Saturday, April 27, 2024

Shōgun (2024)

I just finished watching the 2024 Shōgun, which I enjoyed very much.

I read the book around December 1988 — followed over the next years of reading every single other Asia-saga novel that James Clavell wrote — during my elementary school's winter break. I was so captivated that that was basically all I did during that winter break. I was already a slow reader back then, and now I read much more slowly than I did back then. (I also don't have time to basically only read a book nonstop for a couple of weeks.) I was fascinated by the epic combined with the portrayal of how East and West saw each other through their interactions. This was the first book in my life that had ever captivated me that way, and I was really excited when I saw a poster for the new miniseries a few months ago.

The 2024 series did a great job of capturing that, and it was aspects of those interactions and contrasting views (and part of the scene of peeing in a garden to consummate an agreement, and I am pretty sure that I know which scene in the new tv series corresponds to that vignette) that really stood out to me. However, most of this runs together through all of Clavell's works, and I can't really separate Shōgun from the others. I had forgotten almost all of the plot, but from Wikipedia it seems that the new series adapted it very well.

I never watched the 1980 miniseries. There was a 1988 miniseries of Nobel House. I also never watched that one, but I did notice Shōgun and Tai-Pan (and knew that Nobel House was by the same author, and Tai-Pan also caught my eye because of the Apple II game of almost the same name that was inspired by the novel) on a bookshelf in my parents' house (nobody else in the household had read these epic books), so I picked up Shōgun, which became an important part of my own personal history, even though I forgot so much of it.

I suppose that a new Nobel House miniseries may be possible? That one, too, was a particularly awesome book. (I also enjoyed the others, although I gave up on Tai-Pan the first time and started over and read it only a couple of years after, because I could put up with the rougher writing of that earlier work with the thoughts of it as a prequel to Nobel House.)

Friday, April 12, 2024

What Happens in San Francisco Stays in San Francisco (again)

I am heading to San Francisco for a cousin's wedding.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

RIP David Goodstein (1939–2024)

David Goodstein (an emeritus physics professor at Caltech) died yesterday. This is the end of an era.

I watched many of The Mechanical Universe videos in high school. The beginning and end of each video showed Goodstein lecturing to students in the big Caltech physics lecture hall. I had Goodstein for Physics 1a (mechanics) in fall of my frosh year in that same lecture hall, and I remember how surreal it felt. That was one of my big "Wow, I am now at Caltech." things. Also, I came out of lectures feeling that I understood the material — but then I tried the homework and saw that I didn't actually yet understand it.

(h/t Barry Simon)