Category : Reviews

2006 February 26

Night Watch

A one-sentence review: if you have the slightest interest in gothic-punk urban fantasy, Night Watch (Ночной дозор) is the real fucking deal.

An alternate one-sentence review: You only wished your Shadowrun games could be like this. Among many other things, that neon-yellow Russian utility truck makes the coolest movie batmobile ever.

2005 September 7


There are very few poems I actually like. It's a personal thing, I suppose -- the common game of poets is to pack as much cryptic, impressionistic meaning as they can into as few words as possible. It becomes an intellectual puzzle to decode them. Some people enjoy that kind of thing, which is fair enough.

There are poems I like. "In Flanders Fields". Psalm 23 (King James Version). "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. "Me and My Monkey", just to show I don't object to a good metaphor. I think the key for me is that they are naturalistic enough that my brain doesn't have to engage any special decoding apparatus to understand them. Their poetic language amplifies the emotional content without interfering with basic comprehension.

Which brings me to: I also like this: Instructions, by Neil Gaiman.

When you reach the little house, the place your journey started, you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember.

2004 May 12

Past glories of Sluggy Freelance

Is it just me, or has Sluggy slid from "methadone" to "unwatchable"? Or am I a hopeless die-hard to have kept with it even this long?

This last week has been so painful that I got to wondering when the last piece of true brilliance was. KITTEN was June of 2000; the Storm Breaker Saga was July of 1999; hell, even GOFOTRON was June 2001. Pete was still doing Saturdays, for Pete's sake. Am I forgetting something? Has it been almost three years since there's been anything really worth reading?

Sigh. It's sad when a fanboy has to move on.

Fortunately, Schlock Mercenary is still kicking ass, to cushion my sorrow.

2003 November 26

Master and Commander

Hm. Sorry it's been two weeks since my last entry. I guess I'm finding I only feel properly motivated to post when I'm enthusiastic about something -- mere news is work to write down, and if I'm already feeling kind of cranky, I blow off optional work. I do have a whole bunch of semi-news stuff to report in a post, but this is not that post. This is a movie review post.

So, Master and Commander is a movie I've been waiting for ever since I first saw it announced. I love Age of Sail stories, and this one was based on probably the best series of novels about that era, the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian.

Naturally, I was nervous.

I'm happy to report I didn't have to worry. The movie rearranges the books somewhat, but I think it captures the spirit. Crowe is excellent, the dialogue is dense with strange naval jargon, the South Pacific is gorgeous, and HMS Surprise is a wonder to behold. If you think you might like this movie, I don't think it will disappoint you.

I've seen some political bloggers complain that this movie makes the French out to be evil or inhuman; I think they're too caught up in their own arguments to let the movie stand on its own. It's the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars -- of course the French are evil. Anything else would play false.

2003 August 6


Saw the Macbeth on the Common with Brad last night. I think this is the first time I've actually seen it performed on stage -- seems sort of surprising, but when I think about it there's a lot of Shakespeare I haven't seen performed. I've mostly seen the comedies.

The production was decent; the first act was pretty rocky, and I started thinking I was in for some pain, but the performances grew on me. Mostly they did, anyway -- I still wanted the witches to shut up every time they opened their bombastic mouths. Macbeth himself was good though, thank god, and Banquo was excellent. Lady Macbeth herself was fine, but it was hard to feel any real relationship between her and Macbeth -- mostly they just yelled at each other. Having seen Scotland, Pa. a couple weeks ago made me want to see the two of them truly in love.

It's funny. Nobody seems willing to stage a Shakespeare play in period costume -- I can't think of the last time I saw one that didn't try to transpose the time period. It often works, I think, but this time I think the modernization just sort of flopped around on stage distracting from the play. Everyone was dressed in South American banana republic style, but they still kept jarringly talking about Scottish places and mediaeval titles. And moving things to the 30s just made the supernatural element of the witches seem more out of place. As written, Macbeth is a mediaeval story, and updating it to the twentieth century needs more than just giving bicycles to Macduff's kids.

The set was full-on, with dozens of lights, two manned spotlights and big speakers. Wasn't expecting that -- Shakespeare by the Sea does its shows in the park with nothing more than the occasional flashlight.


Older Reviews