Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Matrix revisited

My nephew and his best friend are here from the US visiting me right now. Last week we watched the Matrix movies together — the first time my nephew had seen any of them, and the first time his friend had seen the whole series to the end. We had a really great time.

We were inspired to view the films again when we saw Inception the week before. I think we all 3 liked it too, but feel the Matrix is more profound and complex.

Either way, it's been loads of fun watching these movies with the guys, and discussing the ideas raised by them. I'm looking forward to sharing lots more with them in the years to come too.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010


On the day of its release, I got to see Inception with my nephew and his friend who are here visiting me. We all really enjoyed the movie, and had a long discussion afterward about issues the show had raised — the nature of reality, human's ability to perceive, programming, and so forth. It was loads of fun talking to these 17-year-olds about some heavy ideas and seeing the way they think about it.

Fun stuff!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

What do you think?

Using on a recent post here, I pasted the text in at I Write Like, a site that analyzes your writing and tells you which famous author it is most like.  Here's the result....

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Fahrenheit 451

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading Fahrenheit 451. It's the sort of book I always love, with some favorite themes (an imagined future, censorship, the value of the written word, etc.). But somehow or another, it kept getting pushed further and further down my to-be-read list. Until recently, at least.

I finished the short novel last week and really, really enjoyed it. It is a compelling read, well-written, and very thought-provoking. It is about more than just censorship — it is about thought-control, though with a little more optimistic point of view than, say, 1984.

I put Fahrenheit 451 on my Fill in the Gaps list when I started it last year, and I'm really glad I did. It "forced" me to get around to reading something that is very much a book I wanted to read and intended to read for a long time. I'm glad that I put the list up and have been plugging away at some fun titles so far. Fahrenheit 451 is one of the best I've read from my list yet.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Can You Imagine?

Can you imagine what the seas must have been like way back when?
And I don't just mean in the days before the whaling industry depleted the seas of some of its giants. I mean in the days when the Leviathan melvillei and the Carcharodon megalodon were swimming about. Can you just imagine the fear that such beasts would have inspired? And that's not even talking about Predator X yet, the most fearsome of them all.

It is hard to guess what such animals would have even looked like —- the sort of thing that seems to fit right into a sci-fi underwater scene. But one way or another, I'm glad to see the newest find named for Melville. That's pretty cool stuff there, seeing your legacy carried on in the name of a creature like one of your own creations. Wow! Congratulations, Herman.

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Classic Upgrade?

Do the old classics really need an upgrade?

Take a look at Android Karenina to see what I'm talking about. By the same publishers who brought us Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Quirk Classics, Android Karenina takes brings cyberpunk to Tolstoy.

But some are bothered by this sort of attempt to "upgrade" the classics. Why would they need the upgrade? And who are we to think we can improve on them anyway?

I take something of a different view of it. I don't know that the idea behind Quirk Classics is to upgrade or improve on the older works. Their stated aim is to create "mash ups" of literary classics crossed with genre fiction. Not because it's better, but because it is different, and it allows us to explore the areas where the literature of today and yesterday might overlap.

Recontextualizing older tales has always been a part of the literary scene. How many of Shakespeare's plays have original story lines, after all? And how "faithful to the original material" were his retellings? We might think that this is something different. Shakespeare, after all, was Shakespeare, so of course he might think he could improve on the older stuff. But that's getting it backwards. He didn't get to do that because he was already the "institution" of Shakespeare, but he became this grand pillar of our literary world because of how amazingly he brought a new view to old works.

That's not to suggest that the Quirk Classics are destined to be in the canon of tomorrow what Hamlet is today. Rather, it's to say that explorations of familiar tales are always OK, and some can even be fairly well-done. And, while these that Quirk Classics have produced are getting a fair bit of attention, they aren't really the first to do such things. Adaptations to comic book, film (even cartoon), TV, and so forth have been going on for a long time. And in more the more "highbrow" world of literature, works like Heiner Müller's Hamletmachine consider the classics in a new light that seems more reflective of our new era.

I haven't read Android Karenina, and I don't know when (or even if) I will. But I can say that the idea behind it doesn't bother me at all. The way I see it, there's always room for another quirky take on an old favorite.

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