Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Eventually Mariko said, "I didn't like it when they made him into a hero."

    Joanna frowned.  "Who?"

    "Godzilla.  Those later movies, when he battles other monsters to protect Japan.  So silly.  We need our monsters to be scary.  They don't do us any good if they don't frighten us."

    "Am I about to get hit with some philosophy of the mysterious East?  I didn't hear the Zen warning siren."

    "Sometimes we need to be frightened," Mariko said.

(from The Key To Midnight by Dean Koontz)

8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Saudade Day!

    Well, that's kind of an oxymoron, since "Saudade", as given in Wikipedia. means "a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return."

    It's one of those strange foreign words that has no equivalent in our language and takes a couple dozen English words to describe.  In Brazil, they celebrate it today, January 30th.

    I have Dinocomics to thank for this bit of enlightenment.  The Wiki article on it is here.  If you are unfamiliar with Dino Comics, the link is here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Cameo Ball

    We made it to - and thru - our 3rd-straight Cameo Ball last night.  As usual, the food was good, the music was good, everyone had a good time, and it was all for a good cause. We got there around 6:30 and got out of there around 10:00.

    There was a silent auction and a live one, but none of the items really seemed worth bidding on to me.  Lots of stuff from local artists and craftspersons; and lots of rounds of golf.  Meh.  Jason had winning bids on a faux-fur coat for Jasel, and a basket of wine-&-restaurant-giftcards.

    Oh yeah - there was this strange ritual where the women grabbed clubs and stalked the men.  I managed to snap the pic above before the savagery reached me.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cameo Ball Night!


    Yessirree bob.  Tonight's my once-a-year dress-up-in-a-tux night.  Aka "The Cameo Ball".  No top hat or cane, so I won't be as classy as this mouse.  But I will have to wear pants.

    And a new vest.  Cuz apparently the one I wore (and bought) last year doesn't match Liz's dress this year.  Who knew we had to be color-coordinated?!

    It's all for a good cause though - raising funds for a Battered Women's Shelter.  And the drinks are free, although I'll be sticking to Diet Cokes since I'm the DD.  The dinner is awesome and is free too.  And there's always the silent auction to keep me entertained.

    Oh, and I will have to get out on the dance floor for one slow dance.  Two steps forward; one step back.  Try not to step on Liz's toes. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teabagging Tillie

Yes, that's our governor, Jan Brewer, showing a complete lack of class when President Obama visited Phoenix yesterday.  I expect our local Tea-Baggers to act this way. But elected officials - first and foremost a governor - need to observe proper protocol. Otherwise they end up looking like complete bumpkins.

     OTOH, this does go to show you that Arizona Republicans do not discriminate. If you ain't White, you ain't Right, and they'll hate you, no matter where you come from and no matter what your status in life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Paleontology and archaeology and other skullduggery were not subjects that interested wizards.  Things are buried for a reason, they considered.  There's no point in wondering what it was.  Don't go digging things up in case they won't let you bury them again.

(from The Last Continent, by Terry Pratchett)

8*/10.  The full review is here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Punny Tuesday

    And just my luck, I've been informed that I will be taking my first cruise this fall.  To Alaska.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Xinnian Kuaile!


    Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!  Today, two weeks of celebrating commences.  It's the Year of the Dragon (hence the pic, above), and the Chinese year is 4710.

    The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center is about a mile from where I work, and back when I was learning Mandarin at the local community college, we'd take a field trip each (new) year there to enjoy the festivities and soak up Chinese culture.  The only catch, of course, was that we had to do all our conversing in Mandarin, with our professor watching.  It was a blast, although I'm sure the Chinses merchants "forgave" a lot of errors on our part.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

9 Chickweed Lane

    A 9 Chickweed Lane comic strip from earlier this week.  Maybe it's just me, but I can't help thinking that they slipped this one by the censors somehow.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!

    Happy 212th Birthday to Edgar Allan Poe, whom I consider to be the greatest American writer of the 19th Century.  His style was original; he excelled at both novels and poetry; and he's a heckuva lot more interesting to read than Longfellow, Frost, or Whitman.  Indeed, Jason has waggishly bestowed honorary British citizenship on him, since to call him an American writer puts him in some pretty shoddy company.

    He had a rough childhood; did some strange things (like marrying his cousin when she was only 13 years old); and died prematurely under strange circumstances.  You can read all about it here.

     We'll leave you with this Trivia Teaser, that seems all too obvious but isn't :  What was Edgar Allan Poe's middle name?  Answer in the comments.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quote for the Day

    George Carlin was a fabulous wit, and a great stand-up comedian.  But that didn't translate well into the printed word.  I've read two of his books (which are really just recycled excerpts of his performances), and they were both "meh".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "You've all been living under the threat for so long that you can't wake up to the fact that it isn't there any more," he said.  "You've been hooked on missiles and bombs for as long as you can remember, and the idea of getting along without them just doesn't get through.  It's over.  Can't you get that into your heads?  We don't need it any more - any of it.  Everything that the West has publicly claimed to want for the last fifty years has happened.  Doesn't it occur to you that we might be able to do something constructive with all those armaments budgets now?"

(from The Genesis Machine by James P. Hogan)

4½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Martin Luther King Day!!

   Yeah, I had to work, but I'm cool with that.  The commute to and from work was a breeze, and really, I've had enough days off in December, what with Holidays and Vacation.

Trivia Question : Which commie-pinko president signed the bill that made Martin Luther King Day a federal holiday?  Answer in the Comments.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Movie Quote for the Day

    From the greatest film of all time.  The quote that is, not the pic.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


    Well, phooey.  Phoenix's one and only Alternate Rock station, 103.9 KEXX, switched formats starting this morning.  We now get watered-down Classic Rock.

    Good-bye, The Refreshments and Bob Marley.  Say hello to The Eagles, Journey, Foreigner, Billy Joel, and Boston.  Don't even go looking for groups like The Doors, Canned Heat, Pink Floyd, or Jimi Hendrix.  They're not nearly uplifting/commercial enough.  And you're dreaming if you think you're going to hear Strawbs, Nightwish, or Country Joe & The Fish.

    The "hook" appears to be that you can communicate with KEXX - via Twitter, E-Mail, Phone, and/or FaceBook.  So in theory, it's "your radio station".  I guess I could request the Strawbs.

    In practice, you can forget about them playing anything but schmaltzy pop-rock.  They got something like 700 e-mails in the first two hours this morning.  Dave Pratt, the morning DJ, vows to answer every one of them personally.  Dave Pratt, the morning DJ, did NOT promise he'd play every one of their requests.  Mathematically, there's no way the air-time will keep up with the requests.  This reminds me of the KRZZ and KRUX request lines from long ago.   You could call in and request what you want, but the truth is, they already knew what they were going to play.  (*)

    We already have our watered-down Classic Rock station - KSLX.  Also, just four clicks down from 103.9 KEXX is a fantastic Classic Rock radio station, 103.1 KCDX.  They play a better variety of songs (including just about every group listed above).  And it's commercial-free.  Plus you don't get long-winded DJ's rambling on about humdrum topics.  It's too bad Radio Free Phoenix is no longer on the radio, they were also commercial-free and played some b*tchin' contemporary rock music.

    I'll probably still occasionally turn the dial to 103.9, hoping that this was all a bad dream.  And I have to admit 103.1 forgets to turn on its "transmit" button all too frequently.  But one yearns for a radio station that would hearken back to the KDKB of the early 70's by Bill Compton.  When you never knew what he was going to spin; you just knew that it was going to be awesome.

(*) : We busted this myth one night.  Several of us spent a whole hour phoning KRUX and requesting The Pusher Man by Steppenwolf.  Statistically, we had to have been the Number 1 request.  You know the outcome.  KRUX didn't even acknowledge our efforts; the played something like The Carpenters instead. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Imaginaerum - Nightwish

   The new Nightwish album is out!!  It's called IMAGINAERUM, and it is fantastic, although I say that about everything they put out.

    Actually, it's a double-CD, with the second one simply being the instrumental versions of each of the tracks on the first CD.  The US release date apparently was today; although it's been out in the European markets for more than a month.

    There is Metal; there is Symphony; there is Celtic music; there are fantastic lyrics and text.  This is a concept album, structured to be the soundtrack for a movie due out later this year.

    Nightwish will of course be doing a world tour to promote the album.  After opening in LA in late January, they immediately split for Europe for the next few months.  But I am assured that the North/South America portion of the tour will follow in the latter half of 2012.  So I am expecting them to show up here in Phoenix in November or so - when Arizona is the only place where they won't freeeze their butts off.

    Last time, I saw them at the Marquee Theater.  Lousy acoustics, stand the whole time, and a mosh pit operating right beside us.  And it was still a fantastic concert!

    I've listened to the first CD twice now, and have to give it a full 10*/10.  But then, I'm not the most objective person when it comes to Nightwish.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "Well," I said as we walked back toward the depot, "what did you think of Mr. Best?"

    "He is an interesting character," Holmes replied, "and very much in the American grain, which is to say he is blunt, intelligent in an uneducated sort of way and quite obviously fearless.  His chief defect, I suspect, is that he is overly excitable by nature."

    "Did anything else strike you?"

    "Only that Mr. Best has several scars upon his right hand which indicate he was once badly burned."

(from Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, by Larry Millett)

7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Geology Rocks

    We are partial to any cartoon featuring Science in it.  We are also partial to Rock & Roll.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


    I'm ashamed to admit it took me a full day before I "got" this one.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday RIF Comic

    FWIW, my current reading project is a bit more ambitious.  I'm tackling The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  The classics are something I generally avoid; especially Russian Lit.  But if I'm going to dabble in this genre, my first choice would be Dostoevsky, as I read a biography about him way back in high school.

    I'm about 100 pages through it so far; out of a total of around 600 pages.  I have no doubt that I'll finish it (I am OCD, after all), but it will take a few weeks.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

RIP - Bill Heywood

    Sad news in the morning paper, as a longtime bastion of local radio, Bill Heywood, has apparently committed suicide with his wife, Susan.

    Details are sketchy, but it appears they went to a hotel, left a suicide note, and ended it all.  The Arizona Republic indicated they were having financial difficulties, had lost their home recently, and that Susan was in poor health, after suffering at least one stroke.

    There was a time when Bill Heywood was teh morning talk-show host in the valley.  Unlike the talking heads of today, who strive be as stupid, shocking, and extreme in their views as possible, Heywood was known for reasoned questions and smooth insight.  I shudder to think of what radio talk shows will be like in another 25 years.

    Heywood was 75; his wife was 70.  I haven't seen much else in the way of details yet, but I'm sure the Republic and the local TV channels are putting together some specials.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bye Bye, Bachman

    Interesting results in last night's Iowa caucus.  The two candidates that claim God Himself told them to run for President - Bachman-the-Nut and Governor Goodhair - both got their a$$es spanked.

    BtN has already called it quits, and GG has sent out signals that he's seriously thinking about going back to Texas to work on seceding from the USA.

    The question is - what does God think about that?  Are they disobeying Him by going against His wishes by quitting?  If so, should He punish them in an Almighty Way?  I'm thinking a plague of frogs here.

    Or is it that He forgot to tell those damn left-wing-leaning Iowa Repugnicans to vote for His anointed ones?

    The fact is, politics is a dirty business; and anyone who plays the God-card is delusional at best; hypocritical at worst.  So personally, I think The Creator (who is a "She", BTW.  She told me so.) is sending a message that Religion should be kept out of Politics altogether.  Makes sense to me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    It ain't the kind of problem you meet every day.  I doubt if it's ever been posed at Staff College ... "Now then, Mr. Flashman, you command an army fifty thousand strong, with heavy guns, well supplied, their lines of communication protected by an excellent river.  Against you is a force of only ten thousand, with light guns, exhausted after a week's forced marching, short of food and fodder and damned near dying of thirst.  Now then, sir, answer directly, no hedging - how do you lose, hey?  Come, come, you've just given excellent reasons for not taking a town that's lying at your mercy!  This should be child's play to a man with your God-given gift of catastrophe!  Well, sir?"

(from Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser)

6½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Punny Sunday

    I learned to read music at a very early age - six years old or so.  We were forced to take piano lessons, and this particular teacher emphasized solfege, and reading sheet music.

    This came in handy later, when I was in chorus.  Unfortunately, both solfege and music-reading are analytical exercises, not artistic.  And the fact is, I have zero musical talent.  So the piano career stopped the day the teacher wanted my left hand to do one thing, and my right hand to do something completely different.  For me, it was like patting my head and rubbing my tummy.