saw latest Indiana Jones (no spoilers)

This afternoon I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I enjoyed the movie, but I was a little disappointed. Somehow it felt less engaging and fun than the first three movies had been. It was hard to suspend my disbelief for a lot of the sillier premises and plot points. I kept finding myself saying, "No way would he have survived that," or, "This makes no sense." I was able to gloss over such moments enough to enjoy the film, but they happened often enough to keep me from getting deeply immersed in the story.

Of course the first three movies also had a lot of unrealistic moments and silly plot elements. But in those, the lapses weren't quite as egregious, in my opinion. And there was more of a sense of fun and adventure, especially in Raiders and Last Crusade, which made it easier to slide past them.

Anyways, I'm glad I saw it, even if I was hoping for something better. The friend I saw it with, who isn't generally a huge fantasy or adventure film fan, also enjoyed it. So that probably counts for something.
acoustic guitar

filk article

Many people reading this already know, but for those who don't there's a good article in the latest Boston Phoenix on filk:
http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid58308.aspx

It's well written and accurate. I'd especially recommend it to friends and family who don't quite know what this "filk" thing is that I sometimes mention. (There may be some such persons lurking about here ...)

The print article is the same as the online article, but with a couple more pictures.
  • Current Music
    a song I'm thinking of learning before the next MASSFILC meeting
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Vericon report

Vericon was a nice small convention put on last weekend by Harvard students. For me the main draw was Orson Scott Card, whom I saw sitting on panels, doing a "1000 ideas" session, and giving a speech at various times on Friday evening and Saturday. OSC was an extremely entertaining and skillful speaker as always.

Also of note was Randall Munroe, the xkcd guy, who was on a webcomics panel Saturday afternoon. He and the other two artists were good fun.

Among the attendees, I didn't see anyone I really knew, but I hadn't been expecting to. There was just one person I saw whom I knew slightly. I went up to him and we had a brief pleasant conversation.

I skipped Sunday.

Overall, I enjoyed the con quite a bit, in a very low key way. I may go again next year, depending on who their guest authors will be.

One random bit ... During the 1000 ideas session, while talking about why the character we'd created might not be over her emotional wounds, Card said, "I wrote Ender's Game 25 years ago, and I'm still not over how my big brother treated me!" That got a good laugh.

Windows infection and Linux transition

The next several paragraphs are about my recent computer issues. Uninterested or nontechnical readers, feel free to skim or skip. The gist is, if you have a Windows PC connected to the internet, make sure you have anti-virus software running. Also, I've recently transitioned to being a mostly-Linux user, from formerly using mostly Windows with occasional Linux. (At least I'm using Linux at home, where I have a choice.) So far it's working out.

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The Fall of Hyperion

Tonight I finished reading Dan Simmons's "The Fall of Hyperion", the sequel to "Hyperion", and the concluding half of the story started in "Hyperion".

Maybe it's an overstatement to call it the "concluding half" of the story; there still are a lot of things left to learn about the characters and the world they're in. But this book at least brought things to a good stopping point. The most immediate mysteries and character issues were brought to a closure, or to their next level.

"Hyperion" had used the story within a story structure, with a frame story in which the characters told each other their own stories of how they came to be on the voyage. "The Fall of Hyperion" was a bit different -- it alternated between first person and third person narration. But it was implied that the third person narratives were actually told by that same first person narrator, which he could do because of his access to unusual sources of information.

For the most part I found the style compelling, and enjoyed reading it as the story unfolded. But there were a few sections where Simmons departed from ordinary prose narrative and wrote in a kind of poetic style. I found those sections a bit tedious, and just slogged through them to obtain the information needed for the story.

But even with those spots, it was overall quite a good read and I'm feeling that cool-end-of-story glow.

One more thing I should point out is that you probably shouldn't read "The Fall of Hyperion" unless you've read "Hyperion" first. Although there's enough backstory in there for someone to jump in and enjoy it without having read the previous book, the first book really adds a lot of depth to what happens in this one.

capo and guitar

I bought a new capo for my guitar last week. I actually already owned one, but this new one frets the strings properly without muffling the open notes, and is also easy to put on and take off. The old one had neither of those features, and thus I never used it.

So I've been having fun with it. It makes it much easier to play some songs in a key that I can sing along with comfortably. It also is good for some guitar-only playing that simply sounds better in a different key.

yesterday's filk

Yesterday's filk meeting was very good. There were over a dozen people there, and a bunch of good vocalists and instrumentalists among them. I played two songs myself which were at least recognizable as music. By next month's meeting, I hope to learn some new songs and improve my singing and playing.

Now I'd like to spend my remaining awake time tonight reading "The Fall of Hyperion" by Dan Simmons, so I will leave it at that.

Hyperion

I just finished reading the novel Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It's one novel, but in a way it's actually several stories. It is deliberately structured like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; there is the "frame" story of the pilgrims on their journey to meet the fearsome and mysterious Shrike, but most of the narrative is taken by each pilgrim telling the story of how he or she ended up on this pilgrimage.

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