Humid Cedar

Chthonic, Tentacular, and just a little Squamous

Friday, December 29, 2006

New Year's Resolution

In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Poke a badger with a spoon.

Get your resolution here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Synchronized Christmas Lights

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hey Ya! Charlie Brown Style

Friday, December 15, 2006

Music Question

I listened to Steely Dan's song Josie (from the Aja album) this morning and I have a question: how does one pray like a Roman? I gather that it includes setting one's eyes on fire, but I am a little fuzzy on the details.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Battlestar Galactica, Season 2

Linda and I are watching Seasons 2 and 2.5 on DVD. I admit that I was very impressed with the initial mini-series but I felt let down in the first season. The second season is following the same pattern for me: some very impressive moments followed by some serious crap. I shall explain.

First, what I like:

1. The premise of the show is just ripe with great conflict. They could spin nearly endless interesting episodes from the problems the fleet faces on a macro level (e.g., finding resources like water or raw materials). The space battles are icing on the cake.

2. Several of the characters are quite interesting. I like Col. Tigh because he is the perfect incompetent middle-manager (with some blood thirstiness thrown in). He is an ass in a believable way and that makes him a great antagonist. I like the fact that Adama is deeply flawed but a believable leader.

3. The two-part episode introducing the Pegasus was pretty amazing. Admiral Cain was a great villain and it held great promise as a source of even more conflict and interesting developments.

What I don't like:

1. Apollo sucks. I have no problem with the fact that he is a good pilot and that he has leadership potential. However, the character suffers from what I call "lead character syndrome," which manifests as the ability to perform every task correctly and constant use of unerring judgment. The man is always right and his path to leadership is clear and steady. All of the women love him and all of the men want to be him. The show has attempted to introduce flaws and conflict, but they are underdeveloped, come out of left field, and fall flat. In my opinion, the single best source of conflict for the character - the fact that he is the son of the fleet's military leader and therefore open to feelings of resentment and charges of nepotism - is underutilized. In short, the character is boring.

2. Alas, Starbuck sucks too. She suffers from the same malady as Apollo but what makes it worse in this case is the fact that she actually has interesting and developed character flaws. Her recklessness and insubordination do not hinder her in the least, although they should obstacles to her development as a leader. She does not learn from her mistakes and she is rarely called to task for them. I see Starbuck as failed potential.

2. Most of the villains are straw men. They are simplistic and shallow and could be defeated by the robot dog in the original series. It is an old trick: make the heroes look good by making all of the villains stupid. Admiral Cain was a notable exception. She was smart and strong, using her position of strength to her advantage in ways that the heroes of the series could not ignore or wave away. She was also a great role model for Starbuck, an example of a woman who uses her talent and ambition in a focused way to achieve great things. The show introduces this idea in the episodes that Cain appears in but does not develop it.

3. I am conflicted by the Cylons. They have great potential as interesting villains but I am not sure this potential has been realized. Here is a blog post that examines this problem in much more depth than I can give it.

Despite its deep flaws, the show remains an interesting one. I will continue to watch it and I hope that in time the good will outweigh the bad.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Reno" is Spanish for "reading a lot of books"

Whilst I lounge upon the stony banks of the gurgling, duck-infested Truckee River, I read a lot of books.

Thud! by Terry Pratchett. This a recent addition to Mr. Pratchett's ongoing Discworld series. It takes place in the city of Ankh-Morpork, where simmering racial tensions between dwarfs and trolls escalate when a prominent dwarf is murdered. The main character is the commander of the city's watch and he and his police force (populated by, among other things, werewolves and vampires) work feverishly to solve the murder and stave off the impending race riots. The book does not make it very easy for readers unfamiliar with recent developments in the series, as it does not pause to explain several "quirks" that have some importance to the plot that were featured prominently in other books. If you have read his recent work, then you will find this one entertaining. If not, then you will find it a little confusing.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. In this book, Fat Charlie discovers that his recently-deceased father was actually Anansi, the spider trickster god of folklore. To make matters worse, he finds he has a brother who inherited all of their father's godly power. Hijinks ensue as the brothers learn how to deal with each other. A quick and entertaining read.

Thank You For Smoking, by Christopher Buckley. This is a satire of the tobacco industry in general and tobacco lobbyists in particular. I did not see the film (yet), but I found the book to be pretty entertaining.

Currently reading: From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming.

In the queue: The Gun Seller, by Hugh Laurie.