The data looked ridiculous from the outset. There’s one parameter, when you’re consulting the oracle (sorry, the space-weather data), the Bz, that you want to be a negative number. I’ve seen great shows when the Bz was around ‑3 or ‑5. The longer it’s negative, the better.
Yesterday afternoon, every time I checked, the Bz was around ‑15. Crazy.
And the auroral oval looked like this. When it’s yellow, that’s usually a good sign. Red—that much red—is flat-out amazing.
There’s a lot going on. But then there’s always a lot going on in a Gene Wolfe book.
This was my first read of The Land Across, and it’s going to require additional read-throughs for me to pick up on some of the puzzles. But even on a surface level, this book is very “all things to all people”.
Grafton, an American travel writerWell, that’s what he claims to be, and why wouldn’t we believe him?, travels to an unnamed country in Eastern Europe, the land across the mountains, intending to write the first travel book about the nation. Very quickly he becomes entangled in the local law, Kafkaesque bureaucracy, and a conspiracy that grows to include a haunted house, at least one love triangle, a buried treasure, and a Satanic cult. Strange figures come and goFor example: was that Dracula?, seemingly at random. Some of the ghostly events turn out to have mundane explanations; others are in fact ghosts.
To quote one of the police officers in the first chapter:
“All maps are wrong. If the [enemies] come, they will be lost.”
Leland inherits a guitar from his “uncleMore likely his dad.”. Ray—once a touring musician, now a successful oilmanHe’s the type who would bristle at the suggestion he’s an “oilperson”.—gets a call from a former bandmate, letting him know their deceased friend left his guitar to some kid in his area (“and you might want to check in on it before it turns into firewood”).
Kind of like Viking last week, this one’s a Canadian comedy that becomes less funny in the second half. Where Viking went a little dark, though, Guitar Lessons delves deep into the characters’ flaws, and shows us how they try to fix themselves. There’s a deep lake of drama under the surface laughs. This film has things to say about fatherhood—biological and adoptive—addiction, growing up (for both teens and 50-year-olds), privilege and wealth, relationships, and life in oil country. It’s also beautifully filmed: meditative in its framing. There’s a long sequence of Ray cleaning, repairing, and polishing his old friend’s guitar, wordless. The shots of the countryside and the towns throughout are lovely, too.
Tonight I showed / watched the movie Viking at the Evans.
Five astronauts have been sent to Mars. Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Viking Society gathers five other people—their psychological profiles matched as closely as possible with the Martian astronauts—to try and head off any possible problems on the Red Planet.
But they’re only human, so naturally things go a bit wrong. Some take things a bit too seriously; others, not nearly seriously enough.
I thought the movie was pretty good. It was quite funny until suddenly it wasn’t funny at all anymore. I was amused at the acronym for the analog NASA (ASEA, the American Space Exploration Agency; people in the movie definitely were asea). I think the fact that most of the music reminded me of the soundtrack to the short film “They’re Made Out Of Meat” added to my amusement.
Once the turn from comedy to tragedyMaybe “tragedy” is too strong a word; drama? happened, I was still locked in to the story. The scene near the end in the phone booth felt pretty raw to me.