Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "So - Where would this Hive Engine be, do you think?"

    Sleipnir looked at him askance.  "The Large Dangerous Mechanical Lab would be my guess.  Why?"

    "Well... I've never seen a Hive Engine, now have I?"

    Sleipnir wheeled around and prodded his chest with a finger.  "You want to go sneaking into one of the Baron's labs?  Even after what happened to you the last time?"

    Theo looked at her blankly.  "Well.. Yeah."
    Sleipnir did a quick jig.  "Sweet!  Let's go!"

(from Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio)

8½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lego Quiz

    Something kewl that's been making the rounds on FaceBook.  Solve the eight images below.  I got six.  I missed #5, and really should have gotten that one.  And missed #8, which almost everybody else does as well.  Answers for those two in the comments.  The others, you really should have no trouble with.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RIP Trayvon Martin

    It's time to wake up to the fact that there is NOT racial equality in America, and that if you're a black male, you essentially have a bull's-eye on your back 24/7.  Ditto if you're Hispanic.

    It's time to recognize that gun nuts are not your neighborhood watchmen; they're your local thugs who fantasize about blowing some minority away.  And your white local policemen are not there "to serve and protect", they are there to look the other way when some black teenager is killed in cold blood just because he had the gall to be walking thru a lily-white community.

    But this is where it ends.  This outrage will not get swept under the rug.  It will not disappear from the headlines once the next American Idol contestant is eliminated.  Because if they can shoot an unarmed, scared, 17-year-old black kid - they can just as easily shoot you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "The good thing about being in the BookWorld is that we aren't hampered by anything as awkward as physical laws.  The RealWorld must be hideously annoying to do science in, but given how difficult it is, I suppose breakthroughs are of greater value.  In here, for example, perpetual-motion machines are quite feasible."

    "What's stopping us from using them?"

    "Finding a way to make them stop.  Once we've figured that out, we'll have perpetual engines in every minicab and bus in the BookWorld."

(from One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde)

8¼*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Leonard Nimoy

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Spock.  81 years old today.  Wow.  Live long and prosper, dude!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Even though Blomkvist was used to Salander's penchant for shocking clothing, he was amazed that his sister had allowed her to show up to the courtroom in a black leather miniskirt with frayed seams and a black top - with the legend I AM ANNOYED - which barely covered her many tattoos.  She had ten piercings in her ears, and a ring through her left eyebrow.  Her head was covered in three months' worth of uneven stubble after her surgery.  She wore grey lipstick and more black mascara than Blomkvist had ever seen her wear.  Her eyebrows were heavily darkened.  In the days when he and Salander had spent time together, she had shown almost no interest in make-up.

(from The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson)

8*/10. The full review is here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Instrument match

    Click to enlarge. Let's see now.  In my life, I've played the trumpet, the trombone, the piano, and the guitar.  All of them badly.  I'm thinking of taking up the triangle next.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Neverworld's End - Xandria

Artist/Group  :  Xandria
Album  :  Neverworld's End  (released March 06, 2012)
Genre  :  Symphonic Metal
Rating  :  9*/10

   Xandria is a German Symphonic Metal band.  If you like groups like Nightwish and Within Temptation, you'll like Xandria also.  Neverworld's End is their recently-released 5th studio album.  They have a new female lead singer - Manuela Kraller - and she does just fine, and will make you say, "Tarja who?"

    You can find most or all of the tracks already on YouTubeAmazon wants $7.99 for the whole album, which is a pretty good deal for roughly 70 minutes of music.  The entire CD is good, and if I had to point to one particularly kewl thing about it,  I'd say it's the nice balance between the Symphonic and the Metal/Rock.  Kewl stuff.  9*/10.

- Tracks  (favorites in pink) -
1.)A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall 
5.)Blood On My Hands 
7.)The Dream Is Still Alive 
8.)The Lost Elysion 
9.)Call Of The Wind
10.)A Thousand Letters
12.)The Nomad's Crown 
13.)When The Mirror Cracks
14.)The Sailor And The Sea

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the resemblance is striking

    I find Santorum to be an embarrassment to my home state of Pennsylvania - until I realize what a parade of bozos my current residence, Arizona, has trotted out over the past 30 years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    I stepped inside, shedding water, and could see at a glance it was a good choice - clean, nicely old-fashioned, attractively priced at (pound)26 B&B according to a notice on the wall, and with the kind of smothering warmth that makes your glasses steam and brings on sneezing fits.  I decanted several ounces of water from my sleeve and asked for a single room for two nights.

    "Is it raining out?" the reception girl asked brightly as I filled in the registration card between sneezes and pauses to wipe water from my face with the back of my arm.

    "No, my ship sank and I had to swim the last seven miles."

(from Notes From A Small Island, by Bill Bryson)

8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tax Night

    Something quick, as it's Tax Night and I'm heading over to my tax lady's house for our annual 3-hour ordeal and confab.  The above picture has nothing to do with this; I just couldn't find a tax-related image in my files.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

 again again again

    Dear Blogger.  Is there some FREAKING reason you've decided to unilaterally add a pop-up ad to the word a-g-a-i-n in my posts?!?!

    Found the problem.  A nasty little piece of Malware.  If you happen to get this problem, google "Text Enhance" (the bastards behind this) and read the "Waffles At Noon" post on it.  Whatever you do, don't go to the Text-Enhance website; they'll try to  get you to install even nastier stuff.

Contraception, Dinosaurs, and Gays

     Sad to say, but there are a bunch of people out there who think the Bible reads this way.   But they're not to blame - they've been led to believe that due to listening to their local pastor, priest, bishop, or whatever.  Sheeple, please.

    I'm not keen on letting anyone tell me what to think, particularly someone who claims some Deity has given them a divine message.  If the Creator wants to tell me something, I'd like to think She can come to me directly.  And so far, She hasn't.

    But then again, several of my multiple personalities are Gnostic.  So what can you expect?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "What the wossname is it?" said the parrot.

    "It's their god."

    "Get away?"

    "No, really.  It's Quezovercoatl.  Half man, half chicken, half jaguar, half serpent, half scorpion, and half mad."

    The parrot's beak moved as it worked this out.

    "That makes a wossname total of three homicidal maniacs," it said.

    "About right, yes," said the statue.

(from Eric by Terry Pratchett)

8½*/10.  The full review is here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


    Something mindless, since I spent most of this evening exploring a new bit of TechnoGeekery.  I've discovered that you can download MP3 music files via your local library, and via something called "Freegal" (rhymes with "legal").

    The downloads are free and are not DRM-protected.  There is a decent selection, although you have to think in terms of what music a library would have.  Lots of classical, blues, and folk.  Not a lot of Metal.  And the search engine leaves a bit to be desired.

    Some examples.  There are no Lady Gaga tracks.  No Within Temptation.  Even worse, no Eric Clapton.  But they do have the latest Bruce Springsteen album, and the new Meat Loaf one.  Obscure stuff is hit and miss.  I was pleasantly surprised to find they had some Don Nix, Dulce Pontes, and even some Tinariwen.  And a poopload of New Riders of The Purple Sage and John Mayall.  But I didn't find any Mason Proffit.

    The one catch - you can only download three tracks per week.  This makes sense; they don't want someone hogging up all the downloads.  But it does mean you have to choose wisely, and that if you want a whole album, it may take a few weeks.  Unless you get three or four local friends together, and all cooperate to download tracks from one given album.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

    Happy Pi Day to all!  I celebrated it properly -  at exactly 1:59 PM this afternoon I wrote "Pi Pi Pi Pi Pi Pi Pi..." on my company's Instant Messaging board.  It is also Albert Einstein's birthday, so Geekiness runneth rampant today.

    Don't forget that June 28th is "Tau Day" (2x pi), and July 22nd is "Pi Approximation Day".  And the biggest Geek Holiday of all - Talk Like A Pirate Day - isn't until September.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Savoy Brown - Looking In

Album Title  :  Looking In
Artist/Group  :  Savoy Brown
Genre  :  Blues/Rock
Year  :  1970
Rating  :  8*/10

    KDKB used to play these guys, back when that station still had a soul.  I remember them mostly for the album Hellbound Train (1972), because I requested its titular song to be played on KDKB the day after Nixon got re-elected.  The DJ thought it was a hilarious idea, but he never played it.

    This is a very good blues-rock album, somewhat in the Clapton sub-genre.  I don't know why these guys never made it to the top tier of rock; they certainly are talented enough.  I bought the LP for $1; it was in good shape, so converting it to MP3 files was a snap.  RYM gives this a rating of 3.82/5, which is close to mine.  You can find Savoy Brown on YouTube, including a live version of Track 04 from this album, Sunday Night.

01. Gypsy
02. Poor Girl
03. Money Can't Save Your Soul
04. Sunday Night
05. Looking In
06. Take It Easy
07. Sitting An' Thinking
08. Leavin' Again
09. Romanoff

My favorite tracks are in pink, but honestly, it's all good.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Romantic Music

    I'm not a big fan of romantic music - unless you conisder Pink Floyd, The Doors, or Nightwish to be in that genre.  Still, sometimes you gotta go with the flow.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "Women love us for our defects.  If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects.  You will never ask me to dinner again after saying this, I am afraid, Lady Narborough, but it is quite true."

    "Of course it is true, Lord Henry.  If we women did not love you for your defects, where would you all be?  Not one of you would ever be married.  You would be a set of unfortunate bachelors.  Not, however, that that would alter you much.  Nowadays all the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men."

(from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde)

9*/10.  The complete review can be found here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


    I mada a trip to our local library today.  Partly because they had a copy of Jasper Fforde's One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing available.  Which is almost impossible to find in the local bookstores - both new and used ones.

    The other reason was to see whether one can "borrow" e-books from the library for my Kindle.  To which the answer is "yes".  It's a somwewhat convoluted process, and ATM I'm already reading two (real world) books, have a third one on the Kindle (a freebie from Amazon), and now OOOTIM.  So I don't really need yet another book, especially one that I have to "return" in some manner in three weeks.

    But I'm a techno-geek, and it's going to gnaw at me until I simply have to try this new resource out.  I'll probably give in to the gnawing tomorrow.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Just Wrong

    It's been a while since we've done a "Just Wrong" post.  So here's a good one.  Meaning, it's wrong on so many levels.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Quote for the Day

    "I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty.  I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law.  That makes me a liberal, and I'm proud of it."  (Paul Krugman)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Coming to a theater near you... maybe

    Fetih 1453 is an epic movie dealing with the taking of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.  What makes this film special is that it's told from the Turkish POV.  Which means it is also told from the Muslim POV.  The film is already out in Turkey (obviously), and in some or all of Europe as well.  The anti-Muslim hate groups are apparently self-righteouly indignant about that.

    As a history-lover, I find this setting fantastic.  Plus it's always enlightening to see a historical event from "the other side of the coin".

    Alas, if anything, anti-Muslim prejudice is even more deep-rooted in the USA than in Europe.  And Arizona of course is a bastion of bigotry.  So I'm not overly optimistic about the film ever making it to Phoenix.  In the meantime, I can content myself (and so can you) by watching the movie teasers and trailers on YouTube.    Here's a link to one of them, which even has English subtitles, albeit poorly done.  FWIW, the cinematography is awe-inspiring.

Monday, March 05, 2012


    This pretty much sums up my attitude towards broccoli.  And spinach, and cauliflower, and rutabagas, and zucchini.  The only way I can stomach them is by smothering them in a cheese sauce to the point where I can't taste them at all.  But that sorta defeats the purpose of eating veggies, doesn't it?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    What you do recall, and recall vividly, is that in the June of your twelfth year, your mom, emulating her poetic idol, Sylvia somebody, turned the oven on and stuck her head in it.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case might be, she was guilty of an embarrassing oversight.  Your family had an electric stove.

    Instead of gassing herself into sweet oblivion, all she did was get unbearably hot and set her hair on fire.  An awful odor filled the flat.  When you crawled out of bed to see what the smell was about, she was kneeling in the middle of the kitchen, smoking like a smudge pot, while your father emptied a jug of red wine on her head.

(from Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins)

7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Wild about Wilde

    I'm just about finished with my first Oscar Wilde book - The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I'm not big on Classic Lit, but this is very good.  Much better than Nathaniel Hawthorne or Emily Dickinson.  Best of all, if you own a Kindle, it's free at Amazon.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Movie quote for the day

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!   ...  (thump)