Thursday, September 23, 2004

Recent Books and Movies

I just know you are dying to know about this, so here we go.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
An utterly brilliant movie. Jim Carrey has certainly come on incredibly since his early stupid guy movies.

I, Robot
I didn't notice Will Smith singing or rapping at any point in this movie. That's a big plus for me. The robots were very cute, and obviously not blokes dressed up. How do they do that? Oh, a computer does it. That must be real easy. Brilliant special effects, slightly believable plot, all-round well-made fillum.

Stepford Wives
Robots pretending to be people! Are we seeing a trend here? Splendid entertainment.

On Writing, by Stephen King
Somehow I missed the King phenomenon until about a year ago when a copy of 'Dreamcatcher' appeared from I don't know where. What an amazing writer! I picked up 'On Writing' in a second-hand shop, because I am a writer now (oh blog) and I thought I might pick up some tips. I have. Keep it short, keep it simple. Do not use unnecessary words. And watch out for sentences that may, through no fault of your own, contain too many clauses, because that, apparently, makes it difficult for your reader to follow the meaning. Aaah. A good read, although he does use the word 'apt' too much. I only noticed it because it is not a word I am apt to use. I would use 'likely' or some form of 'tend'. But hey, I'm nitpicking, the guy's just been reconstructed after being mashed almost to death by an idiot driving a truck. And he's published way more novels than me.

The Truth, by Terry Pratchett.
I am no sadder than thousands of other Pratchett fans who have read everything the man has ever produced. Several times. Honestly. I recently created a spreadsheet listing which Pratchett books I own. I have read them all, but I'm short of about a dozen on my actual bookshelf. I made the spreadsheet because I do not want to repeat a situation last year where I discovered I had three copies of 'Interesting Times'.
Back to the point. 'The Truth' is probably my favourite Pratchett novel. Mainly because I like a good pun. Aside: a scientific study into what makes a joke funny reveals that puns are the worst form of wit, because they only produce a groan as opposed to a full-on belly-laugh. But when you have dwarfs working on a printing press with names like Boddony and Gowdie (think typefaces), and the protagonist is William De Worde (Wynkyn De Worde was the assistant and eventual sucessor to Caxton, who invented printing), you have a pretty good pun-quotient. Add to that an exciting story, cameo appearances from many established Discworld characters plus a pair of insane bad guys, and you finish up with a stonker of a book.

Nostradamus Ate My Hamster by Robert Rankin
I don't always read the same kind of stuff, honest. But sometimes I just get into a mood for some mindless drivel, and that is generally what Mr Rankin provides. NAHM is certainly that.

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
An amusing collection of episodes in the career of Precious Ramotswe, just starting out as a lady detective in Botswana. Charmingly naive. Or naively charming.

A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani
See, not Sci-Fi/Fantasy or comedy. 566 pages of serious academic you-know-what. I read this book hoping to find some answers - Arabs always claim to have invented a few imporant things. I wanted to know more about this, but there's no answers in this book, I'm sorry to say.