Month: January 2010 Page 1 of 4

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-31

  • @DaphneUn Yeah, but that only makes, erm, 6 2/3 pictures per day. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @BarelyKnit fierily in reply to BarelyKnit #
  • @BarelyKnit It was quite the adventure in spelling, fierily was. in reply to BarelyKnit #
  • God, I love rewrites now. Who knew that so-and-so was a never-you-mind? #
  • I will do other stuff after rewrites today. Ta! #
  • Choc story rewrite 2, 1/8: "Chocolate," Imogen said, a little defensively. "It's worth more on the black market than you might think." #
  • @amoir Heheheh. Comes in tails. in reply to amoir #
  • @BarelyKnit I like the tumblr background. in reply to BarelyKnit #
  • @elizawhat I like that, "A recipe for batshit soup." I'd say my day felt like that, but I really have no basis of comparison. in reply to elizawhat #
  • Hey @dabeak: #
  • Part 2/8 Choco story done. "Imogen's ghost snorted. 'Come to pray over my son, you hag? Might as well pray in binary.'" #
  • Night off for Carrie Newcomer concert. #
  • Beautiful Carrie Newcomer concert, but I've heard the patter before! The only downside to going to a folksinger's concerts year after year. #
  • Editing! Other things will happen later. #
  • 3/8 done on Choco Story. "Do you know where my quarters are?” “Zady was supposed to show you,” he said. “I pissed her off,” Aoife said. #
  • Weird Al mixes like a primate, yo! RT @alyankovic – Mixing Day #
  • Editing. Stop distracting me! #
  • Part 4/8 of Choco done. Ian said, "You said you wanted more data. I figured it'd be fun." #
  • Going to double back and read it outloud up to this point now; I think I've lost Aoife's characteristic phrasing in the rush of action. #
  • @ianthealy Too late! Short chapter. in reply to ianthealy #
  • Jager and a jelly it is then! RT @copyblogger Gimme a bottle of anything, and a glazed donut… to go! #
  • This is not your child! #
  • Good morning! Time to edit! No sleep till Brooklyn! #
  • I'm doing much less rewriting and much more thinking this time around. A sign of progress? #
  • OMG. Ray needs new karate pants already. #
  • Sometimes we are the windshield, sometimes we are the bug. Sometimes it all comes together baby, sometimes you're a fool in love. #
  • Done: 5/8 of Choco story. "No harm done? We could have died!" "Oh, like I haven't heard that one before." #
  • @Three_Star_Dave They seem to be traditional gis – but they went from highwater pants to shorter than Revenge of the Nerds. in reply to Three_Star_Dave #
  • Overwhelmed. My blogging is going to be very light next week. #

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Game Review: Machinarium

by Amanita Design.

Ray and I finished Machinarium this week.

WHOAH.  I feel like we really accomplished something.  And neither one of us could have done it without the other.  We make a good team.

Click on the link, play the demo.

Anyway, the game is about a robot who wakes up in a trash heap, knowing only that he has to save his lady-robot love.  The game is set up in screens, with a number of puzzles to be solved before you can move the character to the next screen.  There is no language in the game, no explanations, only a bubble with a light bulb that shows up occasionally to provide a nod toward the general direction you’re supposed to discover.

The art is beautiful (click the link) the interface intuitive, and the story simple but powerful.

And no words!

Ray and I cheered when we finished.

Book Review: Hammered

by Elizabeth Bear.

Well, I can’t say this was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I liked Hammered quite a bit.

Does this book count as military SF?  It’s about a woman who’s been used and screwed by a military black ops division in Canada.  They now want her back, because the particular hell they put her through has more than aptly prepared her to be used and screwed for their new project.  I could go into more details of the miserable things that have gone on through the main character’s life, but it’d sound like the world’s best SF blues song (except for Miles Vorkosigan, of course), and I can’t sing the blues.

Fantastically realized characters.  There are no saints in this book (which makes me think of Fullmetal Alchemist more than anything else), and the plots within plots are delicious.  The writing is straightforward, really straightforward, not just “so-so writing” but stripped down and efficient.  The pace is fast, the choices painful, and the brief moments of happiness shining like angels in the heavens.

I’ll definitely pick up the rest of the series, at least.

Book Review: Ai Yori Aoishi, Books 1-4.

by Kou Fumizuki.

Wow.  I started reading these books expecting to just love this series.

Ugh.  No like.

Imagine Ah! My Goddess or Fruits Basket with bland, flat, stock characters who act in bland, flat, stock-character ways, and you’ve got this series in a nutshell.

The “perfect woman” (that is, 100% docile and 100% loyal) tracks down this guy to whom she was pledged to be married when she was a child.  The guy has abandoned his family, however, and is no longer worthy for this upper-class woman.  He’s nice to her without either one of them recognizing each other, then they recognize each other.  Hijinks ensue!  With lots of boobs!

Am I the only person who can see the main characters are going to make each other miserable for the rest of their lives?  The “perfect woman” automatically assumes the worst, goes apeshit mentally, and pretends everything is okay.  The guy can’t even phone home when he’s going to be late, and “accidentally” gets into these compromising situations, which the girl has to just accept.

Dude.  Just because she’s cute, has great tits, and thinks she’s in love with you and will do whatever you say for the rest of your life, doesn’t mean she’s the one for you! Get a life!  She will wake up and realize you’re a shallow asshole at some point, or worse, she won’t!

Grumble grumble grumble…

Book Review: Vellum: The Book of All Hours

by Hal Duncan.

I wanted to like this book, but I didn’t.

No, I liked it enough to finish it – almost more to see whether the ending would work than to find out what happened, which was that there was going to have to be a sequel.

It looks like a lot of people liked it unabashedly, which confuses me.

The book is “about” a guy who’s looking for a book, called the Book of All Hours, which may or may not contain the actual Word of God.  However, it turns out this book is just a doorway for the real story, which is that our world is just one fold in a multiverse parchment call the Vellum, which is the entirety of creation.  You follow various versions of the characters through various nonlinear timelines, learning the angels and demons are at it again, and more pissed off at the independent agents than each other.

One, it’s disorienting, and it’s me saying this, having truly enjoyed James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Two, it’s bland.  You don’t spend more than a few pages with a character before he’s killed off and you shift to another multiverse.

Three, it’s all been done before.  What?  You’re expecting me not to have read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash?  Or Roger Zelazny’s Amber series?  Or Umberto Eco’s Foucalt’s Pendulum?  Or Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s and  Illuminatus! Trilogy?  How about not having read John Crowley’s Little, Big?  Okay, granted, most people haven’t read all those, but I have, and I can see that Vellum is a mishmash of the good parts of those books, with little plot an no characters.  Also, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has better thugs.  By far.

Book Review: House of Many Ways

by Diana Wynne Jones.

This is another fantastic YA by DWJ about a girl who has done nothing but read books her entire life and has become thoroughly useless.  My mother may find this singularly appropriate; however, it’s the mother’s fault for forcing this uselessness (as a pretense to “respectability”), so watch it.

The girl, Charmain, has to watch her uncle’s house while her uncle undergoes magical treatment to cure a mysterious disease.  Meanwhile, the uncle, who is a wizard, and thus (to Charmain’s mother’s mind) disrespectable, has left his magical house in a shambles.  Charmain, the wizard’s brand-spanking-new apprentice, and the wizard’s adopted stray dog get dragged into the effort by Sophie (secretly accompanied by Howl) to save the kingdom.  She learns how to work magic, do the laundry, and save the kingdom.  Huzzah!


Howl shows up in this one as a spoiled, lithping brat named Twinkle, which is worth the price of admission right there.  I heard this on audiobook, read by Jenny Sterlin, while at work and had to repress laughter to prevent people from asking what I was laughing about, and thus, interrupt the story.

Book Review: Fullmetal Alchemist 22

All the plots and betrayals are starting to come to fruition.  We’re in the endgame of an international fictional chess game, with perfectly defined pieces.  For as much as is going on in this series, it’s impressive that it hasn’t jumped the shark or started repeating itself, pretending to be ever more impressive.  FMA is some of the best plotting and character writing I’ve seen, bar none.  And even the most frantic of fight scenes remains clearly rendered, moves the plot along, and true to character.


A note:  Edward doesn’t seem to be getting any taller.  Maybe it’s just me.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-01-24

  • Good news – big work project is done! Bad news – Rejections 7/11. #
  • Also, Machinarium still kicking our butts. However, we did collaboratively solve several nassssty puzzles. #
  • Hey @ianthealy – Since I started reading your hockey story, I've been looking at the fans with a little less pure ?!?!? #
  • @davisac1 Okay, I give. What does "THIMK" even mean?!? in reply to davisac1 #
  • @Three_Star_Dave Re: Iorich – what? You're not enthralled by the emerging patterns? Like Penn'n'Teller doing the same trick, slower. Now? in reply to Three_Star_Dave #
  • @davisac1 HA! Here I was trying to figure out acronyms. in reply to davisac1 #
  • Interesting. Nobody really knows where the phrase "going all pear-shaped" comes from. #
  • @Ianthealy Done reading Blood on the Ice. Will send comments in a day or two. In short – beginning is meh, liked middle, liked end… #
  • @ianthealy But if you srsly think you can pull off the narrator, can we at least have a cameo of the guy with a broken leg? #
  • @ianthealy – In short, a good farce, needs work on getting it moving and setting up chars. #
  • Too early. #
  • @elizawhat January is the correct month for Mind Cleaning. Here. Have a brillo pad. in reply to elizawhat #
  • @bookoven If, at any point, you find yourself on the opposite team from the librarians, you're screwed. in reply to bookoven #
  • @Dabeak Were's the "quoting the opening from Quantum Leap" quote from? in reply to Dabeak #
  • @bookoven Re: single device. It might. It just won't do it the way they want it to. in reply to bookoven #
  • @bookoven What if the "expensive addition" to an e-book makes it more game-like? in reply to bookoven #
  • Alien Blue rejection: 8/11. #
  • 18th Cent Gothic Zombie Funny Horror, with Ron Pearlman. "I Sell the Dead" OOOooOOOOoo. #
  • It might just be my personal Repo: the Genetic Opera for the year. !!! #
  • @DaphneUn So I read Maureen's article…via the NYT, who wants to charge for content. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • Why do I feel hung over if I haven't been drinking? Ugh. #
  • @copyblogger "This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!" in reply to copyblogger #
  • @profitsee Well I had a GREAT time tonight, so I'll consider it even. in reply to profitsee #
  • @DaphneUn Journalism is in interesting times, like a canary down a mine shaft I think. in reply to DaphneUn #
  • Sweeney Todd @FAC=The Shite. Perfect theater, amazing set, great cast, fritzy sound system (which they didn't need), lights on actors much? #
  • @elizawhat Aren't you supposed to kill off your characters just because they needed killin'? in reply to elizawhat #
  • @elizawhat Website: both classy and friendly. in reply to elizawhat #
  • Earworm: Me and my cousin, and you and your cousins, it's a line that's always running… #
  • @DaphneUn Re: #/photos. A shutterbug I know came back from AK cruise with over 5K pictures. You're fine. Or was it 8K? in reply to DaphneUn #
  • @Three_Star_Dave Ah, I hope you feel better. Poor cookie dad! in reply to Three_Star_Dave #
  • Okay, the Chocolate Story is moving away from a working title and toward "Cargo of the Gods." #
  • Or maybe "Aoife and the Cargo of the Gods." Brainstorming. #
  • Logline: Kidnapped researcher uses science, subterfuge, and chocolate to discover why her murdered cousin has come back to haunt her. #
  • Ooh, that should be loyal, not kidnapped. #
  • Loyal researcher uses science, subterfuge, and chocolate to discover why her murdered cousin has come back to haunt her. #
  • @ianthealy WHAT makes more sense? in reply to ianthealy #
  • @ianthealy The logline, I hope. in reply to ianthealy #
  • @ianthealy Aoife's character note is her loyalty vs. her pride. She's so brilliant that things should just fall into her lap, she thinks. in reply to ianthealy #
  • I think I'm going to have to re-outline both inner and outer journeys. All the pieces are there, but the reasoning is thin. #
  • @ianthealy Ee-fa, just like in Wally. in reply to ianthealy #

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Book Review: Nightmares and Fairy Tales Volume 3, 1140 Rue Royale

by Serena Valentino and Crab Scrambly.

Serena Valentino is the writer of Gloom Cookie (drawn by Ted Naifeh).

I don’t know.  I wanted to be happier with this graphic novel than I was.  I like the art, I generally like the writer.  But the book just wasn’t scary enough, and the plot twist just didn’t pay off.

The story starts out with an aunt returning to a home in New Orleans just before (I think) the turn of the century.  She’s bringing her niece with her.  So far, so good.  As the aunt gives the address to a cab driver, we find out the house is haunted and was the site of a horrible massacre involving slaves.

Ghost proceed to haunt the aunt but leave the niece alone.  The aunt turns to the women at the convent who raised her to provide help.  The ghosts finally start appearing to the niece, warning her not to trust the nuns.

I’m not sure why I didn’t find this story compelling.  Too straightforward?  Lots of conflict, not enough drama (that is, heart-rending choices)?  Too many mysteries revealed, too soon?  Foreshadowing so heavy that the twist didn’t really come as a surprise?  No sense that horrible things would continue to happen, even after the events of the story?

I don’t know.  I should have liked it, and I didn’t.

Ray read it, too.  Her review:  “Not very scary.”

Sweeney Todd at the FAC

I didn’t expect the FAC to have such a sweet theater.  Allow me to gush:  it’s the perfect size.  Not so flat that they’re tempted to rely on tricks like doing theater in the round (annoying), not so small that they can’t sell enough tickets to pay for professionals.  Not so big that you can’t see.

I went with Ann and Larry and Doug and Lauren; Ann had managed to snag us front-row seats, the minx.

I haven’t seen Sweeney Todd before, either as a play or as the movie; somehow, the movie just never appealed.  I saw a trailer and said, “Nah.”  Now I know that Tim Burton was not the guy to direct Sweeney Todd.  Not everything is meant to be goth.  Like the Marilyn Manson version of “Sweet Dreams.”  The Eurhythmics version is ironic, because it’s this song about the dirty ways of the world sung by someone with the voice of an angel:  the opposite of what you expect – thus – ironic. Marilyn Manson is just singing a song.  If there’s any irony, it’s that Marilyn Manson doesn’t seem to get that he’s a hell of a lot less cosmopolitan than Annie Lennox.

As far as I can tell, the director (Alan Osburn, who also played Sweeney Todd, I see), teased out so much irony an Eighties hair band would be jealous.

The set was versatile and impressive without being overly clever, that is, without getting in the way of the play.  I was happy with the way the same grungy, brick-heavy decor was used for all the characters, from high to low.  (Even the set brought out irony.)

The lighting and sound equipment had issues; as Ann noted, either the actors couldn’t hit their marks or the lights were off.  The sound system started going on the fritz toward the end of the first act.  Good!  I wish they’d just turned it off.  If the actors couldn’t have projected to fill that theater, they shouldn’t have been acting professionally on stage.  The echoes from the sound system made some of the lines/lyrics sound garbled.

The actors.

Mrs. Lovett was the star of the show, coming across as Eddie Izzard in ginger curls.  Toby was a close second, even though he sounded like Spongebob Squarepants (I am not sure that wasn’t intentional).  Poor Mr. T was a distant third, struggling to handle the low range at times, but of an eloquent normality that made the rest of the show fall into place:  Sweeney Todd was just some guy, you know?  The ingenues were ingenues.  The beggar woman was also especially good.  No shame at all, that woman.

With most black comedies about the way of the world, the end of the story leaves you exhausted, depressed, and swearing never to cross paths with the story again (Boogie Nights, Dangerous Liaisons).  Not so here.  This is built more like a Shakespearean tragedy, with the inevitable and shocking coming to a gleeful climax.

I really need to track down the version with Angela Lansbury.

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