Book Review: REAMDE

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REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson

This book is great and you should read it immediately.

Quick Summary: A virus, created by Chinese hackers, is set loose inside an MMORPG called T’Rain; once encrypted, the virus encrypts the player’s hard drive and demands a ransom, which is to be paid in-game.  The boyfriend of the niece of the game’s creator is a hacker who accidentally transfers the virus to his Russian Mafia contact while selling a batch of stolen credit card numbers.  This pisses off a crazy Russian Mafia boss, who kidnaps the niece and the boyfriend and takes them to China to track down the writers of the virus.

Shit then gets real, but this is a spoiler-free summary.

The only thing I can almost complain about is that some of the details regarding T’Rain and the interactions with the game’s two primary worldbuilders (one a J.R.R. Tolkein-type Oxford professor who focuses on canon, the other a hack who cranks out several fantasy books a year) are completely extraneous and do nothing to advance the plot; however these sections are entertaining so I can give it a pass.

Rating: 5/5, would read again if it wasn’t so long.

Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “Trilogy”

The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Recently, I re-read the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.  I should note that I read the first two books about 30 years ago and have re-read them several times since.  I also read the other three books of the series when they were published.  I believe I have re-read book 3 a few times, and book 4 once or twice.  This was my first re-read of book 5.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally a BBC Radio Series, which was later expanded and novelized into the first two books: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the end of the Universe.  These two books are hilarious and I recommend them to everyone, although I believe by this point everyone is pretty familiar with them.

Quick plot summary: The Earth is destroyed, Earthman Arthur Dent escapes with his friend Ford Prefect (who, it turns out, is actually an alien), they have adventures and end up stranded on the Earth about a million years in the past.

The third book, Life, The Universe, and Everything, is also quite good, although slightly weaker than the first two books (actually, I would put it on a par with book 2, but below books 1+2 together).  Still, some quite good and funny moments.  Quick plot summary: Arthur and Ford escape from the ancient Earth, have more adventures.

The fourth book, So Long and Thanks For All the Fish, is disappointing but okay.  Arthur returns to Earth in an alternate universe in which the Earth was not destroyed, and meets and falls in love with a girl named Fenchurch who has some connection to his original universe, and the book focuses on their romance.  There’s a few funny moments, but most of the humorous ideas are not fully explored.

The fifth book, Mostly Harmless, is complete crap and should be avoided by everyone.  Arthur has lost Fenchurch into an alternate dimension and never finds her, characters from the first few books return and end up being horrible people, terrible and annoying new characters are introduced, and then everyone dies.  There’s little to no humor in the book, and the whole thing is a depressing end to the series.

Ratings:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 5/5
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: 4.5/5
  • Life, The Universe, and Everything: 4/5
  • So Long and Thanks For All the Fish: 3/5
  • Mostly Harmless: 1/5

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1

So basically they split the third (and weakest*) book of the trilogy into two movies in order to do the book justice and fully explore its important themes make more money, forgetting that nothing fucking happens in the first half of book 3.  The movie is basically one short action scene, one tense scene where they don’t show the action because it would ruin the tension, and lots of people whining about shit because plot.

* IMHO.  The first book/movie is fairly good, and I personally feel that the complaints about it being a rip-off of Battle Royale are a bit overstated.  The problem is that the author continues the plot structure (Characters go into the arena and fight to the death) through all three books.  This more or less works in the second book (where they actually do go back into the Hunger Games arena, due to the games being a “special edition” where the participants are chosen from former winners), but completely falls apart in the third book (where SPOILER they attack the capitol and stop and say “oh hey this is totally just like the Hunger Games arena” /SPOILER).

2 Hours of Background Noise Regret

The 2013 spoof movie 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo received only a 2.7/10 on IMDB and a 13% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sadly the memes spawned from this movie are funnier than the movie itself.

The disappointing thing about this, isn’t this movie in particular, but that a well done spoof movie actually has a large audience waiting for such a thing to be created. Being well-done must involve being enjoyable to watch and humorous.
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Lousy Sauce tip: Skip to 47:50 to see Tina Casciani and Kimberly Leemans make-out. The scene was too short and prompted pausing the movie to…browse the internet…

Here’s the trailer.

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Not More Nachtmahr

Mädchen In Uniform is a 1931 black and white German film. It is also a 2010 release from the EBM band Nachtmahr.

The music is standard fair darkwave danceable but, like the movie, it is in German. I don’t understand enough German to listen to this with any concentration.

On the topic of not understanding enough German. While on a work trip I once ordered some sausage in a German owned German cafe. What I was given was Cheese. Because I was out of time and a little embarrassed I’d managed to make such a strange blunder (I literally asked for sausage), I took it without protest.

While my cheese was decent, quite soft at room temperature, it was indeed cheese. What I’d ordered was meat, what I got was cheese, there was no mistaking what it was.

Nachtmahr uses a lot of imagery more attributed to goth deathrock bands circa 1992 Propaganda Magazine photo spreads. On their website bio page they quote a magazine about themselves as being an “Industrial orgy” using words like “excess” and “wild” to describe them but using words like “moderation” and “mercy” as things they don’t know.

But this is clearly just techno*

Yes, Wiki agrees, this is industrial flavored techno. So while this is labeled as Industrial or EBM in magazines and reviews, take it with a grain of Ambien. If you lower your expectations from meat to cheese, you’ll still enjoy it.

I sometimes find songs about the Titanic hilarious, however I won’t bother translating this.

* Not that I don’t like industrial techno, or cheese.

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Review: 16Pad Noise Terrorist – Utopia [2010]

16PNT or 16 Punt as I will now call them, are listed as a drum-n-bass band. But also as Industrial. Ok.

The soundscapes are decent, I like the songs, but the samples make this album. The sci-fi, the movie references, the post-apocalyptic. There is some aggrotech going on in here, but wait for it, the drum-n-bass does come in.

Track 3: Indianina

Tracks chosen at random. The drum-n-bass sections are generally my least favorite parts of the album.

Track 8: Manogirl

This is staying in my rotation, with a little doubt I’ll listen to it all the way through again.

Review: 13th Monkey – Redefining The Paradigm Of Bang [2009]

This is the opening song Aktrus that I pronounce like actress in my head.

This was listed as rhythmic-noise and in another genre. I think of rhythmic-noise when I listen to bands like Male or Female or Mlada Fronta, this is just techno. While it is ok, for what it is, it will never be more than background noise for me. Expect no lyrics, just changing sounds and an ever present throbbing beat.

You can find the album on sites like Last.fm for easy access to listen to much of their music.

This is the last track A500, which is not the best song on the album either, but I was too lazy to search more. Also, I still have non videos on YouTube.

For the record, this is being removed from my media server.

 

 

Review: Daedelus – Rethinking The Weather [2003]

Daedelus - Rethinking The WeatherWhen listening to the open track, which is full of radio or television samples, I checked out the album information on Discogs. One of the users listed the genre as Downtempo, furthering my lack of understanding of what this genre really is. To me it includes Portishead and 12 Rounds and fuckwhateverelseisgoingonhere. What is missing in the genre description is IDM, there are some elements here.

Have you listened to “their” album The Weather? Really if you haven’t, this isn’t the way to be introduced to the band. This is mostly a reworked mostly instrumental mostly version of that mostly album. I don’t take drugs, I have stuff to do, but this seems good for that. Don’t spend too much time near any mirrors, or Minos might also have you imprisoned.

From the artist’s biography, “Alfred was born in Santa Monica in 1977 to an artist mother and psychologist father.” Well, so was I, and in the same year, and fuck you, and fuck you Alfred. Fuck you.

Too many beat concepts are merging here, I overall think the album is a one-time-listen.

Not an actual video, because fuck you too.

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Shit, I stayed up too late again.

Review: A Certain Ratio – The Graveyard and the Ballroom [1980]

ACRIt is no surprise this leftfield / new wave album from the UK was released via Factory records (catalog: FACT 16). There are many similarities with the band The Clash, but with the Clash there are some very memorable songs.

Overall I enjoyed the album, and I suspect any fans of both Joy Division and The Clash will, but I won’t ever be reaching to pull this off the shelf. Don’t misread my message here, I like the album, but the longevity of the band’s name was limited because they had to compete with more memorable acts.

Song 1 of 14: Do The Du (not a video)

Lyrics
My heart was just an open sore
which you picked at ’til it was raw
it bled away my existence
shriveled under your insistence
you forced me to my deadly fate
turned me into a thing of hate
I flayed your flesh with my thoughts
I flayed your flesh with my thoughts

Your fate transforms
in the hope that I could conform
for a moment
I flayed your flesh with insistence
I drew your blood with consistence
I flayed your flesh with insistence
I drew your blood with consistence