Tuesday, March 30, 2004
I'm going to walk Caleb now. Anyone who reads this: have a wonderful day.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Saturday, March 27, 2004
For years I went to school an hour away from home. Took a van. SOP on that van was some combination of reading and sleeping. Usually more the latter than the former. This became a bad habit. It got to the point that as soon as I got in a car, I'd immediately get drowsy. On any extended car trip -- to school, to the beach, to Williamsburg, wherever -- I'd either pull out a book, or immediately conk out. Then I started feeling bad about this. My parents aren't chauffers. They're not taxi drivers. I felt like a jerk for this behavior. Now, I make it a point, when I'm being driven somewhere, to entertain the driver. I don't mean act like a clown, but at least to offer conversation, and not to immediately display a lack of interest in the person driving me somewhere. If the conversation peters out and I doze off, fine, but at least I'm not just taking the driver for granted, not just ignoring the driver. Plus I've had some interesting conversations I wouldn't otherwise have had. Just a thought.
Here's another: I don't go to shul regularly. This is in large part because I'm usually not home, and in equally large part because for several years no one in my family has gone regularly. But now, when I'm home, I try to go. I went today. I quite enjoyed it. It's different now, though. Used to be, once every few weeks there was some kid being bar mitzvahed on Saturday morning. Now, there's one every week -- sometimes more than one. This has its drawbacks. For one, the speeches. The bar (or bat) mitzvah delivers the speech. Since there's one of these very week, it means that Rabbi Grumbacher doesn't speak as often, which is a shame because he's a fun fellow. And more and more frequently, the speeches are far shorter than they should be, often badly organized and rather incoherent. The goal is eleven or twelve minutes. It's all worked out, you see, and with an eleven minute speech the service gets out within a minute or two of the same time every week. But recently I'm seeing more and more three to four minute speeches. It's a shame, because every once in a while the thirteen-year-old surprises you with a really good, interesting speech (of course, then you're given to wonder whether he or she was actually the writer of the thing, but that's a different issue). Anyway, it's also interesting to me how much the service has changed over the years. The tunes of the songs are often different -- and in most cases, I liked the old tunes better. Rabbis and cantors have come and gone, with the exception of Rabbi Grumbacher, who's been around since before I was born. The children's choir has evolved and grown and so forth. Eh. I'm beginning to bore myself, so I'm most likely boring you. If you care to talk about this, there's always the comment button.
Enough of this being online nonsense. I'm going to go play with my dog.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Have a lovely evening, everyone.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
We just about halfway through our spring term, so we're dealing with midterm papers and exams and such. Which means I've got kind of a lot to do over the next couple of days. Then I've got a week off, so will finally have the opportunity to meet my dog. It should be wonderful. Should also be another pleasant change of scenery. Also, with a week home I'll finally have time to read Fool's Fate, which has been sitting on my shelf since January. The reviews of this final volume of Robin Hobb's trilogy of trilogies have been very positive, so I can't wait to dig in. I hope the weather'll be cool enough to get a fire going, so I can read in front of it.
This past weekend, I actually got two good full nights of sleep. Then I couldn't sleep Sunday night. But I seem to be doing well in that department the past few days, and today have been feeling pretty awake. Yesterday I had quite a headache, but some music blasted into my ears at obscene volumes put an end to that in short order.
Back to work for me!
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Friday, March 19, 2004
Also, I've been promoted to mod over at TFN. Why this didn't happen two years ago, I don't know. Neither, it seems, does anyone else. But they finally got around to it. So be nice to me, or I'll ban you once you register there. Eek. I shudder to think how much I've written there since I registered back in '98. Probably at least about 400k words. Probably more than that. There are over 14 million posts total on the system right now, not counting those that have been pruned over the years. That's a lot of words.
Right. Back to work.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Also, in case you're interested, The Scarlet Letter was published 154 years ago today. "And whither was he now going? Would he not suddenly sink into the earth, leaving a barren and blasted spot, where, in due course of time, would be seen deadly nightshade, dogwood, henbane, and whatever else of vegetable wickedness the climate could produce, all flourishing with hideous luxuriance? Or would he spread bat's wings and flee away, looking so much the uglier the higher he rose towards heaven?"
Have a wonderful day.
Monday, March 15, 2004
Here he is!
Inside looking out. . .
Exploring the yard. . .
With my little sister Mary. . .
It's not a great picture, but on the bottom right is the dog, and on the bottom left is his cage, which is quite impressive if I do say so myself. . .
And one of my cat, Sheba.
The I, Robot trailer is out. I really liked director Alex Proyas' work on The Crow and Dark City, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and see the movie, but honestly, it looks to have about as much in common with Asimov's Robot stories and novels as the Conan the Barbarian movie had in common with Robert E. Howard's stories. Looks like this movie'll be just a standard action flick, and not a terribly good one at that. Oh, well. At least Asimov isn't getting it as bad as poor Frank Herbert, whose corpse is being actively sodomized by his son and ::shudder:: Kevin J. Anderson with each of their Dune "novels." A good number of Asimov's sadly oop books are apparently being brought back into print this year, and I eagerly await Alex Irvine's Have Robot, Will Travel (also One King, One Soldier, but that one has nothing to do with Asimov that I'm aware of). Not only is Irvine actually a good author, but that title cracks me up every time I read it.
In other news, because it amused me: Where Is My Gay Apocalypse?
"I've grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air,
Accustomed to her face."
I may put something of some interest up later if I actually manage to finish my work. Which is doubtful, so don't hold your breath.
Have a wonderful day, everyone.
Friday, March 12, 2004
- Mel Gibson still has not learned that it is not simply brutal and graphic depictions of violence that prove a person has dignity. There's more to it than endurance.
- The look of this film was far from what I was expecting. I'd thought that it was shooting for verisimilitude. I'm not going to talk about historical inaccuracies here; there are many other websites devoted to that. No, it just was far more cinematic than I'd expected. The surreal camerawork, the style of the movie, put me more in mind of a fantasy film along the lines of Lord of the Rings or Brotherhood of the Wolf than a historical film. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that approach. It's just not what I was expecting.
- John Debney's score is more impressive as a complement to the film than it is on its own. It's still not as good as CutThroat Island's score, though.
- Satan was pretty uneccesary in this movie. But this was one of the better cinematic depictions of Satan that I've seen. Creepy fellow.
- Not sure how I liked the whole screaming earth thing.
- The movie's at many times possessed of the same maudlin sentimentality of Lord of the Rings and BraveHeart. If you didn't like it there, you probably won't like it here. I happen not to mind it at all and loved both of those movies.
- You really need to have read the Bible, I think, before you see this. Its focus is on the passion itself, and as such there's very little backstory regarding why the Pharisees are so royally pissed at Yeshua, very little character development, so if you don't know who Yeshua is going into the movie, you really won't have much reason to care about the character other than the painfully shocking graphic violence.
- No, it wasn't antisemitic.
- Paul Verhoeven, one of my favorite directors, has long wanted to make a Jesus biopic, although I doubt he'll ever get to. I wonder how this movie compares to the one he would've made, given his own unflinchingly honest and often shockingly violent style of filmmaking. I'm thinking his Jesus movie probably would have been better than this one, and much more controversial.
- The movie was powerful, and affected me a lot more than I expected it to. I didn't cry as so many in the theater did. I don't recall even flinching during the movie. But afterward, now, it's eating at me more than I really feel comfortable admitting.
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
As I'm sure you're all aware, it's extremely frustrating when you want very much to help somebody with something, and he or she doesn't want to be helped, or won't let him- (or her-)self be helped. Or simply won't let you help. Or maybe you just don't know how to offer your help in such a way that you won't seem like a terrific asshole. In any event, as I said, it's frustrating.
Of course, I've other and more significant frustrations, but I'm certainly not sharing them over a blog.
Nicole Kidman is likely to play the White Witch in the silver screen adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to be directed by Shrek and Shrek II director Andrew Adamson, filmed in New Zealand with much of the LotR production team, and released Christmas 2005.
Just the other day, I heard for the first time of an upcoming SF flick that has me intrigued: IMMORTEL Ad Vitam. It looks kind of in the vein of The Fifth Element, and kind of in the vein of StarGate, and kind of unique, and potentially quite good. Or quite bad. Either way, I'm quite interested to see it. Watch the trailer here.
Moving on. In case you've been wondering what I've been reading lately . . . well, here's what I've been working on for the past month or so:
Gridlinked by Neal Asher. I'm about a quarter of the way through it, and am so far a bit disappointed. Yes, there's been some nifty action and neat concepts, but from the almost unanimously terrific praise, I was expecting better. I think the biggest problem is simply that his prose doesn't particularly engage me. I hope I like it enough not to cancel my preorder of The Skinner, but we shall see.
Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales & by Anna Tambour. Kirsten Bishop and now Anna Tambour. Who'd've thunk Australia would start spitting out some of the finest writers
Friday, March 05, 2004
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Swords are not allowed on campus here, which I understand even if I don't like it. So the other night I went up and found a suitably sword-sized piece of wood to swing. It wasn't nearly heavy enough and its balance wasn't right, and furthermore the calluses on my hands had gone down since I got back to school, so my palms rubbed raw fairly quickly, but even so it was very soothing just to swing that "sword" around in the manner of one who has seen far too many sword movies and has very little practical knowledge of the art for a couple hours. I meant to do the same last night, but it's been getting warmer and there have been far too many skunks about. Now, in three years of wandering the local woods and fields in the middle of the night I haven't yet been sprayed by a skunk, though there have been some close calls, but I decided not to risk it last night.
While on the topic of my ineptitude with weapons, I recall fondly my archery class of a couple semesters ago. For the first couple weeks I was hitting bullseye after bullseye and feeling really good about myself. Then the teacher came in, said he'd been doing a little reading and had realized he'd had us holding the bows upside-down. As soon as we righted the bows, my target was safe. Most of the rest of the semester I barely hit the target, although I did work my way up to a couple bullseyes right at the end. I don't understand how I can be such a fine shot with an inverted bow, and such a lousy shot when doing things the "right way," but I do know that if I'm ever called upon to fire an arrow when it matters, I'm for darn sure going to be holding that bow upside-down.
After much consideration, I've decided that I need more sleep. I have trouble falling asleep at night, and usually wake up something like an hour before my alarm clock, which is set pretty early anyway because I like not sleeping the morning away. I don't need much sleep, but I do need a good bit more than I've been getting, because frankly, I'm sick of being tired all the time. I've also decided that while nice guys may occasionally finish first, in all likelihood shy, unassertive, socially inept, boring, assly, creepy, show-offy uncharismatic guys like myself probably never will, and for good reason. And with that cheery thought, I'll wish you all a wonderful day and be off to class.
Well, in a minute, anyway. I have noticed that despite my plea for help with coming up for a name for my new dog, I have received no suggestions. So . . . what would you name him:
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Speaking of mediocre composers writing good scores, apparently Howard Shore won the Oscar for best original score for Return of the King. (Am I the only person who didn't realize the Oscars were upon us until after they were over?) He's usually quite a boring composer, but was apparently a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and it shows in his work. He won Oscars for the first and third films, and may well have for #2 as well, except that it didn't get nominated because there was some confusion about the eligibility of sequels. Anyway, I think his music for these movies works much better in the movies than on its own, but I am looking forward to the six-movement Lord of the Rings Symphony that he's working on.
I'd write more right now, but for two things. One: I have work to do. Two: I'm tired and feel like I'm writing quite sloppily. So . . . until tomorrow. Good night, everyone.
Monday, March 01, 2004
Liz: thank you.
Aaron Allston: What's up with this guy? He's an author whose work I enjoy rather a lot, but I do wish he'd stop writing spin-off novels. He recently updated his website with the following bit of news: "My next novel will be Terminator Hunt, the follow-up to Terminator Dreams, and it will be followed by a trilogy of novels set in the world of the Deus Ex computer game series." Now, obviously I don't have any problem with spin-off novels, but Aaron's output is getting ridiculous. He's written fourteen novels. Six of them are set in the Star Wars universe, one in the Terminator 3 milieu, and all but three of the rest in various computer game and RPG environments. Now, as I said, I don't have a problem with media novels per se. Aaron's good enough that he usually rises above his subject matter; his four Star Wars: X-Wing novels are among the best SW novels out there, and his T3 novel is infinitely better than the film. But his three original novels are better. Galatea in 2-D is great fun, and I daresay his two Doc Sidhe novels border on brilliance. Aaron is a wonderfully fun, thoroughly enjoyable, and surprisingly good writer with a brilliant sense of humor. He also writes very compelling characters. (If you're interested in sampling his work, his novel Doc Sidhe is available as a free download from the publisher. I recommend it.) Anyway, back in April 2002, before Terminator Dreams was announced, Aaron mentioned that he'd "be returning to MONGOOSE AMONG COBRAS, a military/action science fiction novel I started a while back and had to set aside. It will seem familiar in tone to the X-Wing novels, but it's set in a universe of my own design." Now, I'll read anything Aaron writes, but I'd much rather see Mongoose Among Cobras than Terminator 3 and Deus Ex novels.
I certainly understand the appeal of media novels. A Star Wars or Terminator novel brings in a much larger advance than an "original" novel, and although the royalties are smaller, that'll be more than made up for by the fact that the book will sell a zillion times as many copies as the "original" novel. Also, it gets the authors name out to people who might, just might, try one of his original novels because they liked the Star Wars novel so much. But I do wish Aaron had the opportunity to spread his wings a bit more, and couple break out of this rut of writing tie-in novels. I really do.
Finally, A dog's take on the Oscars®.