Archive for The New York Times

Tierras Centro Americanas [journal of the NYC weekend]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2022 by xi'an

Upon my arrival at JFK, Queens, Andrew took me to have unbelievable tortillas in this Guatemaltec restaurant, soft and yummy, almost like pancakes! Along with great food altogether. We also had a pleasant stroll walking through Queens’ lively Jamaica district. Including coming upon a just extinguished fire in a row of shops! On the opposite, I did not see much of New Brunswick, apart from walking by the Harvest Moon brewery where I got a beer (and a tee-shirt) on my earlier visit there.

Read Truthwitch, another disappointment in the series (of recent books), as the universe building could have been great (despite being heavily inspired from Western Europe geography and culture, and in particular of Venezia. Again, I presume I was missing the YA label when I first picked this book! Scenario is rather terrible, full of last second rescues, new and convenient forms of magical powers, while interactions about characters are artificial and predictable, definitely not recommended. (And there are five books in the series!)

Watched The Silent Sea a short Korean TV serie taking place mostly in a Korean infected base on the Moon. While trying to solve the water crisis on a drying Earth (looking red from the Moon). The ending is quite disappointing while the original idea was most appealing. The science (fiction) behind the story is however terrible. (E.g., never use guns in space! And why would astronauts rely on cheap, handheld, lamplights to explore dark tunnels?! And how can you hide stealthy visits to a Moon basis from Earth?! &tc.)

systemic realities?!

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2022 by xi'an

While the US Supreme Court has all but abolished Roe v. Wade, by allowing Texas to keep banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, The New York Times continues to publish opinion pieces from anti-abortion editors. Like this one this weekend from an Anglican priest who can make preachifying statements like Roe v. Wade creating “realities where abortion becomes the easier choice for women who have unintended pregnancies” or where “pressure from the medical community to abort is common”… Or yet stating that “many European countries have far more restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates than the United States without curtailing the advancement of women.” As analysed in another NYT article,  this is also an argument made by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., ill-boding for the future of the law. This is when solely considering the cutoff of Roe v. Wade, rather than the access to abortion which proves much more inaccessible in most US States than Western Europe countries (with the exceptions of Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and Malta, plus Poland), from local regulations to financial hurdles, to inexistent offer. (And I wonder at the repeated use of realities in the tribune. There is one reality and it is pretty harsh on women seeking abortion. Unless one prefers alternative facts…)

the best books of the NYT readers

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2022 by xi'an

Two years after Le Monde reported on the list of the 101 favourite novels of [some of] its readers, which I found most fascinating as a sociological entry on said readers, rather than a meaningful ordering of literary monuments (!),  even though it led me to read Damasio’s La Horde du Contrevent, as well as Jean-Philippe Jaworski’s Gagner la Guerre [To the victors go the spoils], The New York Times did something similar to celebrate the Book Review’s 125th anniversary. If on a lesser scale, as it only produces

        1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
        2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
        3. 1984 by George Orwell
        4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
        5. Beloved by Toni Morrison

as the top five books of the last 125th years, Lee’s, Tolkien’s, and Garcia Márquez’s appearing in both lists, if with a different ranking. (The nomination rules were not exactly the same, though, with only novels for Le Monde and only “recent” books and only one per author for the New York Times.) Here is a longer list of the 25 top contenders, from which NYT readers voted [an opportunity I missed!]:

some of which I had never heard of. And not including a single Faulkner’s… Except for One Hundred Years of Solitude, first published as Cien años de soledad, all novels there were originally written in English. Sadly, the number one book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is also one of the most censored by school boards in the USA! (And so are books by Toni Morrison.)

Sousaphonic graph!

Posted in Books, pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2022 by xi'an

WoT first three impressions

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2021 by xi'an

As I was pessimistic about the adaptation of the behemoth (14 volumes) Wheel of Time adaptation as an Amazon TV series, I was not particularly disappointed after watching the first three episodes! Regarding the following comments, I do realise that having started reading these books in 1990 and having completed reading the 15 volumes puts me in a tiny minority and that anyone unfamiliar with Jordan’s universe would take the story as it comes rather than checking for discrepancies from the gospel.

Good stuff:

  • Egwene and Nynaeve are delivering strong personalities to their respective character, kudos!, in a sense improving upon their book counterparts!
  • Moraine Sedai is reasonably well rendered, although she could have appeared as more ambiguous though (and why did they add this injury in the Bel Tine scene to the original story?)
  • this includes her telling of the story of Manethren
  • the way Trollocs and Fades are rendered is great
  • the scenery is mostly fabulous, esp. the entrance to Shadar Logoth
  • meeting the Tuatha’an was great, except for the fake scare at the beginning, and the arguing about their non-violent commitment is pretty convincing
  • the idea making the first Darkfriend we meet  more humane and ambivalent than in the book is hopefully going to be seen again

Bad lines:

  • the choice of having the Dragon being one of the five friends, incl. Egwene and Nynaeve, clashes with the structure of Jordan’s world, as well as Moraine’s early infodump
  • Matt, Perrin, and Rand appear incredibly naïve, but maybe this was already the case in the book
  • Matt is decidedly downright unpleasant from the start (i.e., even before Shadar Logoth)
  • the notion to have Perrin already married and the ensuing trauma are terrible novelties, the more because he doesn’t look so traumatized by the ending
  • the special treatment of Nynaeve by one trolloc is missing from the book and unclear as to its contribution to the plot (and why would Moraine leave without her?)
  • costumes are terrible, almost uniformly!, and too modern, looking like they were bought from second hand stores (and more globally there is a feeling of cheapness in the set designs, from Shadar Logoth to Tar Valon)
  • Moraine’s and Lan’s fight in the Two Rivers is rather unconvincing and messy (why did she need to turn this nice inn building into missiles?!)
  • why would Rand and Tam miss the village Bel Tine celebration to return to their farm?
  • The Guardian got highly negative about the show and even about the books (which the first reviewer had never read) maybe seeing too much in the (admittedly terribly heavy) writing style of Robert Jordan and maybe trying too had to draw a comparison with Game of Thrones (just like so many critics). So did the New York Times
  • making the only Darkfriend so far coming out of the open and a sword expert
  • Lan not commenting on Rand’s father’s heron sword, while zooming on said heron several times
  • the sooo slooow walk of Egwene and Perrin in the third episode once they get on track(s), thanks to the wolves
  • the Whitecloacks being depicted as just too evil from the start, with no ambivalence whatsoever (this was also true in the book, which [spoiler alert!] makes Galad joining them later—sorry for the spoiler—difficult to fathom)
  • similarly, the first Red Sister we meet (Liandrin) is similarly too one-sided to give a balanced picture of the different Ajahs in the White Tower
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