Month: March 2003

Joke. Via Joe.

An engineer walks up to the gates of heaven, but St. Peter says, “I don’t see you on the guest list, so I can’t let you in.” The engineer shrugs, goes to hell, gets in (of course), and starts rebuilding the place, with air conditioning, etc. God finds out about this and says, “Hey! Satan! What are you doing with an engineer down there? He’s supposed to be up here, working for me!” Satan says, “Too bad, God; he’s mine now. We’ll be attracting all the best techs soon!” And he laughs evilly.

God says, “Well, if you aren’t going to just give him back, I’ll…I’lll…”

Satan says, “You’ll do what?”

God says, “I’ll sue!”

Satan says, “…And where are you getting a lawyer?”

I retroactively dedicate this joke to Mike. If only he were truly blond.

Note to self: (I’m working, very slowly, on learning HTML etc. The answer to your question is: yes, eventually, now bugger off.) Free clip-art for practice: The Free Graphics Store.

Project. The Internet Book List project is trying to complile reviews of books and recommendations. A worthy project…demaning more shelf-space, of course.

Note: I already found a series I want to read: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. The reviewer said, “Artemis Fowl is the Harry Potter of the fairy world although more scheming, devious and cunning.” Hm.

Review. The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces, by Ray Vukcevich.

Oh. I just checked this on Amazon, and it’s out of print. This is a crime. I picked this up at the East Library in Colorado Springs, which has a permanent library sale room, and has become my tiny little used-book store of choice. The selection is both small and varied enough that you can cover the whole range, instead of lurking in a single section, or spending two hours to find the treasure of the day.

The Man… is a mystery novel, but not so much a mystery novel as it is a playful book. The obvious connection is Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. Another good one is the Lemony Snickett’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Does that make sense? The books are all mysteries, in a technical sense, but they spend more time pushing the boundaries of plot and character than they do with the mystery itself. In Motherless Brooklyn, the narrator is the crony of a dead man with connections to the underworld–and has turrett’s syndrome. In the Series…, the narrator is the “author,” a man in hiding, pining over his lost love Beatrice, and reporting with Marvin-the-Robot optimism the fates of the three siblings.

The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces‘s narrator is a detective with multiple personality disorder. He’s investigating the deaths of bad technical documentation writers in Eugene, Oregon. He’s been hired by a woman who may or may not also be her brother; she was recommended by a Russian man, part of the same (Secret) Brotherhood of Documentalists, and a member of the detective’s support group for tap-dancing addicts. –What makes the multiple personality thing so much more than just another clever schtick is that everyone has multiple identities, both online and off, and everyone has problems keeping them separate.

Mysteries, for some reason, can really put a finger on the times: just as Sam Spade (et al) reflected the additudes of people that lived through the World Wars, some of the newer mystery writers deal better with the newer elements of culture–like here, the internet and information age–than so-called literary writers. And, despite bragging to the contrary, even science fiction writers.

And the book passes my highest criteria, the flip test: any given paragraph will suck you in.

“Okay, the flash was a dumb mistake, but we learn from our mistakes. When things get too automatic there’s usually trouble. Put it on the to-do list–get a simpler camera. Lulu pushed open one of the stalls and went inside, closing the door behind her. Looked around. This would have to do. She didn’t sit down.

We took a deep breath. We took a bunch of deep breaths. We waited ten minutes.

Lulu peeked out into the bar, but the angle of the door was wrong, so she couldn’t see much. We couldn’t hide in the ladies’ room forever…”

LOTR II. Joe and I went to the Two Towers at the IMAX.

Oooh.

War. Probably I should just keep my mouth shut, but there you go.

I’d like to accomplish the supposed goals that the Iraqi war would attempt to accomplish. I think Saddam–if not just a frontman for larger interests–has been trying to undermine UN authority for decades; I think his efforts are escalating; I think it’s probable that he’s attempting to build weapons specifically to cause civilian damage. This should stop.

If we had competent leadership in this country, war might not be necessary. I think Bush has played into Saddam and terrorist hands in domestic and foreign policy, taking an additude of “my way or the highway” and “good vs. evil” at a time when this can only provoke dissent among our allies and citizens. What should be happening? It should be obvious that Saddam has been undermining UN authority: all states in the UN not allied with Saddam should be dead-set against him. Instead, it looks like Saddam undermines UN authority, but the US undermines it more. It should be obvious that Saddam oppresses his people. Instead, we have people who think Bush is more oppressive than Saddam and are willing to die on that basis.

I agree that something must be done and done soon. It may even be war.

Bush II is a fool who listens to fools (a good bit of the time) and appoints fools to positions of power. Take a moment and imagine Colin Powell–if we have to have a republican–as president. Would we be here? Would we look like–and in some areas, be the bad guys?

Probably not.

Note to self: The SF Site best books of the year are here.

Review. Daredevil. Screw it. Don’t call it a review; it’s just a ramble I’m typing out while my sinusus prevent me from thinking straight.

In order to get out of the house for a bit last night, I went to Daredevil. I haven’t read the comics, shame on me. I tell you right off it was bad, although renting it when it comes out on video may be not quite the waste watching it in a theater was, because the villains were fun.

The writing was bad. –Don’t get me wrong, some of the character notes were very good, but, since the plot didn’t support them, they fizzled out and went away. There’s something about formula writing. Good formula writing sucks you in, drags you down, and makes you buy shit. Take any Hanna Barbera cartoon. Awful stuff–but who doesn’t love the Flintstones? Or Scooby, for that matter? The script to this movie was a bad parody of bad formula writing. The elements of a comic-book script lay there in separate moments, unconnected to each other: that’s someting else about formula writing. Connections. One thing happens after another, so smoothly sometimes that you’re not really sure how the characters wandered into such a screwed-up situation. And a sense of balance. In formula writing, the expected happens in an emotionally fulfilling (read: tear jerking) sort of way. Elements that are strong in the beginning must be wrapped up at the end, unless there’s a sequel. All elements must be explained–at least, as to the superficial reason why they are a part of the story. For example, your main character’s life doesn’t just revolve around churches without more of an explanation than that his name is “Daredevil.” The story of the history of how the superhero came to be must contain, like a mystery, all the elements that will resolve themselves in the ending. –And the moral of the story isn’t just something that you tack on the end. It’s a plot device at least one step up from the deus ex machina becuase it runs through the entire plot: character does bad things. Character faces a dilemma in which the bad things he does conflict with something he values. This dilemma may have a simple resolution, but it may not be easily solved, i.e., there has to be a lot of exciting adventure that allows the hero to work his way out of the dilemma although the solution may be as simple as “just stop doing the bad stuff.” Then, and this is important, the character’s behavior has to change. –Or else, if the character is carefully balanced just outside doing bad stuff, the character may work very hard to remain in the balance, like Batman. Daredevil, in this flick, follows all the classic steps, except for the part where he really changes a damn thing he’s doing. Because it never was set up that the Daredevil does act just like the thugs he hates, he’s never really redeems when he supposedly stops acting like them. And does he ever stop acting like one? Ugh. Anyway, I’ll shut up now.

Some links.

This is bad. One of my purposes here has been to focus on original content, and here I am, putting up words and now…links. Well.

Librarian Pick-up lines.

“My mom was a librarian, she taught me everyone should have access to my stacks.”

Via Bookslut. My kinda place.

And more on the unrelated-to-sex sexual naming theme:

Foodporn.

You can purchase thong underwear with a porcini mushroom on it.

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