Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “It’s worth a shot, right?”

    Selaris sighed.  “I suppose so.”

    “I do not recommend the use of alternative medicine or homeopathic remedies, even in extreme circumstances,” the hologram said, and this time the haughtiness was unmistakable.  “If proper medical techniques haven (sic) proven ineffective, the-“

    “Shut up or I’ll slap your brain inside a sanitation mech,” Thomas growled.  “Let’s give it a try.”

    (from The Spider and The Fly),  by C.E. Stalbaum)

    9*/10.  The full review is here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

French Fries and Ketchup

    ... and the two kinds of people are the ones eating the fries the wrong way (top) and the ones eating them the right way (bottom).

    Listen, I'll admit it - when I was 5 or 6 years old, I'd slobber the ketchup on the fries willy-nilly.  But you'd always end up with half the fries being soaked in the stuff, and half the fries with no ketchup at all.

    The bottom way is the only way to east ketchup-&-fries.  You control the dipping, so you get the right amount of condiment every time.  Jeez, anyone with OCD can tell you that.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Henry Purcell - Twelve Overtures

    Name a composer of Baroque Classical Music?  Sure, that's easy.  Bach, Pachelbel, Handel, Vivaldi.  But how about an English composer of Baroque Classical Music?  That's a bit tougher.  I can think of only one.  Henry Purcell.

    The title says it all - 12 Overtures written by Purcell in his prolific, but all too brief career.  He died at 35 or 36 years old  (1659-1695).  The tracks are performed by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, which was an offshoot of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and existed from 1968 until 1999, when it disbanded for lack of funding.  They put out a sh*tload of albums in their lifetime, including this one (MHS 4524, Musical Heritage Society), in 1980.  You can read all about them in Wikipedia.

- Tracks - (favorites in pink)

01. King Arthur - Overture : Act 1
02. King Arthur - Second Music
03. Dido and Aeneas -Overture
04. The Married Beau - Overture
05. Bonduca - Overture
06. The Fairy Queen - Sonata - Act IV

07. Timon of Athens - Overture to the Masque
08. The Rival Sisters - Overture
09. Abdelazer - Overture
10. The Old Bachelor - Overture
11. Distressed Innocence - Overture
12. The Indian Queen - Trumpet Overture

    I think I picked this LP up for free from the local used record shop as part of their "buy one of our rock-&-roll LP's, get one of these classical LP's that nobody wants for free" deals.  The disc was in average shape, with a bunch of scratches throughout both sides, and a positively nasty forward-skip in Track 06.

    It cleaned up fairly well.  You can still hear "hollow thuds" where a couple of the major scratches were.  And of course, there's nothing to do about the skip.

    I'm a sucker for Baroque music of any kind, so I naturally like this whole album.  Purcell was big into trumpet fanfares, and although most of these were written for plays by Purcell's contemporaries, nowadays they'd fit perfectly in some 1950's "Knights in Shining Armor" black-&-white action movies.

    All in all, a nice pick-up, although if you're not into Baroque, you may be yawning by Track 2.  A bunch of these are posted on YouTube, including the best of the bunch - The Fairy Queen.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

E-Card Saturday

    I know several people who use this "shortcut".

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013


    I put Kliban (and Kliban's Cats) in the same cartoon category as Zippy The Pinhead and XKCD.  I only "get" the comic about 10% of the time, and I have this vague feeling that the ones that I do understand are the least-funny of the offerings.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Why would I want I warrior pursuing me?”

    “And why not?” he asked innocently.

    “My father says the fennedi want nothing more from a woman than a marriage of the seventh degree.  My father’s a smith, a skilled craftsman.  I shouldn’t have to settle for a seventh-degree, should I?”

    “Not at all,” Finn hastily assured her, wondering what a seventh-degree marriage was.

    (from Finn Mac Cool by Morgan Llywelyn)

    10*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Worth a repeat

    I used this last year, but it's definitely worth a re-post.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Science Sunday

    Newton's First Law of Motion, IIRC.  Pretty smart, that guy Newton.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Amish Christmas Lights

    Indeed.  Totally enlightening.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Night Awww

    All three of our dogz would totally agree with this.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “When I had started with the Time Machine, I had started with the absurd assumption that the men of the Future would certainly be infinitely ahead of ourselves in all their appliances.  I had come without arms, without medicine, without anything to smoke – at times I missed tobacco frightfully – even without enough matches.  If only I had thought of a Kodak!”

    (from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells)

  8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


    Stasis a period or state of inactivity or equilibrium.

    Stasis : a Magic The Gathering card.

    Stasis : the name, and the second track of, an Etherfysh album.

    Inexplicably, no one has ever posted an Etherfysh track on YouTube, not even the dude himself.  I'm seriously considering making this my next YouTube post.  At 7:49 minutes in length, that will take a lot of images to make it interesting.  My thought is to use a bunch of MTG cards, as there are hundreds, if not thousands of them to choose from.  Starting with the Stasis card itself.

    Alas, my familiarity of MTG is flimsy at best.  My preferred game is Chess.  So picking kewl MTG cards for the video will be spotty, other than the Black Lotus.  Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Free Will

    I have to admit, there's something persuasive about Moses' thought process.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mason Proffit - Still Hangin'

    ANAICT, Still Hangin' is Mason Proffit's most-recent offering.  Amazon lists it as being issued on 01 August 2005.  I found it quite by accident via Freegal, which had 10 of the 12 tracks available.  And I bought the other two via Amazon for $0.99 each.

- Tracks  (Favorites in Pink -

01. Lilly
02. Single Mom
03. Buffalo
04. Big Boat
05. Two Hangmen
06. Old Guys Rule
07. Victoria
08. Old Joe Clark
09. Everything
10. Better Find Jesus
11. Western Man
12. Amazing Grace

   The usual caveat applies - I could easily just mark all the tracks pink.  But I've been a Mason Proffit fan for decades.  About half the tracks are reworks of earlier MP songs; the other half are new material, at least to me.

    The musicianship is fantastic, but we expect that.  Terry Talbot's voice hasn't lost a note, which is simply amazing after 40 years in the music business.  The reworked material is well-done.  It's nice to hear slightly different guitar licks, and Talbot tweaks a few words here and there, sometimes to modernize the lyrics (see Lilly), but mostly to slip in a bit of evangelizing.

   This shouldn't be surprising, if you've followed Talbot's musical and spiritual journeys after the break-up of Mason Proffit. Yet it does weaken this album a bit and makes you wonder who the target audience is.  His born-again fans will find Still Hangin' entirely too secular, and his Mason Proffit fans will resent the proselytizing, sporadic though it may be.  OTOH, the most blatant 'gospel' song here is Better Find Jesus, and that's an old MP song.

   If you can overlook Talbot's occasional preachiness, and it really isn't overbearing, you will find this an excellent album.  It sells for $8.99 at Amazon, or you can get most of it for free (3 songs a week) at Freegal.  Highly recommended.  And many thanks to Mason Proffit for making this available via Freegal.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Deck the halls

    The Xmas decorations are up.  But I'm a little woozy from it all.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “You said this would take an hour.”
    “So I was wrong.”
    “You?  Wrong?”
    “Hey, maybe you better sit down and take a look at what I found.”
    He looked at her closely; she was haggard, her hair knotty and in disarray, eyes bloodshot, clothes with a slept-in look.  But the expression on her face was one of pure triumph.  “Don’t tell me you solved the problem?”
    “Does a toilet seat get ass?”

    (from Impact by Douglas Preston

    7½*/10.  The complete review is here.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Valerie Petit.  As respected as a botanist could be; creator of ornate bouquets for Paris’s elite bourgeois who requested only the best in beautiful, dying plants.  Her husband, a man of old money, died mysteriously of a croquet mallet to the cranium.  All signs pointed to Valerie as the culprit: fingerprints on the mallet, blood on her dress, a seething, demonic hatred of her beau, and her intense affinity for the sport of croquet.  Yet she wore a different flower in her hair every day to court, cried with such saccharine conviction, and led everyone to believe that a lithe French damsel couldn’t possible (sic) wield enough force to deliver a crushing blow to a full grown man’s skull.

    (from The Success of Suexliegh),  by Zack Keller)

    7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Monday, December 09, 2013

I'm dreaming of a Write Christmas

   I've asked Santa to bring me books.  And books.  And more books.  But that's not all.  He can bring me gift cards for Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Half-Price Books as well.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Eagles-Lions game today

    We ate lunch at Applebee's today, and they had the Eagles-Lions game on.  In Philadelphia.  In a fricking blizzard.  Tackling consisted mostly of just pushing the runner.  There was no traction, so down he'd go.  Passing was atrocious.  Punt returns were exciting though.

    However, it was fun to watch it all in the warm comfort of a restaurant booth.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Barrio Cafe

    Liz's birthday was earlier this week, so she gets to pick where we go eat tonight.  There's not a lot of suspense - she's picked Barrio CafĂ© the last three years in a row.

    It's a relatively small place on 7th Street.  They don't take reservations, so you can expect a wait of anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple hours.  The food is pricey but good.  The service is always excellent.  They usually have some local musician playing Mexican songs, and if we get drunk enough, we buy his CD.

    Bon appetit, y'all.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Art Appreciation Friday

    Sadly, much as I'd like to put this on my house to annoy my neighbor, it would be wasted because we have an 8-foot cinder block fence between us.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

RIP - Nelson Mandela

    Centuries from now, when they speak of the great spiritual leaders of the 20th century, no one will remember the get-rich scam-artist televangelists.  But they will remember Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

    RIP, sir.  I am in awe of your strength, your passion, your accomplishments, your leadership, your faith, and most of all, your love.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “You said that you looked and you weren’t in the index.”

    “Well, not by name,” Sammy said.  “That’s what I meant.”

    “I see,” Rosa said.  But it turns out there is a whole, actual chapter about you.”

    “It’s not about me personally:  It doesn’t even identify me by name.  It just talks about stories I wrote.  The Lumberjack.  The Rectifier.  But not just mine.  There’s a lot about Batman.  And Robin.  There’s stuff about Wonder Woman.  About how she’s a little . . . a little on the butch side.”

    (from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon)

  9½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Pit Bulls

    Really, folks.  No dog is born naturally-vicious.  Humans have to be mean to them to make them that way.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Chess, Chemistry, Xmas, and Dorkiness

    Yes, I'm an avid chess player.  Yes, I'm a chemist.  And yes, I'm a dork.  That's why I want Santa to bring this for Christmas.

    FWIW, it would be for decorative purposes only.  Trying to play with anything other than the classical "Staunton" chessmen f*cks up your game to an incredible degree.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Escapist

    I think I may have to go find this, even though the reviews at Amazon are at best meh.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blue Curtains

    I had an incident like this a long time ago in (college) freshman English Lit.  The book - a play, actually - was Waiting For Godot.  The English teacher, making an effort to expand our minds, asked us what we thought of the play.

    Stupidly, I gave him my frank opinion - that it was a nonsensical piece of trash.  Needless to say, that was not the viewpoint he was looking for.

    I am happy to say that now, 40 years later, I have come to appreciate existentialism in general, and WFG in particular.  But it is still prudent to not overanalyze individual lines in Literature.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

    Evolution.  Sometimes it sucks.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Housecleaning

    We ran into problem with the person who cleans our house today.  Not fun when you're going to have a bunch of people over for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

    The good news is, I'm on vacation all week.  The bad news is, that means today - which was supposed to be an easy, hit-the-bookstores day, turned into a mow the lawn, do the wash, dust the house, and vacuum the house day.  I drew the line at mopping and cleaning the bathrooms though.

    Yessirree.  I'm gonna make somebody a helluva housewife someday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Muzzaf was a Komarite, from one of the southern border cities along the Colonial frontier; one of the strange new class of monetary risk-takers, men who invested large sums in manufacture or trade yet were not really merchants or moneylenders or artisans.  It still seemed a little unnatural to Raj, gaining wealth without inheriting or plundering it.

    (from The Hammer by S.M. Stirling and David Drake)

  8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, November 25, 2013


    Well, yay me.  I am now on Skype.  After a couple of false starts, including the realization that my 10-year-old microphone was totally useless and that a desktop computer has no camera, I finally got serious about becoming skypified today.

    So I went down to Best Buy and bought a webcam.  It had a built-in microphone to boot, so the old mic has been tossed in the trash.  Installation was a breeze, and then it was time to try my first Skype-to-Skype video call with my sister.

    Getting the settings right was a minor challenge.  For instance, "line in" was the default audio setting, so I had to scramble when she reported that she was getting so sound.  Switching that worked, but it seemed to nix the video.  A primal scream took care of that, and we was in business.

    I find it interesting that Skype-to-Skype is free, but Skype-to-phone (both a call and/or a text message) is not.  It makes me wonder whether the phone companies will still be in business 20 years from now.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


    And ROTFL; that's just downright lying.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “Here’s my best parchments.  They’re imported from . . .”

    “’Here’s’?” Bugbear exploded as he swatted the papers from the startled merchant’s hand.  “Here’s’?  Why you festering pustule of ignorance!  It’s neither here’s nor there’s!  Neither here’s nor there’s!  Do you understand me?  Do you?”

    “No,” the merchant said with a dumb, blank state.  “Not really.”

    (from Noggle Stones 1½: Bugbear’s Travels),  by Wil Radcliffe)

    8*/10.  The full review is here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Literary Irony

    Computers will never take over the world.  They can't even tell you're from your, let alone the difference between there, their, and they're.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quote for the Day

    Thank you, Douglas Adams, for penning HHGTTG.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Christmas Liszt

   Oh look!  It's my Christmas Liszt.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “We’re emissaries of Mack Durgin,” Ace told the pretty vet lady, “and we’re here to pick up his pig.”


    “No thanks,” Ace said as he took out his wallet.  “He just wants the pig.”

    (from When Pigs Fly),  by Bob Sanchez)

    9*/10.  The full review is here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Proof that God exists

    Well, it's in His Holy Word, man.  Since He's God, it has to be true.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas is coming...

    ...and it's never too early to start making one's list.  So here's the first item on mine.  Feel free to let me know you're buying it for me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan

    In case you're wondering how big of a storm it was that slammed the Philippines a couple days ago, here it is superimposed on a map of the US.

   Basically from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, and from the east coast to the Mississippi River.

    And the Philippines are, by and large, a gazillion islands.  So the storm didn't lose much strength as it passed through.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Sister Agnes was definitely religious, in a weird kind of way.  At the Home, Sister Agnes had two pictures on the walls of her cramped room: one of them was of the Sacred Heart, the other was of Meat Loaf.  And she played old Jim Steinman records far too loudly for the other Sisters.  Joshua didn’t know much about bikes, but Sister Agnes’s Harley looked so old that St. Paul had probably once ridden in the sidecar.

    (from The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter)

    9*/10.  The complete review is here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

E-Card Monday

    True dis.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Science Saturday!

   Or Theological Saturday!  Or both.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday FaceBook Dig

    To share without a care is to err.