Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

As much as I liked Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, I think I enjoyed this even more. I always like a story about a bookstore, and this is one of those. Literary and interesting, and full of amazing characters. Nobody writes a story about books like an author! Oh wait…

I heard there is a movie, I kind of don’t want to see it, because the characters are precious to me, and I’d like to keep them how I have them.


Thursday, January 5, 2023

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

This was a picture of the indie game world and the personalities in it that was so realistic I wondered how Gabrielle Zevin learned so much about it. There were little things that were off (eating fruit does not let Pac-Man eat ghosts, etc.) but so much, especially with the nature of deals and the motivations that game devs have was spookily accurate. I definitely recommend this to anyone in the game industry. And it got me reading other Zevin books. More importantly, it made me reflect on why I make games.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Troll

 

This was so fun! No, it has no relation to the 80’s movie. This is a Norwegian Godzilla. And it’s really good, you should watch it. If there is a sequel, they’ll have to call it… Troll 2. But I bet it gets a subtitle.

Now Is Not the Time To Panic


I really enjoyed this. It is an exploration of the relationship between Art and Life, and as such is related to The Moon and Sixpence, Edward Scissorhands, and of course, A Bucket of Blood. To quote the immortal Maxwell H. Brock, “Life is and obscure hobo, bumming a ride on the omnibus of Art.” It felt so genuine when I read it, and as the author explained in the afterword, that’s because it was. Many people don’t know what it is to be owned, to be consumed by art, to feel that purity from another world coursing through you, using you, taking you over to make something happen that you could never do, but somehow happens through you. But clearly, Kevin Wilson knows what that means. I definitely want to check out his other books.



Sunday, December 11, 2022

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television

 

You might have noticed it's been a few years since I made any entries in this blog. I guess I got a little behind, and then it felt weird to catch up, because I'd missed so many entries. Anyway, I'm going to try to get back into it again, though my entries will likely be more brief than before. 

I read the first half of this, and skimmed the second half. It came out in 1978, which of course was a very different time than now in terms of media. Back then, television really was a dominating force in culture, and the author makes a lot of good points about the unhealthy side of television. 

To this day, as television has changed so much into an overfunded "pick what you like" streaming buffet, I still wonder at the power of film and video as media, and wonder at their future. Watching shows like "Ridiculousness" on MTV, which is all clips of people doing weird or dangerous things, a curated YouTube, I see how prescient that Ray Bradbury was describing similar shows in Fahrenheit 451. 

The author concludes that it is unlikely that we will be able to eliminate television -- but he also reminds everyone that doing so would not be impossible -- we would just have to believe enough in the downsides of it to decide to regulate it. We face the same question today with social media, arguably a more deleterious force that television ever was -- since television's business model requires a certain amount of decorum, and for better and worse, it shies away from too much risk taking. Social media leans the opposite way -- anonymity leads to too much risk taking, and too much cruel communication. Media of all kinds is just the human race talking to itself -- I hope we can find ways to make that communication kind and helpful. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

This is one of those books everyone is supposed to have read, but I certainly never had. It's very powerful because he talks in detail about the realities of slavery, some of which I had never contemplated. Most disturbing was the fact that so many slave owners would get their female slaves pregnant. Frederick Douglass was most likely the son of his master, and that let him speak first hand of the horrors of what that means. Not only does it mean being ostracized by other slaves for being lighter, and being hated and punished by that master's wife, but also being treated worse than the others by the master because he wants to show that he is not giving any special treatment. He talks at length about the less obvious horrors of slavery, some of which gets deep into interesting human psychology. Observations about how the more religious a slaveholder is, the crueler they are likely to be are thought-provoking, as was his discussion of the nature of the Christmas holiday in slaveholding households, where slaves were encouraged to get drunk to the point of extreme discomfort so that returning to work seems more comfortable, coming away with the unconscious message that one is better off not being free. I particularly liked his tales of how he learned to read, and how the fact that his master forbid him learning to read served as a primary motivator to actually do it. One thing I thought was very clever was that after moving to the city, he would make friends with free white children, and challenge them to writing contests, learning from them in the process.
Eventually, he tells tales of attempting to escape, but unfortunately, when he does actually escape, he doesn't share details of how it actually happened, because he doesn't want to incriminate those who helped him. Maybe he tells that story in another of his works -- I wonder. Regardless, the thing that makes the book great is the frankness and the details. Reading it, it paints a clear picture of how barbaric life was just a few generations ago, and makes it hard to understand how slavery could have lasted so long.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Star Wars Super Graphic

This fun book by Tim Leong is a collection of cute charts and graphs of Star Wars information. I picked it up because, well, sometimes I'm expected to say intelligent things about Star Wars. I've never been a super fan, but I do appreciate the solidity of the world. Anyway, the book is fun. Some of the charts are just jokes with no real info, but others are very thought provoking. I think my favorites were a graphic showing all the times there has been a dismemberment (every movie but Episode I); how long it would take to watch all the movies (17 hours), read all the comics (18 hours), and read all the novels (81 hours); and a map showing the chronological travels of R2-D2. I really like any world solid enough that you can chart out things like that. One day, I hope to make a giant map of the complete travels of the TARDIS. No Episode 8 in this book, though, but now he's got an excuse for a new edition.