Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

It's been a crazy month of travel for me (again), but I did manage to squeeze in seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still (and so did my sister and her family). I enjoyed the show, even if it isn't exactly like the book or the older movie.

Keanu Reeves is often accused of being wooden (understandably), but wooden is just right for this role. I thought he did a good job, and the movie all round was a lot of fun.

My niece worried that the movie was about to get scary, but it turned out to not bother her as much as she thought it might. It isn't a scary movie, nor really disturbing in any way. My sister's family all enjoyed it, even though my niece is often a little sensitive. I was glad to hear that they liked the movie as much as I did.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Tai Shan

I've been invited by Sloth Jockey to begin a new blog there. I am excited about this, and have agreed to set up a new blog called Tai Shan.

At this new blog, I'll be writing about my experience in and with China, and about all things Chinese. I think it should be lots of fun, and I hope you will come along and enjoy the experience with me!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Update on Chinese Science Fiction

I've been working on that collection of 2002's Best Science Fiction (China) for a while now, but have been a bit slow about the reading (busy days of late!). I finished one rather long story by He Xi (何夕) called 《六道众生》. It was not a bad read, even though it took me a while to get into it (my problem, not the story's). I found the reading to be doable for me, something I was rather proud of, from a language-learning perspective. It wasn't exactly easy (thus the slow reading), but manageable.

The story is something I little different than what I would actually class as science fiction. To me, it seems to fit more into the category of speculative fiction (the broader genre that definitely encompasses this piece), and I might just label it fantasy. Not a lot of real science in it, actually. But still, it is the type of literature I am wanting to read more of in Chinese, and I am glad to have gotten started with this story.

Right now I am working on another called 《午后》by Yang Ping (杨平). I'll have more to say on it when I finish.

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Monday, November 10, 2008


I finally got around to watching the movie Waterhorse on DVD this past weekend. It was a fun movie, one that made me smile several times. I picked that one to watch because I didn't feel l like anything heavy, just wanting something nice and relaxing... and even cute, Waterhorse was a perfect fit.

The Scottish landscapes in the film are quite beautiful, and the little Loch Ness Monster is quite cute. The boy who acts in the film does a nice job, and it all comes together well enough.

If you are looking for a DVD to enjoy on a quiet night at home — one of those that is just nice for "switching off" — pick up Waterhorse. It's just perfect for that kind of viewing.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

This should be interesting...

My Chinese teacher yesterday loaned me 3 sci-fi books, all in Chinese. I've never read Chinese sci-fi before, and have only seen one or two Chinese movies in the genre. It should be quite interesting to see how it goes... and of course it will take me forever to finish the books. One is a translation of English sci-fi writers (I'm leaving it 'til last, for obvious reasons). The other two are by Chinese writers.

I'm beginning with a 2002 anthology of the year's best science fiction stories in Chinese. Should be fun! I'll update how I'm progressing with the book in a few days.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008


Good news — I am the featured poet for this issue (Nov 2008) of Scifaikuest! I am very pleased about this, as Scifaikuest is one of the best poetry magazines around.

If you'd like to have a look, you can visit the Scifaikuest website. You'll find a link there to order the print magazine, which is where you will find 15 of my poems in the Nov 2008 issue.

Also, if you'd like more updates about what is going on in the world of speculative poetry, you can see my regular update on my main blog.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

City of Embers

I have not seen City of Embers yet, and am not even sure I have the name exactly right. I just heard about it from my 8-year-old nephew, and he was very excited about the show after having seen it over the weekend.

It sounds to me like a good survival story, with society surviving (though perhaps in a sort of dystopian form) after some catastrophe or another (stated with true 8-year-old vagueness, I hope). It sounded like a film that should be similar to The Postman with flavors of WALL•E, or something along those lines.

I'm not sure when it will finally come my way, but based on my nephew's review, I'll try to catch it when it does.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Richard Kearney's Strangers, Gods, and Monsters

Richard Kearney's Strangers, Gods, and Monsters is a very well-written work of literary and cultural criticism. I finished the book about a month ago (after taking a month or two to read it), and am still enjoying mulling over the ideas he presented. I loved how he used contemporary fascination with figures of science fiction and fantasy to explore the role of the Other in our lives. He notes that we have traditionally tended to break our understanding of others down into two distinct groups, those who are shunned (scapegoats and monsters) and those who are exalted (gods). He then moves on to the call of many postmodern thinkers that we have heard for many years now — that we cease to impose our judgments on strangers and take the sting out of Otherness. I liked the move that Kearney suggests that we make, though. He points out that tolerance actually requires a more not less judicial approach to the Other. While it is true that we don't want to force a single culture's standards on everyone, Kearney recognizes that we need to be able to judge when we meet Others which ones are friends, and which seek to harm us. Very intelligent and very convincing, this book is one that I think is worth taking a good long time to read and ponder.

Included in the discussion are many science fiction and fantasy texts (the Alien movies gets a whole chapter, and is quite central to the first half of the discussion). While this is not the type of speculative fiction book I normally discuss at this blog, it is one that should be of interest to fans of the genre.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tamburlaine Must Die

Louise Welsh's Tamburlaine Must Die is the kind of book I normally expect to love. It has Christopher Marlowe chasing about a live version of his character, who is threatening to murder him.

But the story really missed the mark for me. It isn't that the writing is necessarily bad (in some places it is quite nice), but just that the story doesn't quite work out nicely, to me. Perhaps it feels a bit rushed at the end. There is not really a sufficient feeling of mystery, and the plot turns out to be very different from a confrontation between author and character, like I was led to expect from the blurb on the book. (If you're expecting that too, don't read Tamburlaine Must Die... unless you don't mind something very different than you expect, of course.)

I think it could have been very interesting to watch a story unfold around a confrontation between Marlowe and Tamburlaine. And I definitely think that would have worked a bit better than what does happen on the pages here. I think the book is basically for people like me... those who would read any story that tries to do something with Marlowe's life, just to see how it turns out. Since this one is short and an easy read, it doesn't disappoint me that I did read it... just that it didn't do something a little more interesting.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Paperback Writer

Stephen Bly's Paperback Writer is a book that, I think, tries to do something interesting. It seems to me to be a novel that generates a sort of dialogue between a postmodern approach to literature and Christian thought. I am not sure whether that is exactly Bly's intent, but I am not one to think authorial intent matters all that much. Instead, it seems to me, in reading the book, that this is what is happening. And it doesn't happen in a way that is all heady and intellectual. It is done pretty casually, with a discussion taking place between an author and his character about the boundaries between reality and fiction, text and outside-the-text (if there even is such a thing).

I wasn't completely crazy about the book while reading it. There was not much happening in some parts, then what did happen often seemed overblown. (And I think that was partly intentional, as if to give us the idea of an overwrought mind through which we are viewing the events.) I still wouldn't go so far as to say that this is a great book, or even an especially good one, though I think I can go so far to say that it is not bad, and that it seeks to do some interesting things. It won't ever break into my top 100 books list, but it did give me enough to think about for a while after having read it. To me, there's definitely something to be said for that.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Historian

I'm always a sucker for a good vampire story. (Sorry, couldn't help it.) Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian is certainly one worth reading. It is spooky, and really steeped in vampire lore. I also love how it ties the whole story in with Vlad the Impaler. The way the fantasy and history weave together really makes the story fun.

Also enjoyable is the novel's globetrotting tendency. You get to travel with the characters all over the world, and the movement from location to location makes the read that much more fun.

All in all, The Historian is a book I don't mind recommending. We've passed it around my group of friends, and almost all of us enjoyed it.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a very moving book. It is the story of Liesel, the Word Shaker, a girl who lived through Nazi Germany. I know, I know, there are lots of stories about that time and place out there. But what makes Liesel's story (most) special is that it is told by Death. As he goes about his work (and that was a very busy time for him), he meets Liesel several times. He was very impressed with what he saw in her, and so tells her story.

And her story is one that is worthy of being told by Death.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

reviews and poetry

After my most recent post about a review I wrote for Sloth Jockey, I realized that some of my other pieces there, both reviews and poetry, might be of interest to fans of speculative fiction. I'll be submitting there more over time, so that list should grow, and you can keep up with it at my author page, if you are interested.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Rossum's Universal Robots

R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) was written in 1921 — way ahead of its time. It is set in a factory where robots are produced. The main tension in the drama comes from the question of the possibility of evolution in the robots — can they develop a soul? Do they deserve the same treatment as humans? What will happen to humans when robots evolve?

All good questions. And amazing that they were being explored in a 1921 Czech play. Interestingly, the word "robot" comes to us via this play. It is from the Czech, meaning "slave." That is a good indicator of the position that the makers of the robots originally intended they occupy. Their role has always been defined by their name.

They play does not only explore technology. Like any good science fiction work, the question of technology is foregrounded, but it is also the site in which other issues central to society's development are explored. In this case, we see questions of the role of the media raised, along with the ethics of the work force. It is a very funny piece, not just for its questions about robots, but because of how it examines our treatment of one another.

Any real fan of science fiction should take the time to read R. U. R.. Like almost any play, it can be read in one sitting. It is a good read. And even if reading plays is not normally your thing, this one is worth it just because of its place in the history of the development of an idea. It is very nicely done.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

do you schedule your posts?

One of the nice features of using Blogger is that you can schedule your posts to come out in advance. I've found this to be useful when I am traveling. Also, I've used it on blogs like this one where I write about a fairly specific type of book and movie (here being mostly science fiction and speculative fiction / poetry). Sometimes I will have a lot of material ready at one time, and sometimes I might have busier periods where my leisure reading time is a bit cramped. I've found the scheduling feature to be useful for those times. I've noticed it being useful partly because it is a feature not available at some of my other blog sites, and I miss it there.

What about you? Is this a feature you use? When does it most come in handy?

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Friday, September 26, 2008

A 1982 Video Essay, and it still works

Koyaanisqatsi is a video essay. It doesn't have a plot. It just bombards you with images and an underlying soundtrack that evoke ideas an emotions by appealing to the senses.

Here's a good definition for the title: (Hopi) [n] 1. crazy life 2. life out of balance 3. life disintegrating 4. life in turmoil 5. a way of life that calls for another way of living.

The film is aptly subtitled "Life Out of Balance." It is part of a trilogy (I've not seen the other films yet), and makes a powerful statement, with a strong environmentalist theme.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Babylon AD

I saw Babylon AD over the weekend. It was nothing fantastic, though I did like Michelle Yeoh (as always).

My friend who saw the movie with me said it gave her a headache. Lots of action, loud action, and the shooting style was rather odd, with cuts from one bit of violence to the next that were not at all smooth nor easy to follow. It certainly gives the film that edginess that it seemed to aim for, but it was mostly that which gave my friend a headache.

Who should see the film? Someone looking for lots of action.

Who shouldn't see the film? Anyone who is looking for a well-developed plot, rich characters, the complexity of the best science fiction films, or a very coherent set of ideas to set you thinking. The film has none of those things.

But there is lots of action.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Oath

I don't always read horror novels, though I might take the time to do so every now and then. I tend to be more a fan of straight sci-fi or fantasy, but do enjoy a well-written horror story from time to time.

Horror stories are on my mind today because I recently wrote a book review of The Oath at Sloth Jockey. I called it "A Horror Story so Well-written You Can Smell it." And that's the thing about this novel. It has been a while since I read it, but when I think of certain scenes from the book (and I remember them well), it is the smell that comes back to me most vividly. Isn't that funny? Smell is the thing I most remember about a book.

To me, that is a sign it is well-written. It engages senses that it can't even touch directly. Good stuff!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Martian Race

I finished reading Gregory Benford's The Martian Race at the beginning of the week. It was a very good read. It started out a little slow for me, but when it picked up, it got to be a very engaging story. Even in the earlier parts when the story was a little slow, the ideas were still compelling enough to keep me reading. (In this way, it was kind of like a book I read last year called After the Fire. Both had a hard time getting off the ground, but when they did, they were really good.)

The Martian Race presents several interesting ideas. The one most foregrounded (and for which the book is named) suggests a possible way to approach the continued exploration of space, that being to put it into the hands of private industries. I understand why there is a certain fear attached to this, but the book does make its point well — if we are going to see the exploration of space grow by leaps and bounds instead of baby steps (and the public not lose interest), something is going to have to be done differently than it is now.

And the novel is not at all naive about the potential problems if the exploration of space were to become a private endeavour instead of one funded by governments. I like that the possibility of cutthroat tactics is not ignored. Big businesses get in the way all too often. That gives the whole thing a sense of realism.

I also like the idea Benford presents of what life on Mars might look like, and how it might be so entirely different from us (and from everything we've grown to expect) that we might not know how to interact with it at all when we first find it. That seems to me to be a very real possibility, whether life is found first on Mars or some other planet so far from us that we don't even know to look there yet.

Overall, The Martian Race is a book that I can recommend. Once you get into it (even if it takes a while to do so), I think you'll enjoy what you find there.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Clone Wars

A Star Wars cartoon really doesn't sound like a very good idea, does it?

Well, having recently seen the movie, I can confirm that impression. There is something missing when Star Wars translates to anime. I think it just loses its magic. For one thing, the movements are not at all fluid, and that is kind of distracting. But more importantly, part of what has always been fun about Star Wars was the low-tech yet dazzling special effects. In anime, that is just sort of gone. Similarly, the "humanness" of the alien/robot world(s) is one of the appealing points of the previous Star Wars films. Again, that is missing.

I am a big Star Wars fan, and thought I couldn't miss any Star Wars ever made. Having seen this one, I guess I have to change my mind. I could've missed it, and been none the worse off for that.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008


Thanks, Felix, for nominating this blog for an "I Love Your Blog" award!

The 7 blogs who I nominate for my award for the blog I love the most are:

1. Pinhole
2. The Irrelevant Cheetah
3 Madame Blogalot
4. family fun and faith
5. Jameo
6. Sun Singer
7. Get Paid to Write Online

In a few days, I will announce my decision for the blog which I love the most. As for the owners of the blogs who I nominated for the award, please follow these rules:

The rules of the award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.

2. Link the person you received your award from.

3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4. Put links of those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message on the blogs of the persons you’ve nominated

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Friday, September 12, 2008

When I was a kid, I had a huge collection of Star Wars toys. They weren't kept as collectors' items, but as toys. I played with them every day, pestering anyone who would listen into sitting and playing with them for a while with me. It was a world that I loved entering into, finding it the perfect escape from whatever pressure and expectations this "real world" held for me back at that age.

When I started making plans to move overseas right after university, I decided to sell my collection. I never expected to get a very good price for it, seeing as the toys were well-worn from years of play. I went to a trade show with my dad where collectibles and memorabilia of all sorts were being sold. It was mostly baseball cards and other sports memorabilia, so my table sort of stood out as the oddball at the show. That ultimately worked to my advantage, I think, as someone came and bought the whole collection. I might could have made more money if I held out, selling it bit by bit, but I didn't want to put that kind of effort into it.

These days, buying and selling collectibles is so much easier than it used to be when I sold my collection. If I had waited about 10 years or so, I could have much more easily sold my collection online. Shopping for such items has also changed a lot. Back then, people who wanted to buy rare items like some of those I had in my collection, he or she had to roam about at a good number of shows and prowl around obscure little shops. These days, it is just a matter of clicking on links from one site to another to find those rare items, and it can all be done from home. has taken another step that greatly changes the shape of online shopping. In most online shopping schemes, the results you see are from merchants who have paid for higher placement. In, you get a wider variety of merchants, from across the spectrum of online shopping sites available. ShopWiki searches across the search engines and brings you results from all the shops, letting you do comparison shopping all from one site.

That's a pretty cool concept. While it might not be as big a change as the one made from crawling trade shows and hole-in-the-wall shops, it is still pretty significant.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Indiana Jones (spoilers)

The most recent Indiana Jones movie came as a little bit of a surprise to me. Because of a rather odd schedule for me this year, I had not seen any commercials of the film, though I was very aware when it was released. But with my travels, I was never around during the time it was being heavily advertised, and seemed to miss out on all the commercials for it. So when I did finally get to see it, it was without any real expectations (other than those set by the earlier films watched a couple of decades ago).

Because I saw the movie (on a plane, so not in the best conditions) without knowing much what to expect from it, it came as a bit of a surprise to me. I didn't expect the Roswell aliens to make an appearance like they did. And of course, the racial and political stereotypes were rife, as always. I haven't seen an Indiana Jones movie in years, and forgot to expect this level of hoakiness. But hoaky is what the show is all about, isn't it?

All the old jokes were somewhat fun, being relived at this later stage of life, but that is about all I thought the movie had to offer. You know... the sort of thing you don't mind seeing on the plane, but shouldn't pay good money for.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Speculative Poetry updates available for Sept 2008

I am trying to keep up with monthly updates from the field of speculative poetry on my main blog. You can check out the September update for news and happenings in the field of speculative poetry.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sci Fi Channel on at last

My cable service only recently connected the Sci-Fi Channel here in Singapore. I am enjoying having it as an option, even though I haven't had a lot of time to watch TV lately. But when I do get a bit of down time to enjoy a program or two, I almost always tune in to the Sci-Fi Channel.

There are lots of reruns of old television series, and that is fun. There are plenty of movies on the weekends too, most of them older. It is a lot of fun to be able to pick up old films, especially those for which I am not particularly interested in buying the DVDs.

I haven't gotten to see the series Firefly yet, but the advertisements have captured my interest. I will try to tune in this week to see if it is as good as the ads promise.

One way or another, I am glad to finally have the channel connected here in Singapore!

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Monday, September 01, 2008


Wall•E just started at cinemas in Singapore this past weekend, but it has been driving me crazy all summer long. My nephews and godchildren saw a commercial for it early in the summer, and for three months now have been saying "Waaaaall•E" in that irritating robotic voice. I am hoping that our viewing of it over the weekend might have satisfied their hunger for the show, and I might stop hearing that. But I have a feeling that is just wishful thinking.

Wall•E actually turned out to be a better movie than I was expecting. I liked the limited dialogue, and how most of the movie is understood via a medium other than language. There is something very appealing about that, something that reaches a part of the mind other than that with which I mostly function throughout the day. (I can't help it, I am a very language-oriented person.)

Paralleling that appeal to a sub-linguistic part of the brain is the emphasis on human contact in its most basic forms. Well, perhaps "human" is not quite the right word, considering that Wall•E is not exactly human. Let's call it, then, contact between like-minded beings. That is the central point of the movie, facing competition for our attention only from the green theme. The repetition of the image of interlocking hands drives the point home: like-minded beings need each other. The juxtaposition of two robots who learn to love each other with humans who isolate themselves in a digital world is a very obvious way of making this point, but the cuteness of the robots covers a multitude of overtness.

Wall•E does a nice job of exploring some of science fiction's biggest concerns (the colonization of space, the future of the human race if we continue on the path we are walking, environmental issues, where androids and cyborgs might fit into the picture of our future, etc.). The limited use of dialogue is a good way of exploring these issues at a very basic level. Whatever faults I might find with the film, I do like its attempt to approach complex questions in this way.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Where Do You Go for Good Science Fiction and Speculative Poetry?

Where do you usually go when you are on the hunt for a new work of science fiction or speculative poetry? For me, I like to shop at the Genre Mall online. They have a very wide selection of fiction, poetry, and magazines to choose from. I've bought a fair number of titles from the Genre Mall, and have never failed to be impressed with the work. A large number of small publishing houses choose to distribute their work from the Genre Mall, so it houses a very nice selection of work that may not be available elsewhere. And, when you buy there, you are supporting the real grassroots movement of the genre.

I've also come across a very interesting site recently called Anthology Builder. I like how you can tailor make and anthology there, and have it put together in a way to suit your own needs and desires. I've already written a more extensive explanation about it at my main blog, so if you have some short stories you'd like to put up for sale, or if you are looking for good stories to read, you might pop in over there to have a look at how it works.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Summer, a Thousand Days

I enjoy reading speculative fiction a lot, but I probably enjoy speculative poetry even more. It is a narrower field, in terms of readership, but there is a surprising large amount of very good speculative poetry available through various magazines and chapbooks.

I especially enjoy coming across speculative poetry that is written by poets who are otherwise considered "mainstream" writers. Al Purdy has written a fair bit of speculative poetry, as has Edwin Morgan. In Charles Albano's haiku collection One Summer, a Thousand Days (reviewed here), there is a whole section dedicated to scifaiku. The list could go on and on, because there are plenty of good poets who write poetry that some might consider "just" genre poetry.

If you'd like to have a look at more speculative poetry, or if are perhaps looking for market to publish your own work, you can visit the Science Fiction Poetry Association. And one of my favorite publishing house that is dedicated to speculative fiction is Sam's Dot Publishing. There are lots of magazines and chapbooks there.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Which Version Do You Prefer?

I recently finished reading The Crystal Cave. It was not that long ago that I read The Mists of Avalon, and I found the two stories very similar. I know, I know.... it is the same basic story, so of course they are similar. But that's not what I meant. I was referring to the telling of the story. I would have expected a bit more difference than I found, to be honest. For instance, The Once and Future King is quite different from either of these two (and happens to be the one I prefer of the 3).

Even though the Merlins who appear in Cave and Avalon are quite different, and Avalon is told from a much more firmly defined female perspective, I still somehow found the two books to be a little too much alike for my tastes. (And, to be honest, neither particularly suited my taste anyway.)

What about you? Do you have a favorite of these three modern versions of Arthur's story? Or perhaps another that you like better than any of these?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Modern Mythologies

A little video I made to go along with some lecture notes. (And no, I am not a video artist, so don't expect much.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Delayed Release for Half-Blood Prince

Have you heard about the delayed release of the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? It's been pushed from November 2008 to July 2009. Yuck! Like this blogger, I just can't see how that is a very good idea for us, the viewers.

I like the Harry Potter movies as year-end releases. Here in Singapore, a release at the end of the year means it is during school holidays. In the mid-summer (for the US), it is right in the heart of the school year, with exam season just around the corner. That definitely will hurt ticket sales here. I know that Singapore is a small dot on the world map, and I certainly don't expect anyone to fit their release schedule to please Singaporeans. But still, it's not like we aren't following the British school calendar here. And remind me, now.... where is the author of the Harry Potter books from?

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Carl Sagan's Contact

I just finished reading Carl Sagan's Contact. I had seen the movie long ago, and forgotten much of the story. I found the ideas to be quite engaging, but thought the writing not very good. I know, it is probably not smart to say that about such a famous book, but seriously... Sagan's ideas are what sells, not his prose.

I liked the interweaving in the text of ideas about science and theology. Indeed, at one point one character says that all science is necessarily engaged with theology. I am not sure that I can entirely agree with this statement, but I can see how it would seem to be the case from the perspective of a person whose life is dedicated to science.

I loved most the plausibility of the scientific developments. Even though the conclusions that followed it (basically, a vision of world cooperation leading to a hope for a utopian type of world peace) were a little far-fetched for me, I still found the science of it all very engaging. And that's not entirely surprising — Sagan was a better scientist than sociologist, I guess. But, in all fairness, the book doesn't exactly promise the achievement of world peace, and in the end it does a nice job of exploring the various oppositions that would arise to such a vision. What I found a little too idealistic was the notion that the Machine would get built at all. That level of cooperation, despite the tense political setting of the novel, is just a bit much to swallow.

But all in all, it is a good read, and worth getting into the ideas presented.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Dark Knight

I'm not exactly very up with the times these days. I just got around to seeing The Dark Knight late last night. It was a better movie than I expected, and not quite as violent as I was afraid it would be. That "not quite as violent" rating from me is a direct result of my seeing it in a "heartlands" cinema, where it was fairly heavily censored. I could see the spots where cuts were made, and only in a few did it leave me feeling a little lost. With the level of violence it did still have in it, I can't say I was disappointed to see the censored version.

OK, to the easy points first. Heath Ledger is good when he is bad. It is a real pity that there will be no second performance.

I liked the movie as a whole, though I thought it a bit too long. The story at some points is too convoluted to be something one can follow easily, and at other points too predictable.

I do like the dark edge to the film, even though you can't help but feel sad over some parts.

I am not quite sure what to make of the idea that lying to the public is a true act of heroism. That smacks of thinking too much like what got us into a war we now seem to regret. (Not exactly the first time we've done that.) It is a good reflection back on what is happening, isn't it? Create a clean-faced image that people will idealize, and then keep his flaws out of the public eye. Then make sure to make him stand for what it is you want him to stand for... and let someone else be the scapegoat. Interesting.

The political messages of the film are there to be wrangled over and picked apart. That makes it fodder for discussion, one way or another.

Overall, it is a good film, though I do have complaints here and there. It is a complex movie, and gives the viewer something to think about. That can't be all bad.

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