...and so it begins
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Here we go again.
The tales are on the whole fairly standard, astronauts-are-brave, space-is-tough stuff. Classic, hard sf where the science is well-researched and as convincing as possible. They are told in a straight, no-nonsense style that never gets in the way of the story.
A couple of the stories have a more personal, human focus: "The Man Who Hated Gravity" being the most succesful for me, about a trapeze acrobat who loses his nerve, but gains a bionic leg. It's these stories I liked the most, the ones that dealt with ordinary people on Earth and how their lives are affected by the hardcore science going on above them. Astronauts and scientists doing brave things and being clever is just not interesting; for heroes, being heroic is their job. They're spacemen after all: you expect them to be able to wrestle a disintegrating spaceship through the sulphuric acid of Venus' atmosphere.
Has the book done its job, and whetted my appetite for a full plate of steaming Bova? I'd say so. I'll keep an eye out for any of the other Grand Tour books.
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There you go, that's enough of the plot for you. The book is set in the near-future, so people are wearing their computers, Alzheimer's is cured, and cars drive themselves. No word on the personal jetpacks yet. The characters are well-rounded, perhaps a smidgeon too nice to be real sometimes - but hey, it's the future, maybe everyone is nice there.
A decent read; well-written, engaging and interesting.
One of my friends from school has made a really funny video and put it on YouTube. Well, it's funny if you speak Welsh. I found it via a convoluted trip through Friends Reunited - isn't the tinternets brilliant!
I just didn't apply myself to the task. Doctor Impossible never gave up, not after twelve thwarted attempts to take over the world. That's his thing, after all - he's an evil genius, or a sufferer from Malign Hypercognition Disorder to give it the medical term. He battles heroes from all times and places, never once forgetting to taunt them theatrically.
Grossman's love for comic-book superheroes and villains shines through in this book. You can't lampoon a genre so thoroughly without being a fan. If you've ever read a comic, seen one of the marvel films, or just like to wear tights, you'll enjoy this book. Me, I'm using it as a blueprint for my plans to take over the world. You'll rue the day you ever crossed paths with me. You shall all kneel before me, or I will destroy the sun! Mwuhahahahahahahaaaaaaa!
Slightly absurd situations plodded along next to him, well described in beautiful prose, like catwalk models asked about the latest trends in civil engineering. A wonder to look at, but lacking in compelling, competent, components. Artful alliteration danced over the bones of plots that never had any meat.
In short, the stories depressed me, the characters annoyed me, but Will Self sure can write purdy words.
I only ever got mild hayfever in the UK. Sneezes, itchy eyes that would last a week or two and then not bother me for another year.
Australia has decided it hates me, and has dispatched floral agents to disable me. They've replaced all the anti-histamine in the chemists with placebos, none of it makes any difference. I've tried Claratyne. No effect. I tried two tablets of Zyrtec yesterday, and all that did was make me dizzy. They don't sell Piriton here, so I'm going to google for the active ingredient and see if there's anything similar. It used to work in the UK, but who knows if it will be able to fight off this evil plague.
If that doesn't work I'm going to invest in some industrial decongestants and ride out the spring on a wave of snot.
UPDATE: The active ingredient in Piriton is chlorphenamine maleate. To the Pharmacy!
The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi died on Sunday after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys.
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a demonstration passing by our office. they want howard out now, but they could just wait a couple of months until the election. oh well.
I sold this to my wife with "it's written by the same bloke that did Blink and The Empty Child" (Stephen Moffat). That was enough, but the fact that it also has the man from Cold Feet (James Nesbitt) as Doctor Jackman/Jekyll was a bonus.
It is a perfect example of all that's good about British TV. Great acting, a willingness to take risks, 6 episodes of excitement and edginess with no filler. If it had been an American production for one of their big networks, it would have been at least 22 episodes long, all written by different teams of 5 writers, and 19 of those episodes would not have advanced the story one bit. They would have been very glossy though. The last episode of the "season" would have been forced to end on a cliffhanger to set up season two, which would then be cancelled.
Anyway, watch it if you get the chance. It kicks the arse off anything else on the telly and then eats their ears.
Quality of output does not vary by age... which means, of course, that attempting to improve your batting average of hits versus misses is a waste of time as you progress through a creative career. Instead you should just focus on more at-bats -- more output. Think about that one.
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Yesterday we took the kids to the Pixar exhibition at the ACMI in Melbourne.
They had loads of artwork and models from the Pixar archives, and you get to see how the characters and films evolved from their initial ideas. It's also a great demonstration of how talented their artists are. There's this perception that they don't have to do much, that because they're using computers the artist doesn't have any input. Once you see their story boards and how much detail and thought goes into the whole process, you can't help but be impressed.
There's also the 3-D zoetrope which is just incredible. Well worth the price of admission on its own.
I've found a video on you tube which gives you an idea of what it's like. The quality is not brilliant, but still...
Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says.
About two weeks ago I managed to pop the little rubber cover off one of my Apple in-ear headphones. It pinged off into the middle of the open railway crossings we have here in Australia, during a collision with one of my more indecisive fellow-pedestrians. These little rubber doobries have to fit your lughole snugly otherwise they sound shithouse.
I tried using the medium sized ones (the headphones come with three different sizes; my giant canals need the large size), but it was no good. I journeyed far and wide in search of replacement whatsits, but no-one makes them. Not even Apple.
In times of crisis I find it helps to turn to a higher power. Google found me an article where someone recommended the use of the foam sleeves for the Shure E2C in-ear headphones. These happen to be a perfect fit for the Apple ones.
Great! Only problem is that there are only two places in Australia that distribute them. One charges $35, with free shipping. The other charges $25, plus $7 shipping. The headphones themselves only cost me $60. Sod that. Ebay to the rescue: there's a company in America that sells them for $16 US (about $20), free shipping to Australia. Hooray for the Internet.
They arrived in less than a week, and they sound fantastic. They really improve the bass, and they're a lot more comfortable than the original rubber thingummies. If, anonymous Internet reader, you have a pair of the Apple in-ear headphones, get these foam sleeves (the same size as you use for the Apple ones should do).
I have the choice between writing this entry and reading Orwell's 1984 on the train this morning. Orwell's book is not exactly crammed with hilarious set-pieces. Quotably pithy one-liners, yes, but also soul-crushing misery. Would it have hurt the story at all to have some more jokes? To give Winston Smith a wisecracking sidekick? Or a talking dog (this was supposed to be the future after all)? I don't think so.
Anyway I thought I would write down all the cheery things I thought of but didn't put in my email.
1. We're all going to die anyway. (not on first reading the most cheerful, but think about it for a while, you'll soon have a smile on your face. Suit yourself.)
2. At least it's a non-communicable disease, so people will still talk to you. At least until you start looking a bit weird. Nobody likes a weirdo.
3. There's always someone worse off than you. Find them. Laugh at them.
4. Wheelchair races.
5. Free licence to be as grumpy as fuck to all and sundry. Damn this cursed disease, it makes me say the most awful things, you horse-faced harridan.
6. Perspective. You will realise the pointlessness of most of the little things we do. Like making sure our socks match, wearing ties and getting up in the morning. Go wild, wear mismatched socks.
7. Cripples are a shoe-in for heaven (it's in the bible, go on, check), so you can do all those things you've been holding back from: covetting you neighbour's oxen, questioning the existence of a merciful, benevolent God, etc.
8. You can finally take up smoking, eat fatty foods, smoke crack. It's not like it's going to shorten your lifespan.
What do you think? All cheery thoughts, every one.
I sauntered past the pharmacy at lunchtime and noticed a small, blue sign that read: “Bowen Therapy – enquire within”. My rumbling stomach precluded indulging my curiosity, so I fear I will never find out what is involved in Bowen therapy. Several definitions presented themselves, all involving the only Bowen that I could picture.
At first, I thought it must be a programme of help for people whose Sunday teatimes have never quite recovered from the cancellation of their cherished, darts-based, game show. They can be found wandering forlornly around speedboat showrooms, muttering “Look at what you could have won” to themselves. A normal game of darts holds no interest for them, for they have grown accustomed to the heady exhilaration of a quick-fire general knowledge round.
Alternatively, Jim Bowen may have branched out into alternative healing, developing his own branch of acupuncture. Patients are strapped to a giant, rotating dartboard while a heavy-drinking, chain-smoking, blindfolded ex-professional darts player hurls surgical needles at them. Points are totted up using an abacus, in accordance with the ancient Chinese principles regarding the flow of chi around the body and the law of “You Get Nothing In This Game For Two In A Bed”.
The other option was that it was therapy for Jim Bowen, or people that think they are Jim Bowen. It would probably also cover Ted Rogers, Larry Grayson, Tarby, Kenny Lynch and Dusty Bin. Perhaps even Isla St Clair, at a push.
The truth of the matter is that Bowen Therapy is some sort of Australian-invented massage that sounds like it involves wiggling the flesh gently while removing uncomfortable wodges of cash from the wallet. What do I know, though? I’m not a doctor, and wouldn’t know an “all embracing vibrational energy therapy” if it bit me on the bum.