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Having said this on pharyngula's comments I should also say it here.

I very much like some of the themes and values expressed throughout the Harry Potter books:

  • that people's personalities and values are not set in stone
  • that one cannot look at a teen and predict how the adult will turn out
  • that one cannot assume someone is evil just because they are unpleasant
  • that wealth has, at best, no relationship to virtue
  • that there is bravery and value in everyone
  • that people are evil (or virtuous) by their choices and actions, not because of their birth or innate nature (something rarely expressed in fantasy)
  • that woo-woo fortunetelling is pretty much crap (again, something rarely expressed in fantasy)
  • that the best way of dealing with terror is to laugh at it
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posted this on some blog, where pharyngula found it, and from him I got it...


Aug. 5th, 2007 01:00 am
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Sleep Train Amphitheater. Just got home.

Great show. As always. Read more... )
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So I haven't actually read all that much fantasy. The following list is close to exhaustive, not counting a half dozen or so that feel much lighter (e.g. Spellsinger or Stasheff or Xanth) addendum: or young adult fantasy like Harry Potter, Dark is Rising, and Narnia.

Fantasy I like:
Tolkien - though if I wasn't seven when I first read it, I might not have liked it so much, maybe
Brust - both Vlad and Khaavren
Black Company, maybe except for the last two books
Pern, at least six books of it
Belgariad - I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't like the racial stereotyping when thinking about it afterwards

Stuff I liked the first two books of, but then dropped:
Melanie Rawn - about one too many (or more like four or five too many) people had long passages whining about how Andry wasn't cuddly any more
Donaldson - eventually my urge to defenestrate Covenant overwhelmed the beautiful descriptions

Stuff I didn't like:
Jordan. I got through one book and part of a second. Very little happened, and took a whole lot of words to fail to happen. And I really didn't care much about the premise and conflict - not sure why.
MZB Darkover
Bujold, Paladin of Souls - I was astonished I didn't like this. But... too much nothing happened.

In general, my big reasons for putting a book down are boredom. I can hate a protagonist and still like a book.

The way to keep my interest is either (a) tell me the premise and make me care (Pern, Tolkien, Black Company first trilogy, Belgariad), (b) make things happen so fast I want to keep reading to figure out what's next (Black Company, Taltos, Amber), or write so well it's just a joy to turn the page (Tolkien, Khaavren, Donaldson initially).

What doesn't work: (a) paint a world slowly and painstakingly, where the world doesn't immediately capture my imagination (Darkover), (b) drop mysterious hints without much art or quick payoff (Shannara), or (c) create fascinating angsty characters who angst about their angstful angstiness (Bujold, Rawn @ Sunrunner's Fire, Donaldson eventually).

So. My open question. What else would I like?
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We can only grow the way the wind blows
on a bare and weathered shore
We can only bow to the here and now
In our elemental war

We can only grow the way the wind blows
We can only bow to the here and now
Or be broken down blow by blow
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Review, but no spoilers and only one stanza of quoted lyrics, because you might want to experience them for yourself... cutting anyway...Read more... )
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"So these things will eventually end. It still matters to me that they happen."

... and the seasons, they go round and round ...

... no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun ...

... there's no straight lines make up my life, and all my roads have bends ...

... think about the sun, think about her golden glance ...

... chasing the years of my life ...

... we'll search for tomorrow on every shore ...

... not looking back, but I want to look around me now ...

... someday we'll all be gone, but lullabys go on and on ...

"We're going to die. That sucks. But we get to live first. And I mean to."

i am made from the dust of the stars
and the oceans flow in my veins
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or any other Vonnegut. I should. But the eulogies inspire me. Perhaps I'll go look into Slaughterhouse 5 sometime when my queue goes down.

All I really know about him is the clever Niven quote, really.

"Why did I get into writing SF? Not for the money, certainly. In 1965, no one had ever become a millionare writing science fiction, excepting Heinlein and excluding Vonnegut."
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James Nicoll's journal led me to these.

I haven't comicbookgeeked in many years. But this is ... well, this is hilarious, and it sounds like the originals were really, really bad:

Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #4
Issue #5
Issue #6
Issue #7

Some of the dialogue might not be worksafe, but to be honest if people don't raise an issue over you reading comic books at your desk they won't care about the language either.
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"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
Molly Ivins, rest in peace. I can think of no one who's earned it more. The rest of us, we'll have to go on working for it.

Raise hell.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
I miss her already. Dammit.
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(spoiler for the latest episode of Heroes)

If Hiro and Ando are such Star Trek geeks, how come Hiro could spend his whole life... Read more... )
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Lilo and Stitch
Blues Brothers
Some Kind of Wonderful

... what other movies end with songs that were made famous by Elvis Presley?
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Both Heroes and Studio 60 rocked hard last night. For once Heroes didn't outshine Studio 60, and that's because Studio 60 rocked, not because Heroes rocked any less.

Sorkin sounded like Sorkin, finally. The dialogue was spot-on. He really does know how to get you to laugh out loud, watch flawed people still do the right things for the right reasons, see how TV really can be socially relevant, and just generally how people -- whether working in TV or not -- can work and by working make a slightly better world. The Christmas episode the first season of West Wing (In Excelsis Deo) may have been the best hour of TV ever made, and last night was just stellar in a similar, and very timely and relevant, way.

Heroes... well, no spoilers because no spoilers. But it rocked. Everybody needs to see it. Besides, how can you not just absolutely love a show that has someone whose powers are due to him Read more... )
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Dragon - fighter
Lyorn - paladin
Tiassa - swashbuckler
Hawk - sorcerer
Dzur - barbarian
Issola - bard
Tsalmoth - warrior
Vallista - expert
Jhereg - assassin
Iorich - druid
Chreotha - ranger
Yendi - rogue
Orca - monk
Teckla - commoner
Jhegaala - spirit shaman
Athyra - wizard
Phoenix - cleric

Some of these are obviously based on a single personality or single quality; some of them are reaching a lot (orcas as monks?).
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S60 tonight was about a thousand percent better than the three preceding episodes. If you gave up on it before tonight, watch this ep -- you can probably bittorrent or download it somewhere.
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Adding to the chorus: Aaron Sorkin makes you forget television isn't supposed to be good.

He hasn't written much of anything for four years, not since the middle of the run of West Wing. But he wrote just about all of Sports Night, and he wrote the first several West Wing seasons.

He's back tonight. Watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee, who's a terrific TV reviewer and pretty much hits everything dead-on (he loved Buffy before she was cool, for example) says this:
In some ways, this is a perfect blend of both [Sports Night and West Wing] -- it's set behind the scenes of a "Saturday Night Live"-like show, has the electric feel of Sorkin and Schlamme's White House, and is actually about the people, their dedication and the whole wide world.

As good as tonight's hour is -- and "Studio 60" has gotten most of its "best new show" raves based only on this episode -- next week's is miles ahead in everything: character, relationships, wit and sheer, dazzling entertainment. When a show improves that much in one week, from very good to fabulous...

Both hours are infused with Sorkin's reverence for smart people, for commitment and persistence, and for team players who care about what they do and about anyone with the same steadfastness.

[Studio 60] feels hyper-real, slightly mythic, but only by a step. It's a world that should exist, and Sorkin's people say the things you wish you'd thought to say. It's why so many moments, particularly in next weeks' episode, feel so clean and dead-on, and so enjoyably enter- taining, all at once...

Sorkin finds romance and heroics in everyday life, in trying hard, in caring, in reaching for excellence. Above everything else, above the melodic writing, the astute wit, the impressive acting and the fluid direction, the great, identifiable appeal of "Studio 60" is those people who care about what they do, about each other and about life.

And what that means for us is that 10 p.m. on Mondays is going to be a great hour of the week for a while.
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I watched the old BSG when it was on in 1978. I was twelve, and I loved it, cheese and all. I knew it wasn't very "good", but like a lot of things I figured I wasn't getting the whole story: that there was more to it, and the TV show was only the piece I was seeing. That there was some 'reality' behind it, with an adult sensibility. I was seeing the kids version. Somewhere there was a grownup version, better and more intellectually respectable.

And now that I'm forty instead of twelve, now I get to see the version of the show I always "knew" was there. This dark, this dramatic, this gritty.

Especially when we get all these homages to the original series... I'm sure it's all deliberate. But it works, for me.


Aug. 7th, 2006 10:41 am
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I reread Fletch last week.

The book was written in 1974. Man, has the culture changed. Very minor spoilers for the book (the movie doesn't contain most of these) in the context of culture... Read more... )


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