Saturday, August 30, 2008

Playing for Keeps

I read Playing for Keeps by Mur lafferty, which you can download for free at her website. It's a funny take on people who aren't quite super enough to be super heroes, but somehow that doesn't stop them from saving the day. There are some great lines in there, but I won't spoil the fun. Go read it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don't Doubt

There's a little book that I've had for years called Don't Worry Make Money, that I've read several times. It's a whole bunch of small one or two page points to help you succeed. It's stated focus is on helping you make more money, but I often find it helps in other parts of my life as well.

Just this morning I picked it up and it opened to a page about doubt. It was one of those, "Man, I really needed to read this right now!" moments.

I've been doubting my talent and self-worth lately, due to my on going phobia of stagnation, and this little bit of advice was just what I needed.

Basically, it compares your real life to your dreams. It talks about how we never doubt our abilities in our dreams, if we're flying in our dreams, we never doubt that we can, and if we are strong, or rich, or intelligent, we never doubt it. So it asks why we doubt our abilities in the real world?

Doubting your abilities serves no good purpose, and merely holds us back.

So, Ive decided to not doubt, and just do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lady of Mazes

I finished Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder yesterday. It's one of those books that starts off confusing with no explanation to make it less confusing, and then you think you get a grasp on what it's all about in the middle, and then the ending leaves you confused again.

Do authors write like this because they think it lends some sort of mystery to their story, or are they so out of touch with their own story even they don't know what's going on?

Either way I'm going to think really hard before reading any more books by this author.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Spook Country

Just finished Spook Country by William Gibson. He's one of my favorite authors but the way he writes is so full and different, that my brain has to be unscrambled after reading one of his books.

Spook country is set in present day, and technically isn't science fiction, but there is plenty of gadgetry and new ideas that the science fiction buff won't mind.

William Gibson likes to weave together different story lines that don't make sense on their own unless you also read the story lines of other characters, but with Spook Country he takes this to the extreme and you don't really know what the book is about until the last chapter. And then you realize that the name of the book gave it away, and you want to smack yourself on the forehead for not figuring it out sooner. But this doesn't make it boring or less enjoyable since the way he puts sentences together is like savoring dollops of cool.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Breaking Dawn

I finished Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer which I think was the best book of the series. But that's probably because I'm a man.

All the females I know who are reading it don't seem to like it. (And some are finding it hard to finish.) My mom likened it to Lord of the Rings as in that it became more of an adventure story and less of a romance story. And I think she's right.

Edward who is the heart throb, takes a backseat as Bella becomes more than human. And since most females were reading the story for the fantasy of falling in love with Edward, it's understandable that they would lose interest. But as a man it makes me not so ashamed of mentioning that I read it. (Of course this is all in my head since I don't know why I would feel ashamed. Okay, it's the romance thing... Geesh!)

Also, like the rest of the series it has some flaws. The biggest one is turning Bella into a Mary Sue. I would have liked it if after Bella became a vampire some sort of fault or something from her human life would have carried over. At least she could have felt fear at trying to drive fast, or had some sort of problem wrapping her head around her new life, or even had a clumsy moment.

And it would have been cool to have her get her motorcycle back. A vampiress on a bike would've been awesome! You missed an opportunity on that one Mrs. Meyer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I just read a really cool story called Clockwork Chickadee by Mary Robinette Kowal, and I realized something about myself.

I'm human-centric.

Everything I write about, draw, or paint is on a human level. My characters are human. Their problems are human. I paint humans. I draw humans. And even if there isn't a human in it, everything is still based on a human artifact.

I wonder if it is a good or bad thing. I wonder if it means my imagination is limited. I wonder if there's something that I'm missing.

And I read stories like this and wish I had written something as cool. And wonder if I will ever have a view point like hers.

Does anyone else ever encounter people with different ways of seeing things and just wish you could share that same vision?


I posted both videos below over 2 weeks ago. And they finally show up now. Youtube's posting feature was either broken or just sucks. But I'm glad the videos showed up finally.

The Andriods Dream

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. Let's just say the Earth's fate depends on a blue sheep, and I won't ruin the first chapter for you, but it's even weirder.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Dan Dos Santos Warbreaker Cover Illustration

Dan Dos Santos paints like a madman. Watching this almost makes me want to stop writing and start painting again. Almost.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On Combat

I finished reading On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman on 8/14 but forgot to add it to the list so I'm backtracking this post.

It's a freaking awesome book and changed the way I view how people react to stress and the way it is portrayed in film, TV and fiction.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Producing Vs. Learning

As an artist, writer, reader, and a human being who is desirous of becoming more, there is a terrible quandary like an ache in your chest, a shortness of breath, and a fit of panic that steals upon you. You have this need to produce, to say something that will mean something, to change people's thinking, and their lives, but all the while wishing to read or experience those things that will do the same for you.

You can be in the middle of some project, and someone will mention Edger A. Poe, and suddenly you wish you were reading, and have finished stories of his that you haven't. You will hear someone talk about a visionary artist, and want to run like a madman searching for the images to fill the secret gallery of your mind.

You find yourself wanting to know and learn and see so much, that fear makes visible the velocity of time. The very whiff of the juggernaut, makes you want to ignore sleep, food, and imagine building misters of salt water for your eyes so that blinking isn't a wasted moment. Time, the roiling darkness of it, is more dreadful than the heart of any darkness ever conceived.

But then you want to communicate all that you know and learned and have furthered. And you want to shout "Eureka!" like Archimedes at those bursts of inspiration and imagine your hands blurring like those of Data trying to save his daughter on Star Trek, to get it all down before it flits away like a fairy in an impossibly dense forest of thought.

And you realize, there is nothing you can do. Even if you focused solely on one pursuit, you will never get to the end. There will always be more. So you tell yourself, what I know right now is enough for what I need to do right now. But after this. Ah! Then, Mr. Poe, we have a date.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Storm Front: A Dresden Files book

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)by Jim Butcher, is not usually the type of thing I read. I have something similar to a vampire's aversion of garlic about reading commercial/popular fiction. There's just something about the hype that turns me off. Also, I watched the first episode of the (thankfully) short lived SciFi Channel series, and couldn't believe the hackneyed story and characters. So together I really had no desire to read this book.

But I was given a copy by my brother, who used to read very little but recently is reading like an obsessive magical scorpion, (and I didn't have another novel at the time to read) so I dove right in. My first impression is that the writers for the TV series took the name, and that Harry's a wizard, from the book and not much else. My second impression was that it wasn't so awful to close and not finish it.

For those who don't know, Harry Dresden is an openly wizardly wizard, which makes other wizards nervous. He advertises to help people find things, or help with unusual disturbances, and also works as a consultant for the Chicago Police on "strange" cases. In this book he's hired to help the police understand why someone's heart exploded, and also hired by a house wife to find her husband, and at the same time try to avoid pissing off a group of other wizards who are waiting for an excuse to kill him.

Basically I found it to be exactly what it is, commercial fiction. It's a non-challenging, short read (I finished it in under 7 hours) that's best described as a romp. There's really nothing in it that changes your life or the way you think, but then it wasn't designed to do that.

One thing that was annoying, but most readers won't pick up on, are his formulaic chapters. Each one follows the same pattern i.e. a little description, something about what's going on, and a cliffhanger at the end. This was especially obvious in the last fight scene when the chapter is broken in two for no other reason than to add another cliffhanger and to make the first chapter shorter. (Probably at some misguided editor's advice.)

For someone looking for an escape without having to think about what the meaning was afterward, it's a perfect fit. For someone looking for more "meat" to their reading, give it a pass.

I will probably finish the series, since my brother has all of them, but if he didn't, I wouldn't seek the rest out. One thing I did enjoy about it, was it's distinct lack of unintentional cliched lines. Even with writers who's books are considered just short of "serious" fiction, like Neil Gaiman, I find lines that irk me.

( In Neil Gaiman's book American Gods, he has several, but the one that has stuck with me is "hunger was a hollow feeling in his stomach". If you're an author please don't ever use any variation of describing hunger as "hollow". I've read it in about 7,000 books. And no, that isn't an exaggeration.)

P.S. If you're an author needing a line to describe the feeling of being hungry try this. "His stomach was an empty room still waiting for the moving company to show." It's not perfect, but it's better than "hollow".

Friday, August 01, 2008

Water on Mars!

NASA's Phoenix lander confirmed water on Mars. This means there might have been life on Mars long ago. It also means, a Mars mission will be able to manufacture fuel for the return trip on site. And that means the mission costs drop and the number of payloads sent into orbit can be reduced.

Of course I think NASA could also profit on bottling Mars Ice Water. Untouched for billions of years! Bottled at the source!

If we base it on shuttle mission costs of $10,000 per lb, then it would be about $645 an ounce (not including profit).

P.S. I think I should get credit for the business model. 1% of sales would do!