Now Being Entertained

Mar 25, 2010

Now Listening

I’ve been listening Dave Matthews’ Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, jamming away in the truck while I travel to work and back again.  This album is their best work in quite a while.  “Shake Me Like a Monkey” is my favorite song of the past year or so and, one day, I’ll learn “You & Me” on the guitar.  I just have to. 

I also need to see them in concert, again.  That’s scheduled for the summer.

Now Playing

I’m playing a lot of God of War 3, which is as brutal and maybe predictable as you’d expect.  I don’t think I mean predictable in a bad way.  Kratos simply noticed that several heads are in need of removal.  I’m not surprised he’s the man for the job. 

I remain pretty happy with the formula, especially in a game that starts this fast and looks this incredible.  But the formula is incredibly obvious if you’ve ever touched one of these games before.  This is my fourth (I count the PSP game).  Next time I’ll be looking for something a little different.

Now Watching

The wife and I are watching a lot of American Idol and Survivor, the latter of which is aging better than the former.  I’m not exactly certain what’s wrong with American Idol.  It certainly has something to do with a weak lineup of contestants.  Maybe they’ve played with the format too much.  Maybe I’ve gotten too good at using my DVR.  Maybe I miss Paula.  No, it can’t be that last thing.  It can’t be that at all.

Survivor, however, remains a pretty good show where they eventually eat bugs or something similarly vomit inducing.  The villains and heroes thing feels contrived – after all, it is — but, somehow, the show remains entertaining.  Jerks and Rob will soon merge with the nice guys, however.  I’ll be happy when we get down to individuals.

I’ll be happier when I find more time to watch The Fringe.

Now Reading

I recently began the “Song of Fire and Ice” series of books penned by George R.R. Martin in an effort to fill a gaping hole in my fantasy library.  I know.  I can’t believe I waited so long either.  I’m sorry I waited, even as Mr. Martin does terrible things to characters he first made me love.  I’m well into “A Clash of Kings.”  I’ll finish reading the series, at least when George bothers to finish writing it.

I do have to say it’s been both a fantastic and terrible addition to my Kindle.  Getting the first two books for just over $6.  Awesome.  Not knowing I just purchased about 2000 pages of reading material.  What is this, Harry Potter?

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Book List

Feb 7, 2006

My birthday is coming up, eventually, and I thought I’d get a jump on my wants and needs (ok, my wants). Besides, I love lists. Just love them. Here are some of the books I’d like to read sometime after my birthday, ahem, assuming I ever finish this one. Thank God the others won’t require a quiz afterwards.

The Progress Paradox by Gregg Esterbrook

I’ve been a reader of Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for a few seasons. I like his writing enough that I’ve followed that particular column from ESPN to its current resting spot, It’s good, exhaustive, quirky stuff and it sets him up well for writing about subjects like is life getting any better. Doesn’t it?

Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt by Gregg Easterbrook

Since the life questions are apparently easy, I’m glad this book gave Mr. Easterbrook a chance to tackle some tough subjects, like religion. You’d think that I’d be wary to read a book about religion from a football columnist. You’d be wrong. After all, what football columnist berates supporters of intelligent design while leaving the concept open, all in an article about the Super Bowl? Well, I know one that does.

(Search for “No Higher Power” for the whole snippet. Here’s a taste: “But please, science illiterates, stop attempting to enact rules about intelligent design; you are ruining the idea.”)

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

I’ve already read this one, which probably makes it my most interesting choice. Of course, when I did so, it was in electronic form. It’d be nice to get the paper equivalent and it’d be nice to freshen my memory for it’s sequel.

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Hey, the sequel. Imagine that. In addition to being a sequel to a book that I really enjoyed, I think this choice makes a pattern apparent. Maybe I’ll talk about that pattern at the bottom. Hint, all the links to Amazon are not involved.

Attack of the Bacon Robots (Penny Arcade, Vol. 1) by Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik

I’ve been following the Penny Arcade strip for years, long enough that I’m sure I’ve seen a lot of work found between the covers of this book. That doesn’t mean I don’t need something for my (theoretical) coffee table and that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy reading all the additional commentary.

So what do all these choices have in common? They all came from writers that I discovered and followed on the web. In the case of Mr. Easterbrook, I’ve been following his articles in official channels for a couple of years. In the case of Mr. Scalzi, I’ve been following his blog for longer than I’ve been writing my own. Penny Arcade is actually kind of a mix of the two, a site that generates money directly but provides blog-like content in the form of long form text that accompanies each comic.

10 years ago, I would have been surprised at the source of my interests. As recently as 7 years ago, I might have been little uneasy justifying actual purchases based on such unscrupulous places as the internet. Today, I don’t bat an eye. The authors above are writers that I actively follow. I can’t think of a better way to spend my entertainment dollars (or someone else’s if my birthday just so happens to pass). I can think of a better question, though.

How did I find something good to read before the internet?

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Reread, Repurchase

Dec 16, 2002

Last year’s hobbit loving movie,
The Fellowship of the Ring, was excellent.
Peter Jackson
could have been considered crazy for even attempting to translate such a well-realized and popular set of fantasy novels to the silver screen. The results might have been disasterous. Instead, they were wonderful.

themselves are the stuff of legend. They aren’t just fantasy novels. The Fellowship of the Ring trilogy and its prequel, The Hobbit, are fantasy standards. The four of them form the fantasy writer’s dictionary and encyclopedia. See that orc over there? See the smoke rising from the humble abode sadly placed near the Forest of Death? Thank
J.R.R. He played his part. He’s the Shakespeare of the sword and sorcery world.

To an aspiring 6th grade reader, they were a speedy horseback ride into the world of magic and mayhem. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Magician, Thomas Covenant
— many a fantasy series followed. I’ve never found a sword with a golem on the pointy end that I didn’t like. But I’ve never forgotten what started it all. Or had I? Why was everything so fuzzy?

I suppose it might have something to do with the 17 intervening years (oh my, now I feel old). You could say that it’s been in a while since I’ve read the books. I remember the them much like I remember my old middle school teachers. That’s to say if they came by and beat on my desk with a ruler, the memories would come flooding back. Without such an occurence, the details remain outside of my grasp.

The first movie acted much like that ruler. However, the sound of splintering wood was replaced by a light tapping upon my head (my old reading teacher would be much dissapointed). The big events stood out – Gandolf … dwarven mines …. massive battles. The rest all kind of runs together. The epic grabbed me by the ears but also made me miss my formally intimate knowledge of its supporting text. What did they leave out? How did I envision such a land? You know, I probably should reread the series.

That would be easy except for the fact that I loaned it out not so long ago. I believe I gave it to my nephew but, to be honest, I don’t remember who I handed it to. I’ve recommended it to many people, particularly when the first movie approached. Someone, somewhere has my classic copy. Unfortunately, that meant I no longer had a copy of my very own.

The solution to the problem wasn’t as clear cut as you may think. Visiting the store seemed to betray my inner geek. I’m not a part of the masses who were introduced to the one ring through a lighted wall. I was an early adopter. I’ve been there; done that. Hobbits? Yep, I know all about them; I even know a lot about good old Bilbo. I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. I’m leading the pack (Well leading in the sense that I’m behind the real uber-geeks out there. They are easy to spot. Just look for the Magic – The Gathering cards) . In this sense, at least, I rejected the movie.

That is until I finally drug myself to the book store. I found a splendid paperback set graced with covers directly from the movie. The nerd inside was at peace and my shiny plastic credit card surfaced. They’ll look just beautiful next to both editions of the first

Revisiting the books will likely put the next two movies under a much more focused microscope. I’ll analyze. I’ll have a much more recent comparison. But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. The movies have relit the fire of my interest in the hobbit world. I’m sure they won’t mind if I poke at the coals a bit.

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