Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Prestige

I read The Prestige by Christopher Priest last week.  It is now a motion picture by the same name. I picked up the book because I enjoyed the movie greatly, and had correspondingly high expectations for the book.  I was hoping to see some further character development, to delve more deeply into the personal lives of the performers, and that that other good stuff that typically doesn't make it into the movies.  The Prestige didn't really deliver on those expectations.

The book is written as the memoirs of a two rival illusionists around the turn of the century, as read by one's descendant.  The framing story is by far the weakest part, and is fortunately a very small portion of the book.  The memoirs are well written, but lack a certain amount of depth or character.  I wasn't very impressed with the pacing of the novel, nor the delivery.  Rather than feeling that I was being led into their life, I was left with the feeling of being a bored poltergeist, hovering over some poor man's shoulder.

To be honest, I didn't get much out of this book.  I found finding the discrepancies between the book and the movie more interesting than anything the book added to the story.

Robert Alverson


Monday, December 22, 2008

Wonders of the Modern Age

This is why the internet is sweet.

Sunday, the BBC posted an article about a pakistani girl band, Zeb and Haniya.  I read the article in Google Reader, was intrigued, and almost instantly found a video of them, their wikipedia entry, homepage, and of course, a bootleg copy of their debut album, "Chup!" 

20 years ago, the odds of my even hearing about this band would be so remote as to make them nonexistant to me. Even 10 years ago the same would have held true.  But now, the web really is quite excellent.  And most people just use it to look at cute pictures of cats.  Or porn.  DEAR GOD people, this is so incredible. I don't know how I (let alone the rest of the population) wake up everyday without being absolutely gobsmacked at the how wickedly awesome this is.

I wonder how many years it took for fire to get old.  I bet it wasn't 10-20.  Hell, people still get excited about fire.


A friend mentioned the movie "Crash" to me the other day.  I mistakenly assumed it was the 2004 Oscar winning film; she was actually referencing the 1996 cerebral horror film based on the book of the same title by J.G. Ballard.  Thanks to the internet, I was able to get a copy of the book before I could locate the movie.

I have yet to decide if Crash is an excellent commentary on the role to the car in our lives, or a rather niche piece of fetish literature.  One one hand it draws some interesting connections between cars, sexuality and consumerism.  On the other, it gets pretty raw.  This isn't a particularly fun read, nor a particularly good one, and so I'd have a hard time recommending it.  I certainly won't be reading it again any time soon.

As a side note, thematically it is considered a forerunner of cyberpunk.  Or so the literature kids tell me.  I suppose this is true, but as a history kid, I think the two are fairly distinct.

Robert Alverson


Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Stuff!

I have a new frame, a Soma Double Cross. Somebody made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and so now I have a beautiful frame, and nothing to build it up with. Right now the plan is to run it as a light touring/commuting bike that I can haul into the forest and thrash around the trails and fire roads on the weekends. Drop bars, bar end shifters (unless I can score some brifters somewhere), front disk brake (no mounting lugs on the back), cross drivetrain (probably SRAM, as we have a lot of their components around the shop). Sadly, what with the being in school and all, not much spare change to drop on the components.

See what I can dig up at the coop, and work that discount for all it's worth.

In other news, I rediscover writing fiction. Forgot how fun and relatively easy it is. Perhaps I'll stick some more of that here when I get a chance.

Awesome History Comics

My friend Sophie pointed me to Kate Beaton's site, which is chock full of awesome history comics.  Look for the one on Tesla, it's a gem.