Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Pothunters: Review

It's probably a misnomer to call this a review. That I would be able to properly review anything is unlikely having neither the expertise, experience, or inclination to do it right. With that disclaimer out of the way, onward!

The biggest problem with The Pothunters is that it's rather disjointed. There are a few plotlines and they never quite mesh fully. They're related and they interact, certainly, but there is a distinct lack of that seamless weaving of the threads of multiple subplots that will be such an important feature of Wodehouse's later work. There are amusing moments here too, but this book isn't written to be as comedic as most of his works and the jokes here are indicative of his later mastery. It's raw ore waiting to be refined; you can see the potential, but it's not realised.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Movies, Lists, and Greatness

Nearly 20 years ago (time flies) the American Film Institute made a list of the top 100 American movies for the centenary of American film. They made the list by
[inviting] more than 1,500 leaders from across the American film community – screenwriters, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, executives, film historians and critics among them – to choose from a list of 400 nominated films compiled by AFI and select the 100 greatest American movies.
Which is okay, I guess. This is a pretty good crowd to ask about movies; they should know a fair bit about them. But they limited them to a pre-culled list of 400, which is not so great. But the really interesting thing was that 9 years later, in 2007 they did it again.

The brief text on their site makes it sound like they asked all the same people again, thought I would have expected at least a few of them to have been unavailable. Perhaps some of them had died in the intervening years, or were out of town, disinclined to participate, something. Be that as it may, the differences between the lists are what really caught my attention. And there are some significant differences. Hit that jump and let's discuss.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Pothunters

First up on the tour through the works of PG Wodehouse is The Pothunters. This was originally published in 1902, according to the information on the copyright page. Before it was a book, however, it was first published as a serial in Public School Magazine in January-March of the same year. This is one that I've read before and, if I recall correctly, much of the style and mannerisms that are a source of humor in Wodehouse's later works are taken more seriously in this one. According to the back text and my own memory, this is a quasi-mystery story about stolen cricket trophies and a noble youth unjustly accused who seeks the real culprit in order to remove the stain from his honor.

He started out writing these kinds of mildly amusing, earnestly moral stories for magazines aimed at boys in their early teens. Wodehouse himself was a young man not far removed from these school days; he was about 20 when this story was written. I'll check in again when I've finished the book with some more detailed thoughts.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Just Like for Grown-Ups!

So, while you may have noticed that I have a widget there to the right (left, if you're facing away from the screen) which rotates through a sample of my books catalogued over at LibraryThing, if you'd rather peruse them in a way that feels more like a library's online catalogue (and who wouldn't, really?) then you can also check out this link. It's a software service that LibraryThing makes available to its users for free (if it's for personal use) or very cheap if you're more of an organization. Why do I have it when I don't really let anyone "check out" my books from my house? It was free, so why not?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Feedback

No one bothers to read any of this nonsense, I'm fairly sure, but my sense of the fitness of things was troubled when I realized that I'd never bothered to test the feedback box I'd added to replace comments. So I filled it out myself. We'll see if the message actually goes anywhere or if all I've done is add a way to troll unsuspecting folks who wander by and wish to register their dissatisfaction.

UPDATE: Turns out I get an email. Cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Trump Post or, So, It's Come to This, Has It?

If you don't follow me on Twitter (and apparently most people don't), then you probably haven't seen what I've been saying about Der Trumpenf├╝hrer. I will sum up: I don't like him.

But that's not enough, and this is something that I think (in agreement with others more intelligent and informed than I) will matter a great deal in the future. Those of us who are on the conservative end of the political spectrum and particularly those of us who are Christians who (at least claim to) take our Christianity seriously need to put markers down now. So, here we go.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Baseball Cards and Fine Art

Prufrock (if you're not subscribed, you're ill-informed) linked to a piece in the New York Times last week about vast quantities of fine that are locked away in storage in free ports around the world. (If you want to know more about that or what a "free port" is, I commend the article to you.) The article notes that a number of works sold for more than $100M are among those stored away. Which is a bit ridiculous.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

How I Know I Work in a Hippy-Dippy Left-Wing City

In the small plaza across from my office there are two small pillars (plinths?). On top of each of these plinths (pillars?) is a small statue. Each of these statues is a woman. Each of these women is, apparently, doing yoga. In the nude.

No, I'm not going to post a picture.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Pirates, Assassins, and Templars

The Assassin's Creed series has a lot of problems if examined at all closely. The gameplay does tend to be very repetitive. The underlying "philosophy" is half-baked and peculiar. The story isn't particularly inventive. By the same token though, there are some very viscerally satisfying moments. The slow-motion drop from a rooftop onto a target doesn't get old. And one gets a distinct sensation of being the baddest man around from dropping into a crowd of a couple dozen guards and then walking away casually after piling up the bodies.

But!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sentiment not sentimentalism

It is inevitable that the decay of sentiment should be accompanied by a deterioration of human relationships, both those of the family and those of friendly association, because the passion for immediacy concentrates upon the presently advantageous. After all, there is nothing but sentiment to bind us to the very old or to the very young. Burke saw this point when he said that those who have no concern for their ancestors will, by simple application of the same rule, have none for their descendants. The decision of modern man to live in the here and now is reflected in the neglect of aging parents, whom proper sentiment once kept in positions of honor and authority. There was a time when the elder generation was cherished because it represented the past; now it is avoided and thrust out of sight for the same reason. Children are liabilities. As man becomes more immersed in time and material gratifications, belief in the continuum of race fades, and not all the tinkering of sociologists can put homes together again.
~p. 30
Ideas Have Consequences

Do They Even Know It's Spring?

Walking around downtown yesterday when the high temperature was about 60 or so, I saw people with scarves and winter coats all hunched up like they're freezing. Waiting for the bus a woman walked past in a heavy coat and wearing a wool cap like it was midwinter. Okay, folks got spoiled by the unseasonably warm weather last month, but this is ridiculous. Get a grip, people!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Well, It Was a Good Run While It Lasted

Perhaps enough Republicans decided they were tired of being called fascists by the Democrats and figured they'd really nominate one. They have their internationally-minded socialists, so the GOP decided to go with a nationalist socialist. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quick Redesign

Just a quick update to the blog's layout and design. It's mostly a pre-fab template with a few tweaks for fonts and colors and a background photo of my own.

Father Daughter Baseball

Took my girls to the M's game last night, and it was a good one. The Royals pitcher struggled right away walking several batters in the first couple innings and having to work out of a jam in both the first and second, but I was surprised when I noticed in the fifth that he was still working on his no-hitter despite seeming to have trouble with his command.

Game ended well and was exciting right to the end with Martin needing to making a running catch against the wall in center to secure the final out. Girls mostly had a good time; I think they liked getting to stay out late with their dad as much as anything, but they did get rather cold. Lesson learned for next time: even though I'm dressed warmly enough, apparently I don't get nearly as cold as they do.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Slog of Writing

For every blog post that I publish, there are another half-dozen or so that I write out by hand on paper to a point of 80%-95% completion. At which point I often find that what is down on the paper is adequate for the point I wanted to express and the feeling of satisfaction at it being written down is enough. I tell myself that eventually I'll get around to typing them up for the blog, but really they just live in my notebook for a few months until the next time I get the urge to clean them up and then they all end up being recycled with the other odds and ends of paper this house generates.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Leonard Maltin's Favorite Movies

A couple Christmases ago, I got a copy of Leonard Maltin's (last) Movie Guide. After flipping through it a bit and browsing, I became a bit annoyed because he didn't seem very consistent in his evaluations. So I thought I'd go through and look at all of the films that he gave four stars (his highest rating) to see if there was any sort of pattern. (There wasn't.) His list clearly has some problems. Nothing from Pixar? Only one Ozu film? No Twilight Samurai? None of Branagh's Shakespeare? Too many concert movies. A disproportionate number of Italian films.

Anyway, it was interesting enough that I'm going to put the list up below the break. It's (obviously) in alphabetical order. The movies that have years after them are titles with multiple entries in the Movie Guide. The films I've seen are in bold, the ones I have on my list to see are in italics.

After working through the list again, I found the pattern. Left-wing films. They dominate this list; lots of propaganda.