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Older rants
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
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

Wednesday January 27, 2005
Mystery Mail

So I've been getting email messages from the Contact me link that are completely empty for a while now. I just got another one this morning. The email stuff appears to work fine when I test it, so I suspect that the cause is search engines crawling my site and hitting the page that submits the email, but I won't know for sure until I do a little more detective work. I am now capturing the IP address of the sender, so that may help.

If you have, in the last couple of months, sent me an email and I have not responded, it could be that I didn't get the email (or at least not an email with anything in the body or subject), so please send an email this way and let me know that you have sent an email that has not been responded to.

I've churned out a few substandard sketches over the past couple of weeks: a Transformer, a winged unicorn, a Bionicle and a really bad violin. They have all been added to the Drawings pages.

There are also a few new snapshots of the girls in the My Angels section of the site as well as a couple of Emeli's latest drawings. She could really shape up to be quite an artist (or maybe it's just a parent's pride speaking).

I have been making little changes to the site here and there. The top menu changes are the most glaring example of my efforts.

Star Wars spoiler

Dan, the angry elf, Denney sent me an email this week with the basic plot outline for the upcoming Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith (episode III) novel.

This is the novelization of the movie script, so there's no guarantee that the movie will offer a direct parallel of the story presented here, but it will probably be pretty close. And it's not like anyone out there doesn't already know the gist of the upcoming movie's plot: Anakin becomes Vader, Palpatine becomes Emperor, Luke and Leia are conceived, the Jedi are exterminated or sent into exile. If you are hungry for the details behind these basic plot elements, you can read the text of the email that Dan forwarded to me.

Opus

Opus seems to be continuing its descent to mediocrity. Or maybe Bereke's just suffering from writer's/artist's block. Either way, the strips (with the exception of those I haven't seen and can't offer an opinion on) have been less impressive from an artistic viewpoint and definitely less impressive from a humor standpoint. I did scan the last three weeks strips, in spite of their mediocrity. Enjoy.

The January 9 strip has Opus on a blind (internet-arranged, I assume) date. The joke is that everybody lies about their appearance on the internet (personal ads, whatever). Sorry Berke, it's been done.

The January 16 strip has Opus experiencing computer problems. Sure, we can all relate, It's happened to all of us. Berke is obviously an Apple guy (note the strip's title).

The January 23 strip has Steve Dallas apologizing for sexually harassing his newfound son's nanny. The apology is less than successful and Steve's sexist piggish-ness is proven to remain intact. I'm still not sure what the "gay" references in earlier strips were all about.

Books
Going Postal

Here is a brief synopsis: a con man, Moist Von Lipwig, is put to death for numerous crimes against society, He discovers that his death was faked, to his surprise, by Lord Vetrinari (Patrician of the city) so he could be reprieved and put to work as the new Postmaster of the defunct Ankh-Morpork post office. Moist manages to revolutionize Ankh-Morpork mail and the usual Discworld hilarity ensues. And they all live happily ever after. Or most of them do, anyway. But it's no sugary, Disney ending.

The central character of the story was, surprisingly, a new guy: Moist. The old familiar faces popped up here and there. Vetrinari had a major role and Ridcully and Stibbons had a scene, but Commander Vimes and the rest of the watch had minor roles. Rincewind and the Lancre witches didn't even get a mention.

The book has loads of funny bits, but two Lord of the Rings references stand out in my memory:

      Still, he felt good.
      Perhaps this was that "warm and fuzzy wonderful warm feeling" people talked about. And what would he have done with the money? He'd never have time to spend it in any case. After all, what could a master criminal buy? There was a shortage of seaside properties with real lava flows near a reliable source of piranhas, and the world as sure as hell didn't need another Dark Lord, not with Gilt doing so well. Gilt didn't need a tower with ten thousand trolls camped outside. He just needed a ledger and a sharp mind. It worked better, cheaper, and he could go out and party at night.
and the second:
      "It's still not working, Mr Stibbons!" he bellowed. "Here's that damn enormous fiery eye agin!"
      "I'm sure we have the right--" Ponder began, fiddling with the rear of the big disc.
      "It's me, sir, Devious Collabone, sir," said a voice from the omniscope. The fiery eye pulled back and was replaced by an enormous fiery nose. "I'm here at the terminal tower, sir, in Genua. Sorry about the redness, sir. I've picked up an allergy to seaweed, sir."
and what, you ask, is an omniscope?
An OMNISCOPE is one of the most powerful instruments known to magic, and therefore one of the most useless.
      It can see everything, with ease. Getting it to see anything is where wonders have to be performed, because there is so much everything--which is to say, everything that can, will, has, should, or might happen in all possible universes--that anything, any previously specified thing, is very hard to find. Before Hex had evolved the control thaumarhythms, completing in a day a task that would have taken five hundred wizards at least ten years, omniscopes were used purely as mirrors, because of the woderful blackness they showed. This, as it turned out, is because "nothing to see" is what most of the universe consists of, and many a wizard has peacefully trimmed his beard while gazing into the dark heart of the cosmos.
      There were very few steerable omniscopes. They took a long time to make and cost a great deal. And the wizards were not at all keen on making any more. Omniscopes were for them to look at the universe, not for the universe to look back at them.
      Besides, the wizards did not believe in making life easier for people. At least, for people who weren't wizards. An omniscope was a rare, treasured, and delicate thing.
I could explain Hex, but it existed before this novel, so there isn't really a good quote to explain it. Suffice to say that it's a big "magical" computer that the "fringe" wizards (the more tech-oriented) spend much of their time working on.

Terry Pratchett has done it again. I greedily tore through this book in a couple of days (remorseful, as always, when I reached the end so quickly). One other thing worth mentioning: my copy was signed by Terry Pratchett (directly from the publisher). I thought that was pretty cool (though it's much more fun when he signs in person). If you appreciate good Sci-fi or Mystery genre fiction and especially if you collect signed books, check out Mysterious galaxy before you buy from anyone else.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

This was the first of three Philip K Dick stories I read before beginning Going Postal. It was interesting and thought-provoking, but was not the lighthearted romp that Pratchett does so well with.

The story, as with all the other Dick stories I have read, is set in our past, but Dick's future (it was written in the 60s): 2002. The Earth has become an inhospitable place with killer heat during the days and resort on the polar ice caps. No attempt is ever made to explain the cause of the extreme temperatures--did scientists even know about the ozone layer deterioration back then? Genetic manipulation is pursued by the rich to speed the body's evolution to deal with the new climate; resulting in thick hide-like skin, giant bulbous heads and either advanced intelligence or idiocy (depending on the success of the treatment).

The other planets in the solar system have been colonized, but the colonies are drab, lifeless, horrible places that no one wants to live in. A draft is used to select colonists who will be forced to settle on the barren worlds. One of the primary industries of this dark future is the manufacture of miniatures representations of all that the colonists have left behind. Another is the drug trade that "transports" the colonists into the miniature settings.

Hallucinogenic drugs play a major part in the story. But the idea is that they are expanding your awareness, not just making you hallucinate. Dick was no stranger to the magical worlds of LSD, I would guess.

The primary character of the story has pre-cognitive abilities (which are used to determine which miniature objects will sell best to the colonists). Pre-cognitive abilities seem to be a common trait in the future and are an ability that can be developed by anyone. Much of the story takes place in drug-induced dream worlds, which is confusing, and you often feel like you are "in" a lengthy Twilight Zone episode. Sadly, the story ends with a confusing theological message and doesn't provide any real closure.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

This story is set in a more distant future: 2021 (although the movie adaptation of the novel, Blade Runner, sets the story in 2019). The setting is San Francisco on a post-World War Terminus Earth. The Earth is largely uninhabitable due to massive fallout from the war (the details of the war are never revealed).

Unlike the population in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the citizens of this Earth are anxious to get off planet and become colonists on a new world. A perk for the colonists in this story: android slaves. Another effect of the war: the majority of the species of animals on Earth have died out due to the radiation from the radiation, so ownership of any animal is a key sign of social status.

Drugs aren't used on this future Earth, but mood adjusting electronic devices keep the down-trodden populace cheerful in the face of the devastated world. Television is limited to one channel: Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends. Religion, Mercerism, is provided by another electronic box that transports the user to a third-person vantage point of the religion's messiah, Mercer. Mercer is very much a Christ-like figure--but you are never really sure if he is what he appears to be.

The theme of the story seems to be "are the sentient machines, androids, really alive and do they deserve to live?" Blade Runner didn't really explore this them very well, but the novel does a good job of relating an android's perspective.

Ubik

This story, set in the Dick's future, is set in our past: 1992. Earth appears to be a livable place free of fallout or a destroyed ozone-layer. Pre-cognitive and mind-reading abilities have become common in this world. Protection of intellectual property, even mental property,is dependent on anti-precogs that block the mind-readers with their own opposite-tuned abilities.

The world is filled with automatons that require payment before they will render service: doors, refrigerators, electronic newspapers, etc. It's oddly reminiscent of Douglas Adam's Sirius Cybernetic Corporations machines with Genuine People Personalites. The clothing worn by the inhabitants of this world defies description. Every mismatched combination of attire imaginable is donned by the characters: men wearing women's clothes, women wearing men's, clashing patterns and colors. It's weird.

Half-life, the lingering of a body's consciousness immediately after death, is now accessible to grieving family members. Most of the story actually takes place in this "half-life" universe populated by the dead. As with the hallucinogenic world in Palmer Eldritch, the reader is never quite sure when events are occurring in the real world and when events are occurring in half-life. The ending confuses matters even more.

The title of the story, Ubik, is revealed to be a shortened form of Ubiquitous. I wasn't exactly sure of the meaning of the word before I read the story, but I doubt that I will ever forget it now.

Movies Remember the Titans

I was pleasantly surprised after watching this film, having expected something much different. I thought it was going to be one of those "dedicated coach motivates a team of miscreants to greatness" types of movies. What I didn't expect was a movie that deftly explored racism.

Denzel Washington is as impressive in this film as he always is. I find it had to go wrong when Denzel is in a movie. Hayden Panettiere played the daughter of the displaced white coach. She was only 11 years old at the time, but played her part remarkably well. She's a real cutie, too.

This is definitely a movie worth seeing, so go rent it if you haven't seen it yet.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

This is the only movie I have seen in the theater since National Treasure. I wasn't really expecting much from the movie, but had heard it was pretty good. So, having no better options, I went to see it with the wife.

It was interesting enough, but the story's pacing and narration were obviously done in a manner that would appeal to children. There were a few funny bits here and there: my favorite was the baby that gnawed on everything. Emily Browning, who plays the oldest sibling, looks very much like a young Shannen Doherty (pre-attitude).

The web site for this movie has some clever flash animation. It's worth a look.

Dodgeball

I thought, when it began airing previews, that this movie looked too dumb to see. Who would believe a story about grown men and women playing dodgeball? But I have seen dumber sports shown on ESPN2. If people will watch billiards and bowling, why not dodgeball?

The basic plot: a slacker, Vince Vaughn, who owns a gym for slackers, Average Joe's, is in danger of losing his gym to the fitness-nazis across the street, Globogym. His only way out is to raise $50,000 to pay off the bank. The slacker and his co-slackers, one of whom is a pirate, try everything they can imagine (even an "Average Joe's car wash" to raise the money and finally discover a dodgeball competition that pays $50,000 to the winner. So they sign up and begin practicing.

Christine Taylor,Marcia of the Brady Bunch movies, plays the bank auditor who is handling the case for Globogym's bank. She, of course, falls in with the underdogs and displays her sweet skills with a dodgeball and her kissing skills ...with another woman.

The DVD has the "alternate ending which was actually the originally scripted ending that test audiences hated. Who wants to see underdogs lose? If I wanted to see that, I'd close my eyes and replay my day in my mind's eye.

The cast of Office Space fills quite a few roles in the move (always a good thing) and David Hasselhoff has a funny cameo role. Sure it was offensive at times (the S&M uniforms were pretty bad), but I laughed. A lot.

Tell me what you think about all of this.



© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy