Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kathy Griffin

I had an opportunity to see Kathy Griffin live last week (on February 12th, actually) at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo.

I must say, her stand up is even more snarky and irreverent as her television routines. Maybe it's a guilty pleasure, but I enjoyed her riffs at Paula Abdul, Donald Trump, Star Jones, and others and succumbed to many delightful paroxysms of laughter. I also liked when she showed her serious social political side, and skewered George Bush and Mel Gibson.

All proceeds from the show went to a local Buffalo AIDS clinic. Say what you want about Kathy Griffin's style and celebrity-baiting humor, but that was a very cool move on her part.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yendi by Steven Brust

Though released after Jhereg, Yendi is a actually a prequel and recalls a younger Vlad in a turf war with a rival crime boss.

Like its predecessor, Yendi is a lot of fun, with rich characters, witty dialogue, and an enthralling fantasy world.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jhereg by Steven Brust

Jhereg is an entertaining, fast-paced fantasy that introduces Vlad Taltos and his constant companion, a leathery-winged jhereg.

I recently reread Jhereg, and though I hardly read any fantasy anymore, I was pleased that I still enjoy Brust, and his humorous, anti-epic, wry blend of fantasy. I'm looking forward to finally reading the rest of the series.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a superb, captivating novel about Christopher Boone, an autistic boy, and his quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog.

What makes this novel so amazing is its narration. Told completely from the point of view of Christopher, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time illuminates and makes real a complex mind that knows geography, math, and science exceptionally well but that cannot relate well to people or understand human emotions.

If you haven't read this yet, go read it right now.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

Rainbows End is a near future SF novel about a dawning virtual age and the threat of a deadly biological weapon.

I had mixed reactions to the book. While I liked the main character Robert Gu (a former Alzheimer's patient now cured and younger thanks to breakthroughs in medicine) and his attempts to assimilate to a new world where people interface directly with computers and silent message each other, I found myself wondering at times if the novel's setting, circa 2025, was far enough in the future for the kind of deep medical and software innovation present in the book. I also thought Vinge's use of markup to denote silent messaging was awkward. I know what he was trying to do, but markup is for web geeks and programs to process it, not prose!

Still, you could do far worse than reading this novel. The story is engaging and the technological extrapolation is always interesting though unlikely to happen in the next twenty years.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Last Kiss

I recently saw The Last Kiss. I'd wanted to see this when it was released, mostly because I like Zach Braff in Scrubs and enjoyed his performance in Garden State but also because I knew Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay, and his work in Crash speaks for itself.

Mostly, I feel lukewarm about the film. On the one hand, while I appreciated the honest look at issues of relationships and commitment, I thought most of the characters were too unlikeable, with little to contrast or balance out the negativity and emptiness they felt in their lives and relationships.

Overclocked by Cory Doctorow

I'd wanted to check out some of Cory Doctorow's fiction for a while and finally did so, picking up and reading Overclocked last week.

It's a good collection. I liked the stories and Doctorow's hipster-meets-techno-nerd style that's a lot of fun and really energetic. The stories in Overclocked recall old SF tropes and current and near-future technology concerns. "When Sysadmins Ruled the World" pivots around the traditional SF apocalyptic story and focuses on two sysadmins and their efforts to keep the servers online as the world goes dark. "Anda's Game" deftly shows how a shrinking, flat world will likely extend to computer game virtual sweatshops, and "I, Robot" and "I, Row-Boat" are interesting Asimov-inspired robot stories.

Congratulations, Thurman Thomas

Congratulations to former Bills running back Thurman Thomas for being elected today to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Thomas was a consummate Bill and the linchpin of the great Buffalo teams from the late 80s and early 90s that won four straight AFC titles before losing in each Super Bowl.

Though Thomas had some tough moments in big games, including when he misplaced his helmet in Super Bowl XXVI and when he fumbled in Super Bowl XXVIII, he had a great career, amassing 12,074 yards rushing and 16,532 yards from scrimmage. He always played hard and gave everything he had. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is richer for his inclusion.