New review on lit blog: James Wood's How Fiction Works

My lovefest with books continues this week with a review of
James Wood's: How Fiction Works.

I am off to read some more...

Top ten books on Gutenberg

#1 The Outline of Science, Vol. 1 (of 4) by J. Arthur Thomson (21431)
#2 Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period by P. L. Jacob (16654)
#3 Illustrated History of Furniture by Frederick Litchfield (11252)
#4 The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana by Vatsyayana (10522)
#5 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (9269)
#6 Searchlights on Health by B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols (9007)
#7 History of the United States by Charles A. Beard and Mary Ritter Beard (8348)
#8 Our Day by William Ambrose Spicer (8004)
#9 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (7354)
#10 The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser in Plain English by Ray Vaughn Pierce (6712)

I stumbled across this while searching for some other texts. Only #4, #5 and #9 are the well-known ones. It seems rather bizarre that people are downloading the History of Furniture, the Dress from the Middle Ages more often than the Kamasutra or Pride and Prejudice (No need for a gender-based query, we all know!). Good to know that Science is trumping them all, or is the web full of only dweebs?

I am really perplexed. Any ideas?

How close can a shave be?

The safety razor was a great improvement over the cutthroat razor. But, after that it invention for the sake of marketing. To maintain customer curiosity, Gillette and friends come up with 'new' razors everytime I go to get a replacement.

There was Mach, then MACH III and MACH with a vibrating blade. I mean these are razors... not motor cars that can be endlessly customized, enhanced, improved. But, these guys will find something. I think the Onion really put a lid on the ridiculous improvements.

F*** everything, we are doing five blades.

When I do see five blades in the pharmacy aisle, I am gonna roll on the floor laughing.

Will the real Guitar Hero please stand up?

This house on Main Street usually had a sign advertising guitar and music lessons. While running by the store a few days ago, I saw that the sign had been altered to read - "Guitar Hero and Rock Band lessons also offered".

Guitar Hero and Rock Band are video games that have become hugely popular. When I first saw the 'guitar', I was shocked at how toy-like it was. Of course, the Guitar Hero guitar IS a toy and not really a guitar. It's nothing but a glorified joystick that is shaped like a guitar. One of my other labmates who does play a real guitar was humbled at his attempts to display his axe-skills on Guitar hero. Guitar skills don't translate to the video game.

Perhaps, no one cares about real instruments anymore, and music teachers would rather teach anybody anything than go hungry. Learning an instrument is hard. Even to play decently it takes a few years. My own struggles with it have only reinforced the view that it requires a lot of patience, determination and discipline. Of course, once you are past the first stage, the fact that you can play can itself be a motivating thing.

While the initial motivation to learn an instrument may be to get the chicks, impress your buddies, or some TV-fueled teenage fantasy, which all seems rather silly in retrospect. The initial impetus is always public adoration, but eventually playing an instrument is mostly a solitary pleasure where you are your own audience. This solitary audience is an aspect that makes making music so liberating and relaxing. An escape into the abstract.

It seems a shame that few want to take the pains to learn how to play a real instrument. Instead of picking up a real instrument, people seem to want to pick up the guitar hero box. I hoped that perhaps this would encourage people to try the real thing. I know a guy in my lab who spent 2-3 hours in the summer getting better at guitar hero. If he had spent that time learning a real instrument, it would have paid much richer dividends.

Heart of a Dog - Review

Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog reviewed on the lit blog