Today is Richard Wagner's 200th birthday. :
Today is Richard Wagner's 200th birthday. :
Dan'l's Multiapostrophic LiveJournal
You are viewing the most recent 25 entries.
22nd May 2013
Today is Richard Wagner's 200th birthday. :
21st May 2013
Today is Manly Wade Wellman's 110th birthday. :
It is also, gosh, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Seventh Day Adventist church.
19th May 2013
Seen: Iron Man 3 (2013)
Spoiler free: :
So they finally got past having Iron Man fight other armored guys. And they dug into what makes him Iron Man when he doesn't have the armor. This is all to the good.
So is Ben Kingsley's role, about which the less said the better.
Don Cheadle is wonderful as always, Gwyneth Paltrow gets more to do, and there's a nice tag at the end of the credits...
So I think this the best of the Iron Man franchise to date.
18th May 2013
Read: Searoad, by Ursula K. Le Guin (2013-34)
A collection of short stories, slices of life really, often in stream-of-consicousness-type styles, about the people who live and work in (and in one case visit) the small town of Klatsand, on the Oregon coast. :
The obvious comparison would be to Joyce's Dubliners. And, while the comparison is not a bad one, it is one to be observed more for the differences than the similarities. Each of Le Guin's stories has a different point; it is not all about one kind of thing, like Joyce's "epiphanies." And the writing, while equally fine, is not as precious -- perhaps because Joyce was writing at the beginning of a career, while Le Guin (in 1991) is writing at or near the peak of hers.
The tales range from one page (not really a tale but a prose poem and amuse bouche) to ninety; from the description of a motel and its proprietors to the complex, temporally braided, story of four generations of women.
Some of the stories are moving. Some are breathtaking. One or two left me a bit cold, feeling more like artifice than art. But the book as a whole is a beautiful thing, and American literature is the richer for it.
16th May 2013
I Herd the news today, oboy
Today is Woody Herman's 100th. :
12th May 2013
Read: Darwin's Radio, by Greg Bear (2013-33)
I don't have a lot to say about this -- it's about a retrovirus that's been hiding in the human genome for >mumble< years, and creeps out and starts causing a flulike symptom and weird miscarriages. Some people suspect that it's a lot more than that and take risks to find out. Ultimately they do, and the good guys neither win nor lose. :
Bear packs his novel with dialog, and his dialog with scientific jargon that he knows how to use correctly. The real problem with this is the writer's mantra: "don't tell, show." A lot of the story is not only told, but told by characters after it happens offstage.
Still, it was a good read, and I got through its 400+ pages in less than a day and a half, for what that's worth.
11th May 2013
Read: Hip Hop America by Nelson George (2013-32)
Every now and then I like to move outside my comfort zone. Hip Hop America is such a move: I have very little taste for hiphop music, but the book fell into my hands and seemed like a good thing to read. So I read it, and it was good. :
Nelson George discusses not only hiphop music, but hiphop culture, from fashion to politics to attitude to the whole gangsta thang to the crappy attitude a lot of hiphop artists seem to have towards women. (This last, he suggests, and I oversimplify, is an unfortunately natural outgrowth of a cultural movement primarily driven by teenaged boys.)
He writes with passion and knowledge, insight and clarity. I find that combination nearly irresistable.
In the end, I am no more sympathetic to hiphop music than I was before, but I think I understand it a little better.
9th May 2013
Read: Seawitch by Kat Richardson (2013-31)
This is by my count the seventh of Richardson's novels about Harper Blaine, private eye and Greywalker -- the latter of which means that she sees, and can interact with, dead people and other things. To be clear, these are not "paranormal romances." They are detective stories with a supernatural twist. :
Seawitch is the first to fully realize the Weird potential of Blaine's situation, and is the best of the lot so far. It begins when an insurance company hires her to look into the reappearance of a boat they'd paid off as lost twenty-seven years ago, and gets strange from there.
8th May 2013
Today is the 100th birthday of Bob Clampett, creator of Beany and Cecil and "Porky in Wackyland." :
6th May 2013
Let us note in passing that Bush's lapdog is 60 today. :
5th May 2013
Either today is Soren Kierkegaard's 200th birthday, or it's Michael Palin's 70th. :
And, of course, there'll be sport...
4th May 2013
Read: Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add? by R.A. Lafferty (2013-30)
R.A. Lafferty's characters are odd ducks, and his tales mostly take place in strange places. One might reasonably suspect Lafferty himself of being an odd duck. :
This collection, subtitled "Stories about Secret Places and Mean Men," consists of stories about secret places and mean men. Some of them are very funny. Some of them are touching. Some of them are just odd.
I enjoyed it very much. You might not. Or, you might. Who knows?
3rd May 2013
50 and 100
On this day in 1913, the Indian film industry -- what we now know as Bollywood -- was launched with the release of Raja Harishchandra, the first Indian feature film. :
On this day in 1963, Eugene "Bull" Connor used police dogs and high-pressure fire hoses on protesting high school students -- civil rights activists -- in Birmingham, AL.
2nd May 2013
80 years ago today, the Nazi government of Germany imprisoned trade union leaders and occupied union headquarters, forcing union members to join the Deutsche Arbeitsfront. :
1st May 2013
It was on this day in 1776 that the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria, commonly called the Bavarian Illuminati, was founded by Adam Weisshaupt and others. :
30th April 2013
The past, the past...
Willie Nelson is 80 today. :
Larry Niven is 75.
And, 150 years ago today, 65 French Foreign Legionnaires stood off a Mexican force of two or three thousand (the number varied), fighting almost to the last man. The final two survivors asked for, and got, safe passage out of Mexico, to keep their arms, and to accompany the body of their Capitain. The battle of Camarón has become something of a watchword for insane bravery, and a symbolic moment for the Legion.
29th April 2013
150 years ago today...
...William Randolph Hearst was born. To speak no ill of the dead, let me say this: he was brilliant muse for Orson Welles. :
28th April 2013
Read: Setting, by Jack M. Bickham (2013-29)
One of a Writer's Digest series on "The Elements of Fiction Writing," Bickham's book is, well, elementary. It covers the importance of scene-setting, and how to do it; how to choose and research setting; how setting interacts with plot, character, and style. Like most of the books in this series, it's good for the beginner or as a refresher. :
27th April 2013
Read: Shakespeare's Common Prayers, by Daniel Swift (2013-28)
Subtitled, "The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age," this is a book both of history and literary criticism. Fundamentally, it discusses how the various versions of the Book of Common Prayer, and the liturgical and theological controversies surrounding them, inform Shakespeare's drama. :
Swift's case varies in quality. He does a pretty good job, for example, of connecting the BCP's marriage rite with several early comedies, and especially Romeo and Juliet. (No, I am not suggesting that R&J is a comedy.) On the other hand, I think that he puts much too much weight on echoes of the Communion and Baptism rites in Macbeth.
Overall, a book that gave me interesting insights into the plays and the period, and well worth my time to read.
26th April 2013
Burnett and Jet
Today is Carol Burnett's 80th birthday. :
Also Jet Li's 50th.
And, in America, Arbor Day.
23rd April 2013
Keep an eye on your paper clips!
Today is Avram Davidson's 90th birthday. :
20th April 2013
Read: Three Hearts and Three Lions, by Poul Anderson (2013-27)
I wanted something relatively light after Eco, and that I got. This is a classic Campbell-era fantasy, with the magic rationalized and everything tied into a neat bow at the end. :
Holger Carlsen, a Dane, receives a head wound in WW2 and wakes up Someplace Else. He finds a horse and armor nearby, which oddly fit him. He has adventures and winds up discovering a Destiny.
In the absolutely-necessary for Campbellian fantasy envoi, he's back in our Earth, which is how the story comes to us, looking for a way back to the other world.
That's pretty much it. It was fun while it lasted, but I would have enjoyed it much more if I'd read it twenty years or so ago.
18th April 2013
75 years ago today...
...the first issue of Action Comics, featuring the first appearance of Superman, appeared on newsstands. :
17th April 2013
The do-nothing Congress, once again, does nothing. :
16th April 2013
"The Negro is Your Brother"
50 years ago today, Dr. King wrote the "Letter from the Birmingham Jail." :