Saturday, July 23, 2005

Book and a Movie

Finished another Wodehouse novel, Cocktail Time, which is also the title of the novel in this book upon which the plot hinges. It wasn't too bad. This one features Lord Ickenham as the protagonist, who is a somewhat different protagonist than other Wodehouse heroes. Jeeves and Wooster are usually trying to avoid or escape from romantic entanglement, one-off heroes are generally pursuing a girl for themselves and his early heroes, Mike and Psmith among them, generally were not concerned with women at all. Lord Ickenham is concerned with getting other people hitched up, but he himself is already married. (The Earl of Emsworth is similar, but he himself doesn't take an active hand in removing the obstacles to love.) It wasn't a bad book, but it didn't make me laugh uproariously as the short story concerning him in Young Men in Spats did.

Watched another Marx Bros movie today, A Night in Casablanca. Haven't heard of it? There's a reason. It's bad. Very, very bad. A couple good lines here and there, but the Marx Bros were mostly just sleepwalking through it. Harpo looks old, the costumes aren't great, the dialogue is stilted...it was just bad. I suppose it isn't too surprising, it was almost their last movie together and they had been doing this kind of schtick for 40 years or so.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

No...time. Must blog...before I get...too far behind.

That title reads better if you imagine William Shatner saying it. Well, it was funny in my head, anyway.

Had guests over the past couple weeks, but I suppose since I took some vacation from work too it all evens out. My birthday was last week, and that was nice. I was given some books and DVDs and things. Oh! And a chess clock, which I had been wanting for a while. My wife made lasagna (mmmm...lasagna) and generally a fun time was had.

Since I've been gone so long, I'll try to briefly recap the books I've read, but I probably won't be able to go into great detail.

I read the rest of the Ngaio Marsh mysteries that my local library had. These were When In Rome, Night at the Vulcan, Killer Dolphin, Death of a Fool, Tied Up in Tinsel and Last Ditch. This is apparently wildly out of order, but I'll read the rest in publication order as best I can since I'll have to put them on hold at my library. Last Ditch and Tied Up in Tinsel were probably my least favourite of those and the rest of were of about a piece with each other. The plotting was weaker in the two I liked less and the main character's son (who figured largely in Last Ditch) annoyed me greatly. Tied Up in Tinsel seemed rather contrived and far-fetched as well too, though most mystery stories are that way since if they were simple, sordid mysteries with plodding, obvious solutions, who would want to read them? Though this one seemed a bit much. I would, however, strongly recommend Ngaio Marsh's books to anyone who was a fan of mysteries and especially any fan of Dorothy Sayers.

I also read (I had to get it through an inter-library system loan) Shows About Nothing. While it was enjoyable, I have taken it off my Amazon wish list. It wasn't so good that I think I need to own a copy. The reason I became interested in reading it was because the author, Thomas Hibbs, often writes movie reviews for a website I frequent, National Review Online. (Warning! If you believe in the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?", and fear it, you may find this site objectionable.) I generally enjoy his reviews and I have found that I agree with him on the quality of movies, so when I saw that he had written a book and what that book's subtitle was (Nihilism in Popular Culture from The Exorcist to Seinfeld) I decided I should enjoy that as well. I didn't agree with everything (I should really stop saying that. When does one ever?) that he wrote, but I found him very thought-provoking and interesting. It was interesting to read about how Seinfeld writers in particular were so explicitly nihilistic in their work.

And, in the last few days, I've been reading some of my new PG Wodehouse books, Hot Water, Uneasy Money and Heavy Weather. Hot Water and Uneasy Money were not quite as good as Heavy Weather, even though that last had a plot that is almost identical to the first part of Carry On, Jeeves. The first two are earlier efforts of Wodehouse's, and while the heroes are good, some of the other characters aren't as good and some of the writing is a bit lacking. Heavy Weather is a book from when he was in his prime. Still, this is Wodehouse and while I could see someone making points in another's favour without too much trouble, I wouldn't mind defending him as the greatest writer of the 20th century, so even when he nods, he is still head and shoulders above most everyone else.

Answers for First Lines

(Two posts down from this.)

1. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. The Code of the Woosters - PG Wodehouse

4. Leave It to Psmith - PG Wodehouse

5. Have His Carcase - Dorothy Sayers

6. Otherland: City of Golden Shadow - Tad Williams

7. Biffen's Millions - PG Wodehouse

8. Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy Sayers

9. The Horse and His Boy - CS Lewis

10. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

11. Death of a Doxy - Rex Stout

12. Hamlet - Shakespeare

13. The Road to Serfdom - FA Hayek

14. Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank Gilbreath Jr.

15. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower - CS Forester

16. Half-Magic - Edward Eager

17. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler

18. Orthodoxy - GK Chesterton

19. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

20. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

21. Master and Commander - Patrick O'Brian

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Guest Blogging

I'm guest blogging over at Window in the Garden Wall for the next few days whilst the proprietress is away on vacation. I'm sure people will notice a decline in quality, since I don't have access to as many of CS Lewis' written works as she does, nor do I have Photoshop to create the neat pictures that she includes with each post. But hopefully I won't drive away all of her readership in the next five days before she's back from vacation.

Monday, July 11, 2005

First lines of favourite books.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list (that would be much longer), it is not in any particular order, nor is the number of books indicative of anything particularly. But this list is probably a moderately representative sample of which books I have greatly enjoyed. Should anyone feel so led, one may guess from which books each of these lines comes. I will admit that one of them isn't strictly a book. And I'll post answers in a week or two. EDIT: Oh, and #11 is actually the first two lines of that book. Obviously.

1. On the 24th of February, 1815, the look-out at Notre-Dame de la Garde signaled the three-master, the Pharaon from Smyrna, Trieste, and Naples.

2. When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

3. I reached out a hand from under the blankets and rang the bell for Jeeves.

4. At the open window of the great library of Blandings Castle, drooping like a wet sock, as was his habit when he had nothing to prop his spine against, the Earl of Emsworth, that amiable and boneheaded peer, stood gazing out over his domain.

5. The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth.

6. It began in mud, as many things do.

7. The Sergeant of Police who sat at his desk in the dingy little Paris police station was calm, stolid and ponderous, giving the impression of being constructed of some form of suet.

8. "And by the way," said Mr. Hankin, arresting Miss Rossiter as she rose to go, "there is a new copy-writer coming in today."

9. This is the story of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and his two sisters were King and Queens under him.

10. The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.

11. I stood and sent my eyes around. It's just routine, when leaving a place where you aren't supposed to be, to consider if and where you have touched things, but that time it went beyond mere routine.

12. Enter Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels.

13. When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turnÂ?when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarismÂ?we naturally blame anything but ourselves.

14. Dad was a tall man, with a large head, jowls, and a Herbert Hoover collar.

15. A January gale was roaring up the Channel, blustering loudly, and bearing on its bosom rain squalls whose big drops rattled loudly on the tarpaulin clothing of those among the officers and men whose duties kept them on deck.

16. It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.

17. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.

18. The only possible excuse for this book is that it is an answer to a challenge.

19. Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures of conversations?"

20. "Ninety-eightÂ?ninety-nineÂ?one hundred."

21. The music-room in the Governor's House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli's C major quartet.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

It's like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure! For your shoes!

Did this a few weeks back when Steve linked to it. Not sure I'd shell out for $60 shoes via the internet though. Especially since I have such a tough time getting shoes that fit. Well, shoes that are reasonably inexpensive that fit, anyway. Here's the low and hi designs I made.


And once again

It is time for your periodic reminder that Blogger's spellcheck feature still does not recognise "blog" as a word. I still find that amusing. That is all.

Blogging

I've been slowing down lately for several reasons. Number A, it's tough to find the time to blog when one has a 4 month old daughter. 3, my computer quit working for a few days while it insisted that I didn't actually have a keyboard. Moe came over and helped me fool it by giving it a new keyboard and then switching back to the first one. It still hasn't noticed the bait-and-switch. And D, my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law are visiting right now, so my apartment is, shall we say, crowded. Which isn't to say that I don't like having them here. It's nice to see them.