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John Carter of Mars

Anoche ví John Carter. Re­cuer­do vaga­mente haber leí­do el li­bro en que es­tá basado, "Princess of Mars" cuan­do tenía un­os 8 años y era so­cio de la Bib­liote­ca Mar­i­ano Moreno, su­je­to a una di­eta es­tric­ta de Hardy Boys, Bom­ba el chico de la sel­va, y Bur­rough­s.

Me sor­prende mu­cho que haya si­do el fra­ca­so económi­co que fue. Es di­ver­tida, es­tá bi­en hecha, es un poco an­tigua en el sen­ti­do de que cuen­ta una his­to­ria de man­era di­rec­ta, sin vueltas. Hay que dar­le un pre­mio es­pe­cial al di­rec­tor porque ¡Las es­ce­nas de ac­ción se en­tien­den! Siem­pre sabés quién es­tá ha­cien­do qué cosa, y la relación es­pa­cial de la gente en las es­ce­nas tiene sen­ti­do.

Claro, la his­to­ria pasa rápi­do, hay mon­tones de per­son­ajes se­cun­dar­ios que no se de­sar­rol­lan porque no al­can­za el tiem­po, y es una pe­na que prob­a­ble­mente nun­ca veamos la se­gun­da parte.

Holmes vs. Elementary

Of­ten movies or TV se­ries come in pairs. These days I watched two se­ries that are ob­vi­ous­ly re­lat­ed, Sher­lock and El­e­men­tary and there is even a movie se­ries by guy Ritchie (which I ac­tu­al­ly like!) but let's talk TV.

I am not go­ing to be orig­i­nal in say­ing Sher­lock is the su­pe­ri­or show. But why is it?

Well, I think it most­ly comes to one be­ing done by peo­ple who have read the book­s, and the oth­er by peo­ple who heard about them.

For ex­am­ple, that evil word "Ele­men­tary". It's not in the book­s. It's in the movies, though. So, if you fo­cus on sec­ond-­hand sources, it makes sense to use it, but if you care about the orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als it makes sense to care­ful­ly avoid it.

There's al­so the prob­lem of El­e­men­tary's Holmes look­ing like a hobo. Holmes was fas­tid­i­ous­ly neat. He was a slob about his lodg­ings, but he al­ways kept him­self clean and well dressed.

Or let's con­sid­er ad­dic­tion. Yes, in the books Holmes shoots co­caine and does mor­phine, Thing is, those things were not even il­le­gal at the time. Co­caine was a cough medicine. So, trans­pos­ing that in­to nico­tine ad­dic­tion makes sense, spe­cial­ly since Holmes was al­so a very heavy smok­er even for vic­to­ri­an stan­dard­s. Turn­ing it in­to a drug habit that forces Holmes in­to re­hab (re­hab!) does­n't. Al­so, "this is a three patch prob­lem"? Have to chu­cle at that, dude.

The Wat­sons al­so are quite dif­fer­en­t. I quite like Lucy Li­u's dead­pan de­liv­ery of ev­ery­thing, but Wat­son is not sup­posed to be a dam­aged per­son that nur­tures. He's a thrill seek­er, a badass char­ac­ter that is on­ly mild-­man­nered when com­pared to his com­pa­ny. Again, Sher­lock walks clos­er to the books there, while El­e­men­tary tries to shoe­horn some weird per­son­al-­growth side­plot.

Yes, Wat­son is the one that brings out the hu­man side of Holmes, but he does that not by be­ing all soft and cud­dly, he does it by be­ing a hard head­ed bas­tard who stands up to him. He's a true friend, and friends don't take shit from friend­s, at least not with­out giv­ing shit back. In Sher­lock he does that, and clear­ly Holmes re­spects him. In El­e­men­tary, Wat­son is tol­er­at­ed, and treat­ed like a pet.

Winks. Both se­ries try to make ref­er­ence, more or less oblique, to the source ma­te­ri­al. Again, it feels like El­e­men­tary is work­ing from sec­ond hand ref­er­ences. If I could find you the "Holmes in­ten­tion­al­ly avoids learn­ing things of no im­me­di­ate rel­e­vance" bits in both, the El­e­men­tary one was a groan­ing ex­po­si­tion, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal demon­stra­tion of how wa­ter dis­places oil. In Sher­lock? Well, it's an ar­gu­men­t. In­creduli­ty on one side, quirk­i­ness on the oth­er, fun­ny di­a­log.

Be­cause that's what El­e­men­tary is­n't. it's just not fun. And a Holmes that's not fun, is a bro­ken Holmes.

The Basics

Be­cause I am go­ing to be trav­el­ing for three week­s, I was think­ing to­day about pack­ing. Last year, I spent five weeks on the road, and I packed a cab­in-­size suit­case, plus a mes­sen­ger bag. Did­n't feel like I had for­got­ten any­thing, so I guess I did­n't.

That was spring and this will be late fal­l, so I will add a sweater and a bet­ter jack­et.

So, it seems the amount of things I need to take with me on a trip does­n't cor­re­late with the du­ra­tion of the trip be­yond a cer­tain point. It seems that all the ma­te­ri­al as­sets I need to live fit in a small­ish suit­case (plus a bag). I moved to Buenos Aires twelve years ago with a suit­case, a TV and a cat.

So, ig­nor­ing de­tails such as fam­i­ly and sen­ti­men­tal val­ue (which, for me, ma­te­ri­al things have none), sup­pose ev­ery­thing I own burned down in a fire. How much mon­ey would I need to miss noth­ing I lost?

As­sum­ing I am moved in­to a bare ap­part­ment with the usu­al things in it (no fur­ni­ture, but has a stove and a fridge), here's my list:


7 t-shirt­s, 3 pants, 2 short­er pants, 2 pairs of sneak­er­s, 2 sweater­s, a coat, mis­c. About $400 or so?


I am con­sid­er­ing up­grad­ing the one I have for a $800 one, so sure­ly no more than that.


I have a $90 phone, but let's re­place my kin­dle too, so a nicer one: $250


A table, a few chairs, a ma­tress (I had to re­place my bed re­cent­ly, ma­tress in the floor for a week was sur­pris­ing­ly nice!). Per­haps $500?


Cut­lery, dish­es, a pot, a fry­ing pan, tow­el­s, bed­sheet­s, cof­fee mug, toi­letry item­s, blan­ket, ex­ten­sion cord­s, etc. $1000?

Noth­ing else comes to mind, so, it seems I need a bit over $2000, let's say $2500 to be on the safe side. It's in­ter­est­ing to imag­ine I could move to, say, Cos­ta Ri­ca, by just hav­ing a job there, $2500 in my pock­et and no bag­gage.

A Year With My Kindle

I got my first Kin­dle a year ago. I quick­ly re­placed it with my cur­rent and sec­ond kindle, a Kin­dle Touch.

So, how well has it worked? Pret­ty damn well. I am a fair­ly heavy user, I think, and the Kin­dle has trav­eled quite a bit, in bags, suit­cas­es and car­go pock­et­s. The on­ly care I take is to use a leather cov­er when out­side the house.

I have read, ac­cord­ing to goodread­s.­com, some­what over 17000 pages in this year, in 61 book­s. That' a lot of pages. And if you look at the gad­get now, it still looks brand new. No scratch­es, ev­ery­thing op­er­ates cor­rect­ly, even the bat­tery still holds the charge fine even if it's down to about two weeks per charge in­stead of al­most three.

I still miss the old­er kindle's page-­turn­ing but­ton­s. Us­ing a touch­screen to turn pages is id­i­ot­ic. but hey, it work­s, and I can still do it one-hand­ed (yay for huge-­hand boy here!)

The on­ly things I don't quite like are the same ones as when I bought it.

  • The page has too lit­­tle con­­trast when not ide­al­­ly light­ed.

  • You can't read in the dark.

Since the new pa­per­white fix­es both of those, I am get­ting one. I have al­ready sold this one, and the dif­fer­ence is not a lot, so it's a very cheap up­grade.

Quite hap­py about Ama­zon's abil­i­ty to not suck at giv­ing me goods in ex­change for mon­ey, too! It's rare that I want a book and it's not out there in Kin­dle for­mat (still wait­ing for Evan Dara's Easy Chain!)

So, no un­ex­pect­ed is­sues, has brought a lot of fun, was cheap­... that's the def­i­ni­tion of gad­get par­adise to me.

Small Things Break Big Things

I have been watch­ing Galac­ti­ca (the new­er one) on and off for a few month­s. And there is one small thing that drives me nuts ev­ery time I see it. It throws me off the sto­ry, and com­plete­ly breaks the world-build­ing that's go­ing on.

Oc­tog­o­nal pa­per.

This. Makes. No. Sense. Nice font, though.

Why? Be­cause pa­per is square for func­tion­al and man­u­fac­tur­ing rea­son­s. You take a spool of pa­per, you cut it, you end up with rec­tan­gu­lar pieces.

Are you man­u­fac­tur­ing linen pa­per? Then you need to build frames to do it, and mak­ing oc­tog­o­nal frames is much hard­er.

To make oc­tog­o­nal pa­per sheets you need to cut ev­ery one of them from square sheet­s. That is stupid.

Oh, it gets worse. In the BSG uni­verse, they have oc­tog­o­nal *trac­tor pa­per*.

What sort of id­iot came up with that? How can that even work!

So, a fun se­ries but ev­ery time I see a piece of pa­per I want to scream.

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