Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I have truly never felt like voting more than after watching this

...granted, not voting the way and The Worst Thing to Happen to House clearly want me to, but hey, I'll definitely be at the polls

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For no particular reason...

A few days ago, TLomL went through the hand-me-downs in waiting to get some reinforcements for Arnold's wardrobe. One shirt found it's way to The Princess' collection instead. Now normally, I prefer (and I think she does, too) her in the girlier things, and am not that crazy about the tomboy look for her. But I can't help but think this really works for her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I honestly don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this little international phenomenon, it wasn't because I didn't have access, my sister loaned it to me months ago. Something just kept me from it, maybe it was fear of the bandwagon, who knows. It certainly has a strong following, almost Tha Da Vinci Code-like, more than one person saw me carrying it and had to talk about it, which never happens to me.

The one thing that we all agreed on was that it started slowly. Like cold molasses slow. It was either brave or foolhardy of Larsson to start off his book with a detailed and plodding description of a financial crime. Hardly the kind of thing that sucks you in. Not only that, that type of crime doesn't seem to match up with the cited statistics about assaults on females in Sweden that are so prominent. When, after more than 200 pages into the novel, when we finally do get our first assault on a female, it comes across as perfunctory.

The book follows the path of 2 protagonists--Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter with a superiority complex, and Lisbeth Salander, a young investigator for a security company whose talents far exceed her appearance and age. Blomkvist is in the middle of some legal trouble, which has forced him out of the news biz for awhile, so he takes a job researching a decades-old missing-persons case for an aged, reclusive industrialist. Salander's dealing with her own legal and personal issues, and apparently the near universal belief that horribly thin girls with tattoos and piercings are stupid and unreliable.

The book plods along, almost but not quite capturing my interest until soon after obligatory (yet unnecessary for either plot or character development) assault that the two finally meet, and then--finally the plot begins to pick up. The two join forces and quickly uncover clues that lay hidden in plain sight since the fateful day when the industrialist's niece disappeared. These lead them to the trail of a serial killer.

Larsson gets both the investigator and the reporter to discover the killer's identity at about the same time, when, naturally they are miles away from each other. This leads to both being in some kind of jeopardy. But honestly, I didn't once feel any tension, it was clear that the jeopardy would be thwarted without permanent damage of any kind being inflicted.

Things were tied up in a tidy, and somewhat satisfactory bow, and the further along in the novel, the better things moved. But there's really little to recommend the book on. Blomkvist reads a lot of detective fiction, usually dropping the name of the author and title along the way. There are at least two mentions of a Val McDermid novel. And as many problems as I have with her stuff, it's a darn shame that Larsson didn't pay more attention to her, he could've learned how to make even an obvious conclusion not seem entirely forgone, and with enough tension and suspense to spare. The "Thriller" label that's applied to this book is very misplaced.

Why bother to finish it? Curious to see what all the fuss was about, really. Also, the Salandar character was intriguing enough. Which is why, incidentally, I started the sequel.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Archie

On Oct 23 in Chillicothe, Ohio, Archie Goodwin entered this world--no doubt with a smile for the pretty nurses--and American detective literature was never the same.

I'm toasting him in one of the ways I think he'd appreciate most--by raising a glass of milk in his honor.

Who was Archie? Archie summed up his life thusly:

Born in Ohio. Public high school, pretty good at geometry and football, graduated with honor but no honors. Went to college two weeks, decided it was childish, came to New York and got a job guarding a pier, shot and killed two men and was fired, was recommended to Nero Wolfe for a chore he wanted done, did it, was offered a full-time job by Mr. Wolfe, took it, still have it." (Fourth of July Picnic)

Long may he keep it. Just what was he employed by Wolfe to do? In The Black Mountain he answers the statement, "I thought you was a private eye" with:

I don't like the way you say it, but I am. Also I am an accountant, an amanuensis, and a cocklebur. Eight to five you never heard the word amanuensis and you never saw a cocklebur.

In The Red Box, he says

I know pretty well what my field is. Aside from my primary function as the thorn in the seat of Wolfe's chair to keep him from going to sleep and waking up only for meals, I'm chiefly cut out for two things: to jump and grab something before the other guy can get his paws on it, and to collect pieces of the puzzle for Wolfe to work on.

In Black Orchids, he reacts to an insult:
...her cheap crack about me being a ten-cent Clark Gable, which was ridiculous. He simpers, to begin with, and to end with no once can say I resemble a movie actor, and if they did it would be more apt to be Gary Cooper than Clark Gable.

In case you're wondering if this post was simply an excuse to go through some collections of Archie Goodwin quotations, you wouldn't be totally wrong...he's one of the fictional characters I like spending time with most in this world--he's the literary equivalent of comfort food. So just a couple more great lines I've quoted here before:
I would appreciate it if they would call a halt on all their devoted efforts to find a way to abolish war or eliminate disease or run trains with atoms or extend the span of human life to a couple of centuries, and everybody concentrate for a while on how to wake me up in the morning without my resenting it. It may be that a bevy of beautiful maidens in pure silk yellow very sheer gowns, barefooted, singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" and scattering rose petals over me would do the trick, but I'd have to try it.

I looked at the wall clock. It said two minutes to four. I looked at my wrist watch. It said one minute to four. In spite of the discrepancy it seemed safe to conclude that it would soon be four o'clock.

"Indeed," I said. That was Nero Wolfe's word, and I never used it except in moments of stress, and it severely annoyed me when I caught myself using it, because when I look in a mirror I prefer to see me as is, with no skin grafted from anybody else's hide, even Nero Wolfe's.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yessir, That's My Baby

Am not going to bother with a why-I'm-not-blogging post, tired of those, and frankly, I don't know. I sit and sit in front of blank screens and nothing worth posting gets generated (and it doesn't take reading much of what's posted here to see that I have very low standards in that regard).

Today, I do have something worth talking about. After years of work, and a pretty major project that saved our state a whole lotta cash (for which no "Thank You" card will be forthcoming), The Love of My Life today completed her course of study to become a Certified Public Manager.

Wanted to take a moment to extend my congratulations publicly, and to say how proud I am of all she's accomplished. Way to go, Love.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Better Luck Next Year

In honor of our 14th anniversary I was going to try to compile some advice, some pearls of wisdom to share for the younger men in my audience.

Alas, it all came out like Sawyer's English lesson for Jin.

I'll try to start earlier on it next year, maybe I'll come up with something worth passing along