[personal profile] jtniehof
Continuing with the posting backlog, February was The IT Crowd, Mountain of Storms, The Race Underground, Snow Sense, Company Men, A History of Pi, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark Is Rising, Greenwitch, Maga-Tsuki, Ranma 1/2 Season 6.

The IT Crowd: Absolutely hilarious; it's been described as "The Big Bang Theory only funny." Rich in the office clutter: an Altair, an Atari 2600, "Home Sewing is Killing Fashion". After the first series it got away from the premise/setting to a large extent, but the humor didn't hurt for it. The special is, sadly, disappointing; I think it was too long to have any focus .

Mountain of Storms: Fun, and rather than a serious Expedition Documentary a series of vignettes from the climb and the (very long) drive down there.

The Race Underground (Doug Most): Despite the cover blurbs, this isn't really about a competition between two brothers, it's the parallel stories of the Boston and NYC subways, the brothers featuring heavily but not moreso than about a dozen other people. The overall arc can be a bit tricky to follow (a lot of people to juggle), but it's a fast read and some of the little one to two page tidbits are just fantastic, e.g., the story of Grant's mortars.

Snow Sense(Jill Fredston, Doug Fesler): A solid update from previous editions. There's not much new from a technical or scientific perspective, but the material is rearranged (snowpack comes last now), a few paragraphs tightened up, a few expanded. I don't think this is a must-upgrade (although including the new hazard scale is nice), but it remains a very good, focused introduction and reference to survival in avalanche terrain. It's interesting that they provide almost no information on beacon search, probably a good idea since it's somewhat device-dependent and hugely reliant on hands-on training. I did occasionally find the writing getting a bit "slippery" and had to reread a few sentences to regain the flow of discussion.

Company Men (Michael Kayatta): It's been a couple of years since Missing Signals, so perhaps I should have reread, since it's expected that the reader's kept track of all the plot threads and characters. Less than satisfying as a resolution: boils down to running around aimlessly for awhile and ultimately killing off the correct person. It is, at least, a fast read.

A History of Pi (Peter Beckmann) (reread): I thought this would be a read-and-dispose (having read it four times now), but nope, I'll keep coming back. It's so much fun, and has that spirit of joy in discovery and knowledge that I associate with the Feynman books. I glossed over the math rather than digging in this time around, and it reads just fine that way, provided one isn't scared by the mere presence of an integral on the page.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain (Bruce Tremper): A smoother, chattier read than Snow Sense. Covers more ground, particularly with stability analysis, but because it is much longer the information's also less dense (and less pointed). I do think it did a better job of teasing apart the various, almost contradictory, ways snowpack can evolve in response to weather. Unfortunately this edition came out as they were in the process of revising the North American avalanche conditions, so it's already a bit dated. Nevertheless, this book's reputation as "the other book to get" is well-deserved.

Over Sea, Under Stone (Susan Cooper) (reread): I don't recall enjoying this nearly as much the first time (which, although awhile ago, was definitely as an adult). At that time, I got the order wrong and started with The Dark is Rising, so backing up was a little jarring. This time, though, I had a great time. The pacing's perfect and I really appreciated how the action divides among the children: sometimes all three, sometimes a pair, sometimes one of them. I suspect the US edition is edited ("flashlight").

The Dark Is Rising (Susan Cooper) (reread): Not as charming as Over Sea, and has the problem I'm starting to notice more and more: the plot happens to the protagonist rather than the protagonist being active. There are the trappings of poems and prophecies and such, but it feels the deeper worldbuilding connects to the action on a mostly literal level, without the thematic connection one gets in, say, Tolkien (I realize that's a high bar.) The best of these handed-down poems and stories have significance (or at least the appearance of significance) for both the past and the present, and it feels like we're missing the significance to the past. I don't mean to be entirely negative -- this is an interesting read and there's at least some evocation of Big Sweeping Ideas, but it feels a bit thin.

Greenwitch (Susan Cooper) (reread): Ties together a few threads (and characters) from the first two books, with some particularly rewarding development for Will. A really good example, I think, of not only managing several plot threads with different complements of characters, but having them come together in a very unexpected way, where the work of each really supports the other.

Maga-Tsuki chapter 1-13: Meh, cute girls but not much of a plot. It's just a transparent harem setup and I really can't see why it's that popular.

Ranma 1/2 Season 6: Keeps along at about the quality of the end of season 5, i.e., reasonably enjoyable and occasionally downright good, but nowhere near the raucous genius of season 1. No absolute stinker episodes like populated season 4 and much of 5. Without the brilliance of the earlier seasons this wouldn't be worth it, but given that connection it doesn't feel quite right to drop. I am looking forward to the OVAs and movies, though!
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