September 27, 2012

Two Thousand Million Or So Years Ago...


A few years back, I felt the need to go to the roots of space-opera science fiction.  As I'd never read any of EE "Doc" Smith's work, and Robert Heinlein himself spoke well of the man's work (and told a wonderful story of how Smith tested a used car before Heinlein purchased it), I figured it was a slam dunk that I'd love it.

I was wrong.  I had never been more disappointed in a book since I found Farnham's Freehold in a used bookstore for a dime... and later felt ripped off.  Look, I'll admit that I was young and stupid when I read Triplanetary some eight years ago, but I felt the plot of the book was hackneyed and ridiculously over-used.

Of course it has, but that's not the author's fault.  Considering that Doc Smith for all intents and purposes invented the space-opera genre of science fiction, of course the book is hackneyed now... hundreds upon thousands of books and movies owe Smith their very existence.  But I didn't read the book when they were originally published (in pulp serial form), I read it in the 21st Century... and found it boring.  Dull.  Poorly written.  Uninteresting.

Shortly after I finished Triplanetary, my brain made the connection: the book was dull and cliched because it was the FIRST to do all the things that make space-opera space-opera.  Grand battle fleets tearing themselves apart with ray guns?  Hyperspace?  Shields?  All of that and more can be found in Smith's books...

...and I can't read them as novels.  Historical documents, yes, but not novels.  My brain, steeped in science fiction for 30 years (I started reading SF around the age of 10), just can't make the jump to read them in-period.  I might be missing out on a lot, but I can't do it.  They're just so...

Victorian.

I appreciate the chivalry that Steven speaks about in the post that generated this one.  I still hold doors open m'self, and so forth.  But Triplanetary does take it to an extreme... not even a darned chaste kiss to be seen, which seems unrealistic even for the 1930s.

There's one other thing missing from the book that really kills it for me, and that's a sense of humor.  It's so bad that Triplanetary can't come near books that have funny bits without killing them altogether... I placed it next to James Lileks' Mommy Knows Worst and haven't laughed at it since.  It's not that the jokes fall flat in Triplanetary, it's that there's no humor in the book anywhere.  I'm sorry, but that's a deal-breaker for me.  If a book or series is so darn serious that it can't laugh at itself even a little bit, I can't stand it.

So there you are.  I tried, I really did... but for this duck, the Doc is definitely out.

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September 26, 2012

The Perfect Food

I've heard people describe caviar as the best thing ever.  There are some who believe that a Chicago-style pizza is better than anything.  Or perhaps your tastes run towards fresh-grilled New York Strip and potatoes?  Fresh lobster dunked in garlic butter has been known to trip some triggers in the gastronomic world, no?  Or maybe something International is more your style?  Some pot au feu, mayhap?  The delicate taste of sushi or sashimi has many followers, as does the stronger tandoori chicken from India.  Pastas and the like from Italy?  A good sauce makes all the difference.  Or maybe it's something I haven't even mentioned.  I'm here to tell you that it all pales in comparison to the greatest food in the world.  Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you...

...apple cider donuts from Edwards Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove, IL.  "Eddie's," as I've always called it, has been an annual staple of my life for decades, as have their apple cider donuts.  Believe me when I say this... I would happily eat these things every day morning, noon and night.  Which is why I limit myself to just a single bag of them every year, and I don't even eat all of that: I give some away.  Today, Ph.Duck stopped into the Duck U Bookstore bearing a dozen still-warm donuts.  I ate one, gave away six, leaving me with five.

Five glorious pieces of heaven.  Okay, three now, but it's the thought that counts.  Om nom nom nom nom...

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September 24, 2012

This Should Explain A Lot

If you grew up in the '70s and '80s in the Chicago area, you knew WLS.  The Great 89, the only radio station worth listening to.  Of course, I grew up in that time in that place, and of course, WLS was my go-to station.  In the morning, as I was getting ready for school, I made sure to make time for Good Ol' Unka Lar' and his sidekick, Lil' Snotnose Tommy for some Animal Stories!


Just what was Animal Stories?  Just the funniest darn radio schtick of all time, that's all.  Click on, bunky...

more...

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September 20, 2012

Three Years Later


I can't fathom that it's been three years since that hideous time.  It's been a rough three years.  I miss her every day, and still occasionally wonder why my phone doesn't ring at 7pm for our nightly chat.  One keeps on going, but it's not easy sometimes. 

I'm going back to bed.

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September 19, 2012

It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day


Yar.

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September 18, 2012

Football's Unknown Legend

If you're a fan of the National Football League, there's every chance in the world that, in some way, Steve Sabol got you there.  Y'see, Steve and his father Ed were the creators of NFL Films, what became the official PR division of Pro Football.  Seen a commercial for the NFL?  The Sabols invented the style used.  Any of the hundreds of documentaries, or team season highlight packages?  NFL Films did it.  In the process, the Sabols created a dramatic style that works brilliantly for football, and has been blatantly stolen by just about every sport since.  It's colloquially known as "Tight On The Spiral," because of the use of a zoomed-in camera shot on a football in slow-motion.  Throw in dramatic music, isolation shots on the "hidden game", and a sense of the ridiculous, and you get... well, this:


NFL Films can make the most boring, terrible game seem like a titanic struggle of immense importance akin to Normandy and the Battle of Britain all rolled into one.  Arguably, the NFL wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as it is without the creative genius of Steve and Ed Sabol.  He personally won 40 Emmy awards, and NFL films over 100 under his direction.

Steve Sabol passed away today at the age of 69.  There had best be a moment of silence at every game this Sunday.

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September 16, 2012

I BEG YOU...

...when leaving a link to a website in comments, USE THE LINK BUTTON.  I will delete any comment that has a raw URL in it; they're ugly, they set the spam klaxon to screaming, and are generally bad juju all around.

If you don't know how to use the Link button, there is a step-by-step tutorial located right here.  Please, I beg you... don't make nervous F1 reporter guy any more scared than he already is.

We cool?  Good show.  Thank you.

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September 12, 2012

Visiting Politician

Back in June, I was contacted by one of the various organizations located on the Duck U campus, letting me know that we had A Big Name speaking here in September.  A rather well-known politician from the Northern Flatland/Southern Cheddarland vicinity, there'd be two booksigning events and would the Bookstore like to be in charge of that part?  Of course, the answer was "Yep, can do!" 

And who was this paragon of politicianism?

more...

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September 11, 2012

11



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September 06, 2012

Lighting Design On A Budget

You may remember some weeks ago, I was all happy and giddy about some little clip-on lights I found in a dump table.  Reader Ben of Midnight Tease fame thought they'd be just the ticket for a little problem he's had, namely photographing his anime figures.  After searching through eight other stores, and finding only one more set of them (which I greedily claimed for myself), I admitted defeat.  Then I found something cheaper, more flexible (literally), and probably better off all-around for his purposes.

more...

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September 04, 2012

Huh... Didn't Expect That Tonight.

So shortly after I put up the last post, the lights went out here at Pond Central.  "Huh," I thought, "I wonder why that happened."  Which might tell you just how well insulated Pond Central is when the windows and everything is closed up, because THIS is what was going on:

Yep, the one thing you never want to see if a red crescent-shape to your thunderstorm... Bow Lines usually means high wind and lots and lots of violence, which is exactly what we got.  Not much rain, but lots of lightning and a ton of wind.  The power kept flickering... it was bad enough that I unplugged the my computer equipment, but not bad enough to not watch the new episode of Doctor Who.  Really weird how the TV and DVR didn't lose power while everything else was flickering and failing.  Oswin must have had something to do with it.

Oh come now, The Pond is nice.

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