Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five mini-reviews

"The Yiddish Policeman's Union," by Michael Chabon: Another great one from Chabon. Not quite as rich and chunky as "Cavalier and Clay," for which he won the Pulitzer... but truly great. Chabon is an author you have to read slowly, as his prose is dense with wonderful description, idiom and thoughtful insights. Like C&C, though, I did feel that the ending was a bit... short. It just kinda stops. Yeah, I know... that happens a lot in crime thrillers, and "literary" works. But I was still hoping for at least a teaspoonful of denouement. Still... a fantastic read. A must for any alternative history fan. Grade: A-

Boom Blox game for the Wii. It's virtual Jenga with angry devil monkeys and explosives. If you need more of a description or review than that, this game is not for you. If, however, that description makes you think, "Hell, yeah! That's what Jenga has always needed! Devil monkeys and bombs! Awesome!"... than you should go out, right now, and buy this game. It is, in fact, awesome. Single player adventure, party fun, and build-your-own modes all are great. Taking off 1/2 grade because in the built it mode you are limited in the number of blocks you can place, and because you can only rotate blocks by 90-degrees, making real domino chains kinda a pain. Also, the music can't be turned off and gets repetitive. Minor quibbles. A-

don't see speed racerSpeed Racer. Hot tranny mess. Racing can't be exciting when the laws of physics are entirely ignored. Doing the seemingly impossible isn't astounding when everything that's being done is impossible. It's not racing... it's neon vegas pinball acid fireworks slap happy zoom spazz. Which, if you're my 8-year-old son, ends up being, "OK." More Christina Ricci, please, and less Rain. John Goodman and Susan Sarandon are wasted on this. Or the script is wasted on them. Or something. C-

Mario Kart Wii. Way more fun that Speed Racer. Good, funky, chirpy karting fun. Good characters, good graphics, a decent set of tracks, varied music. Can be frustrating because you can go from 1st to 12th place in an instant if it's a close race and you get hit by one of the disruptive pick-ups that racers can, well, pick up. Half-grade bonus for including cycles as well as karts. The wheel thingy is lots of fun, too. B+

Iron Man. Pimp my hide. Fun, fast, shallow. It's a comic book movie... whaddya want? Solid B.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Comment imbalance

I had an interesting epiphany a day or two ago, based on a couple notions:

  1. I blog more when I get comments. Which makes perfect sense, and the writing might either be in reference to a comment, or just make me feel good that somebody is reading my stuff.

  2. Content aggregators like (which I love, btw), live by directing attention to the postings of others' blogs/sites.

  3. Almost every BoingBoing post I've read has waaaaay more comments on it about a piece than there are on the originating site

Epiphany: content aggregators should encourage people to post some of their comments on the originating sites.

I mean... take this post from BoingBoing on a creepy slacks ad from 1970. It has (at this moment) 58 comments.  The original post has four. That seems, to me, to be about the norm; 10/15X the comments at BB as at the originating post. In some cases, you'll have a post where the BB readers start a full-on discussion, and the original post has no comments.

It's entirely fair for BoingBoing to bring content together from an incredible array of sources, and to serve it up to a whole horde of us Websters. It's not just fair, it's helpful and cool and fun.  And BoingBoing makes money off'n their ads. Again; cool. And getting a post BoingBoinged is huge a traffic boost for the originator. Sometimes so much so that small blogs end up crashing from the number of hits. A friend of mine once called that BBDOS -- BoingBoing Denial of Service.

But if readers want to respond to a post, shouldn't they do it on the original writer's blog/site? At least some of the time? 54 comments is more than I generally get in a year. I'd love to have that many readers having a discussion over something I wrote. And I guess I'd be glad to see that discussion happen at BoingBoing... but it would be cooler, still, if they'd come on ta my house and yap around the table that served the bloggy goodness.

Not a big deal. It just happened inside my head and I wanted to share the thought.