New Coraline Trailer.

Lovely. Same director as The Nightmare before Christmas, which makes sense. Via Neil Gaiman's website.


Nuttier than a...

I had to come up with some "crazier than a..." smilies yesterday. Here's what I ended up with:
  • Loonier than a Canadian dollar.
  • More out of whack than a broken paddleball.
  • Flakier than a dandruff commercial.
  • More out of kilter than a naked Irishman.
  • Kookier than a mountain of snickerdoodles.
So what can you pull off?


Book Reviews

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This book should have been unreadably awful for the YA audience. The writing is full of
Kurt Vonnegut-isms:

And who do you think was made to clean the spit off the door each night?
Yes--you got it.

The ending is unrelentingly awful (and spelled out at the beginning). It's over 500 pages long (and not a Harry Potter sequel). As if on a dare to be as pretentious as possible, the narrator is Death.


Liesel Meminger and her brother are being taken to a foster home in Germany by their mother in the late 1930s when her brother dies on the train. While he is being buried, Liesel discovers a book that has fallen out of one of the gravediggers' pockets, a manual on burial. She can't read, but she steals the book nonetheless. Liesel makes a new life for herself in Stuttgart, the birthplace of the Nazi party. Her stepfather teaches her to read to get her through the nightmares of her brother.

Everything changes when their family hides a Jew in their basement...

A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, by Manuel de Landa

What happens when history and chaos theory collide?

The book takes three different metaphorical approaches: the movement of materials (geological formations), evolution of culture (biology), and transmission of ideas (linguistics). The main idea running throughout the book is that the past 1000 years of human history have not been leading up to the pinnacle of modern culture (McDonalds, W, pinnacles?!?), but that it has changed to fit the requirements of the times with the materials at hand.

One of the best ideas I took out of it was that capitalism wasn't a recent development--that it could be broken into two coexisting principles, market forces and anti-market forces. Market forces are when people trade goods and services on an individual basis; anti-market forces are when institutions are used to facilitate the exchange (banks, monetary systems, capital, monopolies, corporations, etc.). Without the market, the system is homogenous, fixed, and inflexible. Without the anti-market, everybody starts at zero all the time. Recent times have found excessive growth in anti-market forces...but from within one of them (the Internet), market forces are working to spread ideas and exchange goods and services on a more individual basis.

Just one of those books that makes you go, "I am so living in history. Dude."



I can't find a good link to a song I want, so I'll post the one I did find. It's a cover of Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" by the cover band The Alchemists. The college radio station plays a mysteriously-unnamed version from time to time, and this is as close as I could get. I'm pretty sure it's not Mark Knopfler singing. It's slower, about twelve minutes long, and it's just the guy and the guitar. The first time I heard it, it drove me nuts. Here's a 30-second clip of the guy playing the intro. It sounds like that.

A love-struck Romeo sings the streets a serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made.
Finds a streetlight, steps out of the shade
Says something like "you and me babe, how about it?"

Food Blogging

Yours truly is blogging at the food journals over at Accidental Hedonist. Sometimes yours truly even gets on the front page. But mostly not.


Writerly Ramble.

Turns out, whenever you learn something new about writing, it's a bad day, or at least a day where you want to smack yourself in the head. D'oh!

Two things (the third being "try using a storyboard next time") I learned today at the PPWC February Write Brain:

Go through your first chapter and put a mark in the margin wherever there's exposition. Now, get rid of it: exposition doesn't belong in the first chapter. Cut it, move it, whatever.

Now go through your book, underlining subjects and verbs. Make the subjects specific (versus general or just plain non-concrete, like "dreams") and the verbs active and interesting (versus "are"). Even if you're working on exposition.


Musical Interlude: Psychostick

For my brothers, mostly. Psychostick: Pluh and Beer is Good!

...But then, they like a lot of Weird Al.

They say beer will make me dumb
it are go good with pizza
now that we have drunk some beer
let's go drive a car...
They remind me of Primus, so I'll add some of that here. (Yes, it's Tom Waits.)


I want...

Cookthink has a new feature, "What are you craving?" Click on "my cookthink," sign up for a free account, and tell them what you want--ingredient, dish, cuisine, mood, or just type it in:

Nutmeg (ingredient) + Grill (dish) + Contrast (mood) =

Chicken in Parchment with Carrots, Tomatoes, and Chickpeas
Grilled Orange-Rosemary Lambchops

...and something completely different than what I asked for:

English Vegetable Soup

Nevertheless, it sounds good. I'd been thinking of how to do just this with an Access database, and now I don't need to. Good. I don't like dealing with databases...



If black humor, the humor which dare not speaketh its name, is not your thing, don't click here. And especially not here.

Update: Or here.

Word of the Day.

lychnobite (LIK-nuh-byt) noun

One who works at night and sleeps during the day.

[From Greek lychnos (lamp) + bios (life).]

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)


The Matrix in Diapers

A silly ad campaign for men's razors, promising baby-soft skin. No good can come of this.

Somebody tell me, is this actually running on TV?


Restaurant Review: The Warehouse

Located in Colorado Springs.

Spendy but wonderful. We went there on Friday night to celebrate Ray being out of the house, more or less. A lot of the people I asked about the place hadn't been there or hadn't heard of it, which seems like a shame. It's the painted building just off the east side of the Cimarron bridge.

The place really was a warehouse, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that it was so big inside, but it did. A more-or-less normal dining room is off to the left, with a large, open room on the right for large gatherings. The walls are covered with art, some of it just plan eh, but a lot of good pieces. A few things I'd consider buying if I had the cash--a cubist nude by Stephanie Clair, an impressionist landscape of a factory blowing off steam--Lee liked others. The one we both agreed on, what looked like a Native American buffalo hide, without the hide and not nearly so busy, didn't have a price or an artist's name on it. A guy that looked like either the owner or the head chef thanked us for looking at the pictures; apparently most people don't feel comfortable wandering around and gawking. Or just don't take the time.

I ordered a strawberry salad with a balsamic reduction and the roasted cranberry-orange pepperduck. Lee had a salad with feta, cranberries, and cashews and the peppercorn-crusted rib eye. We both had beer. I tried to order a Guinness, but they didn't have any--didn't have a beer list, as a matter of fact. I asked them to bring something similar, and the waitress said what it was, but I don't remember the name, and it wasn't anything close. Too bad; a Guinness would have been perfect.

Lee's food was good, but mine was better.

The balsamic reduction was the consistency of blood, only darker. It tasted like pepper and anise* and was so strong I had to stop to eat some bread midway through. I'd never had duck before (Lee doesn't like it). I ended up at a point where I had to budget the existing space in my stomach and had one hushpuppy like an onion ring without the slippery onion, a few roasted tomatoes, three slices of squash, and a small pile of cranberries left. I chose to suck the meat off the duck legs instead (although I did track down a few of the cranberries before I left off). Whether that means I like duck or I just like really good duck, I'll leave it to you to decide. I would have rather had pomegranate seeds than cranberries, because of the season, but the cranberries worked almost as well.

The service was somewhat slow, but 1) there was a banquet going on in the next room and 2) we didn't notice. Our waitress didn't mess around--polite but not obsequious, over-cheerful, or pushy. My only gripe was the lack of beer list.

Lee said, "We should tell Dave and Margie about this place." Which, to me, says pretty much the same things.

*I looked it up on the menu. It was Sambuca.