April 2008 Archives

Last week, I ordered two books from Amazon with my latest gift certificate, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick and Spook Country by William Gibson.  I read the PKD book first, since I have had trouble piercing a lot of Gibson's books in the past, ever since I read the sequels to Neuromancer.  It was good -- interesting at least, though it ends very abruptly and is as indecipherable as anything written by Dick.  A good effort at world building though, with a lot of interesting philosophical questions, something that I have pretty much come to expect from Dick's writing.

I started Spook Country this morning, and wow.  I haven't read anything by Gibson since I tried starting Virtual Light a long time ago and never managed to finish it.  I keep meaning to go back and reread Neuromancer again, but I haven't had the chance (and I can't find my copy -- I think I might have loaned it to someone).  However, just reading the first two chapters of Spook Country I remembered why I think he's such an amazing writer.  He has such a skill with metaphor, such an attention to detail and description, that it blows my mind just to think about.  When he describes something, he talks about it in a way that you would never think to describe it, but you can instantly picture what he means.  If he is able to do this reflexively, if that is how things just come to him, than I am supremely envious.  To me, it seems like each paragraph is perfectly crafted, like delicate etched glass, painstakingly designed and cut for hours or days.

Gibson's writing can be dense and sometimes impenetrable; like I said, I tried reading Virtual Light and I haven't managed to do so successfully yet.  His plots are sometimes so labyrinthine that you have to reread them a half dozen times before you really understand what's going on and his characters can sometimes be complete enigmas. Even so, there is no question, at least to me, that he is one of the best writers I have ever read.  Regardless of what you may say about him, you can't deny that every book he writes feels real, like he's just describing a scene that he is watching, one with infinite resolution -- you could read the fine print on every warning label, feel the ridges and cracks in every piece of grubby plastic, taste the ozone in every breath of air.  I almost feel like his current books, which are set in more or less the present day, are almost a waste of his talent.  I want to read about something new and different, completely separated from what I know and yet intimately familiar.  For me, as a writer, that is the ultimate challenge, and when someone can pull it off with such apparent ease, I have to simply sit back in awe.
I'm usually pretty wary of most attempts to undermine the popularity of stuff like YouTube or other "upstart" websites by established media companies; usually they end up being pretty lame or at least critically gimped in some way.  However, after having both benoc and Deidei mention watching a few things on hulu.com, I checked it out just to see how it was, especially because Deidei was trying to get me to watch Kitchen Confidential (vaguely based on Anthony Bourdain's book, which I really liked).  So I checked it out this weekend, since it's easy enough to leave a webpage open while I play Eve in another window or something.

Surprisingly enough, it doesn't suck too bad.  You are forced to watch brief commercials at certain points; this isn't horrible, since most shows would have them anyway and the commercials are only 15-30 seconds.  The only time it gets a little annoying is when it's a show that was originally shown on pay cable, like Total Recall 2070, where the commercial breaks can come at odd moments.  Furthermore, the selection of shows is surprisingly good.  I knew that it was a joint venture between NBC and FOX, but I forgot how many shows on other networks are done through them, and the catalog of old shows is surprisingly good as well.  They don't have full catalogs of all the shows there, but especially the one-season shows that were cancelled (like Firefly) they have there, which is nice if you wanted to see a show you heard about but didn't see, and don't want to take a chance on buying the DVDs (or the DVDs aren't available).

So far, I've gone through all of Kitchen Confidential (which was okay -- it was definitely better having read the book and being vaguely familiar with the craziness in a restaurant kitchen) and Total Recall 2070, which I only saw a few episodes of when it was in syndication.  It's worth checking out if you have some time to kill and you're bored.

BSG...WTF?

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So I have been a fan of the new Battlestar Galactica series since it started three or so years ago.  I have to admit that last season I wasn't so fired up about the show; the first part of the season, dealing with New Caprica and the skeleton-crewed fleet, leading up to quite possibly the most balls-to-the-wall scene ever (this one, if you've never seen it before), was pretty good.  The second half, though, dragged, and had way too much mystical claptrap, especially dealing with Starbuck.

This season though, has really just gone completely out the window.  Some of you might not of seen it yet, so I'm going to tuck my rant behind the cut.  The short version is that there's nothing fucking happening and the characters seem to have morphed into complete assholes in the last few episodes.  Very frustrating.
Well, I know I just had a monster update yesterday (well, at least a decent one), but I found the most awesome news today on RPGnet; evidently Venture Brothers Season 3 begins June 1st, and there was a five minute teaser for it at the New York ComicCon.  This is one of my favorite, most twisted shows, and from the looks of things, next season looks like it will be at least as good as seasons 1 and 2.  I've got a link to the trailer below.  Be sure to look out for:

  • The return of Dr. Henry Killinger!
  • The Alchemist's views on the Internet!
  • The origin of Bill Quizboy, Boy Genius (and I think possibly Phantom Limb as well)!
  • A friggin' hilarious GI Joe parody (complete with theme song)!
Sadly, there was very little of the Monarch or Dr. Girlfriend, who are my favorite characters on the show and subjects of the cliffhanger ending from last season ("Monarch, I have to tell you something..." "WHAT!?").  I feel relatively confident they will be getting some screen time though.

June 1st can't get here soon enough!



Edit: Someone said they were having trouble getting the above trailer to load -- this is the site I pulled it from, and it seems to work a little better if you stream it from there directly.
So I've been quite remiss in updating the blog lately, so I'll try to sum up what's happened in the last month or so since I got back from Arizona.  Still not a ton of details on some of my current projects, which are still a bit in progress.  I have been a bit busy this last month though, so here's some updates.

  • As I'm sure most of you are already aware, I've started seeing someone in Chicago, so I've been going up there (and he's been coming down here) most of the last few weeks.  I won't spill too many details, but things are going rather well and that's all I'll say here, since I know my parents read this.
  • Aaaand speaking of seeing someone in Chicago, we went and saw a Chicago Wolves game the last weekend in March.  It was the first hockey game I've seen in quite a while and we had a really good time, despite the fact that the Wolves got waxed by Houston and the game was...well, you could say it was a bit chippy.  I'm not sure how many penalties there were, but the first one was less than 30 seconds in and the Houston goalie got ejected with 5 seconds left (when he crosschecked a Chicago player in front of the net with three seconds left in the game and his team up by several points).
  • The same weekend I spent Sunday with Sam and Gracie, and we did Fogo de Chao for dinner and went to see U2 3D at Navy Pier.  Dinner was excellent, as Fogo always is, and the movie was very good.  I'm not an especially huge U2 fan, I have to admit, but the movie did an excellent job of capturing the concert experience and it definitely made me wish I went to more live music stuff (which Marc has promised to drag me to).
  • A week later Marc came down here and I got to introduce him to a pair of my favorites; Blade Runner and Jupiter's pizza, one of my favorite thin crusts.  Lucky for him, he liked the movie (it's only my favorite, after all) and the pizza, so it was a good result.
  • I returned the favor and stayed up in Chicago over last weekend and had a lovely time.  Admittedly, we didn't do a whole lot but spend some time hanging out around the house, but it's been so long since I've been able to do that, it was a nice change of pace.  We had dinner at a nice Greek restaurant on Saturday, where I tried octopus for the first time (not what I expected, I admit, and not really to my taste), and on Sunday I had Giordano's for the first time.  I'm not ready to say it's better than local favorite Papa Del's, but it's definitely at least as good.
  • We also watched Knocked Up and Wordplay.  Marc had never seen any of the Judd Apatow movies or series, and it was a bit hard to convince him -- let's face it, it does look a little juvenile when you don't really know what they are like.  However, I think he's thoroughly hooked now, and I expect we'll end up watching the rest soon enough.  Wordplay was really good as well, and actually exciting, something I wouldn't expect to say about a movie about crosswords.  I find it hard to believe that someone that can do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in less than five minutes is actually human, though.
All righty, I think that's about it for now.  There will be news about some writing coming up, but I don't want to make any promises before I actually deliver anything.  I promise not to let things go this long without an update again though.
Okay, I know I'm way overdue for a blog post, and I'll be writing up something a bit more substantial in the next few days, but I felt like what happened last night was worth recording while it was fresh in my mind.

Holy shit, we just had a friggin' earthquake!

Yeah, I know it probably wasn't a big deal for those of you on the West Coast, but we don't really get these that often.  For some reason, I woke up right before the earthquake, at about 0430 this morning, and I was trying to fall back to sleep when the whole house started shaking.

I've felt earthquakes once or twice before, but they were pretty hard to distinguish from a huge truck rolling by outside.  This was a totally different story.  Not only was it a heck of a lot more powerful, but it lasted for quite a while -- a lot longer than a simple truck rolling by.  Other than the shaking, I admit there wasn't much effect.  I didn't see any damage anywhere in my house or elsewhere, nothing even really seemed to be out of place; but then, we were over 200 miles from the epicenter, so I suspect that was not really that unusual.  Still, for someone who has not really ever felt something like that, it was pretty freaky.  CNN has this story here about it.

Some other quick updates that I'll expound on later, though -- I finally have an actual date for surgery now, which is August 26th, and I may actually go to FanFest this year since that is early enough for me to finish my 2 months of recovery before it starts.  I've gotten another freelance job and possible one or two more coming up (more updates when I can), I will hopefully have something in the next EON, time permitting.  Stay tuned -- I promise to give some more thorough updates a bit later.

Edit: According to the USGS, the quake was centered roughly 120 miles south of here.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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