Re: Holiday Presents Thread

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OT Thread request: Can we have a thread on the Canadian governmental crisis? (That's probably a bad word to use, but the right one escapes me now. Suggestions?)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:04 AM
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I would like advice on the following:

1. A present for a very physically coordinated and not yet super-verbal 20 month old girl. The present should not be blocks, a stuffed animal, or clothes.

2. A delightful, absorbing novel for a 32-year-old experimental psychologist. Quick reads are good. Kidlit is just fine. Mysteries are also good, but they should be of the classic-detective rather than the crime-novel variety. Subject is very fond of Peter Wimsey and the Hornblower books. Big hits in the past have included Norman Rush's Mating and The Golden Compass.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:25 AM
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If the Canadian governmental crisis were a Wii game which would it be?

Super Smash Bros. Brawl?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:26 AM
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2.2: Quick reads are good. Kidlit is just fine.

This may be pushing those two categories a bit far, but Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game is a kid's "mystery" that is a hoot. In the spirit of juvenalia, pair it with Interstellar Pig by William Sleator.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:37 AM
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2.2: How about Jasper Fforde?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:07 AM
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2.2: Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:12 AM
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2.1 - Some kind of ride-on wheeled vehicle, propelled by the feet (to either side rather than a la Fred Flintstone). There are all kinds, from traditional wooden ones to themed ones with beepy things on the steering wheels etc.
2.2 - Garth Nix, Sabriel. Or Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:15 AM
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The really good Wii games are few and far between, as I understand it. Most of what I see at the store is ports or movie tie-ins. Twilight Princess, Mario Kart, and a few others.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:26 AM
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Boom Blox is fun.


Posted by: nic | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:27 AM
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I hear good things about De Blob. If you are shopping for 8 year olds.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:27 AM
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Also, if you use the Wii Shopping Channel, you can buy a game called World of Goo, which is a sort of physics-based bridge building puzzle game. It downloads onto your Wii, and it costs 1500 Wii Points (ie $15). I played the PC version and it is fun, if a little challenging. Maybe not appropriate for younger kids because of the difficulty level.


Posted by: nic | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:35 AM
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Subject is very fond of [Peter Wimsey and] the Hornblower books.

Patrick O'Brian? 8 years' Christmas and birthdays there.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:35 AM
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What age range for the Wii games? Good Wii games include, but are not necessarily limited to: Super Smash Bros. Brawl (3D fighter, cartoon violence), Animal Crossing (super happy fun-time mortgage management with cute animals for neighbors - I haven't played the Wii version but previous incarnations were fun), Mario Galaxy (platformer), Mario Kart (go kart racing w/ hilarious cartoon violence), Wii Fit (yoga and aerobics, very fun), Wario Ware: Smooth Moves (very silly and fun party game).

The Wii will also play GameCube games and I could go on at some length about good games for the GameCube.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:47 AM
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Subject is very fond of [Peter Wimsey and] the Hornblower books.

I'm not sure how in print they are, but what about Michael Innes? I love those, and there's fourteen thousand million of them. With only slightly less enthusiasm, Ngaio Marsh?

For the Hornblower niche, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Rifles books? (There's an initial series of ten or so that take Sharpe through the Peninsular War to Waterloo, and then Cornwell couldn't let go, and started writing about Sharpe's earlier life and exploits after the war. I would stick with the first bunch -- the later ones comparatively suck.) Also, while they are so unPC as to make my enjoyment of them really kind of embarrassing, all the Flashman books? Again, being careful to start from the beginning -- the last bunch were lamer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:48 AM
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13: 7 and 9. To be boastfully specific about what what that means in the case of my two, it means I don't want gouts of blood and such, but don't worry about too much complexity or difficulty. And if GameCube games work, suggest away.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:50 AM
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2.1 Blocks are out? How about Lincoln ("team of rivals") logs? or pull-toys with moving parts she can fiddle with. Also second emir's ideas in 7.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:52 AM
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And for the 20 month old girl, while it's cheap and will not impress the parents, I find that the toy folding stroller is a huge hit with kids of that age. Our playground used to get kind of ugly, because all the kids wanted them, but people only buy them for girls, so there was a great deal of squabbling.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:53 AM
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There are no good games for the GameCube.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:54 AM
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I agree with all of 13. Mario Cart is lots of fun, with (I think) no violence. Also, Mario Party, which is like a board game with mini-games in the middle.

Also, Guitar Hero is lots of fun. We just got World Tour with the full band, and it was in high demand over Thanksgiving weekend with all age groups.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:56 AM
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I hear good things about De Blob. If you are shopping for 8 year olds.

Probably a bit frustrating for an eight-year-old unless the eight-year-old is really good at games, actually, and it's a lot of fun at age 32, too.

Boom Blox is great (the game equivalent of knocking down towers). and probably even better for children. Mario Kart one can't really go wrong with because it's a driving game, where, if you're bad at racing, you get the best weapons to mess up the people who are good at racing. Mario Party is pretty silly, but it is essentially a series of minigames that take advantage of the controller really well, that anyone can play.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:58 AM
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Maybe the Erast Fandorin books for the mystery reader? Winter Queen was good. Different flavor of historical, but Dawn Powell was brilliant and funny. The Locusts Have no King is good; her plots run to the frantic, but prose and characterization are brilliant.

Maybe easel-blackboard + chalk or easel+ jumbo paper to drape over it for the 20-month old.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:59 AM
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wow, a nice chance to promote
shop Mongolia!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:04 AM
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Boom Blox is great (the game equivalent of knocking down towers). and probably even better for children.

You won't radicalize us that easily, cAla Qaeda.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:08 AM
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If you're like me and disappointed that the Mongolian issue of Jetson stamps at read's link actually shows some other set of stamps, you can see, "Elroy's adventures with his family beautifully drawn by a Mongolian artist G. Radnaabazar. " here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:10 AM
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Kids">http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Far-North-Various-Artists/dp/B000005G3G/i>Kids love music


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:14 AM
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Sorry.

Kids love folk music.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:15 AM
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Mario Kart - and pretty much any game with the names of Mario, Wario or Luigi in the title or with Mario on the cover - will feature violence no worse than any Bugs Bunny cartoon. Someone might get flattened for comedic effect but nobody's going to bleed. They are never going to get anything but an "E for Everyone" rating, if that helps. (Do make use of the ESRB rating system, as it really is a good thing if imperfectly implemented.)

And gods yes, Guitar Hero. Mine is for PS2, so I didn't think about it, but gods yes. Get Guitar Hero. (You might also get earplugs for yourself and Buck, but your kids will love the game.)

There are no good games for the GameCube.

Not true! However, all the age-appropriate games I can immediately call to mind have later Wii versions (Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Animal Crossing) and the rest of the ones I would recommend - the Resident Evil remakes, for instance - are all super-bloody horror games.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:15 AM
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We're in luck. Today in the Times: "Gifts for Hard Cases." Please do consider the porcelain horse chesnut for everyone on your list. A bargain at $950.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:16 AM
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sorry, i don't know what people operate that site, and am not sure whether they could deliver in time for the holidays, but hopefully they can


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:19 AM
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There is something sardonic to be done with juxtaposing the Neediest Cases and the Hard Cases, but I'll be darned if I can figure out what.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:20 AM
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You can't go wrong with Super Mario Galaxy.

For the more adult crowd, there's WiiSex. You have to invest in a WiiBed, but it turns your favorite interpersonal activity into your favorite competitive group party game.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:20 AM
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I don't know that I'm going to be doing gifts this year.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:32 AM
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this site seems has
more products


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:33 AM
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Super Mario Galaxy.

Owned, adored, completed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:33 AM
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I played guitar hero on the Wii the other week and -- like all the best Wii games -- it was absurdly fun after about 2 minutes.

I am also on the point of becoming addicted to the awesome World of Goo, which I don't think you can buy in a package but it is cheap and available for PCs, Macs and the Wii via Wiiware. It's terrific.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:39 AM
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I just want to thank LB for telling us about American Science and Surplus. Now my nephew gets a gift certificate, and he can order his own robot parts and plastic skulls.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:39 AM
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Music for the little one. Dance dance dance. But make sure the adults can stand it too. Classic R&B is a good choice. Based on the other thread, I am getting my 4yo niece the Hippos.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:43 AM
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There's this Zack & Wiki game which is a cartoonish but not-terribly-easy puzzle/adventure type thing. It's probably just right for smart kids.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:48 AM
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Ooh, yeah, I should give them a link again. American Science and Surplus. Great, great random stuff -- toys, lab equipment, kitchen wares, magnets, whatever.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:53 AM
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My 2 year-old and 5 year-old nephews (and their parents) are getting this. It was a request, strangely enough.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:57 AM
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I've enjoyed the Raymond's Raving Rabbids series: a set of very silly mini-games tied loosely together with a plot. A good party game.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:58 AM
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Music for the little one.

Oooh, this is a great idea. My favorite two-year-old is a huge Michael Franti fan.

Of course, anything that becomes a favorite is going to get listened to death. Even so, there's nothing like a toddler piping up with oddly apropos song lyrics. "I'm a human being, y'all!" has become iconic for the aforementioned young one.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:02 AM
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Good music for kids and adults: Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:04 AM
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Also great dance music for kids: the Jackson 5, bouncy Beatles songs, Buddy Holly, rock-a-billy and early rock-n-roll. In the non-annoying (mostly) kids' music category are Joe McDermott and Sandra Boynton.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:05 AM
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Also great dance music for kids: the Jackson 5, bouncy Beatles songs, Buddy Holly, rock-a-billy and early rock-n-roll. In the non-annoying (mostly) kids' music category are Joe McDermott and Sandra Boynton.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:05 AM
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40: awesome, jm.

Also awesome: Shop Mongolian--camel yarn! felt! yak down slippers! Very reasonable prices.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:06 AM
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So let's say you wanted to give someone World of Goo as a Christmas present. Let's also say that this someone was your nephew, and you're pretty sure he'd like the game (and you're really sure it's a lot more affordable than anything else you could get him that he'd want). BUT, because it's a WiiWare game, it can't exactly be opened, thus spoiling the whole "Christmas present" aspect of the thing. Is this there a way to still give this non-physical present in a way that preserves the classic unwrappy Christmas fun, or should I just give up?


Posted by: zombie comment | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:08 AM
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Another enthusiastic vote for the Wii Fit, if you can get your hands on one. Fun, fitness, and a computer persona that mocks you if you slack off. So, so fun!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:10 AM
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47: Download it and burn it to CD?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:10 AM
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47: The "scavenger hunt" gift presentation: wrap up a box with a clue inside. The clue should lead to another clues etc. until it finally takes him to the Wii, where it's already been downloaded or where you've hidden instructions or whatever.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:12 AM
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47: Work in advance with his parents to download the game onto his Wii late Christmas eve. Then present an elaborate Goo-themed card that tells him to go check his Wii for his actual present on Christmas day.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:14 AM
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Oh wait. 49 just revealed my ignorance, didn't it? Keegan's Wii lives at his mother's house.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:14 AM
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Except that Di's idea is the same as mine -- but better.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:14 AM
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Keegan's Wii lives at his mother's house.

The nation's social crisis summed up in one terrifically sad line.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:16 AM
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2.2: The Alan Lewrie books by Dewey Lambdin are quite fun, and pretty damn dirty. (Similar to Hornblower et al., these are a series of naval adventures set in the Napoleonic wars.). Or, for a fantasy touch, maybe the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:16 AM
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45: We looove Sandra Boynton in our house. Another commenter (Tripp?) said he couldn't stand her board books, which seems utterly bizarre to me.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:16 AM
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one terrifically sad line

Yeah, all he's got at boring old dad's house is an old, pre-360 XBox that's used almost exclusively as a DVD player. On the other hand, my house also has two small children who idolize him, so there's that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:19 AM
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Mmm. Philadelphia Chickens!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:19 AM
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Also great dance music for kids:

Unfunkked volumes 1-8. Plus, they get an early start learning obscure sexual euphemisms, so it's educational!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:20 AM
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Kidlit is just fine.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret was Rory's last book club book. Quick read, and enjoyable for young and old.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:22 AM
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Sandra Boynton

She does music too? Same one who writes the books and cards?


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:22 AM
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59: Whichever mix posted here with the song "Attention!" on it is one of Rory's current favorites.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:23 AM
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61: Indeed. It's goofy kid stuff, but mine kids liked it. She's got a couple of books that are an illustrated book of song lyrics, with a CD included.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:26 AM
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Avoid the "Pigorian Chant" CD. A hilaripus concept, but actually listening to it brings no joy or really any response at all. Unless you speak Latin.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:27 AM
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Has someone already suggested the music of Dan Zanes, who's really, really wonderful for both adults and kids alike? I'm especially fond of his earlier cds. He also has a DVD dance party, that's lots of fun for the whole family. If the whole family is mine, which is to say absurdly goofy and willing to dance together.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:41 AM
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I'm freeriding on the wii games since our kids are getting the box for xmas. What would be your top two games for 6 & 9? Is it really worth the search for the fit?

My thoughts on books & toddlers:
- any of henning mankell's kurt wallander's mysteries would be a delight
- motherless brooklyn is my absolute favorite book, so fun. I just ran into a friend reading it in a coffee shop - is it making a comeback, or is it an NC thing?
- my 20 month old loves zooming around the house on his wheeled horse (something like this).


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:42 AM
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Does the giver's gender influence the gifts that they give?

Kids like Bob Marley CDs. I think that I've previously recommended Animalia as a great kid book that parents will not get annoyed reading multiple times.

Also, an adventure to do any "I'm a big kid" activity. Preferably, take them on this adventure/exploration prior to the Holiday.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:44 AM
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What would be your top two games for 6 & 9? Is it really worth the search for the fit?

We've had the box for a year -- Super Mario Galaxy has been the most beloved game.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:48 AM
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For Wii? Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The nunchuk is the Force and the Wii controller is a friggin' lightsaber. I have mastered a move whereby I pick up a stormtrooper, strangle him with the Force, charge my lightsaber with Force lightning and impale him with it (all from a distance, mind you) before hurtling his limp body toward his cohorts!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:48 AM
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is it making a comeback, or is it an NC thing?

No idea. I read it years ago, but as a detective novel for a psychologist, it seems perfect. Man, but I loved that book.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:57 AM
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69: We need video!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:57 AM
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Dance music for all.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:58 AM
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My thoughts on books & toddlers:
- any of henning mankell's kurt wallander's mysteries would be a delight

Those books aren't exactly a "delight" for adults; I can only imagine what a toddler would think.

This is not to say I haven't read every one of them though.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:59 AM
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You know what else is great for kids? Gorgoroth. Okay, maybe it's grossly inappropriate for kids, but the documentary is pretty fascinating all the same.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:00 AM
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they they might be giants kids albums are really wonderful. and book-wise, those naomi something hornblower on dragons ones are great--ah, temeraire, I mean. naomi novik.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:00 AM
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they they might be giants kids albums are really wonderful

True. I really like "No!" regardless of how the kids feel about it (they liked it too, of course).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:08 AM
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2.2:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Duh.

Also, if I could get my hands on them, everyone I know would get one of these (via togolosh).


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:09 AM
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more music for younger people of all ages.

(I think it's quite good compared to most albums of "folk music for children." here is a track from that album that I have linked to previously).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:09 AM
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Although the Temeraire books... I'm basically the core audience: Hornblower! Yay! Dragons! I'm there! But they set off my 'nitpicking at the fundamentals of the premise' thing. The psychology of the dragons doesn't make any sense to me: why are they so compliant and obedient? I can work with something like the Anne McCaffery dragons, where the answer is "Look, they just are. It's a mystical bond thing. Don't ask, those are the rules." But Novik's dragons aren't like that, there's a lot more free will going on. At which point I can't figure out what's driving the level of compliance implicit in the whole structure of the society at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:14 AM
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The psychology of the dragons doesn't make any sense to me: why are they so compliant and obedient?

Maybe you should stick to our old friend, Kenneth Eng. His dragons do nothing but flip out and kick ass all day long.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:21 AM
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My nitpickiness problem is an embarrassing one, because I don't have any difficulty with absolutely ridiculous premises, what bothers me is perceived internal inconsistency. So I'm always bitching about how, e.g., the Harry Potter books don't make sense, and getting the "Duh, what part of magic isn't real didn't you understand?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:23 AM
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I read in the NYer profile of Naomi Klein that she grew up listening to Pacifica Archive tapes of the history of American struggle told through folk music. I thought that would be a great thing to do once I have kids, and not before.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:24 AM
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What about presents for me? I need suggestions. There's nothing I want.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:25 AM
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83: Did you see the porcelain horse chestnut?

I miss ogged's alerting us to horrible people we can make fun of. Modern Love just isn't the same.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:29 AM
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Oooh, I'm getting Gravity for myself. No! goes on the list for the 4yo. She was, and is, delighted by No, David!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:31 AM
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CS Forester fans would like "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat.

"Hitler may have three hundred U-boats crewed by Nazi fanatics, but we have duffel coats, and stiff upper lips, and hidden inner emotional turmoil, and therefore will prevail."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:35 AM
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

I hated this book. Perhaps others might disagree, but it was a totally unrealistic depiction of an autistic kid.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:38 AM
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the level of compliance implicit in the whole structure of the society

Horses? Elephants? It's not as if these animals can't say no, and frequently do. So they question is, why do they say yes ever? I don't think it's all pain management. (Statement left ambiguous for the perverted).


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:42 AM
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More to 78, part of what I like about that album is that it isn't in any way condescending. They're playing those songs because they like them, not out of any attempt for "cute."

I may be biased, since that was the music that I grew up on. Which reminds me that my autumn mix from back when had a number of songs that I would have liked as a kid. I don't appear to have uploaded a copy of that mix, perhaps I should.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:42 AM
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81 - No, no, that's the basis of all good fan nitpicking! Eventually you can work your way up to discussing the failure to properly depict replicator-driven post-scarcity economics in Star Trek: TNG.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:45 AM
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"Hitler may have three hundred U-boats crewed by Nazi fanatics, but we have duffel coats, and stiff upper lips, and hidden inner emotional turmoil, and therefore will prevail."

86: In fact, CS Forester's The Good Shepherd could be described by precisely the same sentence. Although you'd want to add something about a really pathological need for coffee.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:45 AM
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90: AFAIR, they don't get into what replicators require as feedstock. Under the assumption that they require something, who's to say it is a post-scarcity economy?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:47 AM
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Avoid the "Pigorian Chant" CD. A hilaripus concept, but actually listening to it brings no joy or really any response at all. Unless you speak Latin.

But isn't it mostly pig Latin?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:48 AM
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I thought the post scarcity economy of Star Trek was driven directly by a decision to abandon capitalism for a nebulous "philosophy of self improvement"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 10:50 AM
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1. A present for a very physically coordinated and not yet super-verbal 20 month old girl.

One of those pound-a-ball things was PK's absolute favorite toy at that age. Pound, pound, pound.

Speaking of,
Unfunkked volumes 1-8. Plus, they get an early start learning obscure sexual euphemisms, so it's educational!

True, true, true. Related anecdote: PK heard the Humpty Dance the other day for the first time. "This song is really fun, but if you listen to the words, it's kind of bad. But that's part of the fun, isn't it?"


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:20 AM
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Great Wii games (for adults and kids):

Super Mario Galaxy
Zelda: Twilight Princess
Zack & Wiki
Boom Blox
Mario Kart
WarioWare: Smooth Mooves
Super Smash Bros Brawl
World of Goo (Wii Ware)
Lost Winds (Wii Ware)

Great Wii games (for teens/adults):
Resident Evil 4
No More Heroes

Great Gamecube games (for adults + kids):
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Zelda: WindWaker
Super Monkey Ball 1+2
Beyond Good & Evil
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
Pikmin 1+2
F Zero GX
Rogue Squadron

Great Gamecube games (for teens/adults)
Eternal Darkness
Metroid Prime 1+2
Resident Evil 4
Viewtiful Joe


To be honest, though, I spend most of my Wii time on Virtual Console games. There's a treasure trove of perfectly emulated classic games there.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:25 AM
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1: Prorogue, baby.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:28 AM
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Pirogue.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:32 AM
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Pierogies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:33 AM
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91: I've read that, and the bit that stuck with me was the US destroyer captain's love of horrible-sounding sandwiches composed of raw onion, corned beef and mayonnaise, described in visceral detail. I think Forester must have had some sort of traumatic experience in a New York deli that stuck with him...

Forester also wrote a very gritty book about the Rifles in the Peninsular War called "Death to the French" which makes Sharpe look positively effete. IIRC Churchill was a great fan, and was reading it en route to meet Giraud; his secretary spotted it just in time to stop the great man getting out of his plane to be photographed while carrying the book, with title displayed prominently...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:37 AM
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Pie orgies!!!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:38 AM
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a nebulous "philosophy of self improvement"

The annoying intellectual exoticism of space travelers...


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:39 AM
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100: You really want mustard or ketchup on that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:40 AM
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the US destroyer captain's love of horrible-sounding sandwiches composed of raw onion, corned beef and mayonnaise, described in visceral detail

Visceral detail sums it up. Forester's not a great writer, but still, I haven't seen that book since I was sixteen and I'm cold, wet, and tired just thinking about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:41 AM
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81: discussing the failure to properly depict replicator-driven post-scarcity economics in Star Trek: TNG.

A nitpick that took me years to come to, but has since totally colored my perception of the work, is the unrealistic economy and the effed up sentient creature geography of Middle-Earth.

On the magic stuff, I had the same complaint with movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. What's a good versus an average move? (And it changes radically over the course of the story.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:46 AM
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no blood for mithril!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:51 AM
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the unrealistic economy and the effed up sentient creature geography of Middle-Earth.

What part of serfdom troubles you, Samwise Gamgee?


Posted by: OPINIONATED GANDALF | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:53 AM
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Christ, Paper Mario, how could I forget it? Not that I finished it, but it was a fun game. Also, thank you for reminding me of the name of Eternal Darkness, which is possibly my favorite GameCube game of all. The fake TV fucking-with-us stuff got me every time.

I don't have any difficulty with absolutely ridiculous premises, what bothers me is perceived internal inconsistency.

You should never, ever, ever, ever, ever play D&D.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:56 AM
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the shire is of course economically self-reliant until the RUNNING DOGS OF THE SOUTH FARTHING start selling pipeweed to evil industirialist, slaveowner and genetic modifier saruman


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 11:56 AM
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108: I did once in high school. It went poorly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:03 PM
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105.last: I hated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but STFU about it because everyone around me was raving about how awesome it was and I didn't want to be a wet blanket. Seriously, the fighting in the top of the bamboo scene was utterly horrible, what with the little legs furiously churning in midair screaming "we're hanging from wires!!" The movie was filled with repeated brutal kicks to the groin of my suspension of disbelief.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:04 PM
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111 apparently hatred interferes with my ability to format HTML. I blame Jet Li.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:06 PM
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True. I really like "No!" regardless of how the kids feel about it (they liked it too, of course).

Iris was unresponsive to it when younger, but now loves it (at age 4.5). We all adore "Bed, Bed, Bed" (the 4 song EP).

2 good song collection CDs: The Bottle Let Me Down and Greasy Kid Stuff. The latter is compiled from a kids' show on the world's greatest radio station, WFMU. The theme music is by Steve Vai. Awesome. The former includes both some rockabilly covers and folk stuff, for a nice blend. Also a really tiresome Alejandro Escovedo song that has, frankly, turned me off of him entirely. But get it anyway.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:08 PM
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OK, I may have gotten causation backwards on the Steve Vai thing. Doesn't matter.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:10 PM
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best on the economics of magic is probably ursula leguin: nothing comes for free, you always pay somehow for what you think you're getting a cleverer way

harry potter is unreadably awful on this; tolkien on the whole not bad (certainly it's something he gave thought to), but he totally fudges with what gandalf can and can't do (gandalf being a hangover from a an earlier, much more playful book, who he enjoys too much in the earlier incarnation to let go of properly)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:12 PM
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OTOH, if Tolkein had been a economist, rather than a philologist...well, the book would have really really sucked.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:17 PM
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tolkien on the whole not bad

I was cheering for it all to come down to a Tom Bombadil/Sauron deathmatch. But venue would be everyting. Take Bombadil in the woods and Sauron in the blasted wastelands.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:19 PM
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i think tolkien's line on economics insofar as he had one was kneejerk william morris-ism probably -- ie it all worked fine in the middle ages, if only they hadn't invented BANKS

(morris was actually a marxist, but an extremely odd one)

if i didn't now have to drive upcountry (and offnet) to visit my dad i'd expand on the theory of the ONE RING as a figure for the CASH NEXUS


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:21 PM
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Why am I not surprised to find that someone has thought about this way too much.
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/tolkien/28208/1


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:22 PM
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117: this is proposed at the council of rivendell! but they decide that bombadil would get stoned and not bother turning up (bombadil is the cheech and chong of middle earth, amiably unkillable but not really in a good way)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:24 PM
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This appears to be the original of the essay linked to in 119.

I am irritated by sites like Suite101. As near as I can tell, they exist to attract google searches, generally using content that has already been printed elsewhere. Mostly, this bothers me because any meaningful context has been stripped away, so I can't judge where the author is coming from.

The version of the essay at Middle Earth Role Players isn't any better formatted, but I can see immediately who wrote the essay, and what kind of nerd he is.

I found out that reviews that I wrote for metapsychology online were being resold to other content aggregators, and it really bugged me. Suddenly my words and arguments were in this new place I didn't recognize! Fortunately the editor at metapsychology agreed not to resell the reviews.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:32 PM
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120.: Yes, I remember that they rejected it, but it would have been a cool fight. Maybe he would have turned into the Billy Jack of Middle-Earth. All cool and all except when he is unreasonably PROVOKED.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:33 PM
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120.: Yes, I remember that they rejected it, but it would have been a cool fight. Maybe he would have turned into the Billy Jack of Middle-Earth. All cool and all except when he is unreasonably PROVOKED.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:33 PM
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96 There's a treasure trove of perfectly emulated classic games there.

I am suddenly, and for the first time, filled with desire for a Wii.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:45 PM
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124: I had that reaction, too. What I really want, though, is a full size arcade machine that lets me play Smash TV and Xenophobe. I was totally addicted to those two.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 12:57 PM
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111: Try Wanted if you like nightmare physics and biology. That one makes Crouching and Hidden Whatevers seem perfectly rational.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 1:20 PM
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I know what you mean, but when it's happened to me, I've found it funny. Note the fourth link in that google search, the one to "modelsuzi.com." I don't link to it directly because if I remember correctly, it's NSFW.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 1:46 PM
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"111 apparently hatred interferes with my ability to format HTML. I blame Jet Li."

Jet Li wasn't in Crouching Tiger...

"What I really want, though, is a full size arcade machine that lets me play Smash TV and Xenophobe."

Smash TV is on Xbox Live Arcade.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 2:22 PM
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126: Try Wanted if you like nightmare physics and biology

I view this as a related but slightly different version of the issue. An apt characterization of this phenomenon is "Steven Seagal outruns physics" (from commenter PenH in a thread over at Bérubé's place).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:11 PM
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I think there is a difference between stories that are inconsistent in the way they treat the laws of nature because the writer is lazy and stories where the writer is deliberately being inconsistent.

Rabelais and Swift are easy examples of people being inconsistent for the sake of simple humor. But people can also flaunt laws of consistency just for the sake of creating a magical feel. Marquez and PK Dick are good examples here. I took Crouching Tiger to be more like Marquez or Dick than simple laziness.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:22 PM
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130: Agreed. I don't know that Crouching Tiger actually pulled it off, but that was what I thought they were going for... magical realism, or whatever you want to call it. Midnights Children is another example. I


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:27 PM
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Soup... are you all right? Speak to me, type something. Somebody call an ambulance!!11!!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:31 PM
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re: Crouching Croucher, Hidden Hider:
FFS, it's a standard HK movie convention. You might as well bitch about superman not needing to thrust his arms forward when he flies. "From Beijing with Love" has a particularly good instance of this phenomenon.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:33 PM
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FFS, it's a standard HK movie convention

I think the problem is that CTHD didn't do it well. I usually like the HK movies complete with wire work and even I thought parts of it were over the top.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:36 PM
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133: Yeah, the CTHD hate in this thread is puzzling -- the movie is not just a part of, it's about the HK fantasy martial arts genre. If you don't like fantasy martial arts cinema, then of course you wouldn't like CTHD, but to criticize it for over-the-top wire work and ridiculous fantasy fight sequences would be like criticizing Singing in the Rain because the way Gene Kelly keeps bursting into song and dance is too unrealistic.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:43 PM
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133: Yeah, the CTHD hate in this thread is puzzling -- the movie is not just a part of, it's about the HK fantasy martial arts genre. If you don't like fantasy martial arts cinema, then of course you wouldn't like CTHD, but to criticize it for over-the-top wire work and ridiculous fantasy fight sequences would be like criticizing Singing in the Rain because the way Gene Kelly keeps bursting into song and dance is too unrealistic.

It's not puzzling at all. CTHD has been seen by lots and lots of people who are largely unfamiliar with the HK fantasy martial arts genre, whatever that is. (what are some other examples?) To most of those people, the leaps of logic seem bizarre, because there's no way of knowing that they are references to, or parodies of, or pastiches of, other things from the past.

Similarly, people critize Bollywood movies because the way the characters keep bursting into song and dance is too unrealistic. Until they see a dozen or so of them, and get used to the conventions.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:50 PM
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133 - It's a definite HK movie thing. My point, I guess, is that HK movies are not exactly known for production values. I got the impression from some of the hype surrounding CTHD that part of the breathless enthusiasm was driven by orientalism.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:51 PM
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Ignorant question: what's specifically Hong Kong about the genre? Does Hero, for instance, fall into some other genre? Or did mainland China co-opt something that had been specifically Hong Kong?

(Being largely ignorant of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema, I associate Hong Kong with Wong Kar Wai films that are about as far as possible from "fantasy martial arts".)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:56 PM
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Aaand of course, pwned by 136.

CTHD makes no sense without context, and a lot of the people gushing about it manifestly did not have the context.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:58 PM
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I echo 138. Ang Lee isn't from Hong Kong, neither is Zhang Yimou.

I associate Hong Kong with Wong Kar Wai films, and films that contain no martial arts but consist largely of constant gun battles interspersed with incredibly sappy romantic subplots, like John Woo's "The Killer".


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 3:59 PM
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133: Yeah, the CTHD hate in this thread is puzzling

I think I was the first to mention CTHD in my 105. But I was merely using it as an exemplar; "I had the same complaint with movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". So, yeah, for me it is pretty much the whole genre. I tend to single it out because, a) it was one of the few I've seen and b) I saw it only because some fanboy types convinced me that it was going to be something more than it was.

Suspension of disbelief is not black/white for me, it is more of a measure of during which re-reading/re-viewing , or even just re-thinking, that I become tired of it. LOTR lasted for about 30 years for me. Since the HK (or whatever it is) genre held little other interest for me I cratered on my first exposure to CTHD.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:00 PM
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One of those pound-a-ball things was PK's absolute favorite toy at that age. Pound, pound, pound.

one of my major memories of boyhood is this endless fascination with balls. Chasing them, catching them, throwing them. All day long if possible, an endless pleasure.

Also, guns. Pretending a stick was a gun was a fascinating pursuit.

I think this is one of those real gender differences, little girls don't seem to be like this.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:04 PM
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Meh, it's when you realise that J K Rowling has written a book where Britain is run by a bunch of public school twits who really should be thrown in jail for child abuse and gross negligence, as well as complete dereliction of duty and the whole Minister-not-responsible-to-Parliament-thingy and it is really pissing you off that you have to step away.

Especially given she's a big Labour donor, apparently.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:07 PM
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is that HK movies are not exactly known for production values.

Sometime `production values' really means hollywood's particular brand of bullshit. It's highly polished in some ways, but also obviously and often stupidly unrealistic too. Which is what I think some of the above commentary about the context is.

I don't know, perhaps you have the same complaint about the majority of hollywood-style productions too, in which case: fair enough.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:08 PM
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little girls don't seem to be like this

not all boys, either... I've got one who is and one who isn't


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:08 PM
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Wait, Britain isn't run by a bunch of public school twits?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:09 PM
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I find predicting when people will be willing to suspend belief to be hard to predict. I recall my FIL absolutely loathing Never Cry Wolf after the protagonist unrealistically survives a plunge through the ice. I could have done without the scene, but it really did not diminish my enjoyment of the film. For him it provided fodder for a monologue on on its stupidity which he delivered with only minor breaks for the remainder of his blessedly short visit. (And yes it was at some level actually a "what kind of an idiot did my daughter marry that would recommend such a movie" monologue.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:15 PM
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Well, Thatcher certainly wasn't public school...


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:15 PM
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(what are some other examples?

I'm not an expert and not really the right person to be giving this list, but I'd say the Chinese Ghost Story trilogy and the Swordsman trilogy to start.

Also, Wong Kar Wai did make a fantasy martial arts movie of a sort -- Eagle Shooting Heroes. Also, parts of Ashes of Time.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:16 PM
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It's interesting to try to figure out what it is that Rowling does right, because there is something about the world-building that I found appealing, and yet LB is obviously right that if you think about how the world in the HP books operates it doesn't make sense. I think it's similar to how the Star Wars movies worked (the originals, anyway). There's such an agglomeration of details and incidental peeks at what the world is like that, if you're able to suspend disbelief in a certain sort of way, the world of the stories has a real charm.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:17 PM
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I liked Crouching Tiger without extensive knowledge of martial arts movies, either from Hong Kong, Taiwan or the mainland. Mostly, I recognized the magical realism and allowed myself to be transported by it.

The suspension of disbelief was aided by the vague awareness that there was a genre that this was coming from. "Oh, they can't actually fly, but the can walk on bamboo...that must be some kung fu movie convention."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:20 PM
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Oh, right, the Harry Potter discussion happened before.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:22 PM
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138: It's called Hong Kong style because that's where the genre originated. I do think of Hero as a bit of a cooptation because it's so fucking nationalist. And CTHD is Ang Lee genre-play, as well as as an explicit attempt to capture American audience dollars.

Also re: WKW, why do you think of him as being "as far as possible" from fantasy martial arts? His films are very much part of HK cinema of its time -- not only do they have all the same lead actors, but they're even constantly referencing other HK movies (like how Ashes of Time references Swordsman via Brigitte Lin). Also, as I mentioned in 149, he made his own martial arts fantasies in ESH and AOT.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:25 PM
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153: I do think of Hero as a bit of a cooptation because it's so fucking nationalist.

How is it possible that the same person who made Raise the Red Lantern made Hero, anyway? Government pressure?

Also re: WKW, why do you think of him as being "as far as possible" from fantasy martial arts?

Just in terms of subject matter of the WKW films I've seen, which tend to me sort of moody, atmospheric romances. I did see Ashes of Time, though I've mostly forgotten it, possibly because it was probably the shittiest DVD transfer I've ever seen and was thus nigh-unwatchable. Anyway, I don't know enough about HK cinema to now how to place Wong Kar-Wai in that context, I was just noting that the WKW films I know are very far genre-wise from fantasy martial arts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:32 PM
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"tend to me" s/b "tend to be", or maybe "seem to me" -- who knows?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:33 PM
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The way Rowling works is the same way Five Children And It works -- it doesn't really, but the author's winking at you, and so that's OK.

The way Rowling fails is when she then tries to get the audience to take her world seriously. I mean, we know what a Ministry of Magic would look like -- it'd be like any other Ministry in Britain, and it would follow all the civil service guidelines, and no way in hell would the Minister ever be a promoted civil servant. If you want us to take the internal politics of the Ministry seriously, you can't just handwave.

I think that's a big part of the problem, that she gets her generic conventions muddled and can't stick to them.

(Also, I'm quite serious that the idea of a public school whose pupils go on to run a country without any input from most of the population really hacks me off.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:34 PM
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And now s/b know. Typing is hard.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:35 PM
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Why does "public school" in Britain mean what "private school" means in the U.S.? In what sense are these schools "public", and what do you call the schools that your typical working-class students in Britain attend?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:37 PM
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if you think about how the world in the HP books operates it doesn't make sense.

IMX, smart authors don't lead me to think about it. The break in the WSofDb usually happens for me when an author (or director) puts in too much detail while trying to make their unreality real. I'll buy into a faster-than-light drive with no problem as long as there aren't several passages of physically impossible gibberish telling me how it works.

The thing about "Wanted" that was super-annoying was the ability to alter a bullet's trajectory greatly after it leaves the barrel by thinking about it (or something). As an assassin, if I had that much telekinetic talent and power I wouldn't be bothering with guns, I'd just rip up some heart valves or the Circle of Willis.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:37 PM
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The genre is called wuxia.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:38 PM
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Essear, WKW just recut and rereleased Ashes of Time! It feels a lot more coherent than the original; I liked it more, M liked it less. Hopefully they'll make a nice DVD transfer of it, because you're right, the existing one is terrible. Kino made nice remasters of a lot of the WKW films, but as far as I know, AOT is not one of them.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:40 PM
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that movie was not that bad, i liked the fighting in the bamboo
Asian movies, what i really disliked was Spring summer fall winter spring movie, boringest ever
i liked Mongol to my surprise, just the actors speak very artificial translated simple Mongolian, not real language people speak


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:41 PM
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158: They are "public" in that you don't have a private tutor. They call public schools "state schools."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:47 PM
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158: Same reason that Catholic schools are called "parochial schools" in the U.S.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:47 PM
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161: fun! I'll have to check that out.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 4:49 PM
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2: detective stories: Edmund Crispin!


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:00 PM
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brutal kicks to the groin of my suspension of disbelief

BWHAHAHAHA!



Posted by: OPINIONATED BRECHT | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:00 PM
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"Ignorant question: what's specifically Hong Kong about the genre? Does Hero, for instance, fall into some other genre?"

Well, it's funny you should mention that one. Basically, CTHD was a bridge between what were for the most part low production values but fantastical plots and action sequences of Hong Kong martial arts films with the more polished but restrained and rarified Western and mainland operatic traditions. Zhang Yimou built on the commercial success of CHTD do coopt certain HK martial arts idioms and themes into his own style of filmmaking in both Hero and The House of Flying Daggers.

Basically, they all draw heavily on the Hong Kong tradition and need to be understood in this context, but they really don't belong within it. Production values and even serious artistic/story aspirations just weren't a consideration for the vast majority of martial arts films until the 90s (and even then only a few such as the Once A Time In China trilogy). The typical HK martial arts film is either a straight revenge piece (think Fist of Fury/Legend) or some combination of fights and slapstick, usually as a cheeky/lazy youngster becomes a brilliant fighter under the strict supervision of his teacher. This is of course a gross generalisation, and it's not meant to denigrate the films. I adore Hong Kong cinema.

"CTHD has been seen by lots and lots of people who are largely unfamiliar with the HK fantasy martial arts genre, whatever that is. (what are some other examples?) "

Where to begin? A Touch Of Zen is the most obvious reference point for overall tone, but there are dozens. In terms of the over-the-top wire work, Tsui Hark's films are the place to go - Once Upon A Time in China, New Dragon Gate Inn, and the Swordsman films, for instance. See also Yuen Woo-Ping's Iron Monkey.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:00 PM
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"what do you call the schools that your typical working-class students in Britain attend?"

Comprehensives (for non-selective schools) and grammar schools (for the small proportion that select), mostly. We also have state funded religious schools, more's the pity, and recently so-called city academies, where a company or individual stumps up a small portion of the capital cost in order to influence the curriculum (there are a couple run by a rich creationist).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:07 PM
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162: I just watched Mongol and I wondering what you thought of it. I rather liked it despite some obvious ahistorical elements. The love story between Temudgin and Borte had me tear up a couple of times.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:18 PM
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Once Upon a Time in China is a gorgeous film. Jet Li is so young and adorable in it.

My favorite part of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the HOTT desert-nomad dude. The wire-work in the bamboo was my least favorite sequence. One cut in particular really bugged me: a couple of gauzy close-ups of the beautiful young woman, like you see in the music videos playing in Chinese restaurants.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 5:41 PM
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One of my favorite parts of that movie was the time where she clonks the HOTT desert-nomad dude in the back of the head with a rock. It was a funny, weird comedy moment.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:00 PM
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Where to begin? A Touch Of Zen is the most obvious reference point for overall tone, but there are dozens. In terms of the over-the-top wire work, Tsui Hark's films are the place to go - Once Upon A Time in China, New Dragon Gate Inn, and the Swordsman films, for instance. See also Yuen Woo-Ping's Iron Monkey.

The Swordsman and, in particular the utterly gender-bending The Swordsman II are well worth seeing. I'd throw in WKW's Ashes of Time as an atypical example of wuxia -- much more elliptical than the norm -- and maybe go back to Chang Cheh's Shaw Brothers movies, particularly The One-Armed Swordsman. But Tsui Hark's pre-Hollywood stuff is almost compulsively watchable.

Man, I miss living in Berkeley back when the Cal was showing two Hong Kong movies a week.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:11 PM
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Swordsman II is a weird movie.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:16 PM
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Speaking of low budget Asian movies, I recently watched Tatooed Life and would highly recommend it.

Suzuki Seijun is a Japenese director who is, by reports, a master of the low budget film with an amazing, slightly melodramatic plot.

I haven't seen any of his other movies, but that one was very good, and fits that description perfectly.

The main character is an assassin for the Yakuza who kills the wrong person and has to go on the run. He is traveling with his innocent, sensitive, artistic younger brother who he feels obligated to protect from his own life of crime.

They run to a small port town where they get jobs working for a construction company to save up money to go to Manchuria. They get to the point where the would be almost ready to leave, but the brother falls in love with the wife of the owner of the construction company. Some agents of the Yakuza show up, and are asking questions, but the brother doesn't want to leave . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:27 PM
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Totally pwned about Ashes of Time, damn it.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:30 PM
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The thing about "Wanted" that was super-annoying

"The".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:34 PM
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The love story between Temudgin and Borte had me tear up a couple of times.

This confession will make it appreciably harder for me to take your comments seriously in the future.

I liked the landscapes and the costumes were really cool.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:46 PM
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Liu's "The Chinese Knight-Errant" is a history of the wuxia in Chinese history and literature. Before the last 50 years or so the Chinese military traditions tended to be neglected in favor of Confucianism and monastic Taoism and Buddhism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:51 PM
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This confession will make it appreciably harder for me to take your comments seriously in the future.

Whereas anyone who liked the scene with the big storm forfeits any right to ever be taken seriously by anyone.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:54 PM
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"I'd throw in WKW's Ashes of Time as an atypical example of wuxia"

Yeah, I love WKW (esp Ashes of Time - that's one bizarre movie) , but he's really doing his own thing, and is very much an exception to the rule about higher aspirations.

While we're introducing people to martial arts films, there's more to it than wuxia and wirework. Yuen Woo-Ping's early films, for example, are spectacular and much more "grounded" in fighting style than most 90s/2000s films. They're a bit earthier than your typical wuxia., as well. Check out, at a minimum, Drunken Master, Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and The Magnificent Butcher.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 6:56 PM
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170
i liked the movie as a fictional story, they did not follow The Secret History of the Mongols, but if it's based on the works of L.N. Gumilev, that's pretty acceptable for us
i just wonder how they would picture the yoke part in the future sequels
there is misrepresentation of some important for us historical facts about Temujin, his capture and escape, all is just a fantasy of the movie creators, i guess, but pretty inspired one so i'm okay with that
i liked the general feeling of the movie, pretty natural, how one would feel out in the steppe, solitude, nature, importance of family, friendship, fight for survival etc
if they followed the Secret History could be a more eventful movie, though
The love story between Temudgin and Borte had me tear up a couple of times.
This confession will make it appreciably harder for me to take your comments seriously in the future.

what's wrong with their love story? i thought that was the true part of the story


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 7:38 PM
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I've seen Gumilev's book and read part of it, but all of his documentation is in Russian so I couldn't follow it up.

He interpreted the Mongols as Christians, which isn't entirely inaccurate (many were) but on the whole was very far-fetched.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:06 PM
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Wuxia movies originated in Mainland China (many decades before the revolution), and some of the best (e.g. Shaolin Temple) were made there. It was an accident of communist dickheadery that the film industry relocated, but it's definitely not accurate to call chinese kung fu movies "Hong Kong-style". Two-fisted John Woo style gangster pictures, sure. But not the swords 'n sorcery.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:10 PM
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1: Your wish, granted.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:10 PM
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Yuen Woo-Ping

I think it's "Wo Ping".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:10 PM
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the Khereid tribe were practicing Nestorian Christianity, they say, but you know more than me about all that, JE
their khan Togrul van khan helped Temujin to fight Tatars to find his wife Borte according to the SH, but the movie did not mention him and like just gave his role to Jamukha, Jamukha was a sworn brother to Temujin and they conspired together to built the Empire, so he worked as a Temujin's secret agent, quarreling various warlords between them, it's a pity that the movie did not take that plot, it just looks like they were rivals and the bigger, the Empire building politics can't be guessed from there
during our hs history classes we were taught that there were two contradictory forces, to build the strong central military state so that to have peace at last or to be free and independent from any power and authority
and all Mongolian wars were provoked b/c of the failure to negotiate trade, i really hope that the next sequels would show that


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:43 PM
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I think it's "Wo Ping"

和平, if you want to be really accurate about it.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:47 PM
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和平, if you want to be really accurate about it.

I do not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 8:48 PM
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The Secret History is hard to read because some stories are told without key information. Jamukha's role is completely confusing in the SH. You have to speculate about what really happened. So is Monglik's.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:01 PM
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Khereid, Merged, Naiman, Tatar, all is mixed up in my head
Monglik, i vaguely recall he was an adopted son of Oelun, no? An Uigur? forgot, he invented old Mongolian script? was a powerful shaman and wanted to dominate Temujin and Temujin didn't allow him, so he was accused in the attempt of poisoning of Chingis khaan, no? but i forget the man's name, maybe it was not him
it seems i'd write our history myself ;)
if you need to translate some passages from LG, JE, i can try, just informally of course, if i'll know what pages and from what book, if it's available online, at Moshkov's site for example


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:20 PM
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-of


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:21 PM
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LB: You could just let your kids play Mario Kart for real.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:38 PM
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this is a great lullaby
i liked all the series, especially Turkish, Idish, Japanese, Indian, Russian
good night


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:38 PM
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+Afrikan


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 4-08 9:43 PM
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||

This is a bleg. A friend and his wife just had a baby.

I'm going to buy the baby a present [and there was a thread recently with plenty of ideas]. However, I'd like to buy the new mother something.

Any suggestions? People who've dropped sprogs, what would you have liked? [By way of 'congratulations and this isn't all about the baby!' presents ...]

Cheers.

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 1:39 AM
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If you can find something in the area of pretty, but that you can wear with a not particularly dressed up outfit, and no particular size, I think that's what you want. Earrings, a luxurious scarf kind of thing, something in that general area.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 5:48 AM
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178: Heh. I admit to having a bit of a sappy streak.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 6:30 AM
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the reason i was not sure about Monglik, coz i recalled the name it was Mukhulig
- earrings or pendants could be nice i guess according to my sisters


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 7:52 AM
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Suzuki Seijun is a Japenese director who is, by reports, a master of the low budget film with an amazing, slightly melodramatic plot.

He is an amazing director. You should watch Tokyo Drifter if you like his stuff (it and at least one other are on Netflix and Amazon). Suzuki experiments with using white-washed sets colored by lights rather than "real" painted sets to get some really amazing shots and effects on a low, low budget. After he made Tokyo Drifter his studio chastised him for being too colorful and demanded future films be in black and white. His next one was so weird they canned him. I've loved what of his movies I've gotten to see.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 9:08 AM
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It really depends on what your recipient likes. Favorites of mine:

- WarioWare: Smooth Moves--great ridiculous party game, probably the most Wii-like Wii game ever made; I haven't found anyone yet who doesn't like it

- Mario Kart Wii--silly racing game where you race through a shopping mall, in underwater tunnels or on giant tree branches and throw things at your opponents; can be played with or without the included disembodied steering wheel; lots of hardcore gamers hate this game but THEY ARE WRONG

- Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection--awesome for 40-year-old fogies who like Eighties pinball

- Geometry Wars: Galaxies--awesome for 40-year-old fogies who like frenetic Eighties-style video games, though to play it best you need to get the Classic Controller attachment

Don't give anyone Wii Music. Toddlers *might* enjoy it.


Posted by: Matt McIrvin | Link to this comment | 12- 5-08 10:02 AM
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196 - something from Lush, so when you finally get a chance to have a bath longer than 5 minutes, it's nice. Or that perks up your rushed shower. A gift voucher for a decent hair cut? Lunches (especially useful for when the partner if there is one has gone back to work and the novelty is beginning to wear off) - stuff that can be put in the fridge and taken out and eaten with no preparation and with one hand and will be tasty and filling. Personally, what I was most excited to get for my birthday (2 weeks after no.1 was born) was a massive pile of books (none so big that needed 2 hands to hold!), and I then spent most of the next 3 weeks lazing in bed, alternating between playing with the baby and reading whilst she was feeding or asleep.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 12- 7-08 4:27 PM
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Shouldn't this thread be "sticky" at the top of the blog through the holidays? Anyway, I have a fairly specific gift suggestion question for my father: a new umbrella. Needs open as large as possible (he considers his current 36in. canopy too small), while folding down small enough to be carried in a briefcase. Durable, wind-resistant and well-constructed, obviously. Cost isn't really an issue (below outrageous levels). Style takes a backseat to the features mentioned above.

Any suggestions? I'm having trouble finding anything above $19.95 that meets the basic criteria above (i.e., folds small but opens big), and am not sure I trust the $19.95 umbrellas on the "durable, wind-resistant and well-constructed" question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:24 AM
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and am not sure I trust the $19.95 umbrellas on the "durable, wind-resistant and well-constructed" question.

IME, you shouldn't trust them at all. If you find such a thing, let me know. I've pretty much given up on the open big fold small though, and am considering golf umbrellas as only plausible solution.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:26 AM
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Actually, I just found these, which might work. It's certainly what I'll be going with unless someone can offer another suggestion. I think he's prefer slightly more traditional styling, but, as I said, style takes a back seat to functionality.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:36 AM
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The styling isn't that weird, so long as you assiduously avoid thinking about sex toys. Once you go down that road, I admit it's a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:46 AM
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classic styling


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:50 AM
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oh, and thanks for the link Brock.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:53 AM
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I have one that folds absolutely tiny and seems quite robust but it only folds out to 'small' [it's just ridiculously small when folded up, the canopy itself isn't anything impressive].

So, opens large/folds small, I'd be curious, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:54 AM
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206: that thought hadn't even crossed my mind, you filthy pervert. By "traditional styling", I just meant something more like this.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:59 AM
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And now you've ruined my father's Christmas. I hope you're happy with yourself.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:00 AM
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I just meant something more like this.

Man, you really are twisted. Different strokes, I suppose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:02 AM
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I have one that folds absolutely tiny and seems quite robust but it only folds out to 'small'

We're still talking about umbrellas, right?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:08 AM
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re: 213

Folding would be an unorthodox deployment method, otherwise.

[I don't need any youtube links of indian sadhus doing precisely that!]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:11 AM
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It's inefficient, certainly. Reel and a spool works much better.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:14 AM
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Though you hardly need to go all the way to India for demonstrations.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:16 AM
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BILM124: ...Buck, and his sizes confuse me.

Bringing this statement into the proper thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:18 AM
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