John Justin Mallory

Mike Resnick
The John Justin Mallory Mysteries

#1 Stalking the Unicorn (1987)
It’s 8:35 pm on New Year’s Eve, and Private Detective John Justin Mallory is hiding out in his Manhattan office to avoid his landlord’s persistent inquiries about the unpaid rent. As he cheerlessly reflects on the passing of a lousy year, which saw his business partner run off with his wife, he assumes the bourbon is responsible for the appearance of a belligerent elf. This elf informs him that he needs the detective’s help in searching for a unicorn that was stolen from his charge. When Mallory realizes the little green fellow is not going to disappear with the passing of his inebriation, he listens to the elf’s impassioned plea that the stolen magical beast must be returned to his care by daylight or his little green life will be forfeited by the elves’ guild.

#2 Stalking the Vampire (2008)
It’s Halloween, and John Justin Mallory’s partner, Winnifred Carruthers, has been so busy preparing for the biggest holiday of the year (in this Manhattan, anyway) that she seems short of energy and pale. Mallory is worried that she’s been working too hard. Then he notices the two puncture marks on her neck.

#3 Stalking the Dragon (2009)
It’s Valentine’s Day and private detective John Justin Mallory is planning on closing up the office early and taking his partner, Col. Winnifred Carruthers, out to dinner, since he’s sure no one else will do so. But before he can turn off the lights and lock the door,
a panic-stricken Buffalo Bill Brody visits them. It seems that the Eastminster pet show is being held the next day, and his dragon, Fluffy, the heavy favorite, has been kidnapped.

These three Mike Resnick books are not too long (about 70-80,000 words). Call it urban fantasy with heaps of 1930’s style detective fiction. Everyone has an attitude problem and the dialog zings about like a parody of the style. It’s witty and fun, most of the plot is just a device to hang some fun writing on. At times it gets a bit too much into the Piers Anthony territory. But otherwise here are three lightweight and fun humorous fantasy books to enjoy.

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy (1875)

The novel was published in serial installments from 1875 to 1877 in the periodical ‘The Russian Messenger’. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment therefore, the novel’s first complete appearance was in book form in 1878. Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Anna Karenina recounts St. Petersburg aristocrat Anna Karenina’s life story at the backdrop of the late-19th-century feudal Russian society. Having considered War and Peace not a novel, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel. Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared it “flawless as a work of art.” His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired “the flawless magic of Tolstoy’s style,” and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as “the best ever written.” The novel remains popular, as demonstrated by a 2007 poll of 125 contemporary authors in Time, which declared that Anna Karenina is the “greatest book ever written.”


After reading ‘War and Peace’ on a Palm Pilot over the 2008 winter, I had anticipated also reading this novel. However the public broadcast of the 2012 film by Joe Wright was an alternative and shorter means of absorbing the story.

A lot of the story takes place on in a theatre, with actors changing the scenery between each scene. It’s a device not seen before and at first is a novelty but soon becomes distracting.

The best part of the film is the production design, costumes and score. The music really takes over at times, making the film a visual and audio feast for the senses. However the main problem is the story. This is surprising given the screenplay by Tom Stoppard. There is never a sense of involvement with characters. Their backgrounds and motivations are not clear and the result is that the story comes across as a cheap melodrama.

Having red War and Peace, I know that Tolstoy put more into his books than this. Maybe the story would be better told as a miniseries. There have already been seven TV adaptions, so maybe one of these is better than the film.

In the end this film it was a case of style over substance and after an hour it became boring and I gave up.

Recommendation: Read ‘War and Peace’

CD7

This is a design for a CD case.

The first image is from the film Se7en (1995).
The second an original image done in photoshop using layers of textures and effects. The third image is the layering of at least two images.

CD7

The Dark Lord

The Dark Lord’s Handbook (2008)
The Dark Lord’s Handbook #2: Conquest (2014)

by Paul Dale

It’s not easy being evil. To become a Dark Lord is hard. The simple ambition to hold dominion over the world and bend all to your will sounds straightforward but it’s not. There are armies to raise, fortresses to build, heroes to defeat, battles to be fought, hours of endless soliloquy in front of the mirror – it’s a never ending job.

So starts this second book of Morden’s rise to dominate all. It’s all from the point of view that ‘evil’ is just another valid point of view. Having someone in charge is the natural way of things. The only question is – who will that be.

There was a great deal of wit and sarcasm in this story, and the author uses many of the classic fantasy swords and sorcery cliches. At 161,000 words the second book is long, but worth the length (5/5 evil laughs).

Quotes from ‘The Dark Lord’s Handbook’
The enemy of my enemy is also my enemy. A dark lord has no friends.
Keep your friends close and your enemies dead.

 

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is a 2016 American science fiction action film directed by Justin Lin from a screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung.
It is the thirteenth film in the Star Trek film franchise and the third installment in the reboot series after Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock, with Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho and Anton Yelchin reprising their roles from the previous films, with Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella joining the cast.

This is one big flashy eye candy of a movie. It moves along at a good pace, only slowing down for the humorous interactions between Scotty and Bones. But ultimately it’s about a big baddie and how the crew of the Enterprise take him down. For this reason it’s very forgettable and doesn’t have any of the SciFi themes that previous Star Trek stories took on (with varying success) . For this reason it gets a 3/5.

 

 

The Masterson Inheritance

Here is something unique. A long form improvised comedy series.
Described as “an improvised historical saga of a family at war with itself.”

It’s notable for its well known improvisors:
Josie Lawrence
Paul Merton
Caroline Quentin

Also along for the ride is
Phelim McDermott,
Lee Simpson
Jim Sweeney

Get it if you can, half the fun is in the missteps and stuff-ups.

Cabin Pressure

Cabin Pressure is another excellent BBC Comedy series.

Written by and starring John Finnemore it follows the exploits of the oddball crew of the single aeroplane owned by “MJN Air” as they are chartered to take all manner of items, people or animals across the world.

Also starring
Stephanie Cole
Roger Allam
Benedict Cumberbatch

There are four series and it’s consistently well written and funny.
Recommended.

Get it from Audible.

 

New PC 2004-08-23

Well, it’s here, looking sexy on my desk.
She has an outer case in beige with a dark blue fascia panel
that has blue down both sides and at the bottom.

In the interior you would find…….

DVD/CD ROM Drive
DVD/CD Writer
120GB HD
3.5″ Floppy $14
AMD 2.8GHz CPU
Albatron KX600S motherboard
512MB Memory
G-Force FX 5700 Graphics Card
56K Modem
Windows XP Home

I got it from 9-10 AM Monday 23 August 2004 from Vintron.
(just down the road at 142 Yaldhurst Rd)

After getting a new DVD player (I now have 2) I needed something
to play on it. I didn’t want to use my Ayreon DVD until the region
settings were permanent, so I went to Riccarton Mall and got
‘The Complete Black Adder’. It’s the four seasons on 4xDVDs.

While in Dick Smith I got the last (so I was told)
256MB USB Micro Drive in the shop. The CD that comes with it is
very handy, it has…….
Adobe Acrobat 6.0
CDEX 151 (CD Ripper)
DirectX 9 (22/6/2004)
Mozzila 1.7
Firefox 0.9
Thunderbird 0.7
OpenOffice 1.1 (2003 August 11)
PC Tech Guide
This looks interesting, even explains DVD types !
WinAmp 3.0 & 5.03
Zone Alarm

Fortunately, the guys at Vintron tested the PC with XP using
the ‘Classic’ Win98 style interface. I have been spared the horrible
‘furry’ default style. There lots of little changes I am noticing
to XP (relative to 98) and most of them are just plain annoying.
I can see what Microsoft have done, trying to make thing ‘easier’
for the novice. But they just get in the way !


I’m not sure where the DVD writing software is ?
There appears to be some sort of built in support for writing CDs,
but I don’t know about DVDs. Do you need to install another application
to do DVD authoring & audio CDs ?


I don’t know why I was worrying about running my old
9-Pin dot matrix printer. I didn’t even bother installing
a printer driver. I just ran CMD and entered

COPY FILE.TXT LPT1:

it worked first time !


The Palm transfers work faster now, with a USB connection it’s seconds instead of minutes !

I don’t need the old serial cradle now. Ian, do you still want it ?


So far, the only real problem has been the lack of a Win XP driver for my Camera floppy adapter. After searching on the internet I eventually found it and got the camera transfers working.


Tried installing Adobe Audition. Installs OK, but fails
to work. No feedback !


Be sure to listen to National Radio Tuesday 24th at 8pm.

Kim Hill is having a discussion on ‘nasty violent’ computer/video
games. In the promo currently playing, they are describing ‘Doom 3’
as one of the most violent games.


 

PC Meeting 11/4/96

PC Group Meeting 11/4/96

“DIRECT LINK”
(Electronic Banking from the National Bank)

Was to be presented by Nigel Wilson, but was done by Jane who is
the rep for the top of the south island (above Timaru)

With a computer, modem & $40 per month you can pay your bills
electronically (no cheques involved). Apparently this has been available
to large companies for 7 years. Now the National Bank is targeting
medium to small businesses with this Windoze product.

With the pricing at $40 per month (no other charges) I suspect that
it is being subsidized. This price makes it economical down to the
business with only a few staff.

The software looks like it has been refined over many versions. Despite
having no accounting knowledge, after the 40 minute presentation I am
sure I could use the package to pay my bills. With the use of credit
cards and EFTPOS, I could throw away that annoying _right_ handed
cheque book.

The product is not targeted at individuals, however it seems inevitable
that a personal electronic banking service will be promoted by the banks in a few years.

The most interesting part is the security verification method.
Payments are made in batches. Each batch goes through a 5 stage cycle

1. Data entry
The bank accounts, and the amount to be transferred is entered.
For a business using an accounting package, this is done
automatically.

2. Batch frozen
At this stage a printout can be obtained

3. Security Verification
The purchaser of the product is given a small device that (from
a distance) appears to be a calculator.
The person(s) that can authorize the payments has a PIN number
(8-12 digits). Each batch generates a random number. To authorize
a batch, you enter your PIN number and the unique number for the
batch. The calculator responds with a number, this is entered into
the computer.

4. Waiting in Que
Each batch waits for connection via the telephone to the bank.
When connected, a compressed file is sent to the bank. The bank
responds to verify the transactions and puts the batch in …

5. Finished Box
Transactions completed. These can be dragged to the first stage,
the amounts changed to correspond to the bills, and the process
repeated.

Other Features :
* Receive Account statements (sent to accounting software)

* E-Mail to the Bank Manager (another $1,000,000 loan pleeze)

* No limit on the number of accounts used

* Could be used for company or personal use

* Works on International transactions

* Can request a bank cheque

* Requires 30Meg HD Space

* $100 for every additional calculator device

* More secure than a cheque or credit card (Similar to EFTPOS)

* transactions can be made on a specific date (ie when you have the $$)

Japanese Music

The Kobe Municipal Choir
The Wadatsumi Drummers

Tues 20 August 1996 at 7:30 in the James Hay Theatre
(Part of the Festival of Japan)

The program started with a 45 minute song about the Kobe earthquake. This was prefaced with a brief video showing stills of the damage.

The choir is about 60 in number, with conductor and piano (player included).

The singing is technically good, however about half way through, the mind does wander. They used the projector to provide an English translation. Unfortunately this was marred by spelling mistakes. It also broke words over two lines. A bit more effort would have helped.

It occurred to me that it would have been better if they dispensed with the video introduction. Instead the photographs could have been used throughout the singing to illustrate the events that unfolded.

In contrast to the choir, the drummers were positively exuberant. They have been together since 1989, and their enjoyment of the music showed.

They used a large wooden drum, slightly smaller than a kettle drum. These had a wonderful reverberance, when all were played together they filled the James Hay theatre to amplified rock music volumes.

Their show started with a sole flute player.

The next piece set the tone of the rest of the show with colorful dancers and hypnotic rhythms.

During on piece, where two drummer fight over one drum, one of the drummers was pushed off the stage into the audience (to the amusement of the audience).

Also of note was a solo performance by a drummer with his drum mounted at head height. The energy put into the playing was reflected not only in the powerful sound, but in the movement of his whole body to pound the drum into submission.

The drums are struck with a solid stick with force, these players are fit people. Halfway through I was expecting someone to pierce a drum.

The encore piece was a rain dance, ironic since it was raining at the time.

The show ended with a few speeches and the company sang “Po kare kare ana”.

The Wadatsumi Drummers are not to be missed, but I could easily avoid the choir.

NB
21/8/96