Wars and Windmills

25 September 2010

100 Greatest First Lines

American Book Review posted what it considers to be the 100 best first lines from novels.  I posted the top ten and a few others that are my favorite– see if you agree:

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

38. All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

59. It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

66. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. —David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

Whole list here.

Art by the great Mark Weaver

20 September 2010

The Once and Future King

With a score of 1,064,500 points, Steve Weibe is again the Donkey Kong world champion.

According to the press release:
Wiebe last held the Donkey Kong record in spring of 2007, only to be bested by his movie rival Billy Mitchell months later. Mitchell’s score fell to New York’s Hank Chien in March of this year, but the Florida hot sauce distributor regained the title on July 31 with a score of 1,062,800 points.
Wiebe, who has attempted regaining the record at numerous live events over the years, recorded his championship game on August 30 for submission to Twin Galaxies, who verified and announced the score on Monday, September 20 as the new World Record.

A grand day.  If you have not a clue as to why this blithesome news is landing on happy ears, watch King of Kong and stew in the pure evil that is Billy Mitchell.

06 September 2010


I listen to these as though by doing so I am guaranteed salvation.  Evidence suggests there may be more to salvation than devotion to stellar podcasts, but I am hoping it will at least help.

What others am I missing, just in case?

01 September 2010


The idea is simple. The whole movie was divided into 15-second segments. Fans could then go and claim a segment and film it in which ever way their nerdy selves so desired, and then it was pieced back together.

I must admit that I was a little concerned that the segments and mostly the cuts between them would make for a disjointed and unpleasant viewing experience. I was wrong and found my lack of faith disturbing.

In earnest, on some level we all love Star Wars. Some love it more. Some love it most. Those in the latter category have a shallow pool in which to draw what I will call 'socially expectable' avenues in which to proclaim and manifest their devotion. Most attempts are met with the pure-gold vitriol of say, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from Conan O'Brien.

No more. Uncut has given these nerds the outlet they so deserve and they even won a little award called Emmy for their troubles.

So, after you get back from the Tosche station with your power converters, watch the whole thing here: Star Wars Uncut.