Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I know I've been promising Top 10 lists but it's not going to happen. I gave them some thought and have made out some lists in my notebook but I realized it's silly for me to do it. Why just have another post full of lists? And yes, I realize the irony of saying that in a post that's going to be a list/stats. I just need to make sure that I post actual content next year, actual thoughts about what I'm listening to and reading and so forth. Maybe that will make my lists seemed earned next year. Or not.
Anyway, I'm going to rundown my year in pop culture consumption now...
I read 48 books in 2008, meeting the goal I set at the beginning of the year. I also abandoned 7 books this year, reading of 500 pages of those books combined. It was a restless year in a lot of ways, I guess. Last year I read 44 books, so I managed to increase my total again (not so sure that will happen in 2009). I read 26 books in the first half of the year and 22 in the second. I read 10 books by Kage Baker, 3 that George R.R. Martin wrote or at least had a hand in, and 2 each by Michael Chabon, Gregory Frost, and Jeffrey Ford. There were quite a few story collections and a fair amount of non-fiction for me. I average 4 books read each month and it was a good year of reading.
I read 264 short stories in 2008. I'm sure I abandoned some stories this year but I didn't keep track of that stat this year. My high was 50 stories read in November and my low was July, when I didn't read any stories. I read 144 stories in the first half of the year and 120 in the second half. The stories came from 9 issues of Asimov's, 10 issues of F&SF, and 11 story collections. My average stories read per month was 22. Last year I read 216 stories and averaged 18 a month.
I read 83 comics in 2008, 35 of which were trades (and 10 of those were rereads). I read 62 of those in the first half of the year (24 trades) and only 21 in the second half (11 trades). It was a year when I read the entirety of Y: The Last Man and Zot! (well, close to it). I read 14 comics twice - in February and again in June (but in June it was all trades as opposed to only 1 trade and 13 singles in Feb.). I read 2 comics each in September, November, and December (and in each case, it was 2 trades). My average comics read per month was 6.92 (2.92 for trades). Last year I read 119 comics (27 trades) and average 9.92 per month (2.25 for trades).
I'd like to pause and just note the downward trend in all of my reading in the second half of the year. Not a surprise when you consider I was working 2 jobs and taking 6 credit hours from the end of August on.
I bought, downloaded, or received 89 CDs in 2008. 68 of those were downloaded and 4 of the grand total were EPs; I also downloaded 13 songs. March was the biggest month with 10 new CDs and September was the smallest with only 4 new CDs (though one was a double disc set). I got 50 CDs in the first half of the year and only 39 in the second half. My average CDs per month was 7.42. Last year I got 110 CDs and my average was 9.17.
I saw 9 movies in the theater in 2008. June was the biggest month with 3 and May was the second with 2; the rest of the time I either saw 1 or none. My average movies seen was .75. Last year I saw 14 movies in the theater and had an average of 1.17.
I guess my overall trend for 2008 was one of decreased pop culture consumption. I only increased 2 of my 5 categories over last year (books and short stories) and even those tailed off in the second half of the year. Again, it's not a surprise. I don't go into 2009 expecting things to change and I don't really have any goals for my consumption other than to enjoy what I do consume and to write about it with some depth.
Happy New Year!
Like last year, I'm going to do a roundup for Dec. and then another one for the whole year, so let's get started...
I read 3 books in December (Things the Grandchildren Should Know; Black Postcards; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard). I also abandoned 2books this month. Last December I read 4+ books.
I read 15 stories in December and those stories came from the Oct./Nov. 2008 issue of Asimov's and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (plus one from the abandoned Just After Sunset). Last Decemeber I read 29 stories.
I read 2 comics in December, both of which were trade paperbacks (and both were Zot! collections as well). Last December I read 8 comics, 2 of which were trades (or OGNs).
I downoladed or received (Christmas presents) 8 CDs in December. Last December I had 11 new CDs.
I did see one movie in the theater this December (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), which I did not do last December.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
My last group of downloads from eMusic in 2008...
The Kills/Midnight Boom
Bon Iver/For Emma, Forever Ago
Lightspeed Champion/Falling Off the Lavender Bridge
Last one for 2008. I plan on putting up my year-end top tens and wrap-ups over the next few days and then it's time for another year...
1. Skating/Vince Guaraldi (4)
2. Finer Feelings/Spoon (18)
3. Argonne Limit Co./Centro-Matic (20)
4. Yeah Sapphire/The Hold Steady (14)
5. Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear/Okkervil River (8)
6. Afterword/Rag/M. Ward (20)
7. Broke Me Up/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (7)
8. Stop Breaking Down/The White Stripes (9)
9. Live On/Sloan (7)
10. My Heartbeat's Dying/The Raveonettes (4)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Christmas break is finally here at the Steiner household; my wife was supposed to be in school the next two days but they were just called off due to the bitter cold (-2 right now) and the chance of a bunch of snow on Tuesday. My brother is flying in on Tuesday and I hope his flight can come in on time and that it doesn't take hours and hours to get him picked up. Other than that, there is a bunch of reading and watching and listening in my immediate future. Oh, and a lot of eating. I do plan on doing some year-end wrap-up posts and then hope to start fresh in 2009. Of course, there is still one more Sunday Shuffle left in 2008 after today. Speaking of today, here's the music...
1. Valerie/Crooked Fingers (2)
2. Poke/Frightened Rabbit (11)
3. Letter From Belgium/The Mountain Goats (18)
4. Open The Door/British Sea Power (4)
5. Spaghetti Western/Hoodoo Gurus (3)
6. Remnants/My Morning Jacket (5)
7. Acid Tongue/Jenny Lewis (6)
8. You Are Free/Mates of State (4)
9. Sugar Never Tasted So Good/The White Stripes (13)
10. Aly, Walk With Me/The Raveonettes (6)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I am quite overdue for throwing up November's downloads from eMusic, a month where I tried artists that were completely new to me. So, without further ado...
The Gaslight Anthem/The '59 Sound
Army Navy/Army Navy
Little Joy/Little Joy
Haley Bonar/Big Star
Lucero/Rebels, Rougues & Sworn Brothers
Blue Giant/Target Heart
I started and abandoned a couple posts this week, which I guess is progress of sorts. One problem now is that it's been at least 2 weeks since I read the stuff I've been meaning to post about and it gets harder to remember the thoughts I had.
In other news, I am now done with teaching at the Y for a few weeks and I only have 2 finals left to go - I'll be done by Wednesday night. I'm feeling confident about both and I have an A in both classes right now. Can't wait to be done for a few weeks there as well.
Last night was the staff Christmas party for my day job and it was a very nice time.
Now for some music...
1. The Animal World/Grandaddy (11)
2. Abigail/The Broken West (19)
3. Nature Of The Experiment/Tokyo Police Club (13)
4. Broken Window/Arcade Fire (5)
5. Wonderful/Josh Rouse (12)
6. It Covers the Hillsides/Midlake (8)
7. Poke/Frightened Rabbit (9)
8. Reptile Style/Reigning Sound (8)
9. Chanson du Bon Chose/The Mountain Goats (6)
10. Along/Haley Bonar (2)
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I'm trying to shake this malaise I've been feeling, though I've realized that I usually go through a shutdown around Thanksgiving every year. I look forward to it so much and then coming back is so disappointing in a sense. I really wish that I lived closer to my brother and cousins and we could spend more time together. But since the opportunity comes along so rarely, it makes Thanksgiving that much more special.
At this point, I have two weeks left of the day job; one week left of teaching swimming lessons for the session; and one week left of regular college classes with two finals the next week. I am ready for a break.
I still need to get a Christmas list together, though - I've really struggled with it this year. There are a bunch of things I could put on it but I feel so far behind on my life that getting those things would only put me further behind. Yeah, not a big problem but it's something new to me.
Anyway, I'll shut up and finally get to the music. Oh, this time of year I allow the Christmas songs that pop up to go into the mix - there were none last week and we'll see what happens today.
1. Ballad Of Big Nothing/Elliott Smith (21)
2. Great Expectations/The Gaslight Anthem (4)
3. Pretty Bird/Jenny Lewis (4)
4. I Want To Know/Okkervil River (5)
5. When The Angels Will Put Out Their Lights/South San Gabriel (4)
6. No Cars Go/Arcade Fire (14)
7. Bright Lights/Black Mountain (5)
8. Weighted Raft/Portastatic (4)
9. Who You Are/American Music Club (7)
10. Ella/M. Ward (8)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's been a long day and it's getting late but I wanted to get this up tonight, since this week gets busy immediately...
I read 1.4 books in November, brining my total for the year to 45. The .4 was my finished of Sideways In Crime and the whole book was Jeffrey Ford's The Drowned Life, which was finished today. This is now my lowest number of books read this year but I'm still slightly ahead of pace for my goal of 48. Last year I read 4 books in November and had started on my 40th of the year.
I read 50 stories in November, bringing my total on the year to 249. Those stories came from the two books I just mentioned, as well as the Sept. 2008 issues of both Asimov's and F&SF plus the Oct./Nov. 2008 double issue of the latter. This might be my biggest story count ever; if not, it's got to be close. Last year I read 30 stories in November and had 187 on the year.
I read 2 comics in November (both trades - Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns and The Walking Dead Vol. 8: Made To Suffer) for a total of 81 on the year (33 trades). Last year I also read 2 trades but was up to 111 comics on the year (25 trades).
I downloaded 7 CDs (and also 4 songs) in November for a total of 81 on the year. All but Jenny Lewis's Acid Tongue were eMusic downloads and I will cover them in a separate post. The 4 songs were by Bruce Springsteen (2), Wilco w/ Fleet Foxes, and Andrew Bird. Last year I got 9 new CDs in November and had 99 on the year.
I actually saw a movie in November (Role Models), which brings my total on the year to 8. Last November I didn't see any and was holding at 14 on the year.
One more month to go, as well as the year-end totals...
We spent 12 1/2 hours on the road today, way too many of them in PA. But I want to get in the Sunday Shuffle, so here it is...
1. Unless It's Kicks/Okkervil River (12)
2. Odalisque/The Decemberists (2)
3. Trust to Lose/South San Gabriel (3)
4. Oliver James/Fleet Foxes (6)
5. Hotel/Broken Social Scene (2)
6. Microphone Song/Canasta (7)
7. La Pelicula/Portastatic (4)
8. Loretta's Scars/Pavement (8)
9. With My Eyes Closed/The Raveonettes (4)
10. Penny and Jack/The Essex Green (24)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was planning on doing a "double issue" today since I don't know when we'll get back from PA next Sunday but I'm getting a late start, so I'll just do the usual and be done. Hope to get up a post or two before we leave but we'll see...
1. Pocket Boys/Army Navy (4)
2. Bandit Queen (w/DT)/The Decemberists (7)
3. No Dreams/Oakley Hall (6)
4. Demons Are Real/Guided By Voices (4)
5. Big City/The Broken West (14)
6. A Night With The Jersey Devil/Bruce Springsteen (2)
7. I Could Be Underground/Spoon (5)
8. Advance Cassette/Spoon (7)
9. Bow to the Middle: Religion of Politics/The Rosebuds (5)
10. Stuck Between Stations (live on The Current)/The Hold Steady (10)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I did tons of Algebra yesterday and have all of my chores done today, except for the laundry (and that's in progress). On my immediate agenda is the Bears/Packers game and trying to relax because it's going to be a crazy dash until Thanksgiving from here on out. Anyway, here's today's ten...
1. Fault Lines/The Mountain Goats (13)
2. Destroyer/Crooked Fingers (1)
3. Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip/The Whigs (10)
4. Last Time in Love/Sloan (17)
5. Alone (demo)/Wilco (12)
6. Cupid's Trick/Elliott Smith (16)
7. Free Radicals Lament/Oakley Hall (4)
8. Of Evil/For Evil/South San Gabriel (3)
9. Cold Snap/Harvey Danger (12)
10. The President's Dead/Okkervil River (28)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
My never-ending quest to catch up on my SF magazines continued this past week with the Sept. issue of Asimov's. It is the third issue I've read since the start of September, so at least I'm on a better pace. Anyway, here's what I thought...
The opening novelette was William Barton's "In the Age of the Quiet Sun." I have had my share of frustrations with Barton in the past and have given up on his stories in the middle more than once. This tale about a future where long life and space travel are possible, though you have to become less human to do so. It's a story of failure and redemption and the discovery on an alien and its ship on an asteroid. I liked it.
Robert R. Chase's "Soldier of the Singularity" takes a turn in the middle that I didn't see coming and that was a good thing. It's set in the office of a psychiatrist who is helping humanity try to come to grips with the horrors of the advent of the Singularity. His patient? A damaged robot who is a part of the Singularity...or is it?
There is a very intriguing idea at the heart of Mary Rosenblum's "Horse Racing" - that there is an auction where companies bid on kids based on their future potential. They will then try to manipulate the circumstances of those children to get them to evenutally pay off as investments. It's social engineering and profiteering wrapped up in one. A very good story.
Ian Creasey explores what life would be like if a destructive parent could be downloaded and part of your life forever in "Cut Loose the Bonds of Flesh and Bone." Here's a hint: it wouldn't be ideal for some people.
"Slug Hell" is another Silurian tale by Steven Utley. I really like the series, though the last couple stories haven't done much for me. This one, however, is a keeper. It's a quiet, reflective tale, a character study. It has an odd shifts in viewpoint and I'm not entirely sure why but maybe it just adds to the overall tone.
My favorite story in the issue and one of the best stories I've read this year is Will McIntosh's "Midnight Blue." It's set an an alternate world where different-colored spheres were found out in the wild. If you found the three of the same color, you could put them in a staff and absorb its power. You could get powers like Good With Machines or Better Looking or Flyer. At the time of this story, there aren't many spheres left in the wild and David dreams of finding one. He does and it not only changes his life but the world. It's a great idea, it's well done, and I would love to see more stories or a novel in that world. Get to it, Will!
Derek Zumsteg takes a look at cross-country racing in the near future in "Usurpers." It's short, prickly, and to the point.
Finally, Stephen Baxter gives us an alternate history where aliens made of ice overrun Britian in the 18th century in "The Ice War." We have a less-than-heroic main character, Jack Hobbes, and he meets Isaac Newton, Daniel Defoe, and Jonathan Swift along the way. It's not a happy story by any means but I liked it.
I think this might be the strongest issue of Asimov's in a while - I liked every story and the McIntosh was outstanding.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I never thought that I would willingly listen to Foghat's "Slow Ride" over and over again, yet I did just that this evening. Why? My son and I were playing Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. The drama departement at my wife's school owns the game (she's the director of the program), so she borrowed it and brought it home so my son could see what they game's all about (it's Christmas list season, you know). Of course, I couldn't resist playing either. It's a lot of fun and I was able to make it through every song on the Easy level, with varying degrees of success. My son hasn't made it through one yet but he's getting better. I think it's easier to do if you know the songs; he hasn't listened to any rock beyond what I've subjected him to and had some problems getting the beats of the song. I suspect that he will put it on his Christmas list, though, and I won't mind that a bit.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
On Sunday night, I logged onto our local library's website and requested a book. Now, that's not unusual for me - I've requested a fair number of books that way over the past year plus. But the more I thought about it Sunday night, I realized I should be good and hold off on getting any library books. Why? A few reasons.
One is that I can't let myself get too distracted as my college semester winds down. So far, I'm doing very well in my classes (another 100% on last week's Algebra test) and I need to make sure I finish off strong. Picking up a book right now wouldn't be the best idea, even though I'm only 4 books away from reaching my goal for the year.
I'm not going to stay completely away from books until the end of the semester, though. I've long targeted Thanksgiving break as a good time to get some reading done. Even though we travel 600 miles and hang out with family, there is still some time to relax and read. That coincides with last week's release of Jeffrey Ford's new story collection, The Drowned Life. I plan on ordering that in the next day or two, so I can take it to PA. I'm very much looking forward to it.
After I get past my finals, I will jump into reading as many books as I can. I'll have 2 whole weeks on not having to go to school or work at either job. Book-reading heaven!
I've also gotten myself into a groove with catching up on my SF magazines. That said, I still have 5 piled up after I finish the Sept. issue of Asimov's...and 2 of those are double issues. I also have a couple trade paperbacks I haven't read yet and I think I'm going to reread the first Zot! collection before I get to the new one (it's been a long time since I've read any Zot!). So, it's just comics and short stories for a few more weeks as they are much easier to squeeze into my busy schedule. I also won't buy any new trades until I get these read too.
So, there you go. I'm going to be on good pop culture behavior the next few weeks and beyond, but I'm not depriving myself. And best of all, there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Today is the third anniversary of this blog. I had a previous blog that ran for somewhere around 18 months that I deleted when I decided to stop. I missed blogging, though, and started up what you're reading now.
This is my 555th post, which means I've averaged 185 posts per year. That's roughly one post every other day for three years. Not bad. Of course, 115 of those posts are Sunday Shuffles but that's okay. I like my Sunday Shuffle ritual.
I have no plans to stop blogging anytime soon and hope to continue to bring content that is more than just lists. So, please keep reading. Thanks!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I'm still pretty well behind on reading my SF magazines but I just read the Sept. issue of F&SF in a couple days. Of course, it helps when the stories are good enough to make you want to read.
The lead story is the title track from Paolo Bacigalupi's story collection, Pump Six and Other Stories. His work has been prominently featured in F&SF over the last few years, so it makes sense that they would reprint a new story here. Bacigalupi usually writes about grim futures and "Pump Six" is no exception. He also writes very well about those grim futures and again, "Pump Six" is no exception. This is a future when intelligence is not at a premium in society, where there are trogs who just have sex all day, where drug use is an accepted part of culture, and where all the machines that keep things running (like sewage) and getting old and breaking down. The story does end on a bit of hope, however.
After the two books columns comes "Search Continues for Elderly Man" by Laura Kasischke. I didn't care for it. I got what she was going for but I didn't feel like there was anything to hold onto in the story.
Fortunately, Carolyn Ives Gilman's novella, "Arkfall" was up next. It takes place on a planet where the (human)population lives underwater and lives either in "arks" or in an overcrowded dome. Society has evolved into one of passive-agression and is relatively stagnant. Osaji wants to break from from that stagnation but is also caring for her aged grandmother and feels trapped. She literally becomes trapped in an ark with an off-worlder and they end up exlporing a lot of the planet after a volcanic eruption. The relationships and the adventure are well done and make a nice complement to the other. I liked it.
Rand B. Lee's "Picnic on Pentecost" was an okay tale of big changes for the human race out in the stars and "'Shed That Guilt! Double Your Productivity'" by Michael Swanwick and Eileen Gunn was a fun little story about an unusual service for writers.
A quick count shows that Robert Reed's "Salad for Two" is the sixth story I've read by him this year. I wouldn't say it's my favorite of his but even his lesser stories are well worth reading.
Finally, Jim Aikin's "Run! Run!"was a solid capper to the issue. It's an alternate world where the United States becomes fully Christian and unicorns exist. A woman reflects on events from when she younger and she ended up saving the unicorns that lives on her farm (and were hidden from everyone else until her sister told people).
In the end, another good issue of F&SF and I continue to think it is the best SF magazine available. I have already started on the Sept. issue of Asimov's, so you can look for a rundown of that later this week.
Lots to do today (including watching the Bears try and take out the undefeated Titans), so I'm just going to get to the music...
1. Reservations (demo)/Wilco (10)
2. writing snippet: Cream and Bastards Rule/Harvey Danger (8)
3. Set in Motion/Sloan (17)
4. Slow West Vultures/The Mountain Goats (13)
5. Twenty-Four/Centro-Matic (6)
6. Black Satin/The Raveonettes (5)
7. I'm Not Mad Enough/The Clientele (8)
8. Blue In Yr Eye/Amy Millan (9)
9. Shake And Pop/Nick Lowe (6)
10. Branches/Midlake (7)
Saturday, November 08, 2008
This morning I finally got around to watching the reuinted Ben Folds Five (for one night only) play The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner in its entirety. It's an album I like a lot but I haven't played in a long while; artists can get lost in my collection for a while, especially with all the new stuff coming in. The band sounded really good and I am sure to put the album back into my rotation in the near future. If you're a fan of the band or just love good music, go watch it.
Friday, November 07, 2008
I spent the last few days reading one of my recent trade paperback purchases, Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns. It is the second collection of the current ongoing series and contains issues #7-13, which were published back in 2006 (the series has several more volumes collected in hardcover). It was written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Carlos Pacheco (#7, 8), Ethan Van Sciver (#9), and Ivan Reis (#10-13).
The collection starts out with a two-parter guest-starring Green Arrow and features Mongul's son as the villain. Hal (GL) and Ollie (GA) get trapped by a Black Mercy plant, which puts its victims to a dream of their happiest wishes while it kills them (and was also featured in the Justice League Unlimited episode "For The Man Who Has Everything," where the villain was...Mongul). This setup allows Hal to work through some of his guilt issues with his family and some solid interaction between the two old friends. That is followed by a one issue team-up with Batman, which works through some relationship issues with Hal and Bruce. Finally, there is the big titular four-parter, in which Hal and Guy Gardner travel to Sector 3601 to look for long-lost Green Lanterns and discover Cyborg Superman and a whole slew of Manhunters. Oh, and those presumed-dead Lanterns, including one who was a main cast member of the Green Lantern Corps series in the 1980s (I was a fan). Lots of big drama here and we also get hints of something big coming down the line. Yes, I know it's the Sinestro Corps War but I won't get around to reading that for a while yet.
It is a solid read for fans of GL, though I wouldn't say it is Johns' best work. Still, I'm looking forward to the paperback release of the next collection early next year and after that I may think about getting the Sinestro Corps stuff in hardcover. We'll see.
This afternoon I decided to go to the movies. My wife and son were going to see Madagascar 2 and since I still haven't seen the first one, I took a pass. But it was the perfect time to catch Role Models. The trailer they've been showing on TV caught my eye and my interest seemed to be supported by solid reviews, so why not. I do not regret going.
To have a successful comedy where you can see the plot turns coming a mile away, you need it to be funny and you need to care about the characters. Well, Role Models passes the funny test quite easily. And it's not just the crude jokes either - there are plenty of throwaway lines and little bits that make it work. And you know what, you do care about the characters. The kid who played McLovin in Superbad is great as a kid into LARPing and Paul Rudd does what he does best, playing an asshole that you like anyway. I'm a fan of Rudd's and he had a hand in the script as well. And yes, Sean William Scott mines that kinda dumb, kinda lovable character he can do and Jane Lynch is hilarious in a role that is a close cousin to the one she played in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. This movie does have some Apatow connections, but it's very ably directed by the funny-in-his-own-right David Wain. A fun way to spend a couple hours on a Friday afternoon.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
On Sunday I had planned to go and play at an open mic about 25 miles away. My friend and former bandmate Graham was hosting and I hadn't heard him play in a long time or played out in a long time myself. However, I spent most of Saturday doing work outside, raking leaves and pushing around a self-propelled lawnmower (long story but obviously I didn't know the mower was self-propelled). Along with that activity and the time change, I was completely out of sorts on Sunday and ended up not going.
I did, however, spend a good portion of my Saturday night making a CD mix. It had been over a year since I had done one and I always give a copy to Graham. I thought it would be a nice way to say thanks for letting me ride along with him to the open mic. I had the mix all set but I wasn't satisfied and changed it singificantly. Now it doesn't fit the theme as well as the previous version did but it has a lot more songs I really wanted to include. So, here is the tracklist for "Pop Lies"...
1. The Modern Leper/Frightened Rabbit
2. Fake Empire/The National
3. Die Die Die/The Avett Brothers
4. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory/Guided By Voices
5. Use Somebody/Kings of Leon
6. Come Crash/A.C. Newman
7. Hot Bed/The Whigs
8. You're Not As Pretty/Reigning Sound
9. I Will Possess Your Heart/Death Cab For Cutie
10. How To Fight Loneliness/Wilco
11. Pop Lie/Okkervil River
12. The Cheapest Key/Kathleen Edwards
13. Perfect Games/The Broken West
14. I'm Not A Kid Anymore/Sloan
15. Joke About Jamaica/The Hold Steady
16. Rudderless/The Lemonheads
17. Out Of Reaches/Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
18. Now/Mates Of State
19. There's A Place (In the Back of My Mind)/Julie Ocean
20. Little Tornado/Aimee Mann
21. Destroyer/King Khan and The Shrines
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I cried last night. When Barack Obama's family left the stage and he turned to the podium, the tears came. What a moment and what a speech. Like he said, the road ahead is not going to be easy and he is not going to be perfect. However, we have a man of great intelligence and calm who will soon take over the highest office in our country and there is something to be said for that. Yesterday I could have filled in the democratic bubble on my ballot to vote for Obama and Biden but that just didn't seem satisfying enough - I wanted to fill in the circle next to his name. So I did. Turns out my wife did the same as well. We are both elated and amazed that our votes helped Indiana send its 11 electoral votes to Obama, something this state doesn't often do with a Democratic candidate (and not in my lifetime). I'm very proud to be an American and I am very hopeful for the future of our country. Can't wait until Jan. 20!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
As I mentioned yesterday, I just finished reading Sideways In Crime after two plus weeks. Released during the summer, this Lou Anders-edited anthology features crime fiction set in alternate histories by a wide range of writers. I really enjoyed the Anders-edited Fast Forward (and yes, there is a second volume out that I've not gotten around to yet) and I'm a fan of alternate history SF so I thought I'd give this one a shot.
Before I talk about any of the stories, I need to take a moment to talk about the cover. It has a great design, with the title running along the side (sideways, get it?) and some awesome Bob Eggleton artwork. It's a book I love as an object first and foremost - it pulls you in, makes you to a peek between the covers for what wonders may await you.
In my opinion, you can't have an anthology like this and not have a story from Paul Di Filippo. Fortunately, Lou Anders is a smart man and we are treated to "Murder in Geektopia," set in an alternate reality where geeks are the norm. The story is full of savvy pop culture references and jokes and a woman our detective can't resist. It even ends with a nice twist and is one of the standouts of the book.
My other favorite story in the book was the last one, "Murder on the Crosstime Express" by Chris Roberson. Of course, I'm a sucker for stories about multitudes of realities and worlds and for Chris Roberson. The fact that story is a nifty little locked room mystery on a zeppelin that travels through underspace and ties into his novels about the Carmody-Bonaventure clan is just icing on the cake. Plus, it makes me want his new novel (End of the Century) to arrive in stories now. Great stuff.
There are many other good stories here, from the 60s style death of J. Edgar Hoover in Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "G-Men" to the future pastoral setting of S.M. Stirling's "Murder in Eddsford" to the murder surrounding the brand-new series of Sherlock Holmes stories in Jack McDevitt's "The Adventure of the Southsea Trunk." Of course, that doesn't begin to cover all of the solid work. In fact, there were only 2 stories I didn't care for, which is a great percentage when you have 15 in the book. Lou Anders does it again.
Monday, November 03, 2008
It's a little bit past the middle of my semester at Purdue North Central and it's past time for some real content around here. In October, I only managed to post Sunday Shuffles and I haven't posted anything that wasn't a Shuffle or a roundup or a post about my eMusic downloads since Aug. 24. That's right, Aug. 24! Shameful.
Things have been going well but it's been very busy. I've been partaking of pop culture but it's been at a slower pace. I'm not following TV shows I normally would and I've not tried some new ones that I normally would have. I spent over two weeks reading Sideways in Crime (I actually finished yesterday). I don't have as much time to listen to music. I still have 3 issues each of Asimov's and F&SF piled up. And while I did read a number of trades last month, I have 3 more that I haven't read yet. I haven't been to the library in about a month, which was a big part of my life the last year. Heck, Grant and I watched Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back weeks ago and still haven't gotten around to Return of the Jedi. There are 4 Jeffrey Ford books I still haven't read yet!
I'm not complaining (well, I am but not as much as it seems). Life has been good - I continue to enjoy working at the school, my classes are going well, and I had great successes with kids in the pool last session (and I'm not working Saturdays this time around). Things around the house are crazy but going well.
I do want to start posting about what pop culture I do get around to...it won't be on a daily basis but I don't want it to be on a bi-monthly basis either. So check back in or stick me in your blog reader and I promise to talk about what my blog promises to talk about.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
I did most of my chores yesterday, so I plan on watching football and reading for most of today. I also feel like I could nap, even though we gained an hour last night. Anyway, here's today's ten...
1. Paper Kitten Nightmare/Margot & the Nuclear So & So's (9)
2. Island Garden Song/The Mountain Goats (9)
3. Change Is Hard/She & Him (4)
4. Face Down In The Right Town/Earlimart (9)
5. Red Right Ankle/The Decemberists (10)
6. A Side Wins/Sloan (15)
7. Cool James/Harvey Danger (26)
8. Mutiny, I Promise You/The New Pornographers (17)
9. Pick Up If You're There/Mercury Rev (1)
10. Rooftops/Pela (11)
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Here's what I grabbed from my primary source of new music in the past month...
The Rosebuds/Life Like
Reigning Sound/Time Bomb High School
Mates of State/Re-Arrange Us
The Avett Brothers/The Second Gleam
Tune in next time to see where my 65 new downloads go...
Suddenly, there's two months left in the year. On Thursday we were exactly 4 weeks from Thanksgiving, 8 weeks from Christmas, and 9 weeks from 2009. Crazy. Well, let's get to rounding up...
I read 1.6 books in October, bringing my total for the year to 43.6. Why is it .6? Well, I'm about 60% done with Sideways in Crime (I also read Lord Tophet). I hit last weekend hoping to get it finished by last night or at least today but I realized there was no way with my schedule. So, I switched to reading a trade and I'll dive back into the book today. I hate that my book reading has slowed down so much (this is my lowest book total this year) but there's not a whole lot that can be done. I am still ahead of pace for 48 books on the year. Last year I read 6 books in October and had read 35 on the year.
I read 19 stories in October, bringing my total on the year to 199. Those stories came from the Aug. issues of Asimov's and F&SF, as well as the afore-mentioned Sideways in Crime. Last October I read 12 stories and had read 157 on the year.
I read 4 comics in October, 3 trades (The Walking Dead Vol. 7: The Calm Before, Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 2: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, and Ex Machina Vol. 7: Ex Cathedra) and 1 single issue (FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF 3 WORLDS #2), which brings my total for the year to 79 comics (31 trades). Last year I didn't read any comics in October and was holding steady at 109 comics read (23 trades).
I downloaded 7 CDs and 1 song in October, bringing my total to 74 discs and 9 songs. I'll cover the eMusic downloads in a separate post - the other CD was the new Mountain Goats EP, Satanic Messiah, and the song was "The Kingdom" by John Vanderslice. Last October I got or downloaded 8 CDs and had reached a total of 90 for the year.
I didn't see any movies in October and my total for the year is holding at 7. I didn't see any movies last October but my total was 14 for the year at that point.
And we're done.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I didn't use my day off to blog but I did catch up on a lot of TV, finally finished Immortal Iron Fist: The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, did homework, finished my progress reports, read some more of Sideways in Crime, went to school to get clearance for next semester's courses, and downloaded some more albums from eMusic. Let's see if any of the newer stuff pops up today...
1. The Mighty Midshipman/Centro-Matic (12)
2. Be Somebody/Kings of Leon (6)
3. Time Bomb High School/Reigning Sound (4)
4. Big Boat/M. Ward (3)
5. Proud Mary/Creedence Clearwater Revival (6)
6. All Used Up/Sloan (6)
7. Cherbourg/Beirut (4)
8. My Only Offer/Mates of State (2)
9. Room With a View/Imperial Teen (6)
10. Somerville/Pernice Brothers (22)
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I may actually get to a blog post other than a Sunday Shuffle this week. We'll see. Meanwhile, here's the music...
1. Instrumental 1/Wilco (12)
2. Me & Keith/Verbena (3)
3. Fire Island, AK/The Long Winters (8)
4. Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)/The Pernice Brothers (14)
5. Fernando/The Baseball Project (2)
6. Come Crash/A.C. Newman (5)
7. Please Be Patient With Me/Wilco (1)
8. The Other Side/Sloan (2)
9. Chesley's Little Wrists/Pavement (6)
10. Sax Rohmer #1/The Mountain Goats (3)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Happy 67th birthday to my dad, who doesn't read this blog and wouldn't like any of the music anyway. Still, I love him a lot and hope to have him around for a long long time to come.
1. Thirteen/Elliott Smith (10)
2. Sinking Ships/Sloan (9)
3. Hold On to This Coat/The Rosebuds (8)
4. Almost Ready/Dinosaur Jr. (10)
5. Fire Island, AK/The Long Winters (7)
6. pleasure is mine/Matthew Sweet (5)
7. Crimson/Apples In Stereo (11)
8. Carnival on 7th Street/The Clientele (8)
9. Catch Them All/Headlights (4)
10. Sugar Never Tasted So Good/The White Stripes (10)
Sunday, October 05, 2008
I'd planned on doing some more posts this week but I got distracted by the vice-presidential debate, baseball, and life in general. Maybe this week. In the meantime, here are 10 more songs from my iTunes...
1. Stay Positive/The Hold Steady (13)
2. Mess Inside/The Mountain Goats (9)
3. Stolen Earrings/Two Hours Traffic (14)
4. Grace Cathedral Hill/The Decemberists (2)
5. Funny Little Frog/Belle and Sebastian (16)
6. Do/The White Stripes (10)
7. My Love Is True/The Broken West (16)
8. The Desert/Verbena (3)
9. 1,000 Wives/The Whigs (12)
10. Tremoloa Debut/Broken Social Scene (1)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
We hit the end of September with the White Sox winning a one game playoff against the Twins, 1-0, to make it into the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. The Cubs start their playoff series against the L.A. Dodgers tomorrow. We are in uncharted territory...so let's take a moment and chart my pop culture intake, shall we?
I read 2 books in September, bringing my total for the year to 42. This is my smallest book total of the year but I am still 6 books ahead of pace in order to reach my goal of 48 on the year. I only need to read 2 books a month the rest of the way to meet that goal; I am confident that will still happen. Last September I read 4 books and had reached 29 for the year. Oh, I read The Sons of Heaven by Kage Baker and Room One by Andrew Clements.
I read 14 stories in September, brining my total for the year to 180. The stories came from the July 2008 issues of both Asimov's and F&SF, as well as the Aug. 2008 Asimov's. Last September I read 20 stories and had read 145 for the year.
I read 2 comics in September, both of them trades (Astro City: The Dark Age 1: Brothers and Other Strangers and JLA Presents: Aztek the Ultimate Man). I've read 75 comics so far this year, 28 of them trades; last year I'd read 109 comics, 23 of them trades, by this point.
I downloaded 4 CDs in September, for a total of 67 on the year. The only one not mentioned in my previous post was the new Kings Of Leon, Only By The Night. Last September I got 10 new CDs and had reached 82 for the year. My music consumption is definitely down.
I actually saw 1 movie in the theater in September (Pineapple Express), which brings my total for the year to 7. Last September I hadn't seen any movies in the theater but I'd seen 14 on the year. Guess my movie viewing is down this year too.
And there's three-quarters of the year down...
Monday, September 29, 2008
This may be the smallest number of albums I've grabbed in a single month on eMusic. It's all good stuff, at least...
The Broken West/Now Or Heaven
Okkervil River/The Stand Ins
Portastatic/Some Small History
More next month...
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The White Sox have blown so many chances to win the division over the last week plus, yet they still have a chance. Amazing. Speaking of amazing, here's some music...
1. The Closer/The Baseball Project (4)
2. Green River/Creedence Clearwater Revival (6)
3. pleasure is mine/Matthew Sweet (4)
4. Bridges & Balloons/The Decemberists (9)
5. Lumberlung/Slobberbone (17)
6. Josephine/Portastatic (3)
7. Sweet Tooth/King Khan and The Shrines (7)
8. Biology Tricks/Centro-Matic (9)
9. Your Own Cloud/Portastatic (3)
10. Endlessly/Mercury Rev (1)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Another late start this week due to chores (like fixing the roof...though I mainly held the ladder) and my wife printing tickets for her fall play. The Emmys start soon and I may watch a bit. Regardless, here are ten songs from my iTunes...
1. Cursed Mirror/Superchunk (9)
2. Song For/Earlimart (8)
3. Weightless/Nada Surf (1)
4. Rosalie/Alejandro Escovedo (1)
5. Slow Show (Daytrotter Session)/The National (6)
6. About Today/The National (13)
7. Bandit Queen/The Decemberists (8)
8. Crimson/Apples In Stereo (10)
9. Green River/Creedence Clearwater Revival (5)
10. All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth/The New Pornographers (18)
Sunday, September 14, 2008
This Sunday Shuffle is coming to you live from a rain-drenched Valparaiso, IN. Your DJ has spent most of his weekend dealing with water and includes a trip to the attic to search for the source of a leak. Good times. Then again, it could have worse and the rain is now over - Hurricane Ike has left our building. I've done my algebra and I'm reading to ramdomly play 10 songs from my iTunes. Enjoy!
1. Cut Your Hair/Pavement (7)
2. Seen How Things Are Hard/Elliott Smith (8)
3. Onions/The Mountain Goats (8)
4. Down In A Hole/Jason Isbell (1)
5. It's Me/Dinosaur Jr. (10)
6. room to rock/Matthew Sweet (4)
7. I've Gotta Try/Sloan (13)
8. The Family Gardener (live)/Jeff Tweedy (8)
9. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger/Of Montreal (12)
10. Penny and Jack/The Essex Green (23)
Sunday, September 07, 2008
I have things to download this week, so I'd better let you know what I grabbed in August...
Gillian Welch/Time (The Revelator)
Ra Ra Riot/The Rhumb Line
Verbena/Souls For Sale
Hoodoo Gurus/Magnum Cum Louder
The Decemberists/Castaways And Cutouts
This week I layer in the third of my jobs, teaching swimming lessons once again. So I will be working at the elementary school every day from 8:30 to 3:15, going to school four nights a week, and now teaching swimming two nights a week plus Saturday mornings. The good news is I don't need to learn anything about teaching swimming since I've been doing it for so many years. The bad news is my time is going to get tighter but that's what I signed up for. It'll be fine.
Now I'll shut up and give you some songs...
1. Gang Bang Suicide/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (7)
2. Pre-Crimson/Apples In Stereo (9)
3. Most People Are DJs/The Hold Steady (13)
4. Faust Arp/Radiohead (19)
5. Somebody Changed/The Clientele (7)
6. Song From Debby's Stairs/M. Ward (7)
7. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood/Neko Case (5)
8. What Happened.../Grandaddy (12)
9. Baboon/The Mountain Goats (10)
10. I Wish I Was/The Twilight Singers (13)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I read 5 books in August, bringing my total for the year to 40. That puts me only 8 books away from meeting my goal for the year and a full 4 books ahead of pace. I've averaged 5 books a month for the whole year, which means I'm on pace for 60. Not going to happen, obviously, but I ought to be able to read 8 books in the next 4 months. Last August I'd only read 3 books and had read 25 on the year. Anyway, all 5 books this month were by Kage Baker and are part of her Company series - Black Projects, White Knights, The Life of the World to Come, The Children of the Company, The Machine's Child, and Gods and Pawns.
I read 22 stories in August, bringing my total on the year to 166. All 22 stories came from the two short story collections I read - Black Projects, White Knights and Gods and Pawns. Last August I read 10 stories and had read 125 on the year.
I read 4 comics in August, all of them single issues. I've only read 73 comics this year, which is well below the 107 I'd read last year (12 single issues last August). I haven't read a trade in over a month, though I do have 3 sitting on the shelves that I hope to get to in the next month or two.
I downloaded 6 CDs in August, for a total of 63 on the year. I will detail those albums in a separate post, as they were all from eMusic. Last August, I also got 6 CDs but I had 72 for the year at that point.
I didn't see any movies in the theater in August, leaving my total for the year at 6. I didn't see any movies in the theater last August either but I'd seen 14 by that point in the year.
And that about does it.
Today's Sunday Shuffle kicks off the third year of this feature. I downloaded a handful of new albums this week, so I'm interested to see if anything pops up from one of those. Hope everyone is enjoying the three-day weekend!
1. Autoclave/The Mountain Goats (2)
2. PCH One/Pernice Brothers (25)
3. Get Up Get Out/The Rosebuds (8)
4. Impossible Germany (Live)/Wilco (8)
5. Backwash/Archers of Loaf (17)
6. Jealousy/Spoon (11)
7. Dancefloors/My Morning Jacket (3)
8. Don't Talk Anymore/The Whigs (14)
9. Reset Anytime/Centro-Matic (12)
10. Low Branches/Superchunk (6)
Sunday, August 24, 2008
As I've mentioned a few times, I am starting college again this fall. Well, "this fall" is now tomorrow and my first College Algebra class is less than 20 hours away; my first Spanish I class follows about 24 hours after College Algebra finishes. I am already working my new job in the school system and this will be the first full week of school. Luckily, I still have two more weeks before I add in another 6 1/2 hours of teaching swimming lessons at the YMCA. I'm not sure how all this will affect my pop culture intake but I thought I'd jot down some things I still need to read and/or watch, as much to remind myself as anything.
I still have the last 2 books in the Company series to read, Gods and Pawns and The Sons of Heaven. I want to read Lord Tophet and I have Sideways in Crime, an anthology of alternate history crime stories, on my shelf. Coming up in a few months, there will be 4 books from Jeffrey Ford available that I've never read, plus one from Kelly Link. Beyond that, there are tons of books I want to read.
I have 3 trade paperbacks lined up to read - JLA Presents: Aztek the Ultimate Man, Astro City: The Dark Age, and Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection. I still have 2 trades of The Walking Dead sitting in my file at the comics shop and the latest Invincible volume is on the shelves as well. Of course, new single issues keep coming out too and I've demonstrated I can't fully quit those.
The ever-present drawer of SF magazines holds 7 issues at the moment - 3 of Asimov's and 4 of F&SF (and one of those is a double issue). I also have 3 issues of EW that I haven't gone through, plus parts of another, and a new one should arrive in the mail tomorrow. Oh, there's a new issue of Spin too but I usually just flip through those.
What's on the DVD shelves that I haven't gone through? Well, Grant and I are about 2/3 of the way through Superman Animated Season 3 and then we have 2 volumes of Batman Animated and The Simpsons Season 10. I have two seasons of The Venture Bros. and The Darjeeling Limited, not to mention stuff like 30 Rock Season 1 that I've seen most of as it aired but haven't looked at on DVD.
I've got a number of TV shows on the DVR - all 7 episodes of Generation Kill and one each of The Middleman, Californication, Hard Knocks: The Dallas Cowboys, Burn Notice, and Mad Men. And of course, the new fall TV season gets underway very soon.
So, there's plenty to keep me busy in my shrinking spare time and that's not including spending time with my family, being social, and keeping up with my own music. Still, I'm very much looking forward to getting into all of it.
A year ago today I finished my 24th book of the year, Spook Country by William Gibson. I was averaging 3 books read a month at that point and still had my goal of 40 books for the year in my sight. This morning I finished my 39th book of the year, The Machine's Child by Kage Baker. I'm averaging almost 5 books a month and am well ahead of pace to read my goal of 48 books on the year. What's the difference? The library.
It was a year ago that we realized we needed to make some changes in our lives in regards to money. I took the promotion at the YMCA and we made a conscious choice to watch our spending. I knew I wouldn't have enough money for books and comics and music each month; part of the solution was to start using the library. It was a big step for me, what with my OCD tendencies with books (well, and all pop culture goodies). I was able to get past those and it has paid off. I started the first library book I checked out, Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff, on Aug. 27. Since that time, I have read 59 books. Fifty-nine books! That's almost 5 books a month over a year's time. It shatters any reading goal I've had for any one year since I started back in 2001.
That streak of productivity will come to a close as I start my college courses tomorrow. If I knew I had time, I would try to get Gods and Pawns read by Wednesday so I could say I read 60 books in a year's time. Not going to happen, though, and that's okay. What also won't happen is reading 60 books in 2008, which is what I'm currently on pace for. That's okay too. My goal for this year was 48 and I can still make that if I manage my time. I will probably be reading more short fiction and comics than novels over the next few months, since I'll have to read when I can find the time. But if I can get 4 or 5 books read by Christmas break, I'll be in good shape. And regardless, I can still say I read 59 books in a year's time. That's pretty cool.
When I last talked books, I was planning on reading Gregory Frost's Lord Tophet, the sequel to the fantastic Shadowbridge. I decided I couldn't hold off on reading more of Kage Baker's Company series (here are my thoughts on the first 4 books) and so I've read the next 4 books in the last 19 days.
Black Projects, White Knights is the first story collection of the series and contains many of the stories I first read in Asimov's and that got me interested in Baker in the first place. We have stories about Mendoza and Joseph and Lewis among others but even more interestingly, we have a series of stories about Alec Checkerfield, who is born in the years leading up to 2355 (when the Silence descends for the operatives of the Company). The stories are interesting in their own right but once we start to realize who Alec is and his relationship with others, both mortal and immortal, who we've seen through the series...you know he is going to play a prominent role in the rest of the overall story.
The next book, The Life of the World to Come, opens with Mendoza stuck Back Way Back until a time shuttle crashlands and reveals Alec Checkerfield, who happens to look like her former lovers Nicholas Harpole and Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. They spend the night together and learn from each other before he leaves, promising to return. Unfortunately, he won't return before she is taken by Company operatives to Options Research, a far greater punishment than Back Way Back. Meanwhile, we meet three men who work for the Company and watch them as they design a new kind of Enforcer. Eventually, Alec (along with Nicholas and Edward) meet up with those men and the story takes it up another notch.
We step away from Alec in The Children of the Company and instead learn more about Labienus, one of the Company's Executive Facilitators and not a nice immortal at all. We see his ploys to position himself in power once the Silence arrives and how he tries to undermine his rival, Aegeus. These are seen in a series of case files and several more short stories are incorporated here, including "Son Observe the Time," which relates what happened to Budu during the San Fransicso earthquake of 1906. We also see the full story of Lewis's initial encounter with an alternate branch of humanity (which played a role in the events of The Graveyard Game). Schemes and schemes...
The Machine's Child brings us back to Alec's story, along with that of Nicholas and Edward (who know coinhabit Alec's body). They manage to rescue Mendoza from Options Research and with the help of Captain Henry Morgan, a powerful AI dedicated to Alec's survival, they nurse her back to health albeit with some gaps in her memory. They struggle against the Company of the three souls struggle against each other throughout the book, with a shocking ending. Meanwhile, we also catch up with Joseph and his ongoing restoration of Budu and the stories dovetail. In addition, we see what other operatives are facing as time creeps ever closer to the Silence.
As the series grows more complex and new elements are added to the mix, I've found myself wanting to rush through the rest of the books to see how it all turns out. I only have 2 left to go - the second story collection, Gods and Pawns, and the series finale, The Sons of Heaven. I'm going to do what I can to get them read in the near future.
Today's shuffle completes 2 full years of this feature on the blog, which is hard to believe. What isn't hard to believe is how much of a Sunday ritual it is for me and how much I enjoy doing it. I really do need to start doing some music posts to complement this feature since it's been a long time since I've really written about music. We'll see how it goes - I start classes tomorrow and my time will get squeezed even more. But enough about that, let's see what 10 songs will pop up today...
1. Plus Ones/Okkervil River (11)
2. My Favorite Year/Destroyer (5)
3. Personal/Stars (8)
4. Big Decision/Elliott Smith (9)
5. I'll Follow You/Oakley Hall (4)
6. Believe In Me/Sloan (2)
7. A Voice At The End Of The Line/M. Ward (13)
8. Wucan/Black Mountain (5)
9. Only Time Will Tell/Glossary (3)
10. First Timer/Elliott Smith (10)
Monday, August 18, 2008
This week marks the start of some big changes in my life. For the first time in over 5 years, I'm not going to be in the pool at the YMCA every day. Instead, I am going to be working in an elementary school as a teacher's aide.
Earlier this summer, I decided that I needed to make a change in the direction of my life. I love being at the YMCA working with the kids, getting them to learn how to swim. It is a very rewarding experience. But I know I can't just keep doing that for 20 years, for a variety of reasons. I decided that I should look into going back to school and becoming a teacher. I'm pretty sure I'd like to do elementary education, having worked with kindergarteners for years and other elementary students this year, but I could also teach high school English. The question is whether I'd like being with kids all day as opposed to the 30 minute or 45 minute spans I've had with classes at the Y. One way I could figure that out would be to work as a teacher's aide.
Meanwhile, I looked into going back to school. If I were to go back as an elementary education major, I would have to start over from scratch...only a handful of my classes would transfer. So I am going to finish my English degree, which will still take me 16 or 17 classes to do (and a few years at 2 classes a semester, maybe 3 in the summer), and then I will do a transition to teaching program. I start classes at Purdue North Central next week - Spanish I and College Algebra. It's been over 14 years since I was last in school but it shouldn't take me long to get back up to speed.
Late last week my position at Central Elementary School came quickly. I had almost given up on that part of the plan but now it has fallen into place. I am going to be working with the 5th grade in the morning and 1st grade in the afternoon. School starts on Wednesday.
As for the Y, I'm still going to teach a few hours a week. It keeps my hand in, it's something I like doing, and I could do it for a summer job.
So, it's going to be a very busy fall. Chances are good that I won't be posting much other than Sunday Shuffles and quick blog posts but you never know... Anyway, I'm looking forward to the challenge and the newness of it all.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Maybe someday I'll start posting entries other than Sunday Shuffles...
1. Expelled From Love/The Raveonettes (3)
2. Slapped Actress/The Hold Steady (11)
3. I'm Not A Kid Anymore/Sloan (2)
4. What You Do/Imperial Teen (5)
5. No Life Singed Her/Pavement (6)
6. An Apology/Canasta (9)
7. Cataracts/Andrew Bird (7)
8. 7/4 (Shoreline)/Broken Social Scene (1)
9. There's A Reason/A.A. Bondy (12)
10. Islero/Crooked Fingers (1)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
It's only supposed to be 75 degrees today. Cool for August but I'll take it.
1. Tonight/Nick Lowe (4)
2. Hit The Plane Down/Pavement (7)
3. Life 2: The Unhappy Ending/Stars (6)
4. The Happy End (The Drunk Room)/Mercury Rev (1)
5. Mellotron 1/Apples In Stereo (10)
6. Funny Little Frog/Belle and Sebastian (15)
7. (Antichrist Television Blues)/Arcade Fire (12)
8. Wrecking Ball/Crooked Fingers (1)
9. Complications/Julie Ocean (9)
10. No Regrets/King Khan and The Shrines (4)
Monday, August 04, 2008
Over the last few weeks, I've been working my way through Kage Baker's Company series. I first became aware of Baker in the pages of Asimov's, where she published a large number of Company stories starting with the Mar. 1997 issue. I really liked the stories and always meant to pick up the first novel in the series, In the Garden of Iden, but I never did. Then a few months ago, Chris Roberson posted about the series and I decided I would start on it before the end of the year.
What is the Company? It's a 24th century corporation called Dr. Zeus that has discovered time travel and the secret to immortality, both with a catch. The catch with time travel is that you can only go into the past and then back to your present time - no future. The catch with immortality is that in order to get it you also have to become a cyborg. So, Dr. Zeus goes into the past and creates a bunch of cyborgs that can work on preserving works of art and such for the future, which is how the company can get rich. Oh, you can't change the past but there's also a lot of unrecorded history and you can work in those grey areas. And only children can be made into cyborgs; the Company uses orphans.
In the Garden of Iden introduces us to Mendoza, a new recruit to Dr. Zeus in the 16th century. She is rescued from the Spanish Inquisition by Joseph, who works as a Facilitator for the Company. Upon her graduation from training, she ends up in England for her first assignment - she's a Botanist charged with saving rare plants from a garden. Mendoza is not a fan of mortals but she ends up in love with one and it does not end well at all. The struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism in the country looms large over the entire novel. It's a very good introduction to the world of the Company but things kick up a notch with the next book in the series.
Sky Coyote brings back Joseph and Mendoza as well as introduces new characters, notably Lewis. Joseph heads a team that is sent to California to preserve the culture of the Chumash. In order to do this, Joseph disguises himself as their trickster god, Coyote. It's a funny novel but also full of politics and economics and myth; we also start to learn more about the Company. Joseph's "father" was Budu, who worked as an Enforcer for the Company; the Enforcers have all been retired since they were hyrbids who came from Neanderthals or other earlier forms of humanity. We also get intimations that all is not as it seems with Dr. Zeus. What happens in 2355, when the Silence falls?
Mendoza in Hollywood finds Mendoza posted to Los Angeles in 1862, where Hollywood will end up. She's at a stagecoach in with five other operatives and her job is to investigate a temperate zone. One of her fellow operatives, Einar, is a huge movie buff and they occasionally screen film classics. In fact, one chapter has the group watching and reacting to D.W. Griffith's Intolerance. All of the cyborgs have interesting jobs or problems, one of them (Porforio) even has to deal with a member of his mortal family. More significantly, Mendoza and Einar manage to travel into the future and are sent back by Company operatives but before they are completely gone, Lewis tries to warn Mendoza about something. Soon after, Mendoza is reunited with her love from three centuries before, reincarnated in the form of Edward Alton Bell-Fairfax. Things do not end well.
I just finished The Graveyard Game yesterday and it is now my favorite of the books. We learn so much about the Company and have so many more questions raised. Joseph and Lewis are trying to piece together what happened to Mendoza, who has completely disappeared. Joseph also starts investigating what happened to Budu and we are introduced to players like Suleyman and Nennius and so much more. This book ends with some very interesting twists as well.
Unfortunately, my local library does not carry the entire series...only the novels. I ordered the first story collection, Black Projects, White Knights, and now have it here at home. I'll have to order the other one too in order to finish the whole series. I really want to dive into the collection but I had also requested Lord Tophet, the concluding book to Gregory Frost's Shadowbridge, which I read and loved earlier this year. It came in and is now sitting on my shelf, so I'll probably read it and then get back to the Company.