Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The usual topics

Wherein things have been quiet around here, so I thought this would help


  • Bacon
  • Neal Stephenson
  • Richard Blais
  • Your favorite band is lame
  • Your favorite politician is disappointing
  • Bruce Springsteen still not that interesting
  • Yard work
  • Cheap cars
  • Disney
  • Lack of interaction with ocean breeze
  • Threw away the kite catalog due to item immediately preceding this one
  • Notice to restaurants: Stop putting lemons in my tea or water. I am finished complaining about this and all future attempts to serve me lemonade will result in the drink being returned with a rude comment.
  • My interest in the Final Four is low
  • Come to think of it, my interest in just about anything at this time doesn't rise above low
  • Quote from a book
  • Lyrics from a song
  • Interestingly, I've been thinking of Peter Weir movies. I agree with just about all of this, especially the less said about "Green Card" and "Dead Poets Society," the better.
  • More bacon
  • Snow Crash nearly sold out
  • If my math is correct, this special edition of Snow Crash will gross $75,500. Subtract the publisher's cut and the illustrator's commission and it's still a nice bonus for a 16-year-old novel still in print. A number of authors seem to pick up some decent spare change using Subterranean special editions to supplement mass market publishing. Add to that a number of musicians (at least 2 I know of) who are asking their fans to help subsidize their careers and I wonder if we're seeing the dawning of a system of collaborative patronage. This is an idea I might write more on.
  • See also, Stephenson on Beowulf and Dante writers, question #2
  • Just waiting for the next generation of iPods
  • Ken Jennings
  • Suffering Lost withdrawal
  • The Robert Plant/Allison Krauss collaboration isn't bad. I've heard two songs and I enjoyed them. Probably not enough to buy the CD, but the quality does exceed the freak factor of the pairing.
  • Reviewing a little used gaming system; true: The physics system is note-perfect (often at the expense of playability)
  • List of white guys who are funky is a post I decided not to do because I couldn't elevate it from pointless-stupid to pointless-stupid-and-almost-funny. Part of it might have asked what qualified as funk as opposed to soul or blues. For me, I think it starts with the bass.
  • Who wrote this document—Dr. Seuss? Yes, you may explain this funny animal parenthetically regardless of the lack of previous explanation. And maybe you should hire a cartoonist to illustrate.
  • Bacon

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7 Comments:

Blogger XWL said...

Mmmmmmm, Bacon . . .

4/02/2008 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger justkim said...

Bacon makes everything better.

Which Neal Stephenson book would you recommend to one who had never read Neal Stephenson?

The Flower and Garden show has started at Epcot. Fun with topiary.

I like lemon in my iced tea, but not in my water. But then, I started drinking iced in in Southern California, so my tastes may be suspect in this particular area.

"You got mopey coat, take it off/you got grouchy trousers, take 'em off/you got negative knickers, take 'me off/and get yourself some happy spats." ~ Jason Robert Brown, "Someone Else's Clothes"

Master and Commander is a woefully under-appreciated movie.

I'm not sure that Stephenson is quite accurate in his assessment of Beowulf and Dante writers. Both story-telling traditions (if you will) depended upon patronage to one degree or another. While Stephenson is correct that the Beowulf story (and all other ancient legends for that matter) was told orally for the enjoyment of the masses, the story teller often traveled around the area telling the story, often embellishing details here and there to praise the host directly or criticize a known enemy of the host. Beowulf exists in one concrete form now because it was finally written down, but there were probably several variations at one point. Dante received patronage, which he used to create art, but his work often makes harsh political points, which his patron probably agreed with to one degree or another. Both traditions existed in times where the majority of the population was illiterate; now that the masses can read and is generally wealthy enough to purchase reading material, the patron has been replaced by the publisher. The implied agreement of patronage for praise has been replaced by publishing for profit. Same system, different stakes.

Ken Jennings makes my wee little blonde brain hurt.

I don't think Aaron should be considered one of the Oceanic Six. He wasn't listed on the passenger manifest.

4/03/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

I like lemon in my iced tea, but not in my water.

Yes, but this should be the diner's choice. Hang the slice on the side of the glass, don't drop in the drink.

4/03/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

The Flower and Garden show has started at Epcot. Fun with topiary.

We saw that last year, but I think it ends the week before we get there this year.

4/03/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Which Neal Stephenson book would you recommend to one who had never read Neal Stephenson?

I once wrote up my suggested reading order, but this must have been preblog because I can't find it. Let me put this on the list of things to expand upon in a future post. Because they're both just a lot of fun to read and throw a lot of ideas around, I guess I'd recommend starting with Zodiac and Interface.

You could read them in order:
The Big U (1984)
Zodiac (1988)
Snow Crash (1992)
Interface (1994) as Stephen Bury with J. Frederick George
The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (1995)
The Cobweb (1996) as Stephen Bury with J. Frederick George
Cryptonomicon (1999) Nominated for Hugo Award for Best Novel
Quicksilver (2003), volume I of The Baroque Cycle
The Confusion (2004) volume II of The Baroque Cycle
The System of the World (2004), volume III of The Baroque Cycle

I'd probably save Big U until you become a Stephenson fan. It's a sprawling immature mess of a sortof satire of big universities. If you've been to a big college you might like it, but I wouldn't recommend as a place to start (go read Jane Smiley's Moo).

I see no reason not to start with Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller. It's short and a fair introduction to his wordplay. I first read it in 1988 and thought the author had a great feel for language and that one day he could be quite good. It isn't science fiction, though that's where you'll find it. Here's my Zodiac post. If these quotes don't make you smile, maybe it isn't for you.

If you're into science fiction, then next up is Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Completely different writing styles and both uniquely identifiable as Stephenson. The Diamond Age has some of his most lyrical passages, while the ending continues to frustrate me. Diamond Age quoting.

If sci-fi isn't your bag, go for Interface, a political thriller/conspiracy novel. Like Zodiac, when it was first published it was found on the general fiction shelves. I bought it because browsing the first chapter it reminded me of Stephenson; it would be another year before I found out he was the coauthor. Interface quoting.

The Cobweb, along with Zodiac, are his two novels that least deserve the science fiction label. Basically a "What if" story that has Saddam Hussein running a biological weapons program in Midwestern colleges. Fairly tight structure, much of it has a somber tone as people try to do good despite all the obstacles placed in their way. Defiantely read the first chapter. Cobweb quoted.

By this time, you should be more than ready for the historical fiction of Cryptonomicon.

Or if you want to start with free, go with the Wired essay, Mother Earth Mother Board...and you can download the text for In the Beginning...was the Command Line.

4/03/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger The Mountain Cat said...

I agree with you on the Final Four. I can't wait until it is over.

Come visit me at:
http://yougoaheadandkeeponbelievingthat.blogspot.com/

Thank you.

4/03/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Ah, I thought the above comment was some sort of spam and I was about to delete it. Looks like a real person and relatively harmless, though he hangs out in Panama City and that's always a cause for concern.

4/03/2008 01:09:00 PM  

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