So Mr Polopetsi has finally been remembered!

7 October 2015 at 22:22 (Random Randomness) (, , , , , )

A quick note to say that McCall Smith has finally remembered that there was a man called Mr Polopetsi working for the agency. The backpedalling is actually quite funny! It’s too late to save it! Your editors failed you and now everyone knows you forgot Mr Polopetsi.

SERIOUSLY. ONE OF YOUR STAFF LEAVING YOU WOULD BE A BIG DEAL. I NOTICED.

I honestly doubt he ever reads any of his fanmail. I remember shooting an email to his fanmail address about the mysterious disappearance of Mr Polopetsi, and that was waaaaaaay back in the Saturday Big Tent days. And I bet a few others must have done so, too. It’s been four books since then :O

ETA: Now I see it, and I can’t believe I never thought of this before. I bet he uses a ghostwriter. How else can he have so many continuity errors?

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Mma Ramotswe and the Mystery of the Continuity Errors

9 February 2014 at 16:02 (Random Randomness) (, , , , )

I posted about a couple of continuity errors in my last post, and since I am reading the series again, this time I am taking notes. I am only up to book 3 at the moment, but I’ve already got a list for you. The widowed/forever single status confusion of Mr JLB Matekoni and Mma Makutsi, he did correct in later editions (although these late spouses don’t ever get any mention again).

SPOILERS FOLLOW!

Okay, here we go!

Book 1 — The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

  1. pg 61 — “Mma Makutsi was the widow of a teacher.” But throughout the rest of the series, it is stated that she has had no romance or any male interest in her life, with the exception of one line later in the series where this mysterious late husband is finally referenced.
  2. pg 78 –“…sent off for, and received, a manual on private detection.” This assumes she bought if from mail order, which doesn’t make so much sense, since in Limpopo Academy it is implied that she found a stray copy in a bargain bin.
  3. pg 86 — “Mma Ramotswe had known Mr J.L.B. Matekoni for years. He came from Mochudi…”
  4. pg 86 — “Mr J.L.B. Matekoni was forty five — ten years older than Mma Ramotswe…” Remember this. According to this line, Matekoni is 45, which would make Mma Ramotswe 35 at this point. (It was also just after this paragraph in the earlier editions where the original text said “and she had wondered why he had never married.” Later changed to “remarried”.)
  5. pg 105 — The book is called The Principles of Private Investigation by Clovis Andersen. It is never referred to by this title again.
  6. pg 150 — “Mma Ramotswe had been an eight-year-old girl then… and her heart filled with pride when she thought of all they had achieved in thirty short years.” Thirty years ago, she was eight? Would that not make her now 38, not 35?
  7. pg 229 — “She telephoned Tlokweng Speedy Motors… but the receptionist was out to lunch and he answered.” Who is this mysterious receptionist? She never appears again. In fact, in the third book, when Mma Makutsi starts managing the garage, it is clear that there is no office staff but Mr JLB Matekoni.

Book 2 — Tears of the Giraffe
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Bush Tea, Detectives and more Vegan WIN!

23 January 2014 at 19:09 (Plastic Vegan, Random Randomness) (, , , , )

bushteamugOne thing since becoming vegan: I’ve become a lot more health-conscious than I was before (more health-conscious, not necessarily more pro-active). Ground flaxseed can be liberally sprinkled onto a chip sandwich and you won’t even know it’s there. I’ve also been drinking bush tea now and then. It’s actually quite nice with one stevia tablet per mug. I’ve read a lot more about the benefits of rooibos (the proper name for the bush tea plant). It’s supposed to make a really good toner, so I’ve been trying it on my face, but not sure if it’s made much difference to my complexion (which, incidentally, is worse than Mma Makutsi’s).

Speaking of Mma Makutsi, I’ve been reading the Mma Ramotswe series again, and I’m finding Mma Makutsi really irritating. Sort of like a Motswana Maya Fey. After everything Mma Ramotswe does for her, she is so damn selfish and ungrateful. Take take take take, and then dream that Mma Ramotswe is her subordinate. Go set up your own detective agency, Mma Makutsi, and see how far you get.

Another thing, I get the feeling the author is getting a bit jaded with the series, what do you think? I mean, seriously, what happened to Mr Polopetsi? Read the rest of this entry »

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Japanese Learning Resources

24 November 2013 at 18:35 (Random Randomness) (, , , )

Here’s a list of the resources I use/have used to study Japanese and my thoughts on them. Listed in the order that I first used them.

Japanese from Zero! Book 1 (George Trombley and Yukari Takenaka)

Pros:
– Takes you through hiragana gradually.
– Doubles up as a workbook to reinforce learning.
– Teaches in a way that you will remember.

Cons:
– I found the learning rate too slow. Not many sentence constructions were introduced and I eventually got bored of it.
– Too much emphasis on polite form — some of us need to learn the plain form, too!
– I would have preferred to learn how to construct verbs earlier on. Unfortunately, that comes towards the end of the book, and then they only teach you godan verbs (i.e. -u verbs) conjugated to polite present tense, so I was under the false impression that 見る (miru) would actually conjugate to 見ります (mirimasu), because they didn’t explain -ru verbs at all (or indeed acknowledge there were two groups of verbs).
– Goes into numbers almost straight away. You are just presented with a long list and told to memorise them. Hardly a good way to learn.
– Not really a con, but… Read the rest of this entry »

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney

4 August 2013 at 14:21 (Random Randomness) (, )

First off, the title of this series is a misnomer. Greg does not seem to be a particularly wimpy kid. He is merely not one of the popular group. That’s not the same as being the class wimp. I was hoping for a mini-me – you know, the uncoolest in the class, weediest, always chosen last in PE, the most likely to be made fun of, only tolerated because sitting next to a nerd has its advantages, etc – and instead was fobbed off with this travesty of a wimp. Rather than Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this should have been called Diary of a Selfish Idiot with no Integrity or Loyalty. Because that’s really what Greg Heffley is.

The way he treats Rowley is absolutely appalling. With a friend like Greg, who needs enemies? In fact, I’d say Rowley fits the description of “wimpy kid” a lot more. And he is much more likeable.

Now for the story itself. It’s written in an interesting way, and in some ways, reminds me of the first Clarice Bean novel. Except, of course, that Clarice is a very likeable character, whereas Greg is definitely not. There are parts that I chuckled at, but nothing laugh-out-loud. Kinney writes in an engaging and humorous way, but that’s still not enough to detract from the fact that Greg is an absolute jerk. There were no major plots to speak of, more just small narratives, no climax to the story or anything like that.

I feel really let down, you know. From the T-shirts, you’d think Greg is something a lot different from what he turns out to be. I’d have to give this 3/5 for the good writing. If only Greg wasn’t such a detestable character, who gets worse with every book, this could have got a 5/5.

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Watermelon, by Marian Keyes

4 August 2013 at 13:30 (Random Randomness) (, )

I first read this book at 19 and found it really enjoyable. Maybe I was just so desperate for something new to read that I would have enjoyed anything. Maybe I was just young enough to find anything credible.

Many years later I’ve re-read it and had many WTH moments. I’ve read shoujo manga with more sophisticated, credible plotlines than this.

First off, the author has an annoying habit of writing in very short paragraphs. I remember finding this strange even the first time I read it. Some paragraphs are only one or two WORDS long. Yes, words, not sentences. The narrator, Claire, also feels the need to explain the punchline of every joke, as though the reader is too thick to get it on their own.

The plotline is about as cliché as it gets (sorry, spoilers follow). Read the rest of this entry »

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Ruby Redfort — Look into my Eyes

8 September 2012 at 19:19 (Random Randomness) (, )

I can see two obvious things that are wrong with this book, just from the cover:

  1. The first Ruby book is supposed to be called There was a Girl Called Ruby
  2. The Ruby books are supposed to be written by Patricia F. Maplin Stacey

Reading further in:

  1. Ruby Redfort is 13. She is supposed to start her spy career at age 11
  2. I’m sure there were one or two more, but I’ve forgotten

Now, you see, whenever I read Clarice Bean’s talking about Ruby Redfort, I shall feel slightly disorientated that she is reading a different set of Ruby books from the rest of us. It’s a shame.

On to the book itself. Reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I was expecting to be disappointed, but you know, the book is actually all right. Of course, the Ruby books were originally a parody of the Nancy Drew school of child spy fiction (although I hate to say, I didn’t get the Nancy Drew/Clancy Crew joke until Spells Trouble), so how did Ruby make the transition from joke to serious fiction?

Firstly, this was never meant to be another Clarice Bean. None of the observational humour; this book is supposed to be proper spy fiction. Besides the obvious (surely parental consent is needed when employing minors?), Child manages to pull it off quite well. Don’t expect anything grandly dramatic; this is a child’s book after all (that wasn’t meant to be a pun, but go ahead and read it as one, if you wish. I did :D). Considering how comic-book silly the villains were, as in Clarice Bean, I think Child actually did quite a good job in bringing them into the ‘serious’ version. At the same time, it was always going to be hard to take someone with a name like Count von Viscount seriously. However, it could have been worse.

The plot, as I mentioned, was nothing special, but Child’s writing style saves the day. Even though the storyline was typical, I still kept wanting to read more. Ruby, Clancy and Hitch pretty much keep their personalities from the Clarice Bean books. You have the ridiculous spy gadgets, silly-named villains and code cracking (it’s really not that hard). It’s sure to keep kids entertained.

Am I looking forward to the next book? Yeah. Am I excited? Not really. It was a good read, but nothing to amaze. I think I still like the Clarice version of Ruby Redfort better. It’s just so much funnier.

However, I can name one person who is looking forward to borrowing my copy.

😉

That blessed code

I don’t know what the big deal is with that, really. Yeah, it’s a pain, but she does tell you from the start it’s a Vigenere cipher, so all you really have to do is find out how it works (Wikipedia will tell you), and work out what the key is. If you have the paperback version of the book, you’ll see that the word UIFF is repeated on the cover, followed by a number. If you can work out that UIFF decrypts as RULE (highlight to see the word), then you already have the first four letters of the key, and if you read clue #2, you know the key is twice as nice as a single doughnut, then you can easily work out what the word is.

However, if you’re lazy, you can use Sharky’s Vigenere decrypter to do the hard work for you. But you still need to work out the key.

PS The first message from Clancy is something to do with hives and tomatoes.

(Vsljzyvzs, hfcv. Aote M gc ywpvbhbjyk icl zzy? Wvy lpczcle tw GCOCWI. Gib!)

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Fire Emblem 20th Anniversary Artbook

28 May 2011 at 20:42 (Random Randomness) (, , , , , )

I couldn’t resist. Nintendo said there are no plans for an English release, so I had to get it imported. It cost some £40 on eBay, but I think it was worth it (mind you, my bank statement hasn’t come through yet).

It’s smaller than I hoped. Bigger than my Gyakuten Kenji Official Complete Guide *sigh*, smaller than the English release of the Phoenix Wright artbook, and the same size as my Gyakuten Saiban fanbook.

Now let’s see what’s inside!

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Cast in Shadow, by Michelle Sagara

31 May 2008 at 21:38 (Random Randomness) (, )

Cast in Shadow is a fantasy story, set in a world populated by various races of beings and full of magic.

The story follows Kaylin Neya, a young woman, an orphan, who ran away from the fiefs and joined the city’s law enforcement, the Hawks. She has strange markings on her arms and thighs, markings which match those found on children ritually killed in the city. She is then called upon to help track down the killers of these children.

And that’s pretty much all I understood of it. I don’t know why, but I found it hard to relate to the characters, any of them. I felt strangely left in the dark throughout most of this book. Even at the final battle scenes at the end, I felt as if I was watching it from a distance.

The problem is, Sagara expends so much effort on creating sophisticated and emotive prose at the expense of clarity. Instead, you’re just a casual observer, someone the author doesn’t really want to let in to her secrets, and the book suffers greatly for it. You never really feel as if you are part of the action, you never feel Kaylin’s emotions with her. You don’t feel her fear, her pain, you’re not made to care about what happens to her. As Sagara herself says, ‘It’s the same, after all.’

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Le Petit Prince

29 March 2008 at 17:14 (Random Randomness) (, , )

Le Petit Prince

Un livre à lire à tous les âges de la vie, surtout lorsqu’on se sent perdu, ou quand on croit qu’on a des problèmes insurmontables…

Rien n’est impossible…

Et la vie n’a rien de terrible, d’alienant ou de decevant. Il suffit de tout voir avec l’âme d’un enfant comme Le Petit Prince. Et de la vivre, cette vie, en suivant son cœur.

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The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

21 March 2008 at 17:39 (Random Randomness) (, )

by Alexander McCall Smith

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

‘You see,’ said Mma Ramotswe, casting a glance at the attentive attorney, ‘there are some people in this country, some men, who think that women are soft and can be twisted this way and that. Well I’m not. I can tell you, if you are interested, that I killed a cobra, a big one, on my way here this afternoon.’

‘Oh?’ said Jameson Mopotswane. ‘What did you do?’

‘I cut it in two,’ said Mma Ramotswe. ‘Two pieces.’

Precious Ramotswe is Botswana’s first ever lady private detective, and owner of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Armed with a sharp and inquisitive mind, her friend Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, and a good dose of humour, Mma Ramotswe is called upon to unravel various mysteries – disappearing husbands, rebellious daughters and stolen cars.

Until one day she is contacted by the father of a missing child, a young boy feared to have been taken for witchcraft and things start to get a little more serious.

This book is a real gem, and the characters and settings are very much different from others in crime fiction, making this a very refreshing read. The author’s observational humour adds to the enjoyment, as does Mma Ramotswe’s fiery, no-nonsense attitude. I highly recommend this and I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

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Le Petit Prince

8 December 2007 at 21:53 (Random Randomness) ()

Le Petit Prince

Mais les yeux sont aveugles… il faut chercher avec le coeur…

To anyone else you are just a person, like any other person, but what makes you special to me is what I see in you with my heart.

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Just William

3 November 2007 at 16:18 (Random Randomness) ()

Just William by Richmal Crompton

William William William!

(That’s not the review. I’m just too lazy to write one just now.)

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