Archive for October, 2006



scrybe

I’ve been using a combination of Backpack and Google Calendar for my online organiser needs for a while now, though the combination leaves a little to be desired.

Backpack is fantastic, GCal is ok, but Scrybe looks to beat both hands down – except its a little on the fugly side. But the intuitive calendar zooms and offline sync features are pretty damn impressive. I’ll give it a try once its out.

Got this off Digg.

core 2 duo next week?

So says Laptoping.com, but I’m not holding my breath.

Actually, the timing’s not too bad, since Leopard’s only out Spring 2007 (Jan, Feb? When the hell’s spring?!) – that gives Apple time to fix the inevitable heating, whining issues that will plague the Merom-bumped MacBook Pros.

Who’m I kidding? Half a year later and they still havent fixed Random Shutdown Syndrome on the MacBooks – will I never be able to give Apple my money?!

hilarious nike cosplay

So is Nike gonna start producing the spandex outfits as well?

after doomsday

I find it strangely comforting that human civilization is as impermanent as suggested by this chart. I also think it’d be a great resource for sci-fi writers writing post-apocalyptic fiction; first thing I thought of after seeing this was Planet of the Apes. This article at New Scientist sheds more light on the subject if you’d like to know more.

Link courtesy of Treehugger.

My Love – Justin Timberlake

The lead-up to the actual song takes a while (1:40min) but the payoff is hella sweet. Damn, but I might just buy this album.

41 Down 11 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

Arthur C. Clarke is one of my personal heroes, and the Rama series is one of the more intelligent alien encounter stories you’ll find out there. Gentry Lee is the (true blue) rocket scientist who co-wrote the last 3 Rama books with Clarke. Seeing as to how he was directly involved in the Mars Viking project among others, you’d think he’d be a hard science kind of guy in this solo outing.

Unfortunately, Bright Messengers has about as much hard science as Spongebob Squarepants. Oh, the book’s fine for the first 200 or so pages, as Lee sets up the story with principal characters, Sister Bernice from the Order of St. Michael and Johann Eberhardt, a German systems engineer. To save you the suspense, they get posted to Mars, board an alien spacecraft along with a cast of extraneous but Benetton-approved crew members and get to some big, white globe where the 2 principals are prodded on some trip while the rest conveniently get written out of the picture.

Somehow, through some wondrous alien (or divine) design, the 2 of them experience Hiroshima, the Holocaust and other Great Human Tragedies. They’re eventually stranded on some island where all their needs are provided for and their main problem is trying not to fuck on account of Sister Bernice’s vow of chastity.

Subtlety is not Lee’s greatest strengh. It’s pretty obvious Sister Bernice represents all that is spiritual and divine about Mankind while Johann is the logical, systemic side. He’s German, remember. The whole setup is just cock, having the two debate divinity while trying to save German Jews from concentration camps or radiation-burnt Japanese. It gets worse when he throws a villain into the mix. Conveniently, the bad guy’s a brilliant Muslim engineer who’s a walking caricature of misogyny, calling every woman he sees cunt or bitch – basically rape on legs. So eventually, the evil Muslim dies and Johann sees the light, and Bernice gets all saint-like. The worst thing is there’s a sequel.

I don’t know what kind of Jesus juice Gentry Lee was on when he wrote this steaming pile of turd, but I bet Arthur C. Clarke was high out of his head on some good shit when he approved it. Don’t touch this book with a ten-foot pole.

Bright Messengers
(ISBN No: 0553573292) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.

the big 60

Five months on from this.

40 Down 12 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

I usually stay away from crime novels, but Martin Amis’ Night Train might well have made me a convert. Crime novel back cover blurbs are almost always badly written as a rule, involving some grizzly detective from the school of hard knocks, with enough baggage for a freight car to transport, usually in the form of dead partners or wives. They’re usually in for the most dangerous and challenging case of their lives, which they might solve as long as they don’t die first from their drug of choice, usually cigarettes and alcohol.

Night Train has the prerequisite alcoholic, square-jawed stereotype of this hero in the form of Detective Mike Hoolihan. Except Mike is a woman, and a police. Not policewoman, mind. According to Mike, she’s a member of a race called police, ‘which is obliged to hate every other race’. Like a train on rails, there’s a suicide that isn’t all it appears to be, and Mike is put on the case as the only person who can sort it all out.

We follow as Mike dutifully gets leads and works through a list of suspects, but things get strangely introspective as Mike gets drawn deeper and deeper into Jennifer Rockwell’s death. Jennifer was her boss’s daughter, and the bright, sunny antithesis to Mike’s damaged goods. As the case progresses, we get sunk deeper and deeper into Mike’s psyche as she struggles to understand why someone with so much to live for would eat a bullet.

While nothing much really happens by way of plot and Night Train contains all the classic (cliched?) elements of crime stories, the writing is the absolutely most gripping noir I’ve read since anything, and all my reservations about the book melted away after reading the following passage –

Some say you can’t top the adrenalin (and the dirty cash) of Narcotics, and all agree that Kidnapping is a million laughs (if murder in America is largely black on black, then kidnapping is largely gang on gang), and Sex Offenses has its followers, and Vice has its votaries, and Intelligence means what it says (Intelligence runs deep, and brings in the deep-sea malefactors), but everyone is quietly aware that Homicide is the daddy. Homicide is the Show.

Martin Amis may be making the news all over now for his unpopular views on Islam and terrorism, but damn if he doesn’t write a tight turn of phrase. Night Train is a whole lot better than I thought it would be, and I guess it certainly was the Show indeed.

Night Train
(ISBN No: 0099748711) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Gentry Lee’s Bright Messengers.

Dead Meat – Sean Lennon

According to last.fm, Dead Meat’s my highest played track since I started audioscrobbling. Not surprising, I was fairly obsessed with the song when I got it barely a month plus back.

But only because it’s bloody fantastic. After disappearing for 8 years, Sean Lennon comes back sounding like the offspring of John Lennon (um, yeah) and Elliot Smith, records a new album with a devastatingly fragile lead single and shoots a series of short films to go along for fun. I’m so getting the album.

the writing life

I did mention in a previous post how I’m pretty inspired by Stephen King – well, here’s the man himself talking about his muse.

There’s a mystery about creative writing, but it’s a boring mystery unless you’re interested in this one small animal, sometimes quite vicious, that makes its home in the bushes. It’s a scruffy little thing with fleas and often smells of whatever nasty mess it’s been rolling in. It can never be more than semi-domesticated and isn’t exactly known for its loyalty. I’ll speak more of this beast — to which the Greeks gave the comically noble name musa , which means song — later, but in the meantime, believe me when I say there’s little mystery or tragic romance about the rest of it, which is why they never show the working part in movies about writers, only the drinking, carousing and heroic puking in the gutter by the dawn’s early light.

I always remember reading King many years back, describing the rush of inspiration as feeling like his muse shat on his head. I try to hold to that economy and total lack of conceit as the best form of writing, plus the fact that a little toilet humour never hurt anyone.


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