Sunday, July 30, 2006


Ah, summer TV. If it weren't for HBO and baseball, I'd have it on only to catch the news here and there. Tonight, of course, I watched the only two shows I'm currently keeping track of - "Deadwood" and "Entourage."

How great has Gerald McRaney been on "Deadwood" this season? His George Hearst is menacing and idiosyncratic and polite and intelligent and more. Ian McShane has rightfully had award nominations and critical praise but next year's Emmys had better have McRaney up for an award or else. Well, I'll just shake my head one more time at the injustice of it all, I guess. Anyway, tonight's episode was great as usual. Death and schemes and comedy and the introduction of Wyatt and Morgan Earp, plus a powerful ending. Can't wait for next week.

"Entourage" is no slouch either. Tonight dealt with Ari's attempts to create a big new agency; Vincent's continual willingness to stand up for his principles against his better (monetary) interests; and Drama's big audition with Ed Burns. Good stuff. And next week? Vegas.

I was also shocked to see that we can watch the first episode of the new season of "The Wire" almost a week before it premieres via HBO On Demand. How cool is that? The question is, do I watch it that early and have to wait almost two weeks for another episode? Or do I watch in On Demand and then again when it airs? That show is always worth multiple viewings, as I mentioned a few days back.

Speaking of On Demand, I plan on checking out BBC America's "Life on Mars" at some point this week. I've heard good things.

Oh, and tonight is post #100 of this blog. Wonder if I can do the next 100 before the end of the year...

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Here's a rundown of what I've been reading since the early part of June...

I started with River of Gods by Ian McDonald. I'd heard quite a bit of buzz about it and I always love reading a nice big book (it clocks it at close to 600 pages), plus I'd read a few of the short stories that feature the same setting and had liked those. The book lived up to expectations. It's set it a future India and focuses on a wide variety of characters who come into contact with each other, sometimes having a direct effect on one another. It's a future of drought; trying to keep AIs from advancing beyond human intelligence; where the biggest soap opera is populated by AI actors; new energy sources are being explored; people choose to live as "nutes"; and so much more. It's sprawling and filled with great ideas and good writing and I recommend it highly.

Next up (while driving to North Carolina) was the sixth trade of the comics series Invincible. It's a rare thing for a super-hero series to survive that doesn't come from the Big Two (DC and Marvel) but Robert Kirkman has a winner on his hands here. It's fun, full of subplots and characters, and highly entertaining. A Different World (yes, he names all the collections after 80s sitcoms) sees Invincible traveling to another planet and coming into contact with his estranged father, followed by the consequences of having been gone so long. It's just as good as the rest of the series and I would suggest starting with Vol.1, Family Matters. You'll be hooked.

My other vacation read was Paragaea by Chris Roberson. I've read and liked some of his short stories and the concept behind this seemed one that would appeal - a Russian cosmonaut falls into a tear in space and ends up on another world full of airships and jaguar men and artificial men...a throwback to the pulp era. I was right. It was a fun adventure full of cool ideas and mythologies. My one problem was that it seemed the characters were at arms length; we got to read about them and heard what they thought but never really got to know them. Still, I will definitely be read more of Roberson's work.

I bought DMZ: On the Ground at Midtown Comics when we were in NYC and I read it while up at the lake. It's the first collection of a new Vertigo series by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli set in a near future where the U.S. is going through another civil war. The DMZ in question is New York City and we get to see what is happening through the eyes of Matthew (Matty) Roth, a photographer who gets left behind while on an assignment. As this is the opening arc, much of this is setup but it works well. The book reminds me of Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan in tone and style but that's not a bad thing. I'll definitely pick up the next volume.

Once we were home I jumped into some short fiction in the form of the August issues of Asimov's and F&SF. Highlights of the former were Stephen Baxter's "In the Abyss of Time," about exploring the future of the cosmos; Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Crunchers, Inc.," about a future where the worth of someone's life is decided by number crunchers; and Michael Swanwick's "Tin Marsh," a tale of nastiness and revenge on a far-off world (Swanwick is always worth reading). I liked the F&SF issue even more but there were again a few standouts - Ken Altabef's ""Pleased to Meetcha," a short idea story with a good twist; Robert Loy's "Jack B. Goode and the Neo-Modern Prometheus," a pun-filled tale that fills in more of the saga of Frankenstein's monster; Robert Reed's "Misjudgement Day," about a mysterious illness affecting part of the brain (Reed is also always worth reading); and Terry Bisson's "Billy and the Spacemen," another installment in the series.

And most recently I tackled Vellum by Hal Duncan. I mentioned that I put it down after 100 pages in frustration but I went back to it. The book focuses on several different characters in several different time periods and across several different world of the Vellum and within a few paragraphs you can be in several different places. It can be difficult. Also intercut with those stories are adaptations of Sumerian myths and Greek myths. I was able to follow it well enough but the sections dealing with Seamus Finnan were very tough for me to take. There wasn't necessarily a whole lot of plot movement through out much of the 460 pages either. Duncan has named James Joyce as an influnce and that is readily apparent. The story does not end here either - a sequel volume is due in the near future. And while I don't agree with all the critical praise heaped on the book I will probably read Ink when it arrives.

Of course, summer is not yet over but since I'm currently reading Talk Talk my streak of SF and fantasy is. For now.

I took some time this morning to go into the template and add links to some of the blogs I visit every day. I will probably be doing more of the same over the next few weeks. Not only do I want to highlight the people I find interesting but I hope that this may bring some more readers my way (not that I don't love my faithful 8 readers!). So please hit the links and go read those great blogs. I'm going to keep plugging away on my end.

Friday, July 28, 2006


I realized earlier tonight that comments may be sparser than usual around here. Trevor is here in Chicago for the Pitchfork Festival and then is going to Colorado for some vacation. Jeff is busy being a brand-new dad (and congrats again!). LTR hasn't posted to his own blog in about a month, though I enjoyed that Futurama promo for Al Gore's movie. I haven't seen Dan around these parts in quite a while. And as for my brother, his roommates are having computer problems so his access has been limited; I did spy a new blog entry as his site today, which means maybe those problems are changing.

I need to find a way to expand my consistent posts? actual content? How do I become the next blogging sensation, empty room?


Okay then.

I've been busy with a few projects this week, trying to fit them in around work and such. I finished Vellum on Wed. night. Yes, I decided to give it one more chance and while it tried my patience at times I did enjoy it on the whole (more in a book review...maybe). I got four comic books this week and read through those (yay to all of them - 52, Batman, Action Comics, and Astro City: Samaritan Special) and then started on T.C. Boyle's Talk Talk last night. My plan is to finish it by Monday, which means I would then have 5 months to read 20 books in order to reach my goal for the year. It'll be a real challenge but I'll do what I can. The first book in August will definitely be Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy...after that, who knows.

I've also been taking some time to process a few new albums, purchased the old-fashioned way. Last week saw the release of the first Golden Smog record in 8 years, Another Fine Day. It's no surprise that I've been a fan of the Smog ever since I learned about their existence (Jeff Tweedy and Gary Louris in a band together!). This record is a real collaborative effort and has a bunch of great songs, including some in a power pop mode. I love it. The new Long Winters, Putting the Days to Bed, really has a hold of me too. Highly recommended. And then there's Highway Companion, the new Tom Petty solo album. It's solid but it also feels like a reworked greatest hits album or career overview.

I've also been trying to come up with lyrics for a new song we were working on the other night. I'd come up with a simple rhythmic chord progression on Monday morning and played it for the guys at practice that night. They like the space in it and we worked out a great instrumental version with Tom going nuts on the drums and Graham really funking things out on the bass. So, my homework was to come up with something with thoughts of playing it at our next show (this coming Thursday). It's starting to work itself out in my head and I believe it will be called "T.V. Crush."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Lots of great new music releases today...

Tom Petty/Highway Companion
The Long Winters/Putting the Days to Bed
Silversun Pickups/Carnavas
Midlake/The Trials of Van Occupanther
The Drams/Jubilee Dive

And in rerelease...

Harvey Danger/Little By Little
Tapes 'n Tapes/The Loon

I know the Petty will be at Best Buy and they'd better have the Long Winters album or I will be highly annoyed. Midlake and The Drams (the band that picks up from Slobberbone) will be eMusic downloads. The Silversun Pickups will probably have to be purchased online. And I own both the HD and T'nT records and highly recommend them. Happy purchasing and listening!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Last night I was getting prepared to watch both "Deadwood" and "Entourage" as they aired, the first time I could do it this season. I had the channel tuned to HBO and was half-reading and half-watching the rerun of "The Wire" they were airing first. I'm a huge fan of "The Wire" and find it just as compelling on a second or third viewing. Anyway, between shows they ran their little "Buzz" promo and it just happened to be about the new season of "The Wire." It's going to deal with the school system, at least in part, as well as the mayoral elections and who knows what else. I can't wait. It starts in September.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Plenty of news out on San Diego this weekend, where the biggest comics convention in the U.S. just wrapped up. I found one bit very interesting and pertinent to yesterday's post about the Justice League animated series...

Bruce Timm is overseeing a line of direct-to-video animated movies featuring adaptations of DC characters and stories. The initial batch is scheduled to feature New Frontier, which was a recent mini-series by Darwyn Cooke featuring a story set in the early days of the Justice League; Superman/Doomsday, which I'm assuming is the whole death of Superman story rather than the follow-up Dan Jurgens mini-series that came out a couple years after the original; and maybe most interestingly, "The Judas Contract," which was one of the biggest stories of the 80s about the betrayal of a member of the New Teen Titans. With Timm at the helm these should be of a high quality and I'm looking forward to seeing them and sharing them with Grant. (via Newsarama)

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Grant and I wrapped up our viewing of Justice League Season 2 on DVD yesterday. The set came out a couple days before we went on vacation, so we only saw a few episodes before we left. We picked back up once we got home and have steadily worked through the discs. 26 episodes in all, broken down into 11 two-parters, one single ep, and the season finale three-parter "Starcrossed."

I highly enjoyed the first season but this season really ramped things up. The animation just got better and better, especially in the fight sequences and focusing on multiple actions in one shot. The villains were huge too - Darkseid, Brainiac, Dr. Destiny, Despero, Amazo, a new Secret Society, Vandal Savage, Joker, and more - all topped off by a full-scale alien invasion in the finale. The characters were much sharper, as were the relationships between them. I enjoyed it tremendously and am so glad Grant enjoys the series as well. The first season of "Justice League Unlimited" comes out in October and I can't wait.

This week also saw the release of Justice League of America #0, the latest DC relaunch of its premiere super-team. The JLA had disbanded in the wake of Identity Crisis and the lead-up to Infinite Crisis; the result of the latter series was the disappearance for a whole year of the "Trinity" (or Big Three) - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. That year is being chronicled in 52 (which I will get back to writing about) and all of the regular DC series have been showing storylines set "One Year Later." Now it's time for the JLofA to get back into the swing of things.

I still think of zero issues as a new thing but they've been around at least ten years by this point. I still think the idea is a funny one...what's wrong with starting with #1? In this case, though, I think the conceit works pretty well. The story is told from the POV of the Trinity, highlighting various events from the history of the JLA as seen through their eyes and the relationship between them. What's interesting is that possible future events are included as well, a device I've always loved.

This issue also focuses on a wide variety of artists, many of whom illustrate scenes from the history of the League they were a part of. Luke McDonnell gets reprise the Detroit era and Kevin Maguire the bwa-ha-ha era and so forth. These switches are deftly done in service of the script.

Fan reaction to this issue has been mixed but I thought it was very well done by writer Brad Meltzer. It gives me hope for his year-long run, which will truly kick in with next month's #1. I'll definitely be there.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Last night Gs Livid Penny made its full band debut at a bowling alley called The Strike Zone in Rennselaer, Indiana. Graham played guitar and bass; Tom was on drums; and I played guitar, bass, keyboards, and a little harmonica. It went very well.

We didn't realize when we got there that we were in a battle of the bands situation. It didn't really matter to us, especially since we got to play last and the longest in any event. The first band was a heavy, screaming band with Amber in their title (something for Amber, something beginning with an "A"); I heard one or two of their songs and then went to grab some food and gas. Next up was our friend Tom Adamson, who plays in a band called Bottle Rocket Blue. He played a mix of originals and cover (Elliott Smith, Lou Reed, David Bowie). Then came Dime Store Millionaires, a band that formed around the same time as we did. They have a folkie sound, with guitar, banjo, and glockenspiel being the main instruments for night with some accents of drums and violin. Finally, it was our turn.

We took a couple minutes to make sure our levels were good (I had an amp for each instrument plus my vocal mike) and make sure we were tuned. I had to turn my keyboard at an angle so I didn't run over the chord, which was different. We'd also done surgery on my guitar before the show, so I could put on a strap and play standing. Anyway, it was time to play.

We opened with "Jews & Gypsies," which is the song we'd pretty much nailed that first day we practiced on the porch back in May. It's a strong song of Graham's and the crowd was with us. We then did "Woke Up," which is the first song I wrote, and things just moved along from there. We had a couple small problems here and there but we always found ourselves again pretty quickly. The crowd definitely seemed to be enjoying the show, especially as we moved along. Tom Adamson was dancing along to our closer, "Poor," which is a real country thumper. I had to borrow and harmonica holder so I could play both it and the bass on the song, but the harmonica kept slipping away. Oh well. We'll nail it next time.

Once we were done, we got a nice round of applause and then congratulations from the audience. Some of my co-workers had driven down and seemed genuinely glad that they had. Jill and my mom were there in support of me too. Then to top off the good feelings, one of the Strike Zone workers came over with our share of the money for the night ($70!) and said we had won the battle of the bands. That meant we get to go back and play in the finals on Aug. 10 against 10 other bands. The winner takes home $300, which would be great.

It was such a blast to do the show and I think all of us feel good about what we accomplished. Now it's back to practice so we can tighten things up and work on new stuff. We'd like to start recording soon too. Definitely a lot more to come from Gs Livid Penny.

Here's the setlist, just for fun...

Jews & Gypsies
Woke Up
Give Yourself
Under the Cops
Song For a Day
Waste Your Breath
Decoder Ring
Liquor Sink
That's Okay

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I've given up on another book, my third this year and second in a row (no wonder I'm behind on my goals). I got 100 pages into Hal Duncan's Vellum and I just can't bring myself to continue. The critical praise and blurbs it has gotten make mention that it's a difficult work and it definitely is. A difficult read isn't always a deal-breaker for me but the way this is written, in short bursts that shift in time and character without making a whole lot of sense, just is not appealing to me. Oh well. On to the new novel from T.C. Boyle...

I am now caught up on the current season of "Deadwood," thanks to HBO On Demand. I missed the first ep's premiere and then had no opportunity to see it while on vacation. I've watched the first 6 eps over the last few days and I am enjoying the show as much as usual. Great writing, intrigue, fascinating characters...what more can you want from a show? And why did it take me so long to catch up? Because I also had to catch up on "Entourage," which I actually watched this past Sunday at its usual time. More good stuff. "Lucky Louie?" Yech.

Went to pick up the new Golden Smog at Best Buy yesterday but was unable too due to a problem with their scanning equipment - none of the new releases were out in any department. One of the clerks searched a half of a huge pile for me (or so she said) without turning up one of the 8 copies in the store. It took some more searching on behalf of a different clerk today but I was finally able to walk out with it. I've listened to it once and it sounds good. You know, I really want that Gnarls Barkley disc too...

Started up a new session at work this week and it's been fun getting back into the swing of things and seeing a bunch of kids I haven't seen in a while.

Our anniversary was Monday but we didn't make a big deal what with me going back to work and Grant having his own swimming lessons and me having to go to band practice. But part of what makes our marriage work is not making a huge deal out of occasions like that and getting jealous or angry or what have you. It's been a good 13 years.

And tomorrow night is the debut of the full G's Livid Penny lineup. Can't wait!

Monday, July 17, 2006


I'm not generally attached to things, except when it comes to art. Books, comics, CDs, and the like. I used to think I should hang on to all of it because it could come in handy in the future...though what for was always vague. I did get rid of all of my comics (though not my trades) a couple years ago and I will take books off the shelves from time to time, donating them to the library.

This past week has been dedicated in part to clearing out my wife's grandmother's apartment; she was recently in the hospital and has had to move to a facility where she has a smaller place and assisted living. I only did some of the work, staying home with our son on some of the days where my wife went over to work on the place. On Saturday there was a subdivision-wide garage sale where the apartment is and we managed to get rid of quite a bit of stuff.

Last June I helped my dad clear out his mom's place and then helped with my other grandma's place when she passed away in October. I've seen how much stuff people can accumulate and how much work it is to sort through all of it. That's allowed me to be a bit more diligent in what I choose to keep around (our small house can only hold so much too). When it was time to do a book purge a few days ago I dug a little deeper than I normally would...and yes, it could have been more but getting rid of books is hard for me. I definitely took a step, getting rid of things I knew I would never read again even if I enjoyed it. Here's the list....

Stephen Baxter/Manifold: Time
Terry Bisson/The Pickup Artist
Emily Bronte/Wuthering Heights
Bryan Charles/Grab On to Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way
Quinn Dalton/Bulletproof Girl
Nick Hornby ed./Da Capo Best Music Writing 2001
Dean Monti/The Sweep of the Second Hand
John Updike/Brazil
John Updike/Memories of the Ford Administration
John Updike/Pigeon Feathers
John Updike/Odd Jobs
D.B. Weiss/Lucky Wander Boy

And as I was rearranging the shelves, I made a discovery - I hadn't accounted for one of the books I've read this year, River of Gods by Ian McDonald. That means I'm still behind but not quite as bad as I'd thought. Yay me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Today's post makes 88 for this incarnation of my blog, which is the same number as the keys on a piano. That means it's only fitting that I mention the new music I picked up during my most recent eMusic month...

Shearwater/Palo Santo - I really like the music on this album but it's been hard to figure out the lyrics; the lead singer sings in a very high register, which may be contributing. I'm confident I'll figure it out or to put it another way, the music intrigues me enough to keep trying to figure it out.

Camera Obscura/Let's Get Out of This Country - I've pretty much become a Merge junkie and while this one doesn't hit me immediately like The Essex Green, there is definitely a lot to like on this album. A female lead singer doesn't hurt either.

Cracker/Greenland - I lost track of Cracker a few years back but a friend recommended their new one to me, so I jumped back in. They are still miming that classic rock vibe (with a little reggae thrown in) and I always fine David Lowery's lyrics worth a listen. Solid stuff.

TV on the Radio/Young Liars - That same friend also recommended the new TV on the Radio album but it's not available on eMusic just yet. And after listening to this EP, I hope the new one soon does show up because this is great music. I'd heard "Staring at the Sun" on KEXP but kind of lost it in the overwhelming volume of music I was hearing for the first time (this is around when I started listening to KEXP). This is really good music, capped off by a cover version of The Pixies' "Mr. Grieves." I most definitely want more.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


In June I started to branch out in my performances. Valpo has several open mic opportunities, one of which is a coffee shop called Anna's (well, it has a longer name but I'm not sure how to spell) that runs them on Tuesday nights. Things are generally looser there and you get to play four songs (the other places have only been two a night). I decided I would try and write a new song for my debut there and sat down that afternoon with a lyric idea. I didn't quite get there but I had the chords down and a good idea where I wanted to go with it. Still, I went and performed my two originals, the Dramarama cover I had learned for Front Porch's anniversary the Thursday before (by request), and attempted Wilco's "A Shot in the Arm." It all went reasonably well - I was a little out of key with "Woke Up" and I didn't quite get the G minor chord on the Wilco but I got a good response from the audience (including a high school kid who thought I was awesome) and a bit more respect from the assembled musicians.

That night also saw the debut of Dime Store Millionaires, a group made up of people I'd met on the open mic circuit. They were making their debut at a coffee shop that coming Saturday, for which Graham was the opening act. After watching their performance, Graham got very jazzed about the band idea again and was open to doing my songs in the band context as well. So, we spent some time over the next couple days playing together - he adding guitar licks (acoustic) and harmonies to my songs and me putting some keyboards and harmonies with some of his songs. During our practice on that Thursday my wife appeared in the living room saying she thought one of the songs he'd been playing ("Poor") needed something extra...and she pulled out a harmonica from behind her back. She and Grant had snuck out of the house, gone to Front Porch and bought the harmonica without us knowing. Luckily, it was in a key that worked with the song. I blew on it once or twice and we decided we'd be okay.

That night was open mic at Front Porch and we decided we'd practice some of our material. Graham went first and did one of his songs without me and then I got up and we did "Poor" together. Then it was my turn and we dueted on "Woke Up" and "That's Okay." I felt completely comfortable being on stage with him and had no doubts in my abilities. We got a nice response and I even had someone compliment my harmonica.

The next day was Friday and we planned to get together to practice some more and play again that night at Music of Oz's open mic. Before Graham came over, I managed to finish the new song and we were able to practice that and create a setlist for the next night. At the show that night, Graham went first again and I joined him for 2 of his three songs - "Poor" and "Waste Your Breath," for which I played piano. Then it was my turn. We did "That's Okay" and debuted the new one, "Song For a Day." There were some children in the audience other than my son, so we didn't do "Woke Up." I did the Dramarama one more time. It went reasonably well except when I screwed up the chord changes in the chorus of my new one. My parents also got to see my perform for the first time that night as well, which was fun.

Saturday rolled around and we got to the place a couple hours before we were scheduled to perform. As the opening act, we were going to do 9 songs (all 3 of mine and 6 of his). We hung out for a while as Dime Store got all their stuff set up and then it was time to do a quick soundcheck and set up our equipment. Graham had brought his kick drum and we had our guitars and brought the keyboard and I had my harmonica; the place (a coffee shop) also had a piano that we used. Things went well - we got a nice response from the crowd (my parents were there again) and even got interviewed by a guy from a local music magazine. In fact, you can read the interview here; click on the article about Dime Store Millionaires and scroll down to the last paragraph.

The following week we started up band practice again, as we hadn't been able to get all three of us together for a little while. Graham switched from guitar to bass on my songs and we added in Tom's drums. That first night we worked on "Song For a Day" and it was so cool to hear my song fleshed out in a full band setting. One of the best experiences I've ever had. We only got in two practices before it was time for vacation, though.

Before we made the trek east, there was one more performance. Graham was the scheduled host for the open mic at Front Porch, which meant he got the first half hour to himself. He played two songs by himself and then I came up for a couple more. Once again we got a nice response from the crowd; Jill said people were really into "Poor."

I brought my guitar along on vacation. I wanted to be able to play and I wanted to be able to perform for family members who hadn't heard me, such as my brother. I also thought I'd be able to get some more songwriting done - I had another song half-completed and yet another I had a first verse and music for. Well, the songwriting didn't work so much, though I did figure out the chords for two more songs. And I did perform for everyone at the lake on July 3, which was fun.

I had an idea in the car on the way back home to speed up one of the songs I'd been working on and I was able to sit down on Friday night and got the song done. I played it for Graham when he came over to practice on Saturday and he was extremely positive about it, saying he'd pay money for it (nothing like encouragement from your bandmate and a songwriter you respect). So, "Decoder Ring" is my fourth song.

We got back down to band practice on Monday and have another one again tonight. Why? Gs Livid Penny debuts as a full unit next Thursday night at a bowling alley. I'm looking forward to debuting on the bass and just having the energy of the drums while we play. I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Our vacation ended last week; we arrived back home around 6:00 last Wednesday after a car trip of almost 13 hours. Vacation was good - lots of time with family and some interesting sights and events - but it is always good to get back home to your own house and routine and (especially) bed. I've been having a weird transition back to regular life, feeling like my person in somewhere behind my body. Like I'm still in Ohio or something, traveling to catch up with myself. Every day hasn't been like this and Sunday was definitely the worst but I still feel like I'm missing some part of myself. I'm doing my best to get fully locked in to the here and now and expect it won't be long.

I am also behind on other things, including this blog. It's funny, I had the energy to devote to it when we left on vacation but I had limited internet access. Anyway, I know I've hardly written anything in the past few months. I've thought about plenty of posts - reviews and "Year of 35" updates and cool things around the net and more on 52 and so forth - but they existed only in my head. The thought of trying to catch up on them makes the prospect of picking up the blog extremely daunting, so I'll probably just leave all of that behind and just forge ahead with the new (and maybe doing some catch-up along the way).

And you want to talk about being behind? I'm waaaay behind the pace for the book-reading goal for the year. My goal for 2006 is 40. We are now more than halfway done with the year (and about halfway done with July!) and I've only managed to read 17 books so far. 17. Yikes. I took 3 books on vacation and only read one - Paragaea by Chris Roberson, which I liked well enough. I did start a second book - Grab On to Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way by Bryan Charles - but gave up after 40 pages. You would think a rock'n'roll coming-of-age story couldn't go wrong with me but there you go. I do have the third book left to start, Hal Duncan's Vellum, and the new T.C. Boyle (Talk Talk) is out too. Yet I've been reading through the current issues of Asimov's and F&SF before starting on those. And maybe making up for those weeks of lost internet time a little too much. Obviously, I'm going to try and get back on track. I'll let you know how it goes...