Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter !!

    Here's hoping your Easter is a joyous occasion, no matter what your personal beliefs about it are.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “There’s little damage aside from a moderate sprain,” said Merikare, who held a royal commission.  “A day’s rest will cure it, and—“ his voice grew a little louder, as though he expected an argument, “—if Your Highness can bring himself to leave that statue alone, it’ll mend all the better.”

    Khay twitched his pleated linen overskirt back over the bandage.  “I’ve heard you, Merikare,” he said.  “What you said and what you’ve left unsaid.  ‘If Your Highness can manage to refrain from climbing over that fallen statue like one of your own brats until it’s healed’—that’s what you meant.”

    The physician’s mouth betrayed a quiver, but he replied gravely enough, “I’d never be so impertinent, Highness.”

    (from Pharaoh’s Son,  by Diana Wilder)

    7½*/10.  The full review is here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Just Wrong

    No, this is not photoshopped.  It appeared on my e-mail screen a couple weeks ago.

    And I thought, "hmmm".  Between the company name, the guy's expression, and the shape and placement of the box reading, "It's all for me"; some graphic artist was either incredibly stupid, or incredibly bold.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's the weekend!

    And a 3-day weekend to boot.  We're starting it off right by going to see Jeff Mangum (he of Neutral Milk Hotel) tonight.  A recap to follow in a day or two, but I think I'm gonna enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Heather rolled her eyes.  “So is that who you are pining for now?”  She jutted one hand on her hip while pointing a finger at her mistress.  “Douchebagga, he’s a dragon.  You’re a witch.  The two of you aren’t meant to be together.”

    “He’s my soul-mate.  I can feel it.”  Douchebagga dreamily sighed while batting her eyes, making her extremely hideous and grotesque face look one-tenth-of-a-degree less ugly.

    (from Attack of the Fairytale Zombies!,  by P.J. Jones)

    7*/10.  The full review is here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning Blogger Red

    And FaceBook too, which I am on.  And Twitter which I do not do.

   Really, peeps.  Why is Gay Rights even an issue? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

    Mystery To Me was Fleetwood Mac's eighth studio album, and second release in 1973; the first one being Penguin.  I scarfed up a couple early FMac albums ("early" is defined as "prior to Buckingham and Nicks showing up") at the used-records store last month.  This is the first one I've converted.

- Tracks - (favorites in pink)
01. Emerald Eyes
02. Believe Me
03. Just Crazy Love
04. Hypnotized
05. Forever
06. Keep On Going

07. The City
08. Miles Away
09. Somebody
10. The Way I Feel
11. For Your Love
12. Why

    This is kind of a "tweener" album for Fleetwood Mac.  Most of the early Peter Green-spawned blues influence is gone, and only Hypnotized and For Your Love stand out, as the group gears their sound towards a more radio-friendly style.  Christine McVie and Bob Welch did most of the songwriting, and Welch shares guitar duties with Bob Weston, the latter with whom I'm unfamiliar.

    I picked Mystery To Me up for $5, and the vinyl was in so-so shape.  Side One was pretty clean, except for a few major scratches.  Side Two was in worse shape.  Whoever owned this (*) apparently played the second side a lot more than the first.  The conversion suffered for the many scratches from side two.  It seems to my ears like the highs and lows are gone, and I had to ramp up the volume on all track by about 50% after the conversion.

    All in all, this is a solid effort, and you get just under 48 minutes of music, which is pretty good for an LP.  Wikipedia says it produced no hit singles and sold only "moderately" well.  Seems uderstandable.  Long-time Mac fans will enjoy this album, but if you only started listening to them after Lindsey and Stevie showed up, you can probably skip this one.

(*) :  S. Kirk, who put his/her name on the back cover.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    I couldn’t take it anymore.  “Hey, people.  Chat time is over.  The girl’s about to pass out on her feet.  Thomas is dying.  So both of you shut your mouth and help them.”

    Raith whipped his head around to stare daggers at me.  His voice was cold enough to merit the use of a Kelvin scale.  “I do not respond well to demands.”

    I ground my teeth and said, “Both of you shut your mouth and help them.  Please.”

    And they say I can’t be diplomatic.
    (from Blood Rites by Jim Butcher)

    8½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Theological Friday ...

    ... and Demotivational Friday too!  Two for the price of one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

NYU Violets

    In a sports world filled with Wildcats, Bears, and Hawks, New York University (aka "NYU") has a rather unique team nickname - The Violets.

    I learned this while solving the NY Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle.  I needed a 7-letter word for "NYU nickname".  I had the first two letters - V and I, and felt pretty sure the last letter would be an S.  The answer seemed obvious - VIKINGS.

    But that didn't work well, especially once I got the third letter, the O.  So now we have VIO---S.  Root words like Violent and Violate came to mind, but none of their variations fit into seven letters.  I finally decided it could only be VIOLINS.  Maybe NYU is a music school.

    Needless to say, it didn't work either, and eventually the cross-words gave me the answer, VIOLETS.  Later, I looked NYU up in Wikipedia and sure enough, that's their name.  You can read about it here.

    You can make a case for the nickname being a color (like the Cincinnait Reds or the St. Louis Blues), but as Wikipedia notes, the reason for that color at NYU is believed to be the abundance of the violet flowers that used to be there.

    There are other weird team nicknames.  UC-Irvine are the Anteaters, and my local Scottsdale Community College, were officially the Artichokes for a couple decades.  (there's a long story to that).  But a flower?!  C'mon.

    To be fair, NYU uses a Bobcat mascot instead some guy dressed as a giant flower.  But that's kind of a cop-out at best, and makes you have just another humdrum mascot at worst.  So here's to you NYU VIOLETS!!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Extraterrestrial Abduction Day !

    Yeah, it's also the Vernal Equinox.  And Mr. Rogers Day.  But according to, it's Extraterrestial Abduction Day too.

    I'm not sure how to celebrate it.  Should I walk around in the woods alone, or go driving down middle-of-nowhere country roads?  Should I join a UFO club?  They seem to have a high rate of being abducted.

   Or is it more of a "Prevention" observance?  Use a butt plug in case the kidnapping aliens decide to do an anal probe?  Wear a Star Trek uniform shirt that isn't red?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dancing With The Stars

    Dancing With The Stars (hereafter referred to as DWTS) starts tonight, and I for one am just a-flutter with excitement.  Not that I'll be watching it.  But Liz will.  And that means two more nights per week (besides American Idol nights) that I can play to my heart's content on the PC.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day !!

    We're all Irish today.  And Liz and I will celebrate by eating Mexican food for lunch.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    “What are you going to be studying?”

    I wanted to tell her she was straying from her own conversational pattern, but I decided to trust that she knew what she was doing.  Perhaps this was a special question reserved for roommates.
    “I’m studying Physics.”
    “Physics?”  She curled up her tiny little nose when she said it, as if the word smelled like dead worms.  “Like with math and stuff?”
    “Almost always.”  For some reason, her question really annoyed me.
    (from Mad Science Institute,  by Sechin Tower)

    7*/10.  The full review is here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


    One does have to wonder, assuming the whole thing isn't photoshopped, just what the heck he's actually spraying on his face.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quote for the Day

    Gotta read me some Atwood.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Astral Conspiracy

    Today's Arlo & Janis.  Arlo and I are on the same wavelength.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Al Kooper - New York City (You're A Woman)

    Sometimes it seems like Amazon and/or iTunes now have every LP in history available as an MP3 download.  Well, not quite, and Al Kooper's 4th solo album, New York City (You're A Woman), originally released in 1971 is one of the "missing" ones.  You can get it as a CD, or even vinyl, but only as an import.  Amazon will sell it to you for $34.43 (LP) or $58.38 (CD).

- TRACKS - (favorites in pink)
01. New York City (You're A Woman)
02. John The Baptist (Holy John)
03. Can You Hear It Now (500 Miles)
04. The Ballad of the Hard Rock Kid
05. Going Quietly Mad

06. Medley (Oo Wee Baby, I Love You, Love is a Man's Best Friend)
07. Back On My Feet
08. Come Down In Time
09. Dearest Darling
10. Nightmare #5
11. The Warning (Someone's On The Cross Again)

    It's a freakin' awesome album; not a weak track on either side.  Come Down In Time is an Elton John cover,  All but two of the tracks were composed or arranged by Al.  Rita Coolidge is one of the backing vocalists on seven of the tracks.

    The price tag says it sold for $30 back in 2005, but IIRC, I got it during one of the store's "1/3 off on everything" sales.  There were a few big scratches, but the disc was in otherwise good shape.

    I've been playing it over and over again at work for the past couple weeks.  I'm still not tired of it.  Then again, I've been an Al Kooper fanatic for about 45 years.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Love the Spice Girls!

    Well, these three anyway.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

    Perry paced the control bridge of his submarine as it raced under the ice.  No one spoke.  The crew knew the urgency of their mission, the risk.  The plan was almost impossible to fathom.  He knew that even if he succeeded, it could cost him his captain’s bars.  He didn’t care.  He knew right from wrong, blind duty from personal responsibility.  Still another question nagged: Did he know bravery from simple stupidity? 

  (from Ice Hunt by James Rollins)

  8½*/10.  The complete review is here.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Night Awww

    None of our three dogs, including the pup, chew up things they're not supposed to - shoes, socks, candles, newspaper, whatever.

    But they have a slew of stuffed animals, and they know that those are fair game.  One of the three (not sure which) eviscerated a stuffed frog yesterday.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

RIP - Alvin Lee

    No, not Al-BERT Lee, who I saw in concert last week.  Rather, Al-VIN Lee, the erstwhile leader of the fantastic blues-rock band, Ten Years After.

    I've only recently started getting acquainted with his music.  One of my college roommates had his On The Road To Freedom LP, and somewhere along the line I've heard Cricklewood Green, but that's about it.

    I picked up Undead a while back (2007, apparently), and in recent months have digitalized Ssssh and the double-LP Ten Years After - Recorded Live.  I've been playing the crap out of the latter at work lately.  I've got three more TYA albums sitting in the computer room, waiting to be converted.

    Alvin Lee died today, "after complications following a routine surgical procedure".  He was 68 years old, born 12/19/44.  I'm bummed because I'll never get to see him in concert now.  OTOH, I'm motivated to find and convert more of his albums.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The more you look...

... the more you see.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Musical Instrument Museum (MIM)

   Time for a couple words about MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum, where we saw Albert Lee a few nights ago.

    First the bad news - it's way the heck up in north Scottsdale, even beyond Bell Road, which once upon a time (my college days at ASU) was the northern limit of the greater Phoenix valley.

    That's it for the bad news.  The good news is that you can get there pretty quickly via the 101 Loop and/or the Squaw Peak Parkway.  And if you're going to a concert there, chances are it won't be rush hour.

    The theater is small; seating slightly over 300.  We were on the back row for Albert, but that was only Row 16 ("Row P"), so we still had fantastic seats, very comfortable, and roomier than the sardine-seating at our other local small venue - Celebrity Theater.  And a 300-person concert means getting on and out of the parking lot is a breeze.

    The doors opened a bit before 7:30 PM; it didn't take long for everyone to get seated.  A MIM official came out and spent about 10 minutes telling us about upcoming shows.  Then Albert and his band came on.  No waiting for the roadies to set up, no opening act, no intermission, very little chitchat.  Just 2+ hours of what you paid for - Albert showing off his talent.  And that talent was impressive.

    Bottom line - if you're into obscure groups - in almost any genre - you won't find a better venue than MIM.  A couple upcoming shows that have me excited - Al Stewart, David Bromberg, and Béla Fleck.  And of those three, Mr. Bromberg heads my wish list.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Book Excerpt for the Day

   The lack of funds meant that it was a large glass of tap water to wash down the donner kebab.  I must say, the kebab meat isn’t quite as palatable with H2O.  You can feel the fat solidifying on your tongue and on the roof of your mouth as you drink.  I’m no chemist but my guess is that the alcohol in the beer helps dissolve the saturated fat in the mouth and makes for a much more pleasant dining experience.

    (from If You Fly With The Crows,  by Neal Sillars)

    6*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, March 02, 2013