Monday, December 21, 2015

Geek Stuff

As you can see, I've been doing some minor blog renovations.  I widened the columns and added some new widgets.  To the left is the Goodreads Reading Challenge progress.  I'm reading my 100th book of the year right now, and honestly there's no way I could have done it without reading Pratchett.  To the right is another Goodreads widget that shows my activity on that site.  It allows me to just track my books there and not have to work as hard to keep the current read updated.  I'm still tracking the list of read books below that though.

I've recently finished the latest from Christopher Moore, Secondhand Souls, which was a lot of fun.  It's also cool to read books that take place near where you live, and most of his books take place in San Francisco or down near Big Sur.

Two books recently completed are Peter Clines' 14 and The Fold.  Now, I had tried to read his Ex-Heroes series, but quickly got angry with it being another bunch of zombie books.  These ar3e so much better and more fun.  Of course, they're tied in slightly with the Cthulhu mythos, so if you're not into that, well, that's your fault.  The first is about a surreal apartment complex that was essentially built by the good version of Ivo Shandor from "Ghostbusters".  Then the second is about the... downsides of crossing into parallel worlds and what kind of attention you're likely to attract.  They're a shared universe kind of thing and are a great read.

A few months ago, I had the house to myself, and I needed something strange to watch.  John had told me about the book John Dies at the End by David Wong.  I happened to come across the movie version,l so I thought it might be good to have on while I played SimCity.  Well, SimCity didn't last, because the movie was fascinatingly surreal.  It has two of my favoriate actors for secondary characters Paul Giamatti and Clancy Brown.  They're both the kind of actor that if I see they're in the movie, I almost have to watch it.  So, I had to try the book, and it was so much stranger that the movie.  The movie essentially took the beginning and most of end, and merged them.  It was done, I'm sure, to make a faster paced movie.  So now I'm onto This Book is Full of Spiders, and it's already moving fast.  Plus you have to like any book that has an Epiprologue.

And then there's my computer gaming going on,  We've had two rainy Sundays recently, and while Jennifer has been watching TCM, I've been playing Civilization: Beyond Earth.  I have to say, I wasn't a fan of the turn based gameplay at first, but I'd have been slaughtered by now otherwise.  It's a hell of a game.

Finally, there's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I had so much fun with this movie.  No spoilers.  And I so want to see it again.  Soon.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Spending Time With Mom

I'm really not sure what to say at this point.  After a little over a year of good progress, my mom is really struggling now.

A few weeks ago she was in the hospital for a few days due to a fever.  I saw her in the hospital and she was pretty tired.

Then almost two weeks later she was in again.  But this time, there was harder news.

And then mom and dad made the decision to transition into hospice.

And so, this weekend, apart from visiting on Wednesday and Friday, I threw myself into chores at home.

Jennifer and I got boxes of Christmas decorations from storage, and spent Saturday and early Sunday morning decorating.  We also had pad see ew for Thanksgiving, because we were neither of us interested in turkey this year.  I got my fix of semi-traditional Thanksgiving food by having country ham when I was at my parents'.  And then yesterday, I told Jennifer I was going to do more chores.

So, after taking the empty boxes back to storage, while Jennifer cleaned up plastic pine needles and did general cleaning, I took care of lots of "manly-man" tasks around the house that I had been putting off.

New wheels on our wheelie cart.  Check.

Assemble and hang giant map on stairway.  Check.

Hang fancy shelves and mirror in bedroom.  Check.

And then I assisted in the last stages of clean-up.

And the house looks great:

This year we bought a set of advent ornaments for the tree in our foyer.  That's what's in the basket and why the tree seems so bare.










Friday, October 23, 2015

At This Time, I Only Eat Hot Dogs and Artichokes

So, John and I regularly chat during the day on YIM.  Some days it's only a few sentences, and others it's long conversations.

His first message to me today was to ask if I'd seen the super-cut "Star Wars - The Force Awakens" trailer.  It combines all of the footage from the three trailers.  I finally got some time and watched it.  You can too:



I told him when I was done that I was now seven-years-old and want all the toys.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Duck Army Videos

Have you seen the Duck Army video?



When I showed this to my wife and friends, there were 8 million views, and as I compose this there are over 9.6 million views.

Now, Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) saw this video and had to have his own collection.



And we all have the same reaction as Adam does.

But Adam made a duck bomb.



Adn then now, he has made a hanging bomb.



And here's how he made it.



Now, as Adam says, these are dog toys.  My Dad and I could not imagine them lasting long against a dog, but apparently, they are pretty sturdy.  Also, pretty annoying.



I'll admit that I did this post mostly to have all of these videos together for myself, but...  Share and Enjoy!

Music Thoughts

Yesterday, Mark Knopfler's song "Going Home" from the "Local Hero" soundtrack came on my iPod.  I think I listened to it four times.

When touring with Dire Straits, Knopfler used to close the concert with that song.  I first heard it as the last song on the live concert album Alchemy.  It's an amazing song.

And actually the entire "Local Hero "soundtrack is interesting with some very touching portions.  And listening to "Going Home" you can easily see why he was chosen to do the soundtrack for "The Princess Bride".

Monday, October 12, 2015

Long Weekend

So, I took a long weekend on Friday (in no way connected with not getting Columbus Day off on Monday) and had a special fun weekend.  I'll take it backwards.

Sunday, Jennifer was look for something to watch on Amazon, and she happened to come across "Back to the Future".  Now this movie is 30 years old, and I would have bet large sums of money that we had watched it together, but apparently not.  So we watched it and she really enjoyed it.  I asked if she wanted to watch Part II, and she said sure.  We almost didn't watch Part III, but she was hooked.  It was a great movie marathon.

Saturday was our monthly GURPS game.  We had a good length session and had lots of fun and laughs.  I was sore and a little distracted, but that was to be expected.

Friday, I started a new tattoo piece on my arm at a tattoo shop called Tigers Blood Social Club that Jennifer and I found on Alameda a few months ago.  And Friday, it was my turn back under the gun.

I've been pondering the concept of this portion for a bit, and have been looking at this artwork for inspiration.  The symbol in the artwork is a stylized S from the font that DC uses for the Kryptonian language in the comics and was also used on "Smallville".  I asked Ryan, the artist, to combine the artwork with a design from this t-shirt.


It was a long session, but we talked about movies and music and comics.


Ryan is traveling next month, so I'll be going back in December, and we'll see if we can finish this one.  I will say that the arm (at least where I got mine done) was a lot easier than on the back.  He was rarely tattooing and making my skeleton vibrate.





Thursday, October 01, 2015

Hearing the Martian

So, I take regular walks at work to keep from sitting all day.  I thought it would be good to listen to something other than music, so I've been catching up on my podcasts.  Until I started walking, I hadn't listened to podcasts since finishing fieldwork in Lodi.  You see, I like to read while on BART, and so I have music for that, and I would listen to podcasts while I was driving to and from Lodi.

Now my two main podcasts are Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's "SModcast".  I've been listening to it pretty much since the beginning, and it's lots of fun.  However, I ran out of those.  I also listen to Kevin's "Fatman on Batman" in which he interviews people associated with Batman in movies, TV, and animation.  Lately it's become an overall celebration and chat about all things comic books with Marc Bernardin.  I have also recently run out of those as well.

So, I went looking and found out that Adam Savage does a podcast called "Still Untitled".  Now, it's not news that I really like "Mythbusters", so this just kind of follows along.  And this podcast is all kinds of fun.  My only complaint about it is that it is too short.  Or at least, it seems that way.

I've already written about Andy Weir's The Martian, but there is more to the story now.  Adam interviewed Andy in the video below:



And recently, I listened to the podcast spoilercast of The Martian.  I won't embed that one because if for some reason you haven't read it yet, and want to, the temptation to watch may be too strong.  Just remember that the movie opens Friday (tomorrow).  One of the things the guys brought up regarding how good the book is, is how great the audio book is.  You see, the majority of the book is written in first person journal format, and the act of having it read to you is a lot like hearing a real first person account of a tale.

So, I picked up the audio book.  It's about an 11 hour MP3.  I started it on Tuesday, and with travel to work, daily walks, and lunches and things, I have managed to be about 8.5 hours into it right now.  It took a bit of will power to get over personal the stigma of smiling, giggling, and snorting at the funny bits while I'm walking around the block in Walnut Creek or while on BART.  And those BART rides haven't all been just from MacArthur station to Walnut Creek, yesterday it was going through Oakland on the way to and from San Leandro.

If you can take the time, listen to the book.

And then tomorrow, go see the movie.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Sunset

Last night before the sun got near the hills of the North Bay, Jennifer pointed out the clouds to me.  they were those amazing clouds you get when it's raining, but the water doesn't reach the ground.  I knew they would end up creating some amazing images once the sun was hidden.  I think I got some good shots.





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Three Books Without Pratchett

So today at lunch, I completed my third non-Pratchett book since finishing the Discworld series.

The Annihilation Score is the latest "Laundry Files" from Charles Stross.  While, I admit it was not as amazing as the first three books of the Laundry Files, I can get an idea of where Stross is going, and I kind of liked the switch in perspective.  This book is the first where we are fully in Mo's head, and I liked the descriptions of what the evilly crafted violin she uses does to her head.  I look forward to future books.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu was well written, but disappointing.  It is so full of tropes that I knew almost everything that was going to happen.  It brings to mind the movies "Dreamscape" and "Robocop" as well as other more generic tropes.  I will probably read the sequel when it comes out, and I will try more of Chu's books, but they won't be go-to stories if I've got other choices.

And I just finished Armada by Ernest Cline which is his second book.  His first book Ready Player One is already in pre-production for being made into a movie.  I can tell that Cline has a lot of popular culture in his head, and apparently the only way he can get it out is to write books.  Ready Player One was non-stop fun for me, but after reading Time Salvager and starting Armada, I became concerned that Armada was being too predictable.  It is as fun to read as his first, and I'll just say that the way that you think it's going to go is wrong.

I now return briefly to Terry Pratchett with an assist to Stephen Baxter for the conclusion to the Long Earth series The Long Utopia.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Learned Something Today...

Unfortunately not in a "South Park" kind of way.

I'm at the Walnut Creek BART station, and I'm wheeling my bike to the gate to exit.  I'm seeing a bunch of guys in suits heading to come in, but they're swinging wide of the over-sized gate (for bikes and wheelchairs and people with large bags, and sometimes, just large people).

Except for this one guy.

The first mark against this guy is that he looks like Marco Rubio.  The second is that he's walking fast toward the large gate.  The third is that he's seen me, and is trying to beat me there.

You see, the over-sized gate is the only one that is the most fitting for the San Francisco Bay Area, because it goes both ways.  And whoever uses it first sets its direction for a few seconds and then it rests to accept riders from either direction.

And what happened was that both of us touched our Clipper cards to the sensor at the same time,  And that essentially shut the gate down for a few seconds.  I stood there until he moved on to another gate, then tried again, and it still wouldn't scan me.  So I moved on to another gate, lifted up mu bike and exited.

All because he couldn't be bothered to walk a couple more steps to a one way gate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lovecraft Movies

So, I was looking something up and mistyped "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and instead typed "The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo".  It got me thinking if there are other Lovecraft inspired titles I could make.  Granted most are difficult to mistype like that, but what about substitution?

The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo
Miskatonic, Inc.
Straight Outta Innsmouth
The Curious Case of Randolph Carter
The Colour Purple from Outer Space
The Shoggoth DA
Whateley and Me

Contributions from friends:
Herbert West-World
Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of Tintalos
Ghoulies
M. Nyalothotep Shayamalan's Elder Signs
Mi-Go Busters
The King in Yellow and I
If I come up with more, I'll post those.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Promises to Keep

So the Robin Williams' movie "Hook" is one of my favorites.  If you've read the original Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie, it's actually a really good sequel.  It stays true to the old tale.

One of the things that Peter says is that his word is his  I can remember learning the hard way that a promise is something you keep, and that breaking a promise is a terrible thing to do.

In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, a promise made by a wizard is something that they can make be true by acting on it before they even make it.  Jennifer and I have enhanced promises by calling them "wizard's promises".  They are guaranteed in our minds.

I have a few other promises out there:

When we became roommates, John and I promised never to pull pranks on each other.  We also vowed never to talk politics in order to maintain our friendship.

To a girlfriend in college, I promised that if I ever got to Paris, I would contemplate Notre Dame and write a poem.

The hardest promise I have to keep is one to another girlfriend.  When I was told that my feelings were too much for her, I said I wouldn't contact her unless she contacted me first.

I hold to that that promise like I do all of the ones I have given.  All of them are important and I intend to keep my word no matter how difficult doing that may become.

Wizard's promise...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Music on My Mind

So, this morning I had a song come up that reminded me of someone I used to date.  I thought I'd do a search of videos and songs to see what I could come up with.

Most of these remind me of dances.













Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Discworld - The End

So when I started the Shepherd's Crown, I read the dedication:

For Esmerelda Weatherwax
-- mind how you go.

I swear that if I hadn't been on the BART platform, I would have started crying.  That's because of what Rhianna Pratchett reported her last words to her father were.  Then as I started reading the book, I started to wonder, and when I got to the office, I found a high resolution picture of the Paul Kidby cover.



Then, I did let go of a few tears.

That's a hi-res picture, so for those who read the Discworld, click on it and see why.

And of course there was my reaction to Chapter Two.

But I finished the book Sunday night.  It is obvious as the afterward states that Pratchett wasn't quite done with this.  But after enjoying Raising Steam so much more after rereading it, I'm sure that the next time I read this it will be a smoother read.

So that's my marathon/tribute read for Terry Pratchett.  I've got a few more of his books to read like The Long Utopia, and the four Science of the Discworld books that compare earth (Roundworld) to the Discworld alternating science chapters with story chapters as well as the Dodger and Raising Steam companion books.  But I'll scatter those in with all of the others in my now much more full reading queue.

------

Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

Agnes (Pedita) Nitt
Annagramma Hawkin
Awfully Wee Billy BigChin, gonnagle
Big Yan
Black Aliss
Boffo
Cabbage
Casanunda
Daft Wullie
Death
Dimity Hubub
Dr. Bustle
Dr. Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Duchess Keepsake
Eskarina Smith
Events in Equal Rites
Events in Hat Full of Sky
Events in I Shall Wear Midnight
Events in Lords and Ladies
Events in Wee Free Men
Events in Wintersmith
Goldeneyes Silverhand Dactylos
Granny Aching
Granny Esmerelda Weatherwax
Hamish
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Herne the Hunted
Hex
Hodgesaaegh
Horace the cheese
Ibid
Igor
Jason Ogg
Jeannie, kelda
Jolly Sailor Tobacco
Lancre
Leonard of Quirm
Letitia, baroness
Long Tall Short Fat Sally
Lucy Warbeck
Magrat Garlick, queen of lancre
Millie Chillum
Miss Perspicacia Tick
Mr. and Mrs. Aching
Mrs. Eunice Proust
Mrs. Lettice Earwig
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Nanny Gripes
Nanny Ogg
Offler, the crocodile-headed god
Om
Petulia Gristle
Ponder Stibbons
Preston
Rob Anybody
Roland, baron
Shawn Ogg
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Clacks System
The Goode Childe’s Book of Faerie Tales
The High-Energy Magic Building
The History Monks
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Low Queen (formerly king) of the Dwarves
The Nac Mac feegle
The Queen of the Elves
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Ramtops
The Stick and Bucket Dance
The toad
Tiffany Aching
Twoshirts
Uberwald
Verence II, king of lancre
Wee Mad Arthur
Wentworth Aching
Xeno
You, the cat

Young Esmerelda

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Great Quotes from the Comics

So, I realize that most people aren't going to appreciate all of these, but maybe you'll get some of them.  I was inspired by watching Daredevil, but some of these others came to mind.

Daredevil on Netflix
DD: ...I want you to walk em through stabilizing him.
Claire: It's not as easy as it looks in the movies, you know.
DD: I don't really go to the movies.

Green Lantern animated movie
Arisa: How come I've never met Mogo?
Hal: Mogo doesn't socialize.

Superman/Batman comic
Crook gets punched by Batman.
Voice in the alley: Are you okay?
Crook: No, I'm not okay.  What planet are you from?
Voice/Superman: Krypton

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Pain of Chapter 2

I won't expound on the title beyond saying that if you have not yet read Terry Pratchett's The Shepherd's Crown, then make sure someone you love is in the room with you when you do.

I started reading this book this morning.  It's been difficult emotionally.  I read some more this evening, and it hasn't gotten much easier.

While I was laying in bed trying to sleep and the tears kept coming, a thought came to me that while many famous people, important people in my fandom, have died that it all means something more to me.

Robin Williams taking his own life was a life ending much too soon.  It was depriving me (and us) of someone who has been entertaining me since "Mork & Mindy".  He had made me laugh through multiple comedy albums and movies.  And now, he's gone.

Leonard Nimoy died, and while it hurt and I thought it was sad, I thought more of the people close to him who were hurting the most: his family and, of course, William Shatner, who had lost a very close friend.

And then Terry Pratchett died and I was without my favorite author.  He was an writer whose books I have been reading for almost 30 years.  He was sick at the end, fighting a disease with no cure.  And now I'm reading possibly the last work of his that the world will ever see.

And what else has happened in this last year?  

Friends have gotten divorces.  Other friendships that were so amazing and fulfilling have been cut off.

And then there's the big news that most of you already know.  A little less than a year ago, my mom was been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She's beaten the odds so far and looks to break through the one year mark when she had been given only six months.  But we're still afraid, and we're still sad.

And so I come to this book, and this chapter, and I am devastated.  Because of all that has come before, and all that lays before me, and all that is happening now.

Auto-correct Slang

Okay, so I got this idea from having a chat conversation with a friend.  She's chatting to me on her phone and is trying to tell me how hot the food was at lunch.  Instead the word "hot" got auto-corrected to "fox".  We went on very briefly (nowhere near as long as someone would) with fox puns, and I began to wonder if a whole new slang could crop up.

There's a thing called Cockney Rhyming Slang that I learned about first from Terry Pratchett's Dodger.  I cannot do a description justice, so if you haven't heard about it before go to the link.

And then of course we have Leet-speak that is both a combination of substituting numbers and characters for letters as well as commonly mistyped words.

There's a bit of this out there already with people who actually say phrases like "BRB" and the like.

But this autocorrect thing.consider the most common and annoying correction to "duck".


I don't know if there are any other really common corrections, but it certainly got me thinking.

Discworld - Lipwig the Pawn

So, last night, I finished Raising Steam.

This year, I've been tracking my reading on goodreads.com.  I said I'd read 100 books in 2015.  And this was before Terry Pratchett died.  When I marked that I was reading Raising Steam, I saw that Patrick Rothfuss had reviewed the book.  I have to agree with him on what it was like the first time I read it.  The book seemed to jump around, and felt rushed.  He mentioned that he hopes that it will read better a second time after a year or two.

I have to say that it was.  This time, Raising Steam seems well paced, but still a headlong rush to the end.  It's a story about the rapid progress that can happen, but also a book of intrigue and adventure.

For anyone who read it once, and hasn't gone back to it yet, I strongly encourage  a re-read.

On a related note, this could have been Pratchett's last book in the Discworld series.  As you can see below, almost everyone and place is mentioned again.  The only thing missing is specific mentions of witches in Lancre.  One is mentioned who likes to take cookies to the clacks towers when young men are working there, so it's probably Nanny Ogg.  Otherwise it would have been a fine final chapter.

However, The Shepherd's Crown is now out, and is obviously the next book in my queue.

------

Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

“Eldritch means oblong”
Adora Belle “Spike” Dearheart
Albrecht Albrechtson
All Jolson
Angua von Uberwald, captain
Ankh-Morpork
Anoia, goddess of utensils stuck in drawers
Ardent
Bashfull Bashfullson
B'hrian Bloodaxe, low king of the dwarves
Billy Slick (Snuff)
Bluejohn, constable
Boffo
Burleigh & Stronginthearm
Cabbage
Charlie
Copperhead
Cunning Artificers
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Death
Diamond, king of trolls
Dolly Sisters
Done-It Duncan
Dr. Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Events in Small Gods
Events in The Last Hero
Events in Snuff
Events of The Fifth Elephant
Events of Thud
Feeney Upshot, chief constable
Fred Colon, sergeant
Goblin in the fairy book
Haddock, constable/acting captain
Harry King, sir
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hygiene
Igor
Igorina
Jimkin Bearhugger's
Koom Valley (Accord)
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald
Lancre
Leonard of Quirm
Leshp
Llamedos
Lu-Tze
Madame Sharn
McSweeney Dynasty
Micromail
Moist von Lipwig
Morris dancing
Mr. Bent
Mr. Fusspot, bank chaidog
Mr. Pony
Mr. Skiller
Mr. Slant, Lawyer’s Guild
Mr. Trooper
Mrs. Bradshaw
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Ned Simnel
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Nugganites
Ohulan Cutash
Otto Chriek
Ponder Stibbons
Queen Keli
Queen Ynci
Reg Shoe
Rhys Rhysson, low king (queen) of the dwarves
Rincewind
Sacharissa Crisplock
Sally von Humpeding, captain
Sam Vimes, knight, duke, commander
Shatta
Shine of the Rainbow
Slake
Sto Lat
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes, ducchess
Tak
Tears of the Mushroom
The Alchemists' Guild
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Post Office
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Assassins' Guild
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Clacks System
The Dark Clerks
The Fiddler's Riddle
The Forest of Skund
The Golem Trust
The High-Energy Magic Building
The Lawyers' Guild
The Lecturer in Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Pink Pussycat Club
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Royal Bank and Mint of Ankh-Morpork
The Senior Wrangler
The Summoning Dark
The Undertaking
Thomas Goatberger
Two Shirts
Überwald
Unggue
Verence II, king of Lancre

William de Worde

75 Years of Green Lantern

So, strangely enough, my first Green Lantern comic book was also my first Flash book.  You can see the cover in this post.

It was also where I learned a little bit about Aaron Burr and dueling.  I don't remember much else about the story; I'd have to dig it up to refresh my memory.

But it did bring a certain poignancy to this "Got Milk" commercial:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Shepherd's Crown

So, I got this in the mail today...



I nearly made it to completing the Discworld saga before receiving the last book.  I am presently reading Raising Steam which is the fortieth book written; The Shepherd's Crown is the forty-first.

I've got it on my shelf now, waiting for me.

I'm almost as emotional as I was when I first heard the Sir Terry had died.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Musical Memories

This morning on my ride to BART, the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" popped up on my iPod.  I immediately taken back to a party with friends before I was moving away from Kentucky.  We were making a mix tape for me of music that they felt I needed to know.

They gave me some Dire Straits because I had only "Brothers in Arms", and some Earth, Wind & Fire that I asked for, and then they said, "You have 'Sgt. Pepper's, but do you have 'Magical Mystery Tour'?"  I said I'd never heard of it, and so we listened to it while it copied.

Little other music transports me like that.  Phil Collins' "But Seriously..." takes me to the concert at Arco Arena while I was in college.  Occasionally, Dire Straits and the credits music from "Buckaroo Banzai" (and strangely enough "Rock Me Amadeus") will take me to driving the country roads in Maryland.  It happens other times too in small ways, but it's always a surprise.

Discworld - Seeing is Believing

The Last Hero is an amazing graphic novel that brings Rincewind, Leonard of Quirm and Captain Carrot together against Cohen and the Silver Horde.  It's illustrated but the amazing Paul Kidby.  Kidby is to the Discworld what Alex Ross is to comic books.

I remember getting to see Alex Ross on a panel at Wondercon once.  He mentioned how he wanted to recreate, in his style, the iconic Muhammad Ali vs. Superman book cover.  The other artists on the panel said that was huge undertaking, and Ross said it wasn't that big of a deal, you just draw it.  One of the other artists then said, "You're like Superman when someone asks him how he flies, and he says, 'You just jump into the air.'"

Every page has his incredible artwork that perfectly illustrates the characters and the Discworld.  And sometimes it is literally the Discworld that he is illustrating.  Sometimes it's artwork in the margins, sometimes it's a faint drawing behind the text, and occasionally it's an glorious two-page spread.

The story itself seems brief, but there are bleed-over references to artwork, movies,  and other things.  It is a seminal Discworld book.

------

Recurring themes and Characters appearing in this book:

Albert
Ankh-Morpork
Berghodlt Stuttley “Bloody Stupid” Johnson
Bibulous, god of wine
Blind Io
Borogravia
Boy Willie
Butterflies (quantum)
Caleb the Ripper
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Circumfence
Cohen the Barbarian
Death
Dried frog pills
Errol
Events in Guards Guards
Events in The Colour of Magic / The Light Fantastic
Fate
Fingers Mazda
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hughnon Ridcully, priest of Blind Io
Krull
Leonard of Quirm
Lord Downey, Assassins’ Guild
Mad Hamish
Mr. Boggis, Thieves’ Guild
Mr. Slant, Lawyers’ Guild
Mrs. Palm, Seamstresses’ Guild
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Nuggan
Offler, the crocodile-headed god
Old Vincent
Om
Omniscope
Parrot labeled "Dog" (picture)
Patina, goddess of wisdom
Ponder Stibbons
Rimfishers
Rincewind
Sam Vimes, commander, duke, knight
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes
The Agatean Empire
The Bursar
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Clacks System
The Counterweight Continent
The Dean
The Death of rats
The High-Energy Magic building
The Lady
The Lecturer in Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Luggage
The Million-to-One Chance
The Pointless Albatross
The Silver Horde
The Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons
Truckle the Uncivil

Unseen University

Discworld - Everybody Does It

The World of Poo is the second tie-in book for the Discworld.  It's another children's book, but this time one that is trying to teach more than just reading.

It rides the edge of a book that is set in a world that is setting itself in that same work being fictional in that fictional world.  It was fun to read, and brought out even more Pratchett's interest Victorian times.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book:

Ankh-Morpork
Bergthodlt Stuttley “Bloody Stupid” Johnson
Cabbage
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Cunning Artificers
Dimwell
Doughnut Jimmy
Events in Feet of Clay
Felicity Beedle
Gumption snuff
Harry King, knight
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hygiene
Igor
Interchangeable Emmas
Jolly Sailor Tobacco
Offler, the crocodile-headed god
Omnia
Sto Lat
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes
The Agatean Empire
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Opera House
The Brass Bridge
The College of Heralds
The Counterweight Continent
The Quantum Butterfly
The Street of Alchemists (guild)
The Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons
Uberwald
Unseen University
Young Sam Vimes

Discworld - A Primer of Animals and Citizens

Where's My Cow? is the first tie-in book from the Discworld.  It strikes me as similar to Goodnight, Opus as a book that tells the story of a children's book and a departure from the text.

Sure, it's a short book, but it's silly fun, and truly a children's book for an adult.

------

Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

Coffin Henry
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Detritus
Foul Ole Ron
Gaspode (pictured)
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Sam Vimes, commander, duke, knight
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes
The Librarian
Where's My Cow?
Young Sam Vimes

Discworld - Just Taxes

"A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices"  is a simple continuation of the ongoing argument of Unseen University paying its taxes.  And ties with A.E. Pessimal first seen in Thud.

It's unremarkable, but a fun bit of wizard arguing.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this story:

A.E. Pessimal
Braseneck College
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Mustrum, Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Ponder Stibbons
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Dean
The Lecturer in Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Senior Wrangler

Unseen University

Discworld - Watching Vacation

Snuff is another fine book of the Watch and Sam Vimes.  It's also another tightly written book.

It's the second book to have a tie-in book written for it: The World of Poo.  And no, I didn't forget an "h".

Snuff brings another sentient species into the Discworld in the form of goblins.  They are downtrodden and considered vermin, but we find out that there is more to these sword fodder creatures than people think.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book:

A.E. Pessimal, inspector
All Jolson
Ankh-Morpork
Billy Slick
Blind Io
Burleigh & Stronginthearm
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Cheery Littlebottom, sergeant
Detritus, sergeant
Diamond, king of trolls
Dr. Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Events in Thud
Events in Unseen Academicals
Feeney Upshot, chief constable
Felicity Beedle
Fred Colon, sergeant
Goblin in the fairy book
Gumption snuff
Haddock, sergeant
Harry King, knight
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hourly bells
Hygiene
Igor
Igorina
Koom Valley
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald
Lancre
Lord Ronald Rust
Mightily Oats, reverend
Mr. Slant, Guild of Lawyers
Mr. Trooper
Mr. Trooper
Nac Mac Feegle
Nobby Nobbs, corporal/acting sergeant
Nutt, orc at UU
Octarine Grass Country
Otto Chriek
Ponder Stibbons
Purity, maid
Quirm College for Young Ladies
Rhys Ryhsson, low king of the dwarves
Sam Vimes, commander, duke, knight
Shine of the Rainbow
St. Ungulant's Fire
Stoneface Vimes
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes, duchess
Tears of the Mushroom
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Opera House
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Clacks System
The Dark Clerks
The Duchess of Keepsake (ISWM)
The Goode Childe’s Book of Faerie Tales
The Marquis of Fantailer
The Summoning Dark
Unggue
Unseen University
Verity Pushpram
Wee Mad Arthur
Where's My Cow
William de Worde
Willikins
Young Sam Vimes
Zoons

Friday, August 28, 2015

Six Months in a Nimoy-less World

So, six months ago, Leonard Nimoy passed away.  Recently, William Shatner called for people to send selfies giving the "Live Long and Prosper" hand sign.

He put this together as a tribute:




I think it's a great way to say goodbye to a friend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Discworld - Spirit of Wrath

If Unseen Academicals was the looking for the coat, I Shall Wear Midnight is the saying goodbye to people while looking for the host.  Characters are brought out that we may see for the last time, small themes are wrapped up and put away.  And questions are answered.

Again, my thought that Tiffany is what Esk might have been as a recurring character comes to mind.  Of course Esk showing up in this book shows how the path diverged, but again I get the sense of a path not taken and longed for.

But now, there comes Snuff which is the distraction on the way out the door that brings you back into the party...

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book

!!!!!
Angua von Uberwald, captain
Ankh-Morpork
Annagramma
Big Yan
Boffo
Brian, sergeant of the guard
Brutha
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Chaffinch's Mythology
Daft Wullie
Death
Eskarina "Esk" Smith
Events in Equal Rites
Events in Hat Full of Sky
Events in Wee Free Men
Events in Wintersmith
Fred Colon, sargeant
Goblin in the fairy book
Granny Aching
Granny Weatherwax
Haddock, constable
Horace, the cheese
Hygiene
Jeannie, kelda
Lancre
Leticia, baroness
Long Tall Short Fat Sally
Lord Alfred Rust (ancestor of Ronald Rust)
Magrat Garlick, queen of Lancre
Mightily Oats, reverend
Miss Level
Miss Perspicia Tick
Miss Sacharissa Crisplock
Miss Treason
Mr. and Mrs. Aching
Mr. Trooper
Mrs. Eunice Proust
Mrs. Snapperly
Nac Mac Feegle
Nanny Ogg
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Petulia Gristle
Preston
Rob Anybody
Roland
Sam Vimes, commander, duke, knight
Simon
Stoneface Vimes
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Baron of the Chalk
The Duchess of Keepsake
The Goode Childe’s Book of Faerie Tales
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Royal Ankh-Morpork Opera House
The Royal Art Museum of Ankh-Morpork
The Toad
The Unreal Estate
Tiffany Aching
Two Shirts
Unseen University
Verence II, king of Lancre
Wee Mad Arthur, constable
Wentworth
You, the cat

Discworld - Be a Sport

Unseen Academicals was a book that came out after a seeming drought of Discworld books.  Pratchett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at this point, and we all were wondering how he would continue.  I think he ended up slowing down with the writing, but at the same time was trying to get everything in his head out onto paper that he could.

This was not yet the saying goodbye, but it was like the beginning of the looking for you coat at the end of the party.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book:

“A lie can run around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.”
“The world is an oyster.”
Adrian Turnipseed, professor
Alphonse Nobbs, bledlow (no relation)
Angua von Uberwald, sergeant
Ankh-Morpork
Bergholdt Stutley “Bloody Stupid” Johnson
Bill Rincewind
Bishop Horn
Bluejohn, constable
Boffo
Bows & Ammo
Brazeneck University
Bugarup University
Burleigh & Stronginthearm
C.M.O.T. Dibbler
Cabbage
Death
Diamond, king of trolls
Dimwell
Dolly Sisters
Dr. (Mossy) Lawn
Dr. Hix (Hicks), Head of the Department of Post-Mortem Communications
Emberella
Events in Sourcery
Haddock, constable
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hex
Hwel, dwarf playwright
Igor
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald
Lancre
Lord Rust
Madame Sharn
Micro Mail
Mightily Oats, Reverend/Brother/Pastor 
Molly, maid
Moving Pictures
Mrs. Whitlow
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor UU
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Nutt
Ponder Stibbons
Professor Earwig (retired and married...)
Queen Ynci
Rhys Rhysson, low king of the dwarves
Rincewind
Shatta
Sto Lat
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Art Museum
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Bank and Mint
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Post Office
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Assassins’ Guild
The Beggars' Guild
The Bursar
The Cabinet of Curiosity
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Clacks System
The Dean/Archchancellor Brazeneck University
The Evil Empire
The Fools’ Guild
The High Energy Magic Building
The Koom Valley Accord
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Lecturer of Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Luggage
The Postmaster (Most von Lipwig)
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Royal Opera House
The Senior Wrangler
The Squid in the hall
The Thieves' Guild
The Uberwald League of Temperance
The Undertaking
Thud
Uberwald
Unseen University
Verity Pushpram
William de Worde
Winkle's Old Peculiar

Monday, August 17, 2015

Discworld - All the Money That's Fit to Print

Making Money, a direct sequel to Going Postal, has a lot of things happening in the background.  And looking forward to the next, and last, Mosit von Lipwig book titles Raising Steam, I notice that all three books titles have the same grammatical structure: verb ending in "-ing" followed by a noun.

But this book is lots of fun with another plot to displace/replace Vetinari as the Patrician.  And some of the best lines go to him as well.  My favorite is one from near the end of the book: "Mr. Lipwig, do I need to wear a button that says TYRANT?

It's also another book that visits or mentions a lot of past characters.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book:

"A Fresh egg" (The Rite of Ashk-Ente)
Alberto Malich
Angua von Uberwald, sergeant
Ankh-Morpork
Anoia, goddess of cutlery and things stuck in drawers
Berenice Houser, priestess of Anoia
Black Ribboner; Uberwald League of temperance
Boffo Novelty and Joke Shop
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Cut-Me-Own-Throat “C.M.O.T”. (Claude Maximilian Overton Transpire) Dibbler
Dark clerks
Death
Detritus, sergeant
Dorfl, constable
Dr. Hicks, head of the Department of Post-Mortem Communications
Dr. Whiteface, Fool’s Guild
Drumknott, secretary
Elm Street
Events of Feet of Clay
Fred Colon, sergeant
Gladys, golem
Haddock, constable
Harry King
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Hex
Igor
Jolly Sailor Tobacco
Koom Valley
Lancre
Lord Downey, Assassins’ Guild
Ludmilla Cake
Miss Adora Belle “Spike” Dearheart
Miss Macalariat
Miss Saccharissa Crisplock
Moist von Lipwig
Mr. Bent
Mr. Fusspot, dog, chairman
Mr. Slant, Lawyer’s Guild
Mr. Tiddles, cat
Mrs. Cake
Mustrum Ridcully, Archancellor Unseen University
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Ordained donkey (Ossory's ass)
Otto Chriek
Ponder Stibbons
Professor Flead
Samuel Vimes, commander, knight, duke
Stanley Howler
Tacticus, general
Teemer & Spools
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Bank and Mint
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Post Office
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Assassins’ Guild
The Beggars’ Guild
The Cabbage Stamp
The Cabinet of Curiosity
The Campaign for Equal Heights
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Dark Clerks
The Dark Empire
The Department of Post-Mortem Communications
The Fools Guild
The Golem Trust
The Librarian
The Low King, Ryhs Ryhsson
The Merchants’ Guild
The Orthodox Potato Church
The Pink Pussycat Club
The Squid in the hall
The Undertaking
Tolliver Groat, assistant postmaster
Uberwald
Unseen Unveristy
Vetinari's aunt
William de Worde

Wuffles, dog (deceased)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discworld - Boffo

This time reading through Wintersmith, I began to wonder if this had been part of Terry Pratchett's plan all along: to have a female character growing up through his books.  In Equal Rites, we meet Eskarina Smith as an eight-year-old, and Tiffany is nine in Wee Free Men.  Now I don't know if he had these stories in his head, but Tiffany certainly follows a path much like Esk might have if Pratchett had followed her as much as he does Rincewind and Vimes.

Tiffany is shaping up to be very powerful.  She has fought the Queen of the Fairies (WFM), traveled beyond the door of death (HFoS), and now has learned to be a fulcrum in the transfer of heat and will learn to do something similar with pain.  The only thing she hasn't learned so far to put her closer to Granny Weatherwax's true heir is learning borrowing.

------

Recurring themes and characters appearing in this book:

Ankh-Morpork
Annagramma Hawkin
Anoia, goddess cutlery and things stuck in drawer
Awfully Wee Billy Big Chin
Baron of the Chalk
Big Yan
Boffo
Callus Tacticus, general
Chaffinch's Mythology
Daft Willie
Death
Dimity Hubbub
Eldritch means Oblong
Events from A Hat Full of Sky
Events from Wee Free Men
Gertrude Tiring
Granny Aching
Granny Weatherwax
Greebo
Hamish
Horace, the cheese
Jeannie, kelda
Lancre
Lucy Warbeck
Lulu Darling
Miss Eumenides Treason
Miss Level
Miss Perspicacia Tick
Morris Dancers
Mr. Joe and Mrs. Aching
Mrs. Lettice Earwig
Mrs. Snapperly
Nanny Gytha Ogg
Old Mother Blackcap
Old Mother Dismass
Petulia Gristle
Rob Anybody
Roland de Chumsfanleigh
Sensibility Bustle, wizard
Sergeant Roberts (with Kevin, Nigel, and Trevor)
Shawn Ogg
The Goode Childe’s Book of Faerie Tales
The Hiver
The Nac mac Feegle
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
Tiffany Aching
Tolliver Groat, assistant postmaster
Two Shirts
Unseen University
Wee Dangerous Spike
Wentworth Aching
Where’s My Cow?
You, the cat
Zakzak Stronginthearm

Monday, August 10, 2015

Discworld - Watching Koom Valley

There are two parts in Thud that really struck me emotionally.  They are moments that make me choke up like you read in 60s comic books.  The only other time I'm felt that way in a Pratchett book is at the end of Hogfather when Susan is protecting the forms of the Hogfather.  This time it is when Vimes is running to save Young Sam and when he is stumbling through the dark of the caves.

Pratchett really escalates his game in this book.  The action rolls forward again, but it's stronger and moves into being more Disc encompassing.

This is book 35 in the Discworld series, and I can see the end coming.  I still have The Last Hero, what could really be called the original Discworld graphic novel, to go.  But aside from that and The Shepherd's Crown, I have five books left in the series.

------

Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

Angua von Uberwald, sergeant
Ankh-Morpork
Anoia, goddess of cutlery
Argent, grag
Bashfull Bashfullson, grag
Bergholldt Stutley “Bloody Stupid” Johnson
Bhrian Bloodaxe, First Low King of the Dwarves
Biers
Bluejohn, Constable
Boggis, Thieves’ Guild
Brick
Burleigh & Stronginthearm
Cabbage
Carrot Ironfoundersson, captain
Cheery Littlebottom, sergeant
Chrysoprase
Copperhead
Death
Detritus, Sergeant
Diamond, King of Trolls
Dis-organizer/Gooseberry
Doreen Winkins, countess
Dorfl, constable
Events of Guards! Guards!
Events of Jingo
Events of Night Watch
Events of The Fifth Elephant
Foul Ole Ron
Fred Colon, sergeant
Gimlet and his delicatessens
Grabpot Thundergust
Haddock, constable
Havelock Vetinari, Patrician
Igor
Koom Valley
Lancre
Llamedos
Mr. Pony
Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor UU
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Otto Chriek
Rhys Rhysson, Low King of the Dwarves
Ruby
Sally von Humpeding, constable
Sam Vimes, Commander, Knight, Duke
Scumble
Stoneface Vimes
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes, Ducchess
Tak
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Breccia
The Bucket
The Cabbage Stamp
The Clacks System
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Librarian
The Pink Pussycat Club
The Pork Futures Warehouse
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Royal Art Museum
The Royal Post Office
The Silicon Anti-Defamation League
The Summoning Dark
The Uberwald League of Temperance
Uberwald
Unseen University
Verity Pushpram
Visit "washpot",constable
Where's my cow
Wilkins, butler
William de Worde

Young Sam Vimes

Friday, August 07, 2015

Just a Bit Too Late

Why, oh why, couldn't this have been found a month or so ago?

This would have been a perfect birthday present.  Not that I can think of any of my geologist friends whose wives would let them decorate their bed with this.  But it sure would make a nice blanket for sitting on the couch.

I like the labels, and the fossils and crystals.  But the best thing is the stick-figure trees.  My professors would always draw a line for the surface, and then draw a couple trees and maybe a house or cabin.  The department chair would always joke that this was required in any proper cross section drawing.




I may have to get one anyway.  It's just too cool.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Picky Picky

I'm fine.

No, really I'm fine.

But really, this study is interesting.

I just have to say two things:

1.  Introduce a strange food up to 52 times?  One a week for a year?  Every day for almost two months?  That's not getting used to something, that giving up out of boredom.  Except for hot dogs.

2.  And really, fifty-two times?  Who did this study, DC Comics?

Discworld - Glom of Nit

Going Postal introduces another recurring protagonist to the Discworld: Moist von Lipwig.

One of Moist's philosophies is always keep running because you never know who might be catching you up.  It's very fitting for this book, because it keeps running for its entire length.  It is a fast paced book that bring to mind a roller coaster in reverse.  Even after having head is many times, I found myself looking forward to lunch and time on the train to get back to my reading.

Again, Pratchett is detailing bits of his main city and calling back to the first time the post office was mentioned.  We learn where the missing letters from the motto went.  And we learn more about the working of the clacks system.

Next, is a return to the Watch with Thud.

------

Recurring concepts and characters appearing in this book:

Adrora Belle "Spike/Killer" Dearheart
Angua, sergeant
Ankh-Morpork
Anoia, goddess things that stick in drawers
Berhodlt Stutley "Bloody Stupid" Johnson
Blind Io
Cabbage
Carrot Ironfoundersson, Captain
Clerk Brian
Dark Lord
Death
Dimwell
Dolly Sisters
Dr. Mossy Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Extremelia Mume, priestess of Anoia
Fred Colon, sergeant
Gladys , golem
Goitre, Posthumus Professor UU
Harry King
Havelock Vetinari, Patrician
Hex
Hobson's Livery Stable
Igor
King of Lancre (Verence II)
Ladislav Pelc, Proefessor UU
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald
Lancre
Lela, volcano goddess
Lord Downey, Assassins’ Guild
Miss Macalariat
Moist von Lipwig
Mr. Pony
Mr. Slant, Guild of Lawyers
Mr. Tiddles, cat
Mr. Trooper, hangman
Mrs. Cake
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Offler, the Crocodile-Headed God
Om
Omnniscope
Otto Chriek
Ponder Stibbons
Quantum
Queen (Keli) of Sto Lat
Sacharissa Crisplock
Sam Vimes, knight, duke, commander
Stanley, assistant postman
Sto Lat
Teemer and Spools
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Assassins’ Guild
The Cabbage Stamp
The Campaign for Equal Heights
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Clacks System
The Dark Clerks
The Golem Trust
The Guild of Merchants
The High-Energy Magic Building
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Lecturer in Recent Runes
The Low King of the Dwarves (Rhys Rhysson)
The Mended Drum
The Opera House
The Royal Bank
The Royal Post Office
The Thieves' Guild
Thud, game
Tolliver Groat, junior/senior postman
Uberwald
Unseen University

Witch flying into clacks tower (Granny Weatherwax)



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