Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks (Christopher Brookmyre)

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks is the last Jack Parlabane book (at least so far) by Christopher Brookmyre.

Jack Parlabane has never believed in ghosts. Which is kinda awkward since he now seems to be one. So he tells us what happened so far – and how it all connects to the psychic Gabriel Lafayette who offered himself to science, to prove once and for all that the paranormal exists.

Even though I caught most of the plot-twists that were to come later pretty early on, Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks is definitely my favourite Jack Parlabane book. Probably because it’s the geekiest. It’s funny, I loved the rants and it features an honest to goodness browncoat. What’s not to love?

[Did I ever mention how much I love the titles of the Brookmyre books? Because I really do.]

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Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 is the newest movie by Jon Favreau, starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and the voice of Paul Bettany.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is pretty much drunk on power since announcing to the world that he was Iron Man. Well, mostly drunk on alcohol, but also on power. Which means he makes even more of an ass of himself than usual. Sometimes to good, but mostly to catastrophic effect. That’s the moment Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) chooses to leave Russia and avenge his father, who was deported because of Tony’s father, by humiliating and ultimately destroying Tony.

The plot, it is weak in this one. But apart from that, Iron Man 2 is as much fun as Iron Man was. Which is to say – a whole damn lot. Again it’s the cast that shines, especially the villains and Robert Downey Jr. If you liked the first one for what it was, you’re going to like this one as well.

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Re-Watch: Iron Man (2008)

In preparation for the new film [which I’ll review tomorrow], deadra and me went and watched Iron Man again. It was directed by Jon Favreau and stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and the voice of Paul Bettany. [I kinda reviewed it here, though that review can be summed up with “film = fun, Robert Downey Jr. = hot.” Which still holds true, btw.]

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the kind of guy Bruce Wayne always pretends to be: Rich, constantly drunk, an ass. Now take away the social consciousness of Bruce Wayne and add “manufactures weapons” and technical genius and you know Tony Stark.
That changes pretty drastically when he’s abducted in Iraq and forced to build a rocket for a group of terrorists. Instead of building what they ask for, he builds a hightech suit of armour and makes himself a superhero on the way.

Iron Man is fun. It does a good job of setting up Tony Stark and his world, it has fine jokes and it keeps you engaged. It is not a “wonder of modern filmmaking” but it works mighty fine and entertains you on the way. I hadn’t re-watched it since I saw it in the cinema, but it can hold its own during a second examination as well.

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Be My Enemy [Christopher Brookmyre]

Be My Enemy, or Fuck This for a Game of Soldier is the fourth book in the Jack Parlabane series by Christopher Brookmyre.

When Jack Parlabane gets an invitation to attend the ultimate team-building experience and then write about it in his paper, nobody would have thought that “ultimate” was to be taken literally. While the participants are growing as a team by shooting each other with paint ball guns, they stumble upon a group of soldiers – who unfortunately start shooting for real. And that’s when the trouble only starts.

I really enjoyed Be My Enemy. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions. It’s also pretty gory, probably the Brookmyre book with the most bloodshed so far. But once you’ve read about somebody accidentally beheading himself, there’s just no going back.

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Nebula Award Winners Announced.

Ok, Where Do I Start With That? E.


Minimalist Posters for Tim Burton Movies.

Christoph Waltz takes on The Three Musketeers.

New Inception Trailer, now with plot. And:


7 New Genre Shows Coming to Network TV This Fall.

Completely Different Things

L. had a trippy dream involving me and Mel Brooks. She talks about it on her blog.

Optical Illusions. And:

[taken from here]

Unhappy with Facebook? Try Gink, where you can send goints and glorks (or something).

Teaser Tuesday

It infected the cultural consciousness, Sophie said. Zeitgeist was the German word for it. Happened to an extent after WW2. The whole country, maybe the whole world, has occasion to think ‘Where do we go from here? What happens now?’, and a lot of folks got scared because they don’t know, can’t see, can’t imagine.

Christopher Brookmyre – Not the End of the World

Warten auf Godot [Waiting for Godot]

Warten auf Godot [German], which is – as you might have guessed – the German title of Waiting for Godot is the current production of the play by Samuel Beckett at the Burgtheater in Vienna. [My review of the book here.] It stars Michael Maertens, Ernst Stötzner, Ignaz Kirchner and Marcus Kiepe. [All actor links in German.]

Vladimir (Michael Maertens) and Estragon (Ernst Stötzner) are sitting in the middle for nowhere, waiting for Godot who will have a proposal for them that can drastically change their lives. It’s unclear how long they’ve been waiting but it seems to be a pretty long time. They pass the time with partly comical, partly tragic, partly non-sensical banter, joined for a short period by the pompous Pozzo (Ignaz Kirchner) and his slave Lucky (Marcus Kiepe).

The stage design of this production is fantastic and works really well. The actors are really good, too, even though I pictured Vladimir completely differently from what Maertens does. Though it has a few lengths (even though it cut one of my favourite parts of the play), it’s a thoroughly enjoyable piece of work.

[That’s what I mean when I say fantastic stage design.]

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Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett. He originally wrote it in French, then translated it to English himself.

Vladimir and Estragon are sitting in the middle for nowhere, waiting for Godot who will have a proposal for them that can drastically change their lives. It’s unclear how long they’ve been waiting but it seems to be a pretty long time. They pass the time with partly comical, partly tragic, partly non-sensical banter, joined for a short period by the pompous Pozzo and his slave Lucky.

Waiting for Godot is interesting. And even though (or maybe because) it is mostly incomprehensible very open to interpretation, it carries a certain punch, an emotional impact. Sometimes it’s really funny, but mostly the laughter just dies in your throat.

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50 Questions – Meme Monday

1. What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
I never read Dr. Seuss as a child – he’s a pretty English-speaking-world thing. But reading some of his stuff as an adult, I really like Oh, The Places You Go.

2. If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be?
I love how Monica’s flat in Friends is decorated. Plus, it’s huge, cheap and in New York.

3. What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
New Year’s 2001. I drove from the middle of Sao Paulo state to Rio de Janeiro in a bus overnight from the 30th to the 31st and didn’t sleep a wink. Then spend the day sightseeing in Rio, then the night partying on the Copacabana. Left Rio again around noon on the 1st by bus. But this time, I slept like a baby. Nothing in the world could have kept me from sleeping. That was, what, around 50 hours or so without sleep.

4. What’s your favorite Barry Manilow song?
I don’t think I consciously know any Barry Manilow song. I’m sure I’ve heard some and I know who he is, but I couldn’t tell you “Oh, that’s a Manilow song!”

5. Who’s your favorite Muppet?
I don’t know… I never much cared for the Muppets, I have to admit (probably because I never saw them as a child). Maybe Miss Piggy?

6. What’s the habit you’re proudest of breaking?
I quit smoking, three months now, almost.

7. What’s your favorite website? *g*
No, seriously, I’m just trying to cut down my reader because I started working and I just don’t have that much time anymore and it’s freaking impossible.

8. What’s your favorite school supply?
Notebooks. In all forms and sizes. Love them.

9. Who’s your favorite TV attorney?
It used to be Ally McBeal, until that fifth season that ruined everything. Nowadays it’s Alicia Florrick. But I have to admit that I don’t watch many attorney shows.

10. What was your most recent trip of more than 50 miles?
Visiting L.

11. What’s the best bargain you’ve ever found at a garage sale or junk shop?
I usually only ever buy books at those sales and they aren’t worth much (or if they were, I wouldn’t know). But I found a beautiful edition of Gulliver’s Travels and one of Casanova’s memoirs.

12. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
In Brasil. It was pretty early in my exchange year and my Portuguese was sketchy at best. My hostmom picked me and my hostsis up from school and she started talking really excitedly and I only caught the words New York, guerra [meaning war] and death. But since my hostuncle was called Guerra (don’t ask me why, but Brasilians have a thing for weird nicknames. I also knew a guy named Devil and one named Underpants), I initially thought that said hostuncle had died in New York. It wasn’t until I saw the news footage that I understood what was going on.

13. What’s your favorite tree?
I never thought about it. But I myself own a small baobab and it’s totally the pride of my gardening skills. :)

14. What’s the most interesting biography you’ve read?
I don’t read many biographies. What comes to mind right now is The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt. I reviewed it here.

15. What do you order when you eat Chinese food?
Depends on my mood of the day.

16. What’s the best costume you’ve ever worn?
I’m not big on dressing up. But when I was 7 or so, I was dressed as a garbage bag for Fasching (carneval) and I still think that that was the most creative costume I ever wore.

17. What’s your least favorite word?
I’m not sure. “Proactive” is pretty high up on the list, though.

18. If you had to be named after one of the 50 states, which would it be?
Probably Idaho since that’s the one my father lived in for a while. I don’t have any connection to any of the other state.

19. Who’s your favorite bear?
Bussi Bär.

20. Describe something that’s happened to you for which you have no explanation.
I’m pretty good with explanations. I’m just not sure whether they’re the right ones.

21. If you could travel anywhere in Africa, where would it be?
There is much I’d still like to see in Africa. I’m not sure whether I’d like to revisit the DR Congo or see something new. Like Tanzania or Madagascar.

22. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
Nothing special, a sandwich.

23. Where do you go for advice?
My mom, my friends.

24. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus?
The dictionary. Translating in both directions, German-English and English-German, depending on what I’m trying to say.

25. Have you ever been snorkeling? Scuba diving?
I went scuba diving once. It was in really murky waters and I don’t think I saw a single fish. It was a pretty sad affair. But hey, now I can say that I went scuba diving.

26. Have you ever been stung by a bee?
Of course. Various times. I survived. Barely.

27. What’s the sickest you’ve ever been?
I’m a pretty healthy person and so far, I never got seriously sick. The worst was probably 3 years ago, when I went to a huge music festival for the weekend and slept in the car for two nights and it was fucking freezing and the sleeping bag I had was too thin. After that I was sick for a whole week, with fever and a cold and not really being able to get out of bed and absolutely unable to write a paper for uni, my head was so screwed. [It was a two page paper, for crying out loud.]

28. What’s your favorite form of exercise?
No excercise? Dancing maybe.

29. What’s your favorite Cyndi Lauper song?
I have never thought about that. Time after Time or She Bop probably.

30. What did you do for your 13th birthday?
I have no idea. I just looked into my diary from the time, but apparently, it wasn’t worth mentioning. But I was absolutely obsessed with boys I don’t even remember anymore at the time.

31. Are you afraid of heights?

32. Have you ever taken dance lessons?
Yes. Unsuccessfully. I’m not cut out for ballroom dancing and the dancing school sucked. I had three lessons, then quit the course.

33. What’s your favorite newspaper?
Der Standard.

34. What’s your favorite Broadway / West End musical?
For that, I’d actually have to know what musicals are Broadway/West End.

35. What’s the most memorable class you’ve ever taken?
One of the classes I have the fondest memories off was in my first semester at uni, when I was studying Cultural and Social Anthropology together with C. We had some classes together, but one of them was about Technology and Materials (as used in different cultures) and it was amazingly funny, topped off by a studying session where we giggled us high.

36. What’s your favorite knock-knock joke?
I never got the appeal of Knock Knock jokes. They’re something very particular to the US.

37. What’s your least favorite commercial?
Oh, there are many, many commercials that suck. It would be unfair to choose one.

38. If you could go to Disney World with any celebrity alive today, who would it be?
I’m thinking a day at Disney World with Stephen Fry would kick ass.

39. Do you prefer baths or showers?
Showers for every day, baths for relaxing, soaking, reading.

40. What’s your favourite newspaper comic strip?
Don’t have one.

41. What’s your favorite breakfast food?
I’m not really much of a breakfaster. But the traditional English breakfast that doubles as lunch is awesome. [BAKED BEANS! BAKED BEANS!]

42. Who’s your favarite game show host?
I don’t really watch game shows.

43. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Manipulate time.

44. Do you like guacamole?

45. Have you ever been in a food fight?
No. Though that is not strictly true… I once cracked an egg on a guy’s head. Because he kept bothering me and for a lack of better option, I threatened to crack an egg on his head if he didn’t stop. And he didn’t. So I followed through on my threat. [First rule: Never make threats you are not prepared to realize. Second rule: Realize your threats.]

46. Name five songs to which you know all the lyrics.
I’m a bit of a lyrics sponge. It only takes me 3-5 listens to know a song by heart. So, there are really many songs I know by heart.

47. What’s your favorite infomercial?
I don’t watch infomercials. Fucking waste of time.

48. What’s the longest you’ve ever waited in line?
I don’t know. Probably rather long since I really don’t mind waiting.

49. What’s on the cover of your address book or day planner?
I always work pretty hard on my calendar. That’s what it looks like this year (from the outside):

50. Have you ever taken a picture in one of those little booths?
Sure, several times. But definitely the best one was taken last year at the Beatlemania exhibition in Hamburg, where you can take a picture of yourself with a Beatles haircut. That’s me with Ringo’s hair:

[Sorry the quality is so crappy, I don’t own a scanner so I had to take a photo of the photo.]