Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin and decided to do a bit of an experiment. You see, people have been recommending that I read the books, or at the very least watch the show on HBO for a while now. I normally like sci-fi and I find that I have to be in a certain mood for a Fantasy novel of any length, let alone an epic series where each book is 800+ pages. (I’ve never been one to balk at length, it’s just that it’s a commitment that is sometimes difficult to make before you know if you’ll even like it or not.) Anyway, I started the novels, then had a thought. I’ve read enough of the first book to get a handle on the plot, so I’ll watch the first episode of the HBO show and see how I like it. See if it’s true to the book (always a huge deal for me) and maybe it will help me solidify the characters in my mind. If I can put a face to a name, then I can tell Arya apart from Sansa more easily. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out that I had read just enough so that the show didn’t have any spoilers for me. I read another hundred pages or so and watched episode two. Rinse, repeat. Great.

But then I got to thinking. This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. A few weeks before, I watched the beginning of “Treasure Island” (1991 version) with my son because we were reading the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson yarn for bedtime and I thought it might interest him to see how what we had just read looked like in “real life.”

But now, for the rest of the book, Jim Hawkins will look like a young Christian Bale to my son. And Long John Silver can’t look like anything other than a crusty Charlton Heston. treasure-island7

And the same is true for me now. Danaerys  Stormborn will always appear in my minds eye as Emilia Clarke ( yes, there are worse fates.) Ned Stark is Sean Bean. Etc. That’s when I had a terrifying thought:

We are letting our imagination wither and die like an atrophied muscle.

Our kids watch cartoons about other fictional kids going out to their backyard and having adventures where they imagine that they are astronauts, cowboys, wizards… But my kids aren’t doing any of that! THEY ARE SITTING INSIDE, WATCHING A TV SHOW ABOUT KIDS WHO HAVE IMAGINATION! (I’m lookin’ at you Backyardigans!)

Caution___TV_is_not_a_friend

AHHHHHHH!

How do we fix this?

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All right, I’m not a spokesperson for Stihl, but they come close to my point. We need to get our kids (and ourselves) outside more often. We need to sit under a tree and dream. We need to create. No matter what you think your talent is or isn’t, you can create something.   If you’re good with your hands, make something. If you’re “too out of shape/ too fat/too clumsy/ etc.” that’s not stopping you from writing an amazing story or composing a beautiful song, making a stunning piece of jewelry or woodwork. The author of the books I’m reading now doesn’t have what most people would call an athletic build (see below), but he has created an amazingly detailed epic book series. No excuses. Go from a consumer of culture to a creator of it.

Everyone dies

Everyone dies

Terence McKenna had a thought along similar lines:

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”

― Terence McKenna

Turn off your smartphone, turn off the music, stop doing things just because they will make a #clevertwitterhashtag or Facebook post later that will def impress your “friends” or “followers.” Live Life. Rediscover your passion and be amazing at it.

CREATE!

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I recently read “The Yellow on the Broom” and “Red Rowans and Wild Honey” by Betsy Whyte. (Bonnie wee Scottish lassie, isn’t she?)

Betsy Whyte

Bessie, as she answered to when she was a wean, writes her memoir of her childhood in the 1930s as part of a family of Scottish “traveller” people. Tinkers. Mist People. Gypsies. (Although they would disapprove of the ‘Tinker’ designation.) The book is wonderfully written and attempts to describe the life and philosophy of travellers. Why they live in tents and move from place to place most of the year, only settling down when they have to in winter. Working on farms, pearl fishing, making willow baskets and many other odd jobs. How they view the country hantle.

And here we are. “Hantle?” Yup. That’s cant for “people.” Her book is rife with strange words. So much so, that I became intrigued. Was this different than Scots? Yes. Was there anywhere online with a good glossary? Not really. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a thorough one at the end of Mrs. Whyte’s book. I don’t think she’d mind if I shared some of my favorite words with you, as she lamented that it was dying out within her lifetime.

The cant that Bessie spoke was unique to the Highland travellers. Irish Tinker cant, often called Shelta, or Gammon, would be completely unintelligible to her. Regardless of which group of tinkers were speaking, the purpose of cant was secret communication, often right under the noses of the country hantle or hornies (police). Two travellers could be asking a cottar if they could boil some water for tea, but if one of them notices something is amiss, they could alert the other one in the midst of speaking to the cottage resident.

What follows is a list of my favorite cant words. This is by no means comprehensive, as I have left out many other words that are included in Betsy Whyte’s books which are published by Birlinn publishing out of Edinburgh, Scotland. (This is reproduced with their permission.) As always, please comment with any thoughts or questions.

agley- in the wrong direction

anonst- unknown (to somebody) going hunting in the field anonst to the landowner.

bagle- a lazy fellow, one who breaks sexual taboos

bang- a crowd, especially domineering and overpowering people.

barming- flighty, foolish

besom- a sweeping brush, an unpleasant woman

birse- to bristle, feel annoyed or angry

bogy roll- a twist or roll of tobacco

breenge- a lunge, an attack

broonie- supposedly a very helpful spirit creature: manshaped, ugly, covered with brown hair, with long feet and red eyes. He usually attached himself to a family, nearly always millers or farmers, and did the work of ten men.

buck- a person who as taken to the travelling life, or with only one real Traveller parent.

bullyrag- to order somebody about, to demand a lot

bung- taken, jailed

burker- an intruder. Originating from William Burke who murdered people and sold their bodies for medical research at the universities. Travellers were often his target.

caber- a heavy log for tossing at the Highland Games, slang for (you guessed it) penis.

cannyways- cautiously

chuckie stane- a small smooth pebble

cleek- to walk arm in arm

conyeeched- spoiled, petted

coorie- to crouch or snuggle down

cottar- a farmworker in a rented cottage

country hantle- the settled, house-dwelling country people

Cruelty- ‘A Cruelty’ was an Inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or any official of a local authority

dander- a stroll or leisurely walk. to take a dander might mean a short walk away from camp to relieve oneself

dreich- dull, wearisome

drookit- drenched or soaked

drumly- applied to stream water, this means disturbed, muddy, unsettled. Applied to a person, it means they are confused, mixed up.

dwam- a faint or swoon

ettling- being eager or impatient to do something

fang- the venomous side to one’s nature. to go off the fang was to lose one’s temper.

forfochen- worn out

gadgie- man

ganch, ganch- to talk too much. to bore someone by talking in too much detail

gaswork cinders- coke (soda)

gie- to give. gie us a crack- give me some conversation, let’s have a chat. gie him his tatties- give him what he deserves

glaikit- silly, senseless

glaggen- the sheen over a field of grain, hay, or over a moor

glaur- mud, ooze

gloaming- dusk, twilight

granny sooker- a pan drop, a peppermint sweet

guffie- a boorish, unfeeling, cruel person

gurly- applied to water, the weather, this means cloudy, rough. So, applied to a person, it means they are grumpy, in a bad mood.

hap- to dress a child; to tuck up in bed

haver- to talk nonsense

hornies- the police

hurl- a lift on the road

in-aboot-  to enter into an encampment from any direction and move about greeting people at their various occupations

John Barleycorn- wiskey

jugal- a dog

keek- to peep

knickit- made pregnant

lee-lang – whole

limmer- a rascal or rogue, a loose girl

moich- foolish, mad

mootyay- a rabbit

nakens- Travellers

nash avree!- get moving!

oxter- armpit, to lead by the arm

paggering- a beating

peekit- sickly looking

peevie- drunk

plank!- hide!

ploops- the police

plouter- to potter about on trifling tasks

pluffen- tobacco

plukie- faced – pimple-faced

polis- the police

puckle- a small quantity

raise the wind- to earn enough to survive

rax- to stretch, overstrain

reel-rall- helter-skelter

reenge- a pot scrubber made from tying heather together

scaldified- behaving like scaldies, town dwellers of the lowest class.

scalpions- roguish young men, eager to work off high spirits by tormenting others

scouff- freedom, sufficient space to romp and play

screich- the first light of dawn

shan- bad. really objectionable, unsavory, causing shame

shaness!- an exclamation meaning ‘bad word’ , ‘bad deed’ or ‘bad situation’ but it can be used in many different ways

shuch- the private part of a woman

sleekit- sly, cunning

smeeked- smelling of, and cheery with, drink

snooled- made to feel low or downtrodden

souch, sough- a murmur: of the sea, a river, the wind, distant voices, birds wings…

thrang- crowded, close together

thrash- scared

thraw- to argue, to contradict

toll- a cant word for skirlie, the dish made from oatmeal and dripping

trauchled- overburdened, overworked

troosh- to humble or frighten someone

tuggery- fine clothes

walsh- dried up and bad tasting

want- When we say that a person has a want, we mean that they are otherwise quite normal, but has an obsession or distorted view about some thing (or things). Such a person is usually very touchy about the subject and the ability to recognize such a ‘want’ helps one to humor the person.

whammel- to turn upside down

wheesht!- hush! be quiet!

yirdy- a toad

younker- youngster, child

So I finally got to see Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” movie last night in all its 3D high frame rate glory. The verdict?

Terrible… with some shining good points.

But Dan, you say, I thought you loved JRR Tolkien and the Hobbit? Yes. Yes I do. Why do directors/screenwriters feel the need to mess with something that has been a well-loved classic for millions? WHY! If it has enjoyed success up to this point with the story that exists, why change it? And don’t tell me, “For the story/ narrative.” The narrative worked just fine, that’s why there are Tolkien fans world-wide. So if you’ll indulge my nerdy wrath, let me tell you the various reasons why I was disappointed in the film.

The whole backstory with Azog the goblin. Yes he existed, but he was dead long before the company of 14 left Bag-end. I kind of see that the writers needed a stronger antagonist for this cut-up part of the story, but come on. Here’s what really happened:

After Smaug took the Lonely Mountain. Thror gave his Ring of Power to his son Thrain, and left with a friend, Nar, to go to Moria. When he got there, the gate was open and his friend warned him not to go in, but he walked in like an heir returning. Nar waited outside for many days before the body of Thror was tossed out, headless. The head was also tossed out and on it was branded AZOG. Nar was told that Azog was the new master in Moria and to go back and tell the dwarves. Of course Thrain was furious and the dwarves spent three years amassing an army before they finally marched on Moria in 2799. That is the scene in the movie where Thorin and Thrain are battling the goblins. That scene is accurate in that it shows how Thorin got his nickname Oakenshield, but that’s about all. Nain is the dwarf who battles and is killed by Azog, and Dain (of the Iron Hills), son of Nain, revenges his father and kills Azog, beheading him. Not just cutting off his arm for him to fight another day. Dead. Storyline ends there. Bye bye Azog.

Years later, Thrain, Thorin’s father is captured on the outskirts of Mirkwood and is taken to Dol Guldur where he is tortured and the Ring of Power is taken from him and delivered to Sauron in 2845. Five years later, Gandalf enters Dol Guldur and receives the key to the Lonely Mountain from Thrain before he is killed.

Whew! History lesson over. OK. Next.

The beginning of the movie is fine. The dinner party at Bagend is great. Where it departs from Canon is with the Trolls. First of all, it was pouring rain, not a nice day. Second. The whole party voted that Bilbo should go check out the firelight, not go chasing after some lost ponies. Third, Bilbo is discovered but manages to get away when the trolls start fighting amongst themselves, then the dwarves start showing up one by one and get put into sacks so that they can’t warn the others. Thorin manages to get in a few licks with a burning branch, but he too is captured and Bilbo is punted up into a tall bush. Then Gandalf comes back and impersonates the Troll’s voices so that they end up arguing about how to cook the dwarves until daylight turns them to stone. All in all, the movie didn’t change too much, and the scene is not pivotal to the plot. But if it wasn’t so important, why change it at all? It was fine as originally written.

Then the movie goes on a lark with Radagast the Brown and tries setting up how Sauron is amassing power in Mirkwood, but that doesn’t really enter into the Hobbit at all. Gandalf just mentions that a “Necromancer” is gaining power in Mirkwood and Radagast the Brown shows up in the Hobbit for all of ONE SENTENCE, while they are on the way to Beorn’s house.

And the whole business about being chased by Wargs before “escaping” to Rivendell? Rubbish. They missed the whole fantastic scene in the book where the company enters Rivendell at twilight and the elves sing/make fun of them from the trees. Also, still on ponies and horses. They didn’t run away after their ordeal with the trolls.

Rivendell itself was spectacular as it always is, but the whole council with Galadriel and Saruman never happened.

The Stone giants scene was cool and I’m willing to forgive a little creative license there, but they still had the ponies with them, and Gandalf too, when they were captured in the cave. Bilbo remains with the group the whole time during their escape, which was a ridiculous affair of Disney theme ride/ Ewok village rope bridges in the movie, where in the book it is all dark low passages. When the goblins catch up with the group a second time, Dori, who was carrying Bilbo on his shoulders, is grabbed from behind and Bilbo is knocked out and overlooked. When he awakes, he fumbles over The Ring on the ground, he doesn’t watch it fall out of Gollum’s pocket.

The Riddles in the Dark scene is great, except that it’s not dark. When Bilbo finally escapes, he losses his brass buttons trying to squeeze out the final door to the outside, away from Gollum and the goblin guards.

The scene where the party goes from the frying pan and into the fire was well done except for the whole showdown between Thorin and AZOG, who as we found out, was already long dead.

When they are rescued by the Eagles, (who just look down and see the fire with their good eyesight and don’t have to be informed via butterfly mail) we miss out on the whole scene of the dwarves being taken up to their Eyrie that night and wondering if they are going to be eaten for the Eagle’s dinner. And then they are brought to the Carrock, and so we leave them there., gazing at the nonexistent view of the Lonely Mountain.

After all that, here’s what the movie did right: Visually stunning. The HFR was incredible, but hard to get used to. At first, it looks a bit like Spanish daytime soap operas. You know, that hard light where everything looks very realistic. After a while, you begin to appreciate the detail, but it takes time. Erebor was amazing and the golden hoard was a sight to behold. All the characters were wonderful, and Bilbo and Thorin were spot on, even though they participated in scenes that shouldn’t have existed. the Wargs were awesome, and the goblins were perfect. Just different enough from LOTR’s orcs to be just right. The Goblin King in particular was wonderful.

Overall, I think that Peter Jackson has a great vision for the world of Middle Earth, and he did better than most would. But why didn’t he just stick to the beloved story? Tolkien fans should watch it, but you have been warned to not expect it to be true to canon.

What do you think?

P.S. I think I’m so upset, because I grew up with Tolkien s’ works. It’s different than, say, The Walking Dead graphic novels versus the TV show. I read and enjoyed the comics first, and noted the differences when the show aired, but since it wasn’t ingrained in my childhood; since I didn’t spend hours drawing maps of Georgia, or making hand-drawn board games of The Walking Dead, I wasn’t as upset. Or take any modern series. Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Yes, it bothered me when the movies departed from the novels, but it didn’t feel like a betrayal.

Another good year for books. Since I got a Nook, I read even more than usual. But I still kept a lookout at the library and when I spied some new addition to a series I enjoyed. I will say though, the Nook contributed to some reading A.D.D. I definitely started a good deal many more books than I finished this year. And switching to digital has spoiled me in some ways too. I found myself reading a real paper book and getting annoyed that I couldn’t just touch and hold a word for an immediate definition. Or that it took my 12 seconds to turn the page when I was reading on my side in bed with one arm under the covers; instead of just a push of a button. ‘Tis the way of  the future I suppose. Anyway, I hope you get something out of my list. Happy reading!

Robopocalypse: A Novel

A welcome change from all the zombiepocalypse novels I’ve read lately. Basically the military experiments with AI and, what do you know, it escapes and decides to “destroy” the humans. When you read it, you’ll understand the quotes. The book is well written and follows several disparate groups along their path to fight against Big Rob. The book is also written completely from the perspective of recorded digital footage gleaned from a hard drive. So, all conversations, movements, etc. appear from a robot’s sensors. This is not nearly as tedious as it sounds, and was quite cool.

Indulgence in Death

Possession in Death (In Death Series)

Treachery in Death

Assassin of Secrets

A good old spy thriller set in the 60’s. If you like James Bond or Jason Bourne, you’ll enjoy this romp through Europe at the heels of the best secret agent in the US as he tries to snare the organization that is systematically killing off top operatives all over the world.

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse)

After reading about spies, robots, and New York City Police Lieutenants, it was nice to get back to a really good space opera. Although one of the main plots follows a detective following his nose in classic Noir. This book was political without trying too hard, and seemed to accurately predict what society might be like after a few hundred years living in the outer Solar System on asteroids and on the outer moons. Tension builds well throughout the book and, much as I try to escape it, I still ended up reading about zombies. (kind of).

Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel

A zombie novel centered around a secret government organization (think NSA, CIA, + Seal Team Six) trying to stop the first outbreak before it becomes public knowledge. Oh, yeah, also, the zombies are terrorist bio-weapons, designed for maximum contagion by radical Muslims. A fun, bloody stroll through terror suppression, but since it is contemporary, it doesn’t totally redefine the world like “Feed” by Mira Grant.

Engaging the Enemy (Vatta’s War)

This is the 3rd in the series, however, after trying to sync up my reading schedule and library holds, I just couldn’t wait any longer to start at the beginning. It was a pretty good military sci-fi tale.

Command Decision (Vatta’s War)

Context

I like everything this guy has written, so that said, this is a great collection of essays (blog posts) about writing, life in the digital age, copyright, and other cool issues. Dig it.

Rule 34

Yes, that rule 34. A good mix of detective yarn and political thriller set in Edinburgh around 50 years from now. I liked all the cool gadgets like the augmented reality spex that the police use (much like Google is designing now) and the cheap 3D printer/ fabbers running in back garages, making things for the black market using illegal feedstock disguised as…well I don’t want to ruin it.

Victory Conditions (Vatta’s War)

Seed

A desolate, distopic, ecopunk vision of America after extreme climate change. The only way people can scrabble a living is using genetically engineered seeds from an all powerful corporation, Satori. But that’s just the beginning.  This was a supremely creative work, filled with Chicano slang, genetic engineers who can literally see the helix dance, sleek military vehicles growling across the desert, and a city made from living flesh and bone.

The Dervish House

A book that you can really delve into, sinking slowly past layer upon layer of character, location, culture, and cutting edge science that all coalesce into a magnificent whole: Istanbul. The city features in this cool near-future mystery through the streets of the Queen of Cities.  And it even has a very satisfying ending! One of the best I’ve read in a while.

Coffee is Good for You: From Vitamin C and Organic Foods to Low-Carb and Detox Diets, the Truth about Diet and Nutrition Claims

Foolish me, I thought the whole book would be about coffee. Still an interesting read. I generally eat pretty well anyway, so I already knew many of the things to stay away from, or eat more of.

Hell’s Gate (BOOK 1 in new MULTIVERSE series)

I usually limit my fantasy intake to one or two a year, but this seemed to have enough sci-fi in it to qualify. Also, I was between books and this had been recommended to me (thrust into my hands, in fact) and so I gave it a chance. Once you get over the fact that there are multiple universes that can be travelled to by passing through portals, it isn’t too bad.  Basically, two scouts come face to face in a wood where neither one expected to see other humans. One guy is from a culture that is based on magic. They use spells in everyday life and think nothing of it. The other guy is from a culture much like our own around the 1890s. They have steam power and machine guns, but still use horses to travel. Also, a section of their culture has mental powers, such as the ability to communicate over long distances, or visualize terrain. This was a bit of a sore point for me, as I thought the story would have been better had the technological civilization been modeled more closely on our own, without the mental “Talents.” Either way, the story pulled me along to the point that the book was constantly in my pocket or in my hand. The story itself follows a husband and wife, among others, as the two cultures deal with the fallout of their two cultures clashing in violence at their first meeting. It will definitely read the sequel as I have already invested 1400 pages so far.

Hip Tastes: The Fresh Guide to Wine

A great primer on wine, written with a fresh insight and a knowledgeable hand. Read this, and drink more of the Good Stuff.

The Games

A fast-paced thriller about the future Olympic gladiator competition where the contestants fight to the death and the only rule is that they can’t have any human DNA.  Pretty good. I think I read it in two days.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I’m almost ashamed to say, this was my first time reading the Holmes stories. This also marked my switch-over from paper to digital e-books. As proven by history, the Sherlock Holmes tales are superb and rightfully deserve their place in literary classic literature.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Dover Thrift Editions)

Before the Strand  by Amanda Raymond

A great novel written by my oldest friend. (we met when I was two) Succinctly, a novel that centers on Sherlock Holmes’s secret son. The author is a true Holmes fan, so I assure you that everything makes sense, fits with earlier timelines, and is accurate to the nth degree. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and, as you can see, I read it right in the middle of reading all the classic Holmes stories and it rang true. Her tale is well thought out and fast paced, taking the reader on a tour of Old London and Cambridge following Holmes’s son Jonathan as he comes to terms with who he is as a man, and struggles to escape death at the hands of one of the most famous murderers in Europe.

A Study in Scarlet

A great mystery of intrigue and Mormonism.

The Sign of the Four

The Hound of the Baskervilles (with illustrations by Sidney Paget)

One of the greatest tales of Sherlock Holmes.

Sh*t My Dad Says

Hilarious. That’s all you need to know.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Just when you were missing the shorter tales, he’s back!

Kill-Basa by Sean Graham

A cool collection of zombie short stories.

Countdown: A Joe Ledger Short Prequel Short Story to Patient Zero

This works as a short story, only if you don’t plan to read Patient Zero, because it”s basically just the first chapter of the novel. Patient Zero was fun though, so give it a try.

Caliban’s War (The Expanse)

The sequel to Leviathan Wakes.

Exogene (The Subterrene War)

The Subterrene war from a clone’s perspective. Very bleak, with much existentialism and religious control thrown in. A chilling read on the future of warfare. Really good.

Chimera (The Subterrene War)

The final subterrene novel. This was a crazy trip through war, kind of like “Heart of Darkness” meets “Apocalypse Now” meets “Blade Runner” Really cool. Very dark. The main character is a classic anti-hero. A masterful capstone to the trilogy.

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box

A chilling short story from the author of the Newsflesh trilogy.

Heat Wave, Premium Edition (Nikki Heat, Book 1)

The first Nikki Heat novel by fictional crime writer Richard Castle from the ABC show Castle with Nathan Fillion. This was a great quick read. I found it especially interesting because if you are a fan of the show, you can gain insight into the authors decisions for how the “journalist” and the detective interact. It was better than you would think a book based on a TV show about writing crime books could be.

The Book of Rules: The Right Way to Do Everything

This was a fun book. I thought it would funnier than it was, but no it IS actually a book of rules for life. However, there are some good ones. Having to notify and obtain permission from your neighbors if you plan on installing wind chimes. Bending Q-tips in half after use so they won’t be reused inadvertently. Stuff like that.

Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile (Book 2)

The adventure continues and widens in scope.

The Book of Swords

If you are a fan of swords, knives, axes, knights in shining armour, vikings, etc. then you should really read this book.

The Cold Commands

A great sequel to “The Steal Remains.” My biggest complaint with the first book was that there was too much explicit gay sex. It seems that the author listened to his fans as the intimate moments in this volume are toned WAY down. Far from detracting from the realism of the story, my enjoyment was increased by their absence. By the way, I don’t hate gay people, I’d just rather not read very descriptive sex scenes all through a fantasy book. The Cold Commands expanded on  the world-building of the Steal Remains and followed an ever tightening circle of mystery to a cool climax.

7th Sigma

I was sure exactly what to expect with this book and I was pleasantly surprised. The main character is a young boy who falls in with an Aikido master in the American West… after a mysterious event happened where that part of the country is infected with robotic bugs that devour all metal. A cool mix of serene martial arts, undercover spy novel, and western, with crazy bugs thrown in.

Foreign Influence: A Thriller

A good thriller that I was semi-forced to listen to on a roadtrip, but when we got back home, we were only halfway through. So I had to finish it.

Weather by Alastair Reynolds

A great short story about knowledge of self, sacrifice, your life’s work, and of course, space pirates.

Blood Oath

One of my first Vampire novels besides Dracula. I stick more to zombies. Anyway. I thought this was really good. The basic idea is that the President has had a Vampire working for hi since 1860 or so. He’s like the ultimate secret agent and Seal Team Six rolled into one. It did a good job of explaining the vampires physiology and limits. An interesting idea, well executed.

Casino Royale (James Bond)

The first Bond novel. Very good. Stark.

The Fixation by Alastair Reynolds

A cool short story about the consequences of trying to mess with physics and multiple universes.

Live and Let Die (James Bond)

If there is one word that would describe the essence of this book, it would be: negro. Yeahhhh, I know. It was first published in the 50s and it is now very dated. Once you get past the awkward language, it’s a great spy story.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

What can I say? I love pretty much everything this man has written. A great, fast paced ( I think I read it in 2 days) novel that pokes fun at Trekkie tropes and yet creates something new.

Little Fuzzy

I read Scalzi’s reboot last year, so I thought I should check out the original. It was good, but I preferred the updated version.

Amped

A great cautionary tale about how society reacts to scientific advancement and change. Mirroring apartheid, humans that have undergone intelligence amplification quickly become outcasts from society and have to fight for equality against public opinion and a shadowy organization.

Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)

A decent steampunk yarn, but somehow I was expecting more.

Blackout (The Newsflesh Trilogy)

The conclusion of the greatest zombie trilogy out there.

Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

How it all started. A must for Newsflesh fans.

Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura (Rot and Ruin))

A cool take on living post zombie apocalypse. I read part of this novel as a short story and the idea captivated me. Benny Imura’s brother is a bounty hunter for zombies. People still remember their loved ones, so they take old pictures to “erosion artists” who paint them as zoms. Then they hire bounty hunters to go out and kill their zombified relatives to give them peace. But the novel is so much more than that.

Naked Heat (Nikki Heat)

The second book by fictional author Richard Castle from the TV show. This one drew far more on plot points from previous episodes in the show, but that didn’t make it bad. The actual mystery kept me guessing till right near the end.

Moonraker (James Bond)

I’m sure this was a great story in the 1950s. But it is very dated today. It’s still a good Bond story though.

The Great Bazaar and Other Stories

Fans of Arlen and the Demon Cycle will really like this collection. I like the one about his searching for the lost tomb.

The Passage: A Novel

Wow. Cronin writes beautifully, and the 850+ pages fly by. I wasn’t sure how I would like yet another vampire book, but this is believable enough that it makes sense. You know the deal. Military is working on biological enhancements for soldiers, oops they escape. World ends. But the whole milieu is great. A classic quest tale.

The Hobbit or There and Back Again. Illustrated by the Author

Classic. I read this to my son for bedtimes the last few months. It’s still such a good tale. If you haven’t read this yet, you really need to.

Lodestone Book One: The Sea of Storms (Volume 1)

I got this series as a gift. It is much more fantasy than sci-fi in the beginning, however it has a way of turning inexorably towards a bigger picture. Like most trilogies, the first book doesn’t really come to a conclusive end, so I must press on. It’s also interesting that the humans are the bad guys.

The Tamarisk Hunter

This is a short story that can be found here: Pump Six and Other Stories  A realistic look at what may happen in the American West when fresh water and water rights start becoming super important. Important enough to destroy cities and alter society.

Lodestone Book Two: The World of Ice and Stars (Volume 2)

Book two. The far side of the world. What would happen when one species is separated early in it’s development and then develops along two very different paths? Well, we know from all the varied cultures here on Earth that anything i possible. My one big complaint with this series so far is that the timeline of events is not clear. Everything with the main characters is fine. I’m talking about planetary developments throughout history. Regardless, I will finish the 3rd book in the series within the week.

Total 59

2010…………………………………………………………………………………………………………66

2010 was another great year in my reading life. I would have to say that my top favorite books this year were:

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

This book was integral to our getting a real handle on our finances, getting on a budget, becoming debt free, amassing six months worth of expenses in an emergency fund, and starting to build wealth.

The “In Death” police procedural mysteries by J. D. Robb.


These near-future, gritty, sexy mysteries really grabbed me this year and I have now read more than half of her 30+ books. The characters are great and the interplay between all their relationships kept me intrigued enough to keep picking up the next one in the series. I especially like the audio books because Susan Erickson does such a great job acting all the different characters with distinct and entertaining voices.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett.


I don’t normally read a lot of pure fantasy with magic and things, but this was some awesome, hardcore demon slaying goodness. I also really like how we followed three characters from very early ages up through adulthood. This is a great book. A mysterious world with captivating characters pull the reader along on an incredible journey through years of their lives. It was hard to put this one down until I was done. I could see this being a great video game or movie in a few years.

After that, there were so many others and I enjoyed almost all of them. The books on Afghanistan were very interesting and also a few of the survival type books, both fiction and non-fiction. (more…)

Yes, it’s true.

I recently found out just how true this was a few weeks ago when I was listening to an audiobook. I have been steadily listening to this series ( In Death by J.D. Robb) over the last year, but at first, I didn’t listen to them in order. So I heard the newest five, some in the middle, and then decided to start at the beginning. Now I am working my way up chronologically, but I have knowledge about the later series such as character motivations, who plays a significant role, etc.

I had originally requested the second book in the series from my library and mistakenly hit the button for the Abridged version. I then ripped it to my personal library so I could listen to it on my iPod while I worked. But then, I discovered my error and requested the longer Unabridged version and copied it also. When I went  to listen to it at work, I listened to the first disc of the Abridged version first. Then, realizing that I must have left the old track on the iPod, I just started over again and heard the Unabridged version. Having listened to the two albums back to back, the differences were clear…and disturbing.

Yes, some of what they cut out was descriptive fluff. When the protagonist drove across town in NYC, it was taken care of in the Abridged version with a sentence, where the original version had a nice paragraph or two of prose.

But there were at least two other scenes that were cut in the Abridged version that have a HUGE impact throughout the rest of the series. I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had been missing.

The first scene was when the protagonist’s husband makes a huge personal sacrifice and decides to sell all of his semi-legal and illegal business ventures. Since she is a cop and has a rigid sense of justice, he knew she wouldn’t approve, and it may tarnish her public reputation later if it came out that he still dealt in underhanded business. This choice is referred back to numerous times later in the series. Was it even mentioned in the Abridged version? No.

The second scene that they cut out is when the main character meets someone else, who pops up from time to time throughout the series. He is totally cut from the Abridged version. True, he isn’t a main character, or even a secondary character, but he is definitely a character, if you know what I mean. He is a bouncer at a bar that is the backdrop to many meetings later in the series. And if you listened/ read the Abridged version, you totally missed out on their first meeting.

So to sum up, Abridged books = terrible crap. NEVER read them.

It’s a little late this year, partially because I’ve been reading other good books, but here it is! My 2009 reading list…with reviews!

2009………………………………………………………………………………………………54

Zoe’s Tale

John Scalzi is a master of clever dialogue. He has just the right amount of snarky humor and sarcastic wit to satisfy my particular taste. I read this one with my wife which made it special as she was once a sixteen year old girl. Somehow it didn’t seem right for me to read the parts about how a certain boy was sooo cute. I think Scalzi did a great job of retelling a story from a different point of view. Nice work John.

Bloodcast 1                         1-10-09                                                                   Scott Sigler

I liked it. Sigler has as good a grasp of short stories as he does with novels.

Crystal Rain

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. The world building is fantastic. You really get plunged into a whole new culture, I like how it kept changing, revealing more and more of the past as you read. I know most books do that, but this stood out. I will definitely finish the series.

Contagious: A Novel

Awesome. This sequel is even better than Infected. After listening to the first six podcasts, I gave in and had to read the rest. I couldn’t hold back. I read the rest in one sitting. That’s over 300 pages in one go. Yeah, it’s that good. There are many parts not for the squeamish or weak stomached, but come on…it IS Scott Sigler. Very well written with masterful plot points and timing. Read it now, or succumb to the Crawlers!

Ragamuffin (Sci Fi Essential Books)

Tobias has done it again. This book, which is a sequel to Crystal Rain, went above and beyond my expectations for what the story would do next. He expanded the universe out much farther than I thought and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was cool to see all his new characters and how they tied in to the established ones. They story moves along at a brisk pace and sucks you in to the plight of humanity. Excellent 2nd novel.

Secrets of Successful Writing: Inside Tips from a Writing Expert

A great little book filled with easy tips. I read it in an evening. I will use the suggestions more for re-writing though.

The Art of War: New Translation

It’s surprising how many truths this text still contains. I wonder if Bush read this before invading Iraq? Probably not.

Multiple Streams of Income: How to Generate a Lifetime of Unlimited Wealth!

This book was just what I wanted. Like other books, it included various strategies on how to build wealth, but unlike other ones, went in depth into each one. Having said that, the writing isn’t great and a few of the chapters are co-authored which is confusing when he refers to the author in the third person. All in all though, a very good book with different ways to choose how to become wealthy.

Nocturnal: A Novel

This is a great monster/mob story with an incredible plot, unforgettable characters, and lots of nasty violence. Based in the author’s home city, the tale keeps the reader up at night, trying to consume as much as possible before sleeping.

America                                                 3-6-09                                Jon Stewart & The Daily Show

Hilarious, sad, and true-ish.

Sly Mongoose                                        3-13-09                                                Tobias S. Buckell

This was a fun one. Who doesn’t like space zombies and floating cities? A fairly quick read with a lot of adventure. Pretty cool.

The Steel Remains                                3-24-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

Hmmm. It was a really well crafted story. The plot moved along fast and the separate character swirled in towards each other with increasing intensity. I liked Morgan’s anti-hero as always except for one thing. I could have done without the explicit gay sex scenes. Sometimes it’s best to leave the details out, but I guess that’s what people mean when they say his writing is “gritty.” I love the way he writes in general, but I think I like his sci-fi more than this. Having said that though, I WILL read the next two books in this trilogy. It’s a good sword slicing adventure.

Ficciones                                              4-4-09                                                 Jorge Luis Borges

Wow. Crazy stuff. Very creative. Borges has a totally unique writing style. I’m so glad to have been exposed to his writing. I see his influence in other things now.

Infoquake                                              4-6-09                                            David Louis Edelman

Great read. Very quick pace and intriguing story. The future technology of this world is very cool. I want to live there. Plus, I never thought a plot based mainly on business, marketing, etc. could be so interesting. Definitely reading the next one in the series.

MultiReal                                               4-20-09                                           David Louis Edelman

David Louis Edelman continues to improve his financial cyberpunkish series. This answered many questions that were left at the end of the first book but asks just as many. The plot stays tight as a conspiracy unfolds. Very good. I can’t wait for the third one. The world he’d created is vibrant and alive. I enjoy my time there almost as much as following the story. This is a good read, but I would recommend reading “Infoquake” first.

Sun of Suns                                          4-26-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

Very cool world building with a good plot that spirals towards a nail-biting ending. Kind of like steam-punk without the steam if that makes any sense. No it probably doesn’t. You’ll see when you read it, which you should do, cause it’s good.

Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star 2            4-26-09                                                          Cain Kuga

Cowbot Bebop remains suave and awesome.

Queen of Candesce                              5-2-09                                                    Karl Schroeder

Another great yarn taking place in a spectacular world. I loved all the political intrigue and twisted plotlines. Venera Fanning is an interesting character indeed.

Snow                                                    5-4-09                                                         Morgan Luthi

Very young adult-ish. The way the characters were drawn did not fit the story. Meh.

Rurouni Kenshin 6                                 5-5-09                                                 Nobuhiro Watsuki

Sweet Samurai manga action.

A Random Walk down Wall Street   5-7-09                                          Burton G. Malkiel

Just too outmoded for today’s economy. Plus the main premise of the book is that anything you pick has an equal chance of making money in the market. Basically monkeys could invest as well as someone on Wall street.

Pirate Sun                                            5-12-09                                                  Karl Schroeder

The third installment of the Virga series was just as enjoyable as the first. The varied scenes are each spectacular and vivid. New main characters for each book also give it a fresh feel. Nice work Karl.

Prophets                                              5-24-09                                                S. Andrew Swann

A very cool take on far future human civilization. I thought the focus on religion was intriguing. Especially the character’s take on it when they themselves were created by humans (genetically engineered animal/human hybrids) I look forward to the rest of the series.

Altered Carbon                                     5-28-09                                              Richard K. Morgan

This is the second read through for me. I love this book. Morgan’s ideas are so well developed. Sometimes he just brushes off a whole type of tech with a one liner and I’m sitting there wanting to know more. His plot is great and the characters are gritty real. Still one of my favorites after all these years.

Future Imperfect                                    6-6-09                                                David D. Friedman

This was a great summation of most current tech that will affect us in the next 50 years. The prudent sci-fi writer would take notes while reading this as it is filled with hundreds of cool ideas. The one downside is that it was written by an economist and is sometimes rather dry and legalistic. But it more than makes up for it in scope. Great read!

The Mirrored Heavens                            6-17-09                                                  David J. Williams

While the ideas in this book are cool, and the future history is scary because it still could become true, I just could not get into this one. Maybe it was the author’s style, or the tense it was written in. It is chock a block with action though. The plot switches between four points of view and it does so rapidly and constantly. Somewhat annoying. I doubt I will read anything by this author again. Just personal taste.

The Green Year                                                6-18-09                                                        Jodi Helmer

A good simple book with tons of suggestions on how to live a greener life. We do 192 of them already. It might have been more but some didn’t apply to our family, like buying pet food in bulk. No pets.

How to Learn Golf                                  6-27-09                                                       Harry Hurt III

This offers a good overview of the different styles that are practiced for all aspects of golf. From putting, to swings, on course emotional management to which instructor you should choose. Pretty good overall. But the purpose is not to teach you golf, but how you should learn it. It focuses on helping you pick a style that works for you.

Nickel & Dimed                                     6-29-09                                             Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara presents this compelling social commentary as a gripping description of someone trying to beat the odds. Every page, you hope that she will make enough to pay her rent. Her writing is insightful and authentic. I was transported back in time to my own days as a server when she described all her hardships waitressing in Florida. Even though this was written nearly a decade ago, it remains a powerful book, full of evidence that many middle class people refuse to see. If you have ever wondered how someone working minimum wage in America lives, read this book.

The Caryatids                                           7-3-09                                           Bruce Stirling

Pretty cool. I think that it is set a little too close to he present for some of the societal changes that he describes, but you never know. I loved the ending in a way I didn’t expect.

How to write Sci-fi/ fantasy                      7- 11-09                                             Orson Scott Card

This is a great book. Very well written and brimming with good advice from a writer who’s been there before. I found the chapters on the business end of writing particularly helpful. Maybe because my novel is already written, so world-building advice is already too late. I might even venture to say that this is a must-read, for an aspiring sci-fi/ fantasy writer.

Catch-22                                              7-20-09                                                     Joseph Heller

I like his style, but I could not get into this book. There was nothing to drag me along besides the oddness of the characters. Maybe someday I will continue, but for now, there are too many good new books out there for me to spend time on a “classic” that is mediocre, in my opinion.

Norse Code                                          7-25-09                                               Greg Van Eekhout

This was a very cool idea that kept me turning the pages. I love Norse mythology and found that Greg hit all the right notes in this urban fantasy with Asgard and Home Depots. If you have any interest in Vikings, you should read this book.

Rotten Rejections                                8-5-09                                                      Andre Bernard

This little book serves as great solace to aspiring writers everywhere. It includes rejections for books that have since become classics of the English language. No one is spared. Dickens, Whitman, Joyce, etc.

You’re not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to the coffee shop   8-6-09           John Scalzi

I just can’t say anything bad about John Scalzi, or his writing. This book is a great collection of posts from his blog about the writing life. His voice comes through clearly in the writing and is easy (and dare I say fun) to read. he makes good logical points about many issues that aspiring or professional writers face. Well done John, and thanks for the advice.

Freakonomics                                          8-6-09                          Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

This was an interesting view on wildly varying topics. I thought it only a tinge racist though. I know it has “data” to back up the theory that babies with black-sounding names (DeShawn) are not as successful in life as babies with white-sounding (William) names are, but still. All in all though, a fascinating read that will spark many conversations.

The Complete book of insults                 8-6-09                                                      Nancy McPhee

A cool list of insults throughout history. I had to get out my notebook and write down some of my favorite words like: druggles, lob-dotterols, palsied poltroon, etc. 

Mind over Ship                                      8-15-09                                                    David Marusek

This had some really cool ideas in it but was tough to get into. Once I did though, it was hard to put down. It’s got a great plot, very complex, and good characters. I haven’t read the first book and actually didn’t know there was one until the end. Maybe that’s why the author didn’t explain as many off the terms he uses. All in all though, pretty good.

Little Brother                                         8-18-09                                                Corey Doctorow

Little Brother is a dangerous book. Stop reading this and go read that instead. Right now! I can see why this was nominated for Best Novel of ’09. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Forget that it’s YA. This book rocks. But if you want to be seen as a responsible adult (say, if you’re a teacher) NEVER recommend it to your students or teens. It is subversive and smart and cool. It should be standard reading for any teen who uses a computer. Great book. I finished it in two days, and inspired to do ll this fun research now. A must for any hacker or tech geek. You’ve been warned.

Anathem                                                            9-9-09                                                  Neal Stephenson

Despite its intimidating heft, I took the plunge and read Stephenson’s latest masterpiece. Wow! The story takes place on Arbre, an Earthlike planet, but not Earth itself. This allows Neal to make pointed social commentary on many things that also bug me, but since it’s not Earth, no one can take offense. He’s not complaining about CEOs jabbering away on their cell phones in cars. He’s complaining about “extras” jabbering on their “jeejahs” in “fetches.” That is just the tiniest smidgeon of what makes this book so cool. The astronomy, math, philosophy, and other ideas he uses are all explained easily and the reader only learns what is needed for the story.
The story itself takes place on a grand scale. I had no idea it would end up like it did. I also love the sense of history. One gets the feeling that Earth would be like this, if only we had the Avout keeping better records the whole time. The characters are great too. His worldbuilding is astounding. Get past how long the text is and give it a try. It will be the most challenging, and satisfying thing you read in a long time.

The Book of Coffee and Tea                9-10-09                                   Joel Schapira

This was a fascinating and well written look into all aspects of coffee and tea. I really enjoyed all the cool behind the scenes stories of how coffee was spread across the globe. This book has also had a consequence of making me into a coffee snob though, so watch out. I enjoy it much more and know which kinds to look for. A great read for any coffee/ tea enthusiast.

The Edge of Evolution                             9-12-09                                         Micheal J. Behe

This was a good book that offers scientific proof that evolution can only account for so much advancement in this vast world we live in. It is very technical though. Maybe that’s why I stopped halfway through. I got the main point early.

The Huffinton Post’s complete guide to blogging             9-22-09                the editors of HuffPost

Great book for someone new to blogging. It has many nice tips for the veteran blogger as well. My only complaint is that the second half of the book extols the virtues and accomplishments of The Huffington Post.

The House of Suns                                9-28-09                                               Alastair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds takes normal sci-fi conventions and flips them on their head. Oh! A normal story takes place in the span of a few hundred years? Try six million! I love that Reynolds was an astrophysicist so that his science is hard and true…for the most part. At least plausible. This was a great story and had some great characters. I still like Chasm City better, but not by much.

The Graveyard Book                              9-29-09                                                        Neil Gaiman

A very fun book to read on a dreary day. I loved the odd story, and all the little English slang that you don’t find in American books. Like most YA fiction, it only took me an evening and a day to read. The characters were pretty well developed for being a young adult book. I’m looking forward to the further adventures of Bod, if there are any more to come.

The Road                                             10-11-09                                             Cormac McCarthy

The Road is beautiful in its desolate prose, ugly in its lack of punctuation, and compelling in its tale of human survival against all odds. A haunting book that leaves nightmares as a consolation, and dessicated corpses as comfortable decoration. Those who cannot imagine feasting on human flesh out of pure desperation, will find this book squeamish at best. Excuse me while I go stock up on canned goods…

Snoopy’s guide to the writing life            10-15-09                                                Barnaby Conrad

This book was interesting in that it has short essays by famous authors about writing, but I have read many other books on writing that were far better.

Green                                                  10-23-09                                                           Jay Lake

Pretty interesting book. Slow in some parts, very fast in others. Jay’s writing style is very easy to get into though, and Green is a cool character that makes you want to see how everything turns out with her. The world Lake invents is crazy. I’m kind of looking forward to a sequel. It’s also fairly smexy, in a classy way.

Start & Run a Real Home-based Business         10-24-09      Dan Furman

This was a well-written (it better be since he’s a professional business writer) book dealing with the pitfalls and best practices of running a home business. Very useful, practical info.

The Areas of my Expertise    10-27-09                                      John Hodgman

This book was funny, but not as funny as I thought it would be. I like John Hodgman in his appearances on The Daily Show, & thought I knew his quirky humor, but there were only a few times that I really laughed out loud.

Bitter Angels                                         11- 15-09                                                 C. L. Anderson

I didn’t finish this. It was overdue and I just didn’t care enough to renew it. The plot didn’t draw me in and I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. Blah.

Dumbheart                                                 11-25-09                                                Darby Conley

Another great Get fuzzy collection. I laughed out loud many times reading this, even in public. Bucky still loves monkeys, Satchel battles for animal rights, and Rob just deals with the maelstrom of chaos.

The Zombie Survival guide                      12-12-09                                                      Max Brooks

A very thorough guide for what to do when the zombie apocalypse happens. This is a good guide for any big disaster, but adding undead ghouls to the mix makes it even more fun. I loved reading this and now have quite a large shopping list for zombie killing supplies.

501 things to do if you dare                    12-25-09                                                     Ben Malisow

A cool list of dangerous stuff to try. I immediately got out a pen and started checking off things I’ve already done. I think I’m over 150 at least.

I think overall, I most enjoyed discovering the “Jump 225” (infoquake) series, the “Virga” (Sun of Suns) series, and Toby Buckell’s books. Other notable books were Ficiones, Nickled & Dimed, Freakonomics, Little Brother, and the Zombie Survival Guide  .

My sister in law got me a book for Christmas entitled “501 things to do if your dare, dangerous hobbies for fearless people” by Ben Malisow. I immediately started looking through the book and checking things off. I will now share almost all of my dangerous things I’ve done. Only a few are slightly on the wrong side of the legal line, so I won’t be mentioning those specifically.

After having written this post, it turned into something much more than I thought it would. Enjoy all the little tidbits from my life. I’ll be adding more as time goes on.

  1. Ride a roller coaster—I know I’ve done this a few times. Not a huge fan. I don’t like trusting my life to a carny. Not that I’m afraid of heights mind you. It’s just that when I hanging from something 300 ft. in the air, I’d rather it be from a rock wall with my own two hands, not a hastily bolted-together fair ride.
  2. Drive the Autoban—My wife’s Opa wanted to go to Germany to attend his friends 86th birthday party so he asked her. Her Oma said, “You don’t want to be driving an old man all around all by yourself, maybe one of your friends can go too. And if he can’t afford it, we’ll pay for him.” Needless to say it was an unforgettable trip. I drove a six-speed diesel Renault Scenic. Top speed: 189 km/h or roughly 120 miles/hour
  3. Ride a motorcycle— I babysat my buddy’s 1986 Honda Interceptor while he was in Nepal. I couldn’t just let it sit in my garage all summer, could I?
  4. Crash a vehicle— Valentine’s Day 2003, I flipped my Tacoma on the highway when I crossed an icy bridge. The rear wheels slid out to the left and I tried to steer out of it. I didn’t want to slam on the breaks and go spinning out of control. I realized that I was heading towards the guardrail so I did a little mental checklist before I hit: Seatbelt? Check, Airbag? Check. OK God here I come. Check. I hit the rail at 65 miles an hour and the truck flipped over onto its roof and slid one hundred feet before coming to a rest in the snow bank. The air pressure blew out the back window so snow flew everywhere. I ducked instinctively when I felt the vehicle flip and it was a good thing I did. When it came to rest, the ceiling was only three inches from my fingers on the steering wheel. I heard the tires still spinning and realized that the techno CD I was listening to had stopped playing. Since I was an EMT, I knew the dangers of neck injuries and other trauma. I cautiously wiggled my fingers and toes before I moved my neck. I hunched my shoulders and took a deep breath to see if any ribs were broken. (This is all while I was upside down) Then I unclipped my seat belt and flipped/ crawled over to the passenger side which wasn’t as crushed. The airbag never went off. My Mom bought me an emergency hammer that can cut seatbelts and break glass. I stowed it under the driver’s seat, but because everything had flipped over and snow was everywhere, I couldn’t find it. I pulled out my Leatherman and tried to break the window. I slammed the point of the pliers into the glass repeatedly but it wouldn’t break! Since the CD stopped playing, I assumed power was out, but struck by a sudden thought, I tried the button for the window. Whirrrrrr. It rolled open and I crawled out…right into the arms of my coworker who was a certified first responder! But get this. It was her day off. She just happened to be passing moments after my truck slid to a stop. I also knew a few of the EMTs that arrived minutes later. How many injuries did I receive? None. Does God exist? Yes.
  5. Drive in a foreign country— Autoban. See #2
  6. Go over a waterfall— All the time, whitewater kayaking
  7. Go offroading— In my old Toyota Tacoma before #4 happened. I had a 4 inch lift kit on it with 34 inch mud tires. It had the TRD offroad racing package with stiffer shocks and a rear locking differential. In a word: Awesome.
  8. Go bodysurfing in the ocean— Cape Cod and Acapolco
  9. Swim against the current of a river— Salmon river
  10. Go snorkeling—I got to snorkel the Great Barrier reef. It was cool. No wait, it was cold! I went in the summer, their winter, so the water was 53 degrees. I didn’t see the amazing wildlife one expects from all the nature programs. Jamaica was better.
  11. Go barefoot in a wintery setting— My brother and I would have barefoot, no shirt, snowball fights all the time.
  12. Ride a BMX bike— My friend had this sweet flatland trick bike with the front and back pegs and the 360 degree swivel handlebars. We would practice for hours out in front of his house. There was also a great place to ride up behind K-Mart with dunes, berms, jumps, and pits.
  13. Learn to scuba dive— Jamaica. One class in the morning, then a dive that afternoon. We only went down thirty feet, but it was great. I had trouble equalizing the pressure going down, so I had a bloody nose when we came back up. Still fun though. And one of those skills that is useful to know, just in case.
  14. Get punched in the face, at least once— Mosh pit at an Earth Crisis show at Hungry Charlie’s in 1997. Fat lip, black eye, and broken nose.
  15. Learn a martial art— Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu
  16. Fight someone obviously far more skilled than you— When sparring blackbelts when you are just a whitebelt, you tend to get hit a lot.
  17. Luge— I was on the junior development team for the US Olympic team. I lived in the Olympic training center in Lake Placid and competed in the Empire State games and the National Championships.
  18. Street luge— How I got discovered for the Olympic program. They went to cities across the states and set up a street luge course in hilly city parks. Then they would watch kids navigate the haybales and invite the most promising ones up to Lake Placid in the winter for more study. I made the cut from more than 800 kids to just 6.
  19. Launch an arrow using a bow— I learned to shoot at an early age and have always prided myself on my skill with a bow. At one point, I could hit an apple at 50 yards.
  20. Pilot a kayak— Again, I whitewater kayak a ton. We also went sea kayaking up in Bar Harbor for our honeymoon.
  21. Sail a small (less than 3 person) boat— Once in Cape Cod, this older couple let me sail their small gaff-rigged boat around the bay while they were in town. Swallows and Amazons forever!
  22. Go deep sea fishing— We went as part of the festivities for my cousin’s wedding in San Diego. Pretty fun but I didn’t catch anything.
  23. Learn to throw a bladed tool of some kind— Knives, hatchets, shuriken, ninja spikes…I’ve thrown it all.
  24. Throw a spear/ javelin— I got quite into this while reading about the otters in Mossflower.
  25. Walk on stilts— My cousin went to circus camp and his dad is very handy so he made stilts for them. I’m comfortable on them and have pretty good balance.
  26. Crack a bullwhip— When I was in Australia, I learned several different ways. The traditional “Indiana Jones” way and a cool around the head and back down again way.
  27. Swing on a rope from one place to another— I’ve done many ropes courses.
  28. Fire a rifle— We went to a quarry and shot cans.
  29. Fire a shotgun at trap clays— Same place. It was OK but I didn’t like the kick. I prefer blades.
  30. Play racquetball— Ahhh racquetball. I ran a Rec Center for four years with my office only ten feet away from a racquetball court. So yeah, I’ve played a bit of racquetball.
  31. Skip rope— Not as panzy as it sounds. It’s a killer workout.
  32. Raft a whitewater river— The Lehigh in PA and the Black in NY.
  33. Throw a boomerang— The one I got from Down Under works very well.
  34. Play football— Only as friends getting together for a pick-up game. But if we’re talking about Futbol, well then yes. For years and years.
  35. Rollerskate— Many birthday parties and few dates a roller rinks.
  36. Participate in building a human pyramid— Always the bottom row.
  37. Engage in a hearty round of dodgeball— Gym class in the early eighties.
  38. Play paintball— This will tell you alot about yourself. Are you the type of person who will charge out into the open, guns blazing? Or cower in fear until the round is over? Or sneak around and snipe people before they even see you coming. Mwuah ha ha ha!
  39. Make a public presentation of some sort— Besides public speaking class? A few for work.
  40. Write a letter of protest— Anti-deforestation
  41. Run from the cops— OK, technically I was doing nothing wrong. I was just hanging out with some friends who were drinking beers up in the woods during high school. (I don’t drink) When the fuzz showed up, I just melted back into the underbrush, under my camouflage cloak. I ended up leading several people out of the woods and back to civilization. It’s pretty hilarious leading drunk people through the woods at night.
  42. Wear an article of clothing that will offend the sensibilities of the majority of the people you encounter— a kilt.
  43. Tell a lie— Not my proudest moment, but we’ve all done it.
  44. Attend a rave— Techno thumpin’ sweaty dancin’ goodness
  45. Try to save someones life— I was a member of a volunteer ambulance corps for six years.
  46. Participate in a scavenger hunt— A multi-city, multi-day, multi-state bonanza of awesome.
  47. Sit in the front row of a rock concert— I was in the 7th row for Ozzie, but I’ve been crushed against the stage at enough Hardcore shows that I figure that counts.
  48. Jump into a mosh pit—refer to #14. Plus many, many other shows. One time I knocked my friend out by accident. He just happened to be standing behind me when I did a roundhouse kick. He caught it straight to the face/side of the head and dropped instantly. Just like every show, people reached down and helped him to his feet, but he was a bit wobbly for a while.
  49. Attend a punk concert— Yeah, I like Hardcore better though.
  50. Lick a flagpole in winter—Well technically it was a metal laundry pole, but same difference.
  51. Attend a family reunion— Not as scary as people say.
  52. Attend a high school reunion— It’s funny how much people stay the same.
  53. Attend a high school reunion and stay sober—Since I don’t drink, this was an easy one for me.
  54. Provide first aid to an accident victim— Many times while I was riding with the ambulance.
  55. Challenge an opponent to a competitive 2 player video game— I usually lose.
  56. Reproduce— Yup. Andrew is cool, but a lot of work.
  57. Be present during human reproduction (birth, not conception)— Bloody, but very exciting. An truly wonderful experience to go through with your spouse.
  58. Introduce yourself to a stranger— Who hasn’t?
  59. Introduce yourself to a stranger while traveling— Again, pretty commonplace while traveling.
  60. Hitchhike— A misty day in the Orkney Islands
  61. Pick up a hitchhiker— A few times. Seldom as scary as people fear.
  62. Shave using a straight razor— Ah yes. I love this. Definitely a shave worth concentrating on. Shaving has become somewhat of a hobby so you can read more about it here:
  63. Radically change your appearance— From blond hair to green. And a big bone through the nose.
  64. Babysit— Doesn’t pay enough for the hassle.
  65. Survive a stabbing— besides when my brother stabbed me here (which you can read all about), I buried a Swiss Army knife in my calf too.
  66. Survive a snakebite— A California Kingsnake, among others.
  67. Attend a Greek festivity— The food is so good!
  68. Apply for a job for which you have no inherent or learned skills, talent, or disposition— From HR to machine shop.
  69. Quit your job— For a better job, or just to go bumming around Britain.
  70. Quit your job without having another lined up— This summer. It was just time to go.
  71. Fire someone— He was coming in late, embezzling money, and his crack habit had started back up.
  72. Buy a house— We love our house, even though it’s a lot of work, and even more money.
  73. Buy a car— After the accident in #4, I got a brand new WRX.
  74. Buy a used car— My first one was free. That lasted two months. Then an ’86 Ford Bronco 2 for $650 which was fun for about a year before it crapped out. The first time I came over to pickup my girlfriend, she was getting in the car so I opened the passenger door. She thought I was being sweet but in fact, the Driver’s door wouldn’t open, so it was the only way in! Then when we were on the highway and I turned on the AC for the first time, bees flew out of the air vents! They were dead, but still.
  75. Work in a freelance capacity for more than a month— After quitting my job, I worked as a ropes course instructor for a few months before I got a real job again.
  76. Attend a live auction— It was a house with bidding starting at a dollar. I thought, “Why not?” Too bad the first bid was $10,000. Guess I’m not bidding on this one.
  77. Negotiate a contract— You negotiate a contract every time you buy something.
  78. Haggle with a vendor at an open air market— In the main market in Mexico City, and in Tasco, Mexico.
  79. Invest in the stock market— I lost $10,000 when the Market fell, but now it’s doing pretty well.
  80. Vote for a candidate who has no possible way of winning whatsoever— Ralph Nader. Enough said.
  81. Write a book— I’ve written one novel and am working on two more. I have yet to get the first one published, but I’ve received four rejection letters so far from agents, so I’m on my way. The first Chapter of Downfall is here. My next one is here.
  82. Participate in improvisational comedy— Once in Australia and once on our honeymoon. Very fun, both times.
  83. Audition for a play— Yes, in high school. The back story is that I played soccer. I was the captain of the Junior Varsity team my freshmen year. I played all game long, every game. I loved it. I did so well that I was moved up to Varsity the next year…where I sat the bench. Oh, I worked my but off in practice, but when it came down to it, I was on the sidelines. So, the next year when a bunch of Seniors were leaving and I knew my coach would need me, I said no thanks, I think I’ll do drama this fall. And I played a drunk choir director in “Our Town” and I was awesome.
  84. Act in a play in public— I also had the Tile role in “Bye Bye Birdie” my Senior year. I even cut my dreadlocks for the role, in favor of an Elvis hairdo. It was a lot of fun and I even got to star in several musical numbers.
  85. Dance in public— I guess mosh pits aren’t included. But our wedding dance went very well. And #84.
  86. Sing in public— Besides “Singing” in Paladin (my Hardcore band) I’ve sang and played guitar in church tons of times. But maybe the most memorable time was when I was on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I went to a Highland Ceilidh (an gathering of music and song). They asked if anyone had any song they wanted to share and I stood up and got on stage. Then I sang a hauntingly beautiful night visiting song from the Highlands. They liked it so much I got a free CD!
  87. Cut a record— My band recorded a demo tape and sold it for two dollars each. Oddly enough, I still get requests for it today, more than ten years later!
  88. Paint a full-sized painting on canvas— Bob Ross got me. It looks so easy! Just paint the happy little trees. What’s so hard about that? Yeah… His mountains look realistic and mine looks like a slab of molding monkey poop. But it’s still hanging in my Dining room for some reason.
  89. Participate in a television broadcast— I was interviewed on the Today Show when I was on the Luge Team.
  90. Get pierced through your nipple— I was bored, I wanted to impress a girl, so…     Eventually I had to do both because of symmetry.
  91. Attend an artistic display performed entirely by children— Many school plays and concerts.
  92. Make your own clothing— A poofy renaissance shirt, a kilt, a wool and wolf-skin viking cloak, and some jeans.
  93. Demolish a structure— When I worked at camp I had to tear down this addition to a trailer. Sledgehammers and axes are fun!
  94. Learn to play a musical instrument— Starting with piano at age six, I’ve since learned: trombone, guitar, penny whistle, Irish low whistle, bagpipes, and the digeridoo.
  95. Write a news article— I’d like to think some of the writing I do on here qualifies as that.
  96. Fell a tree with an axe— Several times. Also with a machete and some with a sword.
  97. Fell a tree with a chainsaw— I helped my neighbor remove a tree that was right on our property line. Even though it was a hot day, I thought I should wear jeans. Good thing too. When the chain flew off, my leg stayed intact and I lost no blood.
  98. Light off fireworks— who hasn’t? Plus, what unpatriotic person calls the cops on the 4th of July? Have some pride in our country and loosen up a little.
  99. Hop a fence lined with barbed wire— OK, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. It was at the end of a very long day. I was walking up the border of England and Wales on a national walking path called Offa’s Dyke. This day in particular was over the Black Mountain range. Roughly 24 miles. I had gotten down off the ridge and was making my way to town but lost the trail a bit. So I crossed a farmer’s field to get back on track, but I ripped a big hole in my pants in doing so. A huge pack tends to throw off your balance.
  100. Watch a foreign film— Some of my favorite films of foreign. “Samurai fiction”? Heck yes!
  101. Read someone else’s unedited, unpublished book— As part of my writer’s group, we do this all the time.
  102. Listen to another culture’s music— I love many different types of music.
  103. Listen to an hour of music that was written over a hundred years ago— That Vivaldi knows how to lay it down.
  104. Travel to a foreign country— Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France… and more to come.
  105. Travel to a foreign country where they don’t speak English— No habla ingles.
  106. Go into the wilderness— Whenever I can. The Adirondacks and the Whites are my favorites so far.
  107. Go into the Australian Bush— I stayed on a farm out in the bush Down Under. It was great, I got to hike, ride horses, hang out around the campfire. And the sunsets!
  108. See the Northern Lights— When I was staying at a youth hostel on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I looked North and there they were. Beautiful.
  109. See the Southern Cross— During a BBQ we had out in the bush, I looked up, and there it was. That night was magical. I ate kangaroo, played in an Aussie bush band, and hung out with friends around a fire, lovin’ life.
  110. Spend 48 hours in a major metropolitan center without a home or hotel— Only when I was on a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh did I realize that maybe everything would be booked because of the Month Long International Festival. I ended up camping in my tent in a city park for a week. One time I woke up because a ball hit my tent. I peeked out and discovered I was in the middle of a cricket pitch but no one wanted to wake me, so they just played around me. I love Scotland!
  111. Visit a no-kidding Scottish Castle— Speaking of Scotland. We decided that the best way to see castles in the summer when they are crawling with tourists is to just wait until five o’clock or so and then just hop the fence. It worked with Eilean Donan and Urquhart on Loch Ness.
  112. Stay in a hotel— who hasn’t. You may retort, “Homeless people, you insensitive jerk!” and I would say to you, “Nay. For when both shelters downtown are full, they send people to stay at a cheap hotel on the Southside.” Guys actually try to time it right so that they can get a private room with TV rather than a 40-bed dorm
  113. Stay in a crummy hotel— I can’t remember specifically, but maybe that’s safer.
  114. Stay in a five star hotel— We stayed at an awesome hotel in Schwabish Hall in Germany. And a night in the Chateau Frontnac in Quebec was a wedding present.
  115. Stay at an all-inclusive resort— Breezes on Runaway Bay in Jamaica. On the one hand, it was great. On the other, I felt like a tourist and not a traveler. I didn’t get out to see the real, dirt-poor shanty Jamaica. Just the happy, jerk chicken-serving with a smile Jamaica.
  116. Do New York City— A few times. I still need to get back. I live in the same state for crying out loud!
  117. Visit an active nuclear reactor— It was with school so I didn’t get to mess around in the control room.
  118. Look into an active volcano— We got off the bus and loaded into four-wheel drive off-road vehicles. Up a steep bumpy road for a while, the we got out and hiked down into the crater. Steam and sulfur abounded. We all swear we felt a rumble. Very cool. Mt. Terawera in New Zealand if I remember correctly.
  119. Experience an earthquake— My coworker and I were leading a group of inner-city teens on a multi- mountain climbing trip up in the Adirondacks. On the morning we were packing up, I heard a faint rumbling. It grew louder until the ground started shaking. I was sure boulders would come crashing down and crush our camp. But it subsided, besides a few aftershocks several minutes later. One teen said he woke up and thought he was back in his house on the Southside and it was a car with a loud Bass system blasting music…until he realized he was in the middle of the woods. We later found out we were only 50 miles from the epicenter and it was a 5.1.
  120. Feed a wallaby— Yes, it’s as cute as it sounds. Down in Oz.
  121. Milk a cow— Not that exciting, but I guess it’s a good skill to have.
  122. Get stung by a bee— My first bee sting was terrible. We were at my friends house for a BBQ and we were playing in the backyard, barefoot of course. I stepped on the bee which, understandably, stung me. I grabbed mt foot and hopped around yelling. Everyone thought I was making a new dance and started clapping and laughing for me. Eventually they figured it out.
  123. Look at the sun during an eclipse— Our stupid middle-school principal thought that kids needed to stay inside during an important solar event and ordered that no one leave the building. I guess that fire alarm showed him! Being resourceful, I made a pinhole viewer with my notebook, but I stole a bare-eyed glance too.
  124. Build a campfire— One match.
  125. Throw a disposable lighter into a fire— FIRE! I’ll go one better and say that white gas makes a fireball thirty feet high. Now that is impressive!
  126. Go swimming less than half an hour after a meal— I never had bad cramps.
  127. Stay overnight in a house/cave/room said to be “haunted”— Hoo boy. My family passed through a town called St. Briavel’s in England. I heard that the castle was turned into a youth hostel and swore to return. A month later, I found myself staying in the “hanging” room. Below me was the “prison” room. I just thought it was quaint names for the tourists. The biggest room was the “royal” room. That kind of thing. The next day, I was poking around and studied the walls of the Prison. Hmmm, there were bars on the windows. And what’s this scratched into the walls? William Ibbes was hanged yesterday- 1681. Holy crap! I took the free tour from the director of the hostel and he said that prisoners were indeed kept in that very room. Upstairs is where they were executed. People sometimes woke up feeling something tightening around their neck. I slept well though. The worst part was across the courtyard in the other tower. The ground floor had an oubliette. That’s French, meaning: to forget. In the middle of the room, they had a pit 30 ft. deep where they would throw people in and forget about them. People sleeping in that room woke up to a very cold room. Some presence pushed them towards the hole in the middle of the floor and when they tried to escape, the door would be locked. A few minutes later, the door would unlock, the room would warm back up, and the pushing would cease. Years later, I saw St. Briavels Castle on the Travel Channels “Most haunted places in Britain.”
  128. Swallow your gum— Only a few times.
  129. Throw a hat on a bed— Yes. What’s supposed to happen?
  130. Walk under a ladder— I needed to get by.
  131. Step on a crack— They’re called sidewalks.
  132. Feed a live animal to a snake— Many times. They like it better that way.
  133. Blow something up with explosives— A honeydew melon rind has enough force to draw blood from 20 ft. away if you use a cherry bomb.
  134. Undertake a hands-on project involving a field you know nothing about, have no training in, harbor no inclinations for, and generally dislike— I need to re-wire my house.
  135. Use a power tool— Sawzall!
  136. Run with scissors— yes.
  137. Reformat your hard drive— Out of necessity. That shows me to let someone who “knows something” about computers try to fix a bug by messing with registry keys.
  138. Pick a lock— I was bored in my little cubicle selling tickets at the movies. One of the drawers had a broken lock with a removable core. I taught myself how it worked then tried some more.
  139. Flirt— Who wasn’t a teenager?
  140. Break up with someone— Several times. It’s never fun.
  141. Tell someone you had a crush on for a long time how you feel— At the end of senior year I gave her a letter spilling everything. I haven’t talked with her since, but we’re friends on Facebook now, so I guess that’s something.
  142. Find an intelligent person diametrically opposed to one of your fundamental beliefs; carry on a rational, calm, logical conversation about that belief— My cousin. Creation -vs- the Big Bang and Evolution.
  143. Go get a college degree— It only took me 6 years to get a 2 year degree, but now I have an A.S. in Business Administration.
  144. Sit through someone else’s religious service— Catholic and Mormon
  145. Learn a foreign language— Espanol, unt ein bishin deutch.
  146. Learn a purely visual language— Semaphore. Boy am I a dork.
  147. Learn higher math— Calculus counts right?
  148. Learn advanced calculus— Imaginary number like eleventeen and thirty-twelve.
  149. Maintain use of an obsolete technology— Straight razor shaving counts here too.
  150. Undergo an invasive surgical procedure involving no anesthesia— Back when I was really convicted about being Straightedge (still got my edge) I refused Novocain for multiple fillings. And once, a root canal.
  151. Endure a sweat lodge— Vermont and Germany. Not as sexy as you may imagine.
  152. Eat something from a street vendor— Mmm food.
  153. Go spicy— I like my food spicy. Indian, Thai, Mexican. I love it all.
  154. Drink Turkish coffee— I just did this last week. Very strong, but also good. The traditional third boil is crucial.
  155. Drink some tea— I’m not sure why this is a dare, but I enjoy tea too. When my friend was going to China, he gave me all his loose leaf tea. Because, you know…You just don’t bring tea to China. Rooibos Pretoria and African Honeybush Vanilla were my favorites. Get them here.
  156. Drive a forklift—  I just did this today for the first time. I ran out of things to do at work and had time to take the training. Pretty fun but will take some getting used to.
  157. Climb a building— Several times, but I used rope. I’m not totally stupid.
  158. Fire a handgun— Yes, several models, from small 22 caliber all the way up to a 57 magnum. They are harder to shoot accurately than the movies depict. Also, know your gun safety before handling any gun. Practice muzzle control and know what you’re shooting at and what is behind it.
  159. Reproduce more than once— Two is WAY harder than one.
  160. Meet one of your Heroes— I met the Jamaican bobsledding team. They were pretty cool. And I got to meet and train with a few Olympian lugers.

Making money in a down economy:

This is a short list of ways to make a little extra money for you and your family.

1)      Become a scrap peddler. Now, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. All I mean is, look around your house, basement, and garage for any scrap metal that might be lying around. Then find a metal recycling place that accepts individual drop offs and take it down there. You give them rusty metal, they give you cash. I did this a few weeks ago and made $60. Of course, most of that was from the furnace that I ripped out two years ago and has been sitting in my garage ever since. The price for scrap metal at the time was $128/ ton. So I figure that I had around 900 pounds of steel and cast iron to get rid of. I took me two trips in my little Subaru, but I did it. If you’re really serious about being a scrapper, get a pick up truck and troll the neighborhoods on trash night. Get a friend to help you lift all those washing machines and bed frames into the back and share in the profits.

2)      Sell stuff on Ebay/ Craigslist. Look around your house for anything that you haven’t used in a few years but might be of use to someone else. I found my old GPS in my office. I hadn’t used it in years, and actually preferred my map and compass, even when I was hiking a lot. So I put it on Ebay and made $80. Easy as pie.

3)      Sell books/ video games to local used bookstores/ video game shops. Take stock of your shelves and see what you can bear to part with. There are some PS2 games that I really enjoyed, but might not ever play again. Ex: Prince of Persia. A great game with lots of involved environmental puzzle solving. But I don’t think I will spend another few weekends working through the same traps and pitfalls that were so frustrating the first time. On the other hand, if a game is easy to pick up and play again, like SSX Tricky (snowboarding), that may be one I keep.

4)      Mow lawns, rake leaves. I know, you’re not twelve anymore, but this still remains a viable option if you really need the cash.

I just read a very eloquent and thoughtful letter from a librarian to a patron asking that the children’s book “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen be banned. I feel strongly about reading, freedom of speech, and even gay marriage, so this was a good read for me. The librarian, Jamie Larue, basically states that he will not pull the book from the shelves because of free speech (but the letter is so much more than that). He also makes an important point that if parents feel that a certain issue is wrong, or sensitive to the values they are trying to instill in their children, don’t read that book to them. It’s as simple as that.

This is like parents that get upset when their children start swearing or getting violent from just having played 17 hours of any Grand Theft Auto video game. How can they be upset when they bought it for them, silently endorsing the game by their purchase of it.

So while I may not agree with gay marriage for religious reasons, I certainly agree with the library’s decision to stock this book. Comments?

NaNoWriMo 2009

Posted: September 30, 2009 in Books, sci-fi, writing
Tags: , ,

So I decided to do NaNoWriMo 2009. What is it, you may ask? National Novel Writing Month. All November long, I’ll be churning out content. Then I’ll have a rough first draft at the end of it. I have three potential novels I could write during that time. We’ll see how it turns out!

I have a weird mental checkbox that I feel must be filled for me to be a successful writer. I must own a tweed jacket with leather elbow pads. I know what you’re thinking, “Yup, that’s pretty weird.” and “Didn’t he already write a whole novel without this magical elbow padded jacket?”

Well I have good news to report. I am now a successful writer. The other day, I filled in said mental checkbox by purchasing the perfect tweed jacket at the Thrifty Shopper. It was $6.99, but it had a purple tag, so it was 40% off. Not that this makes a difference, but my Mom saw that it was an Evan-Picone and speculated that it was quite pricey. So I got a $150 sports jacket for $4.19. Sweet.

Tweed Jacket

But back to the main point. Why would I feel the need to own a tweed jacket with leather elbow pads in the first place; and, have it be connected with a successful writing career? The short answer is: I don’t know. The long answer is: Maybe at some point I associated some famous/ favorite author of mine with this style and it made an impression on me. The only one that jumps to mind is J.R.R. Tolkien, but I can’t be sure he owned one of these style monstrosities. I just have this vision in my head of a venerable novelist sitting in front of an audience to give a reading. Maybe he is sitting in a leather chair, maybe a pipe sits on a separate marble end-table with cherry flavored smoke idly twirling through the air. He finishes the reading and people are clapping wildly. The leather elbow pads squeak against the rich red leather of the armchair as he gets up to acknowledge their praise. I suppose this is my yardstick for writing success. If that’s true, I’ll be waiting a long time. Thoughts?

My wife is hot. I can even prove it. Yesterday was the first day of school for many people. She teaches 7th grade English. At the beginning of one of her classes, two boys walked in and stopped on the threshold.

“Is this English?” they asked.

“Yes.” my wife replied.

“SWEET!” they both exclaimed, grinning at each other.

I asked her more about the type of student that would be so excited that they had found their English class.

“Did they look ‘bookish’, or excited to learn about adverbs?”

“No, they were jocks. This isn’t their first time taking 7th grade English either. They both failed last year.”

There it is! Clear evidence that she is hot! What class could engender such enthusiastic feelings in sports playing repeat 7th graders? One that is taught by my wife…who is hot.

Class dismissed.

My first rejection

Posted: August 4, 2009 in Books, writing
Tags: , , ,

So now I’m officially a writer. I’ve received my first rejection from an agent.

Thanks for your query, but I’m sorry to say I’m not the right agent for your book. I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.

Dan Mumford        11-15-04

Ophelia compared between

William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and

“Sweet Prince, The Passion of Hamlet”

By Douglas Brode

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