Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fight off the Blues


As I wrote about yesterday, some days are harder than others. On days like that, being positive seems impossible, or at least much harder than usual. I know by now what things pep me up when I'm down, but it's one thing to know the cure is there and another to go for it. So writing all these things down provides a way to grab all the happy I can at once. Hopefully, this post can serve a similar purpose for you.

Being creative is always a good start. Working on a craft focuses energy and results (often, if not always) in a feeling of productivity and accomplishment. It provides a way to get out all that negative energy in a constructive way. I usually write, as a way of understanding my thoughts and talking myself through them. The blog Write Out of Depression is no longer active, but provides wonderful prompts to get the words and happiness flowing.

Humor is another helpful thing. Even if you aren't feeling it, seek out something to laugh over, and it will reach your mind more readily. It's kind of black humor, but try out some of these depression jokes - or just enjoy the main picture, and how the lady looks like she'd rather murder someone than laugh. Or like she has murdered someone. Another one of my favorites is the insanity test, judging your mental health with a picture and a sound clip. Whose Line is it Anway had some great moments, especially with this Greatest Hits segment. And the Muppets always win.

Music helps me, too. I have a perpetual playlist on the iPod featuring songs that always make me feel better when I'm down. Even if I'm not really in the mood to get happy, forcing myself to listen to that playlist helps. Make yourself a happy music mix. Here are a few songs from mine (links will take you to the YouTube videos):

Bad Bad World - Guster
Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
Month of May - Arcade Fire

You can use online lists (like this one and this one) to start your own playlist.

Sometimes the thing that helps me most is knowing that others are fighting depression, too. Jenny the Bloggess writes about her struggles with depression, and so does Allie of Hyperbole and a Half. It can be hard to read about others who are having such a hard time, but it can be heartening too, to know you're not alone and that many people struggle every day with such problems.

These are, of course, short-term fixes. If you're looking for a long-term one, like counseling, this website can help you find a good therapist in the Madison area. NetworkTherapy.com is another good site for this kind of help. If you're in a really bad place and need someone to talk to, you can call the Hope Line, 1-800-SUICIDE. Their website provides many other ways of finding help, too.

Here's hoping happiness reigns in your life every day, at least for a little while.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Cancer is Better Than Aliens

*This post has way more information about my internal organs than you may be comfortable with. Also, there's some crazy in it. Be warned.*

A couple of weeks ago, I'd convinced myself that I either had cancer or a misplaced appendix.

Not misplaced like, oh no, where did I leave my appendix, it was just here a second ago. Misplaced as in, possibly in the wrong spot on my body. It happened to someone I know, and my left side has felt like an angry cat is trying to claw its way out for a long time.

The reason I thought it could be my appendix, after such a long time of hurt, is that an appendix can, apparently, seal itself over before getting its toxins all up in your hizzy. Again, this happened to someone I know. So, hey, it could be both on the wrong side of my body and sealed over at the same time. Not the most likely scenario, but still possible.

This pain, as I said, has been happening for a while, but only recently could I do anything about it, as we had insurance for the first time in, like, three years. Hooray for insurance. So off to the doctor I went and she scheduled me for an ultrasound.

(In reality, it was way more complicated than that, because as much as insurance rocks, it also kind of sucks. So eventually, I was scheduled at a place that accepted my insurance. Everyone reading this whose country doesn't make you pay for things like not dying: I envy you.)

In the two weeks leading up to my ultrasound, I began to more or less believe that while scanning my innards, the tech would say something like, "Oh, well that's a problem," and then point out the giant tumor where my ovary was supposed to live. And then I wouldn't tell anyone about it, because when I get depressed, I act like I have duct tape over my mouth.

I felt like believing I had cancer was a good thing, because if it turned out to not be cancer and was, say, a five-foot tapeworm instead, I'd be pleasantly surprised and shrug it off like it was no big deal. Tapeworms? Meh. It's not cancer. Extra-uterine pregnancy? Hey, it's not cancer. Alien eggs in mah belleh, waiting to hatch in all their horrendous glory? Also not cancer. (Thank you, Web MD and Hollywood, for filling everyone with horror on a daily basis.)

Around this same time, I was changing jobs and everyone at my old job hated me and stopped talking to me. Or so I convinced myself, but seriously, leaving that job was a bit weird - the manager pretty much didn't tell anyone and there was this whole air of super-secret James Bond shit about the whole affair. Because my leaving was totally a matter of international security, full of explosions and sneaking around laser security systems.

Or not. But it was stressful, for one reason or another.

I was also trying to convince myself that taking this new job was a good thing, but I was worrying about fricking everything. Was I only taking this job to feel closer to the one I left in New Mexico? What if I got fired after two days? What if I didn't fit in and nobody liked me, just like you fear on the first day of school? What if, while heading to work, my car suddenly decided to explode in the middle of a busy intersection? None of those sounded like much fun, least of all the one where I may or may not be on fire and have cancer.

These and more worries resulted in spontaneous mini-freak-outs on the kitchen floor, under the dining table, and in the paperback horror section at work. (Rather fitting, in a way. And by spontaneous mini-freakouts, I mean thinking way too much about everything going wrong, and having a really hard time not curling up in a tangled ball of nerves on the floor. Despite being in public, it's sometimes really hard to keep the crazy to myself.) It was with these and more worries on my mind that I marched to my ultrasonic doom, tightly clutching Spousal Unit's hand.

My uterus smiled for the camera as the tech took glamour shots. And then came the fun part, where I learned that hey, there is such a thing as an internal ultrasound. And no one decided to tell me until the 18-inch, condom-bedecked dildo-camera appeared. That was totally how I wanted this trip to end.

It didn't even buy me dinner first.

In short, my reproductive organs are all squeaky clean, like a well-polished new car just waiting for someone to test-drive it. (Except, no babies. Not for a long time yet.)

I just wish I hadn't had to go on this rollercoaster of crazy to discover that the doctor still doesn't know what's wrong with me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nebula Award Nominations, Part II: Still Pretty Clueless

Here's the continuation of yesterday's post, featuring three more books being nominated for a Nebula. Same deal here: I don't have a clue about any of these, so I've researched them ... some more thoroughly than others.


God's War, Kameron Hurley

Nyx is a respected assassin - sometimes. Others, she's just a killer. Her newest bounty is going to really mess things up for two governments. Two! Quite an accomplishment.

...And that's all the summary says. But the opening line is promising: "Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert." Huh. Okay then. Reviews suggest this book has excellent, gritty world building (which makes me think of The Windup Girl), but less in the way of stellar characterization (as scifi is sometimes wont to do). That said, Nyx is intriguing enough to keep reading and even sympathize with later on.

The author categorizes her book as "bug punk," whatever that means. It's the first in a trilogy, but is a good standalone, too. You can read the first three chapters here, if you'd like.


Mechanique, Genevieve Valentine

The post-apocalyptic steampunk circus featured here is meant as a distraction from the war raging around the world. The ringmaster built the circus cog by cog, just for that purpose. But then the government man shows up, with his dreams of recreating the old world, and now the circus could be destroyed from the outside (by the approaching war) or from within.

Reviewers say Valentine writes in an incredible fashion, turning this novel into a prose poem. (Sounds like my kinda thing.) It had a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which describes Mechanique as "menacing and fascinating." The New York Times review says the book lacks imagination in some aspects, such as setting, but Valentine makes the book much more than ordinary via writing style and emotions.


The Kingdom of Gods, N. K. Jemisin

I remember not this book, but the first in this series by Jemisin: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Unfortunately for those interested in a summary of this particular book, I may yet read the whole series. As The Kingdom of Gods is the third in the series, I don't care to give the plot away to myself or any others who might delve into it from the start.

Here's a review from The Ranting Dragon, here's one from Publisher's Weekly, and here's one from Sarah Says Read - with reviews of all three books in the series. Enjoy, peeps.

Overall, my impression of the Nebula picks is pretty good. There are a few that I don't think belong on the list (even though I haven't read them), but I can see the reasoning behind each. The thing that impresses me most? Four female authors on this list, in a genre commonly dominated by men.

Way to represent, ladies.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nebula Award Nominations, Part I: I Have No Clue

This year's Nebula award nominations are in, and I have no clue about any of them.

Okay, I know who China Miéville is. But the only other name I vaguely recognize is Jack McDevitt, and I'm not even sure why. (Now I remember. It's because I've seen this cover many, many times.)

Usually, I at least have some clue about who I'm rooting for and which ones I'm interested in reading. But I was out of the new-book loop for much of last year, and now I have to jump back into it. Hence, the following research of three books on the list, for your enjoyment. Tomorrow will feature part two.


Among Others, Jo Walton

Ah, yes. Seeing the cover, I do remember this one coming out. Apparently, all I have to do is look at the covers and I'll get it.

Morwenna's mother is crazy and does magic. How's that for a messed-up childhood? She reads to escape the crazy, as many in literature and real life do. One day her mom's dark magic cripples her and kills her twin. So Morwenna runs away to her estranged father (who sends her off to boarding school), and eventually dabbles in magic herself. But that means her mom is able to find her.

Just based on the summary, Among Others seems more like a fantasy than a scifi, which is unusual for the Nebulas. And according to many reviews, it's viewed similarly. In fact, the only scifi element I see is the exhaustive listing of popular authors in the genre, as this review mentions. I'd be willing to give it a shot, but with 17 authors named in Walton's first two chapters, I can see that kind of fangirl praise growing old fast.


Embassytown, China Miéville

Humans have colonized a new world and live beside its alien inhabitants, the Areikei. The world's ambassadors have to be physically altered in order to speak the language. Avice Brenner Cho has been off having space adventures, and can't speak Areikei, but she's somehow intertwined in their language anyway. She's a legend to them. Then a new ambassador appears and completely effs everything up.

(That's what the summary says. No joking.)

This seems very intriguing to me. Language is the main theme of the book: how it shapes cultures and how it can destroy them. But one particular review mentions Miéville's tendency to stall, to just kind of let the plot hang there while he's off doing other things. This was the same problem I had with Perdido Street Station: I couldn't finish it, because while the ideas were intriguing and it was well worded, there was little I actually cared about in the book. So, this appears to be more of the same for Miéville: brilliant ideas held together with a weak plot.


Firebird, Jack McDevitt

This is book six in the Alex Benedict series. A renowned physicist, who was working on alternate universe theory, disappeared forty-odd years ago. Alex discovers the physicist sent space-yachts out before he disappeared, and the space-yachts disappeared too.

I always think it's pretty cool when a series book is good enough to garner awards attention. That said, who's going to read all the books leading up to it if they're not really interested in the sixth one? Same goes for my reviewing it. Here, you can read this one if you like.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Awesome New Tunes: Great Voices

Today, I have lots of new music to share with you.

First, Zola Jesus singing "Vessel." All the mixing in her songs results in not-my-cuppa-tea music, since you can't really hear her awesome voice. But the video is cool, and I'm sure others out there will love her - mainly, the industrial rock crowd.


First Aid Kit is a group Spousal Unit discovered. They're a couple of Swedish sisters with an awesome folk sound and great voices. The vocal syncopation is especially unusual in this song, but it works out very well.


Last, Lucy Rose, a self-taught guitarist, sings "Middle of the Bed." I'm impressed that she can sing so fast and well at once, and there's something about the song that makes it sound incredibly smooth and deliriously choppy - in a good way.


Another one I love is Danielle Ate the Sandwich - yes, that's the name of the band. Her song "17 and 53" is sad, but beautiful.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Books I Want: The Datlow and Windling Collections



I've been obsessed with a particular fantasy series for a while now: the short story and poem collections by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

The most recent book I'm enjoying in that series is The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. These stories riff off the idea of the stag/man who is the father of the forest. Sometimes it's a woman in those old myths, leaves decorating her hair and tumbling out of her mouth. Each of these stories twists the original somehow, resulting in brand-new fairy/folk tales.

Some collections like this feature authors no one's ever heard of, but these authors are usually well-established in fantasy, and each tale is very well done. Authors in this collection include Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Gregory Maguire, and Patricia McKillip.

I'm about halfway through this collection, and as usual, it's a winner. So far, my favorite story is "Charlie's Away" by Midori Snyder, which features a boy who thinks he has to be everything for his parents, since his sister died. After he gets accepted into college, the pressure is too much for him, so he disappears into the forest and makes an incredible discovery.

One of my favorite elements of these stories is the author's note at the end of each one, telling how the author came up with the idea. Sometimes the extra information provides a whole new view of the story; sometimes it's just neat to see into an author's head.

The previous book I read in this collection was The Coyote Road, which I got for Spousal Unit. (He loves trickster tales.)


After The Green Man, I plan to read The Faery Reel.


And maybe after that, I'll read The Beastly Bride, their most recent collection, which features shapeshifter stories.


I could read nothing but their collections for the rest of the year and not grow bored of them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Fishy Shawl

A while ago, I bought a bamboo blend yarn called Jarbo Tropik. It's soft, silky, and bright blue.


I decided I wanted to do something awesome with it, as I was running out of fun projects and only had the more obnoxious ones sitting around (a certain sweater and quilt being two of them). But I didn't quite have enough for a large-ish project, so I dug deep into my stash box and came up with this lovely yarn.


I got it ages and ages ago, from Jimmy Beans Wool. Don't ask me what brand it is - all I remember is it's 100 percent bamboo. If you've never worked with bamboo before, do it: it's as soft as silk and much less expensive.

After coming up with the material, I needed a pattern. I found the Age of Brass and Steam kerchief/shawl on Ravelry, which looked simple and fun.



Awesome thing about this shawl (besides the fact that it will be soft and gorgeous) is that it will complete goal number four on my list of 25 things for the year: a shawl in a new fiber. I always love planning out a new project: it's creative, exciting, and makes me look forward to the crafting process.

Rather than doing one solid color, I decided on a striping pattern. The shawl will be mostly blue, with variegated orange stripes running through it. Like a goldfish in a lake.


Yeah, kinda like that. But with fewer teeth.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Jungle All Up in Here

We accidentally have the beginnings of a jungle in our apartment.
This plant came with us all the way from New Mexico. We had several plants when we lived there, including Minerva (a tomato plant) and Cordelia (chives). They both ended up dying, Minerva having lived a long and fruitful life, Cordelia dying of neglect and my general ignorance about chives. That left us with the above plant, who was named Kuzon or Khaaaaaan! (Its name really depended on whether you asked me or Spousal Unit.)

After a transplant, which Kuzon/Khaaaaan! survived, I discovered that this was actually two plants. At some point, we may have been able to separate them, but their roots are probably so intertwined the separation would kill them both. Kind of like siamese twins joined at the heart.


After getting our new place in the Midwest, Spousal Unit's parents brought us this lovely Christmas cactus. It blossomed happily during the season. Spousal Unit named it Steve. I don't think he had a reason for that. Maybe it just looks like a Steve?... Personally, I can't see it.


My mom gave us an African violet, who wants to be a hoity-toity rose. Look at it: there's even an accessory in its leaves. With such delusions of grandeur, the only proper name for her is
Señora Quixote.


After Spousal Unit's job went from temp to permanent, the temp agency gave him a plant to congratulate him. He brought it home, because a cubicle doesn't get much for light, and he thought it looked unhappy. (It was even more unhappy after he accidentally yanked out a huge swath of leaves by the root, but after replanting, they haven't even faded in color.) The pot is beautiful, too. On closer inspection, though, this is actually three plants in one pot.


Three kinds of leaves: the big, dark ones on the left; small, oval ones on the right; and the spade-shapes at the bottom. Spousal Unit insists this plant has a name, but being that it's three plants, they can't all have the same name. So naming shall wait until they have their own pots and their own identities. ...Which may not happen for another month. We'll see when I decide to put the effort into it.


Our most recent addition is a wee bamboo plant. It fits in the palm of my hand, and has looked kind of sickly ever since we brought it home. The main stalk is a little withered, and much browner than it was before. But I bet it's a lot stronger than it looks. With that in mind I've named it Kaylee, after the character in Firefly.


I also have an amaryllis bulb, which I am waiting to plant until the weather is more springy.

Now all we need is a cat named Shere Khan to stalk through the greenery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Love of my (Food) Life

Ladies and gents, I have a word for you. This word has been on my mind for the last several weeks, haunting my dreams and weakening me in waking moments. I've been wanting to tell everyone about it, because it's such an amazing thing, and I think everyone should experience the joy it brings. My life is more tolerable, knowing this thing exists, and I think it's perfectly appropriate that I share it with you on Valentine's Day. This one word?

Gravy.

I made vegan - vegan! - gravy a couple of weeks ago, to go with garlic smashed 'tatoes, and it was a heavenly delight. I haven't had gravy in a very long time, so I was thrilled to finally have a recipe I could make over and over and over again. It's one of those things I thought I would just never be able to taste again, now that I'm vegetarian, but it turns out I was very wrong. And I'm so glad I was.

It tastes just like gravy made of animal fat, but with the delight of being critter friendly and much healthier. (It's still gravy though, so drenching food in it is still not a good idea. Unfortunately.) I haven't been this excited about something I made since... well... maybe ever.

But on a serious note: if the one you love has been looking a little down lately, make him gravy. If the moon of your life has been kind of dreary, gravy will perk her up. If you have yet to get a Valentine's gift for anyone - lover, friend, or family - gravy will give them hope that yes, you still love them, and you always will.

(But failing that, bacon's always a good back-up gift.)


Vegan Pepper Gravy
Oil, flour, and water are approximate; adjust to appropriate gravy thickness.
1/4 c olive oil                                               1 c veggie broth
2 tbsp flour                                                   Pepper to taste
3 tbsp warm water

Heat oil on medium-low. Mix water and flour together, careful to create a smooth mixture. Whisk flour mixture into oil. Boil; continue whisking. Add broth slowly. Return to a boil and continue whisking. Add pepper. Boil until mixture foams. Serve hot, to the admiration and applause of all in your life.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bon Iver and the Grammy of Someone-Thinks-You're-the-Best-Maybe

Apparently, Bon Iver is pretty awesome. The band won two Grammys yesterday: best new artist and best alternative music album.

The best new artist one has me a bit confused. They released their second album last year, not their first. And Justin Bieber was recently in Grammy contention as well (for some reason), and we all know he's been around for freakin' ever. They must have some unusual criteria for defining "new artist" over at the Grammy hub.

But the award that impresses me is the best alt album one: Bon Iver beat out Death Cab for Cutie and Radiohead, two of my favorite bands. I've found that while the individual win for a Grammy doesn't necessarily mark it as the best (at least, in my mind), the bands in contention for the win are usually all solid.

(This only works for me in regard to music categories I already enjoy. For example, record of the year, which is more about the Popular Kid in class than the best student, went to Adele. I can't stand Someone Like You; it was never a good song. It's cheesy, cliche, and overplayed, and those usually seem to be the qualities of the pop categories.)

According to my hometown paper, The Leader-Telegram (for which I once worked), Justin Vernon had some pretty sharp barbs for the Grammys. "I want to say thank you to all the nominees, all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here," he said in his acceptance speech. Point being, the Grammys are a flawed rating system, often based more on questionable popularity than on quality. Artists who have never won a Grammy include Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, and Diana Ross.

On first glance, you might think they're doing better lately, at least in the alt rock category. Outside of Wisconsin, not many know who Bon Iver is. Many had a similar reaction to Arcade Fire's win last year. (Typing in "Arcade Fire Grammy" on Google brought up an interesting article: This Year's "Who is Arcade Fire?" Grammy Goes to: "Who is Bon Iver?" The tweets are hilarious.)

The lack of knowledge about these bands only seems like an improvement until you consider how few people listen, really listen, to alt/indie rock. The bands come out of nowhere to those who don't give the genre lots of attention. I wouldn't even include myself in the category of hardcore listener, at least compared to friends who are really into it.

Regardless of whether the Grammys are actually worth anything, it does take some kind of... something... to be nominated, let alone win. So congrats to Bon Iver, whose name will now go down in history beside the Baha Men and Hilary Clinton, who also won Grammys for their delightful recordings.

(I kind of wish I was kidding, but I'm not.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Shadow at the End of Time

*The following is a second myth to go with my novel, Harvest. It doesn't quite fit my novel yet, but it was fun getting to this point.

When humanity had yet to exist, the Great Ape, Fox, and Heron gifted the world with purpose and harmony. Mankind came to envy these gifts, but could not grasp their beauty - what a foolish creature, to not know the way home. And so shall history write itself:

There lived a race called humankind, who sought peace and possessed none. With little effort, it called forth a shadow from deep nightmares. It spoke like peace, but in the guise of shapeless fear. Humans thought to control it, but the shadow feasted on their aimless anger.

The end crept in slowly, and just as they were made, humans took themselves apart. In all their villages, the shadow flowed. Young were not spared, nor old. Slow as old honey, then quick as a comet, the shadow grew. Mankind was blinded to Death, who walked beside them.

They awoke one day to the terror of absence. Humans were embers, half-remembered on a starless night, fading to nothing at all. And they had forgotten where they came from. The Great Ape's strength was abandoned; the Fox's cunning had blunted; the Heron's wings were a whisper, drowned by the frantic beating of weak hearts. When they at last saw the shadow, all were powerless against it, and the lightning end burned them like dry tinder.

So will we fall from the brittle pages of history, and no one will be left to mourn us.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cat Butt, and How it Relates to Bookstores

I have a new job.

Same dance, new song: I'll still be working at a bookstore, but it's a primarily new bookstore instead of a primarily used bookstore. No more books that smell like cigarettes and mold, no more fun discoveries of bugs and underwear in book boxes, no more offering customers 50 cents for nice copies of Walden and Emily Dickinson. No more throwing books away like they're last week's leftovers. I will miss certain things, certain people, certain perks; that is the nature of change.

The new job is part-time, at least for now. This means I'll be developing a regimen for novel work and exercise, to be focused on daily (or very, very often). Hopefully, I can get myself and my novel whipped into shape. (Don't worry; I'll still post terrible book covers for you whenever they come my way.)

Unfortunately, this also means some degree of insanity in the next several months, yet again. I've already had my first couple of freak-outs about the new job, and I've only had one three-hour shift so far. As usual, this is going to be too much fun for me to handle.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I have panic attacks. I had one in college, and there were paramedics, an oxygen mask, and a stuffed piggy involved; I've not had similar symptoms since then, though the piggy is still around. That's why I call it a freak-out instead of a panic attack. Still a lot of intense, overdramatic emotion, but significantly less hyperventilating and muscle soreness.

It's kind of like waking up to a big blurry, fuzzy thing sitting on your head. You know it's the cat (the same one who's always lived here), but it's huge and too close, and you're focusing on all of it at once because, hey, there's a cat on your face. Times like that make me wonder if I should ever have bought a cat in the first place. But then it backs up at sits on your chest instead and you realize, it's just the cat. Who looks a lot smaller and less suffocating and cuter when it's not on your face. And you hope it doesn't decide to climb on your head again.

That's what my new job is like to me right now. Someday it will be comforting and lovable and it will eat treats from my hand. But for now I'm just worried about being suffocated by cat butt.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brain Fart.

Today is a slow writing day. My thoughts are all gummed up with nightmares, and work starts very early. Even the black tea I'm resolutely chugging isn't helping me think. Some days are like that: you try to be creative and amazing and brand-new, but all you feel is reworked and typical and blah. But you try again the next day.

So for today, a plethora of thought-provoking images. I'll do my best to come up with a great post later this week, to make it up to y'all.


Dr. Seuss always hits the nail right on the head, but it's fun to see it spelled out. (Click to enlarge!)


Gandalf may be a wizard, but Obi-Wan has the Force.


I love Iggy Pop forever for doing this.


I think everyone here is perfectly cast. It also makes me rethink the original characters: Jayne saying, "Wokka, wokka!" is almost natural. And Beaker as Simon really emphasizes his nervousness. If Firefrog was a real show, I would watch it. Maybe even more than Firefly.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Patriots Almost Won, Butt...


This is how the Super Bowl ended this year: not with a bang, but a buttcheek.

It was one of the more ridiculous Super Bowls I've seen in a while. The Patriots dropped plays left and right...


 I had to see Eli Manning's face way too often...

(Seriously, with the expression he's got, he could just be yawning.)

...and there were plays like this one.


I get the reasoning behind it. They wanted to let the clock wind down to avoid giving the Patriots another play and a chance to win. Butt...

When Ahmad Bradshaw lost his balance and fell ass-first into Super Bowl history, most of the team was focused on the fact that he didn't stop. Oh no, we scored and took the lead. This is terrible. What that says to me is they have no faith in their defense.

Part of me is glad the Giants won. If the Packers had to fall out of the race this year, at least it was to the team that won the Super Bowl. But I still don't think the Giants really deserved it. I'm tired of seeing the teams with the most money in the Super Bowl. Grey and blue are getting old.

I'm already focused on green and gold being dominant again next year.

Friday, February 3, 2012

10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights

Around Christmas, Spousal Unit tried to get me a book. I knew nothing about it, other than it was brand new and somehow, he'd heard of it and thought of me.

I usually stay pretty aware of the awesome new books out in the world, and somehow, I had no idea what this one could be. I was especially confused when Spousal Unit said the bookstore couldn't get it - the distributors were all out of stock. What could be so unexpectedly terrific that everyone wanted it for Christmas?

Finally, the book came in last week. It turned out to be what's regarded as the best Japanese science fiction novel ever written: 10 Thousand Days and 100 Billion Nights by Ryu Mitsuse. Spousal Unit heard about it on NPR.


Intriguing from the start, especially because that swirl on the cover is both a galaxy and a fingerprint. (It gets better: the cover glows in the dark. Insert squeal of delight.)

The first couple of chapters are kind of slow-going. The book starts at the beginning of time, following the formation of stars and planets, the first puddle of water on Earth, the conditions for life to exist, the first fish, and the first thing to climb out of the ocean. It's interesting stuff - it's just a nonfiction for the first couple of chapters. And it's worth it to read on.

Cue Plato. What could a scifi spanning millennia possibly have to do with Plato, you ask? The answer is Atlantis. Soon the great philosopher is having visions, freaking out over panes of glass, and meeting gods. A pretty drastic shift from all that primordial soup of the first chapters.

That's all the further I've read, but I'm excited for more. The book's very brief summary mentions Plato, Buddha, Jesus, and Asura all meeting up at the end of time. (Not entirely sure who or what Asura is, other than a Hindi god - or several gods - who may or may not be evil. And something about power.)

The book was originally written in 1967, and was published in English last year for the first time. I'm not sure why - I'm only on page 79 and it's already worth it. Imagine how someone like Plato might react to a lightbulb, with no introduction whatsoever. That, by itself, is a delightful scene. I still haven't a clue where this book is taking me, but I'm so there.

I just hope the final stop isn't too close to the end of time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Books I Don't Want, Featuring Gunslingers Such as Elvis

Today, I was planning to share a conglomeration of terrible western covers with you. Like Deuces and Ladies Wild, by Richard S. Wheeler.


The guy with his back turned to the table was clearly just getting up to go to the bathroom. The man shooting everyone else was infuriated that someone would fold just for that reason (he forgot his meds today). The lady on the left is preparing to jump over the gravity-defying chair, and those are no lanterns hanging overhead: they're spaceships, coming down to settle this petty human dispute by subtly brainwashing everyone. (Who knew Cowboys and Aliens dated back to the early '90s?)

I also wanted to share one called Buckskin: .52 Caliber Shoot-Out by Kit Dalton.


"Caught in a hotbed of gunmen and shady ladies, Morgan cooled things down real fast."

Because he's cool. Get it?

And apparently any book with a guy getting kicked in the chin by a horse is automatically cooler. Plus, if you feature the same guy on the cover four times, it quadruples the level of coolness. That book is like Antarctica, it's so cool.

Anyway, I was planning to find more western covers, but I was distracted by this little gem: Comeback Tour by Jack Yeovil.


Yes, ladies and gents, that's most certainly Elvis on the cover, curling his lip and wielding an automatic weapon. According to the back cover, Elvis didn't die. Rock and roll was murdered, so he stayed in the army for 20 years, and now Colonel Presley has to take on the Ku Klux Klan, swamp mutants, and voodoo priests. Because he's stationed in the South.

Dark Future seems to be a whole series, based on a game. Jack Yeovil is actually Kim Newman, and the novel series features other titles like Route 666. I kind of adore this series without having read any of it.
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