I Didn't See Your Mail; Facial Hair

Happy New Year! If you sent me email in the last few days, I maybe never saw it. My site's spam-detection software thought that mail dated 2010 or later was likely to be spam. (This was apparently an awesome spam-detection trick a few years ago.)

In site update news, I posted a photo of me to the page of photos of me. In this photo, I attempt to imitate Chuck Jordan, but fall short. And the lighting is bad.

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Book Report: Notes from a Broad

I bought this book because its author is "Fran Lebowitz". This is not the same Fran Lebowitz who wrote the excellent Metropolitan Life and Social Studies. Rather, this is the "Fran Lebowitz" who usually calls herself Fran Rittman but whose maiden name was nevertheless on the cover of this book. Rittman is from New York, she smokes, she's a literary agent. The real Fran Lebowitz is from New York, smokes. I could kind of convince myself that maybe the real Fran Lebowitz became a literary agent. Rittman is a fitness nut, likes to run. The real Fran Lebowitz said that running was something one does to catch the bus. But she said that years ago, and I could convince myself that she'd changed her mind meanwhile. So I kept reading this book, hoping that it was written by Fran Lebowitz. You know, the real Fran Lebowitz. But the details kept on not fitting...

Fran Rittman wrote a memoir of being an ex-pat in Singapore. It was most interesting when I was interpreting it is the memoir of Fran Lebowitz having gone through many major life changes. That was especially interesting because I kept having to stretch further and further to make things fit. But once I admitted that things weren't fitting--that Rittman and the real Lebowitz were two separate people--this book was kinda dull.

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Book Report: I Wish there was Something that I Could Quit

It's a novel by Aaron Cometbus! I hadn't heard it had been published until I entered a bunch of book ratings into Amazon.com. Amazon.com's recommendation engine recommended the book. Three cheers for recommendation engines. If you like Cometbus, you'll probably like this novel. If you don't know about Cometbus, this would be a difficult beginning.

Maybe I was fooled by the title, but this seems to be a story of people who have given things up. There is a straight-edge bartender. There is Aaron the musician known for touring whose favorite moments are when the band van breaks down. Characters break up relationships carefully, trying to improve themselves (and then thoughtlessly fall into other relationships). This makes for some fun musing, but this isn't really a book in which stuff happens.

There's stuff you do which you'd be better off not doing. Quit doing that for a little while and read this book instead. It will be so very appropriate.

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Book Report: Geek Love

It was difficult to decide whether or not to go to that gallery show opening. But I was able to harness the wisdom of crowds: the humongous slow evening commute traffic decided I wasn't going. Bah.

Anyhow, this isn't about me. This is about the novel Geek Love. I'd been warned that this book by Katherine Dunn was about circus freaks, not about nerd-ish geeks. But I read it anyhow. It was a pulpy novel. I never got into it. Bah.

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Book Report: The Man Who Was Thursday

People keep telling me how great G.K. Chesterton was. So I read one of his books, The Man Who Was Thursday. It had some fun sentences, some witty banter, some good paragraphs, but the book overall was disappointing. There was philosophy, perhaps an attempt to make philosophy tangible? Bah. If someone tries to convince you to read The Man Who Was Thursday but you're dubious, you have my permission to skip this book.

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Book Report: Life of Pi

I only made it about halfway through this book. I found it dull.

I like reading books about animals. This book has some animals in it. But... maybe I'd rather read a book that's all about animals. Instead of trying to cram some animal stuff into a boring story.

Some people who made it to the end of this book tell me that it gets good towards the end. Then again, people who made it to the end of this book probably have tastes different than mine.

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Book Report: The Books of Magic

[I'm upgrading to a new Blogging service (beta.blogger.com). I wouldn't be surprised if that means that a bunch of my old articles show up as "new" in your feed reader. Or if it results in other little tweaks. Please do not be alarmed. Or don't be alarmed about this blog. Or, uhm, anyhow, on with the show...]

In the comic book The Books of Magic we find out that a young boy is prophecied to grow up into the most powerful wizard in the universZzzzzzz. Wh- what? Sorry, I dozed off there. Fanboy power fantasies do that to me. We get a tour of magical traditions of past cultures--a picture showing something Egyptian, something Greek, something Zzz. Sorry, I dozed off again. Maybe I'd want a high-level survey of different cultures' magic if I hadn't already read plenty of this crap years ago. There's a visit to Faerie. Remember, kids, there is a positive correlation between the number of elves in a book/movie/comic/whatever and its level of crappiness. This comic also features magicians from the DC universe. Here, maybe I could have learned something. I don't know much about the magicians of the DC universe. On the basis of this comic's depiction of them, I have decided: I wasn't missing much.

[2007 update: turned off commenting on this item; it's apparently a magnet for spammers]

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Book Report: The Three Musketeers

I bet that those long stretches of dialog between people from different social classes--I bet those were pretty funny back when they were relevant to the culture. Unlike now, when they're kinda boring.

I wish I'd seen one of the movies instead of reading this book. I bet that the swashbuckling and swordfight scenes hold up a lot better than the dialog.

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Book Report: Birth of the Chess Queen

Did you know that Al Gore chartered a couple of planes to help out people in Katrina-smashed areas? It's enough to make you wish the nation had put some more resources at his disposal. But let's not dwell on the world leaders of today; that's just sad. Let's instead think about world leaders of the past, as seen through the chess-loving eyes of Marilyn Yalom.

This book talks about the history of chess and the history of queens. I find the history of chess interesting, but I've read plenty about it; this book didn't add much for me. As for the history of royalty, I find it royally boring. Oh, there's a little bit in this book about the lives of non-royal, non-noble people. But not enough to hold my interest. You might like it, though. It's well written, just on the wrong topics.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't read about the world leaders of any era.

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Book Report: A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

In this collection of essays by David Foster Wallace, I was glad to read the title essay. It's about his experiences on a cruise ship. I've always wondered if I would like being on a cruise ship, and now I know the answer: nope. It was better to learn this by reading of Wallace's suffering than by suffering myself. Strangely, I didn't like his essay about a state fair, perhaps because I figured that if I wanted to know what a state fair was like, and it turned out I didn't like it, then I could just leave. I probably couldn't just leave a cruise ship, unless I wanted to live the rest of my life in the Bahamas. So there wasn't so much urgency in reading about the state fair. Not that "urgency" is the word I'm looking for here. No-one is pressing me to take a cruise any time soon. There was also an essay in here which might have been full of insights about David Lynch, but I couldn't bring myself to read past the first few paragraphs. There were early stories about being a tennis prodigy, in which you can see what Wallace was like before he learned to write well. I wish I'd skipped them.

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