Thursday, May 28, 2015

Discworld - Wandering Witches

With Witches Abroad, we return to the Witches of Lancre.  Aside from the main story there is still the building of the history of the kingdom and nearby places.  In this story about stories and the power of narrative on the Discworld, we learn more about the Disc's version of Maleficent: Black Aliss.  In Wyrd Sisters there is reference to her as the witch responsible for the Sleeping Beauty story as well as a hint that she went loopy and may have been the constructor of the gingerbread house in Light Fantastic.  When the witches encounter another sleeping castle, Nanny refers to it as a "Black Aliss job".  She even mentions being taken to meet her when she was still learning her craft.

It's things like this that Pratchett uses to gradually fill out the history of the Disc.  It helps to know that there have been things going on for years before the "present".  We've seen the creation and end of the universe, the creation of the Disc, the Tsortean War, the beginning of the Kingdom of Djelybeybi, and a continued the filling out of the previous generation of the Ramtops and even hints from Ankh-Morpork.

Appearing in this book:

"A Witch should never stand between two mirrors."
"A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End"
"The Hedgehog Song"
Belief and Creation
Black Aliss
Cripple Mr. Onion
Dwarf bread
Granny Weatherwax
Granny: Smiling/humming/ear cleaning/tch tch tch
Greebo and his Changing
Inspiration particles
Jason Ogg
Lobsang Dibbler
Magrat Garlick
Nanny Ogg
Ninj as a verb
Old Mother Dismass
Sean Ogg
The Assassin's Guild
The Chaos Butterfly
The Million to One Chance
The Morris Dance
The Ramtops
The Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite
The Weatherwax Family Being Good at Magic

Touch of Glod / Glod the Dwarf

Leaving the Late Night Drive-In

Last night Jennifer and I were looking for something to watch.  We were flipping through videos available on Amazon streaming, and came across "Leap of Faith".

We're not sure why we are drawn to this movie.  We had both seen it separately prior to even dating each other, and have watched it at least three times together.

The thing is that the movie makes us so angry.  The manipulation of the townsfolk.  The credulity of the general public for the "miracle" of the opening eyes.  But Steve Martin is amazing in it.  no one else could have played that part.  There were points where you think, maybe Robin Williams, but he couldn't have stayed focused on the character.

And it's just one of those films we tend to come back to.  Whether it's to refresh our skepticism, or just to watch a great performance.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Discworld - Death After Life

As you can see below, there are a large number of crossover mentions in this book.  This is probably the first of the really three dimensional stories of Ankh-Morpork.  Wyrd Sisters tells a little about the Fools' Guild and Pyramids tells some about the Assassin's Guild, but Reaper Man brings all of the city together in the Oblong Office of the Patrician.  There is even an allusion made to werewolves coming from somewhere int he mountains, and we're many books away from The Fifth Elephant and a visit to Uberwald.

And really, you could make the case that everything that happens with Windle Poons and the city of Ankh-Morpork are all background and subplot to the real story of Death and Bill Door instead of them being parallel stories.

And from listing everything, I can see why this used to be my favorite of the books.  It seems like almost everything is in it.  There are new major players introduced, and only a few who aren't.

And it reads like an action movie.  There are two pivotal fights going on very from away from each other, but at nearly the same time.  And Pratchett cuts back and forth between the two like you would see in a movie.  Many of the Discworld books seem at a reading to be easy to make into a movie, but I think that is the strength of his imagery rather than any easy transition to a script.


Appearing in this book

“Sixpence is sixpence.”
!!!!! - the sign of an insane mind
Arthur and Doreen Winkins, The Count and Countess Notfaroutoe
Auditors of Reality
Blind Io
Brother Ridcully, Priest of Blind Io
Casanunder the Dwarf
Chalky the Troll
Continent of XXXX and the Lost Wizard Colony
Cripple Mr. Onion
Cut-me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Death's Daughter
Elm Street
Gimlet the Dwarf and his Delicatessen on Cable Street
Hoki the Jokester
Ixiolite, the stuttering banshee
Ludmilla Cake
Modo the Dwarf, Gardener at UU
Morris Dancing
Mr. Arthur Winkins
Mr. Ixiolite the Banshee
Mrs. Drull, the Ghoul
Mrs. Evadne Cake
Mrs. Whitlow
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor
Ned Simnel
Octarine Grass
Offler, the Crocodile-Headed God
Ole - "with milk"
Reg Shoe
Sargent Colon
Talking raven
The Alchemists' Guild
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
The Auditors of Reality
The Brass Bridge
The Bursar
The Counterweight Continent
The Dean
The Fools' Guild
The Guild of Merchants
The High Energy Magic Building and the Squash COurt
The Lecturer on Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Librarian
The Mended Drum
The Patrician, Havelock Vetinari
The Ramtops
The Rite of Ashk-Ente
The Senior Wrangler
The Shades
The Thieves' Guild
Things from the Dungeon Dimensions
Unseen University
Windle Poons
Yen Buddhism

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FHWA Protected Bike Lanes

I came across this article on Facebook shared by my buds at Citizen Chain.

This is so amazing.  These protected lanes are what it's like riding on Alameda along the beach.

Now if we can just get Solar (Freakin') Roadways...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Discworld - Uncle Osric

Moving Pictures is probably more full of puns and mentions of things from our world than any other book of the Discworld except for maybe Soul Music.  During my time reading this, I walked by the television as Jennifer was watching TCM and felt a wave of connection between the reading and the movie on the screen.

Again there is magic making animals intelligent.  This is the introduction of Gaspode who has another of my favorite lines in the books: "A door like that bodes."  When asked what it bodes, he responds, "Just general bodingness."

It is certainly another book that the more you know, the funnier it is.  Knowing how the real Academy of Motion Pictures award got its nickname.  Knowing that a silvery metal that requires lots of ore and is heavier than lead most certainly can go bang under the right circumstances.  it's full of little tidbits.

The next book, Reaper Man, was my number one favorite for a long time.  It's a Death book, so no real surprise there.  It held the title until I read  Thief of Time.


Appearing in this book:

Corporal Nobbs
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Death (and Binky)
"Do Deformed Rabbit..."
Gaspode, the Wonder Dog
Greyhald "Tudgy" Spold
Miss Marietta Cosmopilite
Harga's House of Ribs
Morraine the Troll
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor
The Bursar
Chair of Indefinite Studies
Window Poons
Lecturer on Recent Runes
Ponder Stibbons
Dean of Pentacles
The Librarian
Rock (ne Galena) the Troll
Sargent Fred Colon
Sendivoge, Alchemists’ Guild
Sham Harga
Silverfish the Alchemist
The Head Priest of Blind Io
The Hi Ho Song
The Mended Drum
Things from the Dungeon Dimensions
Unseen University
Vetinari, The Patrician

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Loving Lunch

Today, I went to a new pizza place in Walnut Creek.  It's new to WC, but not a completely new shop.

It's called Project Pie.  The best way to describe it is to imagine a pizzeria run like a Chipotle.

You come up, and order, they use a cool machine to flatten your dough into a personal pizza size, and then you either choose a pre-made selection, or direct them how to build it.

It's a thin crust pizza that is cooked in a fire oven, and ready amazingly quick.  And it tasted amazing.

The shop I was at just opened this week, so they're waiting on their liquor license, so there will be a bar to look forward to on non-work days.

If you're in the area, or near one of the other locations, I encourage you to check them out.

Now, Where's my Wine?

Okay, so I'm guessing there won't be crossovers with the Arrowverse, but I'm glad to see bright colors in this.

Plus I'm really into cheesy, which is probably why I like "The Flash" TV show so much.

I'm into this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Discworld - Not So Faust

Eric is Terry Pratchett's direct take on the story of Faust.

Of course he twists it, and adds the common Discworld stubbornness and need for clarification that applies to people and demons.

It was a good way for him to get Rincewind out of the Dungeon Dimensions, and the end is vague enough that we will never know how the poor wizzard ends up stranded on the desert island at the beginning of Interesting Times.

And so with this book, Pratchett truly shines with the way he makes things his.  He also again challenges the reader to go and find the source material.  Go and read it, and see how much funnier the work is for it.  Having seen "MacBeth" (both Gibson and Brannaugh's versions) makes Wyrd Sisters that much better.  And having seen Richard Burton's "Faust" and having read it way back in high school makes this book even better.

Pratchett challenges his reader.  Not having read the classics or mythology is like not knowing mythology and studying astronomy.  Sure, you can remember the names of everything, but the stories in the background make it all come alive.


Recurring themes and character mentioned in this book:

Events from Sourcery
Herrena, the Henna Haired Harridan
The Bursar
The Librarian
The Luggage
The Mended Drum
The Octavo
The Rite of Ashk-Ente
The Tezumen
The Tsortean War
Unseen University

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Discworld - A Little Death

"Death and What Comes Next" can probably only be considered a Discworld book because the setting is so vague, and yet takes place between a philosopher and Death.

This story is very short, and seems a thought experiment or idea that Pratchett had, but didn't think he could drop in anywhere in a book.


Appearing in this book:


Discworld - Mummy!

Pyramids is often a stumbling book in the Discworld series. While it has some fun parts to it, the setting is so different that it takes time getting used to it.

But once things get moving, there is actually quite a lot in this book.

It has one of my favorite lines "Fish and chips for men." with regards to eating blowfish and a certain poisonous root, two things that unless properly prepared will kill the consumer.

It also puts forth for the first time that belief shapes the gods of the Discworld.

But this is probably the book I like the least in the series.


Appearing in this book:

"Pull the other one..."
"The World is your mollusk..."
Belief Shapes Gods
Bells of the Hours at Ankh-Morpork
Dr. Cruces
Guild of Assassins
The Brass Bridge
The Tsortean War

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pun Time

I'm hoping this translates well written down...

So, Saturday morning, Jennifer and I were talking about breakfast, and I looked at the time.

It was 8:50.

I said, "Did you know you can get sick from the time?  Twice a day, you could get ten-to-nine-tis."

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

75 Years of Shazam!

I don't know if I missed the DC celebration for Shazam (the character formerly known as Captain Marvel).  I never saw it, but since his first appearance was in February of 1940, I'm thinking there should have been something.

My first Shazam comic was "Shazam!" #16.  This was not long after DC bought up the property, but still had 12 years before they would integrate the Marvel family into regular continuity.  The Marvels were still stuck on Earth-5.

The statues coming to life was a cool story, and I was already familiar with Shazam from the Saturday morning live action television show.

But of course there was my first introduction to parallel worlds with "Superman" #276 with the confusing (to me) Captain Thunder with a sun emblem on his chest.

This one was DC's way of having Superman fight Shazam without actually doing it.  There were lots of similarities, and it was very strange to my 6 year-old self.

Discworld - Tiny Tales

After finishing Guards! Guards!, I discovered that not only had I skipped a book, I had skipped a short story as well.

While "Troll Bridge" is not Pratchett's first short story, it was the first of them set in Discworld.

It was a story that got me to buy a book that was a collection of short stories called After the King.  And at the time it was like methadone getting me to the next Pratchett book.

Pratchett uses a little bit of magic in having the horse talk (it having formerly belonged to a wizard), and acts as Cohen's... not conscience, but more like the voice of least resistance.  It would certainly have been a great horse for Rincewind to have.

Pratchett also continues the naming convention of the trolls to be rocks.  I was laughing a bit at a troll named Mica though.


Appearing in this story:

Cohen the Barbarian

Discworld - They're Watching You

Now we are finally at the beginning of the tales of the Watch with Guards! Guards!.  Vimes is mostly a diminutive Clint Eastwood, but had bits of Humphrey Bogart thrown in.  Again there are beginning hints of the power of narrative.  Once again, Pratchett weaves a story that wanders around the city and comes tightly together at the end.

Jennifer said that as Pratchett writes a book, his "chapters" start long and by the end sometimes they're little more than a few paragraphs long.  To be fair he rarely uses chapters until he gets to the tales of Moist von Lipwig, but instead separates scenes by a white space break, but what she says holds true.  It reminds me of a prose poem we read my junior year of high school.  It used varying spacing in it to indicate different speeds of events.  It was about a cowboy doing trick shooting, and the rapidity of shooting a series of cans had the words of the numbers almost merged into a single word.

When Pratchett is in his stride, his writing is reminiscent of that.

[Also, I seem to have jumped ahead in my eagerness to get to the Watch.  I'll be backtracking for "Troll Bridge" and Pyramids.]


Appearing in this book:

A Dwarf Bar
Blind Io
Carrot Ironfounderson (Lance Constable/Constable)
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Detritus the Troll
Dwarf Bread
Dwarven Kings
Fred Colon (Sergeant)
Havelock Vetinari (Lord Patrician)
Igneous the Troll
Intelligent Rats
Ironfounderson the Dwarf
Jimkin Bearhugger's Whiskey
Nobby Nobbs (Corporal)
Samuel Vimes (Captain)
Sybil Ramkin (Lady)
The Librarian
The Mended Drum
The Million to One Chance
The Pork Futures Warehouse
The Trousers of Time
Unseen University
Vetinari's Aunt

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