May Medialogging
By Dwip May 30, 2014, 2:43 pm Comments (0) RSS Feed for this post

I seriously swear to you all that there’s going to be something on this blog every month besides me talking about books, but unless you guys really want to hear about how my health still sucks, my microwave died, my chair snapped in half, and I’m sure I can find something about dogs and trucks and women sung with a bad country accent to describe all that, I got nuthin’. It’s looking more and more like this is going to be me taking a break for most of the year. But we’ll see about that.

In any event, I have books to talk about. Good books, that you should read. Seriously kids, reading is cool, and you should do it.

YTD stats:

March: : 4 books; 4 fiction (1,450 p.) / 3 videos; 1 movies (2.6 h.); 2 TV seasons (15.2 h.)
April: : 5 books; 1 graphic (136 p.); 4 fiction (1,269 p.) / 1 videos; 1 TV seasons (6 h.)
May: : 8 books; 5 graphic (1,352 p.); 1 fiction (465 p.); 2 non-fiction (829 p.) / 2 videos; 2 TV seasons (11 h.)

Year to Date: 17 books; 6 graphic (1,488 p.); 9 fiction (3,184 p.); 2 non-fiction (829 p.) / 6 videos; 1 movies (2.6 h.); 5 TV seasons (32.2 h.)

Details for May after the jump.

05/01/2014 Cliff Stoll, The Cuckoo’s Egg (1990 Pocket Books mass market paperback, 356 pages – Personal collection, c. 1990)

There used to be a time, back in the 80s and 90s, where computing was sort of like the Wild West. It’s the sort of place where you can have somewhat manic astronomers run computer networks that are made up of machines running UNIX, VAX, and some other things nobody’s given thought to in 20 years or so. It’s the sort of place where you can have a tiny accounting error lead to Cold War espionage.

I kind of came in at the tail end of this era, right after the Cold War espionage bit had died down and just about the time that Linux and Windows were the new things. So I read this book as a kid and it all felt pretty contemporary.

It’s all a bit antiquated now, but look, I can’t lie here, this is still one of my very favorite books that I reread every couple of years or so. Stoll does a fantastic job explaining how the early internet worked, the basics of computer security in the days before we all knew what UAC and proper password construction was, and he mixes it up with a message or two on the improper care of wet shoes.

This is a wonderfully written, engaging, and outright fun book that absolutely everyone should read.

05/11/2014 Adam Reed, et al., Archer: The Complete Season One (2010 20th Century Fox DVD, 308 minutes, 9 episodes – Corvallis Public Library)

It’s hard for me to know what to say about Archer. This is a funny show, yes. Very witty, lots of great one liners, and yet half an hour later when you’re done with the episode and the laughs are over, nothing of substance has happened. I mean, I guess if you squint at it in the right light and a bit sideways it’s sort of a satire of James Bond and the like, but it’s hard to tell through all of the autoerotic asphyxiation jokes and Archer being a dick jokes.

To somewhat quote Cole on the subject, this is mainly the sort of show you watch to understand all of the references other people are making. Which is fine as far as it goes – I too enjoy zones of danger as much as the next guy, but it’s still kind of the television equivilent of cotton candy.

05/11/2014 Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken (2010 Random House hardcover, 473 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

We kind of went over this last year, but I’ve had a fairly long interest in aviation in the Pacific in World War II, and also in the prison camp experience of same. And so, when I heard about a book called Unbroken on a show called Midrats (autoplay warning), I decided I was going to read it one of these days.

Some people have more compelling lives than others, and Louis Zamperini is one of them. He had a fairly rough childhood, turned it into a passion for running, became a world record holding track star that ultimately went on to the famous 1936 Berlin Olympics, and was looking at subsequent Olympics before World War II rudely interrupted.

Zamperini joins the Army Air Forces, becomes a bombardier on a B-24, and after a bad mission winds up in a life raft bobbing about the Pacific for ages and ages with the odd shark or seventy for company. Given the location, he ends up in a Japanese prison camp, and that’s when things get really ugly.

Like a lot of lives, there’s a little something for everyone in here. Sports heroism, a survival story, a prison camp survival story, some PTSD, and the odd bit of religion.

I was glad for these latter two bits. So many biographies and memoirs of people in wartime end with the end of the war with the assumption that everything went happily ever after, but that wasn’t the case. We make a big deal out of that sort of thing with Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan veterans, but despite The Best Years of Our Lives kind of gloss over it with the World War II guys, which is kind of a shame and kind of a disservice. Likewise, as the sort of guy who’s extremely cynical about people finding religion (thanks, Republicans!), it’s nice to sometimes hear a story of somebody who actually means it, and who actually goes the whole mile and means the good and comforting bits in the religion.

What I’m trying to say here is this a fantastic book about a very inspiring guy, and maybe you should read it.

05/15/2014 Taylor Anderson, Deadly Shores (2014 Roc Kindle edition, 465 pages – Personal collection, 2014)

In which we continue the series of books about destroyers in World War II in alternate universes with giant lemurs and dinosaurs I talked about last year at some length.

I confess that by this point in the thing it’s all starting to get a touch formulaic. The allies find yet another bunch of Grik to go and fight, and probably prevail despite harsh odds, but alas somewhere in the thing they encounter $NEW_PEOPLE and then $SURPRISING_PLOT_TWIST happens while at the same time nothing much meaningful happens on the Dom front. So it goes.

Nevertheless, these remain fun if unbelievably nerdy books. $SURPRISING_PLOT_TWIST was surprising, $NEW_PEOPLE seem like they could be interesting and their $NEAT_NEW_TOY is really kind of awesome and made me learn something I didn’t know. There were a few moments there were I thought things were actually going to go more sideways for more people than it did. A success, I think, and the next book should have some pretty interesting plot movement.

05/18/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Book One (2006 Image Comics hardcover, 304 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

05/20/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Book Two (2007 Image Comics hardcover, 304 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

05/22/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Book Three (2010 Image Comics hardcover, 304 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

05/23/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: Book Four (2008 Image Comics hardcover, 304 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

I talked about these around this time last year, and as I kept going in the series via library copies of the latest books I realized I’d forgotten half of what went on, as you do. So it’s reread time.

As always, once you’ve become versed in the lore of a particular story, it’s always interesting to go back and reread the early parts to get a better idea of what was going on that you might have missed. In this particular instance, the main thing that jumps out, and I kind of talked about this when I talked about the show, but man did Kirkman kind of cut Shane a little short in the comics. There was an awful lot of things he could have done with Shane and Rick and Lori that he just never did, possibly due to his habit of randomly killing characters he can’t think to do anything with at the moment.

Too, I had a lot of problems with how over the top cartoon supervillain the Governor was in the comics the first time I read them (yes, I just complained about cartoon supervillainy in…cartoons), and I maintain that the show did the Governor about as good as it could have been done, but it worked a little better for me this time about, and overall I think the books had a more coherent prison arc than the show, especially as regards Lori, and holy shit did they waste Andrea in the show.

As I write this, I’m going through Books 5-9, so we’ll have some more to say about things later.

05/26/2014 Adam Reed, et al., Archer: The Complete Season Two (2011 20th Century Fox DVD, 352 minutes, 13 episodes – Corvallis Public Library)

What can I say here I didn’t say talking about the first season? This is a funny, witty show, I laugh myself sick watching it, and as I sat down to watch the third season last night, I had completely and totally forgotten everything that had just happened the previous week. At some point my love of a comedy show that actually makes me laugh is going to founder on the rocks my needing an actual story to be happening.

Incidentally, this is why I’ll never do a sitcom here. It will all end in rage and hate and multipage screeds about plot arcs and coherent narrative structure versus laugh tracks.

The world cannot handle this horror.

05/15/2014 Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead Volume 20: All-Out War Part One (2014 Image Comics trade paperback, 136 pages – Corvallis Public Library)

I may come back to this later, but seriously thank God we’re finally into the whole let’s everybody fight Negan thing. Because I am super done with Negan at this point.

Also, I notice that it’s increasingly difficult to talk about these smaller volumes versus the larger multi-volume books, mainly because a volume like this doesn’t have an entire arc within it, whereas one of the larger books at least attempts to contain a whole arc that I can talk about as a coherent whole instead of “well, stuff happened here and I guess we’ll find out WTF happened in a few months and damn it.”

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