November 26, 2003

books - what happened here?

Having read Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, I've recently been reading Lost (both books by Gregory Maguire). The first (Wicked) was a great novel. The second (Lost) ... well, it sucks.

What happened?

In the first, you get a very interesting, intriguing character study. Though certainly not the easiest to like person in the world, Elphaba (the witch) is sympathetic and fascinating. I think this is partly due to the novel showing us her life from childhood through to and including adulthood. It also gives us interesting supporting characters that balance off the disagreeable quality of Elphaba.

All of this is missing in Lost where the main character (Winnie) is just disagreeable. And it's relentless. No childhood to help us understand why she is the way she is. Few interesting supporting characters balancing her out. It's just an endless stream of Winnie's smart-ass, defensive cynicism. For example, "She was not very religious, preferring to take her fantasy safely in the pages of books rather than in the uplifting superstitions of ideologues..." The novel is literally crammed with lines like this.

As for the dialogue, most of it seems pointless, as if the Maguire is padding to make a word count quota. The story itself is aimless. It wanders here and there with no sense of having any direction and the sentence structure and word choices seem intended to baffle and obscure. You keep wondering, "What the hell's he trying to say?"

Finally, the endless literary references are tedious. It's nice to know the author is well-read but so are many people. When it comes to a reading, why should we care? Just get on with the story. Maguire ain't no Borges, an author whose references had a purpose. In Lost, they seem intended to simply impress us with the author's erudition. Again, who cares?

As you can see, I'm not particularly thrilled with Lost. Maybe it was written to fulfil some contractual obligation. I don't know. But if you want a good book, this isn't it.

I suggest you read Wicked, and excellent, well-thought out novel that is hugely rewarding.

November 24, 2003

who 'her' is - (think Britney)

I landed on a site that had a reference to "her." I didn't know who it was referring to so I clicked it and landed on

My only opinion on Britney is this: with the kind of money she must be making you would think she could buy some clothes.

Don't expect to see Britney in Canada anytime soon. Dressed like that she wouldn't last two minutes. (And please, please ... Could you just once show up on TV and do a song without doing the lip-sync thing?)

November 23, 2003

of course ...

Today, of course, the outdoor hockey game behind us, the temperature is on the rise. It's angling for the 0 Celsius mark. It's already at -8.

That may not sound like much for those who reside in warmer climes but when you think that yesterday began at -25 and the 56,000 or so people at the outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium endured roughly -19 ... well, it's almost toasty.

very Canadian

I don't usually go in for this kind of sentiment but really, does it get anymore Canadian than this? A hockey game played at temperatures of roughly -20 Celsius?

The only disappointing element to the entire affair was that the wrong team won. The Habs dumped the Oil 4-2 (or something like that). On the upside, in the old-timers game we won 2-0, thanks to Grant Fuhr and Bill Ranford.

Anyway ... damn chilly day but a great one for hockey. (As an aside, it was also a good day for the Guinness and Strongbow cider mix. Made the games very enjoyable.)

November 22, 2003

questions about cold

What to do? It's still freakin' freezing outside and I have to go to the Safeway to get food. What to do? What to do?

Also ... needed to hear some music so I set the music maker to the 1980's. Well, you don't realize how much of it sounded the same, or how banal a lot of it was till you do that. On the other hand, they did slip in Echo and the Bunnyman, and this provided some redemption.

knacker knockin' Heritage Classic

Testicles have a sound like castanets when it's knacker knockin', scrotum shrivellin' cold like it is today, Saturday, which dawned at a crisp -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit). Lovely weather for sitting outside for the Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens - the first ever NHL game played outside. (With temperatures like this, quite likely the last one too!)

By game time, my guess is the temperature will be around -15 Celsius or so ... and dropping!

November 18, 2003

better to play than to watch

Following Sunday's Grey Cup, we now have Saturday's Heritage Classic hockey game to look forward to, outside in Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. The Montreal Canadiens will be taking on the Edmonton Oilers.

For those attending, it's best to be on the ice playing. Though still a few days off, the guess is we can expect a chilly evening. Edmonton's weather should be cool - the estimate is -15 (C)/5 (F), making it hemorrhoid weather for those sitting on their bums and watching. Over the next few days, winds will shift. In a day or two they'll be coming from the north which means an Arctic butt-freeze is headed our way. By game time ... Well, let's call it bracing.

a good, not great, film

The night being slow and uneventful, and television broadcasts being as uninspired as you might expect on a Monday, I rewatched High Crimes. It was pleasing. A good, not great, film.

November 16, 2003

Today we watch the 2003 Grey Cup. In a couple of hours the Edmonton Eskimos will take on the Montreal Allouettes. The biggest question for me is, where will I watch it? It's the time of year when I hate leaving the house.

(Actually, I'm like that all year long, but even more so now.)

And for the record: Go Esks!

November 12, 2003

I'm giving some thought to watching Silverado tonight. I haven't looked at it for a while. Who knows? Maybe my opinion will have changed. Meanwhile ....

I'm in the process of getting the latest Microsoft security patch ... I think. It's taking forever so either it's mind-numbingly huge or their system is very slow and cumbersome. I wouldn't mind, since it's all in the background, but I want to shut down my system and get my work lap top going. (There's only the one high speed connection and ... well, whatever. Let's just say I can't have them both running at the same time - more a logistics problem than a technical one.)

But why would you care? I've no idea. But I wanted to write something today and I thought I'd whine about this interminably slow download.

By the way, you'll often come across the words there, their and they're mixed up in my writing. Apparently my fingers have a mind of their own but not one that's attuned to correct spelling. I can't believe the number of times I get these mixed up.