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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 few well past due book mentions and a visit to the Black Spire Outpost on the Planet Batuu!

As I mentioned a little while back, I've read several books over the past many months (some over a year ago) and have totally neglected to say anything about them. Which is a shame because pretty much all of them have been well worth mentioning - I noted passages from each to illustrate why I thought they were worth reading - but I suck. I'm reading less than usual and putting less and less effort into my blathering here, so I doubt any of these books will get the full effort they deserve. That said, here's a start on mentioning the members of my ever-growing stack of semi-recently-read books and the very modicum level of effort I'm willing to make...

Art Matters, Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell (illustrator)

I had heard all about Art Matters on Twitter long before it was even available to order. Pages were being posted online for weeks before I could even get my own copy. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon about a month before its U.S. publication date (the U.S. version was available over a month after the U.K. version for some reason - even from Amazon, which is weird because they had the U.K. version in stock). When I received my copy, I quickly read it in its entirety. There isn't a whole lot to read - it's mostly illustrations and brief, but thoughtful, commentary on the importance of libraries, the value of fiction and other creative endeavors, and the value of imagination. I liked it so much that I quickly went out and picked up a copy for Emeli (from Mysterious Galaxy, I think) and shipped it to her in Idaho.

Here are a few of the pages that really stood out to me. Most I saw on Twitter before I received my book, but I had to scan a couple of them myself. I especially like Neil's thoughts on fiction because I've heard so much negative criticism of fiction in my lifetime. And being a dinosaur who loves and prefers to read physical books, I like Neil's and Douglas Adams comments on the value of physical books.

click here to show all the thumbnails

I also heard about another book from Neil Gaiman's Twitter feed: Eric Idle's sortabiography, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle

I also pre-ordered Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Amazon well before its publication date. And it arrived with more than just the book - it came with a button that has been proudly displayed on my computer bag since I received it, and a signed (presumably by Eric Idle, but who knows) book plate. So that was a nice bonus.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is an excellent biography of Eric Idle's event ful life. It starts out very biographical, but quickly becomes, while still technically biographical, an avalanche of celebrity name-dropping. I didn't realize Eric had been so close to George Harrison, or had rubbed shoulders with Bowie and so many other very famous people. But there you have it - take Neil Gaiman's advice (not provided in this book - see the review just a little northward) and doggedly stick to what you want to do. And get famous. And then you, too, can vacation with the rich and famous, marry a gorgeous model, and visit an awesome castle belonging to one of The Beatles.

There are several pages of color photos of the people mentioned in Eric's memoir in the center of the book (there are also black and white photos throughout the book). Here are a few of those color photos and a couple of the black and white photos.

I noted too many specific passages to mention (as usual) and several were about people other than Eric (like Robin Williams and Steve Martin) that are hilarious and interesting to read, but aren't Eric-adjacent enough for me to mention - so here are the few I noted and have deigned to share...

Firstly, we have Eric interacting with a young journalist...

Laughter is still the best revenge. One day the sun will die, one day the galaxy will die, one day the entire Universe will die. I'm not feeling too good myself. So, what have I learned over my long and weird life? Well, firstly, that there are two kinds of people, and I don't much care for either of them. Secondly, when faced with a difficult choice, either way is often best. Thirdly, always leave a party when people begin to play the bongos.

Now I just wait for the inevitable question: "Didn't you used to be Eric Idle?" That and the delicious irony that I get to sing my own song at my own funeral. I have prepared some last words. Well, you can't be too careful, can you? In the Eighties when I was still comparatively young, a man sitting next to me in the Groucho Club said, "Oh. that's funny seeing you here, I'm just writing your obituary."


click here to show the full quoted excerpt

Next, we find Eric accepting an award in Hollywood on behalf of the Pythons...

A year later Monty Python was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, and John Du Prez and I went along with our touring company to accept the trophy. There were wonderful nostalgic clips of us at the Bowl twenty years earlier, and then Robin Williams came on like a blast from a blowgun and torched the audience with a high-octane tribute.

Originally Terry Gilliam was going to join me onstage to accept the award and then we were going to sing "Sit on My Face," but the Bowl nixed that naughty song, saying it was inappropriate for a gala, and so, sadly, Terry Gilliam pulled out. He has very high moral standards when it comes to low moral songs, so that moment of particular public tastelessness would have to wait.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

And the final excerpt I'll share is from Eric's time working with Leslie Nielsen on a 4-D ride for an amusement park...

A year later. Anheuser-Busch approached me with an offer to write one of these 4-D things. They wanted a pirate film for their Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was intrigued by the technology so I wrote one. In mine, when seagulls flew overhead, water would drop like bird poop on the audience. I wrote the lead for Leslie Nielsen and he said he would do it only if l would be in it too. You mean filming in the West Indies on a pirate ship with Leslie Nielsen? Well, alright then. So off we went to Puerto Rico, eventually ending up filming on a boat in Cancel Bay off St. John, where I had stayed so happily with George and Liv. At the end of each day's filming I would dive overboard and swim back to my hotel.

I loved every second with Leslie. He was extremely funny. He would play with his own fame and had found a clever way of coming to terms with it. He had a fart machine. He kept it hidden in his hand. He used it to perfection on a crowded elevator in our tourist hotel.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

If you love the Pythons, love celebrity memoirs, love biographies in general, or just love to laugh, this is the book for you. Go get it (though you won't get the cool button and nameplate that I did, slackers!)

Alternate Routes, Tim Powers

I hate that I've waited so long to write down my thoughts on Alternate Routes, and more importantly, the Tim Powers signing of Alternate Routes at the Mysterious Galaxy book store in August of 2018. I will try to pry the memories out of my severely-damaged brain, but I'm sure much of the amazingness of hearing Tim Powers talk to the small audience of true-believers about anything and everything will be lost now. Luckily, I did jot down a few rough notes about the signing, so all hope is not lost.

I arrived late, so that wasn't great. And to top it off, I forgot to mute my phone. A few seconds after I arrived, my phone made its presence known with a loud "None of your Business!" (a sound clip of the belligerent French knight from Monthy Python & The Holy Grail), so that was awkward. Due to my inability to arrive on time, I stood near the store's entrance throughout the pre-signing and listened to Tim's many colorful stories. I seem to recall there being some open chairs set up near Tim, but I didn't want to disrupt the flow any more than I already had, so I stood unobtrusively in the back. The crowd for this book signing was significantly smaller than the semi-recent Bruce Campbell signing, which was a good thing for me, but not so great for Tim.

Tim talked about Alternate Routes for the first 20-30 minutes, then answered questions and talked about the L.A. area as a goldmine of story ideas. He referred to the inspirations as "hints, not completed stories." One of the things I actually remember was mention of a book called "Secret Stairways" - a book about stairways in the Hollywood hills that you'd never find without the book, which lead to secret valleys with weird temples, movie set graveyards, and other surreal, unexpected things to experience. There were other stories, but they've been pretty much lost in a dead end of my brain beyond a block of damaged synapses. I think he may have even revisited his Pirates of the Caribbean experience with On Stranger Tides. That seems to come up consistently at the signings. if you every have a chance to attend an event with Tim Powers speaking, I highly encourage you to attend. I guarantee you'll learn something.

After story time ended, there was a short line for the signing. While I waited, I also picked up hardcover copy of Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald. I thought about asking Tim to sign it just to be funny (Tim had mentioned being a big fan of HP Lovecraft) since the book is a Cthulhu vs Sherlock Holmes graphic novel, but chickened out. To tell you how elderly the crowd at this signing was, I might have been one of the youngest people there. The person in the signing line behind me actually knew Tim Powers and Philip K Dick (who I think I've mentioned from other signings that Tim Powers knew and hung out with for many years) when they were younger and hung out with them. As I was leaving, overheard Tim talking to her about the places they'd hung out and the other people who were there (Philip K Dick, specifically).

I thought I had some photos from the signing, but...I can't find a single photo (now over a year after the signing took place), so they may appear here someday if I can find them.

Now, on to the reasons you should read Alternate Routes (reasons that will be, in my defective brain, hazy at best since I read Alternate Routes months ago)...

With Tim Powers, you either get great historical fiction or great modern-day, generally set in Southern California, fiction. This is the latter - very similar to the Fault Lines series I read many years ago: Last Call (to be honest, I don't know if I read this one), Earthquake Weather, and Expiration Date. Tim Powers knows and loves Southern California. Or maybe just California in general. I can't remember any stories set north of Los Angeles right now, but there could have been some. But his knowledge of the history of the area is unsurpassed - he does his research. In this case specifically, his research would have been around secret service agents, the LA freeways , and occult practitioners of black magic (or gray magic or somewhere in-between).

Here are a few excerpts to give you a feel for the story.

In this one, the secret service and ex-secret service agents are hiding out from the government's secret occult agents in one of the many places found throughout L.A. I found this one interesting because it talks about the creepy too-real animation that's becoming more and more prevalent - and how it even spooks ghosts.

She shivered. "I imagine ghosts sitting at that other table, with a pitcher of lemonade, staring at the wall. Staring through the wall."

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

In this one, our two secret service agents are sleeping in a tomb to stay off the radar of the people trying to catch them. As one would expect, creepiness ensues..

At last he fell asleep.

He didn't dream of Amanda; instead he dreamed that he was at a crowded table in a bar, and for a long time he couldn't make out the faces of the others at the table, nor remember where this place was. The conversation was lively and loud, and the words his companions spoke were in English, but Vickery wasn't able to fit them together into comprehensible sentences. Eventually he heard explosions and gunfire from the street outside - but none of his companions paused in their conversation, and he realized at last that this was the King Tiki Bar, one of the fake buildings in Hogan's Alley at the Rowley Training Center in Michigan. Hogan's Alley was a specially constructed tactical village, like a Hollywood set, in which Secret Service agents were confronted with various simulated attacks and trained in how to react; so of course the gun-battle outside was not real. But even though his tablemates went on talking as energetically as ever, Vickery now saw that their shirts and blouses were blotted with blood, and when one of the men turned to face him, the previously averted half of his face was just a gory crater. Vickery touched his own face just as the other man did the same, and he knew that he was looking into a mirror on the wall.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

Who knew shaman (is "shamen" the plural of shaman?) lived among us in modern times (at least in the alternate universes spun up by Tim Powers). In this one, we learn one of the dangers of L.A. freeways from a modern day shaman (who has been creeping around for a long time) living in the hills of L.A. And the danger on the freeways isn't related to the fast-moving metal boxes hitting each other or stationary objects.

"All this business." Laquedem went on, freeing one hand from a crutch to wave in a circle, "making use of the current generated when multiple free wills move at a constant speed past stationary free wills, in order to see little way into the future or past--it was harmless enough, back in the days when you could only work for the few seconds a train was passing, or by driving a wagon down a crowded street; though even from the first there were canny protests against railroads, and there was the law that an automobile must be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag, which prevented any effects. That law pretty much ended with the convoy from London to Brighton in '96.

click here to show the full quoted excerpt

I had several other passages noted to share, but they just didn't stand well enough on their own out of context with the rest of the story to make them worth sharing. Even though most of the excerpts I shared are pretty much rooted in supernatural stuff, there's much more to the story than just ghosts and haunted highways. Tim Powers is, as I mentioned above in regard to his speaking at the signing, a great storyteller. If you appreciate speculative fiction, you;'ll love any of Tim's books.

Return to the Dreaded Land of Disney

I was just going to blather about books, but I decided to mention something non-book-related: Disneyland. We returned to the land of Disney after over a year of avoiding the overcrowded & overpriced nightmare that is Disneyland because Emeli was home from school and Star Wars land had opened (in addition to a bunch of other changes in the parks that didn't really entice me at all). I remembered the days after Labor day being very lightly crowded the last time we'd had annual passes, so we decided to schedule a trip in September after Labor day. And while not amazingly empty, it wasn't painfully crowded. We actually went on every ride we wanted without having to wait in exceptionally heinous lines, as well as exploring the new surprisingly immersive Star Wars section of the park. It did get a little busier as the day went on, but was never as awful as it usually gets. We just parked in the Toy Story lots so we could stay as long as we wanted to.

As for the new Star War section of the Park, I was impressed. It's an interesting transition to walk from the old west in Frontier land to an Imperial outpost on some alien planet in Star Wars land. The buildings are as authentic (if you can call something that comes from a complete work of Fiction "authentic") as Disney's many other immersive areas (Main Street and New Orleans Square are my favorite "immersive" areas). The giant weird rock formations surrounding the outpost really add to the otherworldly feeling and separation from the rest of the park. And I really liked seeing all the full-sized vehicles (a land-speeder, a pod racer, an X-Wing, an A-Wing fighter, the Millennium Falcon, and a couple of Imperial shuttles) throughout the park. There were a few characters from the films (Rey, Chewy, several stromtroopers) and also a few cast members who weren't from the films dressed as Outpost personnel who were interacting with the real characters. The cast member who played Rey was spot-on - she even spoke with an English accent. I didn't get any good photos of her, but you can see her messing around with the X-Wing in a couple of photos. A wookie (possibly Chewbacca) was up there, too. I didn't drop any dough on Star Wars related merchandise, other than a bottle of water with weird alien writing.

Here are some photos from the visit (including a few that are intended to show how not crowded the park was for our visit). First, here's Main Street decorated for Halloween.

click here to show all the thumbnails

Next, a few from Adventureland (this was the first time I'd climbed around on Tarzan's Treehouse - formerly the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse - in many years, so I took a bunch of photos of the area.

And then on to my favorite area in all of Disneyland, New Orleans Square. Home of the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.

click here to show all the thumbnails

My last batch of photos all came from the new Star Wars land. They did a really good job with the details, despite the lack of much of anything to do here.

We returned to Disneyland a few weeks later and had our Happy-Disney-Bubble burst. It was as crowded as ever and we didn't go on a single ride in Disneyland. Luckily, we'd planned for a short visit (we parked in the Downtown Disney lot that requires Downtown Disney validation with a $20 purchase for 3 hours parking or a sit-down restaurant purchase for 5 hour validation), so we were out the bucks we spent on a meal at the La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney, but their food is pretty great, so that wasn't too painful. Star Wars land was too over-crowded to be enjoyable and it was a shoulder-to-shoulder crush of people. We did make our way to California Adventure, which was only slightly less crowded) and went on the one ride of the day: Soaring over The World (I think that's what it's called now). I hadn't been on it since it was Soaring Over California. It's as good a ride as any in Disneyland and my favorite in California Adventure, though I do enjoy the Little Mermaid ride, too. That ride feels misplaced in California Adventure, though - it should be in Fantasy land on the Disneyland side.

Here are a few of the photos I took this on abbreviated visit (mostly just to show how much more crowded the park was this time - the first photo is the transition from old west to science fiction in the tunnel to Star Wars land).

click here to show all the thumbnails

I also thought about showing the new set of comics adorning my cubicle wall, but I decided to save those for later. And I just finished another book, David Savakerrva, that's going to jump to the head of the line for the next exciting addition of Who has the time to read all this drivel?.

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