Radiohead Report

As you may have heard, Radiohead‘s Tel Aviv concert went ahead. By all accounts (locally) it was a great success.

This is how the Guardian chose to headline its report:

This is how the Guardian, had it been a bit more frank, should have headlined its report:

And this is how the Guardian, had it been completely honest, should have headlined its report:

The Guardian’s (rarely seen) honest face

On the Table – Catch-Up Time Again

I love gaming. I love writing. One day I will have these in the right balance. For now, it seems that I play more than I write, and that’s not balanced correctly. Which is another way of saying that work on the novel project has hardly progressed, and here’s another writing task I would rather do: catch-up with the wargames that have crossed my game table in the last wee while. Continue reading

The Deepest Grave – Harry Bingham

This is book six of the series featuring Fiona Griffiths, a very singular police detective character. The five preceding books have been, on the whole, excellent. I wondered if the author could maintain the quality. Having read the book, I can confirm the character is still as engrossing, and the portrayal is top notch. However, this time around I didn’t feel quite the same connection between our heroine and the deceased, and the plot was way beyond far fetched. However, it was still a great read.

The story begins with a murder. Not your average murder, but one involving the beheading of an archaeologist with nary an Islamist in sight. Fiona is on the case, and soon she has worked out what is going on. Unfortunately, her colleagues – especially her boss – is going off on a different investigative direction. Inevitably, the tension builds up, and there is more danger for Fiona to face.

So, on the plus side, the main character is an absolute corker, and is brilliantly and sympathetically described.  Some of her colleagues are a bit too cliched. The baddies are a bit trickier for me to rate. I thought that some of the scenes featuring the main criminal were good, but the motivation and plausibility were a bit lacking. The plot is tight in the sense that it is logical, but I found it wholly implausible.

The book was still a page turner, but just couldn’t match the quality previous books. I must stress that it is not the case of the author going off track; simply that this is a good book that is not quite as good as the others.

One interesting aside is that the book includes an essay by the author explaining – almost justifying – why he writes about such fanciful crimes. He claims to follow the Arthur Conan Doyle line in preference to the Raymond Chandler one. I wasn’t sure I completely understood the necessity for the essay, nor its likely effectiveness, but I did enjoy seeing how the author was thinking about matters.

Bottom line: I’ll be buying the next one, for sure!

Speechless

For a society flush with hi-tech successes, and ever increasing numbers of hi-tech startups, there are aspects which lag somewhat behind other mainly western countries. For example, much of the bureaucracy refuses to accept email and insists on fax messages. (An MK proposed legislation to fix that, but whether it becomes law is still open to question.) As another example, official websites can be a bit clunky, are often ugly, and have not quite grasped the concept of the need to refresh and maintain content. And there’s also the issue of blindly following a website template, even when it’s patently not suitable. The last category is amply illustrated by the following web page, as pointed out to me by Sarah-Lee.

As of writing this link generates:

A world first? An FAQ with no questions?

Memory and Aging

One of the disadvantages of aging is losing your memory. It happens in fits and starts – little episodes of absences from your recollection. Time lines are broken by voids; little mystery spaces where you do not know what happened. So they tell me…

Meantime, I have developed a new form of aging impaired memory: instead of forgetting things, I make them up. For example, in a recent session report, I said that Rosalynn won the San Juan game we played. Apparently I remembered it wrongly. In fact, Sheer won.  Oops. Apologies all round.

Not only is the Law an ass…

Check this out, and try not to laugh while you read it. Only lawyers could tie themselves up in logical knots about the intellectual property rights of a macaque monkey.

The famous monkey selfie at the heart of the storm (Copyright: David Slater. Or Naruto the monkey. Not sure which) Caption: The Register

Prosperity Gaming

Last week’s session was a five person spot of prosperity gaming: Azriel and Rosalynn brought Dominion: Prosperity, and – along with Peleg and Sheer – we played two games of this fine Dominion expansion. The expansion is, as you would expect from the title, one that focuses on money, wealth, and the generation of those key assets. It’s a shame this expansion is out of print, as it was fun to play, and merits further attention.

As for the two games, I won the first – using the recommended “Beginner” mix of cards – and Sheer won the second – using a more interactive recommended set. One potential downside of Prosperity is that there are a few attack cards, but bugger all I could see that would work as an effective defense. Perhaps the Watchtower card – which allows you to draw till your hand is at six cards – is the best tool in the box for defense.

Afterwards, we moved on to Reibach and Co, which all of us had played before except for Azriel. I explained the rules, but must have done a bad job, as he really struggled and did not get much of a score. However, Azriel did say he wanted to play it again, so it cannot all have been bad. Sheer, Peleg, and I managed to mess up each other’s scores so well that Rosalynn skipped into first place in the last scoring round. Yeah for Rosalynn!

Another fun night. You cannot ask for better than that.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

This is a fantasy novel – the first in an as yet unfinished trilogy – which was highly (and repeatedly) recommended to me. It’s the life story of Kvothe, who starts off as part of a travelling troupe, becomes a street urchin, and then a somewhat unlikely and down at heel student. The book begins with Kvothe in the role of an innkeeper who, eventually, starts telling his whole story to a travelling scribe. Therefore, we get the first person perspective driving the main narrative, with the occasional intercession as the focus switches back to various scenes with Kvothe taking a break from his story to deal with several issues, like customers, and wandering mercenaries.

The following are worth noting:

  • The world around Kvothe is vast, but more hinted at than completely described
  • The magical system is lovingly rendered, and adds real weight to the sense of awe
  • The characterization is good
  • The storytelling is mostly good, too, though there were a few patches that I thought were over written
  • This is no Tolkien ripoff, nor juvenile fantasy; it’s solid, believable, and gripping

Despite all of the above, while it is a good book, it did not hit me the same way my first contact with Joe Abercrombie or K. J. Parker did. So, while I am happy to say that I enjoyed it, for me it does not quite reach the top rank. It’s absolutely worth reading though, and I do recommend it.