lewis furey

The LJ drama continues


Following from my earlier post (DW/LJ), I don't know if everybody has seen the Fast Company article "The Return of LiveJournal" yet, which created some stir. Even better, theljstaff has posted a link to the article!

My personal theory is that it's a wonderfully subversive act on the part of the English-speaking LJ staff, who have constantly been kept out of the loop, not been explained the whys and wherefores of the changes, and not been given any say in the matter whatsoever. (That, or they are either incredibly stupid, which I don't believe, or incredibly rude, which I don't believe either. Igrick c.s. yes, the volunteers and other helpful staff, no.)

Although they did not quote it in the entry, they could trust on LJ'ers being good readers. Everybody pounced on this little tidbit:

LiveJournal's leadership has made it clear that their future American business strategy lies in generating new traffic rather than catering to the service's current small-but-loyal membership.


You know, I may even start missing the LJ drama a bit when everybody has abandoned ship and LJ's wreck has sunk to the bottom of the Internet ocean. I think I'll get over it, though.


This entry was originally posted at http://lethe1.dreamwidth.org/112370.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


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lewis furey

Interesting reading


I was linked to an English translation of a very interesting interview LJ's Russian overlord igrick gave to the Russian Forbes.

It is full of contradictory statements. His business decisions don't make any sense to me, unless, as one commenter in the news group said, he's really trying to sink LJ and write it off as a loss.


This entry was originally posted at http://lethe1.dreamwidth.org/111131.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


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lewis furey

LJ's continuing and blatant disregard for its users


Wow, LJ, you've really gone and done it this time, haven't you? Tell me, do you ever plan on actually learning from your mistakes?

Any remaining LJ users who are finally fed up due to LJ's latest fail should know that for the rest of the year, creating a Dreamwidth account will not require an invite code.

Go here if you're interested.


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(no subject)


I'm really liking Nigella's current TV series Nigella Kitchen. So far it has already inspired me to make two of its recipes, and there are a few more I'd like to try out. Tonight I did spaghetti alla puttanesca a.k.a. slut's spaghetti. It was very tasty. I'm quite fond of pasta with tomato sauce and it's nice to have several variations to choose from.


This afternoon I went to the library, for the first time in almost a year. Something had gone wrong with the automatic renewal of my membership and had to be sorted out, and five books I want to read urgently were *all* available. A very successful visit.

But first I want to finish Thumbelina. I'm afraid it looks like it will end in a vale of tears.


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R.I.P. Challenge book #6, and wrap-up


As I continued to be in a reading mood, I didn't watch any films from my provisional list after all. Instead, while browsing my bookshelves, I picked up this book by Richard Brautigan and discovered the title (The Hawkline Monster: a Gothic Western) was surprisingly apt for this time of year, if not for the Challenge.

But even though this quick read (many short chapters, each starting on a new page) was funny and frequently made me giggle, enough eerily strange things happened in it to make it appropriate after all. This quote from page 46 displays the nice mixture of wacky humour and foreboding:

The road stopped like a dying man's signature on a last-minute will.

It is difficult not to give too much of the plot away, so I'll just quote the back cover:

In the dead centre of the Dead Hills of Eastern Oregon stands Hawkline Manor, an elaborate Victorian mansion, festooned with chandeliers and valuable paintings, and looked after by a giant butler. It is the home of the two Miss Hawklines [Misses Hawkline?], beautiful, generous with their favours — and identical. But it also houses a very unwelcome guest... whom Greer and Cameron, professional killers, are required to dispose of.

I've had a soft spot for Brautigan ever since reading his short story "The Weather in San Francisco", and have read several more of his short stories since. When I came across this novel at the book market a few years ago, I snapped it up immediately. I sort of regretted this impulse buy later on, but now I'm glad I bought it. Brautigan is not to everyone's taste, but I really enjoyed myself.

4/5


To wrap up: although I had chosen to do Peril the Third (one book), I have read all four books on my provisional list (abandoning one of them), plus two more.

I have watched none of the films on my list, but I did see several things on TV that qualify:

Belgian TV showed El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth). I would call this a grim fairytale, but boston.com placed it on #17 in their Top 50 scariest movies of all time, so I figure it counts. Good film, beautiful art direction, and what I particularly liked about it was that the faun was such an ambiguous character: I wasn't sure until the end whether his intentions were good or evil. 3/5

Belgian TV has also started broadcasting True Blood, but after seeing the first two episodes I decided I didn't like it enough to continue watching.

Dutch TV is broadcasting Sherlock at the moment. I had missed this when it was shown on the BBC and so was taken by surprise by the massive amount of fangirly squee that suddenly erupted around LJ. Now that I know it consists of only three episodes, I'm even more surprised by the level of fandom it has generated so quickly. Anyway, I have seen two episodes so far and it's good, mysterious fun. 3.5/5

And last night I watched the Psychoville Halloween special, by two members of the League of Gentlemen. I had watched and enjoyed last year's series, so made sure not to miss this. It was deliciously creepy.

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These two little trick-or-treaters showing up on the misanthropist clown's doorstep were the scariest in my opinion. They didn't do or say anything, just stood and stared, and stared, and stared, unnerving not only the clown, but me as well. 4/5, and I was pleased to learn there is going to be a second series.

As always, many thanks to Carl for hosting the R.I.P. Challenge! I had a great time.


lewis furey

(no subject)


Harry Mulisch, the last of 'the great three' of Dutch post-war writers, died last night at age 83. Internationally he is probably best known for his novels The Assault and The Discovery of Heaven.

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Mulisch looking very dapper on his 80th birthday (photo: WFA)



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R.I.P. Challenge book #5


My last book in this year's Challenge is a reread. In 1996 I borrowed Knollekop (Bucket Nut) by Liza Cody from the library, and loved it so much that when I came across it at the annual Centraal Boekhuis book fair the next year, I picked up a copy.

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This was unusual, because I tend to regard thrillers and mysteries as junk food: tasting good (hopefully) while it lasts, but containing nothing but empty calories and therefore leaving you ultimately unsatisfied.

But then, the protagonist is an unusual character: a female wrestler with a night job as a security guard (with two vicious watchdogs, hence the English cover), and supplementing her income by doing shady jobs for various figures, the most important of whom is a Chinese mobster.

I loved Eva Wylie straightaway and I fell in love with her all over again this time around. The story is told from her point of view. In her own words she is big, ugly and mean, but we can tell that underneath her tough exterior she is more vulnerable than she'd have us believe.

The actual plot, which involves Eva doing one job too many and getting caught in the crossfire between two rivalling gangs, isn't all that important. What I loved about the book is Eva's voice, her wry humour and outlook on life, the search for her sister, and the fascinating look into the world of show wrestling.

At the time I also read the sequel Monkey Wrench, but found that one a little over the top. I see that there is a third book called Musclebound and a series featuring a female private detective, but the only title my library has nowadays is Monkey Wrench, and neither Waterstone's nor ABC stock her books. Liza Cody seems to have more or less dropped off the radar, which is a shame, in my opinion.

4/5


There is still some time left until the end of October, but I think I'll use it for watching a scary film or two. :)


thinking

R.I.P. Challenge books #3 and 4


These two books were rather a disappointment. I don't have much to say about Erken mij by Esther Verhoef. It was given out as a freebie during last year's "month of the thrilling book", held every June, and has not been, and will most likely never be, translated into English.

Although the prologue was promising, I didn't care for what followed. It turned out to be about rape and its aftermath, which is a subject I try to avoid. Fortunately it wasn't too graphic and at 91 pages it was a quick read.

1/5


HostAnyPhotoI bought A.M. Homes' The End of Alice at the time because I thought the title might be a reference to Alice in Wonderland, editions of which I collected, and sure enough the book opens with a Lewis Carroll quote: "A stopped clock is right twice a day." Apart from that, the only other reference I can think of is that the book's protagonist is a paedophile infatuated with a young girl called Alice.

I knew beforehand that the book's subject matter is controversial: a paedophile murderer in his 23rd year in prison strikes up a correspondence with a nineteen-year-old girl who is planning on seducing a twelve-year-old boy. That didn't put me off, but what did were the numerous descriptions of disgusting smells and revolting things that people ate. When it literally made me retch I decided, at around page 100, to call it a day and skipped forward to find out the ending. I am such a wimp.

DNF


The good news is that I have now finished all the titles on my provisional list and also achieved my goal of freeing up some shelf space. The bad news is that I couldn't resist the lure of the Kinderboekenweek ("children's book week") and bought two books yesterday! And received another free book as well! I am incorrigible. The good news is that I'm very happy with my acquisitions. And since the good outweighs the bad, I am not sorry.

There are still over two weeks left before the end of the R.I.P. Challenge. The free booklet looks like a fun read, I think I'll use it as a palate cleanser before deciding upon another Challenge book.


thinking

R.I.P. Challenge book #2


When I received it as a free book at the time, the only thing I knew about De grot (The Cave) by Tim Krabbé was that the plot involved drug smuggling. Not a subject that holds great appeal to me, and so the book sat unread on my shelf for almost 13 years, until I picked it up for this year's challenge.

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I already knew from Het gouden ei (
The Vanishing) that Krabbé is capable of writing a blood-curdling thriller, but still I was surprised by the high ratings The Cave had received on Amazon, and looked forward to reading it.

I am glad I didn't read any actual reviews beforehand, because most of them turned out to be very spoilerish, and this way I could discover and appreciate the story and structure of the book for myself.

I think "thriller" is a misnomer here. The first chapter, in which a character whiles away the hours until a drug transaction is planned to take place, contains tension enough, but The Cave is actually more a psychological novel about destructive friendship, fate and coincidence, and ultimately very sad.

I didn't find it particularly enjoyable, nor do I intend to reread it at some point, but the last chapters were beautiful enough that they earned the book an extra star.

3/5