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Older rants
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
vs.
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Ikariam
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
and
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Flakes
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Marvels
Ruins
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Interworld
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book 6...by Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008   Slacking...as usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
subpoenaed!
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

More Book Blathering

I had planned to make my next post about music, Disneyland, the Tim Powers Alternate Routes signing, the Darius Rucker concert, etc. But I haven't organized my thoughts enough on any of those topics to blather about them here yet. So until I do, here are my thoughts on an e-book I just read, Perimeter, by Mike Rothman.

Perimeter

I was contacted by another author last week, Mike Rothman, who is self publishing a novel, Perimeter, on Amazon and was looking for some semi-intelligible reviews (emphasis on semi in my case).

The very brief description available on Amazon (and identical description on Goodreads) didn't really leave me full of hope that this would be a book I'd enjoy.

Levi is a "fixer" in a fix.

The CIA needs his help. The Russian mob wants him dead.

With enemies closing in and nowhere to turn, he learns that the one person who may hold all the answers ... is his dead wife.

I went back to Amazon and Goodreads today and saw that the book's description has been fleshed out with a lengthier synopsis. But, to be honest, the synopsis probably wouldn't have piqued my interest any more than the initial description did. It just doesn't sound like a genre I find especially enjoyable. Which is kind of funny, because I love the Jason Bourne/Jack Reacher/Jack Ryan/James Bond International Man of Mystery movie/TV genre. If that's all Perimeter had been, I might not have enjoyed it much. Fortunately (for me, anyway), the book is a little more than just another impossibly tough and skilled super dude running amok, thrashing bad guys and saving the day. Not a lot more, but a little more.

First, a brief description of the story's protagonist: Levi Yoder. Though not entirely a spoiler, it was surprising to me that Levi is an expatriate Amish (or whatever you call an Amish guy who gives up the Amish lifestyle and moves to the city to live amongst the "English"). My early impressions of Levi were that he is, despite his dubious occupation, a good guy. There's almost no profanity in Levi's internal monologue or spoken dialogue (the first two chapters don't get profanity worse than "heck," "crap," or "hell") and his motives always seem to be pure. I prefer a protagonist in my stories that is on the side of angels. Or who is, at least, morally unambiguous.

Pretty early on, the events of the story felt a little Tim Powers-ish. So I suspected the supernatural was going to play a big role in the story (which can detract-from or add-to the story, depending on how well it's done). If a book is set in a universe where supernatural stuff exists as a normal thing, then supernatural elements in a story aren't a huge problem. But in a story where nothing else is different from the world around us, supernatural elements have to be deftly handled to not feel goofy - Tim Powers is great at this. I'm happy to say that Mike Rothman is also good at keeping the supernatural elements from dominating the story (or at least turning it into a cartoon).

Speaking of well-handled stories with a supernatural bent (at least initially - we'll pretend the sequels never happened), Highlander ranks among my favorite all-time films, and parallels the events in this story (a little bit, anyway). Here's a brief excerpt to show why I see this similarity (a conversation between Levi and a monk who is, essentially, immortal):

"I've lived with this for longer than you can possibly imagine. I can't explain how or why it has come to pass. I've visited with doctors, and they cannot explain it. Oh, they certainly want to study it, but I don't think there's yet an explanation that medical science can give. This thing that we share makes some aspects of our lives terribly difficult. The ones we love, they all grow old and die." The monk's expression turned somber, and he pressed his lips together into a fine line. "That's truly the most terrible part of what we share."

And a little later:

I have no idea how you received this thing, but I can smell it on you. It's almost like the way an animal can recognize its own kind by the scents in the air.

It's very Highlanderish. But there are definitely differences - which I will keep to myself to allow for some mystery when you read the story. Actually, the supernatural elements of the story are almost more comic book than supernatural - beginning with the origin of the change that occurs in Levi's cancer-ridden body. The antics of everybody's favorite X-Man, Wolverine, come to mind. He's super fast, super tough, heals fast, etc.

There's quite a bit of Jason Bourne-type fighting action. Don't worry, there's an explanation for why Levi is able to handle himself so readily in the preceding chapters. I like this scene, set in an Afghani village:

A clatter sounded behind him, and he turned to see a woman, clad from head to toe in a black burqa, exclaiming something unintelligible as a half dozen cans of food spilled from her over-filled canvas bag. She cursed under her breath and scrambled after the cans as they rolled away.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

Though the profanity starts out really light, it picks up quite a bit as other characters enter the story and includes a great many f-bombs. Interestingly, the pretend profanity (crap, heck, etc.) is interlaced with the heavier profanity throughout the story - and not just from the Levi character. There is a little bit of sex-related content, but it's not explicit - more TV-MA than R-rated.

I'm looking forward to the further Adventure of Levi Yoder. I'd rather read them in a physical book, but I might be able to motivate myself to read them on my tablet. I just have so many books to read on my tablet already...

I'll try to get to all the other stuff soon. I also need to work through the backlog of books I've read over the past few months, so you have that to not-look-forward to, Dan.



Got something to say? Say it. (no responses).

Back to Book Blathering...

I'm about seven completed books (all physical books) behind in mentions here now, but I'm working on catching up. It's putting a serious cramp in my reading because I don't want to add any more finished books to the pile until I've made some headway with mentioning the books I've already finished. And the book I'm reading now, The Dinosaur Lords is really challenging my resolve not to binge read. It's much better than I expected. But more about that in a month or two (or six).

I read Take Back the Sky a couple of months ago. It's the final novel in Greg Bear's Trilogy of books including War Dogs and Killing Titan (if the trilogy has a name, I'm unaware of what it might be, but the War Dogs trilogy seems to be an apt name. So that's what I'll call it from here on out).

A couple of books after completing Take Back the Sky, I read a novel set in the StarCraft universe by Timothy Zahn called Starcraft Evolution. Why am I mentioning them together now instead of mentioning the books I've read in the order I read them? Well, I'll tell you why. Even though each is a very different story and the writing styles are equally different, they both fill a common niche in my head that I call "Space Marine" stories. And because of that, they jumped to the head of the line.

Take Back The Sky

I haven't really done Take Back The Sky's predecessors, War Dogs or Killing Titan, justice here. They only received a super-brief mention last November. Sadly, I never really put much effort into explaining why these are books worthy of your hard-earned dough. I did, funnily enough, reference the StarCraft connection briefly in November.

So why do I associate the War Dogs Trilogy with StarCraft and not some other alien-infused novel, movie or video game? Well, similar to the aliens in Ender's Game, the aliens we first meet in War Dogs, the Antags, are insect-like and, in my minds eye, very like the critters in the Aliens movies. Thus also very much like the Zerg in StarCraft. But there are other aliens in the books that are, also relying on my mind's eye, more like the Protoss in StarCraft. There were other alien races also popping up here and there which didn't really fit the StarCraft mold (bats, squids, amorphous blobs), but they didn't really fit anything else, either (except maybe some of the aliens in Piers Anthony's super old Cluster series that I read probably almost thirty years ago and barely remember - there are just weird bits and pieces floating around in my head). So it's the Earth-folk (the Terrans) against the aliens - with the help of other aliens who ae providing the crazy advanced tech that gives the backward people of Earth a fighting chance. That's not exactly out of the Starcraft playbook, but it feels similar to me.

Pretty much all the action in Take Back The Sky takes place inside this giant alien ship that sounds like it contains at least several square miles of alien landscape within. It's filled with all kind of bizarre aline flora and fauna and is constantly evolving into different bizarre "screw gardens" - sort of like a dark, twisted Alice in Wonderland. The first Greg Bear novel I ever read a million years ago (probably before I read the aforementioned Cluster series) was The Infinity Concerto. Images from this barely remembered novel kept coming to mind as I read Take Back The Sky. Though I barely remember it, it left impressions of a dark, scary Dark Crystal-like monster-filled world, much like the creepy alien world within this ship.

Here's Vinnie's first "view" of the ship from within the transport bringing him up to it.

For a time, I feel like I'm floating in space, no body, just a pair of eyes-vision doubled, so it's a quartet of eyes - but very low rez. I can barely make out the stars. Then my perspective shifts and I think I see Saturn's rings, lightly sketched and again doubled, giving me a weird ache in my eye muscles. There are little flashing symbols on the different rings, the shepherd moons - then the view goes back to that goddamned ship. I have to guess through Bird Girl's eyes, or maybe what someone is telling her - because she can't see it directly, can she? - how big it really is.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

And here's the first view of the ship's vast interior.

We reach the open end of one tube and emerge on one side of an aggressively amazing space. It takes a few confused seconds to process what we're seeing.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

Here's a creepy trip through Alien Wonderland in a weird train that zips around within the ship.

Before I can hazard a guess, the car starts to move in the opposite direction - aft. We each take hold of a black arm and swing our legs into the cab, trying to hang on as the car picks Q speed. We're on our way, slammed this way and that as it swerves to avoid the thickest and most productive branches.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

As with the previous two novels, Take Back The Sky has flashbacks to Vinnie's (Master Sergeant Michael Venn) childhood that explain who he is and how these events shaped him and his relationship with Joe, one of the officers. The book is told first-person, always in Vinnie's voice. Many of the flashbacks take place in San Diego, which I enjoyed because it was easier to paint my mental imagery of the story as I read. And as might be expected from characters that are marines, the language is salty. Exceedingly so. There's no shortage of every form of profanity you could imagine.

Here's a early snippet that's less of a flashback than just a memory about Vinnie's childhood and his wise old granny.

My grandfather was a colonel in the Rangers. My grandmother was a fine Army wife and very smart. One of the things she taught me is that God can do anything except change a man's mind. "That's why there are wars," she said, and knew the subject well. In two wars she had lost a husband, two sons, and a daughter, leaving her with just my mother, who was thirty when her sister died. "Men are so goddamned stubborn they will insult, curse, and shout until they can't back down, and then decide it's time to send our children out to die. The fellows who order up wars almost never go themselves, they're too old. But they're still cowards. If you're a leader and you screw up a war, or maybe if you just start a war, you should blow your brains out right in front of all the Gold Star mothers, sitting on bleachers in their Sunday best - and that's what I say, but don't quote me, okay? This kind of talk upsets your mother."

Until I was eight and my mother and father divorced, we lived on or around military bases.

Take Back The Sky definitely wraps up the trilogy with a nice little bow. A lot of people die, some people live, and the alien threat is - as far as I can tell - neutralized.

So you've saved Mankind from marauding aliens. What are you going to do now?

You're going to Disneyland!

Right now, I'm a fraud. I do not want to have killed anyone or anything. I do not want to die like a soldier and end up in Fiddler's Green. I want to die the death of a dreaming child.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

I get the feeling that Greg Bear hasn't been to Disneyland in a couple of decades. Nevertheless, this is a well-expressed sentiment for why I love Disneyland as much as I do.


Starcraft Evolution

If you haven't played the Starcraft Computer game, there's really no use tying to explain to you what Starcraft is. And you definitely won't enjoy this novel because it assumes a familiarity with the political history, alien creatures, Terran weaponry, and basically everything that has taken place in Starcraft I and II.

It's not the only, or even the first, novel set in the Starcraft universe, but it is the only one written by an author who has never disappointed me: Timothy Zahn.

Here's an early battle scene that will be nonsense to the uninitiated (I noted several of these that I found interesting in the story, but decided that sharing more than one was overkill).

When something goes to hell, one of Tanya's instructors back in the Ghost Academy had liked to say, everything else will probably go to hell with it. In this case, Ulavu barely had time to warn that a zerg was approaching when ten of the creatures burst through the foliage a hundred meters away and headed straight toward them.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

It's funny how this same scene in the game would be over with before you had a second to consider the attack formation (and, in truth, most attack formations in the game consist of disorganized swarms of troops due to...well, due to it being really hard to coordinate with any more control than just mob charges).

The events of Starcraft Evolution are told with a strict third-person narrator voice. And the various troops in the sotry, though also marines, have a much less-profane way of expressing themselves. So this is a fine book for all ages, unlike Take Back the Sky.

If you have played the Starcraft PC games and can appreciate a well-written follow-up to the events that concluded Starcraft II, this is a book for you. Starcraft fans may also enjoy the Koprulu sector Timeline at the end of the book. I did. It might be a good place to start if you're unfamiliar with the games and still want to read a well-told SciFi story.

c. 1500 AD - A group of rogue protoss is exiled from the protoss homeworld of Aiur for refusing to join the Khala, a telepathic link shared by the entire race. These rogues, called the dark templar, cut their nerve cords to permanently sever their connection with the Khala.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

I had planned to talk about the Alternate Routes Tim Powers signing and the hardcover of A Study in Emerald that I picked up on the night of the signing, but I've run out of steam. Next time. I was also going to mention a bunch of other non-book stuff, but that, too, will have to wait.



Got something to say? Say it. (no responses).

Update 09/27/2018

I was re-reading the Harry Potter drivel I'd written and discovered more than a few typos, so those have been corrected. Not that anyone saw the earlier draft (Dan, I'm talking to you), so this public service announcement is probably needless...

Carry on.

A Brief Break from Books

I've still got a bunch of books to blather on about, but I'm going to temper my sadistic tendencies and just talk about non-book stuff today (well, mostly non-book stuff). I'll even spare you the details of this weeks's Tim Powers book signing for Alternate Routes...until next time, that is - if I don't talk about it soon, the details will fade away and you'll have to read about it on some other idiot's web site/blog.

Adventures in Idaho

First, a trip in the Wayback© machine (way back to May of this year) when we took a drive up to Rexburg, Idaho to let our baby girl take a look around the college campus she will be attending this fall, BYU Idaho. It was about a fifteen-hour drive from here to there, but I'd forgotten how scenic and otherworldly the drive through this part of Idaho is. There are big volcanic rock formations all over the place - which I was unable to inexpertly capture with my phone's camera because...well, I was driving. And nobody else could be bothered. But I'll be headed back up there again at some point, so I'll do my best to get some photos next time - even if I have to pull the car over and take them myself.

Here's something else noteworthy about Idaho - it's a great place if you're a fan of unusual soda flavors. While Utah is admittedly better than California, Idaho has the best options just about everywhere you go. And not just unusual bottled and canned soda - Idaho even has them on tap in their soda fountains. We stopped at a Subway in Pocatello, Idaho for lunch and their soda fountain options included one of my favorite unusual soda choices, Red Cream Soda. And later, in Rexburg, we went to a Nielsen's Frozen Custard diner and they had a homemade root beer option in their soda fountain. I was skeptical because you never know with "home made" flavors, but it was amazing. Very creamy and not at all artificial-tasting like every canned root beer. And later, also in Rexburg, we went to a movie at a small theater downtown and they had Ironport in their soda fountain. If you've never had Ironport, it's a difficult taste to describe. It is really tasty, though.

And speaking of the Rexburg theater, it cost a grand total of $11 for two tickets to see Rampage with a big bag of popcorn and a large fountain drink (the glorious Ironport). It was an older theater and the movies weren't brand new releases, but they weren't that old (not like the DVD-released movies that play at the Temeku theater in Temecula - which I'm still happy to drive 45 minutes and pay $3.50 per ticket to see).

One last noteworthy thing about this trip to Idaho - I'd never been to this area and was surprised to see signs about the Idaho Dunes (AKA St. Anthony Sand Dunes), so we went on a little drive to see themup close. They're just outside of Rexburg (several miles outside, actually) and right in the middle of a typical mostly-green Idaho landscape. The area isn't huge, but there are definitely several square miles of tall, drifting dunes like you'd see in the middle of Arizona. It's a little bit surreal. These I did get a few photos of, but my phone didn't really do them justice.

And semi-related to Idaho (from the trip through Utah on the way up to Idaho, anyway), I discovered that you can get Ethanol-free "Clear Gas" at select gas stations in Utah (mostly Maverick stations). It's 88 Octane and just about as expensive as the 91 Octane regular gas, but I like the idea of introducing cleaner burning fuel to my car when I can, so that's what we filed up with whenever possible.



Bald Guy - Cards for every occasion

Also back in May or June, I picked up a congratulatory card (actually a bunch of them, but only one of that bunch is going to get a mention here) for my nephew's college graduation from the University of Utah. Except I couldn't find any Congratulatory cards that I thought worthy of my three or four bucks. So I checked out the tried-and-true Bald Guy cards at the mailbox store down the street. And found this one.

The front of the card is semi-complimentary: "You're One is a Million." Only semi- because when you look at the illustration, you see why the object of this statement is one in a million - and not for any complimentary reasons. The card's interior text is what really drives the backhanded compliment home: "But don't get too excited. Statistically, that means there are 6,700 people exactly like you. Happy Birthday."

Since this wasn't a birthday occasion, I did what anyone would do and just crossed out "Birthday and wrote in "Graduation." That's normal, right?



Puppy Power!

I mentioned that we adopted a tiny little dog from a Yorkie rescue outfit many moons ago, but haven't really said much about him since then. He's doing well and has become such a part of the family that he insists on being held - or at least seated very nearby - whenever we're relaxing.

Here's a funny video that Emeli took when she was recording a video of the little guy for her friend. It's noteworthy because he did something unexpected - he shared his dark side and gave that bear a wack upside the head.

He also showed his softer side when he gave the stuffed bear a big (though involuntary) hug, so he's clearly a complicated little man.



A Harry Potter Pocket Story1

One last thing - here's a little glimpse into how I spend at least a little bit of my free time: writing Harry Potter fan-fiction (Sorry, Dan, not that kind of fan fiction). I was inspired by the Android game I've been playing on my tablet for the past few months, Hogwarts Mystery. It got me thinking about things in the Harry Potter universe that didn't fit very well and how there are so many time gaps in the stories that are begging to be filed in with content.

It's a work in progress (I do actually plan on tying the story's loose ends up so they fit within the events of the films/books), but this is most of what I have so far. I've tried to remove all typographical errors, but I'm sure many remain.



I still have many, many other things to mention (many that have been languishing unmentioned since last year), but in the interest of sparing Dan and anyone else who stumbles across this sad collection of internet-drivel the trouble of reading it, I'll conclude here for now.





1 Pocket Stories was a web site I created, based upon another web site I enjoyed perusing until its demise called Ficlets, that allowed people to write short stories in a Twitter-type environment. Each mini-story is limited in length to just 1,024 characters. I never quite finished the site and, despite having written a few stories on the site that I'm sure no one else has ever read, I eventually allowed the domain name to lapse. The site itself still exists, but it's not 100% functional.



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