Friday, September 30, 2005

Bone Game

Based on the comic. I just finished downloading the game, or the demo, actually. The full game can be unlocked if one gives them $20. Once I've played it, I'll let you know how it is.

I haven't even seen the movie.

And this is still really funny. Read through the 04/09/05 strip for the full joke. I discovered this comic a couple days ago and I've read through 3+ years of it in the last couple days. Some of them are really funny. Most of them are at least pretty good.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

If you can catch us, we'll stop infringing on your rights.

It seems Google (who owns Blogger, where this blog is hosted) has decided that they'll just start infringing on copyrights and authors will have to catch them at it and ask Google to stop. But they have to say "pretty please with a cherry on top".

Okay, I made up that last bit.
[A] lawsuit [was] filed in federal court in New York last week against Google and its Google Print Project. Brought by the 8,000- member Authors Guild, the suit seeks damages and an injunction to halt Google's project, claiming it violates copyright because authors have not first given permission to use their works.

100

Below is a list of the last hundred books that I read, in more or less the order I read them. I keep a list of the books I have read, and for the last hundred books or so, I've been keeping track of the order in which they are entered on my list. It's not the exact order which I read them, necessarily, since I sometimes enter several books at once without paying close attention to which was read before the other. But in broad terms, this is the correct order. There are a few books on the list that I had read before (the ones by Scott Corbett, for example) but I hadn't yet put them on my list. This list goes back (I used my blog to figure this out) to December 1st, 2004. So it's been about 100 books in about 10 months. 10 books a month isn't too bad, neh?
EDIT: The list is supposed to be a numbered list, but Blogger can't seem to manage that for some reason.
  1. Lewis, C.S. Grief Observed, A
  2. O'Brian, Patrick Yellow Admiral, The
  3. O'Brian, Patrick Hundred Days, The
  4. O'Brian, Patrick Blue at the Mizzen
  5. Wodehouse, P.G. Quick Service
  6. O'Brian, Patrick 21
  7. Corbett, Scott Disappearing Dog Trick, The
  8. Corbett, Scott Home Run Trick, The
  9. Corbett, Scott Baseball Trick, The
  10. Corbett, Scott Ever Ride A Dinosaur?
  11. Pratchett, Terry Last Hero, The
  12. Stout, Rex Father Hunt, The
  13. Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity
  14. Pratchett, Terry Truth, The
  15. Pratchett, Terry Thief of Time
  16. Pratchett, Terry Night Watch
  17. Corbett, Scott Black Mask Trick, The
  18. Corbett, Scott Hairy Horror Trick, The
  19. Wodehouse, P.G. Damsel in Distress, A
  20. LeGuin, Ursula Wizard of Earth-sea, A
  21. Wodehouse, P.G. Summer Moonshine
  22. Wodehouse, P.G. In His Own Words
  23. Pratchett, Terry Monstrous Regiment
  24. Christie, Agatha Murder In Three Acts
  25. LeGuin, Ursula Tombs of Atuan, The
  26. Marx, Arthur My Life With Groucho
  27. LeGuin, Ursula Farthest Shore, The
  28. Schulz, Charles Complete Peanuts: 1953-1954, The
  29. Sakai, Stan Space Usagi
  30. Stout, Rex Please Pass the Guilt
  31. Stout, Rex A Family Affair
  32. Pratchett, Terry Art of Discworld, The
  33. O'Rourke, P.J. Peace Kills
  34. Kagan, Donald Peloponnesian War, The
  35. Christie, Agatha Destination Unknown
  36. Garrett, Randall Lord Darcy
  37. Silverstein, Ken Radioactive Boy Scout, The
  38. LeGuin, Ursula Tales From Earth-sea
  39. LeGuin, Ursula Tehanu
  40. Stout, Rex Trio For Blunt Instruments
  41. Isaacs, Neil D. (Ed.) Tolkien and the Critics
  42. Smith, Jeff Crown of Horns
  43. Christie, Agatha Secret Adversary, The
  44. LeGuin, Ursula Other Wind, The
  45. Isaacs, Neil D. (Ed.) Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism
  46. Christie, Agatha Man in the Brown Suit, The
  47. Pratchett, Terry Going Postal
  48. Stoye, John Siege of Vienna, The
  49. Christie, Agatha Mystery of the Blue Train
  50. Christie, Agatha Poirot Investigates
  51. Christie, Agatha Death in the Clouds
  52. McCrum, Robert Wodehouse: A Life
  53. Grant, Ulysses S Personal Memoirs
  54. Christie, Agatha Hercule Poirot's Christmas
  55. Christie, Agatha Sad Cypress
  56. Christie, Agatha Dumb Witness
  57. Marsh, Ngaio Colour Scheme
  58. Christie, Agatha Regatta Mystery and other Stories, The
  59. Marsh, Ngaio Death of a Fool
  60. Hibbs, Thomas Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from Seinfeld to the Exorcist
  61. Marsh, Ngaio Night at the Vulcan
  62. Marsh, Ngaio When In Rome
  63. Stout, Rex Over My Dead Body
  64. Marsh, Ngaio Last Ditch
  65. Marsh, Ngaio Killer Dolphin
  66. Marsh, Ngaio Tied Up in Tinsel
  67. Lewis, C.S. Miracles
  68. Wodehouse, P.G. Heavy Weather
  69. Wodehouse, P.G. Hot Water
  70. Wodehouse, P.G. Uneasy Money
  71. Wodehouse, P.G. Cocktail Time
  72. Wodehouse, P.G. Piccadilly Jim
  73. Marsh, Ngaio Black As He's Painted
  74. Marsh, Ngaio Artists In Crime
  75. Marsh, Ngaio Clutch of Constables, A
  76. Marsh, Ngaio Alleyn and Others: The Collected Short Fiction of Ngaio Marsh
  77. Marsh, Ngaio Death at the Bar
  78. Marsh, Ngaio Enter a Murderer
  79. Sakai, Stan Fathers and Sons
  80. Marsh, Ngaio Hand in Glove
  81. Marsh, Ngaio Singing in the Shrouds
  82. Marsh, Ngaio Final Curtain
  83. Shirow, Masamune Ghost in the Shell
  84. Shirow, Masamune Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface
  85. Marsh, Ngaio Nursing Home Murder, The
  86. Marsh, Ngaio Death and the Dancing Footman
  87. Sibley, Brian Land of Narnia, The
  88. Christie, Agatha Secret of Chimneys, The
  89. Christie, Agatha Passenger to Frankfurt
  90. Christie, Agatha Golden Ball and Other Stories, The
  91. Christie, Agatha Body in the Library, The
  92. Marsh, Ngaio Man Lay Dead, A
  93. Marsh, Ngaio Death of a Peer
  94. Marsh, Ngaio Vintage Murder
  95. Marsh, Ngaio False Scent
  96. Marsh, Ngaio Died in the Wool
  97. Marsh, Ngaio Scales of Justice
  98. Marsh, Ngaio Death in a White Tie
  99. Marsh, Ngaio Grave Mistake
  100. Marsh, Ngaio Death in Ecstasy

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Marsh-a-thon

Since the last book post, it's been eight days and six Ngaio Marsh mysteries, which is a pretty heated pace. And I still have a good half dozen out from the library that I want to read before they're overdue.

Those last six books are: A Man Lay Dead, Death of a Peer, Vintage Murder, False Scent, Died in the Wool, and Scales of Justice.

A Man Lay Dead is the first mystery that Ngaio Marsh wrote. It's apparent that she still had a hero in mind that clearly came from Lord Peter Wimsey, however much she denied the fact later. She cheats a bit with her solution, making it partially based on evidence not available to the reader as well as making it extremely fanciful (though not as bad as the solution to Murder on the Orient Express, for which you can find a complete and utter spoiler here). Not an awful book, however, all things considered.

Death of a Peer would have been more enjoyable if the characters (excepting the detectives) hadn't all persisted in acting as if they had lost all use of their mental faculties. Thankfully, when one reads a mystery story, there is usually a detective to identify with, so one isn't constrained by the cast of suspects in finding someone with which to sympathise. The author was also commendably honest about placing all the clues in plain sight and still engaging a clever bit of misdirection that had me fooled. A good book.

Vintage Murder is mystery wherein the cause of death is not one I had encountered before. The victim gets a very large bottle of champagne dropped on his head. Unique, neh? Again, Marsh was very good at her job and successfully misdirected me while still leaving the essential clues in plain sight. It also takes place in her native New Zealand, and it is quite easy to see that she is extremely partial to her native land and her fellow-countrymen.

False Scent was a case of poisoning, though in this case I managed to follow up the clues and pick the right suspect. I'm beginning to tire, however, of Marsh's predilection for making the majority of her mysteries revolve around the theatre or actors. This book, and the one noted just above are such. I suppose she was just writing what she knew, but it still becomes tiresome after a while.

Died in the Wool was a wartime (WWII) story set in New Zealand, where our intrepid Inspector Alleyn has been sent to ferret out traitors and spies in their midst. It treads a bit to the fanciful side, therefore in the motivations of the murderer. The murder was also one that I found particularly gruesome. The clues here, while available to the reader as well, I found more ambiguous than did our hero, though there were really only a couple of likely suspects, taking the period in which the book was written into account.

Scales of Justice A decent mystery, but what I found most notable was the decision to grant Alleyn's right-hand man, Inspector Fox a bit of depth. He's usually a fairly cardboard-like stock character, as if Marsh couldn't be bothered to show him at all human. About half the evidence in this one is cheating by the author, and about half isn't. I didn't pick a winner, but I didn't have everything available to me.

Important Announcement

Blogger's spell-check still does not consider "blog" a word. I still find this amusing. This concludes this periodic, random reminder.

Do you know everything, Jeeves?

Armavirumque notes the passing of Jeeves as the mascot for "Ask Jeeves". I laughed out loud for a minute or two when I read the reasoning and the commentary of Stefan Beck. Go ahead. Even if you don't know who Jeeves is (unlikely if you've been reading my blog for a while), you'll still get the joke.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Don't you love a play on words?

"A year ago I was a member of theTitipu town band. It was my duty to take the cap round for contributions. While discharging this delicate office, I saw Yum-Yum. We loved each other at once, but she was betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, and I saw that my suit was hopeless."

-- The Mikado, Act I, Gilbert and Sullivan

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On Chess: Mistakes

"Anyone can hang a piece, but a good blunder requires thought."
--Tim Krabbe

Today's quote at ChessGames.com

The Lion, The Witch and The Evangelicals

An interesting post over at IMonk about why his concerned about the upcoming release of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to movie theaters everywhere. I can see his point, I suppose. I understand his concern that the movies may cheapen the books, I certainly think that may have happened to some degree with The Lord of the Rings. But the idea that there will be a lot of Christians beating their unbelieving friends over their heathen heads with this movie is foreign to me. I didn't encounter that with The Passion of the Christ. Perhaps it's merely the circles in which I move.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sky Flying!

Watched (just tonight) Zatoichi in Desperation. It wasn't very good, even as Zatoichi movies go, and most of them aren't great cinema. The plot was muddled, there were several extra characters that had minor subplots that didn't really go anywhere and the soundtrack was a hideous 70's generic funk sound.

But what was good were the trailers. The trailer for this Zatoichi film informed me that "He chops off the Japanese movie scene!" He being Katsu Shintaro, star and director, I presume. There was also a trailer for a Lone Wolf and Cub movie, which, I am reliably told, contains "Sky flying! Water splashing! Field running! Massacre!" Lastly (and best of all), there was a trailer for a movie titled Lady Snowblood. My sources informed me that she has "Relentless Beauty", but that unfortunately she "Sink her body in the river of grudge." Though, "She knows not the passions of womanhood, only the passion of her umbrella sword." So she's got that going for her. Which is nice.

Sitting Up

My daughter is now able to remain in a sitting position pretty much as long as she chooses to now. She still needs help getting to the point of sitting upright, but once there her balance is sufficient to keep her there even when playing with her toys.

EDIT: I'm not sure what happened. This was supposed to have a picture, but Blogger doesn't seem to be accepting pictures at the moment. Odd.

Kurosawa Documentary

I found a documentary on Akira Kurosawa while I was at the library checking out my books. (I always browse the DVD shelf when I visit because you never know what you might find.) It was simply called Kurosawa. It wasn't too bad. I did learn a lot about him that I didn't know and it was fun to see film clips of some of my favourite movies that he made as well as clips from other films of his that I have not yet seen. I was sad to learn, however, that he and Toshiro Mifune (who was an amazing actor and, not coincidentally, was in Kurosawa's best movies) had a falling out during the filming of Red Beard and that was why they didn't make any more movies together. There weren't any details regarding what they quarreled about, and that is part of the biggest problem that the documentary had. While it was informative, it could have been much more so than it was considering the length. I think the makers leaned too far towards being "artsy" and didn't spend enough time actually informing their audience about their subject. Still, a good movie worth a rental or being placed on hold at your library.

Catching Up

It had been over week between posts until I got that short note up about the blueberry pie. (Mmmm...pie.)

Done a fair bit of reading since then, though it has all been light stuff; almost entirely Marsh and Christie mysteries.

The Nursing Home Murder and Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh, The Land of Narnia by Brian Sibley and The Secret of Chimneys, Passenger to Frankfurt, The Golden Ball and Other Stories, The Body in the Library and At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie.

The two books by Marsh were decent, not great. The first, I imagine, had given the author the problem of not being able to provide enough clues to be definitive without giving the whole show away, and so she had to do the wheeze where the detective doesn't get the evidence until the last minute. So you can't really piece it together ahead of time because not all the pieces are there. The second was simply too obvious. Even if one didn't fathom exactly how the murderer had pulled it off, it was quite clear who it was. The field of opportunity was so obviously narrow that it practically leapt off the page.

The book on Narnia was enjoyable, if rather simple. My library had not classed it as a "Juvenile" book, so I was expecting something rather more in depth, but it wasn't a bad book. It would make an excellent introduction to Lewis for a child who had read the Narnia Chronicles and wanted to know more about their author.

The Secret of Chimneys, Passenger to Frankfurt, and At Bertram's Hotel were all mysteries that were not Christie's best. She was, I think, a little too over-enamoured with the idea of international conspiracies and huge, powerful criminal gangs with ingenious masterminds. All three of those books feature one or both of those and Passenger to Frankfurt was the worst. It seems to have been written in the 70's and I can only assume that Christie was in her dotage. (Strange as it seems, that is the most charitable construction I can put upon it.) At Bertram's Hotel was enjoyable to me simply for the description of an hotel in the Edwardian style. (That such a thing pleases me comes as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with my fondness for Wodehouse.)

The Body in the Library was a more conventional mystery story and I didn't tumble to the solution at all. I don't think Christie was too unfair with her clues, either. Quite a good book, though I am not quite as fond of Miss Marple as a detective as I am Christie's other investigators. But since I'm planning to get through all of Christie's books eventually, I went ahead. The last, The Golden Ball, was not at all what I was anticipating. There were a few conventional mystery short stories, but several others were simply odd. The best description I've been able to come up with is to say that it reminded me of nothing so much as the stories of Ray Bradbury. Go figure.

I had a bunch of books come in from on hold at once, so I have a stack of about 15 books sitting in my bedroom that I have probably about a month to get through. They are almost entirely Ngaio Marsh mysteries, so my literary-minded posts will probably be about those almost exclusively for the next couple weeks.

I promise nothing.

Yeah. That pie? I had none of it. (Full disclosure: She did offer me some. Once.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Cliff-hangered!

Both Volume 4 and Volume 5 arrived from on hold at the library at the same time, so I had a veritable Ghost in the Shell film fest this past weekend.

Volume 4 was good, each of the four episodes standing well on its own. They developed characters and one episode's ending was actually rather poignant, though another's "twist" ending was transparently obvious from a mile away.

Volume 5 gave a couple glimpses into the character of Aramaki (the "Chief") through a visit with an old friend and the death of an old comrade. One episode was a standard police/crime drama (which isn't to say it wasn't good) and the last was a return to the Laughing Man thread. But it will be at least a two-parter. I got cliff-hangered but good in the last episode on the DVD. One of our heroes ends up unconscious and bleeding on the sidewalk with no help in sight. I may end up waiting about 3 or 4 weeks to find out what happens next.

Beware Yahoo!

It seems that Yahoo! is not only willing to limit what information is available to their users in China, but will help the Chinese police hunt down dissidents so they can be tossed in the Chinese gulag. I'd say this is a new low for a Western company to stoop to, in regards to how they are willing to abase themselves to a violent, repressive Communist regime in order to make a buck.

In the comments of the post I linked above there was another link to an article that accuses Yahoo! of hosting thousands of phishing sites. I've never been impressed by Yahoo!. They have always seemed to me to be solely out to make as much money as possible even if they have to be unscrupulous to do it. I haven't heard about it lately, but I remember reading about how some very unsavoury people were using Yahoo! Groups to facilitate their illegal activities and it took a lot pressure to get Yahoo! to do anything about it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Inspector Alleyn Strikes Again!

I got four more Ngaio Marsh mysteries from the library, and I've read three of them over the past few days: Hand in Glove, Singing in the Shrouds, and Final Curtain. Taking the last one first, it wasn't bad. It was a little difficult for me to judge since I already knew who the culprit was, having seen this particular story on the DVD I watched. I did think it was better done than the movie version, and I liked that Marsh was apparently less squeamish than the producers about killing off more than one character. The story called for it, I think, and so it needed to be done.

Singing in the Shrouds
also wasn't too bad. It took place almost entirely on board a ship from London to Cape Town which was a nice little twist. And there was an excellent (and well-hidden) clue to the identity of the victim that I didn't pick up on until the ultimate exposition by the detective. I was also pleasantly surprised by the identity of the culprit as well as pleased that it did seem obvious in retrospect. A little too much psychology, but just about every detective has to bring that in. If the crime was solved merely on the evidence, most crimes wouldn't be that mystifying to the reader.

Hand in Glove I liked least of the three. Some of the important characters ran together in my head (though I may just not have paid enough attention) and I thought the murderer was crashingly obvious because of an ill-hidden clue to the identity. The story lacked the zest that most of Marsh's other books have, I thought.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Susan, Susan, Susan!

If you haven't read the Chronicles of Narnia, then this won't make much sense to you as well as spoiling the end of a seven book series.

Linked over at Your Daily CS Lewis (on the Tagboard) is a link to an essay about "The Problem of Susan". That is (if like me you hadn't encountered the phrase before) the difficulty that a lot of people have with the fact that Susan does not return to Narnia in the last book of the Chronicles. Apparently several well known authors of children's fantasy (Philip Pullman and JK Rowling) have commented on how they think this was a great flaw in CS Lewis' books.