Horror Story Collection 001

This librivox recording is great!  I particularly enjoyed the stories read by Glen Hallstrom, otherwise known as “Smokestack Jones.”

Frailty

Frailty

I thought this movie would suck, but it didn’t. The storytelling and character develoment of the children is pretty strong, and the creepy premise works well without overdoing it. The gore is surprisingly minimal for a movie about a bunch of axe murders.

Through a Scanner Darkly; To Kingdom Come

I listened to Phillip K. Dick’s Through a Scanner Darkly as an audio book read by Paul Giamatti, who rules. It was pretty great, but depressing. The author’s note at the end gives the book an interesting twist, and the shifting perspectives make the discussion of drug culture so central to the book especially poignant.

Will Thomas’ To Kingdom Come was pretty dang good too. A straightforward historical mystery, set in the early 1900’s London, there was plenty of derring-do and an entertaining cast of characters. I’ll definitely read the predecessor to this book, as well as its follow up.

Closer to 60 than 0

So I’m 30 now. I bought me a pro flickr account and got a book about making truffles — first batch, so-so. Three score to go.

The WinXP printer fiasco

So it turns out my all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax has no Linux driver. Apparently, it has a tiny internal processor and uses the computer’s processor to do its work, and only has been supported for windows. Thankfully, I don’t print much.

Scanning, though. I like to do that. 🙁

Zombi

I hadn’t seen this film, the epitome of Italian splatter-horror.  I am a better person for having seen it.  I’m particularly interested in it because it makes a loose allegation that the horror zombies, who work much like the zombies in most horror movies, are spawned by voodoo magic.  I find this connection significant because the connection between the voudun zombie and the horror zombie is usually more aesthetic (in look and movement) than direct.

eye ouch

Shark and Zombie
Plus, I enjoyed the film’s final notion that New York has been overrun.

This is the Way the World Ends

by James Morrow

I love this book.  Morrow’s fantasy style never works better than in this story of a regular guy who is rounded up, along with five American deciders, and put on trial for the nuclear apocalypse by the “unadmitted” — the future generations of humans robbed of life by the war.  This is my second reading.  Bonus: this book was recommended to me by Andrew Kozma.

The Windows wash-out continues

I’m going iTunes free, methinks. Check this out:

Amarok

Amarok FTW.

Counter-strike on Linux?

One of my gaming buddies just mentioned that he plays Counter-strike on Linux. OMG!  I may not need to ever use the Windows partition…

Mandarin Mystery

I enjoyed this mystery, though it was awfully confusing at parts.  The detective, a character from a series of novels I’m not familiar with, was an amusing dandy who gleefully went about the business of investigating the murder.  His jaunty attitude toward the crime was made even more amusing by his stiff-necked father’s bluster.

Plus, the featured element in the plot was a rare stamp called the “Mandarin”, which was a misprint featuring a man whose clothes were on backwards.  I couldn’t help but think of The Crying of Lot 49.

Worth my thirty-eight cents:
The classic moment when one of the conspirators, caught by the detective, decides to spill her guts only to be shot just before she does.   If only they’d shown a gun peeking out from behind some drapes first.

Happiness and Books.

Idea 1:I just heard an interesting discussion of Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness, on the Boing Boing podcast.  The conclusion of the book, as explained by the boingers, is that we’re bad at remembering the past and bad at predicting the future, so the best way to learn if something will make you happy is to ask someone else who is experiencing that something at present.

Cory Doctorow throws out an idea to have a happiness network to facilitate this asking of  strangers.  Seems to me an awesome fun project.

So, what about a website for finding happiness.  Users register and ask questions, ‘yes or no’ style, about whether something they’re considering will make them happy.  Others WHO ARE EXPERIENCING THAT THING RIGHT NOW answer.

I have no idea whether it would work, but I like the idea.

Idea 2:

Last week, Boing Boing posted a story about a London book project where people take and leave books in the tube.  Sounds awesome.  We should have that in Chicago.

Emperors and Idiots

: The hundred-year rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox, from the very beginning to the end of the curse.

by Mike Vaccaro

Emperors and IdiotsI’ve never really followed baseball but this book made me want to. It also reminded me about the gap between what people who know about something know about it and what people who are only casually familiar with something know about it. In particular, the regular discussion of the way pitchers made batters hit certain kinds of balls or the way batters intentionally hit to one part of the field or in a particular way. I was never skilled enough at ol’ stickball to do anything other than hit it or catch it, so the idea that a pitcher aims not only at a specific point in the strike zone but also at a specific kind of hit from a specific batter shows a depth of knowledge I’m ashamed I hadn’t realized was at play.

So if I start following baseball, should I follow the Twins, the Cubs, or the Sox?

Read as an audiobook

Vellum

Vellum by Hal Duncan

This book took me a long time to read  (I started this in early January).  It weaves together lots of wicked and weird ideas, but its style is so fragmented and fragmentary that it’s very hard to follow.  I had to keep putting it down so I could read normal narratives.

The concept is pretty interesting and eventually I decided on a “thumbs up” appraisal of the book, but not with a lot of room to spare.  It shares a lot with Zelazny’s Nine Princes of Amber, which also features special beings who can move between dimensions.  The key difference here is that it wasn’t too hard to describe the plot of Zelazny’s book.  Duncan’s book, on the other hand, uses about 50 plots that all seem to be one plot to tell a story whose result isn’t totally clear.  The effect, to me, is like watching an avant-garde film that you know is supposed to have a plot.  Quick flashes eventually add up to an effect, but the path you took to get there is difficult to describe.

In that last regard, it’s much like the kinds of scholarship I imagine work best in electracy.  The fragmenting, mixed discussion whose result isn’t so much a clear argument as a set of ideas echoes itself here.

The final dealy-o

I spent all afternoon installing Windows updates and various software.  I’ve now got a fully functional ubuntu/winxp box.  I also copied all the data I’d backed up to portable drive back to the windows side, so I’ve got plenty o’data now too.  I will migrate much of it over to the linux side soon, but that will take a bit.