Sunday, July 27, 2008

Coldplay / Nirvana

Compare and contrast: Nirvana - All Apologies and Coldplay - Life In Technicolour. Give them both about a minute to get going, then spot the difference.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

today's footwear

today's footwear
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name

The benefits of working from home. mmm... comfy and warm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Citysearch Movie Widget

My minions and I made this, it may even work:

Four and twenty blackbirds

Rattling through the freebooks now, another one bites the dust. This time, "Four and Twenty Blackbirds" by Cherie Priest. Tor have finally opened their group blog site, which I thought was going to be more of a social network, and you can download all the freebooks they've distributed so far if you want to catch up. There's some good ones in there, but I'm only halfway through the list. Like James said, the site is another feed to subscribe to and "mark all as read" because you don't have time to read all the other group blogs out there. My feed reader rapidly fills up with shite, and that's just from boingboing and io9. Still, I'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.

So, back to the book. It's a ghost / horror story, set in the South of the U.S. This meant I had to read it in a comedy accent, which cheered me up. I have no idea if any of the characters were supposed to talk that way, and I had to add in a couple of instances of "Lordy, lordy, chile" and "ah do declay-air" of my own.

As a ghost story it's not particularly scary, and it works better as a murder mystery, with the plucky young heroine following clues to find out about her past. No-one wants to talk about it, for no adequately explained reason other than the book would be a lot shorter than if they had.

The plot is ok, it kept me reading, and the characters (or at least the narrator) are reasonably interesting. It has a couple of horror-movie style lazy plot points: plucky heroine decides to take in the family cemetery late at night, just after hearing that her crazy cousin has escaped from police custody - guess who she bumps into; plucky heroine is close to her goal, danger is ahead, crazy cousin still at large, she's miles from anywhere with only a big, strong, man with a shotgun as a sidekick - "let's split up", she says. Bad things then ensue.

It's a flawed book, but the writing was good enough that I will keep an eye out for other things by Cherie Priest, so the freebook has done its job.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sun of Suns

My freebooks are backing up, a relentless stream from Tor. I'm now several weeks behind, only just having finished "Sun of Suns" by Karl Schroeder.

This is the first in a seven volume SF saga, which I'm glad I didn't know when I started it, as that would have put me off what was otherwise a corking read. Set in a big balloon world dotted with freefalling islands of rock, miniature fusion plants operating as tiny suns and wooden galleons sailing through the sky, this is big fuck-off display of world-building. There are some great characters, a cracking plot, pirates, sky motorbikes and sidecars, swashbuckling naval heroes, swordfights, post-human AIs and general arse-kickery. Read it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Connecticut Yankee

I picked up an old copy of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" from the Salvos (I'm picking up the local dialect, helps me blend in before I hatch my plan to steal all their land, and enslave their women. Step one of the plan: get them all addicted to cheap booze; already done for me). The hardback claimed to be part of the collected works of Mr Twain. Sadly the Salvos had disbanded the collective, no other volumes were to be found.

I remember watching the Bing Crosby film version one long Saturday afternoon as a kid. Lying on my front, chin propped on my hands, on the rug in front of the fire, wondering when Bob Hope was going to pop up and make the film funnier.

There's a scene near the start where he fools the populace into thinking he's a great magician because he happens to know there's an eclipse on the way. He tells them he'll destroy the sun unless they stop trying to kill him. That's all I remember from the film; it inspired me to look up the dates of all the eclipses in history, where they were visible, and how long they lasted. Just in case I accidentally time travelled. Better safe than dangling, twitching and drooling from the gallows. You'd feel such a fool if you hadn't prepared.

Bob Hope never turned up, as far as I recall. I also don't remember any tirades against the Catholic church or how monarchy was an evil institution designed to crush the little man, which is what most of the book is about. That could have whooshed right over my head, I was only seven or so.

I do remember another rainy Saturday when I watched "The Spaceman and King Arthur". This was Disney's version. It substituted an astronaut for the man who just bumped his head (much more plausible), going back in time after his futuristic McGuffin drive doesn't work. This guy was more of a dweeb than Bing Crosby or Mark Twain's original. In typical Disney fashion, dweeb has the right stuff in the end and saves the princess or something. He also has an exact replica of himself as a robot, for no other reason than it is useful for him later on when he has to joust against another knight. The knight beheads his robot, but the robot carries on fighting to gasps and swoons and general proclamations of great wizardry. No cries of "he's a witch, burn him!" since this was a Disney film.

Bob Hope never turned up to make this one funnier either, but this film made such an impression on me that I spent the rest of the day making a cardboard space shuttle, held together with lots of glue and a couple of paper clips, and a fully articulated cardboard robot.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Qui custodiet

Qui custodiet
Originally uploaded by No Middle Name

Watchmen biscuit. I'll be expecting my 10 per cent if the marketing droids actually come up with this when the film comes out.