Friday, 9 July 2010

7 Quick Takes (XLIX)

1. I spent hardly any time on Blogger for the last week, and my Blogroll exploded. I have so much catching up to do that I won't read every post.
Wait. I usually read every post on my blogroll? No wonder I never get anything done.

2. I just got back from seeing Despicable Me with coworkers. I loved it. I think I enjoyed it more than the kids in the theatres. But do you know what's awkward? When you laugh so hard that your eyes start streaming, and then a feel-good sort of part comes on. Then your eyes are all teared up and you want to yell out, "Seriously, I wasn't crying!"
Back to the movie: You can tell it was designed for 3D (it wasn't 3D in the theatre I saw it) because of scenes with huge and diverse depth-of-field, as well as complicated aerial sequences. As I predicted, movies will now shoe-horn flying in because they need to compete with How to Train Your Dragon and Avatar (which I still haven't seen), movies which set the bar high for how to incorporate three dimensions into the movie well.

3. I finished Sense and Sensibility and moved on to One River.
Sense was good, or at least I thought so, but only if you take it for what it is. It is a comedy of manners written and set in Regency England, written by Jane Austen. So it will have last-minute plot convolutions ("discovery" is the literary term) which resolve the action happily. It's a comedy (in the Northrop Frye sense) and comedies do that pretty much ever time. If you don't like it, you should stop reading comedies. Switch to romances (in the Northrop Frye sense) if you're in for a feel-good book, or tragedies and satires if you're not. So if we take it for granted, from the outset, that this is what will happen, then I think we can enjoy the book for what it is. At least, I could. And there are some hilarious parts and hilarious characters. My only complaint is that I found Elinor's story arc less interesting--and less relevant--than Marianne's, with the exception of the final scene before Edward...well, I won't go any further than that.
One River is a book my aunt lent me some time ago that I need to finish before I go to Vancouver so I can return it. It's another one by Wade Davis, this time concerning coca, the source of cocaine, deep within the Amazon rainforest. As usual, Davis himself, one part author, one part anthropologist, one part botanist, made the journey himself and we the reader benefit from his lucid descriptions, generous mind, and solid research skills. The downside is that it's a tome.

4. Yet again I broke my book-buying moratorium. I got the newest NorthWord--the northern Canadian literary magazine--and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I want to see what the hype is about, and the movie came out, and it sounds pretty good, too. I was burning time at the Peter Pond Mall, and this means I was in Coles with a gift card in my wallet. One thing led to another, and I owned more published goods. Lesson: I need to stop being in bookstores, since this always results in the acquisition of books.

5. My mother returned from here trip to Ontario this week, bringing back with her all of my CDs. This means I have most of my music back. I am happy about this.

6. I have been reading Godless Girl and Unequally Yoked lately, and have been having a few conversations at the latter. As you may or may not know, I had been reading Atheist Revolution for my dose of atheist web-media. This being part of my plan to read widely. Blogs allow all sorts of voices self-publication, and so you can find out about unique perspectives. The trouble was that Atheist Revolution seems to me to be dogmatic and unreasonable. I was looking for atheist bloggers who blogged about atheism but weren't obnoxious when doing so. In these two bloggers I may have found something approaching what I'm looking for. We shall see.
I've yet to find any interesting Buddhist, Mormon, Muslim, or Taoist bloggers. (Not to mention many many other religious traditions that I haven't even begun searching for yet.) Surely there are some and I just haven't found them.

7. I read an article in a Discovery magazine about light that is pretty cool. Light is both waves and a particle, right? If it is a particle (photons), then it is technically matter in a very low-density gas state. This means that if you could slow down the photons and get enough of them together in one place, then you could make light turn into a different state. In this case it would be condensation, and you would get a liquid.
Of course you can't slow light down, because its speed is a constant. Except, oh wait, you can. It's been done. Certain materials slow light. So, in theory, you could make liquid light. And a scientist somewhere intends to do so in the next year or two, possibly revolutionizing the fibre optics business. And making so really nifty stuff.
The 7 Quick Takes blog carnival is hosted by Jennifer Fulwiller. Please visit her for more.


Cait said...

I just started Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Everyone at work read it and said that it was really good. I was originally afraid that it was going to be a bit too scary for me, but apparently it's not. There's a couple of very violent scenes but it's not meant to be a scary book.

I'm only on page 6 and I'm already intrigued. I want to know what happens next.

Jon Wong said...

Avatar isn't something you should fret about not having seen.

Cait said...

Yes it is! I'll be the first to admit that the plot is Pocahontas all over again, but the movie is stunning.

It's also being re-released in theaters so you have the chance to see it in 3D - which I strongly recommend.

Jon Wong said...

A film shot almost entirely in CGI has no excuse not to be.

Christian H said...

My understanding is that it's worth seeing simply as a technical acheivement, regardless of other considerations (plot, character, perspective, enlightenment). I suppose I shall see at some point in time.

Leah said...

I enjoyed Dragon Tattoo, but I thought the next two books were not on par with the first. Just warning you.

Fun fact: the original title of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was Men who Hate Women but when they were translating it out of Swedish, they figured that wouldn't fly in the US.

--Leah @ Unequally Yoked

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