Tomorrow is going to be a big day. Updates to follow, but for now, sleep.
“Dirty Balls” appetizer was amazing, rice cheese grits and something else…
Catfish and shrimp time!
We recently watched Princess Bride. Matt hadn’t actually seen it. Inconceivable!
Like a good wine without iocane powder, it seems to get better with time.Carey Elwes – Inconceivable: Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Well, he’s certainly not wrong, it’s still as enjoyable as ever. Emily was telling me about the book, which somewhat surprisingly I’ve never read. I was looking at the Libby app to grab it from the library (not surprising, there’s a a wait list!), but in the meantime I grabbed the audio book of Inconceivable: Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Carey Elwes, read by Cary Elwes et al.
It was quite the fun couple hours. This is another prefer-the-audiobook recommendation. Carey Elwes reads most of it, but there are moments read by quite the cast of other members of the cast and crew too. There are some interesting stories behind the old favorite, and a few amazingly funny bits. The stories range from the personal to the technical, and there’s something in there for everyone.
I really want to put in a BUNCH of quotes here, and ruin all the hilarious bits, but if you’re a fan of the movie, you should absolutely listen to the book instead. It’s worth your 7 hours. (I didn’t have a problem listening at 1.25x, the reading has a lovely pace to it and so doesn’t sound distorted at the faster speed.)
I’d certainly listen to this again to re-hear a couple of the stories, but as I really have prefer the audiobook I don’t think it gets to sit on my shelf. Metaphorically though, definitely!
Libby has been great. It’s so much easier for me to justify reading a book, especially a short one, when it just shows up on my devices ready to read. And a 3-hour plane ride turns out to be an excellent time to get some reading done, and since I finished that book let’s get some reviews of what I’ve read since I last posted one of these things, as there have been a few. This is a long one, sorry about that!
All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries
One recommended book that I’d been putting off is All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries.
“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete Failure”
This novella is pretty much exactly what I love about Science Fiction. It takes an idea, doesn’t overburden you with details, and just explores the idea in a way that gives you some room to think and make your own conclusions. In short, I don’t want to be TOLD that a corporate overlord who’s a bit more concerned with being cost-effective than being safe is bad, I want to see the outcome. And this enjoyable little read did exactly that.
I’m not sure it’s one that I’d buy and put on the bookshelf, I’ll have to wait until I’ve gone through the rest of the series to know for sure, and I’d probably prefer to have an anthology edition anyway since it’s novella length, but this one is definitely worth grabbing from the library or used bookstore if you see it!
My only regret is that I only had a hold on the first book, and now must wait 3 weeks for the next book in the series. Time to hack the LibSystem’s governor protocol and download some media.
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
I couldn’t help but enjoy this, as it’s read by the soothing tones of Neil deGrasse Tyson himself. I don’t have much of a review other than to say: Does what it says on the cover.
The power and beauty of physical laws is that they apply everywhere, whether or not you choose to believe in them. In other words, after the laws of physics, everything else is opinion.
Gives a really fun and up-to-date review of Astrophysics, without delving into too much detail. I think this book could be enjoyed by anyone, even if you don’t have a lot of background in this sort of thing. Tyson does a great job of making it accessible and interesting, and gives a lot of interesting little tidbits you can use to impress your friends. If you ever wanted to be able to prove why the Star Trek Warp Drive could be a real thing, there’s a bit in here that’d do it!
This one is definitely a fun read, and I highly recommend you give it a listen just to hear the man himself nerding out about what is clearly his passion, however I’m unwilling to give it the permanent place on the bookshelf, partly because the field can change pretty rapidly and I’m not sure it’ll be accurate about a few of the concepts in a few years?
Which will be a great reason to check out the next revision and listen to it all over again!
The universe may be under no obligation to make sense to you, but Neil deGrasse Tyson sure make it fun to try!
Mister Monday – Garth Nix
I’m a big fan of the Old Kingdom (Sabriel) series by Nix, so I wanted to try something else by him. I grabbed this one off the library shelf to see what was up. Turned out to be another fun romp in a very similar style to the Old Kingdom books.
One thing I like about both series is the fun combination of pseudo-modern sensibilities with some wacky magical type situation. It’s not the Harry Potter muggles-vs-wizards thing, it’s a lot more personal. I suppose kind of like Harry discovering he’s a wizard, but without falling into a whole new world of people prepared to support him. I find that more interesting. And the magic system is definitely unique and interesting, so that grabbed my attention.
Sometimes it is easier to see the light when you stand partly in the darkness.
I did feel like perhaps Nix wasn’t quite hitting the right tone for the age of the characters. Yes, it’s YA, but I guess I expected the dialogue to feel a bit more real given what I remember of Old Kingdom.
I did enjoy it, with the usual YA caveat, and I’ll definitely add the next book in the series to my to-read list, but I don’t think that I’m willing to put it on the shelf yet.
Autonomous – Annalee Newitz
Another one brought to you by Multnomah County Library and Libby, which suggested to me a book I’d never heard of: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
“Nothing like drugs to take the edge off drug problems.”
Fantastic world building, I definitely want more! First time I’ve had that Neuromancer/Snow-Crash feeling since I read those two I think, and I’ll say right up front that I’m pretty willing to grant this one a permanent spot on my bookshelf next to those two.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, one of the things I like about this sort of SciFi is the Black Mirror method of storytelling. Just show you the world, don’t make too many judgments about good vs. bad, let the world unfold and make up your own mind. Worldbuilding is one of the things I love most, and giving me a world that just flowers with ideas and opportunities pleases me, even if the characters don’t fill it out as fully as they might.
“He was a user of his own consciousness, but he did not have owner privileges. As a result, Paladin felt many things without knowing why.”
If I have a criticism of the book, I think it’s fair to say that the dialogue and pacing could be tightened up a bit. For all the lovely catchy ideas and exploration of the world it does come off a bit like a first novel. This doesn’t bother me really, as I was sucked in by the world. I think some people might put it down halfway through, but I really did think it was worth getting through to the end.
It’s a fun action adventure which has a nice fun balance between humor and adventure, both dark and grim, and full of hope. I think it’s the kind of thing I’d be happy recommending to anyone. Give it a go!
“Paladin had nothing to say to that, so he decided to pry. “What do you do?” “I make custom penises.”
Autonomous bio-hacking protocols engaged!
Off Armageddon Reef, et al (Safehold Series) – David Weber
It had to be the greatest irony in the history of mankind, he thought. The last Christian in the entire universe was a machine.
I have, over some time, read 9 books in this series, either by actually reading, or by listening to audiobook. I have enjoyed every one of them. I wish there had only been 6 of them.
It’s a weird situation to explain. This series was a lot of fun, an interesting mix of sci-fi, politics, military action, alternate history, and educational. It tickled me in a lot of ways, and has made a great series to listen to while out walking, however I really feel like it could’ve used from a bit of editing overall, and perhaps less of a sense that the author was getting paid by the word/book. Some scenes are tight, decisive, and convey exactly what’s going on, and some tend to start feeling rather excessively long. It kept me wanting more at every moment though.
I really enjoyed the sailing portions of these books. I’ve learned what a schooner sailplan is, what a topgallant mast is, some interesting stuff about signaling and communication via flags and lights, development of naval cannons, and more! And every bit of action was incredibly gripping.
And a bunch of the politics sequences were also very gripping. But some of them just… weren’t. The pacing lurching up and down really didn’t do it for me, and I found myself skimming sections to get to the next part of the story I wanted to hear about. I really enjoyed the big-picture conceit of the series though, the quest to take down the corrupt and dogmatic Church had a very Luther’s Reformation feeling to it which I enjoyed, but it just needed to be tightened up a bit.
The very first thing that happens with any zealot is that he removes his brain just in case any thoughts that might challenge his zealotry should happen to stray into it.
It also really suffers from the classic fantasy naming problem. “Lywys Gardynyr” or “Zhaspahr Clyntahn” definitely sound more fantasy-like, but it makes it rather harder to track who’s who. This was especially jarring to my as I thought I’d figured out the pronunciation for a few of them, and then I listened to one of the books as an audiobook and found out I was wrong, which took rather a long time to re-write in my head.
It doesn’t really have a lot of twists and turns. A few very memorable gotchas which was fun, but for the most part it’s fairly formulaic.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend this except to a very specific audience. You kinda have to want it. But if you do, and you don’t mind a bit of skimming and ignoring typos, it’s really quite good. If I want to read it again though, I’d just get it from the library again, no real need to have it on the shelf.
Brisket tacos for me, and Tamale cakes with brisket for Bev. And smoked meatballs.
I’m gonna need to spend all night in the gym!
Claiming to understand why the freeways around here are built the way they are is surely a sign of madness.
I just got my first “Tornado Alert – Take Shelter” alert. That brings today’s total to Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood, AND Tornado! Did I collect the full set in my first week?
It is, in fact, raining QUITE hard now, and that thunder sounds cool. Really big thunder. And visibility just dropped from infinite to about 400 meters, in no time at all.
Nobody in this Starbucks seems worried, so I’m gonna just stick with the herd. Some guys on the covered porch outside actually came in, but I think it was because they couldn’t hear each other over the rain. I guess this is normal now. 🙂
As the classic meme says:
Update: Just got a Tornado “warning”, which is apparently a step above Alert. I appreciate that DarkSky is keeping me up to date pretty rapidly here! The good news is that the region they mentioned is 17-30 miles north, and the weather is currently moving north by northwest. My biggest problem now seems to be that i’ll never be able to get the 60 feet to my car without being absolutely drenched, even WITH my jacket. It is really coming down out there.
Update 2: Well, it seems to be over. Just like that the rain stopped. What fun. Makes 2pm in Florida seem quite tame by comparison. Sending someone out into that rain has to qualify as assault or something, there’s just a LOT of mass falling from above.
Best Sushi Restaurant server T-Shirt ever: “Come Sashimi Again”. Also best pineapple cream cheese wantons.
Didn’t get a picture of the rolls, got distracted by how delicious they looked and just ate them instead. It was worth it.
Ra Sushi was delicious. They shall definitely sashimi again.
This rental car (Nissan Altima, 200miles on it) has a USB-C port in the dash. I am excited!
It’s a low-power port. I am disappointed.
We arrived at DFW about 2pm yesterday and decided to explore a bit since we didn’t have anything planned for the rest of the day. We drove through Fort Worth, then worked our way up to Denton.
We found this great spot for dinner, Barley & Board.
Bevin was extremely pleased by shoestring fries, which she’s doesn’t really ever find in Portland. We also had a really tasty “sweet & salty & spicy” nuts appetizer.
My burger was pretty darn tasty, but I did find it interesting how much more on the “cheese sauce” side the cheese was, vs the nice Tillamook Cheddar I’m used to. Fun how even the simple things get changed up.
Across the street from Barley&Board is a used bookstore. Somewhere between Half Price Books & Powells. It’s in what seems to be an old house that has a some cool little rooms and cubbyholes and very squeaky floors. Definitely tickled my bookstore bone, plus I found a first-edition hardcover of The Starship and the Canoe by Kenneth Brower, which very much excited me.
To finish up our evening we checked out John Wick 3: Parabellum at the Alamo Drafthouse theater. Both the movie and the theater were super fun. The now much lamented Cinetopia was certainly trying to take some notes from Alamo, but as great as they were they really didn’t quite get there. We have now been spoiled utterly.
One really cool thing, is that rather than showing us shitty ads before the movie they actually had a John Wick series recap, which was really nice! It was really nice to get a reminder of some of the stuff, and it was a lot more enjoyable way to spend 20 minutes pre-movie.
Also, John Wick is as much fun as ever. Still can’t quite regain the feeling of the first movie, but definitely a lot of fun. If you’re into that sort of thing.
It’s a pleasant morning in the Southlake suburb of Dallas. 78 degrees with a nice breeze. Of course I’m sitting in a Starbucks currently to write this and get some stuff done, but in a little while here I’m back on the road to go exploring and check out some of the neighborhoods in the area. Operation “Decide where might be good and where is definitely not good” is a go! (Although we need a catchier name.)