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2011-04-05 19:32

Pulp me harder!

i09 - a slick corporate entrant into the BoingBoing/Slashdot space, complete with achingly hip and utterly cretinous #! urls - redeems itself more than somewhat with a series of articles on European pulp fiction:

The most popular non-science fiction pulps to regularly feature sf elements all came from Germany: Elisabeth von Aspern's Tom Shark, der Knig der Detektivs #1-553 (1928-1939), about a Sexton Blake-like Great Detective, Wilhelm and Hans Reinhard's Rolf Torrings Abenteuer #1-446 (1930-1939), about a German big game hunter, and Alfred Bienengraber's John Kling's Abenteuer #43-592 (1924-1933) and John Kling's Erinnerungen #1-215 (1931-1939), about a Sexton Blake-like Great Detective, all told stories about mad scientists, cities of psychics who used mummies for their armies, weretigers, Martians, and orbital platforms armed with atomic bombs.

I haven't seen anything this comprehensive anywhere else, and I have certainly looked.

2011-03-20 18:42

Monday review of stuff (road edition)

1. Intercontinentalling

We started with an achingly-hip boutique hotel at Schiphol. Unlike other airport hotels (there and elsewhere) it is within easy walking distance of the terminal building. It is also achingly hip, but never mind.

Then we spent the best part of twenty-four(24) hours sitting on airplanes or shuffling in queues or being screened and/or prodded by the FDRs many security personnel.

No gin and tonics, because United Airlines (for it was they!) charge for them, and because we were arriving at lunchtime anyway.

United Airlines "proudly brew Starbucks coffee", apparently. We drank a lot of it on the way, but our adverb of choice was "reluctantly".

2. Die Gottes-Maschine, by Peter Terrid

The thing is, we still totally suck at reading Cherman. Suckity-suck-suck-suck. We're far from proud of that, for sure, but there you go.

As a result we don't read a lot of Cherman and we don't get much better. But when faced with being trapped on an airplane for a day or so we got paranoid about having enough reading material: five(5) kilos of handbaggage isn't that much, and we don't yet have an e-book reader. (We also don't like to sleep on airplanes, or to watch their in-flight movies. Unfortunate, but true.)

So we packed a Cherman science-fiction paperback. It's only 161 pages, but we figured that was more than enough. As it turns out, it was only just enough: we finished it somewhere over the Rockies.

More interestingly, we enjoyed it a lot: the Perry Rhodan universe has been Chermany's premier space-opera saga for decades, and if all the tales of the Kosmische Hansa are this much fun, we can understand why.

This particular one contains (hilarious to non-Cherman readers) remarks on the future necessity of banknotes, remarks on the standardisation of marmalade and an unexpected Oliver Sacks infodump. There is also a plot and stuff; it is silly but fun.

3. San Francisco

Actually we're at a hotel near the airport and we have work we should be doing instead of typing this, so we're not going to town just now.

We have a view of the bay out of our window and the coffee machine works, so that will have to do for now.

Luckily there's nothing on TV: base-ball is still a couple of weeks away and the channels are full of scholarly bouncy-ball ("college basketball"), which we find about as fascinating as golf.

2011-03-18 18:01

"I'm on the train!"

I knew they'd been trialling WeeFee on Dutch trains, but apparently they've chosen to roll it out - free, gratis and for nix - fairly generally.

That's pretty cool.

2011-03-13 17:13

Grueled part III

So then Egberdina picked up the chickenpox and she has not really been enjoying it.

While we comforted her last night, we watched the first half of Farewell, an enchanting historical romance woven from archive footage of the Graf Zeppelin's flight round the world. (Available for purchase here.)

(We love zeppelins, of course. If you don't, it is probably pretty missable.)

Bizarrely, the BBC broadcast omitted the name of Gerard Nijssen from the credits, despite the fact that the film was his idea and he tracked down all the archive footage. For shame, Beeboids!

The first link will tell you many of the things that are false or enhanced from the historical record, if that is the sort of thing you find yourself wanting to know. We're just in it for the zeppelins, to be honest.


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2011-03-06 21:14

Grueled, Part II

If you go to a Dutch doctor with a bleeding stump where your arm used to be, he'll tell you to take two(2) paracetemol and see if it grows back. So it is not a small thing that we are the only member of our fambly who has not been prescribed antibiotics this year.

Meanwhile we read , a manga we first saw advertised when holidaying in Beaune, in Burgundy, but didn't track down till just a few weeks ago. The French edition (the Engleesh translation is still forthcoming) is unflipped, meaning that you read the panels and dialogue from right to left, which turns out not to be a big deal.

And the art is pretty cool. The high concept that it will educate the reader on wine is less persuasive: they basically seem to like both kinds of wine, Burgundy and Bordeaux, and they assume a budget that we conspicuously lack. More irritatingly, the first volume doesn't even finish its own story arc. (Luckily, we also bought the second volume.)

We also enjoyed the latest edition of Por Dios, in which January Jones's debut album forms the featured attraction. Jones is a feisty American aviatrix (hinted to be the sister of Indiana Jones), drawn in a ligne claire style that owes enough to Herg that it can only politely be called a homage. It's good pulp, and the De Havilland DH-88 is very beautiful, although sadly it gets totalled near the beginning and the rest of the story is about the Monte-Carlo in (also beautiful) vintage autos.

Meanwhile we spend our time persuading Boris to appreciate dinosaurs, teaching the Baroness to appreciate Iron Maiden (Egberdina's favourite band by a country mile, not coincidentally), and learning again to appreciate just how much fun you can have with pencil, paper and a collection of toy vehicles to draw. (The new guitar is in quarantine until Egberdina can be trained to express her appreciation of its beauty in ways that do not involve its bouncing, so we needed another outlet anyway.)

Meanwhile, a brief obsession with flying boats has largely petered out on discovering that you can get model kits of almost any military version you can imagine, but that the magnificent Boeing 314 "Clipper" is out of print. The paucity of civilian models in general is an interesting, if not welcome, insight into the minds of modelling types, and we discard them.

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