Author: CaptainFez

Curmudgeon.

Book review: The Way of Zen

The Way of Zen.The Way of Zen by Alan Watts.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I have, of late, decided that I need to spend a little more time working on meditation, on myself. I’ve carried out a fair bit of investigation, mostly in mindfulness, but I’ve decided that I need something a little more rigorous: something I can make a more concerted effort with.

So it was that I decided to read up a little more on Zen. And what better place to start than with Alan Watts? Known for his copious writing on religions and esoterica, his The Way of Zen is considered a landmark work, something that introduced Zen Buddhism and Eastern philosophy to younger, Western audiences. (more…)

Games update? Sure, why not.

So I guess it’s time for a gaming update. I haven’t written about what I’ve been playing for a while because I just can’t seem to gather the impetus to do so.

I mean, it’s not UNrepresentative.

The next couple of weeks are going to be hectic as fuck – the house is almost completed and we’ll be moving within the next fortnight – so I guess now’s as good a time as any to cover the missing bits. So let’s do this!

(I understand if you don’t want to, frankly.)

(more…)

Book review: Why We Sleep

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams.Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

A book on the problems that problems sleeping could have. Does that sound good to you? I mean, the author has given TED talks, been hired by Google and has done the media rounds since this has been published, all on the strength of his scholarly interest in the effects of the Land of Nod.

A book on sleep. Written by a scientist. It’s pretty lucky that it isn’t a big snooze, then, isn’t it?

Any excuse.

*pause for laughter*

All right then. (more…)

Book review: The Allingham Minibus

The Allingham Minibus.The Allingham Minibus by Margery Allingham.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Before I picked up this iteration of The Allingham Minibus – a work that’s been around in varying versions since the 1970s – I’d never read any of Margery Allingham’s work. I knew little of her, save that she was considered one of the Queens of Crime, alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. I expected, given her contemporaries, that I’d have a quaint read ahead, of clockwork mysteries and tea and crumpets before bedtime.

Pictured: the 428. If you know, you know. 

Thankfully, that presumption was false. The 18 tales gathered together in this collection (the name of which admittedly made me think of a Tarago packed with story denizens) are of a distinctly stranger bent. (more…)

Book review: Tar Heel Lightnin’

Tar Heel Lightnin': How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World.Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World by Daniel S. Pierce.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I wouldn’t have thought a state-specific recounting of the historical importance of a spirit well-known for poisoning and/or blinding a percentage of its consumers would be something I’d be eager to read. I would’ve thought such a work would be a little too esoteric – I’m neither a moonshine aficionado, nor an NC native – for me, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong on this count. Tar Heel Lightnin’ is a lot less dry (fitting, I guess) than I’d suspected a scholarly work on the subject might be.

I think you’ve had enough, buddy.

(That said, most scholarly works don’t usually include a hefty tranche on the dodgy history of early NASCAR racing. But maybe they should.)
(more…)

Book review: Infinite Ground

Infinite Ground.Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

So what’d happen if you were in a restaurant, right? And then you got up from the table, went to the bathroom and then never came back.

Would you be missed? Would people know where to look? More importantly, would people know how to look?

This is, in a fashion, the thrust of Martin MacInnes’ first novel, Infinite Ground. It’s a detective story – more or less – but that’s a bit like saying that Gravity’s Rainbow is a war story. There’s a bit more to it.
(more…)

Book review: Freakonomics

Freakonomics.Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

I studied economics for a couple of years in high school. I did not study it particularly well, nor did I remember very much.

The sum total of my economic knowledge is the term stagflation, and I only remember this because it sounds like antlers with a boner. That, and the fact that Ross Gittins wore Dunlop KT26s when he delivered my year’s economic update before the HSC. Two facts, you’ll agree, that stand me in good stead for understanding the economy as a whole.

HSC students gonna know what I mean.

This is the background with which I read Freakonomics, a collection of chapters loosely corralled together under the guise of making data answer interesting questions (such as why sumo wrestlers might cheat) instead of boring ones (involving GDP and the like).
(more…)

Book review: Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 6

Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 6.Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 6 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Well, it’d seem I’m cutting through these collections the way prison-toilet wine cuts through intestinal lining. Time for some thoughts on another hilarious collection of lost moments from a horrific human research facility masquerading as a prison.

I’ve almost got it. Can you explain a little more, though?

Y’know, with DEATH GAMES. (more…)

Book review: Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 5

Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 5.Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 5 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

It’s always a good sign when a collection begins with the potential execution of a main character.

Dunno, but for the love of god please work on it.

It’s not so good when you then remember there’s about another hundred volumes of the story to go, so chances that they’ll be successfully poleaxed are probably slim. (more…)