Milk and Cigarettes

Rambles about stuff I like.

A ramble about Nostromo and the Supermob

Yeah, that Conrad novel is just called “Nostromo” and not, “The Nostromo”. “The Nostromo” is a ship, and “Nostromo” is a guy.

It looks like I’ll continue on with “Nostromo.” The first chapter was full of Conrad’s florid prose about the mythical South American island nation where the story takes place. That initially put me off the book. But in Chapter 2, things started to pick up.

The island where the story takes place has a calm, placid bay at one end, and sharp, jagged rocks leading out to sea on the other end. (I forget the name of the island, it’s similar to the name “Guadalajara”, in that there’s a bunch of the same vowel in a row interrupted by consonents, but the vowel in this case is the letter “o”. It’ll come to me.) Anyhoo, this island is home to a well run shipping company, the OSN – and Chapter 2 starts off with the citizens rioting for some reason, and the shipping company saving a bunch of people. There’s brief mention of this guy Nostromo during the riot, and how he would save people.

Chapter 3 continues in the same vein – except now we’re introduced to an island dweller, and his family, who are hiding in their house, trying to survive the riot. There’s plenty of mention of Nostromo, and how if *he* were there, they’d fight off these rioters and everything would be ok. 

I like the way the story is developing so far – this building up the myth of Nostromo before we meet him. A quick Google search tells me that Nostromo is Italian for boatswain, which is the long form of bosun – which I assume is like an ensign, except for boats. (Truth is, I’m not really sure what an ensign is either. I’m terrible with military names and ranks, etc…)

Also, Google tells me that the fictional island nation in the book is called Costaguana – which I think means “Coast of Bird Shit” – or wait, that’s guano. Yeah – Google goes on to tell me that Guana is part of the British virgin islands, so I’m assuming Costaguana is meant to imply that it’s a Caribbean nation. (Or an island that lies close to the equator – that is, it’s above the Southern tropic line.)

Anyhoo, I’ll continue on with Nostromo as my fiction novel.

The current non-fiction book I’m reading is called Supermob, by Gus Russo. It’s about this guy called Sidney Korshak, who started out as a lawyer for the Capone family crime syndicate, and then rose to be one of America’s great power brokers. This book is somewhat startling, in that it basically confirms what I’ve suspected all along about American politics: it’s crooked as all get out. This book is a non-stop tale about how the mob controlled the music business, Hollywood, American labour unions, politicians, vegas casinos, etc… Basically, any industry with deep pockets has been infiltrated by the mob. It’s shocking to realize just how entrenched the mafia is with everyday American life. The sad thing is, it’s only gotten worse, not better.

Oh well, enjoy the decline everybody!


May 24, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nostromo vs. Midnight’s Children

I changed up the Jazz Cigarettes widget. Now it suggests articles based on the number of likes it gets, rather than the number of clicks it got in the past 48 hours. That widget was looking pretty lonely when I had it based on clicks. Now it’s a bunch of stuff about goals and a couple about Mr. Honey Bunches. Nothing about how much Castle sucks and Stana Katic also sucks and that jazz. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to write better rants that resonate with more people. Either that, or face the fact that most people like Castle, and think Stana Katic is a perfectly fine actress, and her character “Beckett” isn’t a moody bitch at all.

One thing we can all agree on is just how wonderful Nathan Fillion is.


Oh he’s just such a dreamboat.

Firefly isn’t coming back. Wash died in Serenity. I have to accept these things.

Anyhoo, since I finished The Outsider yesterday, I have to choose a new fiction book to read. I was going to read, “The Nostromo” by Joseph Conrad – partly because it’s a classic, but also partly because the ship in Alien was called the Nostromo. (In fact, if you Google “The Nostromo”, JC’s book result is 4th – there’s 3 nerdy Alien things preceding it.) 

However, I read for 15 minutes yesterday and barely made it 3 pages. Joseph Conrad is a dense read. I’m sure many readers have read “Heart of Darkness”, I think probably his most famous book. The movie “Apocalypse Now” was loosely based on the book, and more than one grade 12 class had to read it. 

I tried stumbling through it one summer, and as I recall, it was also a pretty dense read. 

What do I mean by dense? I mean it’s the sort of book that seems weighed down by its use of language. One has to trudge through the book, stumbling on long, difficult and obscure words, before graping the meaning of a paragraph. It’s necessary to have a dictionary nearby when reading a dense book.

Sometimes a dense book can be absolutely wonderful. I would call, “Midnight’s Children” a pretty dense book, as Rushdie likes to be verbose. But that book, I think, had a very lyrical quality to it. Whereas what I’ve read of Conrad, it seems a lot more chunky and doesn’t flow as well. This might be me being a poor reader, and wanting to fly ahead to the meat of the book without paying too much attention to little details. Although I read Midnight’s Children pretty thoroughly, so maybe not.

In any case, I don’t much feel like continuing on with The Nostromo. I’d much rather read book 4 of the Game of Thrones series. I read the first three books a couple years ago when the show first came on. And I remember starting book 4 and getting part way through it, then putting it down and never picking it up again. Now that the show is pulling information from book 5, I think I’m a lot more motivated to plow through the last two remaining books.

Of course, each of the game of thrones books are a thousand pages long, so it’s not a quick read. Moreover, I’ve got the book on Kindle rather than a hard copy, so once I’m done, I won’t get to add to the satisfying stack of “Read this Year” books I’ve got going on. 

I suppose I might try reading more of The Nostromo until some action starts happening, then give it up later if I still can’t penetrate the language. After all, it was written about 100 years ago. There’s a reason it’s a classic. I’ve just got to push on until I find that reason.

May 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment