Friday, July 22, 2022

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, Volume 3

 Once, insomnia posts were a staple of this here blogamathing.  I spent a lot of time in my 20's and 30's waking in the middle of the night, and deciding to type nonsense onto the computer.

I'm going through a spell right now.  I'm not sure the cause, though I have a suspicion I'll detail.  I'll just say this stretch, which started last Thursday night, is kinda gruesome and maybe tonight has me a little worried.

Last Thursday, I woke up around 1 to go to the bathroom, and couldn't fall back to sleep.  Went through alternating moments of it's too hot in the room, and then too cold.  Tried sleeping on the couch so as not to wake Shyam, and ended up falling asleep in a weird position, which left my neck and shoulder in a pretty good amount of pain that whole Friday.

The weekend came, and I was off.  I was able to squeeze in a couple 7 hour sleep nights. 

Then, Monday, I closed, which was followed up by an 8AM shift Tuesday.  I slept about 5 hours.  Which is about normal for one of those nights.  Wednesday, I also closed.  Tuesday, after the All-Star Game, I went to bed, and slept for about 2 hours, before waking again.  I was awake all the way until Shyam's alarm waking her.  Like I said, I closed, so I was able to sleep from about 7 to 11 and catch up somewhat.

Yesterday, Thursday, I was off.  I was woken at about 6 by thunderstorms.  There was a lot of lightning and wind, so I got up to make sure nothing major was coming our way.  After heading out for an oil change and a visit with my Mom, I came home and napped for about 45 minutes.  Tonight, we went to bed around 10.  Around 11:45, I got up to pee, and came back to bed.  I slept again until about 1:30, and I've been wide the fuck awake ever since.  Twice I've gotten up to go read in the living room, and got myself back to the point of nodding.  And as soon as I lie down, I'm wide awake.

As a minor note, in the few minutes it's taken me to punch these paragraphs out, I can feel myself getting sleepy.

I wish I knew what was wrong.

Summer's part of it.  It's not even necessarily the heat.  It's fucking swampy outside, all the time.  Unloading trucks at work lately have left us looking like we're playing basketball.  It's uncomfortable to sleep in, even with fans and AC going.  I also have a minor suspicion that our bedroom AC unit is about to give up the ghost.

Another part of it is the shifting schedule.  I don't have a set schedule.  Haven't for 19 years, at least.  I'm used to having to close a bit.

We lost another manager recently and somewhat unexpectedly.  As a result, we had to move our evening manager into that role, which left me grocery manager and me to close the store.  I've gone from closing one night a week to 2-4 times.  My body doesn't know when to sleep, and I'm having a hard time coping.

It's 5:47.  My alarm's supposed to go off in about an hour.  I can feel myself being sleepy.  I just don't know if I'll fall asleep when I lie down. 

If I didn't have a pair of new hires to do today, I'd consider calling in....

Add to that, my boss goes on vacation tomorrow, and I'm working 9 of the next 10 days.  I don't have anybody to spell me if I should call in.

I will admit to having a couple things on my mind.  

My friend Kevin Britton died at the beginning of this month in a motorcycle accident.  Eric and I had met up with him just the previous Sunday to take in a Smokies game.  Because of work, I wasn't able to attend a funeral service.  I didn't think it bugged me a the time, but it might be sticking with me.

My friend Micah's mom suffered a stroke a little while back, and he's had too much on his plate.  It bothered me how difficult it was to get her into a hospital room, and then, how difficult it's been to secure treatment.

We've been having trouble finding enough help at work.  That's not new.  That's been ongoing for months.  The past couple of months, though, it's been bothering me, as I've seen my hour count start to rise.

I don't get to see Shyam as often as I'd like.  And when we do see each other, one or both of us is too tired to do anything much fun.

I haven't gotten to see Thor: Love and Thunder yet.  That's aggravating.

I was supposed to be on vacation this week.  We had tried to plan a vacation with the family like last year's to Gulf Shores, but somebody had a claim in on this week.  About a month ago, that claim moved back a week.  I'd like to have gone somewhere with my family.  I've gotten to hang out with my nephew once this summer....and he's gonna be starting school again in a couple weeks.  

Meh.  Sorry to unburden myself....

Friday, July 01, 2022

Mid Year Reading Round up 2022

 Just a quick rundown of what I've read, so far, in 2022:


January

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL  by Jeff Pearlman

When Pearlman's passionate about his subject, he's a good read.  And he was passionate about tracking this down.  Good read....I wish the current USFL, in its first season, had even 1/8th of the color and energy portrayed in Pearlman's book.....

The Ends of the World    by Peter Brannen

A look through the various eras and extinction events suffered by the Planet....works as an excellent companion piece to Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction

Rose Madder    by Stephen King

The continuing project.  This was one of the ones I'd never read all the way through.  I think I started it and abandoned it somewhere just after its publication.  Actually, not a bad read at all, though I wish King hadn't leaned so hard into mental illness as the genesis of Norman's abusive behavior....almost as if it's an out or an excuse of some kind.....

All About Me!    by Mel Brooks.

Lots of people found new projects during Covid-19's early days....Mel decided to write a memoir about his 70+ year career.  On the whole, I ended up not getting as much out of his movie-making stories that I'd hoped, but his adventures in TV before the movies, and on Broadway after, are well worth the read.

Camera Man   by Dana Stevens

The best biography of Buster Keaton I've read.  (I've now read three, to date).

February

Ballpark:  Baseball in the American City    by Paul Goldberger

A nice walk through the history of the ballpark and the Major League.  Does get a little repetitive....even if those multipurpose stadiums of the 70's are banal, do you have to use that word so much?

Ronan Boyle Into the Strage Place     by Thomas Lennon

This one is probably the funniest of the three Ronan Boyle books.  With one particular interaction having me crack up at a stoplight.

Junkyard Dogs    by Craig Johnson

Quick read.  Johnson continues to turn a good phrase....

You've Got Red on You:  How Shaun of the Dead was Brought to Life  by Clark Collis

Decent read....good look at the making of the flick....

Based on a True Story: a Memoir     by Norm MacDonald

Damn, but I miss Norm.  A re-read.  Easily one of the funniest books I've read.

The Green Mile  by Stephen King

The one was better than I remembered.....

March

The Lincoln Highway    by Amor Towles

I got this one for Christmas.  I'd been hearing about Towles for a couple of books....I liked this one.  

The Drive-In 2: (Not Just One of Them Sequels)   by Joe R. Lansdale

Just some good old goofy Lansdale.  I'd like to sit back and shoot the shit with this guy, perhaps more than any other author I read.....

The Shark-Infested Custard   by Charles Willeford

Hilarious, and dark as hell

Ghost Story   by Peter Straub

I ended up not caring for this one.  Long.  Never really coming to a satisfying point. 

April

George Washington    by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn

A little dry, but a good enough overview of his presidency

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination   by Neil Gabler

Creativity as a business endeavour fascinates me.....

Desperation    by Stephen King

I liked this one better than when I first read it in 1996....still, it's quite a bit longer than it needs to be.....

Eat a Peach   by David Wong

Interesting....as much a musing on management as it is a memoir

May

American War     by Omar El Akkad

One of my two or three favorite books that I've read this year.  I might have liked it even more if we weren't living in a dystopian future already, and perhaps running headline into the scenario outlined in this book....

Hunter Houston and the Molten Menace   by Bobby Nash

A gift from a buddy.  A quick read.  Nash has a good ear for The South....

The Regulators   by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman

Another new one----I'd never made it all the way through this one.  On its own, it's not bad.  But it doesn't have the same feel as the original Bachman books, somehow.....

In Cold Blood   by Truman Capote

Decided to re-read after catching the Capote flick one afternoon.  A re-read.  Actually read it for the work itself, instead of for content, in that half-assed resentful way I tended to read assigned works back in the day....

Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years in the Southern League    by Mark McCarter

Picked up for 75 cents at a local used book store.  Bathroom reading, if you wanna know the truth.  Also?  This one smells of being hurriedly and half-interestedly put together.  There's a bit of wikipedia journalism going on with this one.....

Razzmatazz      by Christopher Moore

With two books, Moore's Noir series is edging toward my favorite bit of his work.  At the very least, it's made me laugh more consistently than the bulk of his work since Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.  (And I say that liking the Pocket series a great deal....).  Funny, with lots of nice turns of phrase....

June

A Better Man  by Michael Ian Black

In a letter to his son, Black speaks on what being a man in the 21st century means.  This wasn't quite what I was expecting... though I was quite pleased by what I read.....

Blood, Sweat and Chrome: The Wild and True Story of the Making of Mad Max Fury Road   by Kyle Buchanan

A helluva good read.  Probably my favorite thing I've read this year.....

Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind     by Yuval Noah Harari

My bedtime read for most of the spring...  

The Devil Crept In      by Ania Ahlborn

I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did.  Solid concept.  but there were times the writing just felt wooden.....

The Dark Tower:  Wizard and Glass     by Stephen King

This one's in my top five favorite King works.  It was a pleasure to revisit.....


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Yep. 4 months.

 I been busy. 

Don't ever go salaried in retail. 


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Grading the King

1Anyway, apropos of only that, here's how I'd grade out approximately the first half of his published novels, nonfiction and short story collections:

9

Carrie (1974)      B

Salem's Lot   (1975)     A

The Shining    (1977)   A+

Rage  (1977, as Richard Bachman)     C

The Stand     (1978)     A+

Night Shift    (1978)     B

The Long Walk    (1979, as Richard Bachman)     B+

The Dead Zone    (1979)     B

Firestarter     (1980)      C

Roadwork      (1981, as Richard Bachman)      B

Danse Macabre    (1981)        B

Cujo      (1981)       C

Different Seasons     (1982)      B+    (The Body A+/Apt Pupil C/Shawshank A/Breathing B)

The Running Man    (1982, as Richard Bachman)     C

The Gunslinger   (1982, Dark Tower, volume I)      B+

Christine     (1983)       B

Pet Sematary     (1983)     A-

Cycle of the Werewolf     (1983)     C+

The Talisman      (1984, with Peter Straub)       A

Thinner     (1984, as Richard Bachman)      B-

Skeleton Crew     (1985)       B+

It      (1986)        A+

The Eyes of the Dragon     (1987)    B+

Misery     (1987)       B+

Drawing of the Three     (1987, Dark Tower, volume II)      B+

The Tommyknockers     (1987)       D

The Dark Half     (1989)          B

Four Past Midnight     (1990)   B-  (Langoliers D/Secret Window B/Libary B/Sun Dog B+)

The Waste Lands       (1991, Dark tower, volume III)      A

Needful Things       (1991)      B+

Gerald's Game      (1992)      B-

Dolores Claiborne     (1992)    B

Nightmares and Dreamscapes   (1993)       B

Insomnia     (1994)         C+

Rose Madder     (1995)     B-

The Green Mile      (1996)     A


Almost arbitrary.  You might ask me again on a different day, and I'd give it a different grade.  The Shining, The Stand and It are the class of the first half, with The Talisman, Green Mile and Waste Lands coming in just behind.....

I'm coming up on Desperation, which I don't recall liking much when I read it the first time, and its companion The Regulators I liked even less.  But, I've had my mind changed a couple of times in the project....I liked Dark Half more this time around than when I first read it, and Firestarter and Four Past Midnight a lot less......

We'll see.....

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Meme Dump

 








Friday, December 31, 2021

The 2021 Reading Roundup

 Just a quick rundown of what I read in 2021:

January

Four Past Midnight, by Stephen King

Continuing re-read project.  Couple of these are a bit more taut than I remember.  Secret Window, Secret Garden feels like a flipside companion piece to The Dark Half....

The Fighting Bunch: The Battle of Athens, by Chris DeRose

Easily the best (and most and best researched) volume on the Battle of Athens I've read. 

The Searcher,  by Tana French

I liked it, but it didn't hold the same amount of water as most of her work.  Had one particular plot point that pulled the rug out from under me, and I just couldn't get into it like her best work.

Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary Wolf

Fun, if clunky.  Definitely a book improved on with its film adaptation....

We Promised You a Great Main Event: an Unauthorized WWE History, by Bill Hanstock

Meh.  Google journalism.  But maybe the best you'll find, since a good oral history would be next to impossible.

February

The Spy with No Pants by John Swartzwelder

I think I love these Swartzwelder books more than I love baseball, pizza or professional wrestling.

The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View, edited by 

Meh.  There are a couple good ones, but four or five months later, I don't remember a thing I read in this.....

Dark Tower: the Waste Lands   by Stephen King

So much fun.  I mentioned when I read Drawing of the Three last year that the section where Eddie meets Roland is maybe some of the finest writing King has put to page in his career.  But as a story, the Waste Lands is where the Dark Tower finds its feet.  It starts cooking with gas, and this remains one of my favorite King books.

The History of the Ancient World   by Susan Wise Bauer

A commute listen....one that I wished I'd read instead.   I can visualize a lot, but for some reason, I don't see maps well.  I need the visual aid.   That said, this is a well put together work, and I'll be reading her follow up on Ancient Rome very soon.

Night of the Mannequins   by Stephen Graham Jones

Quick, fast paced, weird horror.  Stephen Graham Jones is moving quickly up my list of favorite writers.  I wanted this one to end a little more ambiguously, but I still enjoy this one very much.  In a quick Twitter review, I mentioned that it made me want to watch the movie Twister, for some reason.  To which SGJ responded: "I can't stop watching Twister...."

March

A Song with Teeth   by T Frohock

This might be my favorite new read this year.  I love a nice period piece, and Frohock's Los Nefilim covers a stretch in European history (fantastically, using an adverb that works on a couple levels) that I am just now coming to in my personal reading.  I'm picky about both fantasy and historical fiction, but Frohock zeroes in on exactly what I've been looking for with this series.....

Medallion Status     by John Hodgman

Hodgman had popped up on a couple of podcasts I'd listened to just prior to this, and in one, he was plugging this read.  I like a guy who can turn a good phrase, and for months since, I've been referring mentally to eggs as disgusting snotty chaos.

Sidelined: Sports, Culture and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro

I've been reading DiCaro's work for years....since way back in the blogging days.  We've followed each other on Twitter, and sadly, I've seen a lot of the disgusting shit people say to and about her.  Posting my review brought an odd amount of heat from the same trolls.  This was a good read, and I've passed a couple copies out to friends......

April

T-Rex and the Crater of Doom   by Walter Alvarez

A Kindle/Lunchtime read.  As much about the scientific process as it is the end result.  Dry, but enjoyable.

American Gods  by Neil Gaiman

A commute listen.  My friend Jillian was reading this, and asked if it was worth finishing.  It's actually a better listen than a read.  Gaiman's work feels better aurally, if that makes any sense.  Also, I need to go to Rock City again...I haven't been since the second grade....

Miami Blues    by Charles Willeford

This came recommended by a Bill Ryan piece I read here.  I dug it.  It tickles the part of my brain that digs the Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty brand of Southern Gothic.  Grotesquely hilarious enough that I laughed until I cried about Hoke Mosely's dentures.

Needful Things    by Stephen King

The last Castle Rock story.  This one was a big deal to me back in the day.  Reading it now, it represents the best of King's instincts (his love of his small towns, the decency and lack thereof in everybody, King's astute memories of childhood), and also his worst (he gets maudlin, and saccharine sweet at the weirdest times...also, a couple of the threads tying to other Castle Rock works just feel forced...the whole Ace Merrill bit really, really grinds at me).  Still, this one ends in a whirlwind, and I ended up liking it very much the second time around, nearly 30 years later....

May

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race  by Douglas Brinkley

A commute listen.  Digs hard into the politics of the space race.  Made me think hard about Werner von Braun.....

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory    by Caitlin Doughty

I'd had this one on my shelf for a while, and finally sat with it.  Good read on the American take on Death, as part of our culture.....

The Dark Horse    by Craig Johnson

I read this one during my May vacation.  Does it say much about me that I was more worried for Walt's dog than I was the child when both went missing?

Mongrels   by Stephen Graham Jones

This one's strong.  Legitimately creepy, with an air of melancholy that pervades, but doesn't overwhelm the thing.  

The Blizzard of '88    by  Mary Cable

A 1.99 Kindle read.  Actually kinda neat to read in a very hot grocery store backroom, and thinking that standing, trapped on a pier during a blizzard, to be rescued with your coat frozen to you doesn't really sound all that bad.....

Junes

Gerald's Game    by Stephen King

A Commute listen.  I liked it better than I remembered, but I still think the ending is a cop out.  I didn't like a couple of the revelations in those final chapters.  They felt cheap.

The Perfect Storm    by Sebastian Junger

 I didn't mean to re-read this one, but due to a remodel at work, my attention span was a little lacking.  This one, even as much as I like it, reads like a long magazine article....

Some Assembly Required    by TJ Condon

A friend of mine wrote this from her own experiences with her husband's wait for a liver transplant.  Tara's a natural storyteller, and this one reads very quickly.  She translates a hellish experience with grace and humor.  I bought a couple copies to pass out to people.....

Frankenstein    by Mary Shelley

I bought a copy with illustrations by the late Bernie Wrightson, this being a reprint of a Marvel project from way back when.  I forget who had the original Marvel copy back in high school, but I always dug it.  This is actually my first time through the book itself, though.  I made an aborted attempt in the eighth grade or so.  I dug it, though, and not just for the drawings!

The Ninth Metal   by Benjamin Percy

The commute listen.  There were seeds of good stuff in here, but none of it every really bore fruit.  I finished, but I didn't care for this one too much.

Fishing for Dinosaurs and other Stories   by Joe R. Lansdale

The kindle/lunchtime read.  I'd read a couple of these in other places and forms, but enjoyed the collection overall.  Black Hat Jack is definitely a favorite....

My Year Abroad    by Chang-Rae Lee

Shyam got me a subscription to a book club from Powell's, and this was the first of this year's editions.  I liked it...bombastic and funny.  I will say that the dialog felt wooden, from time to time, but on the whole, I enjoyed this one very much.

July

The Premonition: a Pandemic Story    by Michael Lewis

I'll go ahead and include this one, since I'm re-writing.  The commute listen.  Lewis delivers an interesting read....the conundrum of the last year is that if your measures work, then everybody will say it was overkill.  Of particular interest (and a subject for future reading), how a potential outbreak of Swine Flu during the Ford administration helped shape our country's disjointed responsed to Covid-19......

Apex: The World of Dinosaurs Anthology     edited by Jonathan Thompson

Meh.  A Kickstarter that just didn't bear fruit.

Dream Team   by Jack McCallum

I think I had a little Olympic fever when I read this one....that 92 Dream Team was right in my wheelhouse......good read....

August

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic    by David Quammen

This one had been on my radar for a little while, and it didn't disappoint.  Manages to parse out a lot of information without wandering into textbook territory....

Dolores Claiborne     by Stephen King

Part of the project:  I'd never actually read this one.  I liked this one a lot, especially as a twin to Gerald's Game, which makes sense, since they were both originally part of the same project.  King's love of small towns and community shines through.....

Failure is an Option: an Attempted Memoir    by H. Jon Benjamin

I highly recommend this one as a listen....Benjamin's got one of those voices that's just crept into ubiquity in the past decade.  Funny read, even if it is a little fart-laden.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood      by Quentin Tarantino

Read this one on vacation....I think I appreciate the story of Once Upon a Time coming around as a story as much as I do the story itself....and I like Once Upon a Time more than much of what Quentin's done in the past decade......

Goblin: a novel in six novellas       by Josh Malerman

Heavy on atmosphere, but light on just about anything else.  Almost felt like a D&D adventure that the setup was more satisfying than the payoff....

The Storm      by Dan Jolley

Two in a row that I finished that I didn't particularly enjoy.  The Storm just misses its mark, and manages to sneer a bit at the South.  This one made me thankful for the guys like Cherie Priest, Alex Bledsoe and John Hartness who do write the South without it feeling like parody....

September

When the Game Was Ours....     by Earvin "Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Jackie MacMullen

This was a fun read....again, like Dream Team, talking about Magic and Bird is right in my wheelhouse, even if it wasn't my focus back in the mid and late 80's.  Remarkably well put together, given the collaborative effort.....

What Strange Paradise      by Omar el Akkad

I liked this one very much...managed to turn an aggravation into its reason for being.

Nightmares and Dreamscapes     by Stephen King

What a fun read.  I always fall back on Skeleton Crew or Night Shift as favorite collection, but there are a couple humdingers in this one.  Dolan's Cadillac is a helluva good read.  Umney's Last Case is a Twilight Zone episode waiting to be made.  But I think my favorite piece is "Head Down," a nonfiction piece about his son Owen competing in Little League, competing their way toward the Little League World Series--I call it one of the better pieces of sports journalism that I've run across.....

My Heart is a Chainsaw      by Stephen Graham Jones

In the space of 4 or 5 books, Stephen Graham Jones has vaulted his way to the upper reaches of my favorite writers list.  And this one is just hella fun....crackling with energy......

October

Frankenstein in Baghdad      by Ahmed Saadawi

This one had been on my radar for a bit, but I finally sat with it in October.  Glad I read it in such close temporal proximity to Shelley's Frankenstein.  The wartime displacement dysphoria is strong in this one.....

The Drive-In      by Joe R. Lansdale

Another one that crackles with pure weird energy.  I'd read a couple of Joe's before I happened upon this one, but it was reading this one that made me say, all those years ago: "this guy is my kind of weird...."

The Between      by Tananarive Due

Due is another one that's working her way up my favorite writers list.  She just does good work, and this one is a lot of fun....it definitely kept me second guessing myself.

All the Marvels       by Douglas Wolk

Not a bad read, and I appreciated his insights on the best Marvels....including calling out Dark Reign as one of the better stories of the spread of fascism.....And I appreciated his not getting involved in the Lee/Kirby debate (I'm not comfortable with the deification of either, for the record).  I wish there had been a little more look at guys like Roy Thomas and Chris Claremont, and even Bob Harras and the Lobdell/Nicieza tandem, in building their corners of the shared Universe....

Yours Cruelly, Elvira       by Cassandra Peterson

Not a bad read at all...a late night purchase, fittingly enough.  Corny humor, schlocky horror, and cleavage.  It's a natural, for yours, truly.....

The Night the Lights Went Out       by Drew Magary

Magary, in 2018, suffered a brain bleed and collapsed.  What he presents here is part memoir/part oral history, of his own recovery from a traumatic brain injury.  Magary is a gifted writer, whose fiction I enjoy but whose nonfiction reveals his heart.  This is in the running for my favorite book of the year.....

November

Insomnia      by Stephen King

Damn, what a long book.....it's not bad, but in my second time all the way through it, I can tell you that it still feels about 300 pages long, and possibly more.....

Fan Fiction      by Brent Spiner

Surprisingly funny.  Slapstick Noir.  Managed to keep my attention despite it being whittled to splinters for much of November.....

Rawhide Down: the Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan       by Del Quentin Wilber

Shyam got this one early in the year, and I ended up reading it.  Nicely put together bit of history that I'd read little to nothing about....

December

A Fatal Grace     by Louise Penny

We listened to this one on our way to Florida, and on the way back.  Penny's dialog is good, and it's hard to think of anybody who writes food better.

The Stupidest Angel     by Christopher Moore

Revisited this one.  I don't know that I've enjoyed finding a writer more than I did finding Christopher Moore all those years ago....those early books are just such goofy fun.  And this one is no different...even if male protagonists often resemble each other muchly.....

Grave Reservations    by Cherie Priest

A little bit of a Change of pace for Priest....leaning less on the supernatural and SF elements, leaning more on her talent for dialog and humor, and injecting everything into a modern setting.  I liked it.  And I hope that it's leading to more with these characters....

A Christmas Carol     by Charles Dickens

Annual re-read.  I don't know that it gets the credit it deserves for being a spooky story.....

Radiants      by David B. Coe

Quick read, intended for Young Adults.  It flows very nicely.  Vibes of X-Men and Firestarter....I liked this one.  Coe turns a good phrase.....


Saturday, November 13, 2021

Nineteen?

 Nineteen years.

Who'da thunk it?

I'm not here as often as I once was.

But I'm still here.

Married Shyam on Halloween.  It was a delightfully weird ceremony.  My reason:  I've used up weekends off for the past 20 years going to exactly the same wedding.  If we were asking people to give up part of their time off, we wanted to put our weird little mark on it.  Our friend Marc married us in my Mom's backyard.  His notes were inside a Flash Gordon graphic novel.  My nephew served as ringbearer, while dressed as Yoda.  There were costumes.  There were nerf guns.  Marc read Large Marge's soliloquy from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.  We asked folks to bring a Jack O'Lantern.

It was a small ceremony, and I felt bad that we couldn't have more folks there, but at the same time, I didn't want to overwhelm Mom's house.

But, Shyam and I are hitched now.  It's not a huge change.  We've lived together for four years, and I couldn't being to imagine spending time with anybody else.  She's my girl.

Odd little things?  Getting used to wearing a ring.  Just the physical act of it, with none of the weight of marriage behind it.  I don't wear jewelry.  I don't even wear a watch.  We have a ceramic Unicorn in the bathroom that Shyam's had for years.  It's what she's used as a ringcatcher for years, and I've taken to using it during my shower.  I think I've forgotten to put the ring on 3 or 4 times, at this point.  And we've not even been married 2 weeks yet.

Also, names.  We hadn't even discussed it much prior to the ceremony.  But I did ask her if she was taking my name or keeping hers.  She told me she'd take my name, but replace her first name instead of her last.   

She makes me laugh.

Anyway, a few pictures:

I wore my Lebowski hockey jersey, although it was simply because my bright orange dress shirt was missing a button when I put it on right before the wedding.


It was completely accidental, but the one on the bottom left seems so frustrated by it all right then.

Shyam's folks with us.


Never give my sister your phone.  So many selfies.

Those who came in costume...Jill and Chris's daughter was a zombie prom queen.....

So, anyway...we're hitched.  We'll be heading to Disney in December for a honeymoon.

Anyway, the blogamathing?  19 years of nonsense, and counting.....



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night, volume XX

 Not really an insomniac's post.  Just staying up a bit.  I've had my schedule jiggered and fucked.  I'm closing all week.

We had a co-worker quit somewhat unexpectedly Thursday.  Walked out.  Left us hanging.  Quickest way to fill his shifts without upsetting the apple cart was for me to move to his closing shifts.

I say "somewhat" unexpected.  I won't name names, but he'd been acting increasingly erratic for about a month, a month and a half.  Increasingly aggressive.  Increasingly complaining.  Solid employee, good guy.  Almost a complete personality change in six weeks.

Drugs?  I think it crossed all our minds.  Either introducing new (likely illegal) ones to his system, or removing (likely prescribed ones) from his system without knowledge or consultation with medical pros.  It's speculation, but given the abrupt nature of this change, I think it's a valid thought process.

I dunno.  We're going through a remodel.  Have been since late April.  The biggest part of it's done, but we've had to do two show stores in the past six weeks or so.  Extra stress.  It's not fun.  And the end result will mean a minor change to my duties, as well as the duties of the other managers.  These changes involve a department the manager in question was very, very uncomfortable with.  I think that had some to do with his decision to leave, as well.

I'll miss him.  And not just because I'm having to pick up all his closing shifts this week, and a large portion of them until we get a new Evening Manager hired.

------

What else is new?  

I read and recommend Omar el Akkad's What Strange Paradise.  For Christmas, Shyam bought me a membership to a Book of the Month (or every other month) from Powell's  out in Oregon.  This was this month's mailing.


I won't say too much, because doing so would spoil a tremendous novel.  I'll just say that a couple narrative choices that were nagging at me became clear by the end.....

------

It's September 21.  The regular portion of the baseball season is nearly done.  Last Friday, we hit a Chattanooga Lookouts game, my first since 2019.  It turned out to be the last of the the Lookouts' season, weekend rain washed out both Saturday's and Sunday's games.

We made it to one Smokies game all year, too.

Our schedules, combined with some medical stuff going on in families, it made 2021 tough to get out.

Truth be told, I'm getting a little worn out with my work schedule.  Not having free time to go do stuff outside of work has been a concern for all of the nearly 20 years I've been with the company.  This year, with Covid, the Remodel, staffing difficulties and all the personal shit we've been dealing with, it makes you feel like the only reward for hard work is more hard work.

------

While I'm writing, for the first time in a couple months, can I recommend another book?  This one, a cook book....


I ordered this mostly as a gag, but I've ended up getting more mileage out of this cookbook purchase than any other I've bought.  Mostly because it starts with a simple base (even I can cook a burger), but has a handful of interesting twists and ideas.  Plus, with our having a vegetarian in the house, I've been able to substitute both Impossible and Beyond burgers with ease into the recipes (Impossible seems to work a little better, it's a difference in percentage points....).

Tonight's dinner was A Good Manchego is Hard to Find burgers.  Grilled shallots, manchego cheese, fig jam.  This is the second time making these particular burgers (I had to substitute a plain yellow onion, as we'd used the last of our shallots for dinner this past weekend).  They turn out tasty, and a it's a switchup from the routine.  There are five or six burgers we've tried from this book, and I think the next one will be a Creme Fraiche/Blueberry mashup....found some Creme Fraische at Chattanooga's new Trader Joe's, which I visited for the first time today.

------

Anyway.  That's the blog post.  Maybe I should get back in the habit of doing this, because I feel a little better having written it.  It used to be an every day thing.  First post I've done since July, though.  We'll figure it out, I reckon.....

Friday, July 09, 2021

2021 Mid-Year Reading Roundup

Well, I published this, and it looks like I accidentally deleted everything past February.  Such are the joys of Blogger.  I mean, if this were 2004, I'd talk about moving to another platform, but considering I apparently can't be bothered to write anything on here more than once a month, I guess we'll just shrug it off as one too many wires in plugged into the socket, and just try again. 


A blog post?  What???W?W???

It's June, and here's a brief roundup of what I've been reading in the early part of 2021:


January

Four Past Midnight, by Stephen King

Continuing re-read project.  Couple of these are a bit more taut than I remember.  Secret Window, Secret Garden feels like a flipside companion piece to The Dark Half....

The Fighting Bunch: The Battle of Athens, by Chris DeRose

Easily the best (and most and best researched) volume on the Battle of Athens I've read. 

The Searcher,  by Tana French

I liked it, but it didn't hold the same amount of water as most of her work.  Had one particular plot point that pulled the rug out from under me, and I just couldn't get into it like her best work.

Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary Wolf

Fun, if clunky.  Definitely a book improved on with its film adaptation....

We Promised You a Great Main Event: an Unauthorized WWE History, by Bill Hanstock

Meh.  Google journalism.  But maybe the best you'll find, since a good oral history would be next to impossible.

February

The Spy with No Pants by John Swartzwelder

I think I love these Swartzwelder books more than I love baseball, pizza or professional wrestling.

The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View, edited by 

Meh.  There are a couple good ones, but four or five months later, I don't remember a thing I read in this.....

Dark Tower: the Waste Lands   by Stephen King

So much fun.  I mentioned when I read Drawing of the Three last year that the section where Eddie meets Roland is maybe some of the finest writing King has put to page in his career.  But as a story, the Waste Lands is where the Dark Tower finds its feet.  It starts cooking with gas, and this remains one of my favorite King books.

The History of the Ancient World   by Susan Wise Bauer

A commute listen....one that I wished I'd read instead.   I can visualize a lot, but for some reason, I don't see maps well.  I need the visual aid.   That said, this is a well put together work, and I'll be reading her follow up on Ancient Rome very soon.

Night of the Mannequins   by Stephen Graham Jones

Quick, fast paced, weird horror.  Stephen Graham Jones is moving quickly up my list of favorite writers.  I wanted this one to end a little more ambiguously, but I still enjoy this one very much.  In a quick Twitter review, I mentioned that it made me want to watch the movie Twister, for some reason.  To which SGJ responded: "I can't stop watching Twister...."

March

A Song with Teeth   by T Frohock

This might be my favorite new read this year.  I love a nice period piece, and Frohock's Los Nefilim covers a stretch in European history (fantastically, using an adverb that works on a couple levels) that I am just now coming to in my personal reading.  I'm picky about both fantasy and historical fiction, but Frohock zeroes in on exactly what I've been looking for with this series.....

Medallion Status     by John Hodgman

Hodgman had popped up on a couple of podcasts I'd listened to just prior to this, and in one, he was plugging this read.  I like a guy who can turn a good phrase, and for months since, I've been referring mentally to eggs as disgusting snotty chaos.

Sidelined: Sports, Culture and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro

I've been reading DiCaro's work for years....since way back in the blogging days.  We've followed each other on Twitter, and sadly, I've seen a lot of the disgusting shit people say to and about her.  Posting my review brought an odd amount of heat from the same trolls.  This was a good read, and I've passed a couple copies out to friends......

April

T-Rex and the Crater of Doom   by Walter Alvarez

A Kindle/Lunchtime read.  As much about the scientific process as it is the end result.  Dry, but enjoyable.

American Gods  by Neil Gaiman

A commute listen.  My friend Jillian was reading this, and asked if it was worth finishing.  It's actually a better listen than a read.  Gaiman's work feels better aurally, if that makes any sense.  Also, I need to go to Rock City again...I haven't been since the second grade....

Miami Blues    by Charles Willeford

This came recommended by a Bill Ryan piece I read here.  I dug it.  It tickles the part of my brain that digs the Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty brand of Southern Gothic.  Grotesquely hilarious enough that I laughed until I cried about Hoke Mosely's dentures.

Needful Things    by Stephen King

The last Castle Rock story.  This one was a big deal to me back in the day.  Reading it now, it represents the best of King's instincts (his love of his small towns, the decency and lack thereof in everybody, King's astute memories of childhood), and also his worst (he gets maudlin, and saccharine sweet at the weirdest times...also, a couple of the threads tying to other Castle Rock works just feel forced...the whole Ace Merrill bit really, really grinds at me).  Still, this one ends in a whirlwind, and I ended up liking it very much the second time around, nearly 30 years later....

May

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race  by Douglas Brinkley

A commute listen.  Digs hard into the politics of the space race.  Made me think hard about Werner von Braun.....

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory    by Caitlin Doughty

I'd had this one on my shelf for a while, and finally sat with it.  Good read on the American take on Death, as part of our culture.....

The Dark Horse    by Craig Johnson

I read this one during my May vacation.  Does it say much about me that I was more worried for Walt's dog than I was the child when both went missing?

Mongrels   by Stephen Graham Jones

This one's strong.  Legitimately creepy, with an air of melancholy that pervades, but doesn't overwhelm the thing.  

The Blizzard of '88    by  Mary Cable

A 1.99 Kindle read.  Actually kinda neat to read in a very hot grocery store backroom, and thinking that standing, trapped on a pier during a blizzard, to be rescued with your coat frozen to you doesn't really sound all that bad.....

Junes

Gerald's Game    by Stephen King

A Commute listen.  I liked it better than I remembered, but I still think the ending is a cop out.  I didn't like a couple of the revelations in those final chapters.  They felt cheap.

The Perfect Storm    by Sebastian Junger

 I didn't mean to re-read this one, but due to a remodel at work, my attention span was a little lacking.  This one, even as much as I like it, reads like a long magazine article....

Some Assembly Required    by TJ Condon

A friend of mine wrote this from her own experiences with her husband's wait for a liver transplant.  Tara's a natural storyteller, and this one reads very quickly.  She translates a hellish experience with grace and humor.  I bought a couple copies to pass out to people.....

Frankenstein    by Mary Shelley

I bought a copy with illustrations by the late Bernie Wrightson, this being a reprint of a Marvel project from way back when.  I forget who had the original Marvel copy back in high school, but I always dug it.  This is actually my first time through the book itself, though.  I made an aborted attempt in the eighth grade or so.  I dug it, though, and not just for the drawings!

The Ninth Metal   by Benjamin Percy

The commute listen.  There were seeds of good stuff in here, but none of it every really bore fruit.  I finished, but I didn't care for this one too much.

Fishing for Dinosaurs and other Stories   by Joe R. Lansdale

The kindle/lunchtime read.  I'd read a couple of these in other places and forms, but enjoyed the collection overall.  Black Hat Jack is definitely a favorite....

My Year Abroad    by Chang-Rae Lee

Shyam got me a subscription to a book club from Powell's, and this was the first of this year's editions.  I liked it...bombastic and funny.  I will say that the dialog felt wooden, from time to time, but on the whole, I enjoyed this one very much.

July

The Premonition: a Pandemic Story    by Michael Lewis

I'll go ahead and include this one, since I'm re-writing.  The commute listen.  Lewis delivers an interesting read....the conundrum of the last year is that if your measures work, then everybody will say it was overkill.  Of particular interest (and a subject for future reading), how a potential outbreak of Swine Flu during the Ford administration helped shape our country's disjointed responsed to Covid-19......


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Dreams and memories.....

 It's odd the things you remember.  Dates.  Times.

On April 15, 1994, as a junior in high school, I asked somebody on a date. Spent days working up the guts to do it. Finally got up the courage, and asked.  And she thought I was joking, and laughed.  I was demolished in that way that only teenagers are demolished.  I laughed along, acting like I was indeed joking about such things.  Saved whatever face i was looking to save in 1994.  I guess.

I've written about it before, and the person who I asked figured out that it was her I was referring to.  She got ahold of my number through friends and called me to apologize.  That's been more than 10 years ago.  We're cool.  We were cool way before that, but it was still decent of her to call.

Being a teenager is hard.  I work with teenagers, and I have to remind myself of that at least 3 times a week, right after I've talked myself out of pitching a 16-year-old through a plate glass window.

That said, being a grownup isn't much easier. 27 years later, and that one still sneaks into anxiety dreams on occasion......

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Wrasslin' and Whatnot

 Personal Top 10 Wrestlemania Matches

1.  Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, Wrestlemania III....a 34 year-old wrasslin' match that just holds up.  It's as much about the nostalgia as it is the ringwork.  In the spring of 1987, I was on the back end of my true believer status, and I hated the hell out of Randy Savage.  This was a grudge match, and it ends so satisfyingly.  The ringwork, by the way, is top notch.  It gets some shit down the line for how much Savage wanted it laid out.  I don't care.  The end result is still a lot of fun.

2.  Undertaker vs. Triple H, Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels special referee, Wrestlemania XXVIII

Damn.  This one's savage.  I don't know that there's a better Wrestlemania streak than taker from 25-28.  But this one is just savage.  With all 3 bodies telling a story of respect.

3.  Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, Wrestlemania XIII

Still the best executed double turn in the history of wrestling.  Hard to believe this match will be turning 25 next year.

4.  Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart, Wrestlemania X.   Just a clinic.  Almost a fuck you to Vince.  No clowning.  Very little showboating, except for the requisite heel stuff from Owen.  Just a clinic where two brothers wanted to show who was better...and the best there is.

5.  Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle,   Wrestlemania XX.  I miss Guerrero. Very much.  He had another one or two of these in him.

6.  Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker,  Wrestlemania XXV.   Again, a clinic.  This time in Ring psychology.  These two play the crowd like a piano

7.  Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, 60-minute iron man match, Wrestlemania XII.  Amazing.  Just Amazing.

8.  Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar, Wrestlemania XIX.   Whoa.  Just whoa.

9.  Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan.   Wrestlemania XXXV.    This is a match that Kofi and Bryan both deserved.

10.  Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper,   Wrestlemania VIII.  So much fun.  Bret carries Piper, but Piper holds his own...he's one of the best brawlers in history.  Only thing holding this back from higher is a hammy moment when Piper listens to the crowd.....

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Basketball, and whatnot

 Basketball is stupid.

That's not true.  I like basketball a lot.  And I like the NCAA tournament a lot.  I wish COVID were done, or that I were vaccinated, so that I might find a sports bar and enjoy the first couple of days of the tournament without worrying that I'll take the Lung Crud home to a loved one.  The energy of the first two days of the tournament is my favorite thing in the sports world.  Watching Tennessee piss its way through its first round loss was made somewhat more palatable by watching Oral Roberts upset The Ohio State University, for a nice 15-seed upset.

As an addendum to the previous paragraph, I wish the weather could make its damned mind up around Southeast Tennessee....I've been able to use the patio at Buffalo Wild Wings a couple times when it's been warm, lately (Tennessee's game Friday the 12th was one such occasion).  Today's weather, hovering in the 50's around lunchtime, did not seem conducive to a pleasant afternoon.  There had been plans to take in a couple games today with a buddy, which fell through when he had to work at the last minute.  Hard to be mad.  I work retail, too....

What else in the World of Big Stupid Tommy?

I got to eat lunch with the Uncouth Sloth himself this past week.  First time in several years I've seen Ardoug in person...but he and his missus were passing through the area, so we grabbed a quick bite.  He's still Rob, and that's as fine a compliment as I can think.

On vacation this week.  Stumbled headlong into this one.  My company picked up a few stores in southern Georgia and western South Carolina, and are in the process of flipping them to our brand.  I've had to make a couple trips in the past month, one to Albany and one to Hawkinsville by way of Warner-Robins.  I'm not used to business travel, though the trips themselves were enjoyable enough.  Walking through a Goodwill in Warner-Robins netted a couple neat finds....a handful of 50's pulp magazines, Amazing Stories type stuff. 

Anyway.  On vacation.  Gotta buy a lawnmower.  Kinda want a riding model, what with my being a middle-aged American Man.  That decision will come sooner rather than later, as Mother Nature is threatening to turn my yard into the Brazilian Rain Forest.....

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Inauguration Day and Whatnot

 We inaugurated a new President today.  Count me among one of those feeling relief.

I don't care a lot for Biden.  But I look forward to not waking up wondering if the incompetent fool at the White House blundered us into World War III.  And on the wrong side.

What's more, it'll be nice to have a guy in the White House who seems genuinely interested in doing the right thing . (For the record, I felt much the same about Obama, and even Bush the Younger....I was always much more concerned about the people surrounding Bush than I was Bush himself).  

Mostly, I look forward to leadership that aspires for us to be something bigger than ourselves.  

Something great.

That phrase has grated on my nerves probably since 2015.  

Make America Great Again.

Fuck you.  America was always great.  We don't need a grifter coming in making himself and his friends richer, telling us he's gonna make us great again.

Trump is one of those guys who can't tell the difference between fear and respect.

I wrote in November 2016 that a Trump presidency would not end like those who voted for him thought they would.  It was a travesty.  From top to bottom.  Up to and including the treasonous events of January 6.

Anyway.  Biden inherits The Plague and 73 million assholes who voted for Trump.  I wouldn't wish that on anybody.  I hope he's up to the task.....

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The 2020 Read List

Here's a list of what I read in 2020.

2020 was a challenge on a lot of levels.  I had it nowhere near as tough as many, and I don't want to pretend that I did.  I will say, though, that from March 12 through about the first of May, it was six- or seven-day weeks, and occasionally 12 and 13 hour days.  There were a few other stretches like this.  There were periods where reading was difficult, if only because my attention span was squirrely.  

I read more on the Kindle and the Kindle app more this year than in years past.  Lunches usually had me staring at a book instead of doomscrolling through the Facespace or Twitter.  Better for the mental health, at any rate.

January

It   Stephen King

Just a huge, huge romp.  Easily one of King's four or five best.  Part of my read-thru of King's work.  Its scope is amazing.  Plus, I wonder if King was struggling with quitting smoking (along with drugs and alcohol) because Damn!  Everybody smokes!

Realityland:  True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World    David Koenig

A very interesting read.  Picked it up for the Kindle not long after Shyam and I returned from Orlando in 2019.  My lunchtime read.  The politics and logistics of the venture are just fascinating to me.

The Water Dancer    Ta-Nehisi Coates

Excellently written, with a lot of good turns of phrase.  Harriet Tubman is amazing, and I'd like to see this as a movie or series.  This one grew on me after I read, but my initial take on it was that it wasn't far enough from Coates' work on Marvel's books to suit me, but I made my peace with it, as well.  One of the books that my brain keeps wandering back to.

Another Man's Moccasins     Craig Johnson

A commute listen, and a nice rebound for the series, after the previous volume nearly aggravated me away from the books altogether.  I liked the setting, and it made me feel like Walt Longmire might be buddies, after a fashion, with Joe Lansdale's Hap & Leonard....

Cold Storage     David Koepp

Not bad, but not great, either.  Parts are definitely well done.  But it suffers from following the wrong character.....

February

Bucky Fucking Dent    David Duchovny

A Christmas gift from my friend Micah.  You know, Duchovny's a funny dude.  And this is a pretty decent book.

I Stooged to Conquer    Moe Howard

Moe's autobiography.  An immensely clever guy, whose intense love for his brothers shines through.  Perhaps the funniest thing I've read in years was the story of a young Shemp and young Moe courting women at the Boardwalk, and Shemp taking a stomach cramp, and mistaking a couple making out under the boardwalk for driftwood.  In attempting to use the "driftwood" for a makeshift toilet, he ends up getting his butt kicked and having to clean himself off in the ocean.....

Quincy Harker: Year One    John G. Hartness

A commute listen.  I think I prefer Hartness's Bubba the Monster Hunter, as a read, but this was still a lot of fun.

Dog of the South     Charles Portis

The more I read of Portis, the more I enjoy.  I wish I'd found him earlier in life, but I'm glad I've found him now.  I'd love it if the Coens had adapted this one....

March

Carved from Stone and Dream    T. Frohock

If you haven't checked out her work, you should definitely give Ms. Frohock's work surrounding the Spanish Civil War a look.  I dig this series a little more with each book.

Heart of Darkness    Joseph Conrad

A re-read.  I'd read it in college, but only in the semi-resentful way where you're reading for plot or style points because you're assigned it for a class.  Reading it when I did, the week that things started to go insane, it was a nice juxtaposition picking apart Conrad's prose while getting asked every 3 minutes if we had any Lysol or Hand Sanitizer in the back.....

Eyes of the Dragon    Stephen King

Another part of the read-through.  Such a fun, fast read.  I first read this one late in high school, after I was already 3 books deep into the Dark Tower series, and had already read The Stand two or three times.  I kept comparing it to those works, which at the time made it seem inferior.  Maybe I'm a little more mature now, or can just see it better apart from those other works.  It's a lot of fun.  And as an aside, Bronson Pinchot has always been an excellent actor, but he's a superior narrator as well, and I'd love to see him involved with a film adaptation.....

Kaiju Rising     edited by Tim Marquitz & NK Sharps

A part of a Kickstarter way back when.  Hit or miss, but there are a couple really good ones in there.  "Day of the Demigods" was funny, and threw a couple of curves in there.  "Occupies" was a hell of a good concept.  And I keep thinking about "The Conversion," too.  Just a nice, bleak monster story

Ready Player One    Ernest Cline

I'd tried a couple of other reads, but grabbed this as a bit of mental comfort food.  I finished it on March 23, when our business had gone crazy after schools had started shutting down.  (Without putting numbers out there, we'd had our busiest week in 14 years the second week in March...and then topped it by 40% the next week, for what was probably the busiest week that my current store had likely ever had, or at least since the blizzard in 1993).  As for the book, I still dig it as a grail quest.  Cline's not great shakes as a writer, but there are parts of this that let you know his heart and soul are in this one....

April

The Splendid and the Vile    Erik Larson

One of the best books I read this year.  Larson's strong, but he hits the Churchill bio out of the park.  I gave a couple copies as gifts this year.

Under the Black Hat       Jim Ross

More superlative:  One of the best wrestling books ever written.  Right up there with Mick Foley's Have a Nice Day and Countdown to Lockdown, and Bret Hart's autobiography.  Creativity as a corporate enterprise fascinates me, and the efforts of the WWE are no different in that regard.  A touching book, ultimately.  Jim lost his wife Jan within a few days of my losing Dad.  It was amazing how much his grieving process resembled my own in that spring of 2017.

The Deep   Alma Katsu

Katsu has written some really great stuff, but this was a little clunky, for some reason.  It had all the elements that usually work for me (I love a nice period piece ghost story).  I didn't dislike it, but it just didn't hit exactly right.

May

Buzz Saw: The Improbably Story of How the Washington Nationals won the World Series     Jesse Dougherty

I read this one because I was missing baseball.....I root for the Cubs, but Shyam roots for the Nationals.  By association, I've become a well wisher, so when the Nationals won it all in 2019, I was very happy, and quite familiar with the cast of characters.  Dougherty focuses on the key players, and I especially enjoyed the looks at Howie Kendrick and Dave Martinez.  Especially disagreed with the look and conclusions on Anthony Rendon, who I've always regarded (and still do) as a prima donna.  Still, a pretty good read....

Ronan Boyle and the Swamp of Certain Death     Thomas Lennon

These are fun, and I hope Lennon gets to publish a wagon full of these.

Misery     Stephen King

 A commute listen.  King ruminates on fame and fandom.  Effectively.  This is a strong one.  One of the few King books I'd actually not read before going through it this time.

June

The Game:  Inside the secret World of Major League Baseball's Power Brokers    Jon Pessah

Again, I was missing baseball.  A look at the labor and drug issues in baseball for a couple of decades.  My take is much the same as it was beginning the book...Look:  Owners are by and large ruthless pieces of shit.  You don't get to the point of having a billion dollars at your disposal without being something of a piece of shit.  At the same time, though, I still have trouble mustering much sympathy for people making six, seven or eight figures a year playing a game, and doing very very little in this same time span for the folks in the minors.  It just comes down to How Much Money Do You Need?

Salt and Stilettos     Janet Walden-West

My friend Janet published her first novel this year, and I gave it a read.  Maybe not my normal stuff, but Janet has an excellent ear for dialog, which I'm a sucker for.  This is a good read, and I recommend it.

Time's Demon     DB Jackson

This series is fun.  I really dig the ramifications of time travel for those who are able to walk.  And this one's a page-turner.  Droe was probably my favorite character of the first book in the series, so it pleased me that she got so much focus in this book.....

The Stench of Honolulu     Jack Handey

I keep going back to this one.  I liked this one a lot, after the fact.  I do wish I'd read this one, instead of listening.....

The Dark Tower: the Drawing of the Three    Stephen King

Man it may not the best of his stuff, but the initial section with King and Eddie meeting, and ending their leg of the journey fighting Balazar just bristles with energy.  I'd always considered Eddie very much the analog for King in the series.  Until, well, King himself shows up.  There's a lot of heart in Eddie.  He was my Dad's favorite character.

Jaws      Peter Benchley

I very much went on a Jaws kick this year.  The movie is one I'd watched every couple of years, and remembered each time:  Holy Shit, this is good.  The first movie I saw in a theater of any kind after a five-month hiatus was Jaws at the Swingin' Midway Drive-In.  I picked up the book the next day.  It's not a bad read, but that subplot between Hooper and Brody's wife threw me for a loop.  The Mob connection, did as well.  Glad to see those forgotten in the movie.....

July

Shakespeare for Squirrels   Christopher Moore.

One of my favorite writers.  And probably the one with the highest batting average, in terms of books I gave a thumbs up to.  The Pocket stories are tremendously fun, and this one is no different.

The Drowned World    JG Ballard

A Kindle read.  It popped up in a $1.99 or $2.99 sale.  Bleak enough to make me dream of it.

Impervious     AJ Hartley

My buddy Dino had gifted me a copy of this one.  Definitely not your average fantasy/SF romp.  Quite a bit jarring, actually.

Survivor Song     Paul Tremblay

I didn't think I'd end up liking a book taking place in a pandemic while in a pandemic myself as much as I did.  Tremblay wanders away a bit from his Weird and Ambiguous Horror Umbrella.  I ended up liking this one quite a bit.

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa 1942-1943    Rick Atkinson

I've come to like Atkinson very much.  A strong read.    Ended up giving a couple copies as gifts this Christmas.

August

More Better Deals     Joe R. Lansdale

Finds traction about a third of the way end, and when it does, it tears it up.  Nice kinda East Texas noir.  I dug it.

The Fifty Year Mission: the First 25 Years   Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman

A commute listen.  A look at the beginnings of Trek, through its Motion Pictures from 1979-1991.  Not a bad read, though a thought hit me later.  I've never had as much use for Gene Roddenberry as some.  Except, that's not quite right.  I'm just not always comfortable with the deification of creators (this from a guy trying to read everything King's written in order).  That said, our editors occasionally come at Gene pretty hard.  I'm not saying it's undeserved, and I applaud veering away from that glorification.  But the flip side can be just as vexing.....

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre      Max Brooks

This one just jumped off the shelf at me.  It was fun, even if spending too much time with the Sasquatch, even on the page, starts stripping away some of their allure.

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home    Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

This one just jumped off the page at me on sale.  It was fun, even if spending too much time with the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home starts stripping away some of the allure.

September

The Tommyknockers     Stephen King

This was the first speedbump I ever ran across when I first started reading King, way back when.  It was a friggin' mess.  I made a second run at it in college, and got just about as far in.  This is one of the books that was on my mind when I started my King read-through.  This one took me most of August, and became an Insomnia Read, as I had a mild bout of it back in the late summer and early fall.  The book is still a friggin' mess.  King himself said in an interview or two that it's about 350 pages worth of book packed into 700 pages.

The End of Everything (Astrophyiscally Speaking)    Katie Mack

I've been following Katie Mack on Twitter for a long time.  One of the most educational twitter accounts out there.  And she's got a sense of humor that appeals to me, as well.  The book is much the same.  And I have to say that a highly localized singularity leading to our losing cohesion and fading into nothingness at the speed of light didn't sound so bad after herding teenagers for a weekend.....

The Only Good Indians    Stephen Graham Jones

Damn, this was a good book.  Probably the best thing I read this year.  A melancholy sort of horror.  Whip smart.  This is an awesome book.

American Nations: a History of the Eleven Rival Cultures of North America    Colin Woodard

An interesting take on the multiple personalities of culture that inhabit our land.  Especially interesting given the varied responses to the pandemic across the country.....

Children of Blood and Bone     Tomi Adeyemi

I liked how this one was put together, even if it got busy for a while.  It just didn't grab me, at the end of the day.

October

True Grit      Charles Portis

I didn't intend to re-read this one, but Shyam had lent her copy to her Mom, and brought it home when it was finished.  I started thumbing through it, and ended up re-reading it over the course of a couple nights.   It's become one of my favorite books, in the past few years.

The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life     Alex Trebek

This one turned into an Insomnia Read.  I hate to say it, but this one felt rushed.  Like they were trying to get it out before Trebek passed....which, sadly, he would quite soon after its publication.

Dune     Frank Herbert

This one had been on my list for years and years.  And it took a while to really get moving for me.  I liked it, but I'm not champing at the bit to hit another Dune book.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief      Rick Riordan

I think this is my first book recommendation from my nephew Thomas.  He was reading it, and said he liked it.  I found it for cheap on the Kindle, and ended up liking it pretty well.  When I told April to tell Thomas that I liked it, he started grilling me about my favorite parts.  For the record:  The Battle of St. Louis and playing ball in the Underworld with Cerberus.....

The Natural    Bernard Malamud

It was kinda funny reading this one with its undertones of the gods right after reading Lightning Thief.  Anyway, Roy Hobbs is a douchebag who reaps everything he sows.

The Dark Half      Stephen King

This one was a lot tighter than I'd remembered.  A fine book.

November

The Good House      Tananarive Due

Due's short stories seem to show up in a lot of short story collections I pick up, but this is the first novel of hers I've read.  It won't be the last.  Good blending of supernatural and real world horrors.   I dug it.

Answers in the Form of Questions    Claire McNear

Quick kindle read.  Published a couple of days after Alex Trebek's passing.  Gets a little more in depth into the game theory and buzzer strategies of players than the couple other Jeopardy books I've thumbed through in the past.  A good overview, though it hesitates to criticize too harshly....

December

Sophie's World      Jostein Gaarder

This was the text book we used for Dr. Bombardi's Intro to Philosphy class.  Had a couple points where I felt like I should have been eating lunch on the JUB steps while reading.  This time around, I really appreciated the framing device for its story....

The Fifty-Year Mission: the Next 25 Years    Mark A. Altman & Edward Gross

A Continuation of the Trek Oral History, working its way through the Next Generation, DS9 and so forth.  The TNG and DS9 sections held my interest pretty well, with the Enterprise and Voyager sections not doing much for me, likely because those shows also don't do a lot for me....

Ready Player Two     Ernest Cline

Eh.  It's pretty likely that Cline's a one-trick pony.  What might have made this book more interesting would be following a new set of characters, or perhaps Art3mis, as main characters.  Instead, we spend the first quarter of the book attempting to reset characters back to their positions at the beginning of Ready Player One.  Or their mindsets, at any rate.  It's not as horrid as Armada, but it's definitely not as fun as its preceding work....

A Christmas Carol      Charles Dickens

An annual re-read.  You know, that section where Marley first visits Scrooge is really well done as a spooky ghost story.....

The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy     Bill Simmons

The Kindle read.  I don't follow the NBA.  Not regularly.  It's just not my type of basketball, by and large.  But, my nephew does.  And when he speaks on it, I feel pretty damned ignorant.  This one got recommended by a couple folks.  I've been reading on it in dribs and drabs.  Not a bad book at all.....




Friday, November 13, 2020

18!!!!!!

 18 years ago, I started this bloodletting thing men call a blog.

I'm not here as much as I used to be, but I appreciate all who continue to visit, seeing if I'm still farting around.

The answer is: yes.  I am still farting around.