Thursday, April 28, 2011

Readin' Fool, Free Samples and Easter Eggs...

I finished A Storm of Swords last night, and have moved on to A Feast for Crows. I'm ripping through the series much faster than I had anticipated. In fact, just between the three Martin books alone, I've read over a million words this month! If I finish Feast by Sunday, I can tack another 300K to that total. That's a lot o' readin', eh! Are you duly impressed?

I have always held that the third book, A Storm of Swords, was the best of the first three, but over the last couple years, I'd read cases made for the other two books being better than Storm, so I was curious to see, reading them all together like I just have, if my opinion would change at all. It has not. As much as I liked the first two books, Storm of Swords is by far the best of the series. Every storyline is so engrossing, and they twist and turn, and each one -- EACH ONE -- ends on such a high note, it was a joy to read. Very well done.

It would be pointless to do reviews of Book 2 and Book 3, without getting all spoilerific.

And now I am a few chapters into Feast, and the shift is pronounced. So many new characters introduced. I have mixed feelings about it. In a way, it's almost a fresh read for me, since I've only read Feast once, when it first came out in 2005. It is just barely dancing on the edges of my recollection, so I'm curious to see how this read-through plays out. So many people online disparage the fourth book, I'm wanting to see how it stacks up, reading all four back-to-back. The fact that I barely remember it is not a good sign...

The other bummer is that July 12 is so far away! Ah, well. Good things come to those who wait...

On a related note, my latest addiction is downloading samples of books on my Kindle app. Whereas before I would just buy a book outright, I have taken to collecting samples. For example, I read that the Hugo Award nominees were announced, so I pulled up the list, loaded up my Kindle app and downloaded free samples of all of the nominees for Best Novel. When the Gemmell Awards nominees are announced, I'll do the same thing. Plus, I lurk about on many book-related websites, and when I see something intriguing, I do the same. That way, if I like what I read, I'll either buy it or plan a library trip. Much better than making a wishlist somewhere, or buying and stashing books on my shelves.

Similarly, I've taken to downloading free demos of games instead of buying them. I have as many unplayed games on my shelves as I do unread books. This new philosophy will save me money in the long run, methinks. It makes smart financial sense in these perilous and unstable times!

Nerves of steel. I would need a change of shorts after that, for sure. I don't know if that was really brave or really dumb. Or maybe he just has world-class faith.

I don't know who would make a worse President, Donald Trump or Sarah Palin... *shudder*

So, I believe my facial-hair conundrum has been solved! Apparently, there's a new facial hair trend out now called The Monkeytail, and it may just be the answer to what I should do with my beard! Take a look at this dude...

So, the beard starts at one ear, travels down the jaw line, and sling-shots around the mouth, ending in a traditional mustache... You need to check this gallery out to see some more pictures of dudes sporting this look. One guy even striped his, to make it look more like a tail... in fact, lemme grab that pic, hold on...

Yes, I know it's ridiculous. I know. And no, I'll likely not actually do it. I'm just surprised that so many guys seem to be into it, that's all. Kind of an exhibitionist thing, I guess. Well, it certainly is less extreme than mohawks, tattoos, body piercings and/or streaking...

Well, perhaps you might find this next bit more interesting. Apparently, some dude has been photoshopping the original cast of Star Trek into old time black-n-white photos, with some awesome results. Check this out...

Come on, that's cool... go here to check out a bunch of other ones, as well as other classic photo mash-ups... such as other popular stars photoshopped into still-shots from the original Star Wars movie. Marylin Monroe as Princess Leia anyone? James Dean as Han Solo perhaps?

My Eldest Daughter turned 21 on Tuesday. She's my sweetie. Among the many things she's been doing to celebrate these past couple weeks, we went out to eat at a local Outback with my mom and sister (along with the Wagner Women). It was yummy. Too bad my brother Johnny wasn't able to attend... I was the only male at the table. Ah, well, when life gives you women, make womenade, I always say...

OK, that's disgusting. Who in his right mind would post such a thing on his blog?

Oh, yeah, that's right... I would...

Well, I suppose that's all I should off-load for now. Better save some up for the next post! I have some theology brewing that is sure to test your patience! MUAHAHAHA!!!

Adios for now.

Dave the Gump

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Odds and Ends

Saturdave draws to a close and begins the slow, smooth transition into Sundave. It's been a good dave todave. Mellow. I did the final proofing of the "book" that I wrote for my Eldest for her 21st birthdave, which is on tuesdave. 21! Dang! And since I know she doesn't read my blog, I can also mention that I bought her a little heart-shaped necklace locket, and had it engraved. And a couple other small things. I wanted to buy her a car, but it can't happen in time for her birthdave... she'll have to wait a bit longer.

On a related note, I got my own car fixed up some. I got the windshield fixed (finally!) and also went all-out on a full inside-and-out wash/wax/detail. Ugh, I hate that "new car smell" however... plus, whatever they use to treat the dash and vinyl (armor-all or some such) irritates my skin, which is sad.

But, hey, that's a small price to pay for a sparkling new-looking car, eh! Besides, now I can take wifey out on our weekly date to On The Border for Taco Tuesday in style. Hey, it's old, it's dented, and usually dirty, but it's paid off, it's reliable, and it's mine!

My car, I mean... not my wifey.

Look out below!

So I wasted no time devouring A Clash of Kings, and now have moved swiftly onto A Storm of Swords. I know I hype up GRRM for his masterful writing skills, but I was thinking today... I was trying to remember my very first read-through, and how it may differ from these subsequent read-throughs... when it was fresh and unfolding for the first time, there were so many stunning moments and unexpected bomb-shells that I missed a lot of the detail and the foreshadowing that I'm discovering this time through, which makes it fun again, rather than dull. It's really cool to see how he alludes to things in Book One that don't come to pass until Book Two or Three... or have yet to come to pass. It's fun to reverse-engineer the narrative, and try to get a good look at how GRRM crafted the story itself (as opposed to letting the story itself pull me along). I know the story well now... what remains is figuring out how he built it, and pulled it off so wonderfully.

Of course, I'd still take an editing pen to some of the "adult" content, but again, that's just the prudish facet of me speaking.

It's interesting, how multi-faceted people can be!

Take Russell Brand, for instance. Now, I have not been a fan of his in the least, not just the content of his stand-up material, but for his over-all arrogance and style (at least, that's how he presents himself (or rather, is often presented) in the media). If you don't know who he is, it's not important. My point is, I am not a fan of his. HOWEVER, I saw a 15 minute segment of an interview of him done by the BBC (and posted on Boing Boing) that pretty-nigh blew me away. He is incredibly erudite and fluid of speech, extremely quick of mind, with barely a stumble or stammer anywhere. He talks about the pitfalls of celebrity, and actually, he was very fascinating to watch.

I am going to post it here. Perhaps you will likewise be impressed.

Granted, that doesn't mean I will find his public persona or stand-up any more palatable, but I found this "facet" of him to be very impressive. I wonder if that's a natural gift, or a result of overmuch schooling? Or drugs?

Easter is upon us. Easter Sunday will find us (the fam and I) at church in the morning (as is our custom) and then up to my dear, sweet, wonderful, beautiful, generous, inspiring mother's house for an afternoon/evening of great food, laughs, and (no doubt) plenty of vacuous television entertainment. I'm sure there will be an iCarly marathon or the collected works of Sir Nicholas Cage on the tele, in direct contradistinction to the intended focus of the holiday.

I had three amazing comments left on the last blog post I made. Thank you Logan, Beth and Lisa.

I've been working on my own novel regularly of late. So fear not, Abbie! Your adventure lives! But I have forsaken my Vista writer's group in favor of the much closer (and gas tank-friendly) Panera location here at the mall by my house.

A very cool HotWheels Billboard.

There's a family trip to Albuquerque in the works. The last couple trips have been the Wagner Women only... not sure if I will accompany them this time or stay home again. I have mixed feelings about it, as usual. There are good reasons to go, and good reasons to stay. One thing is for sure... if I stay home, there will be a LAN partay at my house! Because my motto is, "let us sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play"! Or rather, "...remain seated for several hours and play".

By the way, for Logan and others that have read The Song of Ice and Fire series, and plan on reading A Dance With Dragons in July, but DO NOT want to undertake to re-read the series in preparation (like me, eh!), you can go to a cool website called The Tower of the Hand and read thorough chapter reviews of every chapter in the existing four books thus far. Apparently, it's a well-done refresher course that will reinvigorate your brains and remind you of all that went before.

Lots of other little things going on, but I shall spare you the mundane details at this point. If any of those items blossom into something intriguing, I shall include them in my next post.

Oh, by the way, Rebecca wrote a brilliant post recently which you really should read when you get a chance. HERE is the link.

Adios for now.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Midlife Ramblings Ahead! Steel Thyself!

Sorry. I'm a sucker for waterside shots with cool gradients and that wispy foggy water effect... how moody, eh!? Eh!?


Don't read the next sentence if you don't want advance information on how my life is going to turn out. You have been warned!

I'm going to live happily ever after.


OK, it's safe to keep reading now, spoiler free.

What have I to share today? Well, the same old stuff. Life is awesome. Life sucks. I feel terrific. I feel yucky. Everything is wonderful. What else can go wrong? Life is full of wonder and joy. Life is full of pain and sorrow.

But, I had a fish taco for dinner tonight! So, I have that going for me. Which is nice.

My sister Lisa lamented the fact that my 500th post was wind-free. So to make up for that lack, I shall now post a Jack Vale video, called LISTEN!

Man, I wish I had the nerve to do that. Jack is awesome.

And now, Midlife Rambling, by Dave Wagner

So, I've got that angsty tight feeling in my bones again... like I'm wearing a jacket that's too tight for me, and I just want to rip it off and fling it away. I want to travel. I want to break out of my routine. I want to DO SOMETHING. I feel like if I kicked the bucket, nobody would say anything about me other than, "Yeah, Dave was a funny guy. And he farted a lot. Yeah... ok, so who wants to talk next?" Is that really the legacy I want to leave? I'm sick of looking at pictures and video of the world, and the people, and the things out there to do and see, while I sit on my duff in my office, content to play games, drink Starbucks, and threaten to write. Gah, I hate that feeling, like I'm frittering away my life doing next-to-nothing! GAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Eldest Daughter turns 21 in exactly one week. Middle Daughter turns 16 in July. They're both so wonderful and smart and beautiful. All my kids are treasures to me, priceless without limit. Sometimes I get all panicky, thinking maybe I haven't been the best dad for them. The type of dad they needed. I always figured, just being here was a big step in the right direction. That the rest would take care of itself. Maybe it has, maybe not, who knows?

I have this Windows 7 theme I downloaded, that cycles through a bunch of nice landscapey pictures of Ireland. There are some beautiful places in the world. Of course, San Diego is beautiful. I don't normally "see" that. I've grown up here, so usually, it doesn't register anymore. Maybe somewhere, someone has a Win7 theme that cycles pictures of San Diego, and they daydream about coming here. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side (of the world), eh? Well, when it comes to green, I think it would be hard to beat Ireland. I've actually been there before - went in March of 2001, actually. My mind was otherwise occupied while we were there, so don't recall much of the scenery. Of course, the Shankill district of Belfast isn't exactly the most picturesque part of Ireland...

I'd love to go back. And actually see the place this time. I mean, really "see" it...

I know in my head that the very height of "living" is to be able to hear God, find out exactly what He'd like me to do right now, and do it... I've been a believer in that for a decade or longer now. Why I don't actually do it is a mystery to me still. Fear, I suppose. Fear of the unknown. Fear of hearing wrong and doing something foolish (or dangerous). Fear of starting down a path where mistakes can have eternal consequences (it's safer not to start at all then to start and fail big). I know (again, in my head) that that's merely a complete lack of trust talking. God wouldn't let me fall if I pursued that type of life... but I cling to what I know, even though it is lacking. Even though the fruit of it is an often-overwhelming angsty feeling, like wearing a jacket that is too tight for me, that I just want to rip off and fling away...

Logan started a Theology blog called Ruminating About Scripture, if that sort of thing intrigues you.

Do I feel hypocritical waxing theologic while simultaneously joking about passing wind, and posting/writing silly, vacuous things? While recommending and praising books that have profane elements? Complaining about life when, all things considered, everything is wonderful? Well, yeah, I do. I have ways of justifying it to myself, but really, it's just the result of compromise. A legacy of compromise. Is that really what I want?

Well, there's only one thing to do! Deflect the issue by posting something irreverent!

Well, once again, I started a blog post with a blank window, and had no clue what I would post. It is a method that regularly yields inconsistent results. I suppose time will tell where this post rates on the Palatability Scale.

Adios for now.

Dave the Listless

Friday, April 15, 2011

My 500th Post. Oh, the Humanity!

Greetings, y'all! And welcome to my 500th post! Woohoo! Never before in the history of blogging has someone made 500 posts with so little substance contained therein! I am a Master of Hot Air! A Rambling Literary Bindlestiff! A Jack of No Trades, Master of None! I should rename my blog The Empty Set!

But today is a day of celebration. A toast to my 500th post!

Hooray! OK, before I get to all of your gifts and cards (with money in them, I assume), I'll first break out the celebration cake. Hold on, let me get it from the living room...

Ahh... whoever said "the cake is a lie" was wrong. (That reminds me, Portal 2 comes out soon...)

And now, for ice cream... I can't decide which one to serve. Help me decide...

Would you choose the Vanilla Bacon flavor...

...or the Fish flavor (imported from Japan, of course)...?

After cake and ice cream, we'll get a raucous game of Back-alley Scrabble going... I remember the last time we played... it got ugly...

Some bad blood after that one. The bulldog on the left made an illegal play (proper noun), and it went downhill from there. Ah, well, comes with the territory, I guess...

Since this is such a historic event, I might as well hop in the Wayback Machine and bust out a little This Dayve in History for April 15...

This Dayve in History: April 15
- 1452: Leonardo da Vinci is born. (Paint misbehavin'...)
- 1783: Articles of Peace are ratified, ending the American Revolutionary War. (Up to then, it just went round and round...)
- 1817: The American School for the Deaf is founded in Hartford CT. (or so I heard...)
- 1865: Abraham Lincoln dies after being shot the night before. (Worst. Play. Ever.)
- 1912: The Titanic sinks after hitting an iceberg the night before. (Worst. Play. Ever.)
- 1947: Jackie Robinson debuts for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Biggest. Pair. Ever.)
- 1955: The birth of the McDonald's franchise. ("Do you want franchise with that?")
- 2010: Ash from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull shuts down airspace over Europe. (Yep, a red line under that name...)

I bet you were wondering if I'd post any videos today, weren't you? See, I was right, you were wondering that! That just goes to show you how well I know you. We're such close friends, I know you like *that* (Dave crosses fingers). OK, here's a couple cool videos for you.

First, you have to PROMISE me something! With this juggling video, you have to promise me you will mute the music. For some reason, the guy put a rap song as the soundtrack, and it has bad words in it. Normally I would not post such a thing (not to mention the dude only wears a ridiculous pair of pink shorts the whole time), but I've never seen juggling like this, it is so good. You have to see it. Or not, you decide... remember: mute the music!

EDIT: After contemplation, I took down the video. If you want to see it, go here. It's amazing juggling, but ultimately, the negatives outweigh the positives, so out it goes./EDIT

 I have an amazing (to me) skateboard video to show you... ah, but it's a double-edged sword...

You see, unless you were very familiar with skateboarding to begin with, you'll likely have no idea just how creative and unique 90% of those tricks are that Richie Jackson does in that video. I mean, nobody does those tricks. To the unfamiliar, I'm sure the tricks were cool enough, but nothing special. But can I be so bold as to say "trust me, that clip is extra awesome"? The guy just looks at skating from such a crazy angle...

OK, I don't know if those videos did anything for you, but this last one will connect, I'm sure. You have to see this... the scene is the 2008 Big 10 track and field championships, and the event is the 600m. The girl in the lead trips and facplants after two laps (with one lap to go), gets up, and proceeds to catch up and pass the field and still win the race. You won't believe this...

OK, that's enough videos for today. Hey, don't get greedy! You'll just have to wait for more. It's Biblical: Deny Yourself...

So, after having finished A Game of Thrones, I naturally moved right into A Clash of Kings. I'll likely write a review of that one as well, for the vast legion of you out there that are interested in such things! (Hey, Logan, I called you a 'vast legion'!) I've kind of lost interest, sadly, in Val Gunn's book In the Shadow of Swords and in KJ Parker's book The Hammer. They have been sidelined indefinitely - I'm sure I'll pick them up again after I make my circuit through the Song of Ice and Fire. At the rate I'm going, that should be in another three weeks or so. Martin is such fun to read. Of course, there remains the few scenes I would have edited out, but hey, I'm kind of prudish like that.

I was thinking about it today - the world that Martin has created is so bleak and hard, I think it makes those moments when good things actually happen feel like a victory. Perhaps that was a conscious choice on his part, as a writer. If everything went well all the time (or at least always resolved itself well), then maybe the story would lack the power that it has. Does that make sense? Well, it makes sense in my head! Tragedy follows difficulty, bad goes to worse, then something awesome happens and it feels amazing... like you, as a reader, have worked hard to earn that small burst of awesome.

And now, in honor of it being Tax Day and all, I decided to illustrate my story using the Rage Comic Builder over at Memebase. Yeah, I know, I doubt any of you follow the latest internet memes, so most of the "in" humor of this will be for naught, but I did it anyway! Because I love you!

And on that note, my 500th post comes to a conclusion. If you read this post to the end, you have my thanks. If you watched all three videos, you have still more of my thanks. If you've read my blog for a long time, you have even more of my thanks. And if you've read it from the very beginning, then your name is either Havah or "Mom". And for that... you have my thanks.

Man, I am just doling out thanks all over the place today!

Adios for now.

Dave 500, out.

------------------- EDIT -----------------

PS Since I pulled the plug on the Juggler clip, I felt I should replace it with another... watch this one full-screen, HD. You'll thanks me..


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Game of Thrones, By George RR Martin: A Review

I shall now attempt something that is both impossible and, by now, redundant. I do it for the sheer joy of the challenge of it. I shall write a review of A Game of Thrones, first published in 1996, and lauded, praised, analyzed, debated, and otherwise sifted ever since. Great... like the world needs another review of it! Nevertheless, I shall persevere, though I'm sure most of you have read the book by now...

A Game of Thrones, by George R R Martin: A Review
 Westeros is a troubled land. A sprawling continent, littered with Houses and Clans and centuries-old strongholds, with a rich history. The land used to be divided into 7 kingdoms, with 7 kings, but 300 years earlier, the realm was united by Aegon the Conqueror, of House Targaryen, a family known for their dragons, their unique look (silver hair, purple eye color), and their madness.

But Targaryen rule was finally put to an end by a headstrong, passionate man named Robert of House Baratheon, who killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in a famous battle at the south fork of the Trident River, while back in the capital city of King's Landing, the mad King Aerys was killed by a member of his own personal guard, Jaime Lannister.

Confused yet? Well, take heart - this is just the barest tip of the iceberg when it comes to the mammoth, incredibly diverse, and - most importantly - eminently memorable cast of characters that flesh out George Martin's epic fantasy tale, which is labeled The Song of Ice and Fire. It is perhaps the best modern fantasy series to be penned - and definitely the best I've read.

King Robert is not a very good king. The tenuous unity in Westeros teeters on the brink of dissolution, as Robert  drinks and whores and hunts and plunges the realm deeper and deeper into debt. When his chief advisor dies, King Robert strikes out north to visit his old friend Eddard of House Stark, who fought side by side with Robert back when he won the throne. The King intends to ask Eddard to travel back south with him, and be his new chief advisor. But Eddard is of the frozen North, and the sweltering snakes' nest of King's Landing down south holds no appeal for him. Yet Eddard is also a man of honor, and honor compels him to accept the King's offer, fracturing his family in the process.

A Game of Thrones is primarily a story of what happens to Eddard and the Stark Household as a result of his decision to go south with the King.

I say "primarily", because, really, while the Stark's are major players in this book, there are literally dozens of other characters you will meet before the book ends. In fact, perhaps a dozen dozen. Normally, when a book introduces more than a handful of characters, I quickly become overwhelmed and lose interest, finding it hard to keep straight whom is who (or is it "who is whom"?). The secret of how GRRM can make so many characters so memorable has been a source of unending observation for me in this, my fourth read-through of this title. I aspire to write a rather complex fantasy tale myself, peopled with many characters, and I would dearly love to know GRRM's secret...

It's not just the stability of the kingdoms of Westeros that is at issue in this series. Far to the north of Westeros is The Wall. It marks the end of civilization. It is a wall of ice and stone some 700 feet tall and traveling coast to coast, built centuries ago using magic long forgotten, and is manned by the Night's Watch. There are things beyond The Wall that require a constant vigil - especially when winter comes. The winters in Westeros are often years long, and bring with it ancient horrors that would gladly spread south if the Wall were to be breached. Ancient horrors that most of the realm believes to be fairy tales, but that the Night's Watch are learning to be far too real.

And across the Narrow Sea are the Free Cities, with many other races and peoples and magics. It was to the Free Cities that the last of the Targaryen family fled when Robert Baratheon took the throne. It was his mission to hunt down and kill every last Targaryen, yet two children had slipped through his fingers: Viserys and Daenerys Stormborn. Viserys has designs on returning to Westeros to reclaim the throne that was stolen from his family, and he will stop at nothing. But his madness is his greatest weakness.

The cast is as fascinating as it is vast. The dialog is wonderful, the world alive, the action relentless, and the author merciless. I have never read an author who so willingly sacrifices characters, both loved and reviled. As a reader, you learn early on not to grow too attached to anyone, yet you cannot help it. There will be characters you hate, and characters you love, and examples of each that will evolve and morph until you feel the opposite about them. Every shade of "good and evil" is represented, with very few pure examples of either extreme. Everyone is a mix. Everyone is a blend. Every combination of good, evil, smart, dumb, brave, cowardly, inconstant... there are no archetypes, only people.

I cannot get into specifics of the story itself without launching into a full-scale, fully detailed summary, which would be boring. In the interest of brevity, let me say this: I highly recommend this book. If you love it like I do, then reading the next several volumes will be a no brainer. If you are put off by the occasional salty language, the occasional adult situation, and the over-abundance of violence, then the series won't be for you.

Summary: 5/5 if I could rate it higher than a 5/5, I would. Masterful writing. An incredible tale, an alive world, a memorable cast of dozens (and dozens)... in short, a gritty, fascinating, page-turning literary accomplishment. The series is projected for 8 books, with book 5 on sale soon. I sincerely hope to see the ultimate completion of the series. I guarantee this one will stand the test of time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fourth Time's a Charm!

Ah, my melancholy is upon me!

Another week trickles to a close, and a new one threatens to break upon us, like wind most foul... ok, that was uncalled-for, you have my apologies.

So, I've been reading - are you surprised? I'm about 60% through my latest re-read of A Game of Thrones. I am literally savoring every line this time through. I find I can learn much about writing, not just by reading it, but by *reading* it. There must be something special about the tale and the author for me to invest myself in it for a fourth time like this. I can't think of another book I've even read thrice, much less a fourth. I can think of several that I've read a second time, but not three...

It's so odd... I find myself actually hoping that the story will turn out differently this time. I've read it thrice before, as I said, and I know the story, inside and out... and yet, I keep hoping Character A will live, that King B will survive, and Character C will be stopped, and that other, better choices will be made by characters that I feel like I know. How wonderful it must be, to be able to craft characters that a reader feels he actually knows. I can't think of another tale that has the same effect. Even memorable characters crafted by Pat Rothfuss (Name of the Wind), Joe Abercrombie (First Law series) and Steven Pressfield (Gates of Fire), by all rights three of my favorite authors, don't connect with me like GRRM's vast and amazing cast.

If you haven't read this series, you really must. I adjure thee!

So, even though I know the story, I long for a happier resolution. I know the road that stretches out before me, another 3,000 pages and more, with volume 5 approaching, and I both dread the trip and look forward to it deeply. It has drenched me in melancholy, and inspired me to write, and stoked my sense of adventure. I wish I could write like Martin.

So, the new website for the rug shop is up and running. It still warrants polishing and fine-tuning, but it lives nonetheless. CLICK HERE to get a look. Even if rugs don't interest you, maybe take a quick peek and nose around... took a lot of work on the part of several people to get it to its current state, and more to come. Opinions appreciated.

This is my 498th post since I started this blog. I'll have to try and think up something fun for post 500. Of course, I'll expect you all to chip in and buy me a very nice, shiny, sparkly gift, as befits such a momentous occasion. Perhaps a new reading chair?

Quite cool, if I don't say so m'self... though those slots look awfully slim. Not sure they could accommodate some of the books I own, which are, to say the least, mammoth. It's funny - I look at The Way of Kings (B Sanderson) sitting on my shelf, still waiting for me to read, and it is so huge, I always pass it by. I want to read it, and I know it will be good... but the sheer size of it intimidates me. Yet A Wise Man's Fear (Rothfuss) was actually comparable in size (possibly even bigger), but I had no problems reading that one, since it was a digital edition.

I get the same sense of intimidation over the volumes of Tom Clancy I have on the shelf as well. I read many of Clancy's books as a lad. Several years ago, I discovered I could buy used copies of many of his hard-backs for one penny (plus $4 shipping), so I bought many of the Clancy books I remember loving. Yet looking at them, I am loathe to start reading them. I don't want to lug big books around anymore, when I can simply buy books for my iPad, and carry a library around with me anywhere I go!

I guess I'm getting lazy in my old age.

I cannot imagine the hours of wasted footage that went into the making of this video, but I enjoy it anyway.

I have little more to add today. If you aren't following Rebecca's blog, I suggest checking it out. She's blogging every day this month (save Sunday's), for an A-to Z blogging challenge. Good stuff.

Adios eh!

Dave the Melancholy, out!

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Can Tackle Anything! Bring It On!

Yes, I realize it's Spring, and so the snow pictures should go away until next November or so... but I like this pic, and I had to use it. Kudos to James Kazan, the photographer who snapped it. Reminds me of Winterfell for some reason. Besides, I like the name "Stone"... I have a character in my novel named Stone. Shannon shoots him in the head with an arrow... poor Stone...

Well, the good news is, I finished all of my latest projects tonight, so a great weight is off my shoulders, woot! Now I can fart around even more than I normally do. Actually, I've got a buncha stuff done lately, so I'm feeling pretty good about m'self, and my confidence level's pretty high... I can tackle anything! Bring it on!

What? The Mount Huashan hiking trail? Widely considered to be the most dangerous hike in the world?

Umm.. well, no, I don't think I can tackle that. I mean, my confidence is pretty high, but not THAT high... but I can tackle anything else! Go on, try me!

The Extreme 19th hole at the Legend Golf Resort at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in South Africa? The one with the tee box you have to take a helicopter to, that's a half a kilometer above the green?

Uh, no... no, I don't think I can tackle that either... I'm afraid of heights, and my golf swing is woefully ungood at the moment. What else have you got?

An urban street race on a mountain bike down the steep streets of a Chilean hamlet? Hmm... maybe not. It doesn't look quite as difficult as the decent through the Dona Marta slum in Brazil, but still, a bit out of my comfort zone.

What else?

Ah, a trip down the sommerrodelbahn dry toboggan run in the quaint Austrian village of Pettneu! OK, cool, that I can handle... maybe. I mean, going fast kind of freaks me out, too... maybe something a little less heart attack-inducing. You know, something more mellow, that would be more appropriate for someone of my advanced age of 40. Something that is mildly challenging, that I could embrace without much risk to my person or my sanity...

Hmm.. a nap on a park bench? OK, cool, it's a go! This I can do!

See you in a few hours.

And stay off my lawn!


Sunday, April 3, 2011


"I tell ya, this isn't going like I'd hoped it would."

The blond man had taken his jacket off, draped it over a chair in the corner of the dim room, and was rolling up one of the sleeves on his blue button-up shirt. Dave sat nervously on a stool in the center of the room, under the room's only light; a bare bulb hanging spider-like from a frayed cord. Tearing his gaze away from the blond guy, Dave glanced anxiously back over his shoulder, at the big bald man by the door, arms crossed, brow furrowed.

"That makes two of us," Dave said, turning back, forcing a smirk he didn't feel. The smirk dissolved as he watched the blond man's face harden.

"Now. There will be questions. Followed immediately by answers." The blond man finished cuffing his sleeves, and stepped forward in front of Dave. "Simple, straight-forward answers. Or there will be problems." He suddenly kicked the stool over, sending Dave toppling to the floor. With his hands tied behind him, Dave could not prevent taking the fall on his face.

"Get up," the bald guard grabbed Dave, set the stool upright, and plopped Dave onto it again.

Dave caught his breath, sat up as straight as he could manage, and asked, "OK, fine. What do you want to know?"

The blond man pulled something out of his back pocket. It was a picture, Dave saw. He held it up so Dave could get a good look.

"Well, for starters, in your latest blog post, you posted this."

Dave gulped, and began to sweat. "Y-yes. I did."

"WHAT IS IT!?" the blond man screamed into Dave's face.

"I-i-it's a Spoctapus," Dave managed to squeak out.


"S-s-s-... spoctapus."

"A spoctapus, is it?" Blondie glanced up at his bald cohort and nodded.

There was a sharp pain to the skin on the back of Dave's neck, accompanied by a loud snap. Dave squealed like a schoolgirl. Baldy walked around, holding up a rubber band for Dave to see, chuckling. It was stretched between his thumb and forefinger. He plucked at it again, threateningly.

Blondie grabbed Dave's face by the chin, moving it front and center again, and screamed into it. "A spoctapus is NOT FUNNY!" He let go of Dave's face and turned away, pacing. "Your blog used to be amusing. It was entertaining! You used to have many daily visitors. The comments flowed like wine. All was good." He spun around and pointed the picture at Dave again. "But now it's come to this! THIS!" He tore the picture up in quarters and threw it to the floor with disgust. "No wonder your blog is a ghost town."

Dave looked at the floor, fighting the urge to sob, his neck still stinging from the rubber band. Before he could speak, Blondie paced forward again.

"And I suppose you thought THIS was amusing, too, eh, funny guy!?" He held another picture up for Dave to see.

"What is that!?" Blondie screamed, spittle hitting Dave in the face.

"It's a pie Venn diagram..."

"What is it doing on YOUR BLOG!" Blondie flicked Dave on the forehead. "Explain yourself!"

"It... it's just a b-bit of culinary m-math humor." Dave said, trembling.

"Culinary math humor!? Are you out of your MIND!?" Blondie strode around behind Dave, grabbed the back of Dave's underpants and yanked up hard. Dave cried out again. Blondie reappeared in front of him. "You think anyone else finds your culinary math humor funny?!"


"And what about this! How do you explain this video you posted!?"

Blondie nodded to Baldy, who grabbed Dave's head from behind, immobilizing him. Blondie produced a pair of tweezers from some hidden pocket, carefully reached into Dave's nose, grabbed a single nosehair while Dave suppressed a scream. "I better like your answer!" Blondie shouted as he yanked out the nosehair.

"Stop! Pleeease!" Dave pled, trying to rub his nose on his shoulder to allay the sting. "I just liked the video and wanted to share it! I thought it was clever!"

"Oh, you thought it was clever, did you? CLEVER!?" Blondie held a knuckle up for Dave to see, then drove it with some force into Dave's thigh, giving him a dead leg. Dave wept and would have crumbled to the floor, but Baldy held him in place. "You really think 'clever' is going to win you any new fans? Or win back any of the former fans that have abandoned you? Hmm?!"

"No... no, it won't," Dave sobbed.

"Look at me!" Blondie yelled. Dave looked up through his tears. "You know what you need to do." There was a pause as Dave nodded. "SAY IT!" Blondie bellowed.

"I... I need to... I..."

"You need to stop posting garbage, like this!" Blondie whipped out another picture, flashing it at Dave.

"Are you kidding me! A 'happy fridge'!" Baldy locked Dave's head in place again, as Blondie took the picture and gave Dave a papercut with it, right where Dave's earlobe met the side of his head.

"A HAPPY FRIDGE!" Blondie was beside himself, eyes bulging, veins popping out on his forehead. "Here's what you need to do. For starters, I NEVER want to see another happy appliance of ANY KIND on your blog AGAIN! Do you understand me!"

Dave nodded pathetically, tears streaming down his face.

"And you had the unmitigated NERVE to post this lump of video absurdity in your latest post as well?"

"And on top of it all, it was a re-post! You've used that same sorry video clip before! That is INEXCUSABLE!" Blondie pulled a little glass jar out of another pocket. Inside the glass jar was a slug. Dave shuddered, and begged with his eyes. "Do I need to put this slug on your bare arm? DO I!?!?!"

Dave wept and vigorously shook his head in the negative, too scared to speak.

"Then listen, and listen GOOD!" Blondie continued. "No more fart videos. No more Tsunami videos. No more reports on what you're reading lately -- how BORING is that! Nobody cares about the books you're reading, or the games you're playing, or your theological conundrums and musings! I tell ya, the only good thing your blog does anymore is put people to sleep! Great! You've cured insomnia!"

He glanced up at Baldy. "Stand him up."

Baldy grabbed Dave, kicked the stool away and stood Dave on his feet in front of Blondie. Dave fought to retain control of his bladder.

"You have officially run out of chances. This is your only remaining shot. You will find fun, funny and interesting things to post on your blog from here on out. No more tired, insipid, rehashed offal. There's enough of that online without you adding your heaping spoonfuls. And you will visit other random blogs, and leave comments and follow people. Then they will feel obligated to check your blog out in return, and perhaps you will find some readers again."

Blondy smoothed the front of Dave's shirt, and patted his shoulder, smiling at him with surprisingly authentic-looking reassurance. Dave almost started to relax a bit. "Your next lame blog update will be your last." Blondie licked his fingertip and stuck it in Dave's ear. Dave got a serious case of the willies.

"Be good. We're watching."

Blondie and Baldy left.