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: Incognegro

My domain,, was out of commission for a few days. Sorry about the missing emails. Anyhow, the domain is back now. That calls for a celebration. Or a comic book report about Incognegro. One of those. A report, you say? OK.

It's a comic book set during lynching times down south. I guess you could read this to show how politically correct you are. Oh man, listen to this review from the back cover: "A valiant and successful effort to redeem the past without rewriting it." Uhm, yeah.

In spite of this, it's a pretty good comic book. You might want to read it but then not tell your public-radio listening friends that you did, lest you find yourself in earnest dialog. It's, you know, a comic book. It's a mystery and a tense one--it seems like half the minor characters are pretty disappointed on days when they don't get to string somebody up. Small towns are bad enough when everybody knows what everybody else is doing; but it gets worse when everybody uses what everybody else is doing as an excuse to kill everybody else.

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Book Report: Altered Carbon

A fun piece of cyberpunky science fiction. Where by "fun... cyberpunky", I of course mean cynical and bleak. Personalities can be placed into new bodies. Criminals are punished by going into forced hibernation, during with other folks might be able to use their bodies. Some people are unbelievably old and jaded. It's a world of miracles, but these miracles have brought no joy.

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Book Report: The Ipcress File

I came up with an idea for a board-game like computer game. The board was going to be a map of the city. And there were these bits of secret info to move across the city. You control some agents that can move info. Or they could recruit ordinary citizens to move the info instead. Folks could pick up info from "drops" and carry them to other "drops". It as interesting to think about how to generate a fake city map, how to choose where to put the drops, how to figure out some "routes" for citizens... But it was shaping up to be a game with as many chores as any Real-Time Strategy game, but without the cool explosions. That's the problem with a quiet spycraft game. Not enough explosions.

Oh, right, my point. Spies. The Ipcress File. It's a spy story. It's a fine spy story. It's nice enough. It was kind of tough to get ahold of--my usual libraries had lost track of their copies. I ended up getting it from Link+. Which seems a little silly since I didn't like the book that much. How did this end up on my reading list?

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Book Report: Glasshouse

It's fun to walk up next to Rich Bragg when he least expects it, especially if you're dressed up in glow sticks to look like a character from the movie "Tron". You remember "Tron", that movie where the characters were all programs inside a computer. Well, some of those programs were human beings that had been scanned in. Sort of like an early version of that movie "The Matrix". Or like the movie "Glasshouse".

This novel is like the movie "The Matrix": it's a lot of fun, but if you think too hard about the premise, you think Hey wait, why did the bad guys need humans for this? Try not to focus so much on the plot. Instead, think about a world in which it's possible to upload your memories, to "back yourself up". What changes would that have on society? How would it change the way people think about immortality? Especially when viruses came along? Discuss.

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Quechup: Do NOT trust them with your address book

Quechup is a new spam site disguised as a social network. When you join up, they ask for your address book. Then they send invite emails to every address in your address book.

If you receive a Quechup "invite" from a friend, I suggest you ignore it. I've received a couple of them... and was saved from joining only because the main thing that I saw when I googled [quechup] was a lot of apologies from people who discovered that they had spammed all of their electronic acquaintances.

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Book Report: Travesties

I walked partway home tonight; stopped on a narrow road. The streetlight wasn't on, but I was stopped by brilliance: some tree flowering full. Would I have noticed it if the road hadn't been darker than usual? I looked up at the blossoms, and beyond them the stars. And I thought let all the lights go out, I'd rather look at trees than lights.

I kept walking, walked around a bend. This road is up in the hills, not up where Twin Peaks become peaks, but most of the way up there. So I walked around a bend, and in the gap between buildings, I looked out at a panorama--city lit up at night. There was a heat shimmer in the air, and the city twinkled. Streetlights, bridges lit up, places of business with their bright signs. And I thought let all the trees fall down, I'd rather look at lights.

I don't know what my point is. I had a nice walk home. Just another blogger going on about his day. Don't mind me. I'm just stalling because I don't have anything clever to say about "Travesties".

It's a play by Tom Stoppard.

The name-brand characters are James Joyce, Tristan Tzara, and Lenin. Joyce wrote a work which is famously unintelligible because it's so carefully crafted. Tzara wrote poems which are famously unintelligible because he created them through random methods. Lenin wrote works which are famously unintelligible because every two-bit political hack chooses to interpret them differently. Wait, I guess that last one is a symptom, not a cause of unintelligibility. Anyhow.

What happens when you throw these characters in a play loosely following the structure of the Importance of Being Earnest as remembered by a clotheshorse gone senile?

I'm not sure how well I followed this play. Maybe I'd have an easier time making sense of it if I'd seen it instead of just reading the script.

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