Friday, May 22, 2015

Discworld - Death After Life

As you can see below, there are a large number of crossover mentions in this book.  This is probably the first of the really three dimensional stories of Ankh-Morpork.  Wyrd Sisters tells a little about the Fools' Guild and Pyramids tells some about the Assassin's Guild, but Reaper Man brings all of the city together in the Oblong Office of the Patrician.  There is even an allusion made to werewolves coming from somewhere int he mountains, and we're many books away from The Fifth Elephant and a visit to Uberwald.

And really, you could make the case that everything that happens with Windle Poons and the city of Ankh-Morpork are all background and subplot to the real story of Death and Bill Door instead of them being parallel stories.

And from listing everything, I can see why this used to be my favorite of the books.  It seems like almost everything is in it.  There are new major players introduced, and only a few who aren't.

And it reads like an action movie.  There are two pivotal fights going on very from away from each other, but at nearly the same time.  And Pratchett cuts back and forth between the two like you would see in a movie.  Many of the Discworld books seem at a reading to be easy to make into a movie, but I think that is the strength of his imagery rather than any easy transition to a script.

------

Appearing in this book

Death
Auditors of Reality
Binky
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor
The Bursar
The Librarian
The Dean
Windle Poons
The Rite of Ashk-Ente
Ankh-Morpork
Unseen University
The Auditors of Reality
Gimlet the Dwarf and his Delicatessen on Cable Street
The Lecturer on Recent Runes
Mrs. Whitlow
The Mended Drum
The Librarian
Modo the Dwarf, Gardener at UU
Sargent Colon
Reg Shoe
Cut-me-Own-Throat Dibbler
The Senior Wrangler
Hygiene
The Shades
The Brass Bridge
The Thieves' Guild
The Guild of Merchants

The High Energy Magic Building and the Squash COurt
The Ramtops
Morris Dancing
Octarine Grass
The Patrician, Havelock Vetinari
Thaumometer
Mrs. Evadne Cake
Elm Street
Brother Ridcully, Priest of Blind Io
Things from the Dungeon Dimensions
Offler, the Crocodile-Headed God
Blind Io
Hoki the Jokester
The Fools' Guild
The Alchemists' Guild

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
Arthur and Doreen Winkins, The Count and Countess Notfaroutoe
Ixiolite, the stuttering banshee
Yen Buddhism
Death's Daughter
Lancre
Ole - "with milk"
Continent of XXXX and the Lost Wizard Colony
Ned Simnel
!!!!! - the sign of an insane mind
Chalky the Troll
Talking raven
Golems

The Counterweight Continent
Casanunder the Dwarf
Cripple Mister Onion




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

FHWA Protected Bike Lanes

I came across this article on Facebook shared by my buds at Citizen Chain.

This is so amazing.  These protected lanes are what it's like riding on Alameda along the beach.

Now if we can just get Solar (Freakin') Roadways...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Discworld - Uncle Osric

Moving Pictures is probably more full of puns and mentions of things from our world than any other book of the Discworld except for maybe Soul Music.  During my time reading this, I walked by the television as Jennifer was watching TCM and felt a wave of connection between the reading and the movie on the screen.

Again there is magic making animals intelligent.  This is the introduction of Gaspode who has another of my favorite lines in the books: "A door like that bodes."  When asked what it bodes, he responds, "Just general bodingness."

It is certainly another book that the more you know, the funnier it is.  Knowing how the real Academy of Motion Pictures award got its nickname.  Knowing that a silvery metal that requires lots of ore and is heavier than lead most certainly can go bang under the right circumstances.  it's full of little tidbits.

The next book, Reaper Man, was my number one favorite for a long time.  It's a Death book, so no real surprise there.  It held the title until I read  Thief of Time.

------

Appearing in this book:

Death
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor
The Bursar
Chair of Indefinite Studies
Window Poons
Lecturer on Recent Runes
Ponder Stibbons
Dean of Pentacles
The Librarian

Greyhald "Tudgy" Spold
Miss  Marietta Cosmopilite

Sargent Fred Colon
Corporal Nobbs
Vetinari, The Patrician
Silverfish the alchemist
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Unseen University
Things from the Dungeon Dimensions
Gaspode, the Wonder Dog
Cabbages
The Head Priest of Blind Io
The Mended Drum
Harga's House of Ribs
Sham Harga
Morraine the Troll
Rock (ne Galena) the Troll
Ankh-Morpork
Unseen University

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Loving Lunch

Today, I went to a new pizza place in Walnut Creek.  It's new to WC, but not a completely new shop.

It's called Project Pie.  The best way to describe it is to imagine a pizzeria run like a Chipotle.

You come up, and order, they use a cool machine to flatten your dough into a personal pizza size, and then you either choose a pre-made selection, or direct them how to build it.

It's a thin crust pizza that is cooked in a fire oven, and ready amazingly quick.  And it tasted amazing.

The shop I was at just opened this week, so they're waiting on their liquor license, so there will be a bar to look forward to on non-work days.

If you're in the area, or near one of the other locations, I encourage you to check them out.

Now, Where's my Wine?

Okay, so I'm guessing there won't be crossovers with the Arrowverse, but I'm glad to see bright colors in this.

Plus I'm really into cheesy, which is probably why I like "The Flash" TV show so much.



I'm into this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Discworld - Not So Faust

Eric is Terry Pratchett's direct take on the story of Faust.

Of course he twists it, and adds the common Discworld stubbornness and need for clarification that applies to people and demons.

It was a good way for him to get Rincewind out of the Dungeon Dimensions, and the end is vague enough that we will never know how the poor wizzard ends up stranded on the desert island at the beginning of Interesting Times.

And so with this book, Pratchett truly shines with the way he makes things his.  He also again challenges the reader to go and find the source material.  Go and read it, and see how much funnier the work is for it.  Having seen "MacBeth" (both Gibson and Brannaugh's versions) makes Wyrd Sisters that much better.  And having seen Richard Burton's "Faust" and having read it way back in high school makes this book even better.

Pratchett challenges his reader.  Not having read the classics or mythology is like not knowing mythology and studying astronomy.  Sure, you can remember the names of everything, but the stories in the background make it all come alive.

------

Appearing in this book:

Rincewind
Ankh-Morpork
The Mended Drum
Herrena, the Henna Haired Harridan
The Luggage
Death
Unseen University
The Rite of Ashk-Ente
The Librarian
The Bursar
The Tsortean War
The Octavo

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Discworld - A Little Death

"Death and What Comes Next" can probably only be considered a Discworld book because the setting is so vague, and yet takes place between a philosopher and Death.

This story is very short, and seems a thought experiment or idea that Pratchett had, but didn't think he could drop in anywhere in a book.

------

Appearing in this book:

Death
Quantum

Discworld - Mummy!

Pyramids is often a stumbling book in the Discworld series. While it has some fun parts to it, the setting is so different that it takes time getting used to it.

But once things get moving, there is actually quite a lot in this book.

It has one of my favorite lines "Fish and chips for men." with regards to eating blowfish and a certain poisonous root, two things that unless properly prepared will kill the consumer.

It also puts forth for the first time that belief shapes the gods of the Discworld.

But this is probably the book I like the least in the series.

-------

Appearing in this book:

Death
Cabbage
Ankh-Morpork
Guild of Assassins
Ephebe
Tsort
"Pull the other one..."
The Brass Bridge
Dr. Cruces
The Tsortean War
Belief Shapes Gods
Quantum
Fractals
Bells of the Hours

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pun Time

I'm hoping this translates well written down...



So, Saturday morning, Jennifer and I were talking about breakfast, and I looked at the time.

It was 8:50.

I said, "Did you know you can get sick from the time?  Twice a day, you could get ten-to-nine-tis."



Thank you.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

75 Years of Shazam!

I don't know if I missed the DC celebration for Shazam (the character formerly known as Captain Marvel).  I never saw it, but since his first appearance was in February of 1940, I'm thinking there should have been something.

My first Shazam comic was "Shazam!" #16.  This was not long after DC bought up the property, but still had 12 years before they would integrate the Marvel family into regular continuity.  The Marvels were still stuck on Earth-5.


The statues coming to life was a cool story, and I was already familiar with Shazam from the Saturday morning live action television show.

But of course there was my first introduction to parallel worlds with "Superman" #276 with the confusing (to me) Captain Thunder with a sun emblem on his chest.


This one was DC's way of having Superman fight Shazam without actually doing it.  There were lots of similarities, and it was very strange to my 6 year-old self.

Discworld - Tiny Tales

After finishing Guards! Guards!, I discovered that not only had I skipped a book, I had skipped a short story as well.

While "Troll Bridge" is not Pratchett's first short story, it was the first of them set in Discworld.

It was a story that got me to buy a book that was a collection of short stories called After the King.  And at the time it was like methadone getting me to the next Pratchett book.

Pratchett uses a little bit of magic in having the horse talk (it having formerly belonged to a wizard), and acts as Cohen's... not conscience, but more like the voice of least resistance.  It would certainly have been a great horse for Rincewind to have.

Pratchett also continues the naming convention of the trolls to be rocks.  I was laughing a bit at a troll named Mica though.

------

Appearing in this story:

Cohen the Barbarian
Trolls

Discworld - They're Watching You

Now we are finally at the beginning of the tales of the Watch with Guards! Guards!.  Vimes is mostly a diminutive Clint Eastwood, but had bits of Humphrey Bogart thrown in.  Again there are beginning hints of the power of narrative.  Once again, Pratchett weaves a story that wanders around the city and comes tightly together at the end.

Jennifer said that as Pratchett writes a book, his "chapters" start long and by the end sometimes they're little more than a few paragraphs long.  To be fair he rarely uses chapters until he gets to the tales of Moist von Lipwig, but instead separates scenes by a white space break, but what she says holds true.  It reminds me of a prose poem we read my junior year of high school.  It used varying spacing in it to indicate different speeds fo events.  It was about a cowboy doing trick shooting, and the rapidity of shooting a series of cans had the words of the numbers almost merged into a single word.

When Pratchett is in his stride, his writing is reminiscent of that.

[Also, I seem to have jumped ahead in my eagerness to get to the Watch.  I'll be backtracking for "Troll Bridge" and Pyramids.]

------

Appearing in this book:

Carrot Ironfounderson (Lance Constable/Constable)
Samuel Vimes (Captain)
Sybil Ramkin (Lady)
Fred Colon (Sergeant)
Nobby Nobbs (Corporal)
Havelock Vetinari (Lord Patrician)
The Librarian
L-Space
Unseen University
Ankh-Morpork
Igneous the Troll
Detritus the Troll
Harga
Blind Io
The Trousers of Time
Copperhead
Dwarven Kings
A Dwarf Bar
Dwarf Bread
The Mended Drum
The Million to One Chance
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Intelligent Rats
Death
Cabbage
Boggis
Jimkin Bearhugger's Whiskey

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Discworld - More Witches!

One of the things I like most about Wyrd Sisters is the blend of Shakespeare in it.  Yes the main story is a blend of "Macbeth" and "Hamlet", and of course there are mentions and nods to other Shakespeare plays, but the play that is performed also has nods to "Richard III".

Wyrd Sisters is one of those books that I look back on and wonder how much Pratchett had planned out beforehand.  It's so intricate and interwoven.  The slips of non-prophecy prophecy are just great.

We also start to get hints about the power of stories on the Disc.  This will come back in Witches Abroad.

------

Mentioned in this book:

Granny Weatherwax
Nanny Ogg
Magrat Garlick
The Ramptops
Lancre
The Forest of Skund
Black Aliss
Ankh-Morpork
Chrysoprase the Troll
The Fool's Guild
The Assassin's Guild
The Thieve's Guild
Boggis
The Mended Drum
The Librarian
Standing Stone(s)
The Fool/Verence II
The Dysk theatre
Blind Io
Hoki
Herne the Hunted
Dwarf bars
Dwarven song of gold
Leonard of Quirm
Eldritch means Oblong
Cabbage
Death
Greebo
"The Hedgehog Song"
"A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End"

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thank You

So, this weekend, was a mixed bag of emotions and friends.  Jennifer was traveling, so I was on my own.

Friday night, I spent with two of my best friends.  We had a great time together being geeks and watching "Game of Thrones".  John and I... strode to BART in the rain, and I rode home in the dark and the rain.  As always, I'm glad that I keep Ziploc bags in my vest for electronics protection.

Saturday was too windy to ride, so I lingered at home and did little electronic and computer projects.  And lots of free time spent thinking about missing Jennifer and other people.  I'm no longer in contact with.  But I had cats to keep me company.

Sunday was a day for an amazing ride along the water to Richmond and back.  Winds were low and the sun was high.  And after the ride, more time with the cats.

Today, I came across the below graphic.  It appears to have been captioned by someone other than the artist.  However the sentiment is great.  Thank you to all of my friends.


The original is here.



YouTube of Ice and Fire

There are times in the world when you know you're screwed.

I remember a story of a couple in a car racing away from the Mt. St. Helen's eruption.  They barely made it to safety ahead of the pyroclastic flow.  The driver said he passed a car while he was going over 100 mph.  The other car didn't make it out.

I think I've written before about my most viewed episode of Nova about the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.  The giggle we all let out when volcano is going off, and the scientists are racing for the car.  One of them (the passenger) runs around and yells, "Open the door... open the fucking door!"

Then there's the mountain climbers in Japan who hid in a temple while a volcano turned the land around them into an ash covered wasteland.

Then there are two just from this weekend.

The first is a guy who must have felt he was screwed, but apparently made it out okay.  He captured the initial eruption of Mt. Calbuco.



Adn then there's the climbers at the Mt. Everest base camp.  I'm sure they must have felt something from the Nepal earthquake.  But I don't see how they could have had any idea what was coming.



Once again, one of the simple, but powerful, bit of wisdom from Will Durant comes to mind:

"Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice."

75 Years of the Joker

So, I know that there used to be a Joker comic book back from before I was collecting.  I never had any of those.  The first Joker story I remember is the first Batman story I remember.

But the biggest Joker story I remember was in a tabloid sized coloring book that I had.


The Joker had decided that he was going to commit crimes that were related to sadness instead of laughter.  I vaguely remember that he even had a Joker-mobile.

The attraction of the book was supposed to be the back cover which was a Batman action shot.


Al I know is that I cut it off, and then carried the comic around without a back cover.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Who's Watching?

So, I've got great friends.

I've got friends that work in tech who give great advice.  I've got friends that are crafty and make things for me.  I've got my best friend who is a writer, so we go out drinking together.  And while most of them are geeky, some are more geeky than others.

I have a former coworker (Holly) who goes to lots of conventions.  This past Saturday she went to Big Wow Comicfest in San Jose.  We were having lunch on the Friday prior, and she excitedly told me that Dave Gibbons was going to be there.  Now, I had a wedding I was going to on Saturday, and if I'd known earlier I would have handed something off to my friend for her to take to get signed.

Then Monday were chatting over Yahoo Messenger, and she said that Gibbons was going to be at Flying Colors Comics Wednesday afternoon.  Again, I'm committed that afternoon to help out at mom's with laundry and cleaning.  Holly offered to come by Tuesday, and pick up something I wanted signed, and then bring it back to me on Thursday (today).

Now, I have the original 12 issue comic set (I may actually have two) somewhere in a long-box in storage.  I could have gone to get them Monday afternoon, but it was cold and windy, and I thought I be okay.  I'd be okay, because I have one DC Absolute edition on my bookshelf: The Absolute Watchmen.  Now this is like a special edition DVD for comic books.  It's oversized, and comes in a slipcase.  It's great to read and see all the artwork enlarged.

Holly asked if I wanted my name in the signing, and I said sure.  She does know how to spell my name, which some people still have trouble with, and so Tuesday I handed it off to her.  Last night she sent me a picture via text, and today she dropped it off to me.

It is so much more impressive in person, but here is the picture she sent me:


Now, I know I owe her lunch.  So we're getting pizza next Friday.





Discworld - Wizzard's Return

And so we come to the end of the first five books that I read back to back (to back...) when I first was introduced to Terry Pratchett: Sourcery.  And so I had to wait like everyone else from that point to read the next book.  I didn't yet realize the depths that Pratchett would take his books.  Aside from Mort, they still seemed to be more poking fun at the fantasy genre and not so much being general satire set in a fantasy world.  The next book is a return to (introduction to) the kingdom of Lancre and Pratchett's mash-up of Shakespeare.

Sourcery has many parts, but it hints at a prophecy without ever stating it.  And it also brings up that it is an end of the Disc prophecy that may or may not be true.  And of course the Disc doesn't end.  Pratchett also makes this the last book for a while that involves a Disc-spanning disaster.  He will go on from here to do mostly localized events.  Of course that doesn't mean that city destroying dragons, pocket universe/kingdoms, and wars won't be coming in the future.

------

Appearing in this book:

Rincewind
The Luggage
The Librarian
Unseen University
Death
Binky
The Four Horsemen
The Ramtops
Blind Io
Offler the Crocodile-Headed God
Ankh-Morpork
The Dungeon Dimensions
Klatch
Intelligent Rats
The Mended Drum
Herrena, the Henna Haired Harridan
Wuffles

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stories

So, I've been going through my hard drive lately, and I've come across some of my old writings from college.

I've put up one of my favorites in a page on the blog.

I remember becoming enamored with the poem "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll when a girl in college who I had a crush on had an amazingly illustrated book of the poem.  Then it started showing up in places, so I worked to memorize it.

Then of course, I had to write something about it.

You can check it out on the following linked page.  It's called "Beamish Boy".

Monday, April 20, 2015

Discworld - Welcoming Death

Terry Pratchett's Mort focuses on who I think was Pratchett's favorite character Death.

Death in his multiversal manifestation appears in every book Terry Pratchett and in most of his short stories.  When typeset properly (always in the English publications, and eventually in the American publications) Death speaks in all capital letters, but with the small caps chosen, and with no quotation marks.  It's a typographical trick that reminds me of the Kirlian Saga by Piers Anthony who indicated different species speaking by using odd punctuation in place of quotation marks.

But this first book to focus on Death, begins to hint at how the power of belief works on the Discworld.  It's easy to get lost in the story of Mort taking over for Death, but the parts with Death fading to become (nearly) human at the end are important bits too.

There are times I consider reading the books my topic.  There are the Rincewind books, the Witches, the Watch, and Death.  But as I list the recurring items that get mentioned in the books, I see that Pratchett had a very strong feel for his entire world with its history, geography, and nations.

------

This book contains appearances by:

Death
Binky
Albert (Alberto Malich)
Leshp
Mort
Ysabell
Princess/Queen Keli of Sto Lat
The Librarian
Rincewind
Bes Pelargic
Unseen University
The Million to One Chance
Blind Io
Offler the Crocodile Headed God
Hoki
Fate
The Small Gods
Ankh-Morpork
The Ramtops
Octarine Grass Country
The Curry Gardens restaurant
The Mended Drum
Harga's House of Ribs
Sham Harga
Cabbage
The Rite of Ashk-Ente

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Discworld - the First Witch

And so we come to the first book of Terry Pratchett's witches: Equal Rites.  And through this book we learn that Pratchett has a vision of not just of the geography of the City of Ankh-Morpork and the continents of the Disc, but a full structure of the various ways that the parts of the continent connect.  He has rivers and mountain ranges.  He also has the beginnings of the idea of the inherent magicalness of the Ramtop Mountains.

Equal Rites flows smoothly from beginning to end with just slight hiccups that I feel are more due to editing than writing.

Again, Pratchett had many ideas he wanted to get down, and you can fully sense that there is more to come.

------

This book contains appearances by:

Granny Weatherwax
Eskarina Smith
The Librarian
Ankh-Morpork
The Shades
Unseen University
The Dungeon Dimensions
Death
Gargoyles
Dwarves
Headology
Bad Ass (of the Kingdom of Lancre)
The Ramtops
The Million to One Chance
Hoki
Cabbage
Mrs. Whitlow