Monday, April 30, 2007

Al Gore

I saw Al Gore on Friday (4/29). Gore was in Buffalo as part of SUNY Buffalo's Distinguished Speaker series and he delivered, with some modifications and updates, his global warming lecture that was featured in An Inconvenient Truth.

Seeing Gore live was interesting. He projects so much more humor, earnestness, and passion in person than I ever picked up before from his televised speeches or interviews. I guess this shouldn't be too surprising given how much spin and character assassination, there is in politics today. Still, you could literally feel Gore's outrage from the 40th row when he referenced the current administration's poor tract record on the environment or when he cycled through some slides he and Tipper took during a recent visit to New Orleans -- pictured that showed a New Orleans still sagging and anything but recovered from Katrina.

I'm glad UB invited Gore to speak and very pleased I was able to attend the event.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Excession by Iain Banks

Excession is set in author Iain Banks' multi-volume Culture series and tells of a mysterious black-body alien artifact.

The novel turns out to be less about the titular alien excession than the responses the artifact provokes, especially from the Culture's Minds and a sadistic species, the Affront.

Stylistically, the novel is dense at times, with alternating narratives and facsimile electronic correspondence from many different Minds and the principal human characters. Still, Excession comes together and, in a sense, the novel's elusiveness fits well with Banks' signature theme of ambiguity (moral and otherwise).

The Hulk

It looks like a Hulk sequel is in the works, with Edward Norton to play Bruce Banner!

I'm not sure how I feel about the casting of Norton yet, but I'm thrilled that director Ang Lee and writer James Schamus will not be involved with the new movie. What a disaster their imagining of The Hulk was, with a plodding story, too much deviation from the source origin story, and an unforgivable over-reliance on CGI.

Good luck to Louis Leterrier and the new creative team on the sequel. Get it right, or Hulk will smash!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Grindhouse

I saw Grindhouse last weekend. From the start, I enjoyed the double-feature setup with fake trailers and celluloid cigarette burns that led into a full-bore, over-the-top pastiche of 70s action/horror schlock.

I especially liked the Rodriguez's "Planet Terror", which came first, and featured an insane mutant-zombie attack fest. The Tarantino feature, "Death Proof", was good too, but this was more of an ode to gearheads and muscle cars, and is not a genre I enjoy quite as much as the first one.

Grindhouse is worth seeing in the theaters, and I recommend the film, but there are some caveats:
  1. You really have to buy into the premise of the film, that the features are both cheerfully imitating and mocking their pulp predecessors.
  2. Humorous or not, the film is gory, and if you've been turned off by the violence in previous Rodriguez or Tarantino films, you likely will feel the same about Grindhouse.
  3. You'll need some movie theater stamina, as, combined, the features are over three hours long.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First Look

We took some pictures of our new house during the home inspection last week. Enjoy!

Some pictures of the front. Trees!







The attached garage:



Two views of our yard:



Friday, April 06, 2007

Sold!

As I mentioned a few days ago, we bought a house. The property is in West Seneca, NY (a suburb of Buffalo, NY), just a few blocks from where we live now. The house is a 1700 square feet raised ranch, with three bedrooms and two and a half baths on a nice over-sized corner lot. I'll post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We Bought a House!

Details to follow.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Phoenix by Steven Brust

Phoenix is the fifth book in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series and centers around Vlad receiving an assassination job from his patron goddess, and the consequences that follow after Vlad commits the act.

I enjoyed the novel and the familiar humor, characters, and fast-paced action that have been present throughout the series. I also enjoyed that Brust was willing to move the series along, with Vlad's renunciation of his position and role in the House of Jhereg and departure from his wife and the city of Adrilankha at the end of the novel.