Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Yup, I hit a wall. A reading wall. Last Friday I finished reading Hunter's Run (a fine SF novel by Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin, and Daniel Abraham) and had started in on Stephen King's latest, Duma Key. That start was fine enough, not hooking me instantly but not turning me off either, but I had a problem. I was a bit burned out on books and was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I had read 4 books in 20 days and had a bunch of books piled up and coming due at the library (you can't renew if other people have requested them, which was the case for a few I had) and just felt like I needed a break. So, I stopped the King and returned it along with a number of other things from my pile. That's what happens when you request a bunch of books that all come out at the same time. Anyway, I will get to most of those books...I just needed to feel a bit of control and to take a break.

What did I do instead? Well, I watched a lot of TV. The good news is that I got pretty well caught up on shows on the DVR. As of right now, I have only 6 things on the DVR that I haven't watched and there's a new ep of The Wire I could watch On Demand as well. Not bad, considering.

I also read one of the trades I'd picked up at the sale the previous weekend - Captain America: Winter Soldier Vol. 1. It collects the first 7 issues of the ongoing series (#35 comes out tomorrow, so I'm still over 2 years behind), of which I read the first when it came out. The creative team for this series is Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (with flashbacks drawn by Michael Lark, who is also my second cousin) and they do a great job with a mix of action, history, and mysteries. I kinda wish I had bought more trades of the series at the sale. Oh well, I'll get to them at some point.

To add more to my stack of pop culture, I went out to Best Buy and used up the last of my gift cards and some of my cash still left for Christmas to pick up Justice League: The New Frontier and The Darjeeling Limited. I had planned on rereading Darwyn Cooke's DCU: The New Frontier series in preparation for the former but still haven't gotten to it. As for the latter, I didn't see it in theaters but I can't pass up a Wes Anderson movie.

That's about it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


It's the Oscar-edition of Sunday Shuffle, which means...well, nothing. While I did see more movies in the theater last year than I have in a long long time, I still didn't see anything up for the main categories tonight. No No Country For Old Men. No Juno. The only category I'm truly up on is Animated Feature - I saw two of the three nominees! Still, I'm going to watch (and read during long sections of the broadcast as well). Right now? Ten songs, coming at ya...

1. Bottom of the World/Tom Waits (6)
2. Satellite/TV On The Radio (11)
3. Penpals/Sloan (10)
4. The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton/The Mountain Goats (9)
5. I Understand/Sloan (15)
6. Non-Pythagorean Composition 3/Apples In Stereo (9)
7. Roscoe/Midlake (10)
8. You Know What It's About/Sloan (11)
9. South America/Shout Out Louds (7)
10. You and Me/Archers of Loaf (10)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Right now Wilco is live on the radio and internet right here. Tune in and listen! That's what I'm doing the rest of the night...

Monday, February 18, 2008


Last week I actually got myself out into the world someplace other than work or a store. I decided that Valentine's Day would be a good one to get myself back into the open mic groove at Front Porch (it was also nice to have a night that wasn't freezing cold for it). It was the first time I played there this year and only my second time playing at all. I did "Dear Prospective Employer" (a love song of the desperate) and a slowed down version of "Let's Get Married Tonight" in which I whispered some of the choruses and seemed to go over well. It was also great seeing friends I hadn't seen in months and being a part of the community.

The next night I drove to a town about 45 miles away for a surprise birthday party for a friend. Tom is another musician and has been extremely generous to me ever since I started "The Year of 35." The party was in the top floor of an old building and was a cool space - old but big with a stage in front of windows looking over the county courthouse. A variety of people got up and jammed and I got in on the act too. I hopped up with my guitar and started playing music I've been working on; Graham joined on bongos and Tom eventually hopped up and played the fiddle with it. I liked the sound of the fiddle and think I'll pursue him playing it with me as I get the lyrics written and the song finished. We also played around with "Let's Get Married Tonight" - Tom on guitar and Graham on bass and Barry hopping up on drums partway through; "That's Okay" with Tom on fiddle; and "Dear Prospective Employer" with Tom on bass and Barry on drums. Lots of fun and Tom was definitely surprised.

On Saturday afternoon I went over to the comics shop for the semi-annual sale. I still had a bunch of cash leftover from Christmas plus some extra and thought it would be a good time to splurge. Of course, my usual intent is to take advantage of the sales but I tend to dither as to what I should buy and end up with nothing. This time I had a couple things in mind and then took a little time to decide what else I should get. I ended up with a combination of stuff I haven't read and stuff I read in singles format but no longer own and want to own. I got 4 trades for $53 and change, which is pretty good. I still have money left too!

Last week I managed to read 2 books - Inside Straight (a mosaic novel by many writers and edited by George R.R. Martin) and Like You'd Understand, Anyway (a story collection by Jim Shepard). The first is another in the "Wild Cards" series of which I read many books years and years ago but haven't read any of the more recent entries. That didn't matter as the book was very accessible with a wide variety of characters and a plot focusing on an American Idol-type show for super-heroes and political upheaval in the Egypt. I enjoyed it. The second book had a number of stories on men (or women) on futile quests...quests for yetis or an inland sea in Australia or love in outer space...as well as stories about modern alienation and more. Shepard is a strong writer and I definitely want to delve into his other work.

I'm also 50 pages into a new book but still have another 4 piled up from the library after that (and more on request).

I've watched a lot of TV shows on the DVR as well, though I'm still about a week behind. We did watch Lost, of course, which just gets more and more interesting. Yay for the writer's strike being over too!

There's more but we'll save it for another day and another post...

Sunday, February 17, 2008


It's the first progress report Sunday of 2008! It's 45 degrees outside and not even 8:00 yet! Here's ten songs at random from my music on iTunes!

1. Cream and Bastards Rise/Harvey Danger (30)
2. Truth Lies Low/The Drams (12)
3. American Hearts/A.A. Bondy (10) - also on the iPod
4. Who May Be Lazy/M. Ward (6)
5. Fortunate Son/Creedence Clearwater Revival (3) - also on the iPod
6. Heavy Metal Drummer (demo)/Wilco (11)
7. Rollercoaster/M. Ward (19)
8. Aging Faces/Losing Places/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (4) - also on the iPod
9. Burn That Broken Bed/Iron and Wine/Calexico (18)
10. Yawny at the Apocalypse/Andrew Bird (6)

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Here's what I've accomplished the last three days...

I read around 170 pages to finish my 5th book of the year, The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick. Swanwick is one of the finest writers working today and this new novel is proof. In fact, that only problem I had with it is that I had read large parts of it in short story form. A small problem, obviously, when you get a world that has magic and fairies and Joe Louis and cars and anything you could think of and a story that tracks a boy from being forced to obey a dragon to...well, getting there is the fun. All fans of fantasy should read this one.

I am also over 50 pages into the next book and may increase that number before going to sleep tonight.

I finished the issue of Wizard I was working on. This is now the second month in a row that I've picked up the mag, which I've read off and on for over a decade. I miss reading comics on a regular basis when I read the magazine and that's not a bad thing. I'm figuring out ways for some monthly comics to make their way into my budget. Comics are meant to be fun, after all, and I love them.

I watched 10 episodes of TV in 3 days, 9 on the DVR and one On Demand. Not bad. However, I recorded (or will yet record) 6 more episodes by the end of tonight. A net gain of 4 episodes then. I am only about a week behind in my watching now, though. 5 of those episodes were In Treatment, the new HBO shows that airs 5 nights a week with each episode focusing on a different person in therapy with Paul (who sees someone else on the 5th night). It's very interesting so far and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes; my favorite night after one week is "Alex," which stars Blair Underwood. Man, he's good. So is Gabriel Byrne as Paul. The other five episodes were from 5 TV shows and they were all enjoyable.

And no, I didn't go see a movie. And I did send back Ocean's Thirteen unwatched. Didn't watch Battlestar Galactica: Razor either. And that's about it.

Back to the bitter cold here in NW Indiana, with the temperature at 0 and wind chill at -24 right now. Spring can't come soon enough...

1. Night of The Furies/The Rosebuds (6)
2. I Need All the Friends I Can Get/Camera Obscura (19)
3. Hate it Here (Live)/Wilco (7)
4. I Want to Love You in My Room/Irving (5)
5. Conscience Clean (I Went to Spain)/Pernice Brothers (15)
6. Army Bound/Ted Leo + Pharmacists (5)
7. Midnight Coward/Stars (6)
8. Every Day/Voxtrot (3)
9. Teenage Liberation/The Hold Steady (12)
10. Ella/M. Ward (5)

Friday, February 08, 2008


I had planned on a couple more posts this week - one on the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday and the debut of my long-planned "Midweek Music Review" (on the new Drive-By Truckers album) - but things have been busy and I've been quite tired. I've also been trying to catch up on my pop cutlure intake.

I'm about 150 pages into the book I started reading on Sunday. I like it a lot so far but I just haven't been able to get to it as much as I'd like. I have another book from the library that is due tomorrow and will have to be renewed. Yesterday I picked up 4 more books from the library as multiple requests all arrived at the same time. Yikes.

I still have 2 issues each of F&SF and Asimov's stacked up. I have the 7th trade of Walking Dead sitting in my file at the comics shop and I'd like to reread DC: The New Frontier before the DVD adaptation comes out on the 26th. Oh, and there's a big sale at the comics shop a week from tomorrow and I have my eye on several more trades. I'm still reading Entertainment Weekly from 2 weeks ago and I'm not even halfway through the Wizard I bought last week.

I have 16 episodes of TV shows to catch up on between the DVR and On Demand. 2 more shows will be recorded tonight; 2 again tomorrow night; and yet 2 more on Sunday night (plus another that we'll watch live). I've had Ocean's Thirteen sitting around for about 2 weeks from Netflix and it's probably time to give up on watching it for now. A friend keeps asking me if I've watched Battlestar Galactica: Razor yet...I haven't.

Yep, I'm behind. And coherent blog posts will probably be sparse for a while. The good news is I'm not on call this weekend and we have nothing on our schedule. I am thinking about catching a movie, though. Maybe Juno or No Country For Old Men?

Monday, February 04, 2008


A big happy 40th birthday to my lovely wife today. She had a present this morning in the form of a two hour delay and ended up with no rehearsal tonight due to fog. I got out of work a bit early and cooked her one of her favorite meals and once she's done talking to her brother on the phone, Grant and I will sing to her and we'll all have some cake. I love her with all my heart.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

F&SF JAN. 2008

I had planned on finished the Jan. 2008 issue of F&SF before January ended but I missed it by a couple of days. Oh well. Life before stories, right? Well, at least some of the time.

The issues open with "The Twilight Year" by Sean McMullen. It examines how legends are born by telling the tale of a bard who creates Arturian as a way to try and throw off Roman rule. It's a good story and you find yourself wishing for things to be true that aren't necessarily...but that's still okay.

Next up is a time travel tale from a different point of view, that of a janitor who has seen many attempts at changing history come and go without success. He has his own theories as to how those changes could be made and he gets his chance. He's also a movie buff, which provides some substance. It's title? "It's a Wonderful Life," of course, courtesy of Michaela Roessner.

Have you ever thought that the fictional worlds created by Jane Austen and Mary Shelley should collide? I haven't but even so, I greatly enjoyed John Kessel's "Pride and Prometheus." One of the Bennet girls meets Victor Frankenstein, which leads to romance and tragedy and a highly entertaining story.

After a minor "Plumage From Pegasus" by Paul Di Filippo, we get a rather interesting story by Ruth Nestvold. "Mars: A Traveler's Guide" consists of information and responses from a computer system on Mars. As those responses unfold, you realize just what is going on. It's very clever and doesn't go on too long either.

One man's search for unknown creatures is the center of "The Quest for Creeping Charlie" by James Powell. It's a short piece that ends in a pleasantly unexpected way (well, pleasantly for the reader, at least).

Finally, Alex Irvine brings the goods once again with "Mystery Hill," a story about tourist attractions, aliens, alternate dimensions, and an odd group of characters. I think Irvine doesn't get enough recognition for his work in the shorter forms.

It's also a Super Bowl Shuffle, as the Giants will try and take down the undefeated Patriots this evening. I'm not rooting for either team, really; I just hope it's a competitive game for at least a half and hopefully more. I'll probably half watch the commericals and do some reading on my 5th book of the year.

Last night was our annual trip to House of Kobe to celebrate Jill's birthday (tomorrow!). Her dad and his wife drove up from Columbus (we're going out to breakfast with them shortly) and her aunt and cousins and their families come out as well. My parents come too. So, 13 in all for yummy food hibachi style. And it was yummy.

Okay, it's time to get to the music...

1. Slicker Drips/The White Stripes (6)
2. Looking Over My Shoulder/Elliott Smith (8)
3. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger/Of Montreal (9)
4. No Key, No Plan/Okkervil River (5)
5. Stop And Think It Over/Mary Weiss (4)
6. Hands Up Baby/Camera Obscura (7)
7. Headsfull/Amy Millan (10)
8. Angels/Black Mountain (3)
9. Song Writes Itself/Pela (9) - also on the iPod
10. Split Needles/The Shins (7)

Friday, February 01, 2008


I finished my second year with eMusic in a bit of a rock mood...

The Whigs/Mission Control
Black Mountain/In The Future
Creedence Clearwater Revival/Chronicle Volume One
Sloan/Between the Bridges
Marah/Angels of Destruction!

I also grabbed a Vampire Weekend b-side, "Ladies of Cambridge." On to year three!