Short Book Review: The Magicians

Lev Grossman’s urban fantasy novel The Magicians starts off reading like a self-aware, toughened-up blend of Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia. It ends up being a character study of a nerdy guy who likely reads as disturbingly familiar to a decent portion of the intended readership, and a metaphor for the existential dilemmas of the intellectual elite. It also contains the line, “Look, who’s the talking Bear here? … Is it you? Are you the talking fucking bear? All right. So shut the fuck up.” Despite the odd scene of animal sex here and there, I believe this warrants my endorsement.

Short TV Review: Glee

People kept recommending Glee to me last year—a sitcom/drama/musical about a high-school glee club, the tension of high school hierarchies, and the faculty advisor’s tangled love life—often with the caveat, “It’s stupid, but it’s still really good.” Well, I just finished the first season, and I’d contend it’s one of the smarter comedies on television.

While it does stumble in places (particulary when it focuses on self-contained episodes over the overarching story), and perhaps never again really achieves the same level of savvy satire found in the director’s cut of the pilot, it’s still painful enough to be believable, and ridiculous enough to be funny. It’s also relatively daring as network TV goes, with love triangles hinging not just upon adolescent crushing (though there is plenty of that), but upon issues of marital fidelity and pregnancy. The defensive remarks that it’s “stupid” probably refer to the soap-opera trappings in its storyline, if not the patent absurdity of the way that musical numbers are worked into each episode. Still, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that when it’s stupid, it’s stupid on purpose, and usually effectively so. Plus, you will have an a capella cover of “Don’t Stop Believing” stuck in your head for days, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Year in Numbers

Or, a random assortment of things that I can quantify, though perhaps not 100% accurately.

12 Number of flights taken
411 Number of bylined Macworld articles I wrote
32 Number of [books I read](
3 Number of books I read that were graphic novels
45 Number of movies I watched
37 Number of *new* movies I watched
2 Number of Dungeons & Dragons adventures completed as DM
5 Number of Xbox 360 games purchased
4 Number of above games completed (for reasonable definitions of completed)
50,574 Number of words written [for NaNoWriMo](
84,508 Number of words written in non-NaNoWriMo novel
1,089 Number of [photos taken]( (not including iPhone)
1 Number of [spoof movies]( produced
10 Number of [Doomcast]( episodes released
2:55:17 Length of total Doomcast episodes