Books and Words

This morning on my way to work I finished Tom Robbins’ B is for Beer, which I’ve decided was only just ok. As a children’s book about beer, involving a “beer fairy” and a young girl’s magical journey instigated by alcohol, it’s a fun book to describe to people, which probably means it will be very successful, but it felt a little forced to me. There was some of Robbins’ characteristic prose gymnastics, but there was also a quite lengthy section (in a 125 page book) where it really felt like Robbins’ was attempting to teach us about how beer is made. (Seriously!?!)

In only slightly related news, I have been really really enjoying Max Barry’s new episodic …thing… titled Machine Man. It can be subscribed to in a number of ways. I’ve been getting it sent to me via email, and have been really looking forward to it. I get a little thrill whenever I see it in my inbox waiting for me.

Blogging my Goodreads review of Anathem

This is the first time I’ve tried this… copy/paste-ing the code they give you after you write a review. Lets see how it looks:

Anathem Anathem by Neal Stephenson
My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was really hard for me to get into, but the book is well worth slogging through that first chapter. As anyone who has heard me rant about Stephenson before will tell you, I think he suffers from lack-of-editor-itis, but for a nine-hundred plus page book, this didn’t FEEL as long as it was. I understand Cryptonomicon felt that way for some people too. (I thought it was crap, but probably because I don’t care for alternate history as a genre, and I was terribly disappointed that he’d decided to move away from sci-fi.)
Anyway, this is well worth a read. I almost went with five stars.
View all my reviews.

UPDATE: …in short, it looked like crap. But only because of line-break issues. Those should be cleaned up now.

Prince Caspian life captions

I am re-reading Prince Caspian, (second in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series), before the movie opens this weekend. (We actually have sneak-preview tickets for Thursday.)

This morning on the bus, a cute girl sitting next to me asked me if I was re-reading it before the movie, and I acknowledged that yes, I hadn’t read it since high school. We exchanged a few more words before she then got off the bus.

But it occurred to me after that I was almost embarrassed admitting that I was reading it. I actually thought the girl was cuter before she said “It’s so good.” because it immediately made me wonder if the girl was into the books because she’s some religious nutjob.

This is, oddly enough, my fifth time experiencing this book. It was read to me when I was a kid, before I could read, and also happens to be one of the first things I read on my own, around preschool, I believe. I read it again sometime around fifth or sixth grade, and again in high school (when I HATED it because I couldn’t look past all the christian allegories). I actually may have only read the first book that last time, which would make this only my fourth reading of Prince Caspian. I can’t quite remember.

Apparently Prince Caspian in the movie is played by Ben Barnes, who is or was in a boy band called Hyrise.

Here is an interesting review/explaination of the book Planet Narnia’s take on Prince Caspian. Planet Narnia is a book written with the premise that each of the narnia books is about a different planet in our solar system.

Jason and I have had many “schemes” over the years. Many of them have involved comic books, and this is the third iteration of But this one may be the first one to actually succeed. Why do I think so? One reason: It’s easy. We’re basically just going to blog about comics. Can’t get much easier than that. We’re going to write reviews, both off the cuff mini blog-form reviews, and also (later) more thorough and thought-out “review” type reviews. For right now, we’re just trying to get some momentum going. We’d like to have everyone we know posting their thoughts and opinions about comics on Hey, that means you!

literary social networking roundup

My friend Sara just got me to sign up for GoodReads, a social networking site where you keep track of your books… a lot like LibraryThing, but a little more review-focused (from what I’ve seen so far). I was able to import my booklist from an exported CSV from librarything. Now I just wish the sites talked to each other so I didn’t have to manage both lists. (Because I’m guessing I won’t do a good job of either.) I do sort of think that, on first impression, it’s a little more fun to surf around GoodReads, mostly because of all the reviews. Next to each book listing (review) are links to rate the book, so I’m finding it as gratifying as when I used to surf around netflix to rate movies.

Just for fun, here are the links to my profiles (add me!): GoodReads, LibraryThing

random thoughts on poetry, writing, and the internet

Wrote that last poem a couple of days ago on the bus… I wish I could say I was thinking about my own death at the time, but honestly it was totally random what came out of me at the time. I did follow it up in my notebook with “Read this at my funeral. Ha!”. Aside from “Where did this come from?” my thoughts after writing it were all things like “Am I going to think this is any good in a couple of days? (Answer: yes, but predictably not as good.) …and “This must be the first poem I’ve written start to finish in months.” That last feels weird because while I haven’t been writing, life has been racing past full-bore. (Full-bore is an interesting phrase to use here, since it, life, hasn’t been “a bore” at all in this time of fast-pacededness.)

Married life, and life in general lately, has been a whirlwind of pleasant chaos.

Anyway, this chaos hasn’t left me time to write. Or rather, I haven’t pushed life aside enough lately to make time for writing. But now, conversely, I’ve been thinking about writing more… which has led, in turn, (finally) to more writing.

Parts of the impetus for this post was the inspired discussion over at Is blogging per se a dying art? (via semifat sediment). I found myself wondering whether it’s useful to talk about “ages of the internet”, which is semantically (in my head anyway) identical to “trends of the internet as a function of time”… which then led me to ask myself whether a single lifetime can have “ages”, which, when my brain then translated to “trends of my life as a function of time”, I found the answer was clearly yes. I hope that makes sense, because I’m rapidly running out of time to elaborate.

One more aside… which I already twittered earlier, but since the tweet was aimed at an individual (not-quite-coincidentally Josh who runs Semifat Sediment) it didn’t show up here. (Better to post the exchange anyway:)

“joshleejosh: Finding more and more obscure crash conditions in my AI scripts. It’s like malfunctioning turtles all the way down.

me: @joshleejosh: What’s underneath the bottom malfunctioning turtle? …is it WINDOWS?! (Interesting to imagine the universe as an OS.)”

So yeah… I find it immensely (intensely) amusing compare the universe to computer systems (and of course vice versa). Rudy Rucker does this superbly, and (in yet another cosmic coincidence) I picked up his latest novel, Postsingular, from the library this morning. I’m still not done reading Day Watch, but I’ll probably put that one on hold until I finish Postsingular, which I’ve already started and has already sucked me in.

google reader… kicking more and more ass…

I was going to write this post about how I tried out iPhonify, and got google reader working on my iphone… but after cracking open Safari 3 for the first time, syncing my iPhone and verifying that yes, I did have iphonify in my bookmarks now, I opened up, and low and behold, I didn’t need iPhonify. Google reader has a sweet and simple iPhone skin already! God damn it was sweet. It was a bit on the simple side for my tastes thus far, but it was super fast, and super nice. I think the only “real” feature I missed was that I noticed it didn’t show my “read” posts at all… they just didn’t show up at all. On the real google reader they just get grayed out after you read em, which works for me, because I often want to go back to them after I’ve read them. Anyway, I was amazed. Google has read my mind again. Now I sound like a google fanatic. Google forever!

Ok, I probably shouldn’t really quit without saying that the wedding is LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY NOW, MOTHERFUCKERS. Yes, I know that last probably made some of you uncomfortable, but tough nuts. I just woke up.

Yeah, so I also finished Thirteen weeks ago, and have since read Crooked Little Vein, (just finished it last night) all five of the Spiderwick Chronicles, Bridge to Terabithia (it made me cry, but didn’t have a damn bit of magic in it, lying movie trailers!!!), and No one belongs here more than you. Stories by Miranda July. That last was abso-fucking-lutely brilliant. She spins a damn twisted yarn, I tell ya.

Jason and I are going to attend this weekend’s podcamp, and try to get a comic book podcast started (probably after Florence and I get back from the honeymoon). That’s about it in terms of news. Ooooh, and Pete is blogging again over at Hanashimasen, in preparation for his impending sojourn to Japan. He’s my favorite writer-I-know. Yay!

Disasters large and small

By now, you’ve probably all heard about the 35W bridge that collapsed over the river. I had left early that day with Florence for a doctor’s appointment, and was already home by the time I heard about it. I had noticed a lot of sirens coming through the screen door, but didn’t really think twice about them until Mike called me to let me know what was happening. Florence and I immediately started watching CNN (on mute *shudder*) for pictures and live footage.

In spite of the location of the bridge (smack-dab in between home and work if you take the freeway), I didn’t know anyone who was involved in the collapse in any way. There were a flurry of work emails that night, asking everyone to check in.

At almost the same time, my friend Sarah is living in Japan, and she was dealing with Typhoon Usagi. She said she spent the time indoors, reading Transmetropolitan, which is now medium-high on my reading list. I really like what I’ve read of Warren Ellis’ work, and hadn’t heard of this 11-volume sci-fi epic until she brought it to my attention. (Thanks Sarah!)

Yesterday, the mn fringe festival started. I’ve got a short (but growing) list of shows I wouldn’t mind seeing, but so far my enthusiasm for the festival is less urgent than it has been in past years.

I can think of several reasons, the wedding is really starting to seem eminent, for one thing, and another is that I’ve got a looming work deadline (on monday) that is unlikely to be met if I don’t work a bunch this weekend. I actually worked a 16 hour day yesterday trying to finish one aspect of the project that I’d been putting off (there were plenty of other aspects to work on) until last Monday when I began to work on it in earnest. I’m fairly certain it should have been a two-week portion of the project. Anyway, t’s an internal deadline, but not really any less important for that because other people are waiting for my code. After I left work last night (2:30am), I waited for the bus for about 25 minutes, and then just ended up walking the two miles home.

I’m writing this post waiting for the cats to finish eating, (we give them 15 minutes, but it’s been 10 and they haven’t touched their bowls in 5) after which I’ll take a shower and head in to the office.

word press tee-shirts, other spending

I would totally buy one of the new WP tee-shirts if they came in… you guessed it, black. The tee-shirts are simple and appealing, but only come in red. Yes, that’s right, one style, one color. Totally lame.

I’ve also been meaning to buy one of those cool greyscale firefox shirts.

On the other hand, Florence and I have been trying to save money for the wedding. It’s going to cost quite a bit more than we’d expected it to, but in spite of that, I splurged $25 this morning at amazon, buying the new Jasper Fforde novel, (and Phillip K. Dick’s Ubik because I’ve been meaning to read it, and it got me to free shipping).

I absolutely adore all of Fflorde’s novels, and hadn’t known this new one was out.

Last Friday at Midnight, Florence, Nate and I went down to Barnes & Noble for the big Harry Potter release night. Standing in line (or sitting in line) for over an hour wasn’t all that fun, but it gave me a chance to read the first of the Spiderwick Chronicles. (Nate read it too, we’d just watched the preview earlier that day.) I have to remember to request the rest of them from the library before the movie comes out. (Which reminds me I should really read the bridge to tarabithia someday… and then watch the movie.)

Anyway, I finished the final Harry Potter yesterday at lunch. It was the best of the bunch, as far as I remember. I teared up at the end. I was sitting on the stoop outside work, balancing a quesadilla on one knee, and the massive 759 page novel on the other. I can’t say enough about how good it was. J. K. Rowling (or her editors) did such a great job of making it fast paced and readable. It felt like she brought back nearly every character for at least a brief cameo (especially at the end), and tied up seemingly every loose end. It was a brilliant roller coaster of pure joy to read.

For someone who claims to like science fiction way better than fantasy, I’ve sure been on a fantasy kick lately. But it feels kind of wrong to go from Harry Potter straight into what I was going to read next… that Thirteen novel by Richard Morgan. I haven’t decided whether that’s ok.

nothing posting

So I finished The Amber Spyglass, and now I’m reading Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, rather than Thirteen, which I’d said I was going to start next. Stardust is shorter, and I started it on the plane to Chicago, thinking I’d get to return it to Florence’s sister Susie while we were there, rather than bring it back on the plane with us because I hadn’t finished it, which is of course what happened instead. There is also a connection between the two, as both the Phillip Pullman books and Stardust are on my “to read” pile for the same reason — I wanted to finish them before their movie counterparts are released.

I just got done uploading a few pictures from the trip to flickr, and realized they were all of people, but that we hadn’t taken any with Susie (Florence’s sister, who we spent most of Saturday visiting). I did also meet Florence’s father on Saturday too, (that was the main purpose of the trip), and that meeting went well.

We stayed with my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Michael, and my cousin Patrick, who I discovered shares my love for “casual” (mostly web-based) video games. We took turns showing each other games we like on Kongregate, and I’ll admit he took way more turns than I did. He also showed an interest in Flash game development. Too bad the program is so expensive, or I’d get him a copy for his birthday or something.