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:


"A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob on the End"
"The Hedgehog Song"
Ankh-Morpork
Black Aliss
Blind Io
Boggis
Cabbage
Chrysoprase the Troll
Death
Dwarf bars
Dwarven song "Gold, Gold, Gold"
Eldritch means Oblong
Grabpot Thundergust the Dwarf
Granny Weatherwax
Greebo
Queen Griminir
Headology
Herne the Hunted
Hoki
Hwel, Tomjon, and Vittoler's men - The Dysk
Lancre
Leonard of Quirm
Magrat Garlick
Nanny Ogg
Old Poorchick and his cow
Standing Stone(s)
The Assassin's Guild
The Fool/Verence II
The Fool's Guild
The Forest of Skund
The Librarian
The Mended Drum
The Ramptops
The Thieves' Guild
The Vampire Queen of Lancre

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:

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

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

Ysabell

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:

Ankh-Morpork
Bad Ass (of the Kingdom of Lancre)
Cabbage
Death
Dwarves
Eskarina Smith
Gargoyles
Granny Weatherwax
Headology
Hoki
Mr. Skiller
Mrs. Whitlow
Ohulan Cutash
Simon
The Dungeon Dimensions
The Fiddler's Riddle
The Librarian
The Million to One Chance
The Rag Rug
The Ramtops
The Shades
Unseen University
Zoons

Monday, April 13, 2015

Discworld - The Beginning - UPDATED

So before the weekend started, I finished Terry Pratchett's The Light Fantastic.  This is essentially part two of the first Discworld story continuing from The Colour of Magic.

In the first book, Pratchett's storytelling skills evolve in the four sub-parts of the book.  Puns are pretty in your face at the beginning, and some are even pointed out directly, but as the book progresses they begin to fade into the fabric of the story.

The world itself develops and becomes more real.  There is specific geography in both the cities of Ankh-Morpork and the Disc itself.  By the second book, Pratchett is moving into his signature style.  And at the same time, the seeds for future books are scattered throughout.

I know there are many out there who won't begin the series because of Pratchett's writing style int he beginning, but there are so few Rothfusses out there.  George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire is pretty consistent in skill, but he'd been writing other things for years.  Jim Butcher's Codex Alera is also consistently excellent, but he'd also already written several Harry Dresden books which a rereading will show a lot of writer's growth.

If you haven't read them, and enjoy a good fantasy story, I strongly recommend the Discworld.  Allow the writer to create his world.  By the second book he has found his pace.  And by the third book, he'll show he's in it for more than a marathon.

------

Recurring characters and themes appearing in these books:

A curry restaurant
A statue of Malich the Wise
Ankh-Morpork
Bes Pelargic
Blind Hugh
Blind Io
Cohen the Barbarian
Death (and Binky)
Death's daughter (Isabell)
Dragons
Dungeon Dimensions
Eldritch means Oblong
Elves
Fate
Goldeneyes Silverhand Dactylos
Greyhald Spold
Hrun the Barbarian
Offler the Crocodile-Headed God
Rimfishers
Rincewind
The Assassins' Guild
The Broken Drum
The Brown Islands
The Circumfence
The City Watch (with a fat, lazy sergeant)
The Forest of Skund
The Four Horsemen
The Gingerbread House/The Witch
The Lady
The Librarian
The Luggage
The Octavo
The Patrician (still debated on whether or not this is Vetinari)
The Pointless Albatross
The Rite of Ashk-Ente
The Thieves' Guild
The Tooth Fairy
Traveling Magic Shops
Twoflower
Unseen University


Monday, April 06, 2015

Away from the Discworld

So, I've completed the books that I want to read from Terry Pratchett that are not part of the Discworld series.  Pretty much the only ones I've left out are The Carpet People and the Bromeliad Saga.

I've really enjoyed the Johnny Maxwell trilogy.

Nation is a fun story of south Pacific natives and a European shipwreck after a tsunami from a volcanic eruption.  And that's not completely redundant.

Dodger is a great historical fiction set in London before Charles Dickens has begun writing his fiction.

I only realized from this reading that The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata may be written in the same science fiction universe.  I can only imagine what Pratchett could have done as an author if he had decided to write his satire in an arcing sci-fi story instead of fantasy.

And now I have the 40 books of Discworld to look forward to, as well as several short stories, and addendum books.  Perhaps before I finish the series, Pratchett's final book (a fifth story of Tiffany Aching) will be released.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Sunsets

So, last year some time, I started taking pictures of sunsets.  With the new year, I thought I would try to take a picture every night.  I've missed a few due to uncontrollable circumstances.  The most annoying was the day I got the flat after riding through Temescal.

I had wanted to go to either the end of the Powell Street spit or the University Avenue park to get a shot of the sunset through the Gate, but I wasn't able to get home in time let alone get to the water.  They woudl have been amazing too, because the clouds were so fluffy.  I go a few walking my bike, but they aren't quite the same.

Today, I came across a link to a sunset taken from an office in the Mission on March 24 this year.



And here is what I got from that evening:






Thursday, April 02, 2015

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty...

So, my computer is on at home because I've been uploading my photos to my Amazon Cloud.  And the fan tends to run on high, because the innards are pretty crowded.

My cats have begun curling up next tot he computer to enjoy the warmth.  Usually they just change facing regularly to keep the heat even.

Jennifer just sent me this picture of Oscar:


I think his nose got cold.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Yeah, It's THAT Day Again

So, today is the kind of day that you trust nothing that you read online.

Especially from cartoonists/comic artists.

One year a bunch of syndicated artists traded drawing their strips.  Occasionally webcomic artists do the same.  The best trick was one year that a group of them wrote that they had decided to get out of doing comics and that another artist would be taking over for them.  If you only read one strip, you would have been fooled.  Fortunately, I was reading all of them, and found the circle of deceit.It was fun later that year to meet one of the artists at Wondercon and tell them they had gotten me.

I am fortunate that my best friends were never into fooling each other.  I think we all feared retaliation and escalation.

So I will leave with two facts.

First, today is the birthday of a friend.  And I feel sorry for him on his birthday every year.

Second, I've been in Emeryville now for four years.  This morning on my ride in to work, I saw my first (pair of) raccoon.  Jennifer and I encountered a family of skunks the night we were walking back from seeing "Man of Steel," but these are the first raccoon.  But in their defense, it is garbage pickup day.

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