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Responses to this rant
Dandy   Monday, 7/31/2017 1:49 PM
Bart   Tuesday, 8/1/2017 2:36 PM
Older rants
June 1, 2020   Trip to the Grand Canyon (last year),
Code Talker
Mar 21, 2020   The World Famous San Diego ComicFest
and the testament to dorkness that is my cubicle
and my sad, sad little doodles
Mar 8, 2020   A return to Potterland,
Meg & Dia's Christmas album, December Darling,
some other random stuff
Feb 21, 2020   Agorafabulous!,
Emeli's amazing creations
Nov 27, 2019   David Savakerrva Volume 1
The cubicle of nerdishness
Oct 28, 2019   Art Matters, Neil Gaiman
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle
Alternate Routes, Tim Powers
Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge
Oct 4, 2019   Meg & Dia, HappySad tour San Diego 09/18/19
September 21. 2019   David Bowie - Scary Monsters,
More Adventures in Leasing,
More cubicle fun,
A new doodle
September 10. 2019   The Cranberries - In The End,
The Cranberries - Something Else,
Icicle Works, Icicle Works (vinyl),
Dia Frampton, Red,
Juliana Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John,
The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads,
Green Day, Insomniac ,
Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords Live in London
August 28, 2019   Heir of Ra (Maciek Sasinowski,
The Catalyst Series (JK Franks): Downward Cycle, Kingdom of Sorrow, Ghost Country
May 11, 2019   Goodbye, little friend
Nov 30, 2018   Fire of Our Fathers,
a Science Fiction Book Club rant
Nov 24, 2018   The Dinosaur Lords,
Dragon Teeth
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
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
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
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
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
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
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 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 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
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

A little ranting, some books, comics, and even a little TV

The IT Sweatshop Revisited!

When I had lunch with Dan a week or two ago (depending on when this rant sees the light of day), I brought up the horrible open-office sweatshop seating that I've been subjected to for the past few years. I've mentioned this abomination to office seating a couple of times here in the past, but I guess Dan wasn't paying attention, so...

The only advantage I have over my other three cellmates is the wall I have to display the emblems of my nerdiness. The guy on the opposite end gets a window, which would also be nice - the two in the middle get the shaft. The current comic book selection on my wall is the Dark Horse Star Wars, Dark Empire series, issues one through six and the preview issue - all with Dave Dorman's amazing covers. Nerdgasm!! The previous comics were a couple of Dark Horse's Indiana Jones titles.

What's most funny about my use of this wall for displaying all this stuff is that not one other person I work with has taken advantage of this big area of space to be personalized. Alex MonkeyDonkey (may he rest in peace at Amazon) did use his space for Evil (a Superman shrine), but he's the only other person who has done anything remotely interesting. I keep expecting to be berated by management for having so much personal stuff cluttering up the office. This place eats away at my soul daily.

And speaking of the horror that is my office...

For about a week and a half, I was subjected to some of the most heinous BO I've ever experienced. It was truly horrific. I was no closer than eight or ten feet from the carrier of this stinkbonic plague so I can't imagine how bad it must be for my co-workers who were subjected to this stench from no more than a couple of feet. The noxious cloud that surrounds the carrier takes several minutes to dissipate after he has moved on. This is yet another reason this open office nonsense blows. If I at least had cubicle wall, it would block some of the stench's progress.

A pox on all pointy-haired managers!!

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Many years ago, I read a short story in Neil's collection Fragile Things called How to Talk to Girls at Parties*. I had seen mention (online, of course) of an illustrated version of this story which had been published, but the only comic book store near me didn't stock it. I also have never seen it in Barnes and Noble (the only book store that seems to have survived - for now - the war with Amazon) or Mysterious Galaxy (honestly, I haven't been to Mysterious Galaxy since they relocated, so I don't know if they stocked it or not).

A few weeks ago I dropped into a comic book shop in Mission Valley, Rising Sun Comics, to kill some time and came across a shelf of Neil Gaiman comics and books. One of these was...drumroll...How to Talk to Girls at Parties! So I bought the skinny hardcover and read it when I returned home. My wife gave me funny looks when I showed her the book, thinking this was a "how to pick up girls" book (as seen in Better Off Dead) so I had to explain the barely-remembered story's premise to calm her down**.

The illustrations of the book are bright, colorful, and evocative, but the male characters of the story look way older than the mid-teens they are supposed to be. But maybe the differences were intentional and Neil is doing a Lev Grossman (the author of The Magicians) thing with his characters - aging them to make the ensuing activities less offensive to sensitive readers. Or a Douglas Adams thing (wherein every version of Hitchhiker's is slightly different than all the others).

Regardless, it's an interesting story and, despite the aging of the characters, is well illustrated. Thumbs up.

Oh, and one last How to Talk to Girls... thing, they're making a movie out of this short story starring Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning. Juding from the trailers, it goes well beyond the bounds of the short story and bears little resemblance to the source material, but good for Neil. I'm glad he's making lots of dough off his creations.

Thoughts on the American Gods and The Magicians TV serieses (what's the plural of "series"?)

I finally caught up on The Magicians TV series (just finished the last episode of season two) and I also finished watching season one of the American Gods TV series. I'm not loving either series as much as I'd hoped to, but they're good, quality television programming for anyone not comparing them to their source material.

I could be wrong because I haven't managed to re-read The Magicians again recently, but the TV series is straying further and further from the original story. They've taken the same characters, aged them, made all the characters look the same (specifically the female characters), completely changed some of the characters (Penny should be a white redhead and an even bigger outcast than TV Penny), and stirred up the original story (possibly bringing action from the sequels in small part already) to make it more episodic for TV. If you haven't read the novels and you like the TV show, you really should.

The casting of American Gods continues to surprise me. In addition to the gorgeous Emily Browning, Crispin Glover plays a villain (as usual), Corbin Bernsen a cranky old God, and Kristen Chenoweth is an eternally-young old god.

If you're wondering, neither series is suitable viewing for younger viewers. The Magicians is full of bleeped out F-bombs and all kinds of other profanity, rape-talk, and consensual sex (with no real nudity). American Gods has everything The Magicianshas (minus the rape-talk), plus skin (helloooo Emily Browning). And there's way too much dong.

Speaking of American Gods adaptations, the American Gods comic book is up to issue #5. In many ways it's the same as the TV adaptation, but the TV adaptation is taking the long road, developing characters, and really doing a better job of telling the story (Laura Moon barely gets any time in the comic but is a really big part of the TV adaptation). By the fifth issue of the comic, Shadow and Wednesday are already meeting with the other gods in the House on the Rock - contrasted with the TV series, where only one old god has even made it near the House on the Rock by the eighth episode. Wednesday's fellow Gods are also getting a lot of screen time in the TV series (straying a little from the original source material), but many of them don't even get a brief mention in the comic.

Each issue of the American Gods comic has a variant and a normal cover, but the normal covers are so cool I haven't been getting the variants (other than #2, because I though the representation of Mad Sweeney was all wrong). Here are the covers I've picked up and a few of the interior pages, just to show you the level of effort being put into the comic book art.

Rogue One

Continuing my Star Wars streak, I've just finished reading Rogue One. I've consistently preferred the novelizations of just about every TV series/movie I've read (whether it came before or after the film of the same name) just because - if done well - the novelization will explain the many things that I just didn't catch in the film as events sped by at a breakneck pace.

Rogue One is one of the good ones. The characters are much more developed, as expected, than their film counterparts. We get to know Jyn and Cassian, the sad and quirky little Bodhi, Chirrut and Baze. They are all much more three-dimensional than they are in the film. The differences between a Guardian of the Whills and a Jedi are made much more clear (I don't even know that I ever realized Chirrut wasn't a Jedi in the film). Cassian is never really especially likeable (and much more unlikable than I remember him being in the movie), but is more human by the end of the book.

Interestingly, there are apparently also a bunch of Young Adult books about several of these characters going into even more detail with their backstories. Man, Disney really cashes in when they see blood in the water.

I was looking online for something related to Rogue One (the movie) and ventured into some Rogue One movie reviews. I was surprised to see - judging from these reviews - that people really didn't like this movie. At all. I don't remember disliking it, but I do remember being bummed out that - Spoiler Alert! - all the main characters die. But, since none of the characters exist in the future installments of the series (this was Episode 3.5, if you're struggling with the timeline), there's a quick and easy way to explain why we never heard from any of them again: kill them all. And though I hated for the gorgeous Jyn Erso, played by Felicty Jones, to be reduced to atomic particles, I understand why she had to go. I did see another theory posited online that Jyn Erso is actually the mother of Daisy Ridley's character, Rey. The argument was weak and seemed to center around the fact that they bear a slight resemblance to one another...but you never know. It would be difficult to explain since she was blown up at the end of the story without having ever been pregnant - unless she was pregnant with Rey in one of her prior off-screen adventures...

This was a nice wrap-up at the book's conclusion, from Mon Mothma, who we gets a surprising amount of time in the story and a little more character development than I expected.


[Document #MS8619 ("Unpublished Reflections on Jyn Erso"), from the personal files of Mon Mothma (via the Hextrophon Collection).]

I regret to say I only met Jyn twice. To claim I knew her well would be an insult to the young woman whose fervor captivated so many. Conversely, to speak only of her effect on our movement - to recount yet again the rallying of the Rebellion and our transformation from a wary coalition into a unified nation - would be both redundant and insulting.

So put no stock in my words. I can tell you of those two meetings and what I saw in her - or what, looking back, I remember seeing in her, which may be far removed from the truth. You may find more of a weary ex-senator than Jyn Erso in all this.

Jyn was in chains when we met before Operation Fracture. I'd seen her file and chosen her for the mission for reasons I wish I could be proud of. I expected to meet a troubled girl who had been failed by the Alliance in a hundred different ways: failed by Saw, failed by those of us who knew Saw, failed when she went out on her own, and failed by our inability to save her father or mother. I expected she could be persuaded (by which I suppose I meant manipulated into helping us, and that in doing so we might help her, too.

But the woman I met at Base One could not be manipulated. There are a very few people whose will and ferocity are so great that they pull other people in their wake. I've known some who cultivated that talent as politicians and generals, for good or ill. Jyn, I think, never knew the effect she had on others - never realized the intensity of her own humanity or the presence she brought to a room. She was, as expected, troubled and quarrelsome; she was also impossible to ignore or forget.

In her short life, she had seen relentless hardship and become hard herself. But her fire shone bright.

If our first meeting was brief, our second was even briefer. We exchanged a handful of private words when she briefed Alliance High Command on the threat of the Death Star, and the woman I met then was far different from the one we'd chained. Was she at peace? I don't believe so. But she held herself with a newfound certainty.

It's become fashionable in some quarters to claim Jyn Erso went to Scarif intending to die a martyr - that she realized she had lost everything and chose her path by its inevitable end. I will dispute this claim until my own dying days. I think Jyn fully recognized who she was and sought a way to channel her best and worst impulses, her darkest moments and her brightest, toward a cause worthy of her true incandescence.

In a kinder universe, she would have walked away from Scarif. I cannot imagine who she would have become, but I think she would have been extraordinary.

I am grateful I knew her, no matter how short the time.

I probably need to watch Rogue One again before I can really compare the movie to the book. It seems like there were a million things in the book that weren't in the movie, but I can't be sure. I was mildly confused throughout most of the movie about who the characters were and why they were doing whatever they were doing. But the movie's events may have just not lodged as securely in my tiny brain. Who knows - maybe it will all make sense now that I've read the book, and I'll love this more than any of the other Star Wars films.

And most importantly, I've been waiting for weeks to share this Mad Magazine spoof of Rogue One. Enjoy

Camino Island

I finished Camino Island a few days ago. I read it in just a couple of days, as I have almost every John Grisham book I've read. Also, as with all the other John Grisham novels I've read, I found it to be very enjoyable and well-written. As I think I've mentioned before, Johnny G and I don't share the same political views, but the guy can tell a story that grabs you and doesn't let you go. Thankfully, there was almost no hint of a political agenda in this one. Several of the characters had clear political affiliations, but their politics didn't drive the story. To be honest, even the politically-driven Grisham novels are well-written and hard to put down, so his politics are probably a moot point, but that's my only complaint with any of the Grisham books. There are a few novels I've never read because his stories were getting excessively liberal and I was wasn't enjoying them as much as I had maybe it's not exactly moot, but it is an argument with holes. Regardless, let's talk about Camino Island...

A lot of Camino Island is a self-congratulatory exploration of writers in general. There's is no character who, in any way that I'm aware of, resembles John Grisham in the story, but the story's real protagonist is a fledgling author, most of the other characters are writers or those whose vocations revolve around books.

There's a lot of talk about writing-related topics. Here's a passage where our pretty, young protagonist is reading a book by one of the island's other writers, and tearing it apart.

Ms. Trane's novel dealt with a young, unmarried woman who woke up pregnant one day and wasn't sure who the father was. She had been drinking too much during the past year, had been rather promiscuous, and her memory was not that sharp. With a calendar, she tried to retrace her steps, and finally made a list of the three likeliest suspects. She vowed to secretly investigate each one with the plan to one day, after her child arrived, spring a paternity suit on the real daddy and collect support. It was a nice setup, but the writing was so convoluted and pretentious that any reader would have difficulty plowing through. No scene was clear, so that the reader was never certain what was going on. Ms. Trane obviously had a pen in one hand and a thesaurus in the other because Mercer saw long Words for the first time. And, just as frustrating, the dialogue was not identified with quotation marks, and often it was not clear who said what.

After twenty minutes of hard work, she was exhausted and fell into a nap.

There is a surprising dearth of lawyers in the book. And the story didn't suffer for it in the least. There are FBI and other above-the-law type scumbags a-plenty, though.

* I was shocked to discover that I've only peripherally mentioned Fragile Things a couple of times in posts on this site. I've never even listed the stories, quoted any part of it or said much of anything about it (the hardcover I have was published, purchased and read over 10 years ago). I should be ashamed.

** I read Fragile Things over ten years ago and my mangled brain barely works - give me a break.

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