Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I know, it's a bit stagnant here

I haven't plugged Nalts in some time, so here's a collaborative video he helped with.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oomph, books that hit you in the gut

So I recently finished two Star Wars books after a back-to-back reading session. First came Inferno by Troy Denning, then Fury by Aaron Allston (Legacy of the Force books 6 and 7 respectively).

And wow, what a wild ride.

It had been a while since I picked up a Star Wars book (way back in March), I think mainly due to getting burned out a bit. Well, simmering on the back burner, I finally smelled the sweet aroma of the Force and decided to delve into how evil Jacen Solo is.

He's the next Darth Vader. That's how evil he is and that's how duplicitous the story is. Just imagine yourself watching Episodes I-VI and that's pretty much The Legacy of the Force (LOTF) series. At times, it makes me cringe (like when Jacen does that Vader-thing to the security officer). Fortunately, there is enough new material and enough awesomeness to offset the copycat-like plot line.

And these two books (and pretty much the whole series' story arc) is as good as or better than the New Jedi Order. It's hard to pick which is better because LOTF feeds on NJO. Anyway, I'm taking a breather from LOTF as I pick up a another book that has been simmering, Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself (not to be confused with Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jason Statham

So, this is inspired by a recent run to Best Buy with a gift card. I picked up In the Name of the King and The Bank Job. I had not intended to buy two movies with Jason Statham, it just sort of worked out that way. I also got Young Guns, but silly me didn't realize we already had it.

Anyway, In the Name of the King was a generic D&D movie. But it had a surprisingly stellar cast. Ray Liotta? Check. Burt Reynolds? Check. Leelee Sobieski? Check. John Rhys-Davies? Check. Matthew Lillard? Check. Ron Perlman? Check. As to the movie itself, meh. It was okay. Thankfully I had a gift card.

The Bank Job? No idea, haven't watched it yet. But I did read an interesting article about Statham today in the remake of Death Race. Damn, Ian McShane is going to be in it? Swearengen!

And suddenly I realize this is nothing but a bunch of links. Oh well. Watch Crank and Transporter if you haven't already. Awesome movies.

Lots of Book News

It must be Monday because Publisher's Weekly dumped a bunch of book-related news. Here are the highlights:

- A blurb about a "book boot camp" in Vancouver.
- For those that don't know, Borders recently redesigned their website. Here's a bit more information on the changes.
- Audible (one of the best audio book sources in my opinion) is launching an independent line. Also a new version of an e-book reader is available for the iPhone.
- There are a ton of debut novels here. And even more children's book debuts here.
- And finally, some news on the future of comics.

That is all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Comic #4 - The Sloped

No, that's not "sloped" like the "hill is sloped down toward the river." No, this "sloped" has two syllables. Like "this Mo-Ped was a Slo-Ped and all the cars kept passing it." This is also my favorite of the four comics.

*Click here to see why I'm drawing these comics.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Comic #3 - Six Passenger Sentra

I used to have a Nissan Sentra just like this (2000 model year). But I never recall fitting six people in it. I could barely fit more than three adults.

*Click here to see why I'm drawing these comics.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Frustrations

I'm in the middle of one horrid book and near the end of another horrid book. And I can't decide what's worse, continuing with the horrid books or feeling bad that the books are so bad even though you really want to like them.

That's right, I'm at the halfway point of Ed Greenwood's Dark Lord, book one of the Falconfar series. I really wanted to like this one and it even started out as the right genre for me (normal Earth guy gets sucked into a fantasy world with knights and dragons). But this is no Woods Out Back. In fact, I thought Ed was a better writer. At least that's the impression I got when I listened to other people talk about him. Seeing as I never read any of his work, I'm a bit disappointed in the quality of this book. Everything feels so...fake. I know, I know, it's a fiction book. But I want to be part of the story. I want to be so engrossed I forget to eat.

Then we have The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling. I heard some positive rumblings awhile back about the book and finally decided to pick it up. And what do I get? A cookie cutter story about a young man destined to fight evil with a group of rag-tag friends. This feels very much like an episode of Knight Rider or something where the Knight comes in at just the right moment to save the day. I will give Drew credit for writing something and getting it published and getting big names like Terry Brooks and R. A. Salvatore to write blurbs.

But my big hangup with both books is the character development. There is none. There aren't even characters, just these two dimensional cardboard cutouts of stereotypes. Ugh. I can't wait to finish.

On a more positive note, here's proof that children are the root of happiness. Elizabeth is playing dress-up with her imaginary friend, Sickey. Oh, you can't see Sickey?* You must be a sci-fi/fantasy author!

*(Sickey's on the left.)

Comic #2 - The Gas Glove

The driver of this Mercedes was quite the driver. He pulled into one lane, backed up across several when it wasn't moving fast enough, nearly hit another car, before finally pulling into a second lane (and cutting off the guy behind him). And yes, he really did use a plastic bag over his hand while he filled up (he threw it away after using it). Yvonne said his wife had several sheets of newspaper tucked into her windows to block out the sun. Which she left in while the guy pulled out and nearly hit yet another driver.

*Click here to see why I'm drawing these comics.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Comic #1 - BKRBCH is a Drunk Driver

Normally, I can deal with anyone that drives like an idiot. But driving while you drink a beer, that I have an issue with. And with that in mind, keep clear of any black, GMC Yukon Denali XL bearing Virginia license plate BKRBCH. He drinks and he drives.

*Click here to see why I'm drawing these comics.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Comic #0 - Why am I doing this

That's right, I'm drawing a comic. Why? Because I like comics. I cut my teeth on Marvin, Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and many others in my youth. First through the newspaper, then through books. Over the years I've never quite lost touch with these characters. Some have passed on and new ones have arrived to fill in (Foxtrot, Rhymes with Orange, Dilbert, and others).

More recently, I've discovered web comics and online graphic novels. You can see some of my favorites over there on the left but here's a quick rundown of who/what I follow (I'm sure I'll miss a few - apologies to if that includes you).

Some are diary comics, some are fictional, but nearly all are fantastic in so many different ways. Story arcs, humor, action, just so much that makes it readable everyday.

And, with that in mind, two web comic artists I follow (Paul and Kelly) said they were losing a bit of their drive to draw. So I took it upon myself to fill in the gaps for any of their fans while they refill their creative juices. I'll be posting four comics over the next few days. Maybe I will inspire Paul and Kelly to keep drawing just so I won't have to torture you with anymore comics.

Deepest apologies to all. And no, I'm not responsible if your eyes start bleeding.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My wife is the best

After a long day watching the kids, she makes dinner (with a headache). And hand delivers it to me at that-place-that-shall-not-be-named (you know, where I do you-know-what from home).

And best of all, it's damn good.

* I'd show you a picture, but I ate it already.

Friday, August 08, 2008

How much wood could a wood chuck chuck

I never knew there were so many different lyrics that were tongue twisters like the woodchuck part.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Voluntary Meme

Yes, I'm not really a fan of memes but I happen to like this one. Mainly because I keep my books on my nightstand. So, courtesy of Gabriele, I bring you the The Bedside Table Meme.

The Table:
A Shaker style nightstand purchased in Farmville, Virginia when I was in high school (early 90s). I believe it's made of oak or pine, but the finish is a pale, pine look. It holds:
  • my alarm clock (a piece of crap that still works)
  • my every-day-carry stuff (wallet, keys, cell phone, pocket knife, iPod, and sunglasses)
  • a box of Kleenex
  • a small hand-painted wooden book with stickers on it (thanks to Elizabeth)
  • a blue and white gingham, hand-sewn coverlet (thanks to Yvonne)
  • a small brass lamp purchased specifically for the nightstand (at or around the same time the nightstand was purchased)

Inside the door, well, we don't need to go there.

The Method:
I generally just read with my head on the pillows. Nothing fancy like I did when I was kid and used my pillows to hide the light from shining under the door. Dad never liked me staying up late to read.

Reading at the Moment:
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (in free PDF format, so technically it's not on my bedside table)

Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling (in audio format, so again, technically not on my bedside table - this is also a re-read)

The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling (a real, honest to God mass market paperback book)

Can't Put Down:
Dies the Fire. Even though this is a re-read, I'm enjoying the audio version very much. Great series if you haven't read it.

Gathering Dust:
I'm ashamed to say it, but the Star Wars Legacy of the Force series. Just haven't felt very much like reading sci-fi.

Secret Indulgence:
True crime. But if you know my B.A. was in Criminal Justice you'd guess that. Making romance my true secret indulgence. Specifically the Nerd series by Vicki Lewis Thompson.

Looking Forward To:
Outside of that, I'm itching to read A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

And no, I won't tag anybody. I just don't operate that way. But feel free to join in on the meme.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Accomplishments and Book News


So this weekend was very productive for us. Here's the short version of what we did.
  • washed my car and Yvonne's van
  • vacuumed my car Yvonne's van
  • vacuumed most of the house (just didn't get to the living room/toy room)
  • dusted our bedroom and William's room
  • cleaned our bathroom
  • watched Stargate SG1: Continuum
  • watched Monk
  • watched Psyche (last week's episode was waaay better, but I'm never disappointed with this show)
  • finished The Cipher
  • started The Tower of Shadows (Elizabeth picked this book because it had "horses on the front")
  • I got new shoes and William got new clothes
  • I got a new pillow (feather and it's awesome)
  • there's more but I forgot it all!

Books arriving in September:
  • Dark Curse by Christine Feehan (Berkley, $24.95). 250,000 copies
  • Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland by Jon Scieszka, illus. by Mary Blair (Disney, $16.99). 100,000 copies.
  • Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett (Putnam, $17.99). 300,000 copies
  • The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, $25.95). 300,000 copies.
  • Paul of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Tor, $27.95). 250,000 copies.
  • Star Wars: Order 66 by Karen Traviss (Del Rey, $27). 150,000 copies.
  • The Forever War by Dexter Filkins (Knopf, $25). 150,000 copies.
  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (Knopf, $27.50). 2.5 million copies.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Special Anniversary Edition by J.K. Rowling, illus. by Mary GrandPr√© (Scholastic/Levine, $30). 180,000 copies.
  • Tsar by Ted Bell (Atria, $26.95). 175,000 copies.
  • Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99). 125,000 copies.
  • Planet Google: How One Company's All-Encompassing Vision Is Transforming Our Lives by Randall Stross (Free Press, $26). 100,000 copies.
  • If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff, illus. by Felicia Bond (HarperCollins/Geringer, $16.99). 1 million copies.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, $17.99). 250,000 copies.
  • Jon Scieszka's Trucktown: Snow Trucking! by Jon Scieszka, illus. by David Gordon, Loren Long and David Shannon (S&S/Aladdin, $3.99 paper). 100,000 copies.

So there's a nice long list for you to look at.

The Cipher

So I finished The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis early Sunday morning and wasn't too happy. In case you don't already know, I'm one of those people that generally picks a book up because of it's cover. Which means, I really do judge a book by it's cover. Which means I have good and bad luck in the books I choose.

Which means I didn't terribly enjoy this book, unlike Jim Hines. In fact, I'd say this was actually two books instead of one. The first book is a good read about a customs clerk, Lucy Trenton, who gets caught up in a bit of political intrigue, blackmail, oppressive mothers, and magic. Great. I loved it. The scenes and relationships between the characters were great and the plot was almost too convoluted to follow, but foggy enough to keep you hooked.

Then the two main characters get dumped overboard into the magically evil water. Um, they can create their own clothes now? And food? With magic? And they didn't die like everyone else? Yeah, that's about where I got lost. I didn't much like that part. Even towards the end when things began to get a little better and made more sense, some of the scenes seemed to have lost their appeal.

Bottom line for me, I'll keep an eye out for her other works (including the rest of this series), but I won't be paying full price for them.
On a side note, the covers are pretty freaking awesome.