This post should now be on Digg!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Check it out Jeff Burk's own Shatnerquake page or on Amazon.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
- Give me music from my general music collection.
- Add items from a separate Smart Playlist that contains un-played podcasts that I consider to be music e.g. ABC Radio National's In the Night Air, KEXP's Music That Matters, Mixtape Show Hip-Hop, The 20min Mixtape Show, IndieFeed: Hip Hop and Alpa Pup's sadly defunct Alternative Hip-Hop Lounge.
- Don't include items I have rated 1 or 2 stars.
- I delete items rated 1 star. I never want to listen to them again!
- Generally I want to keep items rated 2 stars, but don't want to listen to them again on my device. Usually they are part of some collection I want to keep as a whole.
- Don't include items that I have listened to two or more times.
- Don't include items that I have listened to in the last eight weeks.
- Don't include items that I have skipped over previously (usually means I didn't want to listen to them and was not prepared to actually take the device out of my pocket and rate the item).
- And lastly, out of the 30GB or so that match these conditions, choose a random 5GB to put on my device.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Haydar Pasha Station,
On the steps, sun
stops on the steps,
thinking about something.
His nose is long and pointed,
and his cheeks are pockmarked.
The man on the steps,
is famous for thinking strange thoughts:
"If I could eat sugar wafers every day," he thought
when he was 5.
"If I could go to school," he thought
"If I could leave Father's knife shop
before the evening prayers," he thought
"If I could buy a pair of yellow shoes
so the girls will look at me," he thought
"Why did Father close his knife shop?
And the factory is nothing like this shop,"
"Will my pay go up?" he thought
"Father died at fifty -
will I die early too?" he thought
when he was 21.
"What if I get laid off?" he thought
he thought "What if I get laid off?"
till he was 50.
At 51 he thought: "I'm old -
I've lived one year longer than my father."
Now he's 52.
He's out of work.
Stopped on the steps now,
in the strangest of thoughts:
"When will I die?
Will I have a bed to die in?
His nose is long and pointed.
His cheeks are pockmarked.
Spring comes to Haydar Pasha Station
wih the smell of fish in the sea
and bedbugs on the floor.
Excerpt from the very beginning of Human Landscapes from My Country, an Epic Novel in Verse, by Nazim Hikmet, translated from the Turkish by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk.
ISBN 0-89255-273-5, Published 2002, Persea Books.
Pictures from Carol Guillaume' album Railway Stations and Marco's Gallery.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I listened to the audio of this trilogy on my iPod. It is a very
different style of humor from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. The
humor can almost be called quaint.
The story revolves around a group of nomes (gnomes) - whom it turns
out are highly advanced aliens who landed on Earth when we were still
Neanderthals. They got stuck on Earth without any electricity or a way
to communicate with their ship or rebuild anything technical (no
metal) and over the preceding thousands of years somewhat devolved
Nomes are very short lived (10 years makes for an old nome) and
experience time around 10 times faster than humans. The humor in this
book mainly revolves around the idea that the nomes are so literal
that they cannot understand anything about humans (and too fast to
understand our speech). Terry Pratchett works this angle very well as
you would expect since he has such a wry wit. But their "literalness"
also annoyed me consistently throughout the whole experience: how can
they ever have become so advanced if they are so stupid? How can you
create things like spaceships without mastery over abstraction? Surely
over the thousands of years they have been here, they would have
advanced further, discovered new things or at the very least worked
out how to communicate with humans?
Having said that, the books are still very funny, filled with
Pratchett's insightful observations on humanity and some typically
heart warming relationship building.
Overall, well worth a listen or read if you get the whole trilogy
together and treat them as one book (because they really do read as
one piece in three chapters).
Mostly Fiction book review of The Bromeliad Trilogy:
The Bromeliad Trilogy on weRead: http://bit.ly/avONCm
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Then there was a period of void, where I forgot about the Doctor.
Sometime later I rediscovered him in the new, more adult oriented books brought out by BBC and Virgin. They introduced an edge to the Doctor and his companions I had never experienced before. I was enthralled by the drama and introspection that resulted in the now common-place "super-hero" tension: the "I can't save everyone" effect (TM). Sacrifices are consciously made, if not willingly; companions die, friends are removed from the time-line.
Later, glory of glories, BBC began making the TV series again. Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith. I was over-joyed that the Doctor was back with relatively good special effects, high quality acting and even a spin-off (Torchwood). But something was wrong... the stories didn't seem to make as much sense as I remembered - and the sonic screwdriver became Harry Potter's wand. It was being used for every thing from opening mechanical locks, stunning creatures, cutting rope and being an all purpose interface to any electronic system (or biological even). The Doctor didn't have to think his way out of every scrap or scrape. The stories began to feel implausible, I began to get annoyed.
But just recently I had an epiphany. It occurred while I was watching a re-run of The Satan Pit, where the Doctor confronts "The Devil". He says something along the lines of "I don't deny your existence but I don't have to believe you are who you say you are" and it is suggested that the creature survived from an earlier time (literally): that it existed before the Big Bang and survived through it into our time, still imprisoned.
Just at that moment it occurred to me that this is what the Doctor is really about: huge ideas! Science fiction, stretching the imagination just to see what happens. It doesn't have to be internally consistent (it isn't) or eternally plausible (it ain't). The stories are just trying to be enjoyable and wild.
And so they are.
H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu horror is both powerful and inaccessible because it is visceral. Cthulhu is a monster of indescribable horror that is being described. We are used to monsters in films, books and pictures so we can conjure up images of foul beasts easily enough, but it is decidedly harder to adjust our mental image when Lovecraft writes that "The Thing cannot be described".
Thus, the essence of Cthulhu horror is emotional rather than visual. Lovecraft tries to evoke the sense that the monster and the reality it belongs to is so morbidly incomprehensible that just bearing witness to it will bring insanity and inevitable death! This notion is not friendly to intellectual inquiry: we understand "monster" as something concrete but the Cthulhu monster is imbued with a fear of something abstract.
I see this abstract horror in stories that leave things unexplained: in the movies Cloverfield and The Mist we never find out where the monsters came from, how they got here or what they wanted. What Lovecraft adds on top of that is a sense of incomprehension; like a person from a two dimensional universe trying to comprehend our three dimensional universe. In the 90's Sam Neill starred in what I think are two horror movies that are very close to Cthulhu horror: In the Mouth of Madness and Event Horizon. Both movies involve a somewhat hapless curiosity that descends into an incomprehensible, inescapable and abominable fate.
I enjoyed reading Call of Cthulhu because it was challenging to me; trying to comprehend what Lovecraft wanted to portray by writing a story about incomprehensible horror.
3.5 out of 5
Read this on my iPod Touch.