Archive for the ‘Buckminster Fuller’ Category

[LISTENED TO: October 2013] Warbound

warboundI loved Book I and Book II of The Grimnoir Chronicles immensely. The first was an amazing introduction to this new world and the second upped the scale and intensity to an amazing level (nearly destroying Washington D.C.).

And since the beginning of Book II picked up shortly after the events of Book II, it seemed pretty safe to assume that we would be heading into the giant conflict that was predicted at the end of Book II–fighting the creature that was coming to kill The Power.  For real context, read the other two reviews first (I mean, really), but for simple context, a sizable minority of the population has the gift of Magic.  This gift comes from The Power and it allows people to do all kinds of things–bend gravity, transport from one place to another, talk through animals, fade into walls, etc.

It has only been recently, through the work of our heroes, that people understood just how people got the power.  It came from The Power, a creature that gave humans magic and then fed off of them when they died.  It was a symbiotic relationship.  But of course people who did not have Power hated those with Power.  Even though the people with Power often use their power for good, there were of course people who didn’t.  Consequently all people with The Power were scapegoated.  This is all laid on a backdrop of alternate reality 1930s America, where the Nipponese are ascending and offer a very credible threat–especially since their Magicals are organized and brutal. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: July 27, 2013] Spellboundspellbound

I enjoyed Book I of The Grimnoir Chronicles immensely.  I wasn’t really sure what Correia could do to top it.  There’s the inevitable dread for sequels that everything has to be bigger bigger bigger with the cost to the heart of the story.  (That’s more true in movies, but books can suffer as well).

And indeed, Correia does go bigger, but he loses nothing.  Indeed, the higher stakes make this story all the more exciting without sacrificing the characters in any way.

As the story opens, we learn that it is a few months after the events of Book I.  The Grimnoir are dispersed somewhat, with things falling into a somewhat logical place.  Francis Stuyvesant is the head of United Blimp.  Faye and Francis are more or less dating and Heinrich is more or less his bodyguard. The other team members are up to assorted states of resting and recuperating.  And Jake Sullivan is lying low.

But no matter how low he thinks he is lying, he’s still very big.  And he is soon found by a woman named Hammer.  Of course, at first the story maintains the trappings of noir, with Hammer being a (beautiful) woman in distress.  Surprisingly, she is in distress at the library and she asks Jake for help (he is there studying magic and, well, lying low).  He tells her to ask the librarian.  But later when he is leaving, he sees her being robbed by some thugs.  He goes to rescue her (and easy job for a big guy like him), and Hammer uses her power to determine that he is indeed Heavy Jake Sullivan.  And he can still do what he can do.

Hammer wrangles him into a government facility where he accepts a phone call from the dead Chairman.  This whole section is lovingly described and far too cool to try to summarize.  So let’s just say that Alexander Graham Bell created a phone that could talk to the dead–but only if they wanted to talk to us.  The Chairman found the phone and, of all people, he wanted to speak to Jake.  (I’m skipping so much stuff here that it hurts me, but I don’t want to spoil the story or the humor). (more…)

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dreadSOUNDTRACK: PIÑATA PROTEST-El Valiente (2013).

elvaliente-frontrgbOn the Pogues album If I Should Fall from Grace with God, they sing a song called “Fiesta” that is more or less a punk Spanish song which, while very Spanish sounding, still retains a feeling of Irishness.  Piñata Protest, a band from San Antonio who sing in Spanish and English, sounds like a similar mix of Mexico, Ireland and punk (especially on the second track, “Vato Perron”).  I feel like the Ireland comes from the accordion (one of the primary instruments on the disc), while the punk lasts throughout (the whole album is 9 songs in 20 minutes).

The band plays loud guitars at a fast pace.  And it’s amazing how well the accordion brings it all together.

The band sings a few really fast songs and a couple slower ones.  Interestingly, the slower songs (“Tomorrow Today” and “Guadalupe”) are probably the most conventional and, consequentially, of the least interesting songs on the album.  They sound like pretty typical punk pop, albeit with touches of accordion.  It’s the more fast songs like “Vato Perron” and “Life on the Border” (with the great lead accordion and the fun “Hey!” refrain) which really stand out.

“Volver Volver” is a traditional song which starts out slowly (with big guitars) and after a few verses and a very long held note, the punk can’t be contained any longer and the song ends in a blur.  The title track is a great rocker with some interesting guitar sounds an a cool accordion solo.  Then there;s the rocking (and amusing) cover of “La Cucaracha.”  It starts out as a blistering punk song with no real connection to the original until about mid way through when a lone trumpet begins laying the familiar melody.  It’s only a minute long and so is the final cut “Que Pedo” which is just a blistering punk song with lots of screaming.

And with that album is done.  It’s a fun an unexpected treat of an album, and if you like your punk musically diverse, it’s worth checking out (NPR is streaming it this week).

[READ: May 11, 2013] Dread & Superficiality

Sarah got me this book for my birthday.  If you have ever seen Annie Hall (and if you haven’t, go watch it now), you’ve seen Woody-as-cartoon.  Hample is the person who created the cartoon for the movie.  Around the time that that happened, Hample was pushing Woody to have a comic strip based around him (Hample had a moderately successful strip at the time already) and also convincing newspapers that this was a good idea.  All parties agreed and Inside Woody Allen ran from 1976 to 1984.  1984!  I can’t believe I never saw this in a newspaper.  My parents were daily subscribers to two newspapers and I know I read the comics.  Of course, I didn’t care about Woody Allen until I went to college, so maybe I did see it but ignored it.

Anyhow, this book collects a bunch of those strips (I have no idea how many but I would venture around 200–which is a far cry from the nearly 3,000 that would have been produced over those years.  But hey since there’s no other place to see these strips (there were three books published but they are all long out of print), this is a good place to start and a nice collection.  But more than just the strips, most of the book collects the original proofs of the strips, so you can see Hample’s lines and notes (there are several pieces that deal with his color choices and notes on the same).

The book is broken down into subjects and is in no way chronological.  This makes sense as it’s good to see him dealing with the same topic in different ways, but it makes for weird continuity issues (something that will obviously occur when you only select random strips).  Woody is with various women over the strip and it’s hard to know if he was after Laura for a few months or the duration of the strip.  Of course, the sections aren’t really all that different–they all deal with Allen’s philosophical attitude, his attempts to woo women, his therapist and his parents.  However, the breakdowns, while somewhat arbitrary are enjoyable. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BRIGHT EYES-“Papa was a Rodeo” from Score! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers (2009).

I don’t especially like Bright Eyes.  But, as with Ryan Adams, his covers are quite good.  The Magnetic Fields are pretty distinctive when it comes to lyric and melody.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of their recordings, and once you get into The Magnetic Field’s mindset it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing his songs (that voice!).  But if you haven’t heard a song for a while, it’s fun to hear a new interpretation.

And I really like what Bright Eyes does with this song–especially the backing vocals and harmonies at the end of “one night stand.”  And–personal preference–the covers is paced a little faster, which I like, too.

[READ: April 2, 2012] “Disaster Aversion”

This is the final article by Rivka Galchen in Harper’s.  One would never expect an article with that title to be as personal as this one was–but I think Harper’s has a way of bringing that aspect out of writers].  For instance, the opening line is, “Like many a girl with a long-dead father I refer to myself as a girl rather than as a woman, and I gravitate to place I suspect my father, dead fifteen years now, might haunt.”  Her father wa sa professor–which means that Rivka needed to go see the Whitney’s Buckminster Fuller Retrospective (which sounds awesome, frankly).  I love this comment, which feel so true: “My father either admired Buckminster Fuller tremendously or thought he was a tremendous fool.  I can’t remember which.”

Rivka doesn’t know all of the details of her father’s work, but she knows the basics, so when she started doing some investigation into storm and weather modification, she was right in her father’s area.  Her research led to a Project STORMFURY from the 1960s.  And she grew interested in modifying hurricanes.

The article basically details her attempts to speak to weather scientists and to ask them questions about current and future opportunities for reducing the damages done by hurricanes.  As with much non-fiction, it doesn’t seem worth it for me to summarize her research–just read the article, its quite enjoyable.

But the fun part comes from the scientist she had a really hard time interviewing.  She spends most of the article puzzling about why this renowned scientist won’t speak to her–won’t even see her.  She has many reasons at her disposal for why the man won’t speak to her–the man knew her father and maybe his eccentric and at times confrontational behavior put him off of her family. The true is far more amusing. (more…)

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