Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the Year Pile

I've made a bit of a dent in my pile over vacation but not anything substantial. Here's what I have to read in the early part of 2010...

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
Finch by Jeff Vandermeer
Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan DeNiro (from the library)
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (waiting for me at the library)
Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Chew Vol. 1: Taster's Choice
House of Mystery Vol. 1: Room and Boredom

I also have 2 issues of F&SF and 3 issues of Asimov's stacked up.

I shouldn't wait for 2010 to start reading any of these but I probably will. Yeah, I know

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Doctors, Dolls, and the Decade

I have the penultimate David Tennant episode of Doctor Who sitting on my DVR right now. I want to watch it and I don't want to watch it. I'm not a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, though I do remember watching episodes on PBS with my dad when I was a teenager. I wasn't aware that the series had been restarted until I caught "Blink" a few years ago and I was hooked after watching that episode. I went back and caught up on the season with Christopher Eccleston, followed by as many of the Tennant eps as I could find. I am going to miss him tremendously...but I also want to see how he (and head writer Russell T. Davies) will exit the show.

Speaking of exits, let's talk Dollhouse, a show I held at arm's length when it first appeared and even gave up on. I documented my return to the show back in late September and was an avid viewer during the current season. Unfortunately, Fox cancelled the show (as I feared) and pulled it off the air. A few weeks ago they started burning off the episodes two at a time and with a few weeks off I've started to catch up. I was stymied today by a bad DVR recording, so I'll probably try to catch that episode ("Meet Jane Doe") on Hulu in the near future. The show has been quite good and it will join Firefly as a Joss Whedon show that got away (though I loved Firefly more than I do this one).

You know what else got away? My planned posts on my favorite stuff from the last decade. I would still like to put something together, as well as best of the year lists. Not sure if either will happen, though I'd put better odds on the latter rather than the former. Still, we'll see...

Sunday Shuffle Shutdown

It turns out last week was my last Sunday Shuffle. It wasn't planned and I might have done things differently if I had known. So why am I stopping? My wife and I bought a new computer as a joint Christmas present, which means I've had to reload all my music into iTunes. As a consequence, all of my play counts were lost. It seems silly to keep on shuffling when almost everything I have would be the first play and all of my tracks in the high 20s and 30s and even high 40s (Harvey Danger's "Little Round Mirrors" comes to mind) are all reset. I will probably still do a shuffle on Sunday for myself, since I've been doing it for 3 plus years. I'm also mulling possibilities that would replace that feature on the blog, so stay tuned for next Sunday to see if I came up with something.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


We spent our annual Christmas at my parents' house the past few days. The season started with a drive through icy conditions to pick my brother up from O'Hare on Wednesday night and included a road being closed right before I was going to go on it; I lost time but was able to get him back to my house by 1:00 in the morning. By 1:00 the next afternoon, we had already decamped to DeMotte and got into the swing of the season with a traditional party and tons of food. Yesterday we opened gifts and got a great reaction out of my son when he opened his new PS3. Lots more eating and some euchre playing and the joy of being together as a family followed.

I am now back home, though in a couple hours we will be off to another traditional party with some very close friends. In the meantime, I'm in my usual post-Christmas state of not knowing quite what to do with myself. There is so much I can do that I have a hard time committing to any one thing, so I've been shuffling through my iTunes and poking around the internet.

I do have plenty to listen to, including The Beatles stereo remasters boxed set. I've actually never heard 5 of their albums all the way through (I know, I know) and I still haven't listened to 3 of them yet. In addition, I got the new live Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers anthology, R.E.M.'s deluxe edition of Reckoning, and a Roxy Music album I've never heard.

I also decided to not read the three library books at once - I have three books stockpiled that I've been wanting to read when I have the time. I have the time now and should take advantage of that; after all, I can always check those other books out of the library again. So, I started Peter & Max, the first prose novel set in the world of Fables, on Christmas Eve.

Maybe it would be a good idea to read some more of that and stick Beatles For Sale in the stereo (that's one of the ones I've never heard). Think I will...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Double Dinosaur

During the time I was reading Interfictions 2, I was also reading another book. That's a rare event for me; I usually like to concentrate on only one book at a time. I also like leaving some space between reading short stories, so I decided to also read Chuck Klosterman's Eating the Dinosaur. It worked out well.

I've always meant to read Klosterman but just never got around to him. He's a pop culture critic but he likes to use bits of pop to talk about deeper issues (or sometimes shallow ones). He's funny and his essays are all entertaining. In this book he writes about ABBA, football, Weezer, canned laughter on soundtracks, Garth Brooks, truth, irony, Ralph Sampson, interviews, the link between Nirvana and David Koresh, and much more. It's definitely worth a read.

And since reading 2 books at once worked out well, I'm thinking about delving into 3 at once over the next few days. We'll see...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In The Stices

Interfictions 2 bills itself as an anthology of interstitial writing and takes time at the beginning and end to try and figure out what that term means. What comes in between are stories that the editors (Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak) feel fits into those parameters. What are the parameters? Stories that fall between the cracks of genres or the spaces in between those genres, stories that are more unusual than the standard fare or that meld many genres. I've heard the term, of course, and have already been a fan of an unusual story that catches the imagination. As such, none of the stories in the anthology are shocking in their content but that's okay. For me, it always comes down to stories and there are some good ones here.

You want unusual narrators? I'll give you a couple - a house and an explosion. Will Ludwigsen's "Remembrance Is Something Like a House" tells the tale of a house traveling across the country after many years to bring relief to an old man for a crime the house inadvertently committed. The house is a fully-realized character and the story makes sense within its framework (does that make any sense?). The explosion is David J. Schwartz's "The 121" is fully-realized as well. It's an explosion born of a bomb that somehow lives with the souls of the 121 people it killed. It is inventive and devastating. I loved both stories.

You want unusual events? In Ray Vukcevich's "The Two of Me," a brother and sister have to go through their lives with her slowly growing out of him.

You want unusual structures? Brian Francis Slattery uses oral history to tell about a musician who caused a revolution and disappeared in "Interviews After the Revolution" and Alan DeNiro dispenses with section breaks and runs his character viewpoints together in "(*_*?) ~~~(-_-): The Warp and the Woof," a fascinating look at a disastrous future that was caused by a thriller writer.

You want quietly brilliant? Try the low key time travel of "Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken" by Elizabeth Ziemska or the magic and ghost of Carlos Hernandez's "The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria."

Or the slightly askew? Theodora Goss presents a typical adventurer on another planet story from a different perspective in "Child-Empress of Mars."

I haven't touched on all the stories or approaches but there is definitely a variety. All of them are interesting, which is a hard thing for an anthology to accomplish. The ones I mentioned above are my favorites of the bunch. Your mileage may vary but there is a lot to dive into, enjoy, and think about in this collection.


My wife and I bought a new computer for Christmas. Our other computer was at least eight years old and was way slower than computers are these days, so it was needed. One consequence of the purchase is that I now have to reload all of my digital music into iTunes, which means that all of my play counts are reset at zero. That fact makes my ongoing Sunday Shuffle series seem a bit pointless. I have felt I need a new approach to blogging, so I'm going to take the opportunity to retool how I do things around here. Since we're so close to a new year, I'll probably wait to implement any changes then.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Heavy Rotation #5

I haven't done one of these on the current version of the blog but I'm going to keep my numbering intact from the last version. It's been almost 20 months since I've done this feature, which is hard to believe. Anyway, here are some albums I've been listening to a lot of over the past couple weeks...

The Avett Brothers/I And Love And You
Belle and Sebastian/The Life Pursuit
Elvis Costello/Armed Forces
Elvis Costello/Get Happy!!
Elvis Costello/Trust
Patterson Hood/Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)
Sloan/Never Heard The End Of It

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Shuffle #165

I'm hoping to put some actual content up this week but until then here are today's ten...

1. Woodgrain/Wilco (10)
2. 7/4 (Shoreline)/Broken Social Scene (3)
3. Crimson/Apples In Stereo (13)
4. If It Rains/Robert Forster (4)
5. Patterns of Fairytales/The National (7)
6. Big Star/Kathleen Edwards (15)
7. Friendship/Sloan (13)
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/The Crystals (3)
9. Trying My Best To Love You/Jenny Lewis (10)
10. Troll Nacht/The Dodos (3)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Shuffle #164

I need to focus today and tomorrow so I can be ready for the Spanish final on Tuesday but I know I'll be watching some football today in addition to the all the household chores. Better get to it then...

1. When Doves Cry/Prince (3)
2. One Big Holiday/My Morning Jacket (7)
3. Romans 10:9/The Mountain Goats (6)
4. Don't Lie to Me/Big Star (11)
5. Black Eye (live)/Jeff Tweedy (7)
6. In My Dreams/Eels (14)
7. Cajun Country/Hoodoo Gurus (5)
8. Paul Burch's Rattlesnake Daddy Blues/Paul Burch (3)
9. The Patient Ferris Wheel/The Gaslight Anthem (13)
10. Gang Bang Suicide/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (8)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Numbers Game

3 - My Spanish final is that many days away and then I'm done for the semester!

7 - That is how many books I have stacked up to read...and I'm still not quite done with the book I'm working on.

2 - Yes, I bought some comics on the day they came out...and still haven't read them yet.

46% - That's how full the DVR is, though not everything on it is mine or will be watched.

5 - That's the combined total of SF mags I have piled up...and I've been in the middle of another one for at least a month now

Les than 10 - We'll be leaving in that time frame (minutes) and will be gone most of the day, so the rest of those numbers

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Shuffle #163

Now that it's December, I will include any Christmas music that may happen to pop up...

1. Mermaid Eyes/Luna (13)
2. Sun It Rises/Fleet Foxes (10)
3. Walk Out/Justin Townes Earle (7)
4. Deuteronomy 2:10/The Mountain Goats (6)
5. One Big Holiday/My Morning Jacket (6)
6. The Stars/American Music Club (9)
7. Lost Boys/Two Hours Traffic (7)
8. Effigy/Andrew Bird (9)
9. Mama's Eyes/Justin Townes Earle (5)
10. Ashes of American Flags (demo)/Wilco (16)

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Things will continue to be quiet around here for a little longer. My college semester is coming down to the end and I have three big things still to do - a research paper, an oral presentation in my Spanish class, and my Spanish final. The first two will be over by Wednesday, so things will ease a bit, though I'll still have the final to prepare for. Once that is over on Dec. 15, I will be able to relax for a few weeks. Yay!

The first blog project for that time period will be to read and review Interfictions 2, which I was generously sent thanks to David Schwartz. After that, I'll get to whatever decade and/or year-end stuff I'm going to do. I also plan on reading all of the stuff I have piled up around here.

I will, of course, be back tomorrow with a Sunday Shuffle (and one the week after), but it will be another 10 days or so until I put up a post with some content to it.