Back in February I posted about how I was starting to explore murder mystery author P.D. James (1920-2014). As it turned out, I decided she wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’ll say a bit more about that later in this Mystery Monday post, but the main topic today is Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982), a murder mystery author from New Zealand who definitely is my cup of tea.
She’s a close contemporary of Agatha Christie (1890-1976), born just five years later and dying just six years after Christie did. She lived 86 years compared to Christie’s 85.
More relevant to me, she’s a close contemporary in terms of her writing. I’ve read 15 of her novels so far and have thoroughly enjoyed each one.
6 Comments | tags: Agatha Christie, detective books, murder mysteries, Ngaio Marsh, P.D. James | posted in Books, Mystery Monday
It’s not often that a modern movie really grabs me. Especially a modern science fiction movie. Extra especially any science fiction movie involving time travel (because time travel makes no sense at all). When that movie is a first-time directorial effort with almost zero budget and shot on iPhones, it’s really something very special.
And when the story, despite time travel making no sense at all, exudes a sense of sheer joy and fun to carry it along (despite time travel making no sense at all), and delights even on a second viewing — where one can pay attention to how it was shot to appear as one long 70-minute take — it gets an enthusiastic Wow! rating from me.
I’m talking about Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (2020).
2 Comments | tags: science fiction, science fiction movies, SF, SF Movies | posted in Movies, Sci-Fi Saturday
In the last edition of Friday Notes my long-winded story about a problem filing my state taxes and the unexpectedly (but very welcome) positive experience of dealing with support from H&R Block, my bank, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue used up the bulk of my word count. But, in contrast to the negative experiences with most tech companies (cough, Apple, cough), it was a good story to tell.
I didn’t have room for all the notes accumulated in my Apple Notes app. This time I’ll try to fit in the rest of them.
But I want to record a dream I had, so (once again) there might not be room.
5 Comments | tags: dreaming, dreams, music | posted in Friday Notes
Also, Fridays: Strike three! You’re out! I can only hope this Friday doesn’t bring another dark storm cloud. That would be four in a row, and the only hope would be to skip Fridays going forward. I’m retired (ten years this June), so it’s not like Fridays really mean that much anymore.
Realistically, of course, skipping Fridays is impossible (without a time machine), and at this point it would be almost as impossible to skip Apple Corporation — I’m too invested in my iPad and my iPhone (and my iPod). But most tech companies make me angry and depressed. Especially Apple tech support.
Warning: This is a rant, but I’ll throw in some winter wonderland pictures from our recent major snowstorm to lighten things up.
18 Comments | tags: Apple Corporation, technology | posted in Life, Rant
For today’s Sci-Fi Saturday, we have Juicy Ghosts (2021), the latest novel from mathematician turned science fiction writer Rudy Rucker. The library blurb describes it as “a fast-paced adventure novel, with startling science, engaging dialog — and a happy ending. […] It’s also a redemptive political tale, reacting to the chaos of a contested US presidential election.”
It’s very clear from the text — and explicit in his Afterward — that the novel was inspired by recent American politics. The story features a cruel tyrannical President who, backed by Big Money, steals a third term.
And is taken out by technological wizards. As the blurb said, a happy ending.
1 Comment | tags: Rudy Rucker, science fiction, science fiction books, SF, SF Books | posted in Books, Sci-Fi Saturday
Last time I described how my feelings changed about what was once my favorite TV series, NCIS. In this post, I’ll describe how something similar has happened with my feelings about George Carlin (1937-2008), who was once, by far, my favorite standup comedian.
In both cases, I have a sense that my dying affection involves a combination of prolonged exposure magnifying perceived flaws, evolution on my part, and changes on their part. With Carlin, the way he changed in the late 1990s is the lion’s share of my disenchantment. I still revere early George, still rank him among the greatest.
But I never liked “angry George” and his writing from that era is disappointing.
4 Comments | tags: George Carlin, standup comedy | posted in Books, Rant, Society
‘Tis human trait that, when we love something or someone, we accommodate and excuse flaws. We may not even see them. The classic example is the love a mother has for her child. Very similar is the love any pet owner has for their pet. (Of course, dogs don’t have flaws, so it’s extra easy to love the little darlings.)
Conversely, not loving something or someone tends to amplify flaws. Sometimes to the point it’s all we see. We lose sight of the good, especially over something we once loved. [As Danny DeVito says about Bette Midler in Ruthless People (1986), “I hate the way she licks stamps!” Great line.]
Which brings us to the TV series NCIS.
6 Comments | tags: Doctor Who, NCIS, South Park, The Blacklist, YouTube TV | posted in TV Tuesday
When I was in college (multiple lifetimes ago) I took a class where we studied the nature of belief and disbelief. It was actually a class about logic and situational analysis, but (despite being raised Lutheran) I attended a Jesuit college, so the emphasis on belief versus disbelief was well aligned with their gestalt.
I loved the class (for many reasons, not all of them scholastic). The topic of what we believe — or disbelieve — has fascinated me ever since. It’s a key branch of philosophy under the umbrella of epistemology, the theory of knowledge.
Because our beliefs affect everything from science to politics to personal relations.
5 Comments | tags: belief, epistemology, ideas and beliefs | posted in Philosophy, Politics, Society
This is a special edition of Friday Notes. I was planning one this month, just not necessarily today. But I want to share a story about doing my taxes. In particular, as a dedicated misanthropic curmudgeon, it’s rare that I get the chance to be positive about something besides the occasional good book or movie.
I also have a lot of notes that accumulated in my Apple Notes app over the years. For years I’ve meant to publish them here so I could delete them from that app.
Better late than never!
17 Comments | tags: Jack Reacher, Minnesota, money | posted in Friday Notes
It has been a while since the last Wednesday Wow post. Not so much due to the lack of things that made me go “Wow!” so much as a lack of genuinely interesting things that made me go “Wow!” I suppose the older one gets, the more jaded (and faded) one gets. [Don’t grow old if you can avoid it. It kinda sucks.]
But I found myself actually (literally!) exclaiming “Wow!” (and LOL-ling) when I watched the video that’s the centerpiece of this post. To fill out the post, I’ll include some similar videos they’ve done. It’s all about framing size comparisons to help communicate the smallness (or largeness) of something.
In this case, ants. All the ants. In the world.
2 Comments | tags: ants, CGI, YouTube | posted in Wednesday Wow