Sunday, May 27, 2007


Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend!

1. The Big Three Killed My Baby/The White Stripes (3)
2. All This Time/Heartless Bastards (7)
3. On a Freezing Chicago Street/Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (8)
4. Hands Up Baby/Camera Obscura (5)
5. I Gotta Move/Ben Kweller (9)
6. You Got Me/Elk City (4)
7. My Body Is a Cage/Arcade Fire (10)
8. Crudely Drawn/The Drams (13)
9. The Chimbley Sweep/The Decemberists (4)
10. Pittsburgh/The Lemonheads (9)

Friday, May 25, 2007


I thought that instead of whining about what I need to read, I would actually say a few things about what I have read the past few weeks...

I completed my "Hellboy Project" with Hellboy: Strange Places, the sixth collection of the ongoing series. This one has two separate stories - "The Third Wish" and "The Island." These are darker Hellboy stories, little humor and lots of death (including a big one). Mike Mignola has said this collection ends the first chapter of Hellboy's story and it really deals with a lot of the big questions of the series. I'm interested to see where he goes from here - the current mini-series, "Darkness Calls," just got started so it will be at least a year before we see a new trade.

I've been waiting to read The Yiddish Policeman's Union ever since it was first announced it would be Michael Chabon's next book a few years ago. Why? He's one of my favorite writers (and maybe tops that list). And his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay was responsible for my starting my book reading goals a number of years ago. So, what do we get with this novel? An alternate reality where the Jews went to Alaska in the 1940s, government conspiracies, a police novel with a down-on-his-luck Meyer Landsman, a love story, tons of humor, and great writing. Really, can you ask anything else of a novel? I loved this book and would recommend it to everyone who likes to read. Seriously.

Last year I read River Of Gods by Ian McDonald and it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year. Naturally, that put his new novel, Brasyl, on my must buy and read list. We get the stories of three different time periods in Brasil - the present, the future of the 2030s, and the past of the 1730s. McDonald delves into the culture and history of Brazil while telling a tale that links together...and deals with no less than the multiverse. His characters are sharp and the language is as well. It's a very entertaining novel that the buzz has winning many awards next year. I can definitely see that, though I probably liked River of Gods better. Still, this is a very good book.

One of my favorite comics the last few years has been Y: The Last Man, the story of what happens to the last man left on Earth after a plague wipes out the rest of males. The ninth trade was released a few weeks ago and Motherland is the penultimate collection (the story is slated to end very soon). Brian K. Vaughan gives us lots of answers about the hows and whys of the plague and it's a big surprise. There are big changes for many of the characters as well. That all happens in the first 4 issues collected here. The other two check in on characters we've met throughout the series and allow us to once again see the state of the world. They take a break from the main story, obviously, but they are very effective in moving the plot forward in small ways and really work as stories. Pia Guerra and Goran Sudzuka do a fantastic job on the art as usual.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I finished The Yiddish Policeman's Union a week ago Sunday; read the last Hellboy trade, Strange Places; and then started on Brasyl, the new novel from Ian McDonald. I finished that a short while ago - book #13 on the year.

What's next? Good question.

The final Harry Potter novel comes out in just under two months and I still have 4 books to reread, so it's getting more and more critical that I keep reading through them. I also have another novel waiting to be read - the debut by Joshua Ferris, Then We Came To the End. Okay, 5 books on hand that need to be read.

I just bought a new trade about a half hour ago, which brings my total of those to 7 unread...

All-Star Superman Vol. 1
Doctor Strange: The Oath
Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape
Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution
Nexus Archives Vol. 2
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1
Y:The Last Man - Motherland (Vol. 9)

I also have 3 issues of Asimov's (including one double issue) and 4 of F&SF sitting in a drawer by my side of the bed.

It's sad that I'm spending time writing about what I need to read rather than what I've already read but that's where I'm at these days. And you know what the kicker is? I'm going to watch last night's series ending episodes of "Veronica Mars" before I get to any reading material...

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Guess I never got around to posting this week. It's been busy. I did finish the Chabon last Sunday; today I hope to read a bunch of the new Ian McDonald. Anyway, here's some tunes...

1. Here Comes the Phantom/The Clientele (3)
2. Unhinged/The Drams (7)
3. Game Shows Touch Our Lives/The Mountain Goats (12)
4. Empire/The Black Angels (5)
5. St. Elsewhere/Gnarls Barkley (4)
6. Pinball Song/Slobberbone (10)
7. Get Big/Okkervil River (6)
8. 7:30/Pernice Brothers (9)
9. Slide Away/Joseph Arthur (8)
10. Roscoe/Midlake (4)

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I want to wish all the mothers reading this blog (and I'm pretty sure there aren't any) a Happy Mother's Day. For all the rest of you, I hope you have a nice Sunday. My plan is to finish the remaining 150 pages or so of the Chabon, do some laundry, watch some baseball and the usual Sunday night TV. Here's the music...

1. La Coasta Bianca/Josh Rouse (9)
2. Mr. Grieves/TV On The Radio (11)
3. Shot in the Arm (live)/Jeff Tweedy (5)
4. Heaven Only Knows/Mary Weiss (3)
5. Pretty Mary K (Other Version)/Elliott Smith (3)
6. Burn That Broken Bed/Iron and Wine, Calexico (14)
7. Young Liars/TV On The Radio (9)
8. European Oils/Destroyer (9)
9. Green Fields/The Good, The Bad & The Queen (4)
10. Looking Over My Shoulder/Elliott Smith (3)

Friday, May 11, 2007


At the end of Monday, I'd been reading the new Michael Chabon novel for 6 days and had only managed to read 38 pages. A terrible average. Yes, it was a busy weekend - Spider-Man 3 (I liked it), prom, and other obligations - but still. The good news is that I was up to pg. 145 by last night. And it's not that I'm not liking it. I am. Very much. Just haven't had that much time. I've also been the crossing guard for Grant's school this week, so I've lost an extra hour out of my day. More obligations this weekend too but I still hope to get a couple hundred pages read.

After that? I have two more novels waiting for me as well as needing to get to the next Harry Potter. I have 7 trades that I need to read, including the last volume of Hellboy. I also have 5 issues of my science fiction magazines. Remember my goal of reading 5 books this month? Ha!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Here's the latest batch of downloads...

The Rosebuds/Night of the Furies - A dance/pop record that's solid
Midlake/The Trails of Van Occupanther - It finally showed up!
Elk City/New Believers - A new band to me; female-fronted and good pop/rock
Dinosaur Jr./Beyond - They're back, baby, and sounding great
Mary Weiss/Dangerous Game - A comeback for the main Shangri-La
Okkervil River/Black Sheep Boy Appendix - Because the main album was fantastic
M. Ward/"Green River" - Yep, that song

Sunday, May 06, 2007


It's the "I'm so tired" edition! Why? Prom was last night, which means we didn't get home until 2:00 and the old body clock woke us up by 7:30. Whee! It's been a busy weekend otherwise too - we saw Spider-Man 3 on Friday night and we have a confirmation open house to go to this afternoon (plus, we have to get Grant before my parents' church starts at 10:00. Jill's in the tub, so I have some time to kill...we'll see if we can squeeze this in. I hope the selection is more rockin' this morning; I need to wake up.

1. In A Future Age (live)/Jeff Tweedy (4)
2. Fat Children/Jarvis Cocker (3)
3. O.K. Alright/The Whigs (9)
4. Please/The Brokedown (15)
5. Robbers/Cold War Kids (6)
6. Lumberlung/Slobberbone (14)
7. Stickman/Elliott Smith (23)
8. Fish in the Jailhouse/Tom Waits (5)
9. Written Invitation/The Whigs (10)
10. Junior Panthers/Sloan (8)

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I sat on the couch last night, new Michael Chabon novel in my lap. I've been waiting to read this novel ever since Chabon talked about it a number of years ago; it was originally going to come out last year but he hadn't quite finished it yet. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay was a fantastic novel and really woke me back up to the possibilities of fiction and that book spurred me to read all of his work. Then Summerland came out and I really liked the mixture of myth and baseball. I bought and read the slim The Final Solution and enjoyed it very much. But The Yiddish Policeman's Union is really the follow-up to TAAoK&C and as I said, I've been anticipating. So there I was last night...and I didn't want to start. Why? The sooner I started, the sooner it would be over and then I'd have to start waiting for the next novel. Silly, I know. And I got over it. I'm sure I'll read it as fast as I can. But that hesitation allowed me to keep that feeling of anticipation alive for a little while longer and that was a good thing.

Yes, I know I'm weird.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


In the end, I came close. I started this project with the plan to have read (or reread) the whole of Hellboy before the new mini-series, Hellboy: Darkness Calls, came out. Today the first issue arrived in comics shops. Today I also read the fifth (of six) trade, Hellboy: Conqueror Worm. It's okay since I'm going to be waiting for the trade on the new series...and that won't be out until next year I'm guessing. And it's even more okay because, as I've been saying, this is good comics.

The fifth volume contains the four issue mini-series of the same name, the first longform Hellboy story in some time. The Nazis launched a capsule into space years ago and now that capsule is returning to Earth. In the capsule is a dead man who will be the host for a being that intends to destroy the world. Hellboy has to stop it. Roger the Homonculus is along for the ride. They also meet the pulp hero, Lobster Johnson, who is...a bit odd (and violent). Oh, and Hellboy has to fight a giant monkey. That's the gist. The whole thing is the usual blend of action, horror, humor, and fantastic art.

I just have one more trade to go and then I'll be caught up. Looking forward to it!

It's been an explosion of the new around here the last two days. Two separate orders from Amazon have arrived in successive days; a quick trip to Best Buy brought some new music; and I used up the rest of my eMusic downloads. Here's what I have to absorb by listening to it and couple times or reading...

Michael Chabon/The Yiddish Policeman's Union
Joshua Ferris/Then We Came to the End
Ian McDonald/Brasyl

All-Star Superman Vol. 1

Dinosaur Jr./Beyond
Feist/The Reminder
Golden Smog/Blood on the Slacks
Mary Weiss/Dangerous Game
Okkervil River/Black Sheep Boy Appendix
M. Ward/"Green River"

Guess I'd better get to it!

Yeah, it's time for some more useless numbers. But I like doing them, so here they are. Why do you think I like baseball so much? You know, I started out the month keeping track of everything but washed out about halfway through the month - that's taking the numbers too far even for me. Anyway...

I read 3 books in April (if you count Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which I finished yesterday), bringing my total to 11 for the year. I've decided to make a ridiculous goal of reading 5 books in May, so we'll see how that plays out.

I read 12 stories in April, bringing my total to 73 on the year. I only got around to 1 issue each of Asimov's and F&SF. So, I still have a few piled up. And if I make my books goal, the story number isn't likely to grow much. Hmm, where was all my reading this past month?

Comics? Not really. I only read 16 comics in April and only one of those was a trade (book #4 in the "Hellboy Project"). That puts the total at 73 through four months, exactly the same as short stories. Interesting. Of course, April is where I made the decision to go back to trades and drop singles; I only have 4 single issues I plan on buying, one of which (the last issue of 52) comes out today.

I bought or downloaded 10 CDs in April, bringing the year's total to 34. Only one was an EP. I also grabbed 1 song off eMusic, bringing the song total to 8. Some new stuff in there too, which is always nice.

I saw one movie in the theater - Grindhouse, bringing my total to 4. That might be equal to how many I saw in theaters all of last year. Pretty close, I'm guessing. May should see that number close to double too.

DVDs? I'm not sure. I remember we watched The Departed and The Illusionist. I know Grant and I watched more of Superman Animated Volume 2. Oh, Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. That might be it.

I also worked through my magazines and I've decided not to obsess over them anymore. I've got enough to read as it is and I use the TV and online for my news and sports as much as anything else.

Okay, I'll stop boring you now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The one advantage to being sick the past couple days is that I had more time than usual to devote to reading - no going out and enjoying the nice weather for me! It was because of this time that I finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 3 days.

When I read this book the first time around, I felt it was not quite as good as the first book. This time around, I'm not sure why I felt that way. Sure, the pacing of the book doesn't lend itself to finding out what happened in their lives on a daily basis but that can be inferred from what we learned in the first book. This book concerns itself with telling the story and just giving us new concepts along the way, rather than giving us all the concepts and telling the story. If that makes any sense.

We do get some new characters and they are fun ones - Dobby the House Elf, who has to hurt himself whenever he gives out information he shouldn't and does his best to protect Harry, and Gilderoy Lockhart, the vain best-selling author and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (completely ineffective, of course). Oh, and we can't forget Moaning Myrtle, the ghost of a forgotten girls bathroom.

We also learn more about Voldemort as a student at Hogwarts, meet a phoenix, watch as our young heroes transform themselves into other students, learn dueling, and so on. It's a fun book, a good book, and makes me just want to read the next in the series...

That shall wait, however. I have the new novels from Michael Chabon and Ian McDonald coming towards me in an Amazon box as we speak and until they arrive, I'll be reading some comics. Oh, and that was book #11 on the if I can read 4 or 5 more in May, I'll really be cooking.

It was an unusual month, in that Front Porch was not where I played the most. I don't know if that's happened in any month since I started. This past month also is the 12th month I've performed in, marking the end of my first year as a songwriter and performer. I'm pretty proud of that. I also wrote 2 new songs in April, bringing my total to 13. One of the new ones, "Let's Get Married Tonight," just might be the best song I've written.

I started the month playing at Front Porch Music. Graham was the host and I asked him to sit in with me on the first number...the only problem was that my guitar was slightly out of tune. Oops. I borrowed his guitar for my second song.

Apr. 5 - The Only Thing (Graham on lead guitar, my guitar out of tune); Dear Prospective Employer (on Graham's guitar)

Starting on Apr. 10 and then for the next two Tuesdays, I went to the open mic at Anneliesje's. As I've mentioned, it's a much looser atmosphere - people can actually talk while you're playing, which is fine. The tradeoff is that you usually get 4 songs, twice as much as the Porch.

Apr. 10 - That's Okay; Decoder Ring; The Only Thing; Dear Prospective Employer

Apr. 17 - A Phase; Let's Get Married Tonight (debut); Woke Up; Holding Pattern (a request from Andrea)

Apr. 24 - Song For A Day; Let's Get Married Tonight; an aborted attempt at a new song; Dear Prospective Employer; That's Okay

I finished off the month by going back to Front Porch. There was a weird energy in the place and I just felt a bit off, though things went well enough. I played the song I had tried doing on Tuesday; I had tried playing it write after writing it and didn't have the melody down yet.

Apr. 26 - Until The Weather (debut); Let's Get Married Tonight

That's it for April. May is not going to get off to a good start, as I am very much under the weather with a cough and head congestion. Maybe I'll make it to the Porch on Thursday...