Sunday, November 26th, 2006
12:04 pm - Two Book and Two Movies...  
Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter is a little book about hand tools by Norm Abram. The focus is on carpentry (as opposed to woodworking), and Norm plays against reputation by not mentioning a single power tool. He starts with tools for measurement, and proceeds on through cutting tools, and all the rest of the items a well-equipped toolbox might hold. Along the way he gives advice on proper use, offers some tips, and tells stories, many about how he learned the trade from his father.

The main problem here is that Norm is not all that exciting a guy, as anyone who's ever watched him on TV can attest, and while he's not exactly boring, the book isn't really a page turner, either. There is some nice stuff about his dad, who died shortly before the book was published. The problem may be that his dad taught him too well. Apart from one real bad day on a job site on Nantucket, Norm doesn't seem to have a lot of stories about mistakes he's made, which are the kinds of lessons I've always found that stick better.

For example, the title of the book is probably the most useful piece of advice a carpenter can get, Norm points out that the advice is not really complete. He quotes a passage from another book on carpentry, "While 'measure twice and cut once' is always pithy advice, it is more important to measure accurately and to know you have." I totally get it, not because it's written here, but because I know what happens when one gets it wrong. A few months ago I replaced the rotted cornerboards on one corner of my house. I never reported it here, because I made a real clusterfuck of the job, just one miscue after another. The worst mistake I made was in measuring the length of the replacement boards. They were supposed to be 8' 3 and 3/4" long, and I did measure twice to be sure. The problem was that I didn't write the measurement down, so that when I went down into the basement to cut them, the threes blended together, and I remembered the measurement as 8' 3/4". When I tried to install them, I came up three inches short. I wound up cutting some filler blocks, and installing them at the top of the corner, where they would be less obvious. Things went downhill from there, but it's a job I won't soon forget. I hope.

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The other book read is called The Physics of Star Trek, by Lawrence M. Krauss, with a forward by Stephen Hawking, in which he examines some of the scientific underpinnings of the Trekverse, such as they are. At the end there is a list of the most egregious errors found in the various series thus far (it was written while Voyager was still on), along with a few of the things they got right. It's fun mostly for the discussions of how some of the phenomena (FTL travel, etc.) might actually be made to work.

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I bought A Mighty Wind a while back, but never got around to watching it until this week. Watching the first two-thirds or so reminded me of why I'd put it off. I really have a low tolerance for the shticks of Willard, Balaban, and Levy. Willard, especially, was watch from the hall for me here. I do like McKean, Shearer, and Guest a lot, but for most of the movie it felt like the jokes were leftovers from This Is Spinal Tap. Things turned around, though, once the actual concert started. The music was fun, and the backstage shenanigans suddenly turned funny. The postmortem was funny, too, although I wonder how the final bit with the Folksmen might have been if they'd used it in Spinal Tap, instead. The DVD also includes footage of the concert as it would be seen on PBN, which is fun, so on the whole I wound up enjoying it.

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I only bought X-Men: the Last Stand because the DVD place I was hanging out in while waiting for my passport photos to be processed had it on sale for ten bucks. What a mess of a movie. Sure, kill off Xavier, Cyclops, and Jean (again!). Why not? Yeah, they did it in the comics (Xavier and Jean (again and again) anyway) in the comic, but never in the same frelling issue. The battle at the end was an awful mess, and really made no sense. Rogue was wasted. Colossus was wasted. Angel was wasted. About the only good things in the whole movie were Bobby and Hank. Kelsey Grammer was just spot on as the Beast.
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casperfleacasperflea on November 26th, 2006 - 05:58 pm
I suppose if I got The Physics of Star Trek for veejane we might get some amusing Physics Jail rants... hmm....
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Hugh Likes Carrots: tick & arthurtheodosia on November 27th, 2006 - 12:59 am
I agree with you that Grammar was a high point for the last X-Men movie, it was a wonderful bit of casting. Alas, what a mess!
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