It was entertaining, but I can't say Matter is the best Banks ever. Kind of disappointing really.

It gets sort of philosophical in the middle, but rather than pulling that into an overarching theme Banks just drops it, seemingly in favor of rattling off the last of the plot. The characters are developed just in time to get killed off. The plots and stratagems that the characters involve themselves in seem rather pointless in the end.

Hmmm. Maybe that is the point. Or it could be that I didn't develop any affinity for the characters. Not really.

There is some fun to be had with the giant habitats and stuff. Manufactured worlds, that sort of thing. Overall, though, it's probably my least favorite Culture novel.

concord building [architecture friday]

First off, thanks to Matt for linking to me on urbnlivn.

Now, to the business of the day: making fun of buildings even though I sort of like them. Specifically, the Concord in Belltown. It makes me laugh because it's named after a rather famous jet, and it looks like an airport terminal.

Concord Building, Entrance
I hope I get through security in time to make my flight

It makes me think of an architect that really wanted to be the Seatac guy but didn't get the contract, so he repurposed the plans. I'm sure it wasn't like that, but the thought amuses me anyway*. Here, let's take a closer look at the awning.

Concord Building, awning
Consider yourself Awned

Do you not expect to see sky caps standing around under this awning? Whenever I walk by I worry that I don't have my tickets.

But as much as it amuses me, I like this building. I mean, it looks like an airport, how cool is that?

Concord Building

It's not perfect. Not my dream condo block or anything. I take specific issue with the 80sesque fountains out the front. And the fact that I can't afford them. Oh well.

* (For the curious, it was in reality made by Driscoll Architects, who have done other stuff in town and have a broken website).

[where:2929 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98121]

chasm city

Chasm City, it's a book. By Alastair Reynolds.

Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds

It's one of those books where things are not what they seem, but you figure it out about 200 pages before any of the characters do. They mystery is more along the lines of 'when is this dude gonna figure this stuff out? come on! I know I'm right. right?'

But still, it's an amusing little romp if you like space ships, transhumanism and squalor.

2nd ave crap shack [architecture friday]

I have a tendency to highlight the awesome when I do these building fetish posts. But, as with most things, 98% of everything is crap. As an example, I give you this:

2nd ave crap shack

I know it's not done yet. I know. That makes it worse. The architects have had a chance to see boring condo buildings just like this one all over town for years and years, and yet they make another one. It's like they're just in it for the money or something.

wow. squares. consider the boundaries pushed.

I know that not every building can be ground breakingly unique. But can't we have more than one style at a time? Does all new construction have to be exactly the same?

[where: 2nd ave and broad st, seattle, wa]

werewolves, and vampires in space

I haven't been blogging much since S visted. Between the trip to Powell's, and the subsequent trip to Elliot Bay Books, I've got a lot of books to get through.

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar
Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

First up was Lonely Werewolf Girl, which I liked. It's a bit silly, but at the same time, it has more depth than you'd expect. I'm not saying it's great literature, but there's actually character development, etc. It's not all werewolf fashion designers and fire elemental social events. Though there is a lot of that. On the surface it's pretty girly actually; just roll with it, you'll be fine.

Blindsight by Peter Watts
Blindsight by Peter Watts

Blindsight is a very different book. It's hard science fiction, to the point that there are pages of references in the appendix. Ostensibly it's about first contact with an alien race. Really it's about the nature and usefulness of sentience. It's conclusions are... depressing. Still, it's one of the few books I've read recently that made me think a bit, so I'll recommend it too. Don't be put of by the vampire thing; it makes sense in context.

happiness is an open window

My window at work spontaneously decided that it was willing to open today. I don't know that happened at all (thanks CC for the CB help).

On a hot day with a broken air conditioner this is a big help.

Some buildings in Portland [architecture friday]

I know. Portland was a week ago. And friday was yesterday. Well, I've been busy and blogger lets me back date things. So there!

There is some good stuff in Portland for a steel and glass fetishist like myself, but mostly it's historic buildings and parks. Those are good to, I admit.

My favorite building was this tall thing with what looked like green marble all the way up. But I didn't get a chance to see it up close; could have been faux marble.

tall building in portland oregon
I like the tall one in the back

Here's one for all my dead homies. (Yes, Portland's city planners from the early 1900s are my homies)

historic building detail, portland oregon
very detailed

Did you know you can buy rugs at every street corner in Portland? Well, this corner.

street corner, downtown portland oregon
Is this downtown or the Perl district? Who can say?

And to think, somebody once thought this place was non-ironically cool. Personally, I think it's ironically awesome!

office building, downtown portland oregon
very retro

And that's my whirlwind tour of Portland. Next week it's back to boring you with Seattle buildings. Woot!

[where: Portland, Oregon]

portland, oregon

Yesterday, I went to Portland for the first time. Went to Powell's books, got some good food, drove around downtown.

Since it was my first time to Portland, it was my first time at Powell's. QED. Powell's had a lot of books, but I was surprised at how few of them interested me. Maybe it was the crowds. It was busier than anybody had ever seen it. Or maybe it was that the fantasy was mixed in with the sci-fi. I hate that.

Overall, Portland is pretty quaint. It felt like a clean Memphis or Baltimore. Nice place to visit.

I didn't get a chance to see the Japanese Gardens, and there was a neighborhood up on a hill that looked pretty neat. If/when I make it back, I'll have to go exploring more.

retro arcade

The retro arcade near Powell's was pretty awesome.

Rainier Tower [architecture friday]

A highrise on a pedestal? That must be Rainier Tower.

Rainier Tower
Rainier Tower

I've loved this building forever. I posted some warped pano of it ages ago, somewhere. I'm damned if I can remember where. Anyway, 40 stories tall, but 11 are taken up with the riser, leaving only 29 usable floors. It's crazy. Crazy good!

Rainier Tower from Below
from below

It looks pretty fantastical from a distance. But it can be 'more fantastical', to quote space ghost. Up close it's pretty damn crazy. There's a 29 story office building hanging in space right over your head. You can get reverse-vertigo, a thing I just made up, if you're not careful.

Rainier Tower Entrance
(Off to the right, from this picture is the entrance to a Rock Bottom. It's a chain of mall restaurants, like upscale TGI Fridays, that I'm happy to say I've never visited. Rest assured, you won't see the food blog polluted by it.)

The entrance is only slightly gaudy. It's nice that the architect (the WTC-NY guy apparently) understood that 11 stories worth of pedestal forestalls the need for sparkly entrances.

Rainer Tower Angles

There are a lot of nice angles; well, four.

[where: 1301 Fifth Avenue, seattle, wa]