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

F&SF SEPT. 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
22. Videotape/Radiohead

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 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
Crooked Fingers/Forfeit/Fortune
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.