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Freewheeling Andy

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About Freewheeling Andy

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  1. Hello - haven't seen you for a while. Hope everything's ok.

  2. Andy's Blook bog (started 2006)

    It's been a while since I've been in here. Not actually been reading much. A Scanner Darkly, of course, which was great. A Nuclear Family Vacation had interesting stuff in it, and got more interesting as it went on, but I won't recommend it to anyone. There were a couple of business motivationy kinds of books: Innocent, by the innocent people, which was OK but not great, and ReWork, which is genuinely excellent and inciteful. Now I'm reading China Mieville's The City and The City, which might be the book that was purposely and expressly written just for me. Wonderful.
  3. Q&A / Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup

    It's a while since I read the book, so I'm afraid I'm not going to offer much on the specifics, but I will say that I thought the book was far, far better than the film. The film lacked lots of the depth and subtelety of the book, and skirted around so much of the substance - particularly those things that seem more centrally Indian, rather than the things that could be a slum-kid from anywhere on the planet in a fairly normal plotline - that after reading the book it just felt a bit wet and flat. Although, as I said, it's a long time since I read the book, so can't really add much more, specifically, to the reading circle yet.
  4. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    I think - again, I've not read Fear and Loathing - that was basically his point. They're very different books with very different intentions, but - in the end - they have remarkable similarities, both romanticising the drug culture and acting as (in the case of F&L, unwitting) warnings.
  5. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    Can I just apologise for not engaging more on leading this discussion. I found the book both brilliant and fascinating, but I've been struggling to think of questions to lead the conversation along. And, typically, I've been very busy so haven't really had enough thinking time. Although, oddly, I was discussing it with a friend the other day, and he pointed out similarities to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which I've never read. Another of the great druggy books, apparently, which also has the same romanticising of drug culture yet is really, also, about as good a warning as you can get about why you really want to only dabble on the fringes. At least, that's what he said. I don't have the same reference point.
  6. Dry Red Wine Stain Removal?

    Salt is the old-wives-tale solution, certainly for carpet stains, and it works pretty well. Although it won't get it all out. And, as Mac says, it leaves lots of salt - easier to wash off a shirt than a carpet or footstool. But yes, moisten the shirt, then put a pile of salt on it. It won't work on a dry stain, because the wine has to leach in to the salt I think.
  7. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    I assumed the a "ceph" scope would be some kind of futuristic TV thingy that gets more directly into the brain. I just thought it was one of those annoying SF tics where the author gives names to techno-gimmickry without any explanation of what they are or what they do - I find it's a sort of annoying background noise to create the impression of the future.
  8. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    No worries, HV. We'll be discussing it all week. Ethan - fascinating stuff about PKD's personal life. I didn't know about the safe incident - clearly re-told as the bad cheque story. There are so many interesting little vignettes like that in the book. It's great, too, to have the perspective of someone who remembers the 70s that Dick was clearly writing about. In a lot of ways it really doesn't read like SF at all, and more like a parallel, slightly more extreme, 1970s.
  9. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    Given how many people voted for it, I hope a few more have read this book and are waiting to contribute, or have been away from their computers over the easter period. Also, I hope more have read it because it's a fascinating book - both as a narrative, with the very inventive detective plot; and as an analysis of the destructiveness of drugs and how they damage personality (and, in fact, as an analysis of what it in fact means to be yourself).
  10. Yeah. All my books go to charity. No matter how bad I think something is, there's going to be someone who likes it, or at least someone who wants to know whether and why they dislike it.
  11. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    As for the ending - I'm really, really torn on it. It feels that Fred is lost, completely lost, that his brain is mush; yet the fact that he knows that he should keep the blue flower and return it to the labs implies, perhaps, that his brain is nothing like as fried as the previous sections had suggested. It's left very vague, though. But even if he is fried and lost, and has been completely manipulated by the authorities and, effectively, sacrificed, we are told that the sacrifice is not in vain. It's fascinating to work back and realise that all through the process they've been trying to actually get him in to a place where his brain is so split that he has to go into the rehab program. - Generally speaking, it's actually quite a dark book, even if the end has a redemptive side, the book says very little positive about people. And it's not always easy to read. But the ideas driving the plot are fascinating and the characters often seem remarkably plausible and believable.
  12. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    Ooh. I hadn't spotted the Freck/Luckman split brain thing. Interesting idea. Anyway, in answer to a couple of my own questions, just getting started: I think the title is very relevent - the biblical phrase saying that we see ourselves through a glass darkly: that what we see through the mirror is ourselves reflected, but both obscured and we see a dark, starker, truth of ourselves. There's the specific section where Arctor/Fred is looking through the Scanner, and he sees himself as he really is, rather than how he thinks of himself; he sees all his failings. But generally, I think Dick is saying that the use of drugs often brings out the darker, harsher truth about yourself. - And, in respect to the druggie-ness of the book overall: my feeling is that Dick is writing what he knows, what he really knows. As he starts the book, he shows the warm, friendly glow - in places - of how taking drugs makes people feel better, feel like they're the good guys rebelling against the system, and the babbling, weird, but kind of entertaining conversations people end up having. But, over time, as they take more and more drugs and break down more and more, they get more and more paranoid - and he does a brilliant job setting up the idea of a drug and informant system that would make you astonishingly paranoid - and where the warm and friendly space gets more and more vicious. And it feels like lots of people I've known who started with cannabis and moved on to stronger stuff; or who've taken just too much of anything. Never as far or as extreme as portrayed in the book, but it's very familiar and it's clear Dick is writing what he knows. You can tell he still has good, enjoyable, memories of his drug-taking days, but has seen what it's done to him and his friends.
  13. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    I read it, of course. So you're not fully isolated. But as I'm leading the circle I don't want to say too much before other people have contributed a bit.
  14. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    You're all very bad people, apart from Ooshie, who's wonderful. I should have nagged last month after all.
  15. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick

    And, of course, please add any other thoughts or questions you have.