life. After consultation with the Ya-Yas, Vivi sends Sidda a giant scrapbook documenting their friendship over the years.

Most of the book is told through Sidda flipping through the scrapbook, reading letters, and finding photos and ephemera, and then thinking back to what she can remember her mother or the other Ya-Yas saying about a certain event. Then we flip to Vivi's memory and get the full story. Back and forth. I liked this bit -- Vivi's life as a young, wealthy woman in the South and the adventures of she and her sassy girlfriends are entertaining and fun to read, and I like stories told through letters. We also get some of Sidda's life -- parts of which are interesting, but most of which are boring interior monologues wondering if she knows how to love anyone, if she can forgive her mother, if she deserves happiness, and why she doesn't have any Ya-Yas. Of course she does have friends, they just happen to be a gay costume designer and a alterna-girl playwright. Not southern belles who like to drink and cuss and wear nice dresses like her mother's friends.

Would I like this book better if I had some Ya-Yas? Possibly. But I've always just had one or two super close girlfriends, and those friends change every ten years or so. And really, most of my friends are boys. I'm still friends with my oldest best friend (Hi L.!), but not in a Ya-Ya kind of way. To do that, I think you'd have to never leave where you grew up, never expand from the comfort of your childhood, and never really fall in love with your husband. Because none of the ladies in this book seem to think of their husbands as anything more than a guy to get money from, a nuisance, or a child (or in the case of Sidda, a sex-machine -- and the sex is really not very interesting to read about).

As you might expect, everything works out in the end. And the ending is satisfying and not overly sappy. This book was okay, but just not the sort of thing I usually like to read. If she could have cut out some of the moralizing and nauseatingly metaphoric interludes, the book would have been even better.

[Also, I'm having some houseguests through the weekend, so posting will dry up for a few days while I have a luxurious in-town vacation.]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SB Wednesday has no failure to communicate

Paul Newman, welcome to Secret Boyfriend Wednesday. How on earth could we leave you out? Not only are you smoking hot, but you also make a mean line of food products (which are awesome -- if I have a choice between something Paul Newman made and something else, I go with Paul every time), and you donate all your profits to charity!

In addition, you have aged quite well.

Although I will never get tired of young Paul. Nice work, PN -- welcome to the SB pantheon!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I swear I didn't start out to document the strangeness in the world of Cuisinart advertising, but somehow I have. Here is another case in point. Part of what is weird in all these ads (and there are a lot of weird elements to choose from) is that everyone is looking somewhere very deliberately, but almost no one is looking at the person that is looking at them. In addition, no one is talking. I don't know about you, but in my family, someone is always talking. Let's break this one down (click to make it bigger):

1. Woman A is looking at Woman H, and Woman H is looking in the direction of Woman A, but their eyes don't seem to be meeting.
2. Man B is looking at Woman A, and getting no love.
3. Kid C might be looking at Dude G, but it seems more likely that he is looking at something out of the frame.
4. Woman D is looking at kid C.
5. Girl E is looking at Old Man F, but he is looking at Woman D, who is not looking at him.
6. Dude G is either looking at Woman A or Man B. Either way, neither of them are looking at him.

Who thought these ads were a good idea? They make me feel like I'm looking at robots pretending to be humans, and don't really make me feel like Cuisinarting anything at all.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Patchwork Girl of Oz

As we saw at the end of The Emerald City of Oz, L. Frank Baum attempted to end the Oz series through a final chapter where he receives a letter from Dorothy saying goodbye forever as Oz has been magically cut off from the rest of the world in order to protect it from outsiders. However, Baum ran into financial difficulty, and decided to revive the Oz series three years later with The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913).

And how did he hear this story from Dorothy, after all contact had been so abruptly cut off? Why, through the wonder of science, of course!

The children who had learned to look for the books about Oz and who loved the stories about the gay and happy people inhabiting that favored country, were as sorry as their Historian that there would be no more books of Oz stories. They wrote many letters asking if the Historian did not know of some adventures to write about that had happened before the Land of Oz was shut out from all the rest of the world. But he did not know of any. Finally one of the children inquired why we couldn't hear from Princess Dorothy by wireless telegraph, which would enable her to communicate to the Historian whatever happened in the far-off Land of Oz without his seeing her, or even knowing just where Oz is.

That seemed a good idea; so the Historian rigged up a high tower in his back yard, and took lessons in wireless telegraphy until he understood it, and then began to call "Princess Dorothy of Oz" by sending messages into the air.

Now, it wasn't likely that Dorothy would be looking for wireless messages or would heed the call; but one thing the Historian was sure of, and that was that the powerful Sorceress, Glinda, would know what he was doing and that he desired to communicate with Dorothy. For Glinda has a big book in which is recorded every event that takes place anywhere in the world, just the moment that it happens, and so of course the book would tell her about the wireless message.

And that was the way Dorothy heard that the Historian wanted to speak with her, and there was a Shaggy Man in the Land of Oz who knew how to telegraph a wireless reply. The result was that the Historian begged so hard to be told the latest news of Oz, so that he could write it down for the children to read, that Dorothy asked permission of Ozma and Ozma graciously consented.

So via telegraph, we learn about the story of Ojo and Unc Nunkie -- two Munchkins who live by themselves in an isolated forest. The only problem is, they have run out of food. They decide to leave their home and travel to the Emerald City where they can start a new life and have enough to eat. On their way, they stop by the house of Dr. Pipt, a magician who also lives in the woods with his wife. This is the same magician that invented the Powder of Life that brought Jack Pumpkinhead, the Saw Horse, and the Gump to life in The Marvelous Land of Oz. Even though he is forbidden to practice magic, Dr. Pipt has been working for six years to make some more Powder of Life in order to bring a human-sized patchwork doll that his wife made to life so that it can be their servant and do all the housework.

Just before the powder is ready, Dr. Pipt's wife, Margolotte, picks out the right combination of brains to suit her servant (a bunch of Obedience, some Amiability, a little Truth, and a dash of Cleverness --she wants her to have enough brains to be a good servant, but not so many that she gets any ideas of not obeying her mistress). Ojo thinks that the Patchwork Girl ought to be given as many brains as anyone else, so when Margolotte is helping her husband, he adds in some more of everything, plus Judgment, Courage, Ingenuity, Learning, Poesy and Self-Reliance.

Sadly just as the now very precocious Patchwork Girl is brought to life, a vial of Liquid of Petrification falls on Unc Nunkie and Margolotte and turns them into stone. The magician can make a potion to heal them, but to do it, Ojo will need to go on a journey and collect a six-leaved clover found only in the Emerald City, three hairs from the tip of a Woozy's tail, a gill of water from a dark well, a drop of oil from a live man's body, and the left wing of a yellow butterfly. He takes the Patchwork Girl and a rather stuck-up glass cat that the magician had brought to life earlier and heads out on his journey.

The group meets up with The Shaggy Man, who introduces them to the Scarecrow (who immediately falls head over heels for the Patchwork Girl), the Tin Man, Dorothy, and the rest of the gang. Many adventures are had, and although they aren't able to get all the ingredients for the potion (the Tin Man won't let anybody harm the yellow butterflies that are found only in his kingdom because his heart is too big to see any living thing harmed in any way), everything works out fine in the end.

This is one of the Oz books that was made into a movie produced by Baum in 1914, and if IMDB is to be believed, it is one of the most faithful adaptations.

[And as always, you can read the whole thing online here.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

What is Awesome

When the rain (mostly) holds off the whole time you are sitting outside for a happy hour, and then starts up just when you are getting ready for bed. Thanks rain. I like to sleep to you, but I don't like you to fall into my drink.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SB Revelations

In honor of the American Idol finale, and because I'm having to dig deep to find unrevealed secret boyfriends, I'm going to own up to a kind of ridiculous SB of mine: Simon Cowell. It's true. He wasn't at first, but something about watching him every week has really grown on me. I like that he almost always wears a tight black shirt. I like that he doesn't smile much, but when he does it's cute. And he is generally pretty spot on with his comments -- really the only honest-ish person on the show.

I also love the smirk.

And the whole fake-rude bit. I don't know why, he just appeals to me. I'm kind of embarrassed about this. Does anyone else think he's cute?

[The one thing I do hate is the fake/scripty animosity between him and Ryan Seacrest. Can't those dudes just give it a rest? I like that Simon always seems sort of irritated by having to do it. Ryan Seacrest is the anti-SB.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Make it

I was thinking about drawing a little comic to illustrate my review of Making comics : storytelling secrets of comics, manga and graphic novels (2006) by Scott McCloud, but it turns out that I have very little ability or patience for drawing, I'm too lazy, and I didn't even try. Sorry, guys. Maybe I'll surprise you by whipping up some awesome doodles at a later date.

It says a lot for McCloud's book, however, that it made me think (pretty seriously even) that I could, and should, try making a comic of my own. This is the third book in McCloud's series exploring the world of comics (I still need to read Reinventing Comics, anyone have it?), and in this volume he gets down to where the pencil meets the paper and describes the actual procedures that go into turning your comics ideas into reality. Since I'm not a comics artist myself, I'm not sure how important and/or valid McCloud's advice is, but as a comics reader, I found it to be really interesting and engaging. Plus I just love the idea of a non-fiction book in comic format.

If you are interested, check out Scott McClouds Making Comics webpage, including his online Chapter Five and a Half -- an online, comic format chapter about online comics.

And a gazillion thanks to the lovely Joolie for loaning me this. I'll get it back to you as super soon as possible.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Old Pictures

My sister has been scanning in some old slides and prints from my grand- parent's house, and she burned a bunch of them to CD for me. I haven't gone through everything, but so far there are some awesome shots of my grandmother (who we called Bemor) and her sisters in the 1920s. They made all their own clothes and there are some very fashionable get-ups here. Just a few up for now, but I'll try to add more later.

[Addendum -- more have been added.]

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I recently read The Dark Light-Years by Brian Aldiss (1964). We all know I have a tendency to buy science fiction books that are worn-out looking and old with awesome covers. This cover is pretty great (and I'd heard of Brian Aldiss before), but it wasn't enough to push me to buy the book.To get to that point, I had to turn the book over and peruse the back cover. Utods, huh? Those sound pretty interesting... Wallow in filth? Why, I love to read about that. Let's just keep looking down to the Author Photo:

Yes. Yes, this book must be read.

In this book, the world of the Utods and the world of the Humans intersect. The Utods are an ancient race who live in a distant galaxy -- they have a highly developed biological system that coincides with the rotation of their planet between three distinct suns. Their social, cultural, and religious beliefs all center on the process (and product) of defecation (no joke), which they see as a gift that symbolizes the ultimate cycle of life where bodies enter the carrion stage and feed the trees on the planet, becoming once again part of the universe. So, the Utods basically sit around in wallows of dirt and shit all day.

They are also giant and kind of hippo-like with six retractable arms and two heads, one that talks and one that shits. They are peaceful, but went through a period of revolution in their culture many generations ago where a sect of Utods shunned defecation for cleanliness, invented all kinds of spaceships and things, but eventually died out in a big war between themselves. The remaining Utods kept the technological knowledge and use it to travel to and colonize other hospitable planets.

The humans run across a pod of Utods in their temporary wallow on a planet they are both exploring. When the Utods say something to the humans (their language sounds like high pitched squeaks and screams and comes from all their orafices), they shoot all but two of the group. A scientist on board on the ship makes them capture the remaining Utods for study instead of shooting them. But are they intelligent?

All the shit really makes it hard for the humans to see the Utods as anything less than animals. All the cleanliness makes it really hard for the Utods to see the humans as an intelligent, thinking race. Both groups are at a standstill and while they have a lot of philosophical discussions about what "intelligent life" really is, neither race really makes a breakthrough.

That is until a human is left on the Utod planet to spend a year understanding the race and learning their language, or teaching them English. This is a good assignment for a young explorer who wants to get away from Earth for awhile, but what happens when he is forgotten in the fallout from a planetary war and left with the Utods for 40 years? What can the humans learn from the Utods, and what can the Utods learn from the humans?

I liked this book -- its got a nice sense of humor, and a good mix of philosophy and action. Plus the little details about everyday life on future earth are fun (although sometimes a little dated and goofy).

[P.S. This copy is the original 1964 Signet Books printing, just in case you are geeky like me and think that's cool.]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

American Idol Geek Out


I expected this to be a Melinda vs. Jordin shootout, with Jordin winning. I don't mind Blake, and I still think Jordin will win, but Melinda is the best!

Can you believe I'm thirty? I can't.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen

John Cusack has been a secret boyfriend of mine for about forever. He has done some pretty dumb movies, and he isn't great in everything, but just look at the great movies that he is great in, including: Say Anything, The Grifters, Being John Malkovich, and High Fidelity. They are so great that they permanently implant him in my brain as the perfect smart, funny, totally flawed, but ultimately good guy.

Plus the pretty good movies that he is great in like Grosse Pointe Blank, Bullets Over Broadway, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil aren't so bad.

In addition, he's just so darn cute.

And obviously, there's this:

Monday, May 14, 2007


The lovely Choo recently dropped off a copy of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972). I've always wanted to come across a bookcrossing book and I've wanted to reread all the Judy Blume books as an adult, so this really killed two birds with one stone.

I remember liking this book when I was a kid, but I think I only read it one time (as opposed to Are You There God, It's Me Margaret and the semi-smutty Forever which I read about a million times.) As an adult, this didn't really hold up. The story features Sheila, the younger of two sisters, during the family's summer in a vacation home. Sheila is a know-it-all who never likes to admit that she is scared or doesn't know how to do something. This gets her into some uncomfortable positions when she is caught in a lie, but there is never a big come-uppence where she learns a big lesson about being herself. Of course, she does learn to chill out a bit and not lie so much, but gradually, and just sort of. I had a tendency to sympathize with the older sister, since I'm an oldest myself, and since Sheila is kind of a brat. Still, I'm glad I got to re-read this....

And here is the bookcrossing page for this copy -- keep your eye out at local bus stops and maybe you can be the next reader!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Dr. M is a wonderful man. He unexpectedly brought me home a bouquet of lilies with the beer I expected him to bring home last night. Now all I can do is take pictures of them and tell my husband he is great. More pictures here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Life is not a series of gig lamps

I recently read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925). I love the modernists, and especially Virginia Woolf, but somehow I had gotten through 30 years of my life without reading this book. I'm not sure why. Now I want to go back and re-read all her other books. Modernism is for me!

In the introduction to my copy of the book, the editor quotes from Woolf's essay "Modern Fiction" (1919):

Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions -- trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpest of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms, and as they fall, as they shape themselves into the life of Monday or Tuesday, the accent falls differently from of old; the moment of importance came not here but there, so that, if a writer were a free man and not a slave, if he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon feeling and not upon conviction, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no love interest or catastrophe in the accepted style, and perhaps not a single button sewn on as the Bond Street tailors would have it... Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged, life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.

That really gets at the heart of what Woolf is doing with Mrs. Dalloway. In this book, we follow the title character through one day of her life as she prepares for and hosts a party at her house. While not really stream of consciousness, the narrative is very loose and free (sometimes almost poetic) and follows the thoughts of Mrs. Dalloway and the people with whom she interacts. We easily transfer from one person to another and then back again, learning about their present and their past, and their relationships with one another. The end result is a truly engrossing and descriptive book of a life, as told through the lens of one day of it. One thing that I love is when giant things are crammed into tiny artistic containers, and the restraints of setting a book in one day really appeal to me.

Has any one read The Hours? I kind of want to now and (eventually) also see the movie. I've heard better things about the book than the movie, but both sound interesting.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


With my camera at least. SB Wednesday will have to be delayed as I am spending my night playing with the settings and the new software, and watching American Idol. I am a very complicated woman.

Check out the initial alcohol-fueled results here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Emerald City of Oz

In the sixth book of the Oz series, The Emerald City of Oz (1910), we find Dorothy, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry in hard times. It seems that the tornado that blew the house away in the first Oz book combined with several poor growing seasons have left Uncle Henry in debt to the bank, and they are about to foreclose. Dorothy's aunt and uncle ponder their future and guess that Dorothy too will have to go to work in the city if they are to survive.

Dorothy has been telling her aunt and uncle all about her visits to Oz, and they mostly think she is just being fanciful. When she brings up the fact that Ozma looks for Dorothy in her magic mirror every day at four, and if Dorothy makes a certain sign with her hands she is transported to Oz, her guardians decide to humor her and let her go off to live in Oz if she wants to. Dorothy does just that, but after a consultation with Ozma, she has Aunt Em and Uncle Henry transported to Oz as well so they can all live happily ever after and not have to worry about the bank or the farm or dusty old Kansas.

And who wouldn't want to live in Oz:

Altogether there were more than half a million people in the Land of Oz--although some of them, as you will soon learn, were not made of flesh and blood as we are--and every inhabitant of that favored country was happy and prosperous.

No disease of any sort was ever known among the Ozites, and so no one ever died unless he met with an accident that prevented him from living. This happened very seldom, indeed. There were no poor people in the Land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. The people were her children, and she cared for them. Each person was given freely by his neighbors whatever he required for his use, which is as much as any one may reasonably desire. Some tilled the lands and raised great crops of grain, which was divided equally among the entire population, so that all had enough. There were many tailors and dressmakers and shoemakers and the like, who made things that any who desired them might wear. Likewise there were jewelers who made ornaments for the person, which pleased and beautified the people, and these ornaments also were free to those who asked for them. Each man and woman, no matter what he or she produced for the good of the community, was supplied by the neighbors with food and clothing and a house and furniture and ornaments and games. If by chance the supply ever ran short, more was taken from the great storehouses of the Ruler, which were afterward filled up again when there was more of any article than the people needed.

Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do. There were no cruel overseers set to watch them, and no one to rebuke them or to find fault with them. So each one was proud to do all he could for his friends and neighbors, and was glad when they would accept the things he produced.

You will know by what I have here told you, that the Land of Oz was a remarkable country. I do not suppose such an arrangement would be practical with us, but Dorothy assures me that it works finely with the Oz people.

Sounds pretty utopic, right?

Unfortunately for Dorothy, Ozma, and the rest of the citizens of Oz, the Nome King (remember him from Ozma of Oz?) is still really mad that Ozma took his magic belt. He comes up with a scheme to tunnel under the deadly desert with his army to attack the Emerald City, enslave the Ozites, and get his belt back. To assist in his project, he forms an alliance with three other nasty evil groups who also want to plunder Oz and get rid of happy people. One of these groups are the totally awesome Whimsies:

These Whimsies were curious people who lived in a retired country of their own. They had large, strong bodies, but heads so small that they were no bigger than door-knobs. Of course, such tiny heads could not contain any great amount of brains, and the Whimsies were so ashamed of their personal appearance and lack of commonsense that they wore big heads made of pasteboard, which they fastened over their own little heads. On these pasteboard heads they sewed sheep's wool for hair, and the wool was colored many tints--pink, green and lavender being the favorite colors. The faces of these false heads were painted in many ridiculous ways, according to the whims of the owners, and these big, burly creatures looked so whimsical and absurd in their queer masks that they were called "Whimsies." They foolishly imagined that no one would suspect the little heads that were inside the imitation ones, not knowing that it is folly to try to appear otherwise than as nature has made us.

The two parallel stories of Dorothy and her friends showing her aunt and uncle around Oz and meeting interesting characters, and the Nome King and his evil allies tunneling under the desert to attack Oz don't really intersect until the very end of the book, when Ozma comes up with a marvelous scheme to stop the baddies and save her kingdom without fighting one bit. After getting everything back to normal, Ozma casts a spell over Oz so that no one else will ever be able to find it, thus preserving their happy kingdom for all time.

Baum sneaks in a surprising last chapter which I'm sure caused panic in his young followers:

The writer of these Oz stories has received a little note from Princess Dorothy of Oz which, for a time, has made him feel rather disconcerted. The note was written on a broad, white feather from a stork's wing, and it said:



This seemed to me too bad, at first, for Oz is a very interesting fairyland. Still, we have no right to feel grieved, for we have had enough of the history of the Land of Oz to fill six story books, and from its quaint people and their strange adventures we have been able to learn many useful and amusing things.

So good luck to little Dorothy and her companions. May they live long in their invisible country and be very happy!

This is a far cry from what Baum wrote in the preface to this book, and I'm guessing he had a change of heart since there are nine more Oz books yet to come. Perhaps those paychecks were too big to give up, because Baum has seemed to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about continuing the Oz story since about the third book, and yet he continues to write...

[And now you should probably just read the whole thing here.]

Friday, May 04, 2007

"Authorities say they were whacked by the mob"

Doesn't this story seem a little insensitive? I'm not saying this isn't an interesting way to die, or that their scheme was fool-proof, but should journalists really use the word "whacked" when a couple was actually murdered? This isn't an episode of The Sopranos, it's CNN.

Oh, those wacky gangsters. What kind of hijinks will they get into next?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One Millon for Sperm, Three Thousand for Bedspread

Oh, Vincent Gallo, I love you so. And this page is filling me with glee. If I had $50,000, we would be spending the day together. But not to have sex or anything, I've got Dr. M for that. Just to hang out and also to stare into your eyes.

I'm a little shocked that someone bought your St. Anthony medallion from your first communion for $1000. Was that maybe your mom?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

SB Wednesday Drew First Blood

In a similar fashion to the Kurt Russell/eye-patch SB phenomenon, the cast of Young Guns (and, naturally, Young Guns II) have also earned a mysterious place in SB history. Individually, I have nothing against Emilio, Charlie, Kiefer, and Lou. They are all attractive enough, but they just don't have that SB touch. But, put them together as a gang of gun fighting bad guys with hearts of gold in the old west, and they are magic. I haven't seen either of these movies since maybe 1991, but I'm betting that the SB status will hold up even if the films fall a little flat. I can't say why throwing this rag tag bunch of actors together in the wild west makes them exponentially cuter, but it does, and I don't like to overly question the SB magic.

And now I think you should probably watch the Blaze of Glory video, since the song is surely in your head:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Don't look too closely, or you will be hypnotized by the amazing cover of John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) [the equally mesmerising back cover is available here].

In this book we have a quiet English village called Midwich. One night something descends over the town that puts everyone in it -- and every person who crosses over an invisible line surrounding the town -- to sleep. Odd, right? This lasts for about a day and then everyone wakes up. People try to put the "Dayout" behind them, although certain government types noticed that a strange large object landed near Midwich during the Dayout and are keeping tabs on the whole place just to see if anything develops.

After a bit, all the women of childbearing age in the village realize that they are simultaneously pregnant. Not such a big deal for the married ladies, but rather hard to explain for the spinsters, virgins, and wives whose husbands are off in the service. When the babies come out, they all look remarkably similar, and all have strange glowing eyes. They are dubbed The Children, and are grudgingly accepted into the village. Until they start using their mental powers to make people do their bidding!

As one of the philosophical leaders of the village puts it: "The important thing about the cuckoo is not how the egg got into the nest, nor why that nest was chosen; the real matter for concern comes after it has been hatched; what, in fact, it will attempt to do next. And that, whatever it may be, will be motivated by its instinct for survival, an instinct characterized chiefly by utter ruthlessness."

The odd thing about The Midwich Cuckoos is that it seems like a science fiction/horror type book, but it reads more like a philosophical novel exploring evolution, political science, human nature, and the English way of doing things. And that isn't a criticism -- I really enjoyed this book. It has a very satisfying ending and a nice pacing that never balances the philosophical with the mysterious.

However, I imagine that the film versions of the story (including The Bloodening, The Simpson's parody version of the film) focus a bit more on the freaky-scariness of The Children and a bit less on how stiff those English upper-lips can be. And now, for your enjoyment, the trailer for the 1960 movie The Village of the Damned, based on The Midwich Cuckoos. (In addition, John Carpenter remade this in 1995 and I can't wait to watch both versions.)