Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stuff Wot I Read 'n' Watched

You must read this Amazon review of a gallon of milk. It left me speechless with joy and wonder.

This week I finished reading Ready Player One, after using it as an example a few weeks ago to talk about the black hole principle. I read some of it last week and most of it in an hourslong session yesterday where I read Cline and Matt read Butcher. Matt enjoyed Ghost Story, but my book was a frustratingly mixed bag. It absolutely overflowed with info dump, going on at enormous length - for whole chapters at a clip - either about things that I already knew (why on earth would I be reading this book if I didn't know how text-based dungeons work or that Back to the Future has a DeLorean in it?)* or about things that, IMHO, really didn't need so much detail. I understand that info dump is hard to avoid, particularly when you've populated a future universe with somewhat obscure paraphernalia of the existant one, but dozens of pages in succession is too much info dump. Once the book was able to get the hell on with it, I loved it, and raced through 50 pages at a time; when it slowed back down to explain and explain some more, I'd find myself getting up for a bathroom break or to get a snack much more frequently.

A good 70% of the experience of reading the book just tickled the hell out of me. Enormous, marvelous originality while still feeling comfortingly familiar, filled with love for its influences. I look forward to what Cline does next, because I hope he improves on his abilities to info dump with circumspection.

*Some degree of this is necessary to nab non-geek readers. But I don't see how non-geek readers would really enjoy this book anyway, and for geek readers it was major overkill. 

I started reading Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey last night when I was finished with Ready Player One, and it too is pretty mixed. Some of the essays are really good and some of them are...not. In essence it's a book full of blog posts, and as with any group of bloggers, some are smart and thoughtful and some are idiots or regurgitators. (Not all of the writers are mere bloggers, but in reading the book it sure feels like they are. The essays are all about the length of your average blog post and some of them feel hasty indeed.) After I'm done with this one I'll read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender, which I've meant to read for probably two years now.

On another note, I know there are people who say they "don't watch black-and-white movies," and I just...I can't even comprehend it. In general I don't comprehend it, because that leaves out most of the history of cinema, and because black-and-white isn't a genre, no more than "movies with E in the title" is a genre. But I especially fail to understand after rewatching one of my favorite movies ever last week, an obscure pre-Hays code movie from 1931, Platinum Blonde

All of us are dead and gone, but we can still make you laugh.

There are so many reasons I love and want to talk about this movie, but this is still not a film blog, so I'll just say the biggest one: it showed me that life between humans really isn't that different now than it ever was. People fell in love, married the wrong person, and got divorced even in 1931. People were silly with each other and savvy (or clueless) about each other even then. Lots of stuff has changed - clothes, technology, slang, casual racism - but thanks in part to Platinum Blonde, I have this suspicion that everyday living and interacting in America just hasn't. At all. See it yourself (have patience during the first 15 minutes) and tell me what you think. 


Denise said...

Ok, Platinum Blonde is at the top of my Netflix queue... It better be good!

Katharine Coldiron said...

It is good. As I said, it's a little slow in the first 15 minutes, with the stilted acting of its time. But it gets comfortable pretty nicely after that.