Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baited Breath

As I'm sure all my fans out there have been waiting with baited breath, let me assure I am alive and well. I just took the day off yesterday since it made no sense to work a couple of hours before going to Richmond to pick up Dad. Sooo, to make a long story short. I'm back.

Here's a quick run down of things.

- Dad arrived safe and sound. It was a long trip (2 weeks) made only longer by the drama.
- I spent most of yesterday cleaning up around the house, thus no blogging.
- I did finish Knight of the Dove (review is here) and updated my Reading Log.
- I started reading Triple Zero.
- I have some mail and bills to catch up on. Yuck.
- William did have MRSA, but seems to be clearing up, only to have what looks like a recurrence of more eczema. Thanks to my Mom's side of the family, it appears to be in our genes. Guess I'll have to see what the doc can do about mine.
- Yvonne's van is nice and clean. Bumper has been fixed and repainted. Dad's car will go in for fixing Monday.
- Don't forget to print out your Bridget Moynahan mask and wear it during the Superbowl. Hopefully Brady will be too distracted to want to win.
- And since I have enough stuff to catch up on, I'll leave you with that mini-broadcast of the news.

Monday, January 28, 2008


What on earth did I just step into? I just did a quick update to my reading log and dear me. How things change when you realize how much you already have to read in your queue. Ten books. Ten whole books. At this rate, if I buy two more, that'll be enough for the year. Guess I need to re-evaluate where I stand and what's in queue before preceding on.

Okay, I reordered them a bit and have decided to put Name of the Wind down for a bit while I pick up another to read. I've already read NOTW and could use the extra space on my desk. With that filed away for awhile, I think I'll start a Star Wars book, the first I've read in some time.

Oi vey. Squish squish.

So how was your weekend (or weekenday)? And what do you call your "to be read" list? A stack? A pile? I think I'll stick with "The Queue" for mine. -edited- Why not another one at home!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Blogging-edited-

-edited- That's both great and painful at the same time.

Which brings us to this Sunday's blog post. I was recently contacted by a local author to review his book. I was on the brink of turning him down when I decided to give his book a the opportunity to redeem itself. After 100 pages of Knight of the Dove by William A. Kooiker, it's still a bit of a mixed bag. The first part of the book was, well, barely better than the horrid stuff I write. But I pushed through hoping to see improvement. And I did. While Kooiker is no Rothfuss or Abercrombie, there is some talent present. So right now, with another 160+ pages to go, I'd bet that Kooiker would benefit with another 5 years of practice and a mainstream publisher. Then he'll be able to hang with the big dogs.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's not even 8 and

It's not even 8 and I feel like I've accomplished a ton on my weekenday. But it was hell buying so little in Borders.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

2008 Review #3

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. A great read. A moderate review. And an updated Reading List.
I go into more detail in the review, but to give you an overall impression of the book, it was good. Damn good. Likely in my Top 10 for this year.

So, read the review and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dangerously Close

  • I'm dangerously close to being good at Wii bowling (I actually won a game last night).
  • I'm dangerously close to not playing Wii boxing with Yvonne again (while I won the first fight in the second round, she TKO'd me in the second fight early in the first round).
  • I'm dangerously close to leaving work (don't worry, I'm supposed to leave early today).
  • I'm dangerously close to buying a big screen TV (I really want to spend that tax refund, but I also want to save it).
  • I'm dangerously close to going ape-shit on Lance crackers (they're "cheese crackers" have peanuts in them!)
  • I'm dangerously close to finishing The Blade Itself (yes, "dangerously close;" if you've read the book, you'll understand my desire to keep reading the story)
  • I'm dangerously close to wanting to see The Blade Itself as a movie (while never a big fan of books-turned-movies, I really want to see Bayaz dripping wet and naked [note: for those that don't know, Bayaz is an old man, a wizard, but he's pretty damn powerful and I don't want to ruin the book so I won't tell you what he does])

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why I almost cried

So last night, after our evening routine of trying to pick up all the toys strewn about the abode by our three year old daughter, she asked about doing something today. I said I had to go to work, but she didn't.

"Why?" she asked.
"Because it's a holiday."
"What holiday is it?"

And this is where I tried to explain how Martin Luther King (I left off the "Jr." to avoid confusion) got a lot of people together to make sure everyone treated each other the same no matter what their skin color is. She grasped the concept fairly well (considering she's only three), but it was difficult to explain why today is celebrated and how important King was to our society.

Anyway, she got the idea of what he did. Kind of funny when she looked at my hand and then hers and said "My skin is the same color as yours. What color is Mommy's?" So she got the idea, but didn't know why we celebrated today. I explained that today was his birthday and because he did such a big, important thing, everyone celebrated his birthday.

So she said she wanted to make a birthday card for him.

And that, is why I love my little girl. You never know what she's going to do next. So if there's time, we'll have her make a birthday card for Martin Luther King today. I know her babysitter and her husband will get a kick out of it.

Case of the Mondays

Well, I have a mild case at least. The morning routine was slightly less frenetic than normal as Yvonne had the day off and everyone didn't have to run out the door by 7 am. And, I ran across this charming page of Olan Mills via one of my feeds. A little Monday morning humor to get you started.

As for the weekend, well, I spent damn near all day working Saturday. The overtime is nice, but I'd rather get my money without the effort. Sunday was the usual chores as well as the playoff games. While I was rooting for the Packers just to give them a chance at beating the Patriots, I'm more than happy to root for the Giants instead. As long as they beat the Patriots. That's the key.

And we also ran across the river (well drove, it's cold but not that cold) to Maryland to buy a new stroller. Yvonne had "one of those days" Saturday which involved a lot of crappity-crap. One being the stroller fell out of the van and broke. So here's the part that cost us about $150.

But at least the new one appears to work easier than the old one. Much lighter, smaller, and easier to fold up.

And that was my weekend. Work, work, and very little play. I did play a Wii bit more of Harry Potter (pretty neat to cast spells with the Wii-mote). And I did make some steady progress on The Blade Itself. I'm about 50 to 75 pages from the end and the guy just got beheaded (you'll have to read the book to find out who).

Friday, January 18, 2008

My list is better than yours

Since I'm a copy-cat, Paul and I think alike, and because it was a neat idea, here's where I stand on the AFI's Top 100 movies (this is the original 1998 list):

* bold I've seen, red italics I'd like to see

1 Citizen Kane
2 Casablanca
3 The Godfather
4 Gone with the Wind
5 Lawrence of Arabia
6 The Wizard of Oz
7 The Graduate
8 On the Waterfront
9 Schindler's List
10 Singin' in the Rain
11 It's a Wonderful Life
12 Sunset Boulevard
13 The Bridge on the River Kwai
14 Some Like It Hot
15 Star Wars
16 All About Eve
17 The African Queen
18 Psycho
19 Chinatown
20 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
21 The Grapes of Wrath
22 2001: A Space Odyssey
23 The Maltese Falcon
24 Raging Bull
25 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
26 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
27 Bonnie and Clyde
28 Apocalypse Now
29 Rosemary's Baby
30 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
31 Annie Hall
32 The Godfather Part II
33 High Noon
34 To Kill a Mockingbird
35 It Happened One Night
36 Midnight Cowboy
37 The Best Years of Our Lives
38 Double Indemnity
39 Doctor Zhivago
40 North by Northwest
41 West Side Story
42 Rear Window
43 King Kong
44 The Birth of a Nation
45 A Streetcar Named Desire
46 A Clockwork Orange
47 Taxi Driver
48 Jaws
49 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
50 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
51 The Philadelphia Story
52 From Here to Eternity
53 Amadeus
54 All Quiet on the Western Front
55 The Sound of Music
56 M*A*S*H
57 The Third Man
58 Fantasia
59 Rebel Without a Cause
60 Raiders of the Lost Ark
61 Vertigo
62 Tootsie
63 Stagecoach
64 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
65 The Silence of the Lambs
66 Network
67 The Manchurian Candidate
68 An American in Paris
69 Shane
70 The French Connection
71 Forrest Gump
72 Ben-Hur
73 Wuthering Heights
74 The Gold Rush
75 Dances with Wolves
76 City Lights
77 American Graffiti
78 Rocky
79 The Deer Hunter
80 The Wild Bunch
81 Modern Times
82 Giant
83 Platoon
84 Fargo
85 Duck Soup
86 Mutiny on the Bounty
87 Frankenstein
88 Easy Rider
89 Patton
90 The Jazz Singer
91 My Fair Lady
92 A Place in the Sun
93 The Apartment
94 Goodfellas
95 Pulp Fiction
96 The Searchers
97 Bringing Up Baby
98 Unforgiven
99 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
100 Yankee Doodle Dandy

Couple of Updates

I've recently started Goblet of Fire on audio. I've read the book before (was actually working in a major bookstore when it was released - that was fun!) but I've started from the beginning so I can catch up on all that I missed before reading the last one.

I've also been enjoying The Blade Itself (by Joe Abercrombie, not Marcus Sakey). But I'll keep you waiting for my review when I'm done.

As many of my readers know, I like comics. How do my readers know this? Because they're the ones drawing them. We have Paul's daily comic and Kelly's daily comic that I enjoy during the week. I also enjoy the Prometheus comic three times a week.

But, I'd also like to give a shout out to a weekly comic that I learned about from Lynn Johnston (of For Better of For Worse fame): Rabbit and Bear Paws.

And that's about it for now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rothfuss news

While many Rothfuss fans are crying in their pint of ale over the late publication date of book 2 (April 2009), The Wise Man's Fear, I'm crying about his quiting his job. Wow. Huge step to go from a full-time, steady job to the unsteady, overtime/no-time job of being a writer. I'm hoping his work won't suffer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2008 Review #2

Some serious weak sauce here. Check out the 2008 Reading Log (there's a link inside for the full "review"). I don't even know if I'd a review, but you'll survive.

Monday, January 14, 2008

3 New Videos

Late, but better than never.

First, the "Griswold Lights" from Christmas. Just for you Paul.

Second, the Dora Dance Pad.

Finally, Christmas with Grandma Gayle (note Froggy is a decent piano player).

Weekend Flashback-edited-

-edited- I tried to get here early enough to go for a walk beforehand, but other errands kept me too busy. -edited-

Yesterday was busy with shopping, laundry, and dishes. I was lucky enough to find everything I needed (well, wanted) for the Wii; Wii Play (with extra Wii-mote), Wii Nunchuck, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. First impressions on Wii Play are, well, it's bizarre. i like that the Wii-mote comes with the cook grippy thing on it, but the games are just odd. Harry Potter is fun, but takes some getting used to casting spells. And by casting spells, I mean you actually cast them with the Wii-mote. Medal of Honor was fun in arcade mode but I'll need more time getting used to the controls in campaign mode to be any good.

Oh, and watching Yvonne bowl is fun. Looks like a kid again.

Thought I'd share some "old" photos with everyone. First is our house around the time we bought it. I'm so glad we made some improvements.

The rest are from the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. I've mentioned that we want to go there for our 10th anniversary in 2010, so I thought it was only fitting to share some of my favorite photos from one of our trips there.

By one of the ponds:
From inside the hotel room:
The front of the main house:
The view from another hotel room (that's the main house in the distance):

Saturday, January 12, 2008

100 Pages - The Blade Itself

Thought I'd give everyone a quick update on my reviews, starting with my impressions of The Blade Itself after 100 pages. Well, technically 110 pages, but close enough.

So, Joe Abercrombie makes his debut with, well, one great looking cover. I know, I know, "don't judge a book by its cover." Well, I do. And this one is nice. Kind of has that look of olde with the parchment papers but gives you some hints as to the action inside with the blood.

So far, it's a decent read and I've taken a liking to Loren (the man I'm assuming will be the main "hero" character) and Glotka (the toothless cripple who's mean as hell). Jezal is funny, but I'm not sure yet how much I like him. And Bayaz has only just been introduced, so I'm not sure about him at all.

That's all for now. I need to save some for when I finish.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Almond Joy-edited-


And what's in store this weekend? I have no idea. Since I'm -edited-, I may or may not go shopping with Yvonne, all depends on when she goes. But there is an upside, I've picked two Wii games I'd like to buy. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Medal of Honor Heroes 2. Maybe I'll rate those with my new rating system. Speaking of which, I'm making some progress on The Blade Itself. It's a bit misleading as I was completely sucked into the book by the first chapter but have now slowed down to try to take in the cast of characters. But so far, so good.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

La Grenouille-edited-

No, I'm not talking about the restaurant in midtown Manhattan.

I'm talking about this guy:

Who actually looks more like this:

So anyway, La Grenoille (pronounced "la grawn-we") was lucky enough to go with Yvonne to school on Monday and to work with me yesterday. I have no idea why or how we managed such an honor.

Let me back up a bit before you get lost. Froggy (as he's known in our house) has become the security blanket/favorite doll of choice. Froggy goes to bed, goes to work, goes everywhere (except inside stores when shopping) with Elizabeth. For whatever reason, he is "THE MAN!"

So, keeping that in mind, that is why we were both surprised when she agreed to let him leave her proximity for not one, but two days.

*Editor's note: This was written yesterday but posting was delayed -edited-


No, not the Broadway show. I'm talking hair cut folks! And not mine either (don't have much to cut). Yesterday, Yvonne and Elizabeth went for a haircut so they could donate their clippings to Locks Of Love. This is the second time Yvonne has donated but the first for Elizabeth.

Well, I was in for a surprise when I got home!

You can go here to see the before and after shots of Elizabeth. She looks SOOO different. Of course Yvonne looks different too. And it took her until we were getting in bed last night to finally ask me "So do you like my hair?" "Well of course I do. But do you like it?"

it's more important to me that she likes it because if she doesn't, it isn't going to be pleasant. But I think it looks cute. And I'm a big fan of short hair.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Fourth Notch

So over the past few days, I've noticed a disturbing trend. When I wear my belt, I'm able to use the fourth notch. When first purchased, I had to use the second or the third (if I sucked it in) notch. Then I gradually used the third notch all the time. This past weekend I graduated to the fourth notch.

Sounds encouraging, right? All that exercise and watching what I eat has helped, right? Well, I'm not sure. I have no hard data to back up any shrinkage (there's a scary word for men) occurring with my waist. My pants still fit the same. My gut still looks the same. But I have not used a scale or measuring tape to gather scientific data points in months, if not years. I did manage to step on a scale a few weeks back and it showed 248. Hard to believe since a week later it showed 235. I doubt I could have lost that much weight in a week. So I cannot rely on the scale for a solid answer. And I absolutely dread the tape measure. Always makes me feel inadequate.

So, I'll take my fourth notch and keep it. If I can make the fifth, then I know I'm either losing inches or my belt is suddenly elastic. And for those of you out there trying to watch what you eat, keep up the good work. Eating better is only half of the equation, but it's often the hardest.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More photos

I'm a little late in getting these up, but I've finally uploaded the remaining Christmas photos. Plenty to look at but I'd like to draw special attention to two photos for Paul. Here is the "normal" house we visited:

And here is the "Griswald" house across the street:

The photos don't really do it justice and I appear to have archived the videos prematurely. When I get the chance, I'll pull them off and upload them for your viewing pleasure.

And here's the link to the full gallery as well as Elizabeth's photos (from her camera - now those are funny).

The First Review of 2008

The Sunrise Lands by S. M. Stirling is the first book I'll be reviewing this year. I may not write a full review for everything I read this year, but I will take the time to give you a rating.

Which brings me to a little bit of an explanation of the rating system. I know some of you (well, one of you) have been eagerly awaiting my new, fresh idea behind rating books. So take some time now to read and understand my convoluted cerebral machinations.

So, take my review of Sunrise Lands. I've laid out all the details of the book that you may find relevant in my Reading Log. One of those columns is the Cost column. Next to it is the Value column. And next to that is the Net Worth (Cost/Value = Net Worth). So for the Sunrise Lands, the Cost is $24.95, the Value is $12.48, and the Net Worth is 50%. Now before you jump to any conclusions, 50% is actually pretty good. And since I could read the first half of the book for free, the number is a bit skewed (you can read more in the full review). Using the same system, Name of the Wind has a Net Worth of 133%. Why so high? Because I feel I would be willing to pay more than face value for the book. Sunrise Lands I'd only be willing to pay half face value of the hardback price. So that's why 50% is decent for a hardback.

I know, a little confusing to start with, especially since Sunrise Lands is a bit of a special case. But, I'm hoping as the year progresses, the rating system will make more sense. Maybe The Blade Itself will make more sense when I get to it.

Now, the Reading Log will also let you see what I'm reading now (or listening to on audio) and what I have in my queue (in the order I'll be reading them). Can you tell I'm a bit OCD with spreadsheets? Oh, and the Log also gives you the link to the full review, if there is one.

And if I don't make sense in this explanation, well, tough. You work on growing a brain and I'll work on growing intelligent words and clear thoughts.

My 2008 Reading Log (also available over there to your left as a link)
Sunrise Lands Review

Monday, January 07, 2008

Need a little help

Please let me know if you can or CANNOT view this document -


Oh, and if you want to tell me what you think about the book or my review, that's fine too.

A week in review

It's already a week into the new year and I thought it would be a great idea to see where things are going so far (thanks to Kelly for the idea).

I'm nearly done with Sunrise Lands and hope to have the review/rating finished today for tomorrow's posting. My reading queue is full already and I still have books that need to be added to the list. But I'm going to make a solid effort to reduce the TV schedule and increase the book time.

UFO Project
Going well so far. Made a trip to Dad's yesterday and increased my pool of items to research. In the short term, I should have enough to keep me busy for a few months. Long term, I'd like to bring in outsiders to submit their items.

Elizabeth will be four in April and William will be one in August (Mom and Dad's birthdays don't matter so much). My sister-in-law should graduate from Duke with her PhD this spring (assuming all goes well). And I'm betting my brother-in-law will get engaged towards the end of the year. Just a hunch.

No major travel plans that are firm. I'd like to go with my Dad to Nebraska this summer for at least a weekend. A week if I can swing it. Maybe a trip north to Pennsylvania during the summer.

Tax season has been pushed back a week already (thank you Congress for screwing AMT again). But I hope to survive through mid-April and then some.

Still working on it when I can. Right now there's a lot of photos to go through and stuff of that nature. If I can get things organized just right, I'll try to add to it from the collection at Dad's house.

Quite likely this will end up on the back burner if not back in the fridge this year. War Wagon was a solid bust and is pretty much orphaned at the moment. I do have another great idea for a - get this - a comedic fantasy. Right now, it's more of a short story since I don't have a lot of material. But the idea can be expanded to novel length. And from past experience, I've learned I'll have a better shot at a short story.

Everything Else
- The Wii is in the house and in use already. Yvonne did a wonderful job of stomping me at bowling last night. But I returned the favor in tennis. I'm hoping this will add to our reduced TV schedule and more fun-time with each other (last night was great, even if she beat me).
- I'm also moderately trying to watch what I eat and increase my physical activities. I almost said "seriously trying" but that would be a lie.

So, how was your first week of the new year? Accomplish anything? Already drop a resolution? Any grandiose schemes to take over the world?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Answers to Rothfuss questions

So, I recently asked Patrick Rothfuss three questions. Here are his answers.

1. What are the days of the week?

"As for more particulars about the callendar [sic], keep an eye on the page. I'm going to post it up there before too long so you can see the days of the week and the months, etc."

2. How long is a span?

"A span is eleven days long."

3. If names are so important, then what is the name of the land you created?

"The name of the part of the world where the stories take place I generally think of as "The four corners." I'm undecided right now about the overall name..."

So there you have it. One solid answer, one "coming soon" answer, and one non-answer.


Elizabeth playing dress-up.

Wii hunt over

I have a Wii!

The Steelers lost last night.

The Steelers lost last night. Bummer. But it's 5:02 am and I appear to be first in line for a Wii.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Three open questions for Pat Rothfuss

Here be the three questions I've asked Pat Rothfuss. I'll keep you posted on his responses.

1. What are the days of the week?

2. How long is a span?

3. If names are so important, then what is the name of the land you created?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wii hunt

Here's the situation
I went away on a vacation
I got to play with a Wii
And it really made me happy
So now I'm hunting one down
And I'm running all over town
But alas there isn't one to be found
As I run around and around
So pray for little old me
As I hunt a little old Wii

So yes, I'm officially on the bandwagon looking for a Wii. I've wanted one for some time, but never really had the motivation to go out and buy one. After playing my brother-in-law's, I now have motivation. It was a blast to bowl and play tennis. And I actually beat them (the in-laws) at baseball. Boxing was rough (as was dodge ball), but fun. Golf was hard as it was sensitive to how hard you swung. I could go on and on. Bottom line, I want one.

And in other news, I bought a slew of books that I'll be testing my new rating system on. Here's a little taste of what I have on deck:

The Name Of The Wind
Angels and Demons
The Sunrise Lands
The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One)
Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, Book 1)
Fury (Legacy of the Force, Book 7)
True Colors (Republic Commando)
Twilight Falling (Erevis Cale Trilogy, Book 1)

I'm re-reading Name of the Wind and currently in the middle of Angels and Demons (on audio) and The Sunrise Lands. The Blade Itself, Assassin's Apprentice, and Twilight Falling are all virgin authors for me (meaning I haven't read their work before, not that they are so geeky they are still virgins). And if they suck too bad, then we'll make a virgin sacrifice with the rating system. And speaking of the rating system, well, you'll have to stay tuned to learn more. But if you're smart, you'll figure it out.

I also ordered two micro SD cards for each of our phones. Not sure how much we'll use them, but at least we can use them for something.

Work is picking up something fierce. Potty breaks are few, the calls many, and the escalated cases are growing like a patch of mold in your basement. But I'm still trying to find the time to exercise, shower, and eat during my lunch hour. And I'm trying to keep my books at home in an effort to force myself to read the Bible (for curiosity, not religion).

And my UFO project is due back Monday. I already have some things to talk about but I think I'll need to pay another visit to Dad's to get more material.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Patrick Rothfuss Article

Ran across this article thanks to Google Alerts. Love the picture and his quote about the book being "stupidly successful." It's so nice to see the good guy win a round.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Snuffle huh wha?

It's a new year and I already feel like I'm behind schedule.

But hark! There's light ahead!

Yeah, that's the dawn of tomorrow you moron. Everything is pretty much "back to normal" after the holiday marathon. The Suburban is unpacked and returned to Dad. The Christmas decorations are back in the attic (except for one tote that's waiting for two towels to get washed). And the dishes are done. Laundry is done. Lunch boxes are our and ready for tomorrow. The floor has been vacuumed, some of the house has been dusted, and there's a new stack of books waiting to be read. I'm in Chapter 12 of The Sunrise Lands (more on that later). And there's even a new shower head awaiting installation.

And of course I get to go to work tomorrow. So, I should be back to a more normal schedule this week.