Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This Makes Me Laugh

As someone in the industry who deals with this on a daily basis, this parody commercial makes me laugh to no end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fahrenheit 451


When I first started reading this one, I was pretty certain that it was going to be one that I didn't like. It seemed to be more of a 200 page epic poem than a novel to me. Every single thing was talked about as a metaphor or a simile to something else. It seemed like nothing was happening at all in the story, because so much time was taken up with poetic speech.

If you don't know how I feel about poetry, then you should take a look back in the Dunesteef archive, and you'll find that I admit that I really don't like it. It seems to be meaningless froufrou to me. All ornamentation and no substance. But if that was truly the case, wouldn't it have died out and gone away years ago? Yet it continues to persist, despite all of society's disdain.

A guy at work has one of those tear off desk calendars that has a new thing for each day. His is by the parody news site theonion.com. Each day, there's a new fake news article, and they're really very funny and there's a lot of caustic jabs at people's failings. Anyway, the other day, the onion story was about a poet who had just finished his most recent work. After finishing, he took another pass to "obscure up" his poem, removing words that were necessary for it to make sense to normal human beings. The last line of the story said that the poem would be completely ready once his 5 year old nephew wrote the last stanza. That's the kind of disdain poetry gets these days. And I pretty much completely agreed.

Then I read Fahrenheit 451. In that book, society outlaws reading books. Not because some totalitarian Nazi-like hardline government came into power, but because people became too lazy to read anything. They watched TV all the time instead, filling their lives with meaningless chatter in search of fun. And since their minds were so empty, they felt bad when others, who did read, would point out their stupidity. They'd show those snobs, books were outlawed. Firemen didn't put out fires anymore, they started them. They went to the houses of those that hid books, and burned them.

Montag, the book's main character, is a fireman who has a change of heart. He turns from bookburning to a book advocate. There is a particularly powerful scene in the story where Montag forces his wife and two of her friends to listen to a poem from a book he has squirreled away. One of the women is left in tears, another flies into a rage. They cannot handle the words at all.

The scene made me stop and wonder if I haven't been wrong all along. Is poetry more than froufrou? I have said before that I must not be smart enough to understand poetry. But this book gives me a more accurate excuse. It's not that I'm not smart enough to understand it, it's that I'm too lazy. I'm one of those people in the book who chose to fill his life with meaningless chatter in search of fun, instead of trying to grapple with hard subjects. Perhaps someday, someone will come along and take that stuff away, because no one will really mind anyway, right?

What other things will they take away then? What other things are too boring or intellectual to be forced to deal with? What about mathematics? Nobody likes math in school anymore. Will those bright kids from other countries be the only ones that understand math in the future? Will the western world sink back into poverty because they were too lazy and bored to learn about math or science? What else will go, I wonder.

As you can see, it's a very thought provoking book. It's interesting too, because the plot in the book is really only enough to make into a short story. But, Bradbury goes out of his way to make every line sound poetic. Supposedly, that hammers home his point. It worked for me, I think I got the point...or at least one of his points. I'm still not interested in poetry, unfortunately, but I have been making an effort to read more and more recently, so I don't think I'm totally lost.

Anyhow, up next: Cory Doctorow's short story collection Overclocked: Stories Of The Future Present. I've read a few of Doctorow's short stories and I've enjoyed them. I also really liked Little Brother, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why Cats Suck 2


Last night, my daughter was a little sick, so we let her sleep on the floor beside our bed.

Somewhere deep in the night, my wife woke up because she'd heard a commotion. My daughter was running around our room, chasing the cat, trying to grab it.

"What are you doing?" my wife said.

"I'm trying to get the cat," said my daughter, "It keeps scratching me."

Apparently the cat is at it again. Exacting its revenge on my daughter for the harassment (or love, depending on whose point of view you look from) that she gives it.

What a nasty beast. It waits until deep in the night, when she's sleeping and defenseless, then tears her out of that state with stabbing pain.

I wish we'd gotten a dog. If we had a dog, it would wait until deep in the night, and then nuzzle in next to her to sleep with her. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Artemis Fowl


I went about reading this series all wrong, unfortunately. I was at my podunk local library, and I found book 2 in the audiobook section, as well as book four. So I grabbed them, and listened. They were pretty good. I couldn't get a hold of book 1, but I did get book 3, so I managed to fill in the hole between book 2 and 4.

I kept trying, and still couldn't get book 1. The library had it, and it wasn't even checked out, but they couldn't locate it. So when I would try to request it, they would just cancel my holds. I did manage to get book 5 though, the further adventures. Book 1 was nowhere to be found though, and after trying a few more times, I finally gave up on ever getting that audiobook from my library.

A year and a half go by, and I find myself back in the library, and lo, and behold, there it is, just sitting there on the shelf! They've found the first Artemis Fowl audiobook, and put it back on the shelf for me. So, I grabbed it, of course.

Artemis Fowl is YA fiction. It's fantasy/scifi. And, like Harry Potter, or many other YA fiction series that have come out in recent years, it's pure fun. It's candy for someone like me who has been spending his time listening to heavy, meat and potatoes-like books like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Neuromancer. It's really fun stuff.

But don't take my candy comment wrong. It's not like Artemis Fowl is fluff with no substance at all. Eoin Colfer put in a lot of work crafting a fine story with well-rounded characters, touching moments, a nice character arc for our main man Artemis, an extremely interesting world, and gripping plot. I think I've heard it described somewhere as a cross between James Bond and Harry Potter, and that's a pretty good description.

On top of the high quality of the book itself was the very high quality of the narrator. Nathaniel Parker, he who played our lead character in the movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust, really impressed me with his range of voices. Each character was interesting and unique, although his American accents sounded a little lame, but they surely couldn't have sounded as bad as my English accents, so I can't fault him.

All in all, I recommend that you spend a few commutes enjoying an Artemis Fowl audiobook. Both the book and the reading won't fail to entertain you.

Next up for me? Back to the grindstone, it's time for Fahrenheit 451, the Ray Bradbury classic.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Plain Awesome

Here's another one from that guy. Not a cover, but a song he wrote himself. It's pretty effed up. Funny though.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Cats Suck

My cat really hates my youngest daughter. I can't really blame it, because my daughter treats the thing like a stuffed animal or some other toy. Whenever my daughter comes into the room, the cat either leaves the room, or scurries under something where it can't be reached. If it's not fast enough, it is gathered up in a big hug, and is forced to endure the one thing cats hate the most, the love of a child.

The cat has gotten wise recently though. It has figured out what times the girl can't fight back. And it uses those times to exact its revenge.

Now every day, my daughter sits at the dinner table with her knees tucked up to her chest as she eats. If she doesn't, the cat will slip in quietly and scratch at her dangling feet. The poor girl has marks all over her legs.

I wish we'd gotten a dog. A dog would just take whatever pounding she wanted to dish out and then lick her face in thanks. Oh well.