Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Possible service break, and further reading

My regular 24 hourly dose of sheer joy at arriving at work at 8.30 was only slightly diluted by the knowledge that 8.30 tomorrow morning is when our plane is scheduled to leave the ground. Next stop JFK!

Here’s a reminder of what the next couple of weeks hold in store.

It’s not impossible that somewhere on the North American continent is a computer with Internet access. Whether or not I choose to go out of my way to find it is another matter. I will be on holiday, after all. Therefore there may be further blogging between now and mid-August, or there may not. The possibilities are endless 50/50.

But as we may be entering a two-week communications blackout, if you can’t have your regular dose of Ben I thought I would give you the opportunity for a dose of what makes Ben tick. Here are some of the sites I check on a regular basis.

Serious stuff
  • Roger Ebert. Reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Very often the identity of a film reviewer gives you just as much information as the actual review. For instance, if the Sun’s movie critic declares something the best movie of the summer, chances are low that I will want to see it. If Barry Norman slates it, it probably stinks. Roger Ebert and I rarely disagree.
  • Christian Spotlight on the Movies. Sometimes hilariously po-faced and I rarely take it too seriously – but I will in fairness confess I’ve found useful teaching material here too. As well as a usually informed critique of the story, the production values, the acting etc., this site also feels compelled to offer a morality rating based on variables such as the number of f-words and g-words (yes, the reviewers count them), the attitude to sexuality, whether or not there is an implicit acceptance of evolution ... As a guideline, ‘Mamma Mia!’ gets a ‘Very Offensive’. In fairness, the reviewers do generally accept that a ‘Very Offensive’ can still be worth seeing; it’s the comments from the Great American Public that provide the real treasure. My favourite is still the lady who slated ‘The Passion of the Christ’ because it traumatised her toddler.
  • Ship of Fools: for people who prefer their organised religion disorganised. My usual browsing is on the bulletin boards – Heaven, Purgatory or Hell, depending on the contentiousness of the topic, but there’s also the Caption Competition, amusing articles, the Mystery Worshipper report ...
Blogs of interest that make me think
That was the best title I could come up with for this section. I’m not including most of the personal blogs that I look at because they’re friends of mine for reasons that make sense to me (and my friends) but not necessarily anyone else. Though some of the following are personal blogs and they are friends ...
  • Joella. Used to work with her.
  • Liz Williams. Lovely lady. Writer. More successful than me. Pagan.
  • Charles Stross. Nice guy. Also writer, also (considerably) more successful. Atheist. Shared a room with him once.
  • Making Light. Run by two Big Names of SF Publishing, a good community for insights into all kinds of things publishing-related and spin-off related trivia.
  • The Perorations of Lady Bracknell. Never met the lady but she’s inspiring, and has opened my eyes on a lot of disability issues.
  • The Life and Opinions of Andrew Rilstone. Never met the gent, but ditto. He’s an unashamed Christian literate scientifically-aware geek. Look up his thoughts on Richard Dawkins, Harry Potter and Philip Pullman.
  • Uncle Orson Reviews Everything. Orson Scott Card’s regular column in his local newspaper. Not always – in fact rarely – about science fiction or writing, but he’s one of my favourite authors and I generally find him worth listening to. Even when he’s wrong ...
  • Baldy’s Blog. Wow. I forget how I found this and, okay, it’s of macabre interest. This guy has leukaemia and will be dead in a few months. And he’s blogging it. He denies being brave; he’s just getting on with quietly facing the inevitable.
And finally ...

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