Chucklehound Logs » General

  • Published: Sep 14th, 2006
  • Category: Random

More on Books

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BoingBoing linked to an interview with Paul Buckley, an art director at Penguin, in which he discussed hiring some fairly interesting indie comics artists to do some covers for their classics line. The article wasn’t particularly good for those who want to, you know, actually get a good look at the covers, but the Penguin website has some better ones.

Fantagraphics also has some nice pictures of the additional forthcoming ones on their blog (though, I’m not sure why they didn’t include Thomas Ott’s cover for We Have Always Lived in the Castle, since Ott mostly publishes through Fantagraphics). I don’t usually get unduly excited about cover art on books, but some of these are just great. I’m particularly fond of the Seth cover for the Dorothy Parker collection. And the Miller cover for Gravity’s Rainbow isn’t that exciting, but, given that I’ve already bought the book three times, I probably shouldn’t try to claim that I wouldn’t buy this version if I found it for cheap.

While I’m certainly pleased with Penguin’s choice in artists, I’m a little disappointed that they’re not doing some limited lithographic posters for these. What 18-year old wouldn’t want that 1-page Chris Ware version of Candide in their dorm room?

  • Published: Sep 14th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Books

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Maureen seems to have some questions for me regarding books, so I figured I’d answer her (since I ignored her last request to fill out one of these things). Although, I’m so dismayed by her pick of Great Gatsby as the book she wishes had never been written, I did have some second thoughts. Nevertheless, here goes.

One book that changed your life: The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. I picked up a copy when I was 14 on what I believed was a recommendation from my father (who has denied ever recommending it). I give this book the entire credit for converting me from a highly geeky, D&D-playing, novelty-song listening adolescent into a pop-culture/conspiracy nerd. Which may not be much of an improvement, but this book led me straight into love of conspiracy theory, metaphysics, the Fugs, speculative history, the occult, Philip K. Dick, and underground culture in general. Looking back, I’m not sure how it didn’t lead me into heavy use of psychedelic drugs, but it certainly was a huge factor in who I am today.

One book that you’ve read more than once: I could probably answer Illuminatus! (which I’ve read about six times now) for most of these questions, but don’t want to get stale, so I’ll say Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Actually, I read the first 80 pages or so about four times before I finally got enough momentum to make it all the way through the book. Once I finally finished it, I let it percolate for a couple years then reread it. It’s been about seven years since I read it last, so I’m probably due for another reading.

One book that you’d want on a desert island: Let’s be flip and go with SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John Wiseman.

One book that made you laugh: I’m looking through my bookshelves here and completely failing to find anything that made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure the written word has the necessary timing to pull off anything more than a slight chuckle.

One book that made you cry: Again, something hard to elicit with words alone, so I’m going to cheat a bit and go with Grant Morrison’s last issue of Doom Patrol (#63). The sadness of Jane’s wonderful, weird, internal world getting taken away from her through electro-convulsive therapy and leaving her a boring, normal person is bad enough, but when Cliff and Rebis show up out of the mist just as she’s about to kill herself and take her away to live on Danny the Street forever, I tear up every time. I could point out that Cliff is mostly robot, Rebis is a bandage-covered hermaphrodite, and Danny is a living street who is also a transvestite and uses 60′s gay British slang, but that might just confuse things.

One book that you wish had been written: I’m going to rip off Maureen here and go with any of my many failed NaNoWriMo attempts. Someday…

One book you wish had never been written: Not to get all preachy, but I’m pretty sure the world would be a better place without The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

One book you are currently reading: Just finished Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves by Clifford Pickover. I was really disappointed. I was really hoping it would take some of the assertions of McKenna and Pinchbeck (like “the places you go and entities you meet while on DMT and Ayahuasca are entirely real”) and try to justify it using science. Instead, he just recaps McKenna and Pinchbeck, discusses some science, but never really ties it together. And devotes a whole chapter to “how to write a book and get it published.” Bleh. Up next, I’ll probably finish off Colin Wilson’s Mysteries, which I’ve been reading off-and-on for the past year or so. If you’re really curious about what I’m reading, I’ve been keeping an updated list for the past several months on my Myspace profile (for lack of a better place).

One book you’ve been meaning to read: V by Thomas Pynchon. Tried it many times, but can’t get into it. Maybe the new Pynchon book will be so good it’ll convince me to go back and reread all of his.

I guess I’m now supposed to tag others, but since I know of only three people who read this, one of whom does not keep a general-purpose blog that I know about and the other of whom tagged me, I think that means the only person I can tag is Meghan.

ETA: Wait. Mr. Spiegelman reads this occasionally. And it’s been months since his last blog entry, so perhaps this will motivate him.

  • Published: Sep 8th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Field Guide to Developers

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Came across this on digg recently:

Field Guide to Developers

This pretty much addresses all my complaints about working at Yahoo. Of course, I always find it depressing to think that there might be companies that treat their developers well, and I’m just not able to find and/or land a job at these places, but sort of nice to know they’re out there somewhere.

  • Published: Sep 2nd, 2006
  • Category: Random

Some Thoughts on Twin Peaks

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Like I mentioned, we’ve been camping in the living room for the past couple weeks. Kitchen’s doing very well. Friday night she decided she was done recouperating and has been trying to stage escape attempts from her confined area ever since. Sutures came out Wednesday, and the doctor was pleased with her progress. So, we’ve all pretty much been confined to the living room 24/7 for a couple weeks now, which means we really haven’t done anything exciting at all (for example, the highlight of this week has been the arrival of a box of 12 brand new plain white t-shirts I picked up on EBay for cheap).

All of which means we’ve had plenty of time to catch up on our viewing. We’ve been watching Twin Peaks for a while now, and, while I watched the early episodes when they were new, I missed out on the end of the series.

Rest of this post is going to be chock full of spoilers for those who haven’t seen the show and/or movie.

First off, the movie makes a whole lot more sense now. More interesting, I think, is the series’ insistence on false dualism. We’re presented with entities that seem to exist in a dualistic structure – the White Lodge vs. the Black Lodge, Mike vs. Bob, etc. – but, once Cooper enters the Black Lodge, it’s pretty clear that good and evil are not really applicable terms here. The Man From Another Place reveals himself to also be the Giant, who, like Mike, has gone out of his way to help Cooper stop Bob, but also to be Mike’s arm that he cut off in order to cut himself from his earlier, murderous existence, and, confusing things further, is the one demanding the garmonbozia Bob provides. Attempting to apply a good/evil explanation to him is pretty much impossible. I’m a big fan of false dualism in general – the idea that all the concepts of good and evil are all human projections on things we can’t really understand – but it doesn’t show up in popular culture very often.

I also really enjoyed Ray Wise’s performance, particularly his (admittedly showy scene) as he realizes what he’s done while under the influence of Bob. The shame and self-loathing as he remembers letting Bob inside him as a child is fantastic. I’m also a big fan of hidden childhood secrets as plot device – also something I don’t see in popular culture often enough (in fact, one of the reasons I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as much as I did was that sequence in which Joel revisits his very buried childhood memory of killing a small helpless creature). I think it’s one of those shared universal emotions that doesn’t really get exploited as much as it should, so I have to admire anyone who goes for it.

And, finally, Laura Palmer scares me silly. She’s the most terrifying victim ever.

  • Published: Aug 8th, 2006
  • Category: Random

I Apparently Live In Portland’s Seemy Underbelly

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I’m assuming everyone here reads BoingBoing regularly, so you’ve all seen the link to TurnHere. They don’t offer much as far as Portland goes, but they do have one on Sandy Boulevard, which the host describes as the gateway to the seemy underbelly of Portland. He may be overstating things a bit, but it does offer some nice shots of my neighborhood, if anyone is curious about where I am living in Portland.

Sandy Boulevard on TurnHere

For reference, we live about a block off Sandy Boulevard – just between the Hollywood and Roseway neighborhoods mentioned in the video. We’re four blocks from Pal’s Shanty and about 8 blocks or so from the assorted Hollywood buildings shown (i.e., the Hollywood Theatre, Poor Richard’s, Chin’s Kitchen, The Pagoda).

  • Published: May 24th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Blogginess

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I don’t generally go in for bloggy quiz things, but I saw a link to this “What Sort of English Do You Speak?” quiz on Jeff’s Blog and had to try it. Actually managed to do a pretty decent job of pinning me down (early childhood in western Mass, followed by an adolescence in Michigan – which is, apparently, considered Upper Midwest?). Sadly it didn’t have “Tonic” as an option for what you call a fizzy soft drink (not that I use it, but I wish I did).

Your Linguistic Profile::
40% General American English
30% Yankee
20% Upper Midwestern
5% Dixie
0% Midwestern
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?
  • Published: May 5th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Free Comic Book Day!

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OK, I know I am now about a month behind on blogging, which I will get around to (good stuff to write about – trip to LA, some excellent shows, some interesting movies), but I wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow (May 6) is Free Comic Book Day.

Go check out the website to find a store near you, and go get a free comic or two. Maybe you’ll get lucky, and end up with a store that’s carrying the free indie titles. (I’m going to guess Meltdown will have a good selection for you West LA types) Probably can’t go wrong with the sampler from Fantagraphics or the Mr. Jean preview from Drawn & Quarterly. And The Preposterous Voyages of Ironhide Tom looks pretty good as well. If you have kids, I certainly advise you grab the Justice League Unlimited comic for them (and sit down and watch the show on Cartoon Network with them while it’s still on). And, if none of that is motivation enough, at least go get a free Simpsons-related comic. Surely that’s got to be enough to get you into a comic shop. And most of the LA ones are filled with fairly hip people who bathe regularly!

  • Published: Mar 8th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Library Fun and More in a Seemingly Endless Series of Thoughts on Moviewatching

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Things have been slow up here – too much brain-frying work + cold weather = sitting inside watching movies and reading (as you may have gathered from the past few entries here) Past few weeks are no exception. Pleasant weekend, though.

Saturday, we finally made it out to the Title Wave used bookstore – the Multnomah County library system is apparently large enough that instead of periodic book sales, they have a bookstore that’s open most of the week. Picked up a copy of Helter Skelter (which I’ve always meant to get around to reading) and a Kim Stanley Robinson book (whose books I hear are quite good, but I have failed to get into them). Also there were many many boxes of comics which appeared to be tax writeoffs from the big comic shop in town. Hard to go wrong for twenty cents an issue, so grabbed a bunch of issues of Sandman (which I completely missed the first time around, since its publication largely coincided with my broke college days – probably good, as I think I can formulate a more reliable opinion of the serious without the crushing transtextural weight of reading somethign so beloved by so many annoying people when it came out), Madman, Concrete, Mister X, and a few other things I can’t quite remember.

Then we drove out to Gresham. The aforementioned Multnomah County Library system is excellent, but I’ve been having trouble reserving Sinister Forces, which sounded interested from the mentions over on Rigorous Intuition. I’m not sure if it’s a glitch, or if trying to reserve this book puts me into some kind of watch list, but it behaved differently than everything else in the system. So, drove out to Gresham, as they had a copy in stock at their library. While in Gresham, we stopped by Del Taco, which has only recently started expanding into Oregon, but not into Portland yet. Even though I’m generally anti-chain, I cannot resist the lure of a Veggie Works burrito drowning in Del Scorcho. It’s really the ideal late night foodstuff after an evening in a smoke-filled club, but still tasty after a day of library adventures.

Came home and started in on our movie watching. Opened the evening with Fitzcarraldo, which was very similar in many ways to the previous Herzog-Kinski collaboration, Aguirre, the Wrath of God. While I was still a little disturbed at Herzog’s willingness to cross the line from “I want to make a movie about a guy who does something completely insane” to “I want to do something completely insane and film it,” the film really had a lot less of the bad craziness that radiates out of Aguirre. Maybe it was Herzog’s decision not to include footage of Kinski physically assaulting the locals, but Kinski’s performance, while still quite intense, seemed almost human this time.

Followed this up with Night of the Hunter, which was quite a lot of fun, if quite strange in just about every way – the direction, pacing, acting were all fairly odd. Needless to say, I was quite impressed.

Sunday was mostly occupied with passing time until the Oscars started. Usually, we attend our friend Matthew’s Oscar party, but since we’re a thousand miles away, was a little difficult. Still, watched at home and ate some nachos (that’s a party, right?). Highlight of the show was probably the cut to a reaction shot in the audience that showed Catherine Keener talking through the speech and pointing at her watch. All in all, a pretty dull Oscar show, but that might just be because I had seen none of the best picture nominees (for the first time in many years), so had no opinions one way or another on any of the categories.

It’s starting to feel a bit like Spring up here – some tree in the neighborhood (including two in our front yard) are covered with little pink flowers. Of course, it’s still very cold at night, and the weatherguy on the TV is threatening snow, so we’ll see how the little pink flowers hold up.

Going out to see Voxtrot on Thursday. Really need to get organized and see more local bands, but slightly overwhelmed by the quantity right now. Anyone know of any Portland bands I should check out?

  • Published: Feb 8th, 2006
  • Category: Random

Jukeboxes

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Now that I’ve finished ripping all my CD’s, I’m really in need of a good jukebox software. YME was working all right, but once I upgraded to 1.1, I lost the ability to just play everything I own on shuffle (and, in fact, it won’t even open now due to the size of the now playing queue I managed to create). Since I messed up my ability to get the “unlimited” aspect of it for free back when I worked at Yahoo!, I’m not really that tied to the product, so need to find something else that will let me A) play everything on random, B) play by artist/album, C) rip CD’s, D) update the metadata easily, and E) won’t take up all my CPU utilization.

Tried out Foobar briefly, but it was taking forever to build the library, and I got impatient. iTunes is quite happy to play everything I own (with no lag time between clicking on a song, and it kicking off a global shuffle), but will only play about 5 songs before it crashes.

Downloaded Songbird today – very lengthy initial scanning to get the files and then a painfully slow attempt to get enough data that it could actually build the library data properly. Not sure if this is due to their servers getting pounded today, so might give them a try late tonight and see if it’s any better. But, doesn’t have CD-ripping and I haven’t messed with it enough to figure out how to get the services I want instead of the ones that come with it. Probably the help notes would have explained this, but, as mentioned, their site is getting hammered, so can’t read the docs.

So, what am I left with? Winamp? I do like the ability to easily filter by artist/album/etc. on occasion, which Winamp didn’t have last time I used it. I suspect I’ll get a biased answer here since at least 60% of my friends list works on one of the products listed above, but does anyone have a jukebox software they really like?

  • Published: Jan 31st, 2006
  • Category: Random

I Accept Your Challenge!

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Todd demands that others come up with their Superbowl playlists, and, while mine is rather short, I cannot pass up an annual opportunity to make people listen to DiskothiQ.

Extremely Brief Superbowl Mix!

All posts are written by Padgett L. Arango and published under a Creative Commons license.

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