Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Evening in Front of the Vast Waste of TV Land

"You know what movie this is?"
"Yes, it's Conan the Destroyer. I saw it when you had the info on."
"But do you know which one it is?"
"Is it the annoying one with the girl and the island?"
"I don't know why everyone disses this movie. It has Grace Jones in it."
"Grace Jones is the best part of this movie."
A short discussion ensues about the annoying and not so annoying characters in the movie as the heroes move to rescue the magical Asian character from being roasted alive.
"How is this different from The 13th Warrior?
"You're kidding, right?"
"Other than Grace Jones, of course... They both have sword fighting."
On TV, the bad guys are riding across a vast plain.
"Well, they both have villains on horseback dressed in black with skulls on their heads. And, the main characters have accents."
"They're both taciturn."
"Yes, both have taciturn main characters with accents."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For the past five weeks, I've been obsessively plowing through Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books. I first encountered Sharpe through our local PBS station's airing of the Briitish series of TV movies which also inspired a long-term crush on Sean Bean. I'm a voracious reader but I don't think I've ever been so obsessed with a series of books and certainly not sustained an obsession through this many different books in a series. [I pooped out after initial obsessions with Stephen King's Dark Tower series, David Weber's Honor Harrington books, and Anita Hamilton's Anita Blake series.] The great thing about starting to read these books now is that I am able to read them almost completely in timeline order versus the order in which they were published. In some cases, I have pursued this order by maximizing my use of the Washington County Library interlibrary loan system. In other cases, I have driven from one library branch to another library branch and visited the adjacent St. Paul Library system to feed my habit. Internet library search is a wonderful thing. During lulls between copies of the book, I've finished a few other books. One, The Requiem Shark by Nicholas Griffin is a novel about the pirate Black Bart which I highly recommend. There's a good review of it up at Salon. Pirates - yay! Sam Enthoven's Black Tatoo, a YA dark fantasy, was next and was one of the freebies from World Fantasy. While there were a few times I looked up from the book to frown in consternation, I was nicely pulled through the book by interesting characters, surprising world building and sword fighting. Sword fighting - yay! I am awaiting the last three Sharpe novels and have to content myself with my new obsession, watching the Sharpe's movies through Alan's B-day subscription to Netflicks. Because it is his birthday gift, I am limiting myself to one of his two movies at a time which he puts up with since he knows the movie will be probably be watched and returned within 24 hours. I will plow through the whole series of movies in just a few weeks. Interspersed amongst these, we'll have our usual Alan's obscure foreign movie picks coming in at a regular pace, too. I was a little disappointed by the first two films in the Sharpe series (the Wellington character made me want to barf) but I've been told things pick up with this next one, Sharpe's Company. [I would be watching it RIGHT NOW but someone is playing something on the Gamecube. The dog is between us destroying his new rawhide bone. We all have our obsessions, I guess.] I currenlty am reading John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades which like his previous novel, Old Man's War, has soldiers, aliens, intrigue and bloody battles. Bloody battles - yay! Unlike the first book, which I did really enjoy, the main character isn't annoyingly perfect and brilliant and always saving the day. On my bedside table waiting to be read, I have Partick O'Brian's Master and Commander and Sabatini's Scaramouche. So everything I've been reading the past few weeks has conveniently though not intentionally had battles or swashbuckling in it. I've been trying to figure out my obsession with the Sharpe books and this focus on warfare. The Sharpe books aren't as well written as some in the genre (?) but I've always been a forgiving reader if the story is compelling, the characters interesting and the writing not so bad it throws me out of the story. I think that Cornwell has hit on the right mixture of romance, intrigue and adventure for my taste and it probably doesn't hurt that I still picture Sean Bean as the main character. Another time, we'll have to have a discussion about why Sean Bean has to always play bad guys in American movies.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I was supposed to be working from home this morning but the website I need is temporarily down, so I thought I'd take some time to do a quick post-WFC rundown.

This is what we brought home:
A cold - despite getting plenty of sleep and no drinking
A burned mouth from hot cheese in excellent Austin Tex Mex food that has turned into a killer toothache

Two awesome freebie bags. We could actually check these bags which allowed us to bring more home than we thought we'd be able to.
From the freebie bags:
Night Wars - Graham Masterton
Pandora Drive - Tim Waggoner
Shadowmarch - Tad Williams
From Black Rooms - Stephen Woodworth
The Mount - Carol Emshwiller - this will be a great Christmas gift for someone
Some recent F & SFs
George and the Angels - Glenn Maganek
The Fair Folk anthology
Best Short Novels 2006 - Jonathan Strahan's SFBC anthology
The Black Tattoo - Sam Enthoven - an ARC - beautiful cover
A Princess of Roumania - Paul Park - nice to see this promoted so much - another gift
Cross Plains Universe: Texans Celebrate Robert E. Howard anthology
Genetopia - Keith Brooke

We also came home with:
(Hot off the presses)
Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #19
Electric Velocipede #11
The Sense of Falling - Ezra Pines chapbook with illustrations by Mark Rich
(as well as)
The Ephemera - Neil Williamson
Summer of the Apocolypse - James Van Pelt

We were lucky to score the Neil Williamson since none of the book dealers had copies and we got one of the few Neil brought with him. Reading the first few stories on the plane going home reminded me all over again why I was so excited when I first found his writing. This collection is highly recommended.