Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is tea you?

Ahhhh tea. Leaves and flower parts steeped in boiling water. Isn't it amazing the concoctions that we come up with? Can you just imagine back in the caveman days Bob the Neanderthal trying to explain this beverage to his mate... "Come on hun, just try it. You know how good the flowers smell. Well they taste even better." I wonder how many people nowadays in this country still enjoy a good cup of tea. Am I the only one who imbibes this fragrant potion? Am I the only one who still practices the ancient art of tea making? Believe it or not I actually have 8 different varieties of tea in my house. Everything from Earl Grey to Constant Comment. I drink spearmint tea, orange tea, even green tea. Does anyone else make tea or is Arizona bottled tea the closest that anyone comes?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sin City

I don't know if it is me or just the fact that there hasn't been any good movies out lately, say in the last 6 months or so. Even with my ever tolerant wife prodding me to go see a flick every now and then, I always seem to finangle my way out of it. It isn't that I don't like going out (Yes, I am a homebody, but, I do like doing things with my wife) Its just that I can't seem to justify spending $8 on a junkie movie for myself; or $24 if the whole family goes. So I have been quitely biding my time, waiting for a good movie to come out and then I could make a movie night of it, and invite everyone. Well, that time is now! A new movie is coming out on April 1st, and not only does the movie look like it will be very good, but my wife has graciously sent me this picture, pointing out that the movie has one of my favorite stars in it in a supporting actress role. Notice the leather? I don't think I will have any excuses for not going. Time to buy the tickets now! Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Robert Anson Heinlein - the Dean of Science Fiction

Well its been fun doing this list, especially because it gives me the opportunity to wax poetic about my favorite literature. It also gives me the opportunity to extol the virtues of authors who I think are awesome, such as the author of the number 1) book on my little list. RAH was born early in the 20th century and started writing science fiction in the pulp days in the 30s and 40s. He is my all-time favorite author and I could have easily added a couple of other books of his to this list like Time Enough for Love and To Sail Beyond the Sunset and Friday for example. However, I limited myself to just two of his works, my number 3) book and this my ultimate number 1) pick (which I just started to read again for the 8th or 9th time). The Number of the Beast is one of those classic Heinlein tales that starts one way and then morphs into a completely different story halfway through. The story starts at a party on the campus of a Utah university, where the 4 heroes of the book meet and get thrown together after a failed assasination attempt at the party. The story is based on the fact that one of the characters has just invented a continua craft, a sort of combo time machine and universe hopper. The first half of the book is about how the characters interact and their discovery attempts of how the device works. Thats where the morphing comes in, turns out that in the infinite multitude of universes available to our heroes there resides every possible universe including their favorite fictional universes (in reality the author's favorites). They end up going to Barsoom, OZ, and then meeting the characters from RAH's other books, all in all a wild and wacky journey and an incredibly enjoyable tale.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

edoC icniV aD ehT

There are very few books that impact a person's life, very few books that you read and just have to say "Wow", very few books that as soon as you finish you call up friends to get them to read it so you can talk about the book with someone. Such is the book that is number 2) on my top ten list. I freely admit that I am a unique person (to put it mildly) and as such I have always moved to the beat of a different drummer. Growing up my heroes and ideals were always historical inventors or an epoch's foremost intelligentsia. I was fascinated by people whose brains made them famous throughout history, and in particular, ones who lived in two of my favorite eras, the Italian Renaissance or the American Renaissance (right before the American Revolution). Bonus points for anyone who figures out my favorite two historical figures. One of them is the subject of my number 2) favorite book, The Da Vinci Code. This book tells the tale of a murder in the Louvre in Paris that unravels a historical conspiracy revolving around Leonardo Da Vinci. It includes references to secret societies, religious cover-ups, and behind the scenes power brokers. The second book in a trilogy by author Dan Brown is an instant classic and forced me to read all his other works and has me eagerly awaiting the release of the third in the trilogy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

There is a Heinlein between genius and insanity.

Originally I had this as my number 1) book, but decided, at the last moment, to change my top three around. I do have to admit though that this book influenced me the most as I was growing up, forcing me to rethink my stance on everything from religion to sex to humor. Robert Anson Heinlein's epic book Stranger in a Strange Land comes in at number 3) in my top ten. This story works on so many different levels that it is scary. Its a fish out of water tale that starts with a group of astronauts getting stuck on Mars that is populated by Martians who have an entirely different view on life. When the Earth finally gets around to sending a rescue ship to pick up the stranded Earthlings twenty years later, all they find is the crashed ship with no survivors, or so they think until weeks later when they meet the Martians and are introduced to Michael Valentine Smith, the illegitimate son of two of the astronauts who crash landed. The main plot thread is Smith's journey back to an Earth that he has never seen only heard about. Heinlein uses this strange perspective to muse philosophically on all Earth traditions. If someone told me that Heinlein did drugs in the 60's and wrote a story, I would point to this book as being the result as it has a warped macabre sense to it. Yet, this is the book that defined the modern Heinlein, and is in fact used as the branching point from Heinlein's juvenile stories to his adult stories. Not bad for what some critics derided as an infantile wet dream.

Monday, March 21, 2005

2 4 8 16 32

Its not often that a new series by an author makes an indelible impression on me. Its even rarer for me to read a new series twice in a short span of time. Well my number 4) book(s) by Eric Flint did just that. One of my favorite subgenres in science fiction is the classic time travel series. I guess when you have a history major along with a technological/science background, time travel to bygone eras is just a natural. I have read every time travel book that I can get my hands on, everything from HG Wells' classic The Time Machine to Mark Twain's incomparable A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. I actually consider myself a jaded connoisseur of time flicks and as such a novel approach to time travel is a welcome refreshment. Flint's 1632, my number 4) book is one such treat. Based on the premise of a modern day West Virginia town and the surrounding countryside being transported back to Germany, with all the modern accutrements, in the year 1632 and being thrown in the midst of the 30 Years War makes for a spectacular read. Add in some intriguing historical characters and you have all the ingredients for an awesome book!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

I'm not dead yet...

Ok its time for my soliloquy about death. Have you ever wondered about what happens to you after you die? I know I have and so have some of the masters of science fiction. One of those masters, Phillip Jose Farmer, pops up in my list at number 5) for his seminal work, The Riverworld Series. Imagine if you will a world where everyone wakes up after dying on the banks of a huge river. Food is provided by 'grailstones' along with some luxury items. This is the setting for Farmer's epic tale. Farmer populates the world with his favorite historical figures and throws in a ringer or two with other characters that resemble fictional people. He even manages to secretly insert himself as well. I highly recommend this provocative story.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Andre Norton -- RIP

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who wrote the popular "Witch World" series, has died. She was 93. Her death was announced by friend Jean Rabe, who said Norton died Thursday of congestive heart failure at her home in Murfreesboro, a Nashville suburb. Norton requested before her death that she not have a funeral service, but instead asked to be cremated along with a copy of her first and last novels.
Born Alice Mary Norton on February 17, 1912, in Cleveland, she wrote more than 130 books in many genres during her career of nearly 70 years. She used a pen name -- which she made her legal name in 1934 -- because she expected to be writing mostly for young boys and thought a male name would help sales. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America recently created the Andre Norton Award for young adult novels, and the first award will be presented in 2006. "She was wonderful with new or younger writers," said Jane Jewell, executive director of SFWA. "On many occasions, she worked with new writers and collaborated with them on novels to help them get started." Her first novel, "The Prince Commands," is set in a mythical European kingdom and tells of a young nobleman who returns from exile to stop a communist takeover of his homeland. It was published in 1934 when Norton was 22. The "Witch World" series, which details life on an imaginary planet reachable only through hidden gateways, included more than 30 novels. She was the first woman to receive the Grand Master of Fantasy Award from the SFWA in 1977, and she won the Nebula Grand Master Award in 1984. Her last complete novel, "Three Hands of Scorpio," is set to be released in April. Norton's publisher, Tor Books, rushed to have one copy printed so that the author, who had been sick for almost a year, could see it. "She was able to hold it on Friday," Jewell said. "She took it and said, 'What a pretty cobalt blue for the cover.' " Norton spent most of her life in Cleveland, where she worked as a librarian from 1932 to 1950, except for a brief stint in the 1940s when she ran her own bookstore in Mount Ranier, Maryland, and worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Norton and her mother, Bertha Stemm Norton, who also served as her in-house proofreader and editor for decades, moved to Winter Park, Florida, in 1966 for their health. Norton moved to Tennessee in 1996 because she wanted to start a library for genre writers and didn't like the population explosion in Florida. She found a farm in rural Monterey, about 85 miles east of Nashville. But the hills of east Tennessee were too isolated for her and her assistant, Rose Wolf. A friend helped them find the house in Murfreesboro. She established The High Hallack Genre Writer's Research and Reference Library in 1999 on a quiet residential street in the town about 30 miles southeast of Nashville. High Hallack is the name of a country in "Witch World." Norton opened the library in a converted three-car garage as a retreat where authors could research ancient religions, weaponry, mythology or history that they need to bring their stories to life. The library includes biographies, diaries, histories, science books -- almost anything a writer might need to craft a realistic setting on any world in any time. Norton said detailed research matters in fiction because today's education is so inadequate that many people must get their history from novels. If an author makes historical detail interesting, a reader might be inspired to research the subject more. "It's an opening to another kind of life," she said in a 1999 interview with The Associated Press.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Amber verse, siree.

I have always wondered if everyone is as addicted to rituals as I am. I tend to do everything the same way everytime; I like the status quo. For instance, when I go to the bookstore to shop (and I go to bookstores to shop consistantly, since I am such a bookworm) I always tend to start looking for new books alphabetically at the A's. Consequentally, if you ever make it over to my house and look at my multitude of bookshelves and the plethora of books they contain you will notice that I have an abundance of books from the beginning part of the alphabet. This is because I start looking, find some good books, continue looking, find some more good books, and by the time I reach the later letters (say N-O-P) I have my arms full and hurry through the rest of the letters. I have also wondered if this might not be true of editors that read slush pile manuscripts, they are put in alphabetical order and more new authors are discovered from the beginning parts of the alphabet (if you don't believe me, look at the book listings and you will see far fewer authors with last names in the last part of the alphabet. Thankfully, sometimes I do manage to stumble through all of the stack and find authors from the later letters and that brings us to number 6) on my list by Roger Zelazny - The Amber Series. This is an awesome series dealing with the royal family of Amber, a group of people who have the ability to travel throughout the multiverse changing one detail at a time until they arrive at the primary world. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Nothing up my sleeve...

Slowly and steadily we are creeping up my book list. My number 7 book is an off genre masterpiece. A book that I found while trying to expand my mind (ok so maybe it was just at the front of a bookstore and I bought it, whatever) As you can see so far my list is a mishmash of new books and old classics. Number 7) Illusions - the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah is one of my favorite thinking book. Its about a man who flys in an airplane and meets a modern day messiah. The book is chock full of quotable quotes that can become life philosophies, like my favorite... "Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours..."

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Its not often that an author gets to write the same story twice from two different points of view, but thats exactly what author Oson Scott Card managed to do with his epic Ender stories. First of all he writes a trilogy dealing with Ender Wiggins, the child prodigy that saved the Earth from alien invasion, and then many years later he goes back and writes the same story from the viewpoint of Bean, Ender's diminutive sidekick, and surpasses the original story. This duo is my number 8). Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Just on a side note, Card has quickly become one of my favorite authors as I have read just about everything he has written and also I had the honor of meeting him in person at a book signing at the local Border's store. He was a great guy and really appeared to care about his fans. He also took the opportunity to announce the Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow movie, coming soon. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Mann of bronze!

Alright I admit it, I have an ulterior motive in posting this top ten list, it forces me to post on the blog daily. Yes, I have felt like a slacker lately, after promising myself that I would post daily when I started this, I understand now what a chore it can be. The writing is the easy part - well at least it is when I decide on what I am going to write about, so I guess this top ten thing has its positives also. When I was a younger lad, I used to get presents of books all the time (I have been reading voraciously since I was 7). I managed to collect the entire Hardy Boys series when I was young, all 57 of them. After a while it was difficult for relatives and the like to figure out books to get me, that is until I discovered number 9) Doc Savage - The Man of Bronze. I collected all 6 of the hard back books (which I still have, unlike the Hardy Boys, they got thrown away when I left for college) and continued on later by collecting the Bantam paperback reprints. Doc Savage was the ultimate thinking man's hero, the top brain in a myriad of disciplines. Along with his band of stalwart companions, each an expert in their own speciality, they were adventurers constantly ridding the world of evil everywhere.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Page at a Time

I decided to steal a page from my friend Martin's blog and do a top ten list. Ok so maybe we both borrowed it from David Letterman but what the hey. Since my passion is reading, particulary Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I decided to do a top ten of my favorite books. Well, that turned into a bust cause I couldn't decide on the criteria to use, so I gave up and decided to just do the list as the 10 books that I most wanted to re-read right after finishing reading them. Here I go starting at 10. Leo Frankowski's Cross-Time Engineer falls comfortably in at number 10. Its a good read of a modern day civil engineer who accidentally gets stranded in the middle ages in Poland right before the Mongols invade in the 1300s. A good read that got me thinking about what it would be like to take modern skills into the past. Its sort of like a modern day Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Picture, picture on the wall...

Ok just thought I would play with the photo downloading software, so how did this picture turn out? Hope the friends and family find it entertaining. I am dangerous now that I have added pictures to my blog.
Lindsey Lohan Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gardening in the Yard

Ok I have probably given the impression on here that I am the utmost uber techno geek, but alas I do have a softer side. I love to garden. Maybe its the dichotomy of it all, maybe its just my urge to get out in nature, after all I do live in a desert for gosh sakes. Whichever it is I have a little bit of greeness in my thumb. My backyard is awash in fruits and vegetables, with my salsa garden (two varieties of tomato, two varieties of pepper, and also cilantro, onion, and garlic), my experimental garden (currently housing asparagus, blackberry and raspberry, and sage and rosemary). I have a tub full of growing strawberries, a dwarf lemon tree in a container, and the rest of the orchard (three fruit trees - peach, apricot, and fig). I will probably add two more fruit trees by springtime and I am just itching to add a more exotic vegetable to the experimental garden. My wife and I have also decided to try our hand at growing roses this year and so we planted four bushes (yes Teri is out playing in the dirt also now). When you add this to all the other trees and desert plants that we have, its quite a menagerie out in the backyard. I am going for the desert oasis effect.