January 2009 Archives

Unfinished Business

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So I've started and given up on three books the past couple of weeks. There isn't a common theme really, other than the fact that I just don't have time to read a book I am, at best, lukewarm about. And if they are library books, there is even that much more pressure to either get them read or get them returned.

First up and out was Empress by Karen Miller. The first of the Godspeaker (name should have warned me) trilogy, it is set in a fantasy world where gods rule. Told in the by now typical fashion of changing points of view, each character is, unfortunately, "chosen" in some way by the god (or gods). Sorry, but I tire quickly these days of book about destined or chosen or foretold characters struggling to fulfill there destiny.

Then I started reading Arslan by M. J. Engh, due to a recommendation on a web site which wrote about sci-fi books to recommend to your non-scifi friends. In this case, it was for your "literature" friends. Its first case was Canticle for Leibowitz, which remains a favorite, even if it was read in the distant mists of time. The follow up case was Arslan, a "political SF novel", and tells the story of a town occupied by Arlsan, a young Asian general who somehow has take over the world. I made it about 1/3 the way through and it just wasn't that interesting.

Finally, I'm returning Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag-Montefiore  , which tells the story of Stalin's rise to power and his excesses. And interesting subject, to be sure, but I was intimitated by the book's length (nearly 900 pages) and its failure to keep a common thread. Every other paragraph, it seemed, was another digression, which would soon lead to another digression. It was like Sebag-Montefiore had so much information, as soon as something relating to it came up, off he want to chase it down. It really failed to hold together for me, so I gave up.

I just don't have the time or the laser focus required to struggle through slow parts of books, or to overcome certain prejudice. The god thing in fantasy books has really been getting to me lately. I think that's why I really enjoy Martin's Song of Ice & Fire - no one (well, save perhaps Daenerys Targaryen) has any kind of "destiny" as foretold in song or story and, as he has proven time and time again, any character can get whacked at any time, which adds to the tension. I should just read A Feast for Crows. I've been holding out until A Dance with Dragons comes out, as I heard they were two halves to a whole, but maybe if I start now, I'll finish just about the time Dance comes out.

Best of 2009


So I've started my Best Of 2009 OpenTape by adding The Pretty Things and a couple of songs by Beat Happening. I also have a couple of other new favorites but I don't have the MP3s yet. I'll add them when I get there:



Isn't technology grand? You jump into your car and flip it to your favorite college radio station (WZBC in my case). A great song comes on, getting you bouncing around in the car. Unfortunately, it's just a short jaunt to the grocery store and, even then, this being a college station, you don't know when, or even if, a DJ might come on and even then, might not even announce the song. So you take a quick glance at the clock (about 4:40pm) and hope to look it up when you get home.

Upon landing home, you dash to the web and check the program listing. There, at about the time you were listening, is a song by Beat Happening, a "truly seminal and influential American [band] of the post-punk era" - ah, no wonder it was a great sound.

Disappointingly, you can't find that particular song ("Left Behind") on blip.fm, but there are lots by Beat Happening, so you grab another from that CD, as recommended by AMG, "Fortune Cookie Prize". More great stuff. So you play one from the recommended CD, their last one called "You Turn Me On". You find the "LP's heart and soul", "Godsend" and play that. Wow! Now you have two more CDs that you need to buy. And immediately go on the Best of 2009's list.

Of course, I wasn't thinking out of the box enough. I recently purchased a G1 Google phone and grabbed Shazam, "the amazing music discovery engine", but I forgot about it while I was listening to Beat Happening. So I decided to try it when I got home. First I did an easy one from the local "Classic Rock" station (yes, it is one of my programmed stations, hush now). Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time" was playing. Press the "Tag" button, it samples about 30 seconds of music and bam, found it! Okay, back to 'zbc and challenge it a little. This time, I heard what the DJ was playing next, so it was an easy test. Sure enough, a few seconds of the opening music and Shazam tells me, correctly, it was Angels Of Light playing "Public Embarrassment Blues" - wow!

Amanda, darling

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100 Things about me

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A pretty darned random list of things, but hey, it's easier than thinking. Not sure why Paris deserves three mentions and Boston none...

100 Things In Life

(copied from: Debbie)

Copy the list and highlight the things you've done.

Give your readers MUCH more than they ever wanted to know about you!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (Disneyworld counts, right?)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (well caricature counts, right?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (and more...)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (selling now, in fact - interested in any?)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma
65. Gone skydiving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (well, not me personally, but I contributed...)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a mobile phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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