Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Mongo

That's Mongo.  He passed away this week, after a short illness.

Mongo was a good dog.  Real laid back.  Just liked to mosey, and find someplace to watch the world.  He was patient, and slow to rile, but was intensely loyal and could be fearsome when he felt his people were threatened. 

He was a big dog.  About 150 pounds when we had a growth removed from his forepaw just before Christmas.  His head came to my mid torso, when we stood side by side.

He was goofy.  He LOVED snow. 

He was made for winter.  He was part Kangal, part German.  He was a Shepherd in every sense of the word.



He loved to wander.  He loved to mosey. 

He once got between Shyam and a pissed off mama cow.

He once truly, truly disliked a UPS delivery driver. 

I've always trusted dogs' judgment of people.  Mongo's high among those.  He was friendly with everybody.  That delivery man was the only person I ever saw him react negatively to.

He got sick last week.  Went off his food.   We switched to soft food, in case his teeth were hurting.  He showed some improvement.  But slipped over the weekend.

We tried the emergency vet in Charleston, but they didn't have a veterinarian on duty on a Sunday morning.  (And let me say something, Bradley-McMinn Pet Emergency Clinic, that's pretty shitty).  We took him on to Chattanooga, where the vet prescribed some antibiotics and painkillers.

His condition continued to drop precipitously Sunday. 

We had to have him put to sleep Monday.  He was in too much pain.

I only got to live with him for a couple years, but I knew him for more than seven. 

He was a good dog.

The house seems very empty without him.

Even with the Siamese maniac running around like a lunatic.

Mongo was a good boy.  May he rest in peace.  May we meet him again at the clearing at the end of the path.....

Monday, March 11, 2019

Captain Marvel

Shyam and I wandered out to catch Captain Marvel last night.  In a couple words, we enjoyed it.

A few thoughts (Spoiler Warning, and whatnot):


  • I enjoyed the Brie Larson/Samuel Jackson dynamic.  Lots of good give and take, there.  Impeccable timing between the two.
  • I enjoyed getting to see Samuel Jackson in a Marvel movie not being such a frigging heavy.  When Jackson showed up again in Iron Man 2, his Nick Fury was fun and funny.  The Fury that shows up in the Whedon and Russo Marvel flicks is grim, and not a lot of fun to watch....there's no meat there for him to grab on to, even in Winter Soldier.  
  • Jackson's gasp when the extent of the Flerken is revealed is comic gold.  I could watch that a million times....
  • Kudos for making Ben Mendelsohn and the Skrulls three-dimensional.  Plus, my mind KEPT doing the thing about "Don't trust Skrulls" and "Don't trust Ben Mendelsohn's character" over and over.  
  • The red and gold Captain Marvel color shift when Carol decides to redesign her costume as a nod to Shazam was a nice touch.
  • I enjoyed how bright the movie seemed.  It was a stark contrast to the mid-credits scene, where Carol shows up at the Avengers HQ.  I'm sure that the color palate choice for all the Endgame stuff has been a conscious choice.  It's just pretty harsh how dark it looked, compared to the end of Captain Marvel.
  • Damn, Marvel.  You can make a cat puking entertaining.  I watch that shit several times a year, and it's not nearly so entertaining.....

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Thoughts

Just a few random thoughts.

We watched the movie First Reformed last night.  This past year (three years?) have been rough for trying to catch movies.  We'd intended to catch it when it was in Downtown West last year, but never made it up.  It's streaming, and we sat for it last night.  Great performance from Ethan Hawke.  I am not mature enough, however, to not throwback to an Amazing Jonathan bit near the movie's climax.....

----

After the movie last night, I found out that a former co-worker was killed this week.  Jessica Whaley wasn't typical, inasmuch as there are a lot of employees who come and go, and as soon as they're gone, I don't give them a second thought.

Jessica was different.  I always thought of her as something of a wandering spirit.  She was kind, and had a weird sense of humor, which is where we seemed to connect.   Her mind was usually other places, though.  She had a flighty air that some mistook for a lack of intelligence.  She had a decent head on her shoulders, but sometimes seemed that she'd lost her way.  This didn't always lead to being a model employee.  Still, she was very kind, and she was great with kids, and I was always rooting for her to find her path.

I hate that it ended so soon, and in this way.  There has been an arrest....

----

Tonight is the second anniversary of my Dad's passing.

He collapsed at home somewhere around 10:45 or so.  I was closing the store that night.  Mom called to let me know ambulances were on the way, but that he wasn't breathing, and that he was probably gone.  I made it to their house by 11:20.   EMT's were working on him in the ambulance by then.  They told us they'd gotten a pulse back, and were taking him to the hospital.

We went to the hospital, we waited for two hours in the waiting room.  He was pronounced dead just after midnight.  We weren't told until after two.  That still grinds my ass a bit, our sitting there for two hours, tortured.  We had to ask before anybody could be assed to come tell us anything.

That was the toughest week I'd ever gone through.  I still think of Dad daily.  There have been several times over the past year that I wish he were still here, just so I could talk to him, bounce some of the thoughts rattling around in my head about work, about life.

I don't know how two years passes so quickly.

Two Days Off? In a Row?

Today is the second day of a weekend off.

The first such that isn't associated with a vacation since September.

Yep.  That's great, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Oh, Realty?

Seen whilst wandering the Twitter....

Monday, February 04, 2019

February, and Whatnot

This was my view for the Super Bowl last night.

I'm still not sure how I managed that.

It's my own fault.  I usually try to take a vacation week so that I don't get scheduled out of the game.

Still, I'm not sure how it happened.

I didn't have any particular dog in the hunt.  I just enjoy getting to watch the game with friends.

I dunno.  The whole "holidays are for other people" thing is wearing me out.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Indy

I've been on vacation this week.  Finishing a couple projects.  Watching a few movies.  We've wandered into the Indiana Jones movies this week.  Doing this somewhat out of order, we did Raiders early in the week, Last Crusade last night and Temple of Doom tonight.  

I may even do Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I am undecided.

What I am decided upon is this:  I want to live in the parallel universe where instead of the 3 Indy movies from the 1980's, and the fourth from a decade ago or so, we have Indy start getting the Bond treatment, and we get a new Indy movie every few years, with a new actor taking over the Indiana Jones role so often.

In that reality, Crystal Skull isn't reviled like it is here.  It's simply the tenth Bond movie, where Harrison Ford takes the role he made famous one last time.  (And I've maintained that it's not as bad a flick as some make it out to be.  It's a perfectly pulpy flick.  It's not as strong as the first three, but it's not as far behind Temple of Doom as people like to pretend...)

In that reality, we have a couple of 90's Indy movies, with somebody like a Mel Gibson in the role.  And then, in 1999, we have Brendan Fraser taking the role, and we have a story of Indiana Jones fighting the Mummy, with Stephen Sommers directing, and Rachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo along for the ride.  We could even do a Indiana Jones and the Scorpion King sequel.....
Then, somewhere around 2004 we get a couple Brad Pitt as Indiana Jones.

Then we'd have Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

And then a couple more with somebody like a Channing Tatum.  Or, interestingly:  Sam Rockwell.

And, in that reality, for Memorial Day 2019, we're looking at Idris Elba taking over the role.....

Eh.  Just meandering.  It'd be cool.....

Monday, January 21, 2019

In which he pretends it was a snow day

My ass is on vacation.

We were initially forecast a bit of snow on Sunday.  It didn't come to fruition, but damn did it make for a cold day.  I settled in, cooked some brown stew in the crockpot, and sat my ass in front of the teevee to watch a few movies.

I watched:

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.  It was a second viewing.  I wanted to put a few weeks space between viewings.  My initial reaction was so positive, I'd wondered if I was just riding the high.  I wanted to see if it actually held up.  And it does, in my opinion.  Liam Neeson and Harry Melling's bit is still my favorite segment, though in a perfect world, Chelcie Ross should get some special attention for his steamrolling everybody else in his segment.  I don't know that I've ever laughed so hard....

Raiders of the Lost Ark.   Mostly for background noise while I prepared my stew fixings.  Such a wonderful flick.

Hot Tub Time Machine.  I watched this when it first came out, and I didn't care for it.  I was a little more forgiving this time, as it does have a few good gags.  An admission:  I don't care for Rob Corddry.  I don't find him funny.  Even when he's playing annoying and antagonistic roles.  He's got what somebody on a pro wrestling board once called "X-Pac Heat."  It's heat where he's dislikeable, but not engaging, and only makes you want to turn the channel

The Third Man.  I hadn't watched this one in twenty years.  Found it streaming on Netflix.  Amazing how a flick can, 70 years after its release, leave you so off balance.  I'd forgotten how great.

The Disaster Artist.  I got really worn out on James Franco a while back.  He just showed up in everything and he took shots at adapting a couple of my favorite novels (As I Lay Dying and Child of God) for the screen, with middling results.  I don't find him all that interesting or entertaining.  So I'd skipped this one.  And, well, I gotta say this was a helluva fun flick, with James and Dave Franco both hitting the nail pretty squarely on the head.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado.   I was tentative.  I loved Sicario.  I'd heard a LOT bad about this one.  And, well, there's a good bit of fear mongering in this one.  But Del Toro still carries his weight, and then some.  I didn't like it, but it was by far the worst thing I've ever seen.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A picture


I'm surprised by so little of what he does.  He's just a con man.  And he looks so little to actually serve.  He can't even spring for steak, or some decent meal.  It should be a special moment for the kids, and he can't even dip a pinky into the well of empathy to cater to that.

Just garbage.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

A Lie

I don't know if I've ever told you people this, but my Dad could recite Pi to the 9,400th digit.  For years, we didn't know that those numbers he was spouting off, usually while staring into a carton of Mayfield's Vanilla Bean ice cream, were indeed the ratio of a circle's diameter to its circumference.

It made cleaning the kitchen after dinner a troublesome proposition, because he'd usually just stand there, carton in hand while it melted into slush, reciting off number after number.

We didn't figure out until after his death that he was wishing for pie to go with his ice cream, and he was merely suffering from a mental typographical error.

It's easy to understand, because most pie, indeed, are round.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018: The Reads

January

Death Without Company       by Craig Johnson

Johnson turns a good phrase.  This is the second Longmire book, and I've got an itch to go ahead and read the third....

Reading Stephen King      edited by Bryan James Freeman

A collection of Essays from Cemetery Dance.  I'd bought an autographed copy in 2017, and later in the year, had bought a grab bag from the specialty publisher, and another copy was included in that grab bag....

The Strain         by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

I did not like this one.  Seems like a few vignettes imagined by del Toro pieced together by Hogan.  Apologies if that's unfair.  This one was a mess.

Lamb:  The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal    by Christopher Moore

I have other favorites by Moore (Lust Lizard, Coyote Blue), but this one likely shows the most heart, and is probably his strongest novel.  I would call this one recommended reading....

Night Shift     by Stephen King

I'd had a New Year's Resolution to try to read a short story a day in 2018.  That fell apart pretty quickly, but I did read through Night Shift in the early part of the year.  Also part of my attempt to read through King's work in roughly chronological order of publication.  Lots of good stuff in Night Shift.

February

Hail to the Chin:  Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor      by Bruce Campbell, Craig Sanborn

Light reading, but Fun.  Campbell's my kind of weird.

Fire and Fury:  Inside the Trump White House      by Michael Wolff

I didn't include this one in my Facebook list, mainly because I didn't feel like policing shitty comments.  Fact is, it's not a good book.  I agree with much of what was written, but was surprised by very little.  Wolff seems to be looking to build a Brand, which is unfortunate, since it's the prevailing criticism of the grifter sitting in the Oval Office.  I read wishing for a stronger read, perhaps from Bob Woodward....

The Long Walk      by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Continuing my project.  Still one of my favorites.  Bleak as hell.  Though much about this one, as the week I read it, I was working a ridiculous 70-hour week.

The Civil War: A Narrative, volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville     by Shelby Foote

Good read, even if it adheres a bit too strongly to the "Lost Cause" narrative for the South.

Eileen      by Otessa Moshfegh
..As much as anything I've read this year, this one keeps popping back.  Bleak.  Sad, and funny.  Manages to hide what was a pretty simple curveball quite efficiently in the narrator's narcissism.  Kudos.  Well played.  I'll be looking for more from Ms. Moshfegh

The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin    by Masha Gessen

I'd been wanting to read this one for a while, as it had popped up recommended on a couple sites, Sheila's among them.  Interesting, frightening read about Putin's taking power.  Something to take notice of, especially this:  you may believe in the demagogue, but the demagogue does not believe in you.

March

The Left Hand of Darkness    by Ursula K. LeGuin

A re-read, following the death of LeGuin.  I went through a six- or nine-month phase when I was about 20 reading just about everything I could get my hands on by LeGuin, and then maybe a book or two since.  Just a special writer.  And deserving of mention among this country's greatest.

Whale Season    by N.M. Kelby

Goofy fun.  A Christmas gift from my buddy Micah.  Reminds me of early Carl Hiassen, with a mix of Christopher Moore thrown in.....

The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard      by David Goodman

The Kindle lunchtime read.  I wanted something I could put down without feeling too bad about having to leave it when I got called away.  Not bad, even if it stretches a little too often to reach out to some famous stories not specifically involving Picard in the mentioned canon of the show....

The Right Stuff      by Tom Wolfe

Great read.  I'd read maybe all of this over the course of my life, but never from front to back.

Ready Player One     by Ernest Cline

I wanted to re-read (or re-listen, in this case) to in advance of Spielberg's flick this past spring.  Pure dorky escapism.  The criticisms leveled of its being derivative (it's a grail quest, guys), nihilist (yeah, a bit, but that may be why I like it) and sexist (yeah, it is, and there's not a lot of defending it) are valid.  I like it anyway.  To this point, I consider Cline a one-hit-wonder.  His follow up Armada?  That's one you can really hate on....

April

The Hunger      by Alma Katsu

I loved this one.  Amazing period horror piece.  Unfairly compared to Dan Simmons' The Terror.  This one is vastly superior, if only becasue it doesn't slobber over its wordcount.  It manages to keep you off balance, uncertain for the cause of events nicely through most of the book.  It's not often that a book's atmosphere and isolation suck me in so completely.  Well done.

Deadwood    by Pete Dexter

I started this once in December of last year, and because it was the busiest time of the year, I didn't make it far.  I tried again in April, and I dug this one.  Great turns of phrase.

The Dead Zone    by Stephen King

Continuing the project.  This was one of the first King books I went through in the early 1990's, after I initially read The Shining.  I'd forgotten vast chunks of the book, but remembered odd things with startling clarity...the kicking of the dog; the wooden toys; the sawed-off pool cues Stillson's thugs carried in their pockets; the way Stillson's rallies were molded....the last one rang especially true with how Trump's rallies still proceed.....

Dear Committee Members     by  Julie Schumacher

An odd epistolary novel.  It made me smile, though it hasn't popped to mind once since I read it, I'm sorry to say.

The Fairies of Sadieville      by Alex Bledsoe

The last of the Tufa books.  Alex's books have heart, and they write about a South that I know very well, and they do so without a wry smile.  I came to enjoy the sense of community in the Tufa books most, and this one is the strongest of the bunch.  Laugh out loud moment:  a favorite character rants about getting horrible cell service in his own driveway (preach!!!!), but getting five bars at the lip of a magical land.....

Jack-Rabbit Smile     by Joe R. Lansdale

You know, Joe's got my loyalty.  If he hadn't, I'd be back again on the strength of likening a truck collision to heaven blowing a bean fart.  Hap and Leonard back at it.  This one might be some of my favorite Leonard Pine since Savage Season.....

May

The Girl with All the Gifts     by M.R. Carey

A gift from Shyam.  I enjoyed this one, even though I'm feeling very real zombie fatigue.  Surprisingly sweet.

The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels   by Jon Meacham

A Commute listen.  A good read, even if it is Meacham's most mission-oriented book.  A look at the Presidency as the Conscience of our nation.  Focuses largely on the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, with looks at Lincoln, Eisenhower, JFK and Reagan who all had periods where facing down Populism, Fascism and Terrorism, and not always in ways associated with the philosophies of their persons, or political leanings....

Dead Mountain:  The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident  by Donnie Eichar

Another commute listen.  I'd had this one on my periphery for a while.  The old Coast-to-Coast listener in me was familiar with the story, and with a few of the theories.  I was pleased with the theory presented as a cause for the "madness" by the author.

Strange Weather: Four Short Novels  by Joe Hill

Four novellas, presented with something of a Tales from the Crypt vibe.  Fun.  Hill's response to having just published two word-heavy tomes (N0s4A2, which I liked; and The Fireman, which I did not).  He wanted to streamline, keep it lean.  I dug a couple of the stories very much, especially Loaded, which had me leaning into an okeydoke pretty far, and left me swearing at the end....

June

Noir     by Christopher Moore

I've read a lot of Moore, and enjoyed nearly all of it.  This one made me feel very much like the first couple of his I read (Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun).  Funny.  Silly, in a time when we need a little silly.

Circe      by Madeline Miller

An extremely well put together book.  I tend to dig stories about people (or immortals, as it were) finding themselves.

More than that I'm a sucker for an ancient period piece.  This book, more than any other I read, just makes me happy.


Kitchen Confidential:  Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly   by Anthony Bourdain

I'd owned a copy of this for a while, and never read it.  Bourdain passed.  I went through it.  I think my favorite bit is the entire chapter Bourdain devotes to contradicting everything he's said to this point...a literary "so what the fuck do I know?"

Rowdy:  The Roddy Piper Story    by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs

A Kindle read, and one I'd been wanting to get to for a while.  Piper's own autobiography, a weird, skitty read that seemed just like a worker wanting to keep working the crowd, was apparently disappointing even to Piper.  In the last years of his life, he'd been compiling notes to do a better job, but was limited by a life lived hard, and perhaps a little bit of head trauma.  His kids put together a fun, infinitely readable tribute.  I dug this one a lot.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark   by Carl Sagan

I read this one once upon a time, a couple decades ago, borrowing my roommate's copy.  It was interesting then, and gave me a couple things I'd carried with me since then (especially my stance that we, the richest nation in the world, have the ability to spend a literal fortune on every kid in this country in the name of education, but choose instead to spend the money on missiles).  Reading it this time around hit me a little harder, and scared me a little.  Especially since I've spent much of the last 2 decades working with the public, and seen the lack of functional literacy in a great many of our folks, as well as the lack of critical thinking skills and skepticism in even more of our population.  It also disappointed me in myself, a bit, for my own gullibility a handful of times.....

Tales of the Callamo Mountains    by Larry Blamire

This had popped up on somebody's feed.  Short stories.  Bleak.  Isolated.  A wilderness containing more than the wild.  I enjoyed this collection.....

July

Firestarter  by Stephen King

Continuing the project of reading through King's works.  This was one of the first King books I read after I read The Shining, way back in the early 90's.  I'd had fond memories of this one, but somehow, it didn't age well, and it didn't sit well with me this time around.  I'm not even really sure why, except that The Shop and all its trappings really wandered a little too far out into the paranoid, a little too sure that The Man was out to get everybody....

All the Pretty Horses  by Cormac McCarthy

Another re-read, after my friend Jillian and read it.  In the time since I first read it, I've spend the last 15 years working around teenagers, and it shone a new light on John Grady Cole and Rawlins.  Seeing these kids do the shit that Rawlins does is easy.  Cole, not so much.  And it make the book that much more effective, in my mind.  I didn't care as much for the book the first time I read it as I did this time.  McCarthy keeps himself at the top of my personal list....

Annihilation   by Jeff Vandermeer,

The movie is one of my favorites of this year.  The book had been floating around the periphery of everything I like for years.  The book's tight.  A nice intersection between Lovecraftian Horror and Carl Sagan's writing....

The Cabin at the End of the World  by Paul Tremblay

Tremblay just keeps putting out stuff that pushes the right buttons.  I don't know that anything will ever be as effective, for my money, as A Head Full of Ghosts.  And while I keep chasing that initial high, I realize I might never find it again.  I don't mean to damn a work in that manner.  This one was good, and it kept me rapt the entire time.  I just haven't given it much thought since then, I'm sorry to say.

The Night Circus   by Erin Morgenstern

Heavy on atmosphere, and kinda fun, but really, it never really goes anywhere.  I enjoyed the ride, but it just didn't float my boat by the end....

Valiant Ambition:  George Washington, Benedict Arnold and the Fate of the American Revolution  by Nathaniel Philbrick

Philbrick just writes good stuff.  A lot of fun.  Puts Washington and Arnold into three dimensions.  I dug this one a lot.

August

Roadwork  by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

This one was one of the few of King's that I'd never gone all the way through.  I'd tried it a couple times, but it just didn't bite.  It starts as a slog....it's really badly paced.   It comes alive, though, when Bart actually opens up a bit about his dead son.  The last half of Roadwork I'd call some of King's finest work.

A lot of King's early works are concerned with fatherhood, usually in counterpoint to being a good son as well.  The Bachman books don't seem to have the counterpoint...and I've wondered if Bachman is a counterpoint to King's missing a father.  Where King wonders how to be a good son, Bachman just doesn't give a shit.  Rage is about a child without that answering adult voice.  The Long Walk is very much about a man growing up alone.  Roadwork is about a father who's had that role stolen out from underneath him, who finds himself without a compass without that child.

Sad.  Oddly funny.  But terribly sad.  I've often thought about what I might ask Stephen King if ever I met him, and I think after reading Roadwork, I'd like to talk to him about where he might see his life if he hadn't had children.

I read this one during one of the most distasteful, difficult weeks I've gone through in my life.  Mindset has a lot to do with my memories of a book.  I might revisit this one in a couple years, on a better week, just to see if I react differently.  This one, though, was suitably apocalyptic.  And I loved it.

Star Wars:  From a Certain Point of View

The commute listen.  As much as I enjoyed Roadwork, this was a nice change of pace.  A fun listen, with a couple Super tight stories.  The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper was a lot of fun, and it made me love Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick all that much more.  Also effective:  Yoda's melancholy tale.  And the handful of stories dealing with the pilots who flew the Death Star mission.

The rhyming Palpatine thing?  What the fuck was that?  And "Of MSE-6 and Men" was difficult to listen to on multiple levels....

Scattered, Smothered and Chunked:  Bubba the Monster Hunter Season 1  by John Hartness

My buddy John had recommended Hartness a while back.  He was right.  I had fun with this one.  Funny, with a hell of an ear for dialog.  I rarely laugh out loud at what I'm reading, but this one hit me hard a couple or three times.

A collection of episodic stories, it hit me right in my wheelhouse of Evil Dead and Pro Wrestling fandom.

Of note:  at one point, Bubba goes hunting a nest of vampires about an hour north of Chattanooga, which puts it somewhere in my concentric circle of bullshit, geographically speaking.

Chasing the Light, edited by Emily Lavin Leverett

I bought this one because my friend Janet had a story included.  She puts up with the tomfoolery that her husband and I get into.  It's a story I enjoyed very much.  In a bit of synchronicity, it featured a story from John Hartness that I enjoyed, as well....

People Only Die of Love in the Movies    by Jim Ridley

Jim Ridley was a friend of a friend of a surprising number of people.  I met him once or twice, and carried on a couple of online conversations with him.  I was sorry to hear it when he passed.  He seemed like a good dude.  I picked through this one for about a month....

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: a New History of a Lost World  by  Steve Brusatte

An extremely accessible book on the subject, and one that worked well as an aural experience (this one was a commute listen).  I often have issues with history or science books that rely on graphs, maps or other visual aids, if I try to listen.  Abstract concepts I can visualize, but charts?  Not so much.

This was one of the best written books on the subject I've ever run across.  I ended up giving a copy of it to my sister for Christmas.

September

King of Strong Style: 1980-2014    by Shinsuke Nakamura

A vacation read.  I enjoyed it, but the interview format wore on me a bit.  Could have used a little more editing.....

Warlight  by Michael Ondaatje

Dryly funny.  I enjoyed young Nathaniel's adventures with The Darter immensely.  Taking place in post WW2 England, it concerns itself very much with the shifting borders, and how we struggle to define them.

In a nutshell, Warlight is a musing on the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of chaos, to force things into an orderly narration, where none truly exists.

Birds.  Lots and lots of mention of birds throughout.  Still musing a bit on that, actually.

At the end of the day, I don't trust Nathaniel, the narrator, who learned early on to spin tales out of a grain of sand.....

Cujo  by Stephen King

The commute listen. Continuing a project working my way through his works. A re read....this was one of the handful I read in that first year after I started reading King, so it's been 27 or 28 years since I read.

Not a bad read, though there are a couple things that stand out. A perfectly tense work, King NEEDS to work in the ghost of Frank Dodd somehow. And I suppose if that's coming from Tad's point of view, but I didn't feel like the swinging closet door with the bad smell helped.

Also, the last chapter has such a jarringly different feel (and verbage) than the rest of the book that I wonder if it was written (or re-written) significantly after the rest of the book. King's stated in a couple places that he was mostly high when he wrote this one, and doesn't remember the largest portions of it. Having heard that, it makes me feel like a publisher or some other entity demanded a change, and recapturing the lightning wasn't possible.

I dug it alright, and the adult/child dynamics work a lot better here than in Firestarter.....

It Can't Happen Here  by Sinclair Lewis

This one's been on my to-read list since somewhere around college.  Definitely worth it, given the orange clown in the White House and the cronies who buddy up to him.  Definitely worth it, if only for the message to stay skeptical.

The Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

I just love this book.  The way it's put together, as a scholarly look at legend-building.  So much fun.

Fear:  Trump in the White House   by Bob Woodward

I read Michael Wolff's book early in the year, and didn't care for it.  I didn't disagree much with what he'd written, but nor had I been surprised or informed by much of it.  It felt very much like Wolff was trying to build a brand, which was largely the complaint of Trump himself.  I also wasn't comfortable with Wolff's reconstruction of conversations.  Woodward's approach, at least, had the benefit of attribution.

Still, given the media hurricane we all weather, it felt like simply another voice in the cacophony.  And it brought me no new conclusions toward the man we've installed in the White House, one who's largely a symptom of a larger problem....

October

Dandelion Wine   by Ray Bradbury

I'd started this one a couple of times in my life, and didn't finish it for whatever reason.  I got it as an audiobook, and ended up digging it very much.  It's got a lot of soul, but more than that, it's just Bradbury riffing on a semiautobiographical look at his own life.

It's very much a cousin to Stephen King's books set in small towns, but I found it a larger relative to Alan Moore's gigantic Jerusalem, which was a cross-dimensional love letter to his hometown of Northampton.

Apropos of nothing, perhaps, I once met a bartender, once upon a time, who had this passage tattooed on her forearm:

"Crossing the lawn that morning, Douglas Spaulding broke a spider web with his face.  A single invisible line on the air touched his brow and snapped without a sound."  

I went back to that bar a couple of times in hopes of seeing her again, but never did....

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Equal parts police procedural and horror story.  I ended up liking this one quite a bit.

Different Seasons by Stephen King

I'd read three of the four stories in this one before (The Breathing Method being new to me).  The Body is masterful, even if Reiner's movie still manages to improve it still.  Just a fun collection.

In the Hurricane's Eye:  The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown  by Nathaniel Philbrick

An excellent companion piece to Valiant Ambition....

November

American Dialogue:  The Founders and Us   by Joseph J. Ellis.

Ellis is one of my favorites.  His books on the Founding Fathers are recommended reading, especially his stuff about Adams.  This one's a look at Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Washington and how their personal beliefs helped forge and (in cases) conflicted with the messages of the Declaration and Constitution.  Further, it ties those beliefs and conflicts to crises we've faced since the days of the founders, up to and including the present day.

The discussion of the near-legend status the Founding Fathers have gained (even in their own times) takes an interesting turn in Ellis's discussion of the role of the Supreme Court, especially this century

Agony House  by Cherie Priest

A quick read.  I like a nice ghost story.  I ended up really enjoying this one.  I especially enjoyed the inclusion of the Comics Code Authority's gutting of the comics industry as a plot point. 

Niceville  by Carsten Stroud

This one had come highly recommended, but it just didn't work for me.

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson

For somebody who doesn't like getting involved with series, I've now found myself three books deep in the Longmire series.  Johnson still turns a good phrase.  This one doesn't hold together as well as the first two books in the series, though....

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  by J.K. Rowling

A re-read.  A commute listen, actually.   Thanksgiving really kicked my ass, and I needed something that wouldn't further wear me out.

Jim Dale's narration made me remember just how much I despised Michael Gambon's portrayal of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter flicks, after the death of Richard Harris

December

Jesus Crawdad Death  by Betsy Phillips

Interweb pal Betsy Phillips put this collection of stories out this fall.  I ran through them in one night.  Beautifully macabre.  Goofy and morbid.  Perfectly southern.  And containing almost definitely the best pro wrestling short story I've ever read....

The Running Man    by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

I went a couple weeks without reading anything, or listening to anything, catching up on podcasts and whatnot.  I had to do an overnight shift at work for a computer install, and I listened to this when I stayed.  Very pulpy.  All the Bachman books are pulpy, but this one trumps them all.  The economy of language, the streamlined plot.  I dig it.

Danse Macabre  by Stephen King

I hadn't intended to read this one as part of my King readthrough, wanting to concentrate on the fiction.  But, in October, I picked it up to look for something he'd written about The Haunting of Hill House, and ended up picking through the whole thing over the course of a couple months.

I'd like to see a followup volume.  The updated preface was even more interesting than the text of the book itself....

The Boy on the Bridge, by M.R. Carey

A followup and prequel of sorts to Carey's Girl with All the Gifts.  Fills in a couple gaps from that book.  Starts slowly, but picks up nicely.....

Shorts in a Wad by Steve Krodman

My friend Steve put this out a few years back.  It's an extension of his blogging, a mutual hobby that's led to a great friendship.

His stories are an exercise in the all the brilliant goofiness that I've come to love about the man.  And exercise is the right word, as a writing prompt.  As a writer who suffers from diarrhea of the fingers a little too often, Steve's ability to pack as much punch into 100 words as he does is an object of no small wonder to me.

This Christmas, I passed a few copies out to a few friends, to let them know that they are a bright spot in my life.

Steve was diagnosed with ALS this year.  And it's been damned quick about its job.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

I used to re-read this one every couple of years, but hadn't picked it up in a while.  The transition from Ghost of Christmas Present to Future is as spooky as they come, if you asked me....

The Haunting of Hill House   by Shirley Jackson

Just a beautiful book.  With one of the best openings ever put to paper.....

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Who'da Thunk It?

Thursday, Shyam and I wandered down to BeeYooTeeFull Marietta, Georgia, to witness the nuptials of "Classic" Dan Krodman and Erica Sherman.

I didn't get many pictures of the ceremony, mostly because I was having to catch the yarmulke off the top of Jimbo's head, because it couldn't contain his great farookin' hair.

I did get some pictures of friends, though:






When I started this blogamathing 16 years ago, I'd never have thought that it'd have introduced me to such great people.

Congratulations and Mazel Tov to Erica and Dan!!!!






We missed getting to see Steve.  But much of this ceremony, including the colanders, and Melissa's toast, was with him in mind.

With that, if you have the means and the time, please take a second to drop a couple dollars toward fighting ALS.....

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ad susceptibility

Stupid Facebook ads.  I tend to click to block as offensive just on principle.  I hate to say that I clicked on one. 

If anybody's looking for a cheaply made but kinda cool looking Christmas gift for your pal Big Stupid Tommy, I have to admit to stopping to look at the Stephen King Book cover quilt several times....


Sunday, December 09, 2018

Vacations, and whatnot

Took a much needed break from the jobplace this week.  2018's been an asswhipper.  And this is coming off of 2017, which was an asskicker.  It was good to get out of Dodge with Shyam for a few days.  And get to see the family for a couple things, too.

We'd originally planned to wander up to Washington, DC.  Neither of us has visited the Smithsonian in several years (I'm probably past two decades, at this point).  We'd made initial plans, but life throwing curveballs like it does (veterinary issues for Mr. Mongo, who's getting along nicely now, and a schedule change for me mean postponing the Washington trip until 2019.  That was probably just as well, since the death of George H.W. Bush probably would have snarled and snagged things up for us traffic-wise, and all that jazz. 

We ended up just taking a few days at Cumberland Mountain State Park, which is just outside of Crossville, TN. 

A couple pictures: 





Cumberland Mountain's a state park we hadn't visited before.  Relatively close (maybe an hour away), it was quiet and secluded, yet only four or five miles away from Crossville, so wandering out for a meal or diversion, or to Dollar general to buy coffee and a new leash for Mongo (we left his sitting on the porch), wasn't an issue.  A couple recommendations:

Dublin's Crossing is a neat little Irish-type pub we hit for lunch.  Good food, and was able to partake of a Scotch egg, which hasn't been on the menu the past couple of times we've hit Honest Pint down in Chattanooga.


Also gotta recommend The Book Cellar, a cool used bookstore we'd never been too.  Good selection, and excellent prices.  Really made me jealous that a town the size of Crossville has a used bookstore to wander through, but Athens can't seem to get its act together in that regard....

Also:  We found a couple cool things at Simonton's Cheese in Crossville.  Try the Gouda.....

We wandered home in the latter half of the week.  Helped Mom pick out a Christmas tree for the house.  Bought some Christmas cards.  Took in Creed 2, which is a messier flick than its predecessor, though it was satisfying enough.

I apologize for burying the lede here.

But Friday, I saw the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.


Every now and then, I start thinking that, at 41, I'm a little too cool for school.  And then I see a vehicle shaped like a hot dog, and I scream "Weinermobile!" to my passengerless car, and whip a U-Turn so I can snap a photo. 

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of snapping this photo as it passes the Vegan Cafe in the background.....

So.  Weinermobile.


My nephew's started playing basketball.  It kinda came as a surprise to us all.  He enjoys playing baseball and soccer, but those have always been parental choices.  He asked to play basketball.  His Dad and Grandpa are huge basketball fans, so that may have been part of that decision making process.

I went Saturday to watch him play.  I was impressed...he played aggressively, and seemed to have a pretty decent grasp on the game.  I was also impressed with the uniforms.  When I played at his age, we got a PTO Basketball T-Shirt.  We had kids playing out there in blue jeans, so looking the part of a basketball player wasn't as big a priority in 1984, I'm guessing.

 Early on, he was paired off against a kid with a mohawk.  My family loyalties were tested.  Because, c'mon!  Mohawk!

As my buddy Jimmy pointed out:  It's Fro vs. Mohawk....

It was a defensive battle.  Lookout Valley beat my nephew's squad 9-3.  Refs didn't seem to have the best grasp of the league rules (no defense was supposed to be played outside of the three point line, and no fast breaks were supposed to be allowed, but the other team did both multiple times).

Afterward, we ate pizza!

A good vacation. 

Not really keen on going back to the jobplace, as we're now 15 days and counting until Christmas.



Friday, November 16, 2018

Dad Movies....

Dad's been gone a little more than a year and a half, now.  And every now and then, it'll still hit me like a hammer that he's gone.

I miss going to movies with Dad.  My attendance at the theater has decreased dramatically since he passed.  His desire to go see a movie would usually put me over the top if I was on the fence...and even on a couple occasions where I had no desire whatsoever.  Now, I usually wait for streaming if it's something I'm on the fence with.

He actually had pretty good taste, if not always the best instincts when it came to picking.  I think the biggest surprise was John Wick, which I still maintain is better than it has any right to be.  Other good ones that come to mind:  Deja Vu, Source Code and the surprisingly tight Patriots Day, which was among the last movies I went to see with Dad.

If we saw a turd, he'd call it a turd.  The 33 was one.  There were four people in the theater for that one, and I think all four of us struggled with sleep at various times.  London Has Fallen was another one, which was a shame, because we both kinda enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen.

He was also pretty open minded.  If there was something he wasn't interested in, but I was, he'd tag along.  I think the one that impressed him the most was The Witch, which he didn't have much interest in, as horror flicks didn't usually do it for him.  Slither was another.

He loved Creed.  And we'd both been excited to see that one.  He liked it so much that he ended up going back a few days later to watch again.

The Creed sequel comes out next week.  And that's what began this particular slide down memory lane.  There have been a handful of movies that popped out since he's passed that hit me hard.  The one that pops to memory was a trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming that hit me right in the solar plexus with the knowledge that we wouldn't see it together.

I still haven't seen Kong: Skull Island.  It was released the week after he died.  I'd gone to eat breakfast with the folks the day he passed, and a trailer had come on, and he'd really wanted to go see it.  I just haven't felt good about watching it.  Maybe I still will one day.....