From the Ministry of Gadgets: Indicatears
DSL Woes: Still woeing me down. Verizon is supposed to be here between 4 and 8 pm tomorrow, but the voice line is working flawlessly. I expect them to refuse to do anything. Meanwhile, the internal wiring is crap and it looks like I'll have to pay Covad to fix it. Or will they?
Question: Can splitters go bad?
Philip Marlow (Dick Powell) investigates the murder of a client he was hired to protect during a money for jewels exchange. He’s also searching for a thug’s missing heartthrob which brings him into contact with the arch villain (Otto Kruger) and the Grayle family.
A good film noir, but I don’t really agree with a lot of the Netflix reviews that this is one of the best of all time. Rififi is tough to beat. Still, it’s a good solid effort and Raymond Chandler’s dialog comes through loud and clear. Plenty of good plot twists and double crosses keep things interesting.
; would watch again
The introduction says that this is Clarke’s first novel, and it shows. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it was written in the 1940s and it spends an inordinate amount of time describing what space flight is like and how everyone else has got it wrong.
A small colony has been established on Mars, and Earth decides to send Martin Gibson, journalist and author, to experience it first hand in order to "keep the dream alive" for the general population now that the colony is getting very expensive to maintain. I find having an author as the hero of the book irritating as a plot device. Yes, you’re supposed to "write what you know" but really, find something else. I’m not interested in battles with your agent or literary critics or any other inside jokes. It just doesn’t work.
Still, once the book does start moving, about 2/3 of the way into it, it’s not a bad story. All this space travel description stuff has been done to death in both earlier books and contemporary movies. The plot involves life on Mars, but it’s not necessarily what you think. However, it does seem to be a sort of recurring theme in Clarke’s works, for example, with both 2001 and the Rama series.
Some of the book is quite dated in a strange way. All of the women in the book are secretaries or administrators of some kind. Even the cheesiest sci-fi movies of the period had women scientists, why not here as well? The author also did all of his writing on a typewriter with carbon paper. (He often complained how difficult it was to use thin carbon paper in a weightless environment.) This puzzles me as teletypes and recorders had been invented years and years earlier. Surely the man who foresaw communications satelites could have applied a little imagination in this area.
But it doesn’t detract materially from the story. It’s an okay read, good for a hot Saturday afternoon.
What can you say about Wooster & Jeeves? They’re all great, and this is one of the better ones. This time, Aunt Dahlia (the good one) is trying to help Harold "Ginger" Winship elected as the Conservative candidate in the Market Snodsbery bye election. To this end, she enlists the aide of Bertie and the faithful Jeeves.
Add into the mix Spode, now known as Lord Sidcup and his (on again, off again) betrothed Florence, the lovely Magnolia Glendennon, and the ever dangerous Madeline Bassett. The side plot of Aunt Dahlia trying to wrestle loads of cash from L.P. Runkle ("a 20 minute egg") by plying him with Anatole’s cooking also figures prominently. And let’s not even mention "The Book" from the Junior Ganymede Society.
Lots of fun.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
This is a collection of four Poe short stories: "The Murder in the Rue Morgue," "Ligeia," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Mask of the Red Death."
This is one of those things that you’re "supposed" to read, but I’d never gotten around to it. I found these stories both interesting and a bit disappointing. The stories themselves are well crafted and well written, but they really aren’t as "deep" as I’d expected. What I read here, I would have expected to be a chapter or two in a larger book, not a whole story in and of itself.
For example, asside from a short introduction, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" was little more than the final reveal scene of a detective novel. However, since this was the first (and a locked room mystery to boot), it’s very clear that Sherlock Holmes came directly from the character of C. Auguste Dupin. In fact, where Holmes often says something like "Eliminate the impossible and whatever is left, however unlikely, is the result", Dupin says something like "one thing is less impossible than the others."
"Ligeia" is a tale of love, death and reincarnation. Not especially captivating.
"The Cask of Amontillado" was far shorter and involved far less than I thought. I must have been thinking of that series of films with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price.
"The Mask of the Red Death" was more a puzzlement than anything else.
Overall, a "necessary" read, but not a great one. Well, except for Rue Morgue, that was quite good, but didn’t seem like a whole story, if you know what I mean.
A morality play involving avarice and pride.
Two amateur astronomersm Forsyth and Hudelson, sight the same meteor within seconds of each other. The "actual" discoverer is of no real consequence until it’s discovered that the meteor is made of pure gold whereupon the two end their friendship and the marriage plans of their nephew and daughter in an argument over who actually "owns" the meteor. The fight comes to a fever pitch when a third scientist, Zephyrin Xirdal, gets invovled and invents a beam that actually brings the meteor down to earth so that the gold can be collected. Xirdal also claims the meteor as his own, as does every country on Earth.
This is an entirely delightful book. It’s hard to tell how much is the author and how much is the translator, but whichever it is, this is well written and moves and a nice pace. Thoroughly worth the read.
This is another of those stories that I always meant to read but never did. So now I have.
Sometimes there are books that really deserve the reputation as "A Classic" and this is one of them. The story isn’t all that long, about 70 smallish print pages in the edition I had, but it’s jam packed with stuff. Good vs. evil, beauty vs. ugliess, duty vs. honor, justice vs. compassion, innocence vs. corruption, and on and on.
Certain chapters are written in an interesting way as well. This is an author talking to readers. Whereas most novels tell a story, as this one does, here Melville occasionally tells you he’s telling you a story, referring to himself in the first person and to the reader in the second. Several chapters also digress into a brief history lesson to set the context of the story (eg. the Nore Mutiny).
Volumes of criticism have been written about this book, and I’m not going to wade into that, but I do have to say that this is a fantastic book, well worth reading. It’s a bit difficult to get going as the language is quite high-brow and there is a lot of naval jargon thrown about, but it does get going quite quickly. But the digressions and difficulty of the language make me think twice about tackling anything longer, like Moby-Dick.
I've also watched some The Avengers 1965 (with Mrs. Peel). While some of the stories are good, some are tedious in the extreme. One from last night spent 35 minutes walking around an air force base looking confused. ZZzzz.
Also watching some of The Prisoner. Excellent, this withstands the test of time. I really like the total uncooperativeness of Number 6.
Went back to the library today to pick up some Danger Man DVDs, but they're all gone!
Watched Vol 1 of UFO. This is a strange one. It's a right down the center Gerry Anderson formula, so you know just what to expect. Well, not exactly. I thought there was a bit more action that there is. (But I am remembering from way back in high school.) I ended up FF through a bit of it. The character of Staker is far more one-dimensional than I remember. He might as well be a puppet. He'd emote far more in SuperMarionation. But the purple wigged head of Moonbase has had quite the career.
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