Friday, December 09, 2005

December Stuff

I've added another bloglink to my sidebar.

"Xavier Thoughts - A Nurse With A Gun" has a lot to say, and says it well. Among his recent "thoughts", I especially recommend his "Idiot With A Gun" series, typified here; and also his brief, but cogent, "SQUIBS" article.

Note that I've updated my BOOKS/MOVIES section of the sidebar.

The BOOK is "The Chronicles of Amber", by Robert Zelazny. This is a compilation of 5 consecutively interleaved stories (novelettes, actually), originally serialized between 1970 and 1978 in Galaxy magazine. Zelazny wasn't the first author to do Sci-Fantasy . . . E.R. Bouroughs might arguably be the originator of that honor, as distinguished from Sci-Fiction. (Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein", for example, is more completely in the "Sci-FI" genre." But, in my mind, he was the first to make Fantasy Science Fiction, to give it another name, both popular and acceptable to the SF reading public. Rather than to give you a Geek Length monologue about the difference between SF and Sci-Fantasy, I'll offer the definition that Sci-Fantasy relies heavily on the proposition that "Magic Rules The World", and ignore Clarke's Third Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I read this in the original serialized form in Galaxy magazine (to which I was one of the 'charter subscribers' in the 1970's), and then bought the individual books when they were published independently. Two years ago, while browsing through a used-book store, I found the two-volume set which included all of the stories. I bought it, and read it. Loaned it to a couple of friends. Having had it returned recently, I'm re-reading it for the fourth or fifth time and I'm still charmed by the originality of the concept.

Incidentally, Zelazny's work is reminiscent of Phillip Jose Farmer's five-volume "Riverworld" series, which unfortunately was typified by keeping readers spellbound from 1969 for YEARS, only to end with an ultimately unsatisfying explanation of the basic phenomenon. If you read all but the last book, though, it's a helluva rush. (Sci-Fi? Sci-Fantasy? It depends on whether you read the last book! Promises not kept . . . )

All I can say is that the publisher was a marketing genius, to milk an unresolvable theme for so many years.

The MOVIES section has been temporarily replaced by the MUSIC section. Ignore the heading on the sidebar; I frequently interchange the two, but I don't always change the heading because I'm so darned lazy.

The featured MUSIC CD is "Miami Vice", which was not only excellent Pastel-o-vision but also candy for the ears. Besides Jan Hammer's excellent compositions, the television series provided some of the very best music of the 80's, at least according to these biased ears. I especially draw your attention to "The Original Miami Vice Theme" which begins the set, and also "Smuggler's Blues", "Chase", "Evan" . . . well hell, almost all of it's great stuff, which is why I bought the music on tape several years ago and I bought it again on CD today.

(I plan to use the music to enhance IPSC videos which I post on the Jerrydgeek Shooting Gallery - see the sidebar - as I have already done with "Queen" and "Dire Straits", among others. I need more rockin' music! This is my investment in the future!)

Incidentally, if you go to the link you will see that you can listen to various segments of the individual songs. I couldn't get the Windows Media versions to play. I had to upgrade RealPlayer with new software to listen to the music. Windows Media is great for videos, and in fact I highly recommend it to view the *.WMV movies I present on the Shooting Gallery. But it sucks for music, and I load all of my CDs to my hard-drive via RealPlayer. That software has a better cataloguing system, and it's easier to work with in my not-so-humble opinion.

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