At the beginning of 2021,
prompted by Russell Crowe's defense of Master and Commander,
I began yet another re-read of the twenty Aubrey-Maturin novels.
Or, as the fandom would have it, another circumnavigation.
It's probably my fifth or sixth circumnavigation,
since I bought the complete boxed set as a Christmas present to myself
in the early aughts.
I completed the twentieth book, Blue at the Mizzen, yesterday,
and also the few pages of the final, unfinished novel, 21.
(I also read about 120 other books in 2021,
down from a stupendous 200 books in 2020,
but that's neither here nor there.)
Author: Robert Nystrom
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Genever Benning
Keywords: programming, interpreters
Reading period: 10–28 December, 2021
I've read hundreds of technical books over the last 40 years.
Crafting Interpreters is an instant classic,
and far more readable and fun than many of the classics.
Nystrom covers a lot of ground in this book,
building two very different interpreters for Lox,
a small dynamic language of his own design.
He takes us through every line of
jlox, a Java-based tree-walk interpreter,
and of clox, a bytecode virtual machine written in C.
For the first implementation, jlox,
he covers such topics as scanning,
parsing expressions with recursive descent,
evaluating expressions, …continue.
Title: Fire and Blood
Author: George R.R. Martin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Reading period: 28 December, 2018–1 January, 2019
I've been waiting longer than most for George R.R. Martin
to finish the A Song of Fire and Ice series:
I read the first book when it was newly published in paperback in 1997.
Fire and Blood is a new addition to the series,
but it is a prequel and does not advance the plot at all.
This book is a history of the first half of the
three hundred–year reign of the Targaryen dynasty,
the dragon riders who conquered Westeros
with their firebreathing dragons.
The Game of …continue.
Title: Watership Down (miniseries)
Director: Noam Murro
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Watched: 30 December, 2018–1 January, 2019
Two years ago, just after the death of Richard Adams,
I reread the book of Watership Down
for the first time in many years,
having originally discovered it when it was new
in the mid-1970s.
There's a beautiful new adaptation,
an animated miniseries made by the BBC and Netflix.
This adaptation is largely faithful to the original book:
The brave young rabbits striking out on their own
before their home warren is destroyed;
creating a new warren on Watership Down;
the war with the totalitarian warren of Efrafa;
the peaceful aftermath.
One shortcoming is that
although the …continue.
Title: The Heart's Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Keywords: fiction, gay, irish
Reading period: 30 October, 2018
Before I begin to describe The Heart's Invisible Furies
with abundant spoilers, let me say two things.
Despite what I describe below, the book is very funny,
as Cyril recounts his frequent fuckups.
You would never know,
from reading the back cover or the excerpted reviews inside,
that Cyril is gay.
Yet Cyril's sexuality is the central theme of the book.
I can only assume that this is a marketing decision,
with which I strongly disagree.
16-year-old Catherine is forced out of her Cork village by the parish …continue.
Director: Lee Unkrich
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Watched: 25 December, 2017
Coco is another delightful movie from Pixar:
It's a magical tale of a Mexican boy who passionately wants to play music,
even though his shoemaking family has rejected music ever since
his great-great-grandfather pursued his own musical ambitions
and abandoned his wife and child—the eponymous Coco, who is now ancient.
Miguel discovers that his despised ancestor is none other than Ernesto de la Cruz,
the most famous musician of his time.
In order to enter a talent competition on Día de los Muertos,
he steals Ernesto's guitar from his mausoleum,
whereupon he is transported to …continue.
Title: Skinny Dip
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: humor, crime
Reading period: 18–19 February, 2017
Joey Perrone is very surprised to find herself thrown off a cruise ship
on her second wedding anniversary.
After a night of swimming, she washes up on a small Florida island
in the company of a prematurely retired investigator.
Joey persuades Mick Stranahan not to report the attempted murder,
but instead to investigate and torment her worthless husband, Chaz,
who turns out to be a biostitute for a major polluter of the Everglades,
as well as a relentless pussyhound, an inept killer, and an all-round shitheel.
Hiaasen has a lot …continue.
Title: The Italian Job
Director: Peter Collinson
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: heist, comedy, cars
Watched: 17 Febuary, 2017
The Italian Job movie is worth your time.
One of the quintessential movies of the Swinging Sixties,
its British sensibility wears well, almost 50 years on.
The humour still works.
And it's probably the best advertisement that the Mini ever had.
Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) has inherited a plan to rip off $4 million in gold bullion
from Fiat in Turin.
He and the lads are going to help the balance of payments
by bringing the loot back from the Common Market.
And they're going to do it by causing the …continue.
Title: Kill Me Three Times
Director: Kriv Stenders
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Keywords: black comedy thriller
Watched: 10 February, 2017
A jealous husband engages
a private detective-cum-killer for hire (Simon Pegg) to follow his wife.
Upon proof of her infidelity, he orders a hit,
which triggers a comedy of errors and double crosses,
which ultimately leaves most of the cast dead at each other's hands.
There's not much to like about this Australian noirish comedy.
It's bloody but not that funny.
The characters are thinly drawn and unengaging.
They're a far cry from Tarantino's gonzo motormouths
or the Coen Brother's quirky killers.
Title: I Shall Wear Midnight
Author: Terry Pratchett
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: humor, fantasy
Reading period: 3–5 February, 2017
Tiffany Aching is now the overworked and overly responsible Witch of the Chalk.
People everywhere are fearing and distrusting witches more.
When her patient, the ailing Baron dies, she is blamed.
Other troubles multiply.
Eventually she realizes that the Cunning Man,
a long-dead witchfinder,
is seeping poison into people's hearts.
Aided by the troublemaking Nac Mac Feegle, she defeats him.
I Shall Wear Midnight follows
The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith.