Friday, October 30, 2009


The Game is Afoot

First Holmes viral marketing message arrived by telegraphic despatch this afternoon:
London seethes with crime -- STOP -- find your partner upon whom you will rely -- STOP -- evidence secured for your advance assessment -- STOP -- the game is afoot -- STOP -- make all haste to 221B now STOP CLICK HERE
I know not everybody's thrilled about this project but I'm so eager for it I dvr'd the Hammer films Hound of the Baskervilles to watch some sleepless night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #9

Old School Pulp Sci-Fi time.  Check out the cover on Andre Norton's Witch World, wouldja?

(Mine is actually the 1963 Ace first edition that retailed for 40¢)  I'm actually a little worried that opening it again may crack the spine but here's a bit from page 58:
"When a potter creates a vase he lays clay upon the wheel and molds it with the skill of his hands to match the plan which is in his brain. Clay is a product of the earth, but that which changes its shape is the product of intelligence and training. It is in my mind that someone - or something - has gathered up that which is a part of the sea, of the air, and has molded it into another shape to serve a purpose."
I never read any of the other books in the Witch World series, Norton's style is a bit stilted for my taste. But I dig that Blue Falcon with a Hair Dryer cover. I don't know much about Norton but a quick look up in The Anatomy of Wonder informs me she was a childrens librarian, so I like her for that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn from Hitch

What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

The Greatest

The House Next Door: Fighting a Legend: Muhammad and Larry:
As heartbreaking as it is to see Ali now, crippled by Parkinson’s syndrome, this is almost worse. In 1980, Ali was 38 and hadn’t fought in two years. Just two months before the fight, he was overweight—ultimately slimming down by misusing thyroid medication as diet pills. Beyond all of that, it’s obvious now, if somehow it wasn’t then, that a career of taking blows to the head had taken a toll on Ali’s speech and motor skills. The beloved “Greatest of All Time,” whose most celebrated fights were the ones in which none of the experts gave him a chance, was brain damaged and about to step into the ring with Holmes, who at 29 wasn’t a dope who could be roped into a mistake—not that Ali was in any condition to capitalize on a mistake if Holmes made one.

Klingons on the Cutting Room Floor

Star Trek - Internet Trailer | SPIKE: Not awesome cut footage of Klingons from the DVD of J.J. Abrams's Star Trek.

Grieving Chimps

Do chimps grieve?:
"chimp.jpgLook at this photograph and just try to tell me the answer is no.
This incredible image was shot for National Geographic by Monica Szczupider, and shows chimpanzees at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. They're observing as the body of an elder troop member named Dorothy is taken to burial. She died at 40 years of age, which is pretty old for a chimpanzee.

The photo appears in the November issue of National Geographic Magazine, in the 'Visions of Earth' section. [ Thanks, Marilyn Terrell ]"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #8

I didn't think it would happen so soon but random shelf, random book actually yielded a duplicate already, so I redid the book selection and got My Friends The Wild Chimpanzees by Baroness Jane Van Lawick-Goodall (the book was published in 1967 while she was still married to Baron Hugo van Lawick).  This is a slender hardcover volume with a bunch of beautiful color plates. I think I got this as a birthday present when I was living in Madison, WI. My memory is not so great. From page 75:

Nor do the adult male chimpanzees always sit huddled and passive in the rain.  Sometimes when the first drops hit them they begin a display, wildly and rhythmically swaying from foot to foot, rocking saplings to and fro, stamping the ground.  This spectacular performance we call a "rain dance."

Chimpanzees may also respond in the same way to a high wind and to a particularly stimulating social situation, but it is typically their reaction to a sudden downpour.  On two occasions I saw group performances of these rain dances. The first will always haunt my memory.
That I'm fascinated by apes and monkeys is no secret.  It would be hard to explain why beyond the obvious.  We have a cousin, out in the wild, an animal "other" that is very human upon closer inspection.  It is very possible that they will be extinct in my lifetime.  And it will be humanity's fault.  We're killing (and eating) the species, of all the animal kingdom, with which we share the most recent common ancestor.  Their greatest champion over the last 40 years has been been Jane Goodall; her descriptions of the family life of Flo, Flint and the other chimps in Gombe will always haunt my memory.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #7

The Saint in Action, by Leslie Charteris.  A 1980 edition of the 1937 short story collection I picked up at Books 'N Such in Springfield, MA back in the mid 80s.  I was hoping to land on The Last Action Hero, my favorite of the Saint series, but am hoping a passage here will stir some memories of reading this one.
"You ruddy bastard --"

"That'll do, " Simon intervened crisply.  "And I wouldn't take any chances with my health if I were you, brother.  That Betsy of Hoppy's would just about blow you in half, and he's rather sensitive about his family.  We'll go on talking to you presently."

He turned to the others.

"I don't know how it strikes any of you bat-eyed brigands," he said, "but I've got a feeling that this is the best break we've had yet.  After all, a lot of weird things happen in this world of sin, buy you don't usually find girls in overalls riding on smugglers' trucks with a cargo of contraband swagger soup."

"You do when you hold 'em up, " said Peter stoically.
Yeah, fun stuff.  Makes we want to pour a glass of the ol' swagger soup and finish the story. It's a shame the Val Kilmer movie a few years back didn't lead to a revival.  Kilmer wasn't the right guy for the role though and I doubt we'll see another series or movie any time soon.  A shame, really.  AMC or Turner Classic played some of the old George Sanders Saint movies not that long ago. I was impressed by Sanders as Templar but not much else.  The novels and stories are just sitting there waiting to be made into a franchise for whoever the next George Clooney is.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And I Just Like How This Picture Came Out


One of My Favorite (Non-Random) Bookshelves


Random Book, Random Passage #6

The first reference book to come up in this series, Asian Cult Cinema. It's probably not totally random that I flipped and stopped at a picture of Chow Yun-Fat, but I could've stopped on Jackie Chan or Sammo and kept going. Here's a bit about Ringo Lam's Full Contact:
Filmmaker Ringo Lam delivers his masterpiece. While it may be too violent and bleak to woo the mainstream audiences, it emerges as a film that simply can't be ignored. Unquestionably, it's the final word on the ultraviolence craze in HK cinema. Plus the pic benefits from, perhaps, Chow Yun-Fat's finest performance.
It goes on to describe the typically over the top plot and acknowledges the importance of the bullet's-eye view shot.  The writing style of the reviews isn't this book's strong point, so I'm not going to quote the whole thing.  I haven't seen Full Contact in a long time, I wonder how it's held up?  It's certainly not Chow Yun-Fat's finest performance.  At least, not any longer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #5

Randomness brought me to The Year's Best Science Fiction 1984 this time. It's got Lucius Shepard (twice), Kim Stanley Robinson, Gene Wolfe, Robert Silverberg, John Varley, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, it's quite a collection. But my random page puts us in Dozois's Introduction. Random giveth and random taketh away. Still, he writes:
So instead I'll limit myself to commenting on the novels that I did read this year, I was most impressed by Neuromancer, William Gibson (Ace Special); The Wild Shore, Kim Stanley Robinson (Ace Special); The Man Who Melted, Jack Dann (Bluejay Books); Them Bones, Howard Waldrop (Ace Special); Green Eyes, Lucius Shepard (Ace Special); Frontera, Lewis Shiner (Baen Books); The Man in the Tree, Damon Knight (Berkley); Heechee Rendezvous, Frederik Pohl (Del Rey); Across the Sea of Suns, Gregory Benford (Timescape); Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Samuel R. Delaney (Bantam)...
I'll stop there even though several more outstanding novels follow in his list (Icehenge and Job: A Comedy of Justice not the least of them).  Many of the books Dozois lists are classics, and are sitting on shelves in front of me, waiting for the randomizer to select them.  How about they eye for talent whoever did the selecting for the Ace Specials had, eh?  My Ace Special editions of The Wild Shore (signed) and Green Eyes are prized possessions.  (I sure hope my kids like to read sci-fi when they get a little older, I can't wait to share these with them.)  A little further down the page where Dozois discuss the small press, it brings a smile to my face to see how he acknowledged Zeising for publishing novels by Gene Wolfe and PKD.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #4

Nice Vintage edition paperback of Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers. Read this back in 1992 or 1993, I believe. I've soured a bit on Amis (Martin, not Kingsley though) over the years and haven't read him since The War Against Cliché. I remember liking this one though. Flipping at random to:
It seems improbable now, but on the way there we talked about DeForest's infrequent and ham-cocked performances in bed. (We laughed, too, wholly without malice: an example of prelapsarian high spirits which as of tonight will be another experience unavailable to me.) DeForest's chief, though by no means his only, problem was that he tended to come before either he or Rachel could say - 'Jack Robinson'. He would slap on the contraceptive and surge into her with the look of someone who had just remembered he ought to be doing a terribly important thing elsewhere, like attending his mother's funeral.
Is it possible to grab a passage from Amis and not have it be immediately recognizable as his?  I've learned that bit about Jack Robinson doesn't refer to Jackie Robinson, as I thought (being quick on the basepath), but is a British turn of phrase with cloudy origins.

I should probably revisit Amis.  I think I went off on him because I got a vague, and perhaps ill-informed sense, that he might be a bit of a ... well, not racist ... but that is anti-Islamism might be sort of racially motivated.  He's against nuclear proliferation, as all rational people are and I've learned he endorsed Obama, so I can be reasonably confident he's not a right-wing nutter.  Around the time he was jousting with left-wing nutter Terry Eagleton I probably camped him in my mind with the right.  It didn't help that I found TWAC tedious.  Money, though, brilliant.

Monday, October 19, 2009


library joke:
Library joke

Random Book, Random Passage #3

My random picks just took a turn for the totally random.  I seriously spun myself around and waved my arm with pointed finger at the bookcases with eyes closed and wound up picking Luke Rhinehart's The Dice Man.  Instead of flipping through the book, I'm going to get extra random and use a random number generator for page and line number.
'Obviously the old therapies couldn't solve this dilemma.  Whereas conventional psychoanalysis sees the desire for an Immaculate Anus as neurotic and counterproductive, we maintain that the desire, like all desires, is good, and causes trouble only when followed too consistently. The individual must come to embrace, in effect, both the Immaculate Anus and the excreted lumps of turd.'
He was standing in front of Dr. Cobblestone and leaned on the table in front of him with both immaculately tailored arms.  'We look not for moderation in the excretory functions, but a joyful variety:  a random alteration, as it were of constipation and diarrhea, with, I suppose, sporadic bursts of regularity.' 
Oh yeah. The Dice Man.  First, I'm not sure "alteration" is the mot juste in that last sentence?  Maybe if it went on to say "from constipation to diarrhea" instead of "of constipation and diarrhea"?  You can alternate between the state of being constipated and the state of having diarrhea -- things taking turns -- where alteration is the act of making something different. That aside, if you haven't read The Dice Man, I would suggest you get a die, roll it, and, if you roll a 1-5, then read it.  If you roll a 6, then wait a day or two and roll again.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #2

I went left last time, so right this time. I reached for a middle shelf last time, so this time a little lower. Eyes closed, fingertips run over the tops of several pocket size paperbacks and the first one I bump into and pull is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. This is a book club edition, one I got back in high school, probably 1985 or 1986. I don't remember if I saw the Sean Connery/Christian Slater film in theaters, but I'd be willing to bet this was right around the time of its release. Don't recall what else I got in that introductory special offer ... whatever they were, likely sold them to used book stores long ago. I watched the movie recently, so the memory files of reading the book are partially and indistinguishably overwritten by scenes from the movie. For example, I knew full well that William of Baskerville was the investigating monk, but couldn't recall the narrator's name; it's Adso, of course, but I easily recalled he was played by a still fresh-faced Mr. Pump Up the Volume.
Jorge sneered. "Even in the episodes the preachers tell, there are many old wives' tales. A saint immersed in boiling water suffers for Christ and restrains his cries, he does not play childish tricks on the pagans!"

"You see?" William said. "This story seems offensive to reason and you accuse it of being ridiculous! Though you are controlling your lips, you are tacitly laughing at something, nor do you wish me to take it seriously. You are laughing at laughter, but you are laughing."
Baskerville goes on to go reference Biblical passages from which one could infer the Christ character was written with a sense of humor, infuriating bitter, twisted old Jorge.

Random reflection: every year around this time some religious leaders get their undergarments in a twist about Hallowe'en and the danger of kids frolicking around dressed like devils.  Hallowe'en, of course, being the gateway drug to Satanism, blood sacrifice, ritual murder, and the like.  Parishioners are warned, fun-loving parents and teachers chastised, and every attempt made by the pious to shame normal people into feeling like they do -- guilty and repressed. There are still plenty Jorges out there who would poison the page of any book that makes people laugh because they can't laugh themselves.  Fear of laughter is fear of self-knowledge.  What are all these religious nutters so afraid of?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Book, Random Passage #1

Now that all my books are within arm's reach, I can play grab, flip, and share. I have a lot Mark Twain, so it's fitting that when I lurched towards the left-most bookcase and grabbed a book it turned out to be The Innocents Abroad. It's a Signet Classic edition from 1966. Obviously a used bookstore purchase as it's got "J. Borell" scrawled in ink along the bottom (the part that sits on the bookshelf) but I don't remember when or where I picked it up. Probably while in high school or college, so the off-campus bookstore in Storrs or the great used bookstore in Manchester (the name of which frustratingly escapes me right now Books & Birds) are likely candidates. Flipping and stopping at pg. 120 I let my eye drift to the first paragraph break and read:
I only meant to write about the churches, but I keep wandering from the subject. I could say that the Church of the Annunciation is a wilderness of beautiful columns, of statues, gilded moldings, and pictures almost countless, but that would give no one an entirely perfect idea of the thing, and so where is the use? One family built the whole edifice and have got money left. There is where the mystery lies. We had an idea at first that only a mint could have survived the expense.
I love it. Note where the mystery doesn't lie. It warms my atheist heart.  As with all expenditure of resources and time for religious purposes, I wonder how much better the world might be already if yesterday and today's wealthy elites decided to pour that wasted energy into building quality public schools or other infrastructure improvements for the common good instead.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Money is Not Speech - Noam Chomsky: Philosophies of Language & Politics: The Supreme Court will consider ruling corporations have the right of free speech like natural persons, effectively allowing them to buy elections directly. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans try to prove they each are more savage than the other by emphasizing how they want to deny healthcare to undocumented aliens. And by "undocumented aliens" we mean "actual human beings."

Good Times

Monty Python Meets the Roots - ArtsBeat Blog -

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Man Knows His Music

Jawbox to reunite for one-off performance on Jimmy Fallon | Music | A.V. Club: I'm not going to watch Fallon to see it ... just hoping I can catch it on Hulu or YouTube afterward.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Moonlighting Fallacy

The Office: Why Jim and Pam's wedding is good for TV comedy | New Jersey Entertainment - TV & Film - -
"But because of The 'Moonlighting' Fallacy, far too many TV writers and executives have come to believe that resolution=doom. 'NewsRadio' creator Paul Simms more or less destroyed his relationship with NBC by having Dave and Lisa sleep together in the show's second episode - they wanted him to tease it out forever, so they'd have an angle to promote - even though he wound up getting several seasons of material out of their affair."

Speaking of 'Moonlighting,' why -- with all the cable channels -- is it easier to find a reality show about people taking dumps on the stairs than it is to find a 'Moonlighting' or 'Northern Exposure'?

World War Z News

“World War Z” May Be Moving Forward : Slice of SciFi: The director and writer (of the first draft at least) sound like good choices.

And Then Came the Trains and the Trucks with Their Loads

More FF X-Posting

Zombie Bait

Raleigh is America’s Smartest City | New Raleigh: Word.

Pitch Perfect President

Jimmy Kimmel Live - Obama On Auto-Tune: Fine for what it is. But the Auto-Tune the News crew should get royalties.
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