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      CommentAuthorfoucault
    • CommentTimeOct 21st 2006
     
    So, there's a new Gaiman short story collection out, entitled "Fragile Things." I finished it last night...very good. I really enjoy Gaiman's short stories...the other collection I have is entitled "Smoke and Mirrors." I highly recommend both. He includes a few poems in both...which I feel bad about skipping, because I'm sure they're clever, but I simply can't stand poetry. The stories, though, are excellent, particularly the ones where Gaiman attempts other noted authors' styles...it's something he's quite good at. The end result reminds me of the original author, but at the same time, is unmistakably Gaiman, usually with some subtle (or not so subtle) humor thrown in.

    And since whenever I think of Gaiman, I think of the "other" Neal...when is Neal Stephenson going to write a new book? I'm afraid I got spoiled by the (relatively) rapid fire release of the Baroque Cycle...but it has been a good two years or so since that concluded.

    I also grabbed the latest from KMFDM: "Ruck Zuck." It's a remix album of last year's "Hau Ruck," which was not bad. Like everything they've put out since about 2000, they're both somewhat hit or miss...not bad, but nothing spectacular. KMFDM really hit their peak in the 90's, I guess.

    And, I've watched all but two episodes from Season 2 of "Numbers." "Numbers" is a pretty fun show, and I'm nerdy enough to get a kick out of the math in it...I consider it an execption to the general rule that network TV blows. I've heard the same about "Lost," but I've never actually sat down and watched it.

    Also -- SciFi has apparently been making a remake series of Battlestar Galactica for the last few years, of which I've finally seen a few episodes...and it's excellent. Very well made, escpecially for the usually low budget SciFi channel, and the type of SF I love...well written, well acted...more about plot than fancy gadgets. I'm not sure why it took me this long to check it out...apparently it's been on since 2003.

    Aside from new books and stuff, life continues to be pretty blah. How's everyone else doing?
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2006
     
    I haven't read any Gaiman in a while (not since... American Gods? Yeesh, that was a while ago). I was thinking about picking up his latest novel, but I could see his short stories being very interesting as well...

    As for Neal Stephenson, I'm wondering the same thing. He seems to put out a new book every 3-4 years, and since he finished the Baroque cycle in 2003 (even though they published them in installments going to 2004, he was still done in 2003), I'm guessing we won't have very long until we see what's next (we should at least be hearing something, right?) It should be interesting. He's my favorite author that's still writing today...

    KMFDM seems to have hit their peak with Angst & NIHIL (about 10 years ago). Go in either direction from there and you get a lot of hit or miss stuff (I liked Xtort though). Still, the repetitive and fast beats make for good workout music...

    I've never seen Numbers, but Lost is just a bunch of weird stuff that you can read a lot into if you want. For instance, they'll feature a series of numbers prominently in a few episodes, and then everyone will rush to interpret what the numbers mean. And so on. I've seen the first season of Lost and maybe a few episodes of the second, and I basically gave up on it because I get the feeling that they're justing being strange and intruguing for the mere sake of doing so. I don't think it will amount to anything and I don't think they've got any sort of satisfying ending in store for us (if they do, I'll go ahead and watch the DVDs - I'd rather not gamble on watching it going forward).

    Battlestar Galactica was really a lot of fun until this season began (ironically, I'd been watching the whole series on DVD up until now, when I've finally caught up with the broadcast). There were always subtle parallels to our current world issues, but they pretty much abandoned that this season and started literally talking about suicide bombers, etc... This is another series which has been good so far (perhaps not as great as everyone seems to say, but I still enjoyed it), but I hope they know where they're going with everything. This seems to be a common feature of US television: Find something good, then run it into the ground. Why not just come up with a limited story and tell it. That's what they do in Anime, and elsewhere too. I guess you could say we do a lot of miniseries, but it seems like the greats (Band of Brothers, From the Earth to the Moon, etc...) are few and far between.

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2006
     
    Oh, and it was good hearing from you:P And life is going well, thanks for asking.

    So I've finished wedding season and have apparently entered work conference season. I went to Boston a few weeks back and I'm going to Chicago this week. Fun! I literally just found out I was going on Friday and I'll only be there two days, but still. I've never been to Chicago (unless you count driving through Chicago on my way to somewhere else), so it should be fun.

    Otherwise, things seem to be going fine. No big news.

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthorfoucault
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2006
     
    My brother lived in Chicago for about three years...he absolutely loved it ( = I'm glad to hear you're doing well, though.

    As for me...my life is actually kind of a mess right now. It's really busy at work, which is creating additional stress on top of the fact that I don't like the job, and really want to get out of there and start something more career oriented. I know I should get into grad school, but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that's want I want to do. On top of that, I'm having bad dreams and a hell of a time sleeping, probably because of all the crap on my mind. And because of all of that, I've been in a shitty mood for the last month or so, which is putting a strain on my relationship with my fiance...which worries me even more.

    I need a break, or a change, or...something...I don't know what.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 23rd 2006
     
    I was at a family dinner last night and mentioned that I was going to Chicago and my uncle acted all worried and said something to the effect of "People that go to Chicago usually end up moving there because they love the city so much." Hrm.

    Sorry to hear about the mess. Hopefully things will clear up for ya in the near future...

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthorDyre
    • CommentTimeOct 28th 2006
     
    My last Neil Gaiman experience was the delightful but slightly frightening utter confusion of watching Mirrormask while feeling the effects of strange European liquor. It's an odd movie on its own. Absinthe doesn't provide clarity. I might pick up one or both of these collections of Gaiman's. I've become absolutely horrible about finishing anything I start reading but I seem to do alright with short story collections and I've been meaing for years to read some Gaiman.

    KMFDM has definitely been hit/miss for a while. I think they'd do very well to stop referring to themselves in the third person in their songs. The album they released as MDMFK (which is not to be confused with the KMFDM release MDFMK, apparently) back in... 2000, I think? Well anyway, that one's pretty good. As I understand it, KMFDM "broke up" to escape a recording contract, reformed as MDMFK for one album, then became KMFDM again. I'd say Nihil's definiltey their best. I'm not much for XTORT overall but "Dogma" with Nicole Blackman is fantastic. I like Symbols (or whatever you want to call the album that's titled this) a lot as well. Just listening to it today actually.
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      CommentAuthorfoucault
    • CommentTimeOct 28th 2006
     
    Symbols (I usually just call it that, it's easier) and Nihil are my favorites as well. In fact, Symbols was the first KMFDM album I got. "Anarchy" and "Down and Out" are fantastic songs. I thought the whole MDFMK thing was weird, but the album was decent. XTORT and Angst are good...Adios is good if I'm in the right mood.

    The newer stuff is not bad...one of the cool things about Hau Ruck is that if you read through the liner notes, the band decided to use only analog synthesizers, rather than digital and computer based stuff. It gives the music a cool sound...though the lyrics are still pretty weak, IMO.

    I very much would like to try absinthe...importing from Eurpoe is pretty expensive, though (I checked).
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      CommentAuthorfoucault
    • CommentTimeOct 29th 2006
     
    Oh, and I picked up a DVD of Mirrormask last night...might check that out tonight.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 29th 2006
     
    It's funny, DyRE, I'm the complete opposite when it comes to books. Big long novels might take me a while, but I read the whole thing through (it's rare that I don't complete a fiction book). Short stories make me want to skip some stories and come back to them later, but I always forget which stories I read and which I didn't...

    I like Symbols too (and I love Anarchy), but I thought it was overall mediocre. On par with Xtort and Angst. MDFMK was ok, but I only really liked Torpedoes...
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeOct 30th 2006
     
    To chime in on several small pieces of this while ignoring the larger point completely: I'm a much bigger fan of short fiction than long fiction. I've got dozens of short story collections- I love them. I'm not sure why- I guess it might be that an inability to stay focused on longer novels, but I'm also a huge fan of For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is hardly a quick read by most standards. I think I like the constraints that short fictions imposes. That the author has to introduce characters, plot, problem and resolution in an extremely limited space is really interesting to me. Especially when it's executed well. A really good short story seems to give more "bang for the buck" I guess.

    And Nihil is definitely the high point for KMFDM. MDFMK was pretty good, but Nihil is the only album I really still listen to from them. And, yeah, Torpedoes was the best song on MDFMK.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 30th 2006
     
    I certainly find the challenges inherent to a short story very interesting, but I still prefer to read something that goes a little more in depth. Short stories (in my experience, at least) rarely contain the depth of characterization or the complexity of a good long novel. As usual, there are pluses and minuses to each, but I like to get to know my characters and spend a lot of time with them (hence I love Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle, despite the fact that they're quite dense and that the story is a little rambling and unfocused).

    I'm actually surprised that you don't like longer novels because I just read your other post about my blog post, and you can certainly get pretty verbose in your own writings:P

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthorfoucault
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2006 edited
     
    On the whole, I think I prefer novels, mostly for the same reasons as tallman. I thoroughly enjoy being pulled into a story. I enjoy convoluted plots, weird tangents, odd plot lines, character depth...which about sums up why I'm such a Stephenson fan. His style of writing and plotting stories really appeals to me.

    But...as much as I love novels, a really good collection of short stories is also excellent...but it has to be the right author. Some of Stephen King's later short story collections are pretty good...especially when he began to exirement with his style in writing them..."Everything's Eventual" was pretty damn good. About three or four years ago, I read just about everything by Ray Bradbury I could get my hands on...some of his stuff is painfully dated, but much of it is still pretty accessible.

    But Gaiman's two collections of short stories are my favorites. In pretty much all of his writing, Gaiman seems to work humor in pretty effortlessly...American Gods is a fairly dark, somber book, but it has some pretty funny bits to it. Anansi Boys is sort of the opposite, in my mind...it's a pretty funny book, with rather dark bits in it. In his short story collections, that mixture of humor and dark fantasy, along with Gaiman's willingness to play with style is a pretty winning combination...at least to me.
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2006
     
    I haven't read much of King's more recent stuff- I like a lot of his really early short fiction- the stuff in Skeleton Crew was pretty good, if I recall correctly. I may have to give his recent stuff a look.

    That's all I've got right now.

    I've been in a weird mode today, and I just can't seem to get focused on anything. Weird.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2006
     
    Honestly, I never really read much King. I've read:

    Pet Semetary (bleh, great at first, but goes nowhere)
    The Stand (awesome)
    Salems Lot (good stuff)
    Dark Tower (1 is ok, 2-4 are great, 5-7 seem a little off to me, but ended the story better than I thought he would)

    And I think that's about it. I always read more Koontz than King.

    ~tallman