Monday, May 23, 2005

The Man I Am, Yes?

Last Friday we went and saw Episode 3 and I loved it. It wasn;t perfect, by any means. The romance angle was still as natural Pamela's tits and some of the dialogue was clunkier than my old Accord, but for the most part it did roxxor! The effects were brilliant, starting with the opening tracking shot of two Jedi fighters moving through a humungous space battle. Then we have fighting Jedis and evil Sith and more effects and one or two brilliant lines and Yoda kicking arse and Anakin being whiny and Yoda just simply owning a bunch of baddies.

I honestly feel that Episode 3 is closer to the original trilogy than the other two (obviously, 'cause it's more of a film than a toy advert). There's a dark edge to it that helps the story and the sets and costumes offer hints of a bridge between the production designs of the two trilogies. The clone soldier costumes are starting to get more stormtrooper-y and we see Senator Organa's blockade runner (of A New Hope fame). Also, to steal Sam's phrase, they didn't feel the need to sex up Darth Vader's costume. Maybe a couple of the lines are a bit different, but the switches on the front still look as retro and they even got a very good look-alike for Peter Cushing to stand beside the Emperor and Vader towards the end.

Episode 3 makes up for all of Episode 2 and some of Episode 1, but not all of it.

And certainly not for Jar-Jar!

Book 24

"The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time" by Mark Haddon

Continuing my trend for quirky, enjoyable novels, this is the story of Christopher. He's 15 and has Asperger's Syndrome. One night he finds that the dog across the road has been killed and he decides he will find out who killed it. The whole story is told in Chris's voice, and so the writing style is a little strange. Readable, brilliantly constructed and engaging, but more than a little strange. We get some incites into Chris's mind (he doesn't like yellow and he can hit very hard) and into the attitudes of those around him. We see, for instance, that Siobhan (Chris's teacher at the special school) is a wonderful person who seems very good at her job. We see that Chris's mother has a very short fuse, but that she genuinely loves her son and that four yellow cars in a row mean that is it a Black Day and Chris doesn't like those.

This novel won the Whitbread award and it's easy to see why. This is an amazing novel, one that I read in as few settings as possible and that almost made me miss a cue or two during the run of Tap Dogs. Chris's outlook on life is clear and untainted and refreshing. While it purports to be aimed at the younger readers, I'm sure that anyone who enjoys fine writing will love this book. I know I did.

Four and a half pink wafer biscuits.


Looks like they do have African Bush Tea. Yay!!

Book 23

"The Kalahari Typing School For Men" by Alexander McCall Smith

I don't want to repeat myself to much and I don't want to belittle this book either. Just read my previous entries, put in a different plot (including Mma MAkutsi starting a new business and Mma Ramotswe helping a rich man make amends for a couple of bad deeds in his teens) and reiterate that reading these books makes me want to go to Botswana (and see if the Tea Centre in Civic has African Bush Tea).

Read these books, people.

Four fixed typewriters.

Book 22

"Morality For Beautiful Girls" by Alexander McCall Smith

So after some full-on sci-fi, I felt it was time for something a little nicer, so I grabbed another Mma Ramotswe novel. Again told in a variety of mini-stories, the plot in "MFBG" flows well and is very engaging. Ramotswe has to deal with her fiance's Depression (capital 'd', he's not merely feeling a bit sad) and at the same time go away to find out if someone is poisoning the brother of an important government official. Her secretary (now her assistant detective) has to find out who would be suitable for the Miss Botswana pageant and there's an orphan boy who turned up naked and smelling like a lion.

As with the first couple of novels, I enjoyed reading "MFBG" immensely. The simple but not simplistic style, the engaging characters and the often beautiful language had me up past my bedtime for more than a couple of nights because I couldn't put it down.

Four traditionally-built African ladies.

Book 21

"Only Forward" by Michael Marshall Smith

And here we have Marshall's first book. Not quite so gritty, overall, as "Spares" and an awful lot funnier. Kinda more like the Red Dwarf novels with the brakes off. There's a lot more humour in this novel than his second, but the magical realism continues. This time the hero of the novel - Stark - is called in when a 'special' problem turns up. Stark specialises in solving these 'special' problems, and many of them involve a psycho who goes into a dream world and kills people. Again we have the fantastic elements, the hard-core sci-fi and the humour. Stark lives in The City and this City is made up of special neighbourhoods, like Noise (where no one is allowed to make a noise) and a neighbourhood where only Cats live.

Marshall's imagination is running riot in this work, and it is clearly a first novel. An excellent first novel, yes, but there are still some issues with clunky exposition and a few places where the ideas are stronger than the writing, but it was still a fantastic read anf very enjoyable.

Four grumpy surveillance detectors.

Book 20

"Spares" by Michael Marshall Smith

This guy is an amazing writer. Seriously, he has a gift. This is hard-core, hyperviolent sci-fi that reads like a cross between William Gibson and William Goldman with lashings of magical realism and flat-out surrealism. "Spares" is Mashall's second novel and it flows smoothly and quickly. The title refers to the latest in medical insurance. Your parents pay a million bucks when you're born and and a clone is made of you, then kept in a special "farm" until you, for example, have a car accident and lose a limb, then the drive out to this farm and cut of the appropriate limb from your clone. Of course, they're all non-thinking and cattle-like but it's still creepy and a guy who works security on one of these farms starts teaching them to be more human and frees a few of the clones, or spares.

He is, of course, an ex-special forces guy who went to a weird nether world with other special-forces guys and, well, then it gets complicated. And icky in parts. Marshall doesn't pull any punches (witness the My Lai-style massacre of villagers in the nether world), but is also really funny and genuinely touching in parts. You may have to import the book from the UK, but find it, buy it and read it. It may be a little clunky in a couple of parts, but really only a couple. It's awesome.

Four and a half Bright Eyes

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Not a happy-go-lucky picture...

Saw The Downfall today, and fuuuuuuck. That's my entire review. Fuuuuuuck.

Go and see it.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Carm's Books

Book 15 "Dragons of Summer Flame" Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman

So this is a sequal to the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, which was about a group of heroes (a knight, a dwarf, a half-elf, a mage and his twin, a Kender, a couple of plainsmen, an elf maid and a very fiery young woman) who basically help defeat the Dark Queen Takhisis (who's a god). This one is set about 25 years later, the original heroes have either left us or have married and bred, and the kids that resulted are now involved in this next battle to save all of Ansalon, not from Takhisis but from Chaos - the father of the gods - who's pretty pissed off about being trapped in a gem for a very long time.

The Book I read before this one, Second Generation, was a good set up for this book as it told the stories of some of the younger generation who are subsequently involved. I really really enjoyed this book, it had old faves and some new cool characters and lots of cool stuff happens....also lots of bad stuff which made me cry, but lets face it, that's not unusual. :o)

4 Shiny Dragonlances

Carms :o)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Blame Owen

He told me about How Stuff And about Stuffo, their pop-culture bit. And then they decided they needed to find the real A-team. You remember the A-team, right? Yeah, well these guys tried to find 'em for real, and holy crap!