When
· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · September
· · · · 20 (2 entries)

Hot Kid, Tonto Woman · I’d kind of got­ten off the book tread­mil­l, what with try­ing to read the In­ter­net in re­al time. But for some rea­son I’ve read a stack of books in re­cent week­s. One of them was The Hot Kid by El­more Leonard, who, Wikipedia tells me, has been pub­lish­ing nov­els since be­fore I was born. It’s pret­ty good and, like ev­ery book Leonard’s ev­er writ­ten, has flows of di­a­logue that pull you along and make you smile just at the joy of writ­ten spo­ken English, done well. It’s a pre-Depression gang­ster nov­el; the main char­ac­ters (and they’re all well-done) are syn­thet­ic, but Pret­ty Boy Floy­d, John Dillinger, Jay McShan­n, and oth­er re­al peo­ple of the pe­ri­od hov­er around the edges. I en­joyed read­ing it but have a gripe; too much re­al dum­b­ass gun­play, a big piece of the flying-lead plot is about Our Hero’s abil­i­ty to draw faster than the bad guys. There­fore, a point­er to an­oth­er Leonard, 1998’s The Ton­to Wo­man and Other Western Sto­ries, a col­lec­tion of nine­teen short-form Westerns writ­ten be­tween the Fifties and Eight­ies. The vi­o­lence is im­plic­it, threat­ened, scary, off-stage, and very re­al, but it doesn’t hap­pen much in the ac­tu­al nar­ra­tive se­quence. The prose is amaz­ing­ly lean; pared down al­most to the lev­el of a haiku. If you open this one up leave your­self two or three hours be­fore you go to bed, be­cause you won’t be clos­ing it.
 
grumble(); · I’m pret­ty busy with this and that but mak­ing good progress on the on­go­ing com­ments sub­sys­tem in be­tween. Writ­ing a com­ment sub­mis­sion/dis­play sys­tem is easy, but even fair­ly mod­est spam re­pel­lent is quite a lot of work; I’ve been con­vinced that it’s worth a cer­tain amount of ef­fort to avoid manda­to­ry mod­er­a­tion. It’s all fair­ly straight­for­ward Ruby, no frame­works or databas­es or any­thing. The on­ly down­side is that I have to make a few ad­just­ments to the cur­rent pub­lish­ing en­gine, which is Per­l, and to the client-side stuff, which is of course JavaScrip­t. I keep putting : in front of con­stant strings. And for­get­ting paren­the­ses. Espe­cial­ly emp­ty paren­the­ses. And semi­colon­s. Espe­cial­ly semi­colon­s. Bloody stupid use­less semi­colon­s.
 
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