Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Widget The Hut.

Slumming in the Kitty Condo.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene Aftermath: Good News, Bad News Edition.

Dear Sir,

I regret to inform you that the hurricane has caused a tree to fall across the hood of your car. The good news, however, is that the tree fell so gently that it is just leaning there and doesn't seem to have caused the slightest of imperfections to your automobile.

Dear Sir,

I am pleased to inform you that the city has come by and removed the tree from your vehicle.  I regret, however to inform you that the removal of said tree from your car caused considerably more damage than the falling of the aforementioned tree.

Have a nice day.


The City.

Note: I didn't have my camera with me yesterday when I walked by this car, but the tree looked like it had been gently laid down across the car and there wasn't a mark on it.  I went to get some pictures this morning and found that the process of removing the tree had fucked up the car considerably.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Polybloggimous Invites You To Try Your Hand At Talmudic Scholoarship.

One of the most common themes in both the Old and the New Testament is that we're all puny humans and God's will is unknowable.  He's the big guy and it's impossible for us to conceive the BIG PICTURE.

For some odd reason, there's no shortage of people who are willing, nay, eager to tell you God's purpose every time something bad happens.  Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell are (were) sure that earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and everything else are the fault of America for tolerating gays. This seems to be the rule regardless of where these cataclysms occur...Americans' tolerate gays, so Haiti gets flattened.

Glen Beck is on record pronouncing why bad things happen to good people. Or bad people...I'm not sure. He's a bit unknowable too.

The Westboro douchebags are a bit more specific.  Americans tolerate gays and Jews (and Vegans?), so God kills American soldiers.

Thanks to Deus Ex Malcontent, it's been brought to my attention that Michele Bachmann thinks God is really concerned with American political parties.  Over the weekend, she had this to say:

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He (God) said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
I'm more comfortable with the Talmudic tradition which basically had a bunch of guys arguing about the meaning of anything and everything.  They kinda took that whole "unknowable" thing as a prime directive and then assumed that every question of God's purpose had myriad possible answers.  Let me give you an example.  Let's say they wanted to figure out the Biblically correct response to a situation; first they'd lay out all of the details:
If a non-Jew eats a  Double-Double with extra cheese and mayonnaise from In-n-Out Burger while plowing his field and he drops a portion of his lunch in his field and a mouse comes along and eats the dropped portion of his lunch and the mouse is eaten by a hawk before the mouse's meal has been digested and then the hawk flies into your wheat field and dies of old age before it has digested the mouse with the undigested Double-Double with extra cheese and mayonnaise and lies undiscovered in your wheat field, will the milk from the cow you bought from your Uncle Menachem still be kosher?
Talmudic study is big on specificity. The answer, by the way is that Uncle Menachem is a well-known gonif, and why would you buy a cow from him.

No, actually, if there were 12 Rabbis discussing the question there would be a different answer for each of the Rabbis and one of them would be really open minded and he'd argue 3 sides of the issue.  This is as it should be.

If we're going to try to divine God's purpose in sending earthquakes and hurricanes and forest fires and droughts and Kim Kardashian to us, I'd like to suggest that we widen the net when looking for answers.  For example, the most obvious response to Michele Bachmann's assertion is that maybe God wants her to shut up and God thinks the Tea Party are a bunch of silly prats who might have been amusing for a little while, but the joke has gone stale and they should crawl back under their rocks and leave us all alone.

Edited to add this aside:  It's been suggested that if the hurricane was really a punishment sent by God, it would have turned left up the St. Lawrence Seaway and continued until it got the Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. Michelle is their fault, after all.

But even that explanation shows more than a bit of chutzpah. It is a bit USA-centric, n'est pas?  Who are we to say that God isn't rooting for the Chinese and He wants our economy to tank so Asia can take its rightful place in the world order?

And that possibility is obnoxiously Earth-centric.  Maybe there's another planet out there and God's decided their population is better than we are and he's preparing the Earth for an alien invasion.  Maybe these phenomena are just holy terraforming for a race of beings who prefer a watery rubble-filled landscape!

Maybe God uses a cannon when dealing with mosquitoes and that whole hurricane was solely for the purpose of flooding Merlin Lowery's basement in Parsippany!

The explanations are endless!  Let's hear yours.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Eye of the Sturm: A Continuation of Irresponsible and Lackluster Irene Reportage

So we went to bed around 4:00 a.m. and got up about 45 minutes ago. I, of course, as the dedicated reporter I am, walked all the way outside (after having my first coffee), and ventured all of 100 yards from my front door. The things I do for you.

As near as I can tell, we're in the eye of what's left of Irene.  It's been downgraded to a Tropical Storm with 60 mph winds.  The news guys are out desperately looking for flooding over their ankles. (OK, I did just see a shot from somewhere out on Long Island with a largish boat floating down a street near a church.)

Here? Not so much.

However,  there is one bit of devastation I must report to you. Y'know that picture I've been using for a while now for my banner? Here, I'll put it up again, so it stays on this post after the banner changes eventually.
Well the background for that is a plywood construction wall around a church down the block from me.  And it's a little bit of a goner.
 That green is the color it really is.  It' brown on my banner because I own a computer and I'm an Ahtist.
Truth be told, a few months ago we had a wind storm and the whole thing blew down in that one, so Irene's a bit of a fizzle.  At least on my block.

As you may have noted in the first of those two pictures, the front door of the church is wide open.  Come back a little later for some interior shots.  I risked my life for you people!

Update 11:00 a.m.  Argggghhhhh!  THE SUN IS OUT!  IT BURNS! IT BURNS, MY PRECIOUS!
(Actually, it's kinda nice to see, but how fun is that to say?)

Update 11:12 a.m. We pause now for a brief impression of Hurricane Irene (disguised as a knight on a castle wall).

Apropos of nothing, here's the inside of that church.  There were about 10 people wandering around taking pictures.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Polybloggimous: Your Home Of The Most Incomplete Hurricane Irene Tracking Anywhere.

Hurricane Irene is barreling up the East Coast on it's way to visit Polybloggimousville.  As a public service, I intend to keep you all up to date as the storm approaches and let you know how we fare here in Brooklyn.  I'll also offer helpful advice.

First advice:  If you're in an evacuation area, please leave if you haven't already.  Please make sure you take your pets with you.  Please make sure the kids know where the fuse boxes are and how to operate your sump pump.  Assure them that you'll keep in touch as long as cell service is still up.

Here's a screenshot of the evacuation zones including my enviably safe position in it.  With the help of GoogleEarth, I was able to establish that we live 31' above the East River so we should be good with any storm surge.  Let this be a lesson to any of you who invested in backyard bomb shelters.  Next time, instead of going underground, build a bomb tree house.

It's currently almost 1:30pm and I've given up paying attention to what time they say the worst of the storm is going to get here.  It was supposed to be around Midnight tonight, but now I think they're saying it'll be more like 7:00am tomorrow.  I'll know when it gets all windy and stuff.

Right now it's dead calm and eerily quiet.  It's raining a bit.  It's a comfortable 73º with 422% humidity. The cats are confused.  They're doing they're usual whining for dinner 5 hours early.

I'll update you all later when stuff starts to happen.  Before that, I'll update you as stuff continues not to happen yet.

P.S. If anybody is worried, we're well stocked here.  Plenty of Milk Duds and Cheetos. The crunchy kind...not the abominable puffy ones.

Update 2:30 p.m.  Still no weather to speak of, but the potential misery is taking root.  If we lose power, it's not just losing food in the fridge and reading by candle light.  We'd also lose WiFi and Netflix!

The horror! (Pray for us.)

Update 2:46 p.m.  Various middle eastern websites are quoting Al-Queda sources as claiming credit for Hurricane Irene and the "impending doom of Coney Island and all of those infidel hot dogs".  Several candidates in the Republican Presidential Primaries were quick to blame President Obama for antagonizing Al-Queda by "killing their number 2 man over and over and over again".  A White House insider, speaking on condition of anonymity said, "Get real.  Hot Dogs are German in origin.   I have no idea why anybody thinks they're so all-fired American. And have you been to Coney Island?  What a dump! Mom and Apple Pie are safely ensconced in an undisclosed location."

Update 4:00 p.m. Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD officials are reaching out to New York's bondage community requesting the loan of some specialized equipment.  "Many of our officers will need to remain deployed throughout the worst of the storm and we hope to lash them securely to various stationary objects at strategic locations."

It's thought that some enthusiasts were eager to provide assistance, but they were tied up with other things at the time and couldn't respond.

Update 5:55 p.m. Just received a text from Irene.  "Stl on t way thr. Hld up a bit n VA. C U l8tr dude."
I don't know about you but I appreciate it when expected guests let you know they're running late.  A very considerate storm, she is.

In other news, our lack of self control means we may work our way through all of our snacks before the storm even gets here. By Midnight, we'll probably be fighting over those nasty puffed rice cakes. The Lord of the Flies will be playing out in Brooklyn. So sad.

Update 6:34 p.m. Undeniable evidence of the Apocalypse: We've just ordered a pizza from Domino's.
Edited to add: I have to admit I like ordering a pizza online and I like the "pizza tracker" even more!  But I just noticed the tracker page offers you the opportunity to "Leave a note of encouragement to the team making your order".  As you'll see from the screenshot below, "Get it right this time, you numskulls" isn't an option.
Click to biggify!

Update 9:30 p.m.  Guess what?  It's been raining a little bit.  ARRRRGGGGHHHHHH! (Sorry if that bit of panic was unseemly.)
Domino's showed up just on time. The delivery guy called me from his car out front four times.  I had the ringer turned down and I didn't notice.  Then he rang the bell.  He seemed very annoyed with me that I hadn't answered the phone.  Maybe he expected me to come out to his car for my pizza?

Update 10:10 p.m. THUNDER! Otherwise, just a continuation of Drizzle-geddon so far.

Update: 10:30 p.m. Seems like some heavyish rain is arriving.  And they've just announced that the 5 buroughs are under a tornado watch until 5:00 a.m.  Oh, Joy!

Update: 10:45 p.m.  Knock, this thing on?  I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing.  Actually, a bunch of people are visiting today but you're not talking. You may recall I'm a comment-whore.

In honor of my impending doom, you're invited to tell me the stupidest thing you've ever done in really crappy weather.

Update: 8/28, 12:40 a.m.  Here it cooooomes! (That's meant to be read like the little girl in Poltergeist saying, "They're baaaaack".  I'm not sure I spelled the inflection right.)

It's been pissing rain for a little while now and the wind is starting to kick up impressively.  Considering they've said we won't see the heavy stuff until about 7:00 a.m., this could get exciting.

Update: 2:53 a.m.  Channel 2 is in my neighborhood doing some live coverage.  They just reported a blown (or knocked) over trash can.  I coverage of a trash can on it's side sitting in the curb lane of Atlantic Avenue.  Also, the banners outside of P.C. Richard are moving in the wind.  MOVING! 

I'll be going to bed soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Meteorologically Challenged During Thursday Photo Challenge

Today, we had a little preview of Hurricane Irene; some unnamed storm Canada sent our way.  Suffice it to say I didn't feel like spending a lot of time wandering around while the sky loured and pissed looking for shit to shoot pictures of (he ended prepositionally - and then not!)

But I did have to go to Walgreen's, so I took my camera with me!  Here's what I shot:

I totally missed the Bus.  Sorry.

I'm also thinking I may take it as a challenge to shoot future photo challenges all in some store I happen to be going to anyway.  I may not, but who knows.  It'd be lazy of me, but dull for you!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stuff About Stuff Nathan Reads...And Stuff.

Item the first:

Fellow UCFer Kate Baker has won herself a Hugo Award for her work at Clarkesworld! I get zero credit for making this happen even in my wildest imagination and/or most delusional fantasies.  I do, however, deem this most excellent and choose to feel a little ray of shininess radiating down from Connecticut. Way to go Kate!  Double-Triple-Special w00ters!*

Item the second:

Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians and The Magician King, was awarded the Hugo for Best New Professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2009 or 2010. I also get zero credit for making this happen, but in my wildest imagination and my most delusional fantasies, I will choose to believe that my praise of his books may have influenced the judges. Hey! It's possible!  It's my blog and I'll humor myself whether you or anybody else chooses to join me!

Item the second and a 1/2th:

I went to the release party for The Magician King which happened at a little independent bookstore in Greenpoint (Brooklyn).  I managed to misread what time the thing was starting and I guess I was 1/2-hour late, so I basically missed everything but the opportunity to stand in a (really) long line to get my book autographed and to say "hi" to the author.  I declined.  Hey Lev...If you agree with my assessment in "Item the second" (above), and want to come over to my neighborhood to sign my book, I'll buy you a beer or two around the corner! It's only a couple of subway stops away (I think) and you can't beat an offer of free beer, can you? (Don't answer that. Let my delusions enjoy themselves for a while.)

Item the third:

At the same time as I was discovering Lev Grossman, I was also discovering Randolph LaLonde and his Spinward Fringe Series. And it took a comment from from timb111 to make me grok the series-ness of the series. And now I've gotten back to it and continued where I left off.  These are all self-published books, available as ebooks for $2.99 each. I'm reading #4 right now.

The series is a continuing Space Opera.  It's not heavy reading, but they're imaginative and entertaining reads.  They have one of the drawbacks of self-published works (they could use a bit more editor attention, evident in typos, etc.), but that's mostly a quibble in this context.

I have one other quibble. Part of the copyright page reads,
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.  If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.  If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to and purchase your own copy.  Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

I honestly understand he's trying to be as tactful as possible here.  I also realize that self-publishing ebooks at such a drastically reduced price is still a relatively new business model and people are understandably feeling their way around the landscape.  Having said all that, I'm so accustomed to the model where I buy a book and then it's mine to do with as I wish, that this comes off a bit heavy handed.  Granted, it's not like I'm planning to go down to Ye Olde Used Ebook Store" to try to get back 50¢ of my investment, nor am I the type of person who'd even think about putting anyone's books online for anyone to get without paying the author, but if I feel like handing my nook to a friend and saying, "Read this. You'll enjoy it.", I'm probably going to do it.  Just sayin'.

I'd be interested in other opinions on this.  Kindly, chime in.
*"w00t" has just been included in the Oxford English Dictionary, but they're spelling it with "o's" instead of zeros.  This strikes me as rwong, and I believe there should be a massive shitstorm visited upon their door for the error!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Departmental Detritus.

The other day, A.J. had a brief post about the crap she inadvertently collects working as a film electrician.  Which got me thinking about some of the useless shit in my kit. 

Yes, I need lots of signs so people will know where the restrooms are and how to get to catering. I can't remember the last time anybody wanted to know where the payphones were.

I have a ridiculous number of dried up Sharpies, hi-lighters and Magnum markers.

I shoot everything digital now and post the files online so I can't imagine why I still have 20 of these in my kit.

I have about 50 maps and map-books. And, of course, I have to make a map to attach to every call sheet.  And, of course, everybody just plugs the location address into their phone and let's it tell them how to get there. My map of Albuquerque comes in handy all the time. Not.

I used to have a 1-million footcandle deerlight you could plug into the cigarette lighter in the car.  That was really handy on those mornings I showed up in the dark before anyone else. Somebody else liked it a bunch and stole it a while back.

I'm not entirely sure why I ever thought it was important to have a bunch of phone line in my kit but I doubt I'm ever going to need this again.  I've got three unopened packages.

I'd be really happy if the toilet plunger in my kit became obsolete.

Last, but not least, I've never needed these yet, but I'm hanging on to them just in case.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Too Can Be A Programming Prodigy.

I've decided I must know as much about programming daytime television as the people who currently make those decisions.  Not that I honestly care all that much about the issue, but something caught my attention recently.  The saga begins with ABC deciding to cancel two of their long-running Soap Operas Daytime Dramas.  I'm guessing that the cast-of-millions must have been the big expense with those shows since they obviously weren't throwing gobs of money at things like production value or scripts.

You may ask, "Nathan, just why is it that you are so familiar with All My Children and One Life to Live"?  Well, that's a two part answer. The first part of the answer is that I happened to be home sick a bunch in 1970. I may have just not wanted to go to school, but Mom bought it.  Regardless, I was on the couch being nursed to health during the debut season of All My Children and I vaguely remember watching it.  Because of the glacial pace of some Daytime Drama storylines, there are some subplots begun that season that have yet to be resolved.  You can miss a ton of episodes without missing much.  The second part of the answer is that Anon GF and I are both freelancers.  There are days when both of us are home and when Anon GF is here, she likes to catch up on those two shows*.  I don't pay all that much attention**.  Frankly, the two shows just run together in my mind -- I'm never sure which one is on; whether one has ended and the next one begun (unless Susan Lucci is on - even I know which one she's on). And with the way characters get married/divorced, murdered/resurrected, born/cloned, etc., it really doesn't mess with the viewing experience all that much to just blend the two into one nonsensical melange.

I don't know what ABC is filling the second hour with, but one show they've announced is The Chew.
It's a Foodie show starring these people...
...and Mario Batali. who will, presumably, wear shorts and orange, plastic shoes!
I suppose all of this is my way of saying that the only potential audience-attracting feature The Chew has is that it rhymes with The View!

With that in mind, I have a few suggestions for what ABC can schedule to fill their second open slot. Heck, I'm pretty sure they could just fill their entire daytime schedule with stuff like The Zoo, The Queue, and The Pew.  I haven't taken the time to imagine what those shows would actually be about, but here are some ideas I've fleshed out a bit more.

How about this one?
The Hugh! An exciting new panel discussion starring Hugh Grant, Hugh Jackman, Hugh Hefner and Hugh Laurie!  The four of them probably won't get along very well, so this show promises conflict out the wazoo!  And if Jackman gets really pissed off, he may just go all Wolverine on his panel-mates!

Or maybe...
The Jew will be an edgy update of What's My Line, in which a panel of C-list celebrities will try to pick the one real Jew out of a group including two impostors. I'm almost certain Arlene Francis would be happy to rise from the grave to appear.  And there's apparently some question about whether or not she was Jewish, so she could be a panelist or a contestant!  Win-win!

Last, but not least, The Loo will follow the adventures of a quirky Englishman roaming the rural South in his fruitless search for a toilet.

These are sure-fire hits and ABC, you're welcome to them for a nominal fee.  Have your girl call my girl.***

*It probably won't improve your opinion of me to know that when I get to choose the daytime viewing, I opt for the channel that can only afford to show crappy movies like How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, The Beast of Yucca Flats, and Mannequin Two: On the Move.

**In both of our defenses, neither of us really pays much attention to whatever might be on. We're both the type who kinda like the TV on in the background whether we're watching it or not. Sue us.

 ***Maybe send me an email first to warn me that you'll be calling so I can line up a girl to answer the phone.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Great To Be With A Weiner!

This will be a brief two-part entry. The first part came from my search for the perfect headline for the second part.  I may have failed...but that's what it's all about.

One of the first jobs I ever had as a P.A. was on a commercial for some hot dogs starring Luis Tiant.  My memory tells me it was a commercial for Fenway Franks...but that's got to be wrong (continuing the theme) because by the time I worked on this commercial, Luis Tiant would have been playing for the Yankees and not the Red Sox anymore.  I doubt Fenway Franks ever asked anyone on the Yankees to pitch their product.  So maybe it was for Ballpark Franks...or somebody.

The whole point of the commercial was to have Tiant saying "It's great to be with a winner", but because of his accent, it would come out "It's great to be with a wiener".  But he couldn't pronounce "weiner" and kept saying "winner".  I think we shot 90 takes before they gave up and decided that "winner" would work just fine.

Tact and giving up seemed to be the two best strategies for telling Luis Tiant he was fucking up.

The other thing I want to bring to your attention is the transcript of an ACTUAL CONVERSATION that took place in my house just a little while ago.  Here's the thing.  We don't go in for those candy-assed "participation awards" they give out to every kid who shows up for a game.

Nope.  We believe in winners and losers.  The following takes place while I'm playing a game on my computer which has been stymying me every damned time.

Me: Hey honey, I made it to level 11.
Anon GF: How'd that happen.
Me: ::Blank Stare::
Anon GF: Well, you're not that good at it.

Encouragement: Pass It On!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday Rolls Around And Around And Around...

I haven't posted last week's Thursday Photo Challenge pics, much less this week's.  So here are two weeks worth of Thursdays...all on one Friday.  Happy now Michelle?



Glasses (I satisfied the requirement for the kind you drink from, but fell down on the job for the kind you look through.)
Summer Fruit:

 (The "lazy" applies to me.  These guys were doing an animation of a wall being graffitied and I was too lazy to stick around beyond the first splotch of white paint.)

Something that makes you think of Calvin & Hobbes:

And there you have it!

It was Michelle's Idea AND Her Fault!

In case you missed it, NPR did a poll and decreed that the following books are the all time bestest books in Science Fiction and Fantasy.  And Random Michelle decided it might be a good idea to tell the world which of them she had read and Janiece declared it a meme.  Well, I'm nothing if not suggestible, so I shall obey the meme.

bold means I’ve read it.

Michelle also had a category in italics for books/series she'd started and abandoned. I'm not going to get that specific.  If I have a distinct memory of reading most of a series, but maybe I never finished it, I'm going to count it in my read column.  And if I run across one of the few books I've hated enough to consciously toss it aside, I'll mention that. I'm also not going to separate out personal favorites cuz I don't feel like it.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin - I read a bunch of these, but I'm not sure I finished them.
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
There's a discussion of this one going on elsewhere regarding the book vs. the movie.  Lots of people seem to prefer (by a wide margin), the movie.  I loved both and I've never found anything depressing about the book.  Ah well.
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan. I'm sure I haven't read all of the most recent entries, but I devoted a lot of time to this series and I'm saying I've read it.
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss- I own it, does that count?
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
22. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick

23. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood -In the same discussion as "The Princess Bride", there's a lot of "I know why it's good, but I didn't like it."  I hated this book.  Nuf sed.
24. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King I know I ran out of team on this one eventually.  Don't remember exactly where.
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
26. The Stand, by Stephen King
27. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
28. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
29. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

30. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
31. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
32. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams - Meh. Did not love it.
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien I may have been obsessed to have made it through this one.
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett I'm not sure how they chose just a few of the Discworld books.  I've read every friggin' one of 'em.
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan The first was, by far, the strongest. I don't regret reading any of the other books in the series, but some of them fall flat.
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

So, HOLY CRAP! I've read exactly 50% of these. In spite of the fact that I read a lot of SciFi/Fantasy, I didn't expect to have read quite that many.  High Fives to me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Step One is Admitting You Have A Problem.

I have two new internet addictions.  First, there's The Crickler. It's kinda like a crossword puzzle -- only not.  The one I linked is already solved 'cause the internet won't let me show you a blank one, but -- whatever.  Anyway, this one is fine because you can only get one per day; how bad could that be.

I've also become enamored of  This one has online jigsaw puzzles and I'm totally freakin hooked.  So what did the rat bastards do to me this morning?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Reading Reminder.

You only have ONE WEEK LEFT to take part in Todd Wheeler's Summer Reading Program.  I'll admit I haven't read a ton of books this summer, but you can help make Todd pay through the nose.  Get on over there and tell him what you've read.

 Janiece's Officially Authorized Copycat Summer Reading Program continues until September 6th, so you've got a bit more time to extend her generosity. And you don't need to have read the book twice to enter both!  Such a deal!

Don't Be Silly. Of Course Things Could Be Worse. (Updated Because - Something Got Worse!)

Yesterday, my pal Jim posted a video on FaceBook of Bobby McFerrin singing Don't Worry. Be Happy.  He captioned it, "Relax. I'm pretty sure it couldn't get any worse. Right?"

I took this as something of a challenge.  Or to be more accurate, I took it as Schmuck Bait:

Jim's not usually such a silly optimist, so I felt the need to correct his misconception of real life.  Below, you'll find a simple 8-question test.  For each question, choose the response with the worst possible outcome.  Some questions will have more than one "correct" response.  Immediately after answering each question, you'll be shown the correct response(s) and an explanation.

Note: The embedding may be a little wonky (See what I mean about things not working out?)  You don't need to fill in your real name, but you need to put some name in the box.  And if you're not able to take the quiz right here on the blog, the "view on" link will take you to a working version of the test.

And remember, the fact that things can get worse is actually a good thing.

Update: So I thought I really liked this Quiz Creating Site because it let's you ask questions in a number of ways and you can do neat formatting stuff.  Most sites that have a "Free" trial either let you play with it for a set period of time, or let you create a set (limited) number of quizzes (or whatever).  This one keeps all of the results of you guys taking the test, but as soon as five of you had taken the quiz, I started getting emails from them telling me that they only store the first ten results and "Don't you want to upgrade to a paid account now so we'll store bazzillions for you?"  Well, no...I don't.  I don't really create all that many quizzes. I've gotten 3 emails from them so far.  That counts as worse.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Magician King: Here There Be Monsters.

Let's suppose you got your invitation to attend Hogwarts and learn magic.  But let's suppose when you fell off your Quidditch broom, the professors couldn't just put you back together again with a potion..or maybe they just couldn't be bothered.  Because Brakebill's ain't Hogwarts and you'd do well to get that into your pointy little head rather quickly. Sure, you'll come out of it a qualified magician, but some of your classmates will fall along the way -- some in rather horrible and sanguinary ways.

Let's further suppose that after you graduate, you and a few of your classmates decide to skibble off to Narnia.  Only Aslan isn't a good and cuddly Lion always there when you need rescuing; teaching you to be honorable Monarchs.  Because Narnia may be out there somewhere but you've landed in Fillory.  Instead of Aslan, you'll get Ember, a somewhat taciturn ram.  He shows up when he feels like it.  He hands out assignments.  His reasons are his own and who the hell are you to ask, "What's in it for me?"

Lev Grossman's The Magician King continues the story begun in The Magicians and pretty much picks things up right where we left off.  Quentin and his friends have been installed as Fillory's four monarchs and they're leading a charmed, indolent life.  But things in their magic kingdom start behaving in ways they're not supposed to.  Little glitches keep popping up.

Quentin volunteers to go off on a small tax collecting mission and soon finds himself with more mission than he signed up for. By the time he realizes he might have preferred the quiet life, his choices have narrowed considerably. Quentin's story intercuts with flashbacks to Julia's experience picking up magic in a series of safe houses after not being accepted to Brakebill's.  She doesn't get the official sanctioned version of magic; she gets the underground version found in the school of hard knocks, but you get the feeling it may be more effective in some situations.

To add to his heroes' worries, Grossman generously salts his worlds with a cast of Gods to contend with.  They're not New Testament Gods, cajoling with rewards and they're not Old Testament Gods prodding with dire threats.  These are ancient Gods motivated by self interest; mostly not giving a crap about Quentin and his friends -- until they want something from them. And the rewards for heroism aren't always what the story books told you they'd be.

The Magician King makes frequent reference to Fantasy genre conventions and turns them on their heads.  Heroic acts don't get you brass bands and parades, they get you bruised and bloody.  Stepping through mysterious doors doesn't always take you to a land of wonders; sometimes it just gets you into a dull, dim institution.  Grossman's characters aren't likely to describe something as "eldritch"; they're more likely to ask, "Have you ever seen anything so fucking weird?"  Don't forget, Quentin and his friends all come from the contemporary world -- they've all read the same books you have.
If you're the type who devours Fantasy novels, but you find yourself frequently wishing they'd speak some damned English...or maybe you're just a little tired of cuddly, benevolent deities...or maybe you'd just get a kick out of your heroes finding a pot of wooden nickels at the end of the rainbow; then you'll enjoy the hell out of this series.

As a little aside:  I distinctly recall relishing The Lord of The Rings trilogy a few times, beginning when I was about 14 years old.  And I'll admit I always found things beginning to get a bit tedious somewhere in The Return of the King. It always seemed to me that every vestige of humor had left the series and I kept wishing Tolkien would give Frodo a break now and again.  At one point in The Magician King I started to get that sinking feeling that we might be heading that direction and my first thought was, "If this is where we're going, I hope this story wraps up without leaving room for a sequel".  Well, the last page definitely telegraphs another book -- and I'm pissed that I can't read it yet.

P.S. I'm pretty sure these sites were set up as marketing tools instead of as fannish creations, but I got a kick out of Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy and the author's site for The Fillory Series.