Monday, January 31, 2011

Now this is a second rate Snowpocalypse so far..

The fine mist in the air is all the precipitation we've gotten so far.  As far as Snowpocalypses go, this one is still pretty low on the list.  The local news is calling it Snowmageddon.  I think Snowpocalsype sounds better but that's just me.

My mom called me right as I was getting ready for bed last night.  My grandma had a stroke while she and my grandpa were out playing cards.  My brain raced around for a couple hours, thinking the worst.  It was right around this time last year, around the time I started this blog, in fact, that my other grandma took a turn for the worst.  We lost her a couple days after Valentine's day.  Thankfully, my mom called again, right as I was actually falling asleep, in fact, and said Grandma was doing well.  She was talking and moving around.  They've got her at Barnes for tests.  Carrie talked to my brother today when he was delivering something to the college (he's a FedEx driver), and he said he was thinking about visiting her but was afraid of not being able to get home.  I told Carrie Grandma would probably try to feed him, then send him right home so he wouldn't get stuck.  That's how she is.

Ever notice how people can't leave you alone when you're trying to work from home?

I'll leave you with these parting words: Last night I had a dream I found a geode the size of a beach ball.  It was glorious.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Snowpocalyspe

So I woke up later than I wanted to this morning and promptly went out and got groceries since they were predicting snow Tuesday through Thursday this week.  I bought enough food to probably get me through until Friday.  Anyway, I got home and had a message waiting for me from Carrie.

Apparently the situation has taken a turn for the worse.  The shit is supposed to hit the fan in the wee hours of the night and we're supposed to get almost an inch of ice and up to 15 inches of snow.  The Snowpocalyspe, as I've taken to calling it, is on its way.  I'm set for reading materials but I may have to go out later and get more beer.

Friday, January 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2008

I mentioned NaNoWriMo 2008's novel, A Summer at Thornhill Manor, earlier today.  And here it is for your perusal: A Summer at Thornhill Manor

It's not my favorite thing I've ever written but there's some funny lines.  From what I remember from writing it, anyway.


As I've mentioned on the old blog before, my favorite part of NaNoWriMo is getting a bound copy of my book in the mail courtesy of CreateSpace.  I've had the 2008 and 2009 novels on display in my cube at work for quite some time, available for anyone to read.  Adrienne, the new woman in our department, picked up A Summer at Thornhill Manor, my 2008 book, the other day and started reading it.  Yesterday, we had the following exchange:

"I can't wait to see what happened to Felicia Grimm," she said.
"Who?" I asked.
"One of the past directors of Thornhill Manor."
"I have no idea who you're talking about."
"She doesn't make another appearance?"
"I don't think so.  I haven't read it since 2008 when I combed through it for errors the night before the deadline to get my free copy."
"Oh.  It's really funny so far."
"Huh.  Maybe I'll read it when you're done."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

That was quick

So I was in a boring meeting yesterday afternoon and my mind started wondering.  By the end of the meeting, I had an entire heist novel plot hatched in my head, complete with the getaway and the double crosses.  Now I have to work on the characters.  I think I'll use my Gravedigger character for one of them.  Other that, the only characters I have in mind are the ex-cop who's in on the heist and I know one of the other characters has to know Digger from the old days.  I'm fairly excited about it and I plan on starting on it once I figure out some of the supporting cast.

Speaking of books, I'm trying to read the first volume of the Demon Princes by Jack Vance.  It's a 3 in 1 but pretty slim.  Still, I'm 80 pages into the first story and wondering how a sci-fi revenge tale can be so slow.  I'm hoping it picks up in later books.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Although they have been married for many years, the husband always insists on having the lights off. One evening the wife decides to she wait until they are in the midst of things and suddenly flip the light on. She discovers that he is using a cucumber on her.
"What the hell?!" she exclaims. "How do you explain this cucumber?"
"ME?" the husband replies. "How do YOU explain our three kids?!"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Again?

Here we are.   Another sluggish Monday morning in the office.

Hunting season ends Saturday so I'll be back to my regular weekend woodland hikes on Sunday.  If we get snow, and we might get 3-6 inches tonight, I hope the snow hangs around until then.

Things I want to get pictures of this year:
  • a LIVE armadillo
  • fox
  • coyote
  • large birds that aren't perched on a bird feeder
  • a centipede (not a millipede)
  • a scorpion

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A dream I had last night

Last night I had a dream that someone kept breaking into my house and leaving me notes saying when they'd be back to kill me.  Frustrated with the lack of help from the police, I went to my Grandpa for help.  In my dream, Grandpa had been a superhero in the 50's.  He gave me this weird grappling hook gun that I broke trying to use.  Anyway, I went back home and fought off this really androgynous burglar with a windshield squeegee.  From there, characters from Futurama showed up and it quickly degenerated into chaos.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Twisted Tuesday

So over the weekend, I started my car and both the traction control light and the power steering indicator came on.  Every time the car shifted gears, it felt like I was driving over a speed bump.  I took it in yesterday and they didn't find anything and pronounced it a one time glitch. It happened again this morning but I drove to the commuter lot by my house and shut it off and waited a few minutes.  There are some peaches at the commuter lot at 5 am, if anyone was wondering.  I started it up again and it was back to normal so I went to work.

Also over the weekend: I kept thinking about that Seinfeld episode where he ends up having to drive a van.  Pay attention because one of life's coincidences is coming up.

It was weird being back in the office after a week and a half off.  Before I left work, I would have said the weirdest moment was when I found a solution to a programming problem on a blog that was written in Japanese.

Fast forward to the return trip to the car dealership.  They said they'd keep the car overnight and try to reproduce the glitch.  The kid from Enterprise brought up the last vehicle they had.  Wait for it.  A big white Dodge Caravan.  America's best selling minivan if the commercials are to be believed.  So now I'm driving a molester-mobile until my car is fixed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Some books I enjoyed in 2010

Planet Stories: The Walrus & The WarwolfPlanet Stories: The Walrus & The Warwolf by Hugh Cook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Swordsmith's apprentice Drake Douay is sentenced to death by drowning for vandalism and destruction of property. As Drake is swimming back to shore, he chances upon Zanya, a red skinned, red haired beauty, and decides he'll do anything to get into her knickers. Can two ships of pirates, revolution, and all manner of disgusting monsters stop Drake from being reunited with Zanya and giving her the rogering of a lifetime?

Drake Douay is a lying, cowardly, slimy, drunken fornicator. And I love him! This is one of the easier books I've ever had to rate.

The Walrus & the Warwolf isn't your typical fantasy. Drake Douay is no Harry Potter or Frodo Baggins, that's for sure. Drake's a follower of the Demon God Hagon and worships accordingly: drinking and fornicating. His sister is a temple whore so he gets a good rate. Yes, incest is played for laughs in this story. Not only is Drake a scoundrel, he remains true to his lying cowardly self for the entirety of the book. The lies just keep coming and Drake gets into bigger and bigger trouble.

The Walrus and The Warwolf are the names of two pirate ships and the nicknames of the captains that sail upon them. The captains are well rounded and hilarious. Some of the pirate dialogue was so rough that it almost offended me. You have to love a story where one of the milder insults used by the characters is "octopus rapist." The supporting cast is also full of gems, like King Tor, and Muck, a man who's syphilis caused him to start his own flame-worshipping religion.

The world of The Walrus and the Warwolf is one of fantasy and little understood technology of a lost age. While some of it is serious, like teleportation gates and a flying ship, I laughed hard when one of the pirates smashed a Rubik's Cube in disgust.

The story is equal parts pulp fantasy and humor. The tone is full of dry wit and reminds me of Michael Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time at times, as well as Glorianna, also by the esteemed Mr. Moorcock.

This was the easiest five I ever stuck on a book. If you like fantasy, British humor, pirates, or really offensive language, this is for you. If you don't, buy it anyway. God knows you don't have enough books with the word Walrus in the title...

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Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)Old Man's War by John Scalzi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Perry enlists in the Colonial Defense Force on his 75th birthday and gets whisked off to war in a new and improved body, defending Earth's colonies against alien races. Will John be one of the few that survives his first year?

John Scalzi's blog is one of the few I've followed in 2010 and I'm pleased to say that if Old Man's War is any judge, his novels are just as entertaining as his blog.

I've been pretty omnivorous in my reading tastes the last couple of years and I think that's why I liked Old Man's War so much. While it's a sf book inspired by Heinlein's Starship Troopers, it's also really funny, somewhere between Christopher Moore and Donald Westlake's Dortmunder series. It's narrated in the first person and John Perry is a pretty funny guy.

The Scalz has a lot of great sf concepts packed into Old Man's War; you've got the new bodies the senior citizens are given upon enlisting, the beanstalk, the skip drives, alien species that aren't humanoid, the list goes on and on. While the concept of 75 year old military recruits sounds like comedy fodder, it's actually pretty well explained. Getting a new body, even though it will be repeatedly shot at, would be very tempting at 75.

There were so many things I loved about this book that I can't possibly mention them all without giving away large aparts of the plot. Let's just say that this one is definitely in the top 10 of 2010.

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The Hunter (Parker, #1)The Hunter by Richard Stark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Four men collaborate on a heist and everything goes well until one man decides he can't share and tries to off the others. But Parker doesn't die and comes looking for revenge! But will revenge be enough for Parker ...?

Wow. I'd been looking forward to reading Richard Stark's Parker books for quite some time and I'd say I'm hooked with the first one. Parker's a relentless force of nature with few redeeming qualities. The writing shows just how versatile a writer Donald Westlake was, powerful yet sparse. Westlake didn't waste words on this one.

The plot isn't revolutionary but the writing and the execution make it a home run. The viewpoints shift back and forth from Parker and his intended victim. It could have been a simple revenge story but it escalated into new levels. The book itself is a little thin but that's because it's all meat and no filler.

If you're into crime books and are looking for something great, give The Hunter a try. You won't be disappointed.

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Hardcase (A Joe Kurtz Novel)Hardcase by Dan Simmons

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After eleven years in the clink, Joe Kurtz, eager to get back on his feet, signs on with the mob to investigate who is highjacking their trucks. But can Joe figure out who's stealing from the mob before someone from his past guns him down?

Wow. Dan Simmons knows how to spin a yarn. Hardcase is an homage to the Parker books for Richard Stark but manages to steer clear of ripoff territory.

Joe Kurtz is a former PI that winds up working for the mob and gets caught in the middle of a power struggle. Simmons' style is reminiscent of Stark's; spare and powerful. The story is full of twists and turns, especially in the last forty pages or so. The action is fast and brutal and Kurtz is far from unscathed when the story draws to a close.

I can't say much more without giving too much away. The title is accurate; Joe Kurtz is a Hardcase of the highest order. If you're looking for a great crime novel, come and get it.

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The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder, #1)The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When call girl is murdered and her roommate/killer hangs himself in prison, the girl's wealthy stepfather hires Matthew Scudder to investigate the girl's past and find out why her life ended the way it did. Scudder's investigations lead him through a web of sex and lies...

Wow. Lawrence Block always keeps me entertained but this was one hell of a read. It's less than 200 pages but one of the more powerful pieces of detective fiction I've read in years. I figured Scudder would unearth some bad things in his quest. Come on, how can you not unearth bad things when you're investigating the death of a call girl? Still, I was surprised by all the twists.

Scudder himself is a great character. He left the police force after a ricocheting bullet of his killed an innocent girl and has been operating as something of a PI ever since. He tithes to the church and drinks a lot. He has a sense of law and order and justice about him that keeps him interesting. For instance, he tells the story of setting up a guy he knew was a rapist by planting heroin in his apartment while he was gone and then informing on him. This is the first Scudder book and I think I'll be picking up the others as I find them.

For fans of noir, you can't go wrong picking up this book.

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