Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

It fell to Earth, I know not where

My father's always been into archery, but despite his efforts to encourage it, I never really took an interest. For one thing, it required that I be outdoors, which pretty much disqualified it from the start.

He was really into it as a young man, spending hours practicing every day and competing at the state level. He saw Howard Hill shoot on one occasion. Howard Hill was the guy who did all the trick shooting for the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movies. He killed an elephant in real life with a single shot from a bow. (Howard Hill, not my dad.) His website has a list of the animals he's killed with a bow and arrow, and it includes 40 sharks. I have to wonder about the circumstances surrounding that. 

On the day my father saw him, Hill was doing Annie Oakley trick shots, like shooting thrown coins out of the air. Not only was he doing it with a longbow, he was doing it with a borrowed longbow because his was being repaired that day. 

How cool is that?

Lily's been having a growing interest in archery, so I suggested that she call pappy and we do something together.

So he dug out the old bow I had used as a kid, and we arrived early for the family picnic.

She was so excited. I snapped this picture of Lily as we were walking towards where she would shoot. I felt like she should be walking in slow motion to the accompaniment of the opening chords of Styx's Renegade
 "Oh mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law..."

Just before we got there, she told me "I've been dreaming of this!"

My father's been shooting forever, and he's a patient teacher. I like these pictures with him.

She might be a little young to use that particular bow. (I asked my father what the draw weight was on it, but he had no idea). Lily's got long legs and they're really strong. She easily kicks over her head and is always showing off how high and strong she can kick. (We were getting ready for bedtime the other night and Lily asked "Do you want to see how hard I can kick you in the stomach?!" and not even in a mean way, but actually believing that this was something I might like to experience.) 

Unfortunately, she has the arm strength of a caterpillar. Her accuracy was fine, but she just wasn't shooting with enough force to penetrate the target. And that's as much a function of technique as it is strength. If she sticks with it, she'll improve. 

A lot of things come easy to her, so she's frustrated by those that don't. I hope she sees the value in trying hard and sticking with this. If she does, I'll be sure to write about it here.

Until then, here's a cool video of a Russian girl practicing her archery.

Day 29: Roger Zelazny haiku

This haiku is a
hair longer than Corrida.
Or should I say "ear"?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 28: Roger Zelazny Haiku

Fiona's head looks
really weird in this piece from
the visual guide.

I generally really liked the pictures of the royals, but something seems wrong with the proportions in Fiona, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Five years of Egg shows

Lily is six, and today marks the fifth year in a row she has gone to the local egg crafting show.

Year One

Year Two

Year Three

Year Four

Year Five
Lily takes after me with a lot of things, so I'm glad they have this to share.

Local friends, the show is still going on tomorrow! Stop on by!

And a little bit of promotion:

Garden Variety Eggs

Garden Variety Eggs - Facebook page

Garden Variety Eggs - Etsy page

Day 27: Roger Zelazny Haiku

Josh always runs out
of ideas for haiku
on about this date.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 25: Roger Zelazny haiku

hair where there was none before.
Some Fangs and claws, too. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gravity Falls Review: Boyz Crazy

Another really strong episode of Gravity Falls!

We open with Wendy and Dipper performing some voice overs for security camera footage in the Mystery Shack. Mabel interrupts and begins a happy dance (Dipper initially thinks she got into the Smile Dip again, which was a nice bit of continuity) about the upcoming concert featuring her favorite Boy Band, Sev'ral Timez.

"We're not threatening!" 
Robbie comes in, and Wendy is upset with him and wants to break up, but then immediately changes her mind after he plays her a song. Dipper believes she's been brainwashed by some subliminal messages and turns to Stan for help. Stan tells him how his own girlfriend Carla was stolen away from him at their "favorite 50's themed 70's diner" and agrees to help.
Note Pacifica in the background there.

Meanwhile, Mabel, Candy and Grenda have arrived at the concert, but find it sold out.

Undeterred, they sneak backstage to find that their favorite boy band is a bunch of vat grown clones, something, I think, we all suspected in the 90s.

They sneak the clones back to the Mystery Shack. Dipper and Stan notice, but they're so wrapped up in trying to uncover the subliminal messages that they ignore the five clones living in their attic.

Meanwhile their manager has tracked them down, and we get my favorite line in the episode.

"Have you seen any perfect boys around here?"
"Only when I look in the mirror. Up top!"

He leaves, but not before the goat eats his rear license plate.

Dipper and Stan are still plugging away at finding the message on the CD, until a random insult by Robbie convinces him to play it backwards. 

He was getting pretty frustrated there.

They find the hidden message, and take off for Lookout point, while Mabel learns that Ergman Bratzman, the manager, was arrested for driving without a rear license plate. Heh heh.

Mabel doesn't want to let them go, having become accustomed to having her own personal boy band,

 and she orders them to eject Candy and Grenda.

Stan and Dipper roar into Lookout Point.
"Kid! Mister Pines!"
"That's MISTER Pines to you!"
"That's what I just said!"
And Dipper frantically gets the tape copy of the subliminal messages to play. 

He does and Wendy is outraged. Robbie tries to explain that he didn't know there were subliminal messages on the song, that it was like that when he stole it from some other guy, which does not go over well with Wendy. Dipper sees his chance and asks if she wants to hang out, and Wendy angrily and understandably rebuffs him too.

Mabel sees the error of her ways and releases the clones into the wild and at the end, they serenade a deer and kiss a tree. 

This was really an outstanding episode. Probably second only to Fight Fighters for my all time favorite. It's just such a loving lampoon of the Boy Bands it's skewering that I can't help but love it.

Day 24: Roger Zelazny Haiku

Maxine meets Jenny.
"Chess?" "No. I'll waste you with my
machine guns instead."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A visit to Medieval Times!

We have some pretty great neighbors. A friend of ours visited from out of town and couldn't stop talking about how awesome they are. I knew they were something special when we had them over for dinner and I was playing some music on the computer and a song came on and the husband asked "What's this?" and I responded, "The background music for the Flash Man level from Mega Man 2" and he snapped his fingers and said "That's it!"

For their son's birthday, they had the party at Medieval Times. I'd never been before and the only thing I could tell you about the place would be Janeane Garofalo's "There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times" line from the Cable Guy.

We went to the one in Lyndhurst, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. Lily didn't want to go at first. She was distraught, because "They tell you which knight you have to cheer for!" and she didn't want to cheer for a  bad knight. We told her that those were just recommendations and she could cheer for whomever she liked. 

We had a little trouble finding it, despite having printed instructions, a GPS and the fact that the building is a giant castle. When we later returned to the website and learned that because of the road construction, it's easy to miss the turnoff for it.

The first thing that struck me was how much booze there was. A guy was walking around selling shots. I hope he was affiliated with the restaurant.  People brought their flagons of beer into the bathroom, which seemed a bit much.

We missed the group picture, but arrived in time for the rest of it. Because we were part of a birthday group, Lily got a coupon for an insanely sweet slushie in a souvenir knight helmet mug. 

Then it was on to the main event. A guy in garb laid out some ground rules, including asking us not to use the pewter dishes as noisemakers, because it would spook the horses. Fair enough, but he instead exhorted us to "Just clap your hands like normal people," and I was thinking "Normal people? I'm not the one dressed like Prince Valiant up there, dude."

We took our seats. We were in the yellow and red knight section, but Lily decided that we were just going to cheer for all the knights. We liked the blue one best of all. He had fleurs-de-lis all over his costume. He died later in the tournament, probably because Jen wasn't cheering hard enough for him. 

Jen noticed that the servers were included in the opening process. Lily got excited when she saw them. "Girl Knights!" 

There was a falconry exhibition at the beginning, which was pretty neat, though looking back, it was probably foolish to pack that dead mouse in my breast pocket. Also, I regret missing the opportunity to quote some Yeats

There were several guys with horse-sized pooper scoopers too, which struck me as kind of funny. The food was good and came out in regular intervals. 

I'm a slob about a lot of things, but I'm fussy about others. While I don't mind all the papers scattered around my desk, for instance, I hate it when my hands get dirty. It just really bothers me. I was seriously considering smuggling in some silverware into the place, but I decided that I didn't want to be "that guy".

There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times. There were moist towelettes, however.

I was surprised how good it was. The garlic bread was great and so was the tomato bisque and I normally don't like tomato soup at all. With the chicken, I thought I was going to have to choke it down just to be polite, but it was really astoundingly good. Among the best I've ever tasted. 

Jen got the vegetarian option, veggie lasagna and steamed vegetables.  She got utensils. Also included was a potato, which was okay (not bad, but not on the same level as the rest of the food either), an apple pastry, which was delicious and some birthday cake.

The whole meal was great and there was a guy riding around on a horse in the pit while we were eating. Then there were some jousting events and then some fights. This is where the late, lamented Blue Knight bit it. The fights reminded me a bit of professional wrestling, in that there was no mistaking them for real fights, but they were entertaining and nicely choreographed. 

We all had a really nice time. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but it was a lot of fun.

Plus we got king hats. (Paul F. Thompkins shout out!)

Day 23: Roger Zelazny Haiku

Bright Defile is the
greatest name for a city.
I wish I lived there.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 22: Roger Zelazny Haiku

As much as I love
the book, "Lord of Light" seemed such
a poor name for it.

I'm pretty sure young Josh passed on reading Lord of Light after reading Creatures of Light and Darkness, because he thought "It's probably pretty much the same."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 21: Roger Zelazny Haiku

The doors of his mouth,
The lamps of his face, Moby
Dick set on Venus


The doors of his face
The lamps of his mouth! There, I

corrected it, Chris!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 20: Roger Zelazny haiku

Time to revisit
my Eye of Cat review. Next
month works well, I think.

I don't think my opinion of Eye of Cat has changed that much, but I'm not happy with the review, and I've slowly been returning to books that I think I didn't do justice the first time. Here's my revised Doorways review, which I think is much better than the original. My existing review of Eye of Cat is just this Ulysses-esque stream of consciousness argle-bargle, and while I didn't especially care for the book, I think it deserves better than that.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Being Brave

With the exceptions of reviews of movies we've been watching together, I haven't had a post about my daughter here for a while. So, let's change that.

We're a family of readers. Jen has always loved reading, and so have I. My mom used to punish me by making me go outside without a book. (And now my daughter begs me to play tag with her outside, so I suppose  I'm never going to escape being forced outside against my will.)

I've written before that learning how to read was one of the last completely new things that she's going to learn and everything that comes after this is going to be a refinement or a new application of stuff she already knows.

She's a voracious reader. She reads the jokes on the milk cartons to her friends at school, because they can't read yet. She reads so well that I can't take her into Spencer's Gifts. Give her a book and she's content for a car ride and quiet enough that we'll forget she's there.

One day this week, when I was getting ready for my morning shower, Lily knocked on the bathroom door. I opened it and she looked so scared. I kneeled down to her level and asked, "What's wrong?"

She bit back her tears and said "I was reading the book from the library and I was trying to be very careful, but the bottom of the page ripped when I turned the page."

I gave her a big hug and said, "It's okay. It was an accident and you're being very brave in telling me. We'll write a note to the librarian and explain it was an accident. If the librarian is upset, you tell her to talk to mommy and daddy because we'll always stand up with you when you do the right thing."

And Lily is like me in that the absolute worst thing in the world is someone being mad at you. And she knew she could have gotten away with it if she didn't mention it. And she was really scared to tell me. But she did.

We knew we were raising a smart kid. I'm glad we're raising a brave one. And a good one.

Day 19: Roger Zelazny haiku

Roger created
Forever After, fun and
funny shared world book.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Superman!

Today is Superman's 75th Birthday!

I've had quite a few posts on why I'm an unapologetic fan of Superman, and I don't think I have anything new to say on the subject today, so here's the new trailer for the Man of Steel movie, which looks outstanding.


“Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?”
"You are my son."

Day 18: Roger Zelazny Haiku

would be such a great day. If 
Luke could pull it off.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 15: Roger Zelazny haiku

And now for something
completely different. Song
of the Blue Baboon.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 13: Roger Zelazny haiku

I'm such a big fan
of Amber that I married
a green-eyed woman.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Roger Roger: Watching the Phantom Menace with Lily

Lots of people have spent lots of time trying to pin down what's wrong with the Phantom Menace since its release in 1999. I might as well add my voice to the chorus.

As with the other Star Wars movies, we watched this one together. I was uncertain if I should show this to Lily at all. My friend Dave convinced me to go ahead and show it. (His exact words were "Don't be a Star Wars snob.")

I'll admit that I felt some gnawing unease when Dave was visiting in the period between when we had decided to show Lily the movies and when we actually did so, and Dave, unprompted,  shook his head and said "The first two movies were so, so bad."

This is all your fault, Dave!

We were watching last month when when it suddenly struck me that the deal with the queen and her decoys is a good metaphor for everything that's wrong with the movie. The whole decoy deal is a lot of sound and fury that tries to sell you on the idea that there's more going on than there really is, but all it does is needlessly complicate things while adding nothing of value. (For further examples of this trope, see: everything J.J. Abrams has ever done.)

I remember the first time I saw the movie. I was working at the comic store back then, Star Wars mania was at an all time high in the run up to its release. Everybody who came in to the store wanted to talk about it. And the early reports were not positive.  The best anyone seemed to have to say about the movie was some variation of "It's not as bad as everyone is saying." Those of us who worked in the store occasionally got together to do stuff. It was movie night and Bill had already seen the Phantom Menace and his review was....unfavorable. When we were deciding what to see, I was pushing for Menace,  Bill said he couldn't bear to sit through it again, and wound up seeing the Matrix. I recall mocking him for this decision: "Oh, enjoy your stupid 'Matrix' movie that nobody's going to remember by this time next year. I'm off to see Star Wars, bitches!"

In retrospect, Bill's decision may have been the right one.

I was thinking about this when we sat down to watch the movie together. It really couldn't have been as bad as I remembered. Could it?


Holy fucking shit, where to start? The experience of watching this movie compares unfavorably to a two-hour episiotomy.

Not even Lily liked it and she'll sit through some of the most dreadful shit imaginable. Though she did like Anakin.

Lily: Anakin's cute.
Me: *raised eyebrow*
Lily: No! Cute like a baby is cute!

I don't think Jake Lloyd was terrible. He wasn't great, but neither was Daniel Radcliffe in the first Harry Potter (particularly compared to his co-stars) and he certainly wasn't the biggest problem with the movie. 

Jar Jar Binks was the biggest problem with the movie. I realize that I'm not exactly going out on a limb with this declaration.

George Lucas stated that he feels there is a section of the fanbase who get upset with aspects of Star Wars because "[t]he movies are for children but they don't want to admit that... There is a small group of fans that do not like comic sidekicks. They want the films to be tough like The Terminator, and they get very upset and opinionated about anything that has anything to do with being childlike."

I think that misses the point of the criticism. It's not that you included a comedy sidekick. It's that you included a comedy sidekick who wasn't funny.

Not to mention that he, like Watto and the Neomidians, comes uncomfortably close to being a racist caricature. 

Not that Lily noticed that last part. She just thought that he was annoying and not funny. 

Lily was very fidgety at times, and when we asked her to pay attention, she said "I'll pay attention when they're talking about stuff I can understand!" Jar Jar  would be out of place in any movie, but when the rest of the plot is Robert's Rules of Order In Space dealing with minutiae of trade negotiations, "The Senate cedes the floor to the delegate from Naboo. You make a cogent arguement regarding the Trade Federation's regressive tariffs on-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...," comic relief that a six-year-old finds immature is just not going to fit in.

The pod race goes on entirely too long. When it began, Lily asked if he was going to win. I said "You'll know in 45 minutes," which was barely an exaggeration at all. 

Despite all this, Lily is interested in seeing Attack of the Clones, so I may yet have more Star Wars blogging in the near future.

Just a softy
And some stuff I liked because I don't like ending a review without saying anything nice: The lightsaber fights were great, Ian Mcdiarmid was pretty good,  Liam Neeson seemed to be an entirely different and much better move than the rest of the cast (he had the only scene with Jar Jar that was any good at all, the one where he grabs Jar Jar's tongue and says "Knock that shit off.") Darth Maul had a great design (and my friends met Ray Park at a con once and said he's a very nice guy). 

FYI: Audible sale on Roger Zelazny

It seems that Audible is having a sale that includes some of Roger Zelazny's works. I happen to prefer the older versions, where he reads his own stuff, but Audible's books are usually very well put together and this could be an opportunity to pick some up if you are so inclined.

Also, they are offering Deus Irae on April 16th, and I've never encountered that in audio format before.

Day 12: Roger Zelazny haiku

Damnation Alley.
Good man falls. Bad man rises.
And they meet midway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blade of Tyshalle Review - The greatest book you won't ever want to read

Plus Bonus Caine Black Knife Review!!

I've finished reading the second and third books in the Matthew Stover's Acts of Caine series, Blade of Tyshalle and Caine Black Knife. (My reviews of the first book are here and here.)

Wikipedia describes the audience for his non Star Wars books as small but loyal, a statement I can absolutely believe. The books are some of the best modern genre works I've ever read, but Jesus Christ are they depressing. Listening to Blade of Tyshalle was like getting kicked in the stomach for 31 hours in a row.

I ran an RPG group for almost ten years. Near the end of the campaign, the PCs had a sizable power base, but had accumulated a number of powerful enemies. My philosophy in running a game is that PCs with sufficient resources can win most encounters, if they're willing to pay the price. And this group won every battle, but often at the cost of making unnecessary enemies, and squandering long term assets. I hinted that  this wa going to catch up someday, but the pattern continued, and there finally came a time when I drew the campaign to a close rather than demolish them or fudge things so they came on top.

I was thinking of this when I was reading the book. It opens seven years after the end of the first. Hari never really dealt with his problems. He just arranged for them go away for a while. And then everything comes due, not at once, but in a cascade failure, one calamity building on the one before, some spiritual form of compound interest, as Roger Zelazny once wrote. 

It was like watching a slow motion car accident, horrifying but mesmerizing. Hari is broken at the beginning of the book, a drunken, crippled sellout, and it goes downhill from there. Gregor Samsa had better days. 

I'm going to include some spoilers here:


Again, my favorite character is one of his villains. Avery Shanks is a nasty piece of work. In the last book, Avery's son Lamerack betrayed Caine and Pallas, but not before Pallas becomes pregnant with his child. Caine kills Lamerack for what he did, and winds up raising Lamerack's daughter Faith as his own. Shanks gets word of this and just to spite Caine, she has Faith removed from his custody by force and in a very public fashion (In front of Hari's fans at a convention). She's mean, she's petty, she's the worst this caste society has to offer. And yet, when Faith is threatened, Avery is willing to die for her. She kills a man with her hands and feet and teeth to protect her. And when it's all over, Avery is not magically transformed into someone less nasty. She remains who she is. And that's what I like about Stover's characters. Even the blackest villain is capable of acting in a selfless way in the right circumstances. I don't believe in people who are all good or all bad.

I do like the interaction between Hari's father Duncan, the libertarian intellectual and Tan'elKoth, the deposed authoritarian emperor. I would guess that Stover's politics are more closely in line with Duncan's, but I admire that he can get inside Tan'elkoth's head and write arguments for him that are more than mere sophistry.

"I respect what is respectable " Tan'elkoth replied. "To ask for respect where none has been earned is childish maundering.And what is respectable  in the end, save service? Even your idol Jefferson is, in the end, measured by how well he served the species. The prize of individualism--its goal--is self-actualization, which is only another name for vanity. We do not admire men for achieving self-actualization; we admire self-actualization when its end result is a boon to humanity."

Stefan Rudnicki is an astounding narrator. One thing I love about audiobooks with good readers is when the listener can identify a character just by the voice the reader uses.

In the third book, Hari mentions that his father thought highly of an LDS author active in the late 20th/early 21st century, and I think that must be Orson Scott Card. It's funny, because the scene in the bathroom immediately struck me as a repudiation of the parallel scene in Ender's Game. Being hassled by a bully? Murder him! Problem solved!

The book places the characters in similar situations (so similar that I'm wondering if this was deliberate), but when they maim (not kill) the bullies, the school headmaster, who had previously been shown as nothing more than a petty, social climbing cipher, is honestly horrified, not only that they would do this to other children, but that it was the first and only plan they considered. 

Stover did an outstanding job, piling misery upon misery on Caine, and even though he's the author of his own problems (or at the very least complicit in setting them up), I couldn't help but feel sorry for him.  There came a moment where Caine was mind-controlled and set up to murder his wife, and it was at that point in the narrative, for the first time in my life that I thought, "I don't know if I can go on with this story."

The resolution to that is pretty great too. In the first book, he was willing to sacrifice the world to save his wife. In this one, he is magically compelled to believe that killing her will prevent the otherwise certain destruction of Overworld, a lever, his captors believe, that is certain to move him, but he just says, "Nope, fellas, can't do it." Great piece of characterization. 

And, she still dies, because the villains have the sense to build some redundancy into their plans. 

I love the finale too. I'm a sucker for dueling paradigms, and when the social police invade Overworld, it's a battle for the ages. 

This was a fitting send off for Caine. 

Caine Black Knife

I was reluctant to read the third book without a break, because the second was such a bludgeoning. I saw that it was in large part a prequel, so I thought we might something more upbeat.

You know, right up until the end, I was jotting down notes for my review framing things for this review, trying out lines like "While not nearly as good as the first two, Stover is still a very talented writer, and I would stop short of calling this a bad book." It even picked up right before the end and I thought, "Hey, he's going to turn this around!"

And then the end of the book came, and it was so awful that not only am I no longer unwilling to call it a bad book, I'm going to call it a terrible, horrible, no good, VERY bad book. 

For the first time in my life, I literally felt betrayed by an author. Matt Stover is still a great writer, but this book has real problems. It embraces everything rejected by the first two. Caine really is the best both worlds have to offer. Everyone he meets is a hypocrite or simp and occasionally both.

The series had previously eschewed the use of straw men as adversaries, with even the blackest villain had some humanity, some motivation, but that goes completely off the rails here. The Knights of Khyrl are terrible. They embody every cliche about paladins held by people who hate paladins. I don't know why a martial order led by a woman with full equality for its female members would have a blanket prohibition against fighting women, especially when it should be common knowledge that the Black Knives' priesthood is female. 

One of things that should have tipped me off that the story was going to suck was the fact that Caine wises off to a border guard at checkpoint. It's established in the very same scene that he's immune to the truth-sensing magics employed by the Khyrl, but instead of just giving a plausible lie, he gives a literally true but smartass answer, claiming to be looking for his adopted brother the serial killer. He's taken into custody for questioning, which certainly seems to be a reasonable response under the circumstances, where somebody shows up just to be evil. Caine beats him up, but an innocent guard is crippled in the ensuing fight and chooses euthanasia and a pension for his family rather than life without the use of his legs. Caine berates the Order for this, but that's just bullshit. He's sine qua non for the whole thing.

I liked a Caine who earned his victories because he was smart and tough and sneaky and who was adept in a fighting style largely unfamiliar to those he fought. I don't like a Caine who employs hitherto unrevealed magical powers and who trivially kicks the ass of everyone he meets. 

Also, it's set mostly on Overworld, which, without Earth to provide contrast, is just vanilla fantasy world #24601. If I wanted to read about a modern asshole running up and down and to and fro in a fantasy world, I'd fish Lord Foul's Bane out of my compost bin. 

In my Tyshalle review, I mentioned that even though that Caine was responsible for a great many of his own troubles, I still felt for him. In Black Knife, I just thought that he was an asshole, and I hoped he would die.

At the very end, Hari "reasons" that the only reason the Social Police has taken him alive is so that they can give him the reins to their nation so he can sort things out for them. It's such a WTF moment, not only because it turns out to be the correct conclusion, but because it's presented as the answer to which logic inescapably points. It reminded me of a scene from the Adam West Batman movie.

Batman: One: "What has yellow skin and writes?"
Robin: A ballpoint banana.
Batman: Right! Two: "What people are always in a hurry?"
Robin: Rushing people? Russians!
Batman: Right again! Now, what would you say they mean?
Robin: Banana... Russian... I've got it! Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck!
Batman: Precisely, Robin! The only possible meaning!

Capture for a show trial makes much more sense.  I would go so far as to say that it's the only explanation that makes any kind of sense.

Caine had talked about his eye for weakness, which is fine, but Jesus, in practice, it's Caine just mumbling a few predictable cliches which compel the listener like cross between the Jedi Mind trick and Hannibal Lecter convincing Mason Verger to cut off his own face.

That's not even the worst part about the ending. While in prison, Caine gets a visit from a man who hates him so much that he sold Caine out to the Social Police. Except he doesn't really hate Caine. He just hates himself for not being as awesome as Caine. 

Objectively, it's not the most terrible book I've ever read, but the previous ones were SO GOOD that it looks awful when compared to them. 

Day 11: Roger Zelazny haiku

Charles Render, the
Dream Master, is really a
bit of an asshole.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gravity Falls Review: Carpet Diem

We open with Mabel and Dipper playing some "Attic stuff mini-golf," and they seem to be having a pretty good time until Mabel's alarm clock goes off.

She mentions that she'll be spending the night with Candy and Grenda, and Dipper is disappointed that she'll be gone and then horrified when he notices Calling All Boys: Preteen Edition and realizes that the sleepover will be taking place in the attic.

Dipper gets fed up and leaves as the sleepover kicks into high gear. He passes on Soos' horrifying death trap of a break room, and winds up sleeping outside where a wolf gnaws his leg

but he still finds it preferable to being inside.

The next day, Mabel and her friends awaken after their sleepover bender.

Dipper returns to find their attic golf course in ruins. They fight and decide they need separate rooms. Which works out, because Soos discovers a hidden room within the Shack.

I didn't catch this on the first viewing, but a friend pointed out the date circled on the calendar probably has some significance. Based on Dipper's expression, he certainly seems to think so.

Grunkle Stan says he'll award to room to whichever twin accumulates more Suck-up Points, so the kids fall over each other to see who can perform the most dangerous and/or demeaning chores.

This goes on for a little while, until Dipper is in the new room. He builds up a static charge while walking across the carpet, and when he touches Mable, the electrical shock causes them to switch bodies. 

They waste no time sabotaging each other. Mabel had previously made Stan an omelet that looked like his face, now Dipper, in her body, makes a sandwich filled with rocks.

Right after that, Mabel as Dipper sings "Breaking stuff is so much fun, I am Dipper and I stink!"

I liked this bit. Pleasantly ridiculous and they move on to other things before it wears too thin.

Soos switches bodies with Waddles and that's pretty entertaining too.

"Yes! I should do out loud wishing more often!"
Old Man McGucket ("Local Kook") tries to eat him, while Waddles in Soos' body works out pretty well for Soos.

A bearded witch chasing a talking pig! My horoscope came true!

Meanwhile, the body switching is starting to backfire. Dipper as Mabel is conscripted for another slumber party where Grenda reads age-inappropriate romance novels and Stan thinks that Mabel as Dipper's odd actions mean that he's going through puberty, so he reads to him from "Why am I sweaty?"

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. As the situations collapses, Dipper and Mabel find themselves in the secret room, but so do Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland, Candy and Grenda and Soos, Waddles and Old Man McGucket. Madcap bodyswapping ensues for a while, until everyone winds up in his or her own body.

My horoscope didn't say anything about this!
Dipper moves into the carpet room and Mabel stays in the attic, but they each miss the other when it comes time to stay good night. Dipper moves back into the attic with Mabel and he gives the carpet room to Soos.

The post credits scene is Soos talking to the woman to whom he became engaged while Waddles was in his body.

Another solid episode. I think the seeds for future developments have been planted here, between the date circled on the calendar and the carpet being number 78 in a series of experiments.

Day 10: Roger Zelazny haiku

Remember the time
the Great God Pan beat the crap
 out of a robot? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 8: Roger Zelazny haiku

Gather 'round, children,
for Pol Detson's strum-a-long.
Get a job, hippie!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 5: Roger Zelazny haiku

Oberon looks like
he has to go poo. Maybe
some prune juice would help.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Amber-ish RPG: Lords of Gossamer and Shadow

Wow, my second second Zelazny post of the day.

A friend sent me this link to a kickstarter for the Lords of Gossamer and Shadow Diceless RPG. It's based on the rule system for the Amber Diceless RPG and designed by one of the writers for Shadow Knight.

My impression after reading the blurb and the preview PDF is that this is very much ADRPG with the Amber-specific terminology stripped out. 

The setting is a clearly an analogue for Amber, with one to one correspondences for the elements in the original, and the impression I get is that it's as close as they could get without using the specific terms.

I'm not sold on the need for the game, since the original RPG is still fairly widely available,  but it's a project by fans of Zelazny and Amber.  I thought I should at least give bring it to the attention of the folks who read this site and let you make your own decision if it's right for you. I'll probably throw in enough money for the PDF, because hey, Amber fans gotta stick together.

Day 2: Roger Zelazny haiku

I don't care what Chris
Kovacs says! Jenny is way
better than Maxine!

Monday, April 1, 2013