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.

Monday, November 02, 2020

November

 We vote as a nation tomorrow.

A great many still believe in the demagogue.

Just remember that the demagogue does not believe in you.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Pessimistic Post

 So, the con man you guys elected hasn't been paying his due taxes.

Writing off 70,000 on hair care?

There are still tens of millions in the country who will vote for him.  And happily.  

I hope we have enough to vote against him.

And I hope we don't have an even bigger storm to weather in the after.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Dispatch from the Plague Zone

 Another vacation week.  Much appreciated, though not as stressed out as the last vacation week.  Which is saying something, considering what the last six weeks have looked like.

It's a different kind of tired some days.  The Public has many problems with rational thinking, with data processing.  Interpreting data is not a strong suit.  It's very much why we're in the state we're in.

Official position?  Mandating masks isn't a violation of any of your rights.  Come off it.  And if a place makes you wear a mask?  Yelling at a 19-year-old clerk or a 49-year-old cleaning guy or even management doesn't change the business's mandate.


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Monday, July 13, 2020

Returning to work and whatnot

Welp.  Another staycation come and gone.  Here are a few random thoughts.

This week, we saw Itsabit move into the house with us.  It's been an easier than expected transition.  She took the litter box like a pro.  Aside from a bit of confusion at night, where she meowed for attention, she's done great.  The past couple of nights she's crawled up onto the couch to watch TV with me.  She rather liked Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, but was bored by Match Game last night.



This vacation one wasn't originally marked as a staycation.  If everything had gone according to plan, I'd have gone to Atlanta with this one (I originally thought this was earmarked for a potential trip to New Jersey, and I may have been wrong about that, or maybe even both had been planned).  If everything had gone according to plan, the Braves and Cubs would have played this past weekend, right before we headed into the All Star Break.

I'm not terribly optimistic that we'll get even a 60 game season, but if that goes according to plan, the season starts in 11 days for the Cubs.  I like their chances over a short season.

The Barnes & Noble Criterion sale started Friday.  Had thought about wandering down, but ended up just ordering online.  Interested in War of the Worlds and Spike Lee's Bamboozled, which just had Criterion releases. 

Tired of the Coronavirus.  Tired of people.  Had hoped we'd be past it at this point, but apparently not.  Turns out a former neighbor is one of the folks locally who passed, when it got into the LifeCare retirement center.  So, to those who say "Well how come nobody you know has it?"  I'm one of the ones who knew somebody (3 somebodies actually), and actually knew a body who passed.

Mostly tired of the arguments about it.


Saturday, July 04, 2020

Happy Birthday, America

America turns 244 today.  

I thought about getting it a present, but it never cashed in that gift subscription to Shudder that I got it last year, so I think I may just text it Happy Birthday.  We don't get together like we used to, even prior to Covid-19.  I dunno.  I'm 43.  I can take a hint.  

A few random thoughts, as I drink whatever beer I find in my fridge:

  • Man, Karate Kid still pushes all the right 1980's Kid buttons in me.  Even if I find its message of a shortcut alternative to practice and study repugnant.  A thought that crosses my mind as I watch:  I wonder how many of the Cobra Kai's parents are at the All Valley Tournament at the end.  I know upbringing gets touched on somewhat in the first season of Cobra Kai (which is all I've seen of a show that was better than it had any right to be).  But it's something that crosses my mind every time I watch that movie.
  • I'm on vacation this week.  I'd gone back and forth about whether to take it (and indeed, my hand was forced somewhat by a couple of call-ins and quits).  But, I'm taking it.  The tired, the last few months, has been a different kind of tired.  We're running 40-50% up vs. Same Store Sales from last year.  The trend in the region is 20-25%.  We don't have a good reason to point to, except:  my boss and I run a good store, and we fell apart less than a lot of our competitors over the initial shock and rush in March, and it made a good impression, and we've kept a lot of those new customers.  So, the upswing in business is there.  But we're dealing with a lot of stressed out folks, still, and that has a cumulative effect over the course of a day.  Especially on a week where I worked 6 straight.  Even on the first day of vacation (which is my first Independence Day off maybe since 2004) , I don't feel like I'm on vacation.  I'll probably start to decompress tomorrow.
  • Not a good flick:  Crawl.  I wanted to like it.  I just found myself losing interest.
  • Good flick, such as it is:  the Disney+ showing of Hamilton.  Yeah, that's as fun as everybody's said.  It was one of those things that I'd avoided simply because too many people were recommending, and it couldn't meet the expectation I'd built in my head.  Yeah, still fun.  It deserves the praise.
  • Kittens is the buzzword of the past couple of weeks.  Mom got a new couple of kittens from a family friend.
  • They're not tribbles.  They're cats. Young.  She hasn't named them yet because she'd like to learn their personalities.
  • We've also had a couple of visitors.  They showed up with their mother a couple of weeks ago, and disappeared, only to reappear sans-mother this week.  Here is the one that has taken on the temporary label of Greavey (pronounced Gravy):
  • She and brother may be slightly malnourished, but we're working on correcting that.  Greavey is friendly.  The brother is wary, but kinda likes being held once the initial shock wears off.  We're not looking to make them inside cats, but we're thinking we're gonna get them fixed and maybe let them hang around to take care of pests, along with Yard Cat Lester
  • I really liked Christopher Moore's Shakespeare for Squirrels.  You should buy it and read it.
  • This is two in a row humdingers from Moore, whose Noir is delightfully funny.  A pretty good balm for this asshole world around us.....