Two hour snow delay!


And maybe Newt Gingrich will die before 2008, which would also be good news.

(Via BoingBoing.)



The Magic Thread was written almost entirely to the tunes of Massive Attack. One Saturday, in fact, almost six hours of catching up was completed to the song "Karmacoma."

"You're sure you want to be with me I've got nothing to give..."

Book Review: The Tale of Genji

By Yoshitaka Amano.

This is a little, illustrated book inspired by the original The Tale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki. The artist is the same person who illustrated Neil Gaiman's The Dream Hunters.

I had high hopes for this book; I loved the art in The Dream Hunters. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. Maybe it's because I haven't finished the original Tale of Genji, but it seems pointless, meaningless. Naked, gracefully drawn people, their genitalia covered by luxurious robes, lounge around and look pitiful.

Yep. That's the whole book. Unless you have a serious nipple-and-robe fetish, this will be almost entirely meaningless. Maybe, if writer had focused on only one of the stories, and let the artist draw scenes with some kind of meaningful conflict/action to them, it would be worthwhile, but this is...well, I'm wasting your time, too, here. Later!

Book Reivew: The Book of Lost Things

By John Connolly.

I enjoyed this book, but it saddened me a little. I'll explain that later.

First (or second) off, let me say that if you didn't like Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell you probably won't like this book. It's intended for, say, kids 11 and older, but it has the same sense of words that Strange does.

(Spoilers follow.)

The book is about a boy living in WWII Britain whose mother dies. After her death, everyone else moves on, and, eventually, the boy ends up with a stepbrother out in the country, trapped with his (believably human) stepmother in a big house with nothing for them to do but pick on each other while his father works long hours for the government. The boy, depressed, starts to hear his books talking, to him and with each other. He has fits and starts seeing things, including a disturbing crooked man. Eventually, he finds his way into another world, a fairytale land where the stories aren't quite the ones that we know, but are very believable. For example, one of the characters tells the boy the true story about Little Red Riding Hood: Little Red disdained all the local boys. One day, taking treats to her bedridden grandmother, she saw a wolf in the woods, a wolf with enchanting eyes. She pursued the wolf relentlessly until he agreed to become her lover...and a race of werewolves was born.

And so on. The language is what you have to call poetic, although it's really hypnotic. Rhythmic, soothing. "This is the way it is because this is the way it must always be" kind of thing. I loved the alternate (and more true-sounding) versions of fairy tales. The plot isn't bad, the characters are okay...I'm damning with faint praise here.

Some books go like this: something terrible happens, and, against all odds, the protagonist manages to come up with a solution, and everyone lives happily ever after. But...the reader, no matter how convincing the solution is, feels this aching hollowness: the real story is that something terrible happened, and that was it. The end. No solution. That's the feeling that I get with this book. The "happily ever after" is an illusion, and it seems like it was meant to be. Some people will probably like the book more because of it, but I feel...a little depressed. Happily ever after is an illusion, but it isn't a cruel illusion. Happily ever after is a kind of gateless gate, the impenetrable barrier of adulthood. Only adults can see the true story of what happened afterwards; it's sometimes happy, sometimes tragically sad, but it isn't the nothingness that the phrase can summon up. I don't really know how to explain it. But if you look at the story of Snow White from the vision of this story, Snow White died from the apple bite, and everything afterwards was a dream. The kind of happily ever after I understand is that she really did come back to life and marry the prince...and, years later, they got divorced, because they had other things they'd rather be doing. There's a difference; I just don't know how to define it very well. The meaning behind the story here isn't something I can stand behind--I believe too much in life to do that--nevertheless, a good book.


Amy Irving (the actress) did the singing voice for Jessica Rabbit.

Sinead O'Connor now sings reggae.


I am awesome. The first draft of The Magic Thread is finished!

That's the good news...the bad news is that it's only about 44K. I'm going to throw in my Storyball stories and do some brainstorming for a future novel rather than try to up the wordcount for Thread, because I'm burnt out on it right now...


Man. I put so many ellipses in the frickin' first draft that it'll be years before I break myself of that habit, I'll wager.

Anyway, here's my first shot at the premise of the book:

Sachi's family has always possessed a magic thread that can ensure nothing is ever truly lost, but when the Snow Queen, Yukionna, steals Sachi's mother, the shy and awkward Sachi isn't sure even the thread can help her. Sachi and her childhood friend, Kano, make a deal with the fire demigod Kagu Tsuchi--the two 13-year olds will help him find and assemble his body parts (his father chopped him into pieces after Kagu burnt his mother to death), if Kagu will help them save Hoshiko. The Magic Thread is a story about the ties of family, love, and hate.

I was thinking about Shojo (girly) manga/anime while I was writing this. My goal will be to (eventually, after editing) make my sisters weep. Waaaahhh!!! Actually, I want to see this as an anime. If nothing else, I think the magic thread sequences could be awesome...like the (damn elipses) green-smoke sequences from The City of Lost Children.

Anyway, time to go screw around for a while. Woot!


Crunch Time

Apologies, all. I won't be posting much until the beginning of December, as I'm trying to finish my NaNoWriMo novel, and everything else is getting pushed aside. Especial apologies to the Storyball cohorts...I will get caught up, but it may not be until after the first. With heroic effort, I should be able to finish. Without heroic effort...thbbbbt. And my left wrist hurts. I've been writing this out longhand (it seems to be the only thing that's working) and retyping it as I go along. Every time I get to an exciting part, I tense up. Writer's cramp! I keep thinking of that Monte Python skit.

"It's not all gala lunches!"

Hopefully, my daughter will eventually have the chance to rebel against my creative lifestyle and become a miner. Although maybe not a miner: too dangerous.



I received the following e-mail from NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty:

Dear Author,

You remember those overachieving participants I talked about in last week's email? The ones speeding past us with word counts in the 20,000s, and "kick me" signs fluttering from their backs?

Most of them will be cruising into the 50,000-word winners' circle this week.


But you know what? I've been doing a little research. And I've discovered that thousands of participants haven't written word *one* of their books. Which makes those of us with more than 10,000 words to our name look pretty darn good by comparison. Not as far ahead as we'd like to be, maybe. But nowhere near out of contention.

And this is where I need to talk a little bit about 35K.

To me, there are two milestones in NaNoWriMo. The obvious one is 50k, when the champagne flows and the confetti falls, and your friends hoist you up on their shoulders and sing songs about your heroic novel-writing feat.

My favorite moment of the whole endeavor, though, comes at 35K. There's less singing, mind you, but when you hit 35k, you won't need a word-count tool to tell you you're there. If Week Two had a wall of fatigue at its core; Week Three is built around this glorious, chocolate-covered door called 35K. That portal opens into a wonderland of renewed energy, revived bookish enthusiasm, and serious happy-dances at the computer keyboard.

Because when you pass 35k, the gravity of the whole event changes. Writing is easier. Plotting is easier. And at 35K, you will see something in the distance that is both wonderful and bittersweet.

You'll see the end of this crazy noveling adventure.

We'll talk more about that next week. For now, the only important thing is getting to 35K. For those of us in the lower rungs of the word-coun t bracket, that may seem an impossible feat. But as NaNoWriMo participants, we eat the impossible for breakfast.

And just to make sure you have everything you need for this week's intense writing sessions, I've asked our technical overseer Russ to pack a little something extra into this email.

You see, eight years ago, while trekking across Tibet, I met an old yak farmer who lived alone in a small yurt filled with paperbacks. The older volumes were self-help guides to better living through topical applications of yak butter. But the more recent books included an array of detective fiction set in London, sci-fi tales about interplanetary wars between asparagus creatures, and a sassy series about a young woman just starting to make a name for herself in the publishing industry.

The farmer, it turns out, had written all of them.

When I asked him how he managed it, he explained that he'd found a secret totem on the s teppe that endowed its possessor with superheroic noveling powers.

I excitedly told him about my idea for founding a project where everyone in the world would write a 50,000-word novel from scratch. He wept. Then he went and dug out the brown, wooden totem, and placed it in my hand. "Share it with your people," he said. "I don't need it anymore. Book contracts have ceased to have any meaning for me since Bertelsmann AG bought Random House."

He then lowered his sad eyes, and disappeared, leaving me with the curious object and keys to his yurt.

Thanks to that totem, I've managed to write a 50,000-word novel every year, overcoming dastardly word-count deficits and my own diabolical procrastinatory tendencies.

But now I think it's time to pass the torch. This morning, I ground up the totem, and asked Russ to carefully imbed a tiny portion of it into every Week Three pep talk email. You have it no w, and its magical writerly effects will last at least through the end of the month, and probably much longer.

All I ask in return is that you honor the last request the old man made to me before riding off into the yak-filled sunset.

"Please be at 35,000 words by the end of Week Three," he said. I nodded. I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I know now. As do you.

The challenge is mighty, but you are mightier still.

See you at 35K, writer!

18,400 words, 4 yaks, and 1 jumbo latte

I'm ahead of Chris Baty!


New Tom Waits!

Orphans is coming out in a week or so.


Outcast Genius

100 % Nerd, 56% Geek, 52% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

(Duh. I could have told them I was 100% nerd...)

(via ***Dave)


This is petty. I realize this.

I went to Panera Bread yesterday to do some writing (out of work early), and this really annoying guy was working at the bakery counter. Luckily, he didn't take my order.

For example, this older gent walks up to the counter with an older lady, pretty obviously his wife. His wife starts talking to the other girl at the counter, ordering food. This guy yells, "Are you looking at anything in particular?!?" because all older people are mostly deaf (in case you didn't know that). The older gent says, "Just wishing." The guy yells--yells--"Wishes can become reality!!!"* The older guy shrugs, and says something about being on a special diet. Without pause, the guy turns to the next people in line, who are actually just coming through the door, "Can I help you?!?"

A parody of great customer service.

I've seen this guy before, I swear I have. When I worked at Wells Fargo, there was a guy at the north Panera Bread store that was always there in the mornings. He had this bright, annoying voice, a romanesque haircut, a tic with his hands, and it was pretty obvious the other employees hated him.

When I first heard this guy at the Powers Panera open his mouth, I knew it was the same guy. Same voice, same attitude, same tic with his hands. But his HAIR was different! It looked like a wig--imagine an Elvis hairdo, levitated by additional, teased hair, to a full inch over skull height! It wasn't extra highs and swoops--no, the whole thing was an inch straight up. The sides were flat against his skull, too.

I couldn't help it. I had to laugh. I'm sure it wasn't the case, but I kept thinking it: Shhhh...he's in disguise!

* Some people speak in multiple punctuation marks. Really.


Variable Star

By Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson.

It's hard to judge a book like this--a plot written by the late Heinlein (it's definitely a Heinlein plot...oh, it's a Heinlein plot), but the story was actually written by Spider Robinson, a man who much admired Heinlein, but who has entirely different sensibilities. He wasn't instructed to write a Heinlein book, either--just to write the best Spider Robinson novel he could, using the Heinlein plot as a skeleton.

It's like watching a medium really channel a ghost. Fake mediums convince us with the absolute unquestionability of the verisimilitude of the spirit whose messages they carry back to the world of the living. A real medium would act, I imagine, more like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, speaking in his or her own voice, telling the ghost to shutupshutupshutup all right already, what he wants you to know is that... Kind of spooky in places, actually, when you can tell that Spider would rather be doing anything with the plot but what Heinlein's spirit is forcing him to do...

I enjoyed it, but it's hard to give unequivocal praise to a book that doesn't wholly live its own life, but lurches around possessed at times. If you don't like Heinlein or Spider, don't read this book; if you don't like both Heinlein and Spider, don't read this book. If you aren't prepared for a few ectoplasmic floops here and there, don't read this book. If you're in a mood to drink up the essence of a dead guy, celebrated by someone who doesn't always agree with him, please do. I kept thinking of Spider, boiling up the ashes of Heinlein, knocking him back: "Needs salt."



Ray's totally into Scooby Doo right now. We watched Scooby Doo: Where's My Mummy? tonight. There's a part where Fred is trying to put himself in Scooby and Shaggy's places in order to figure out where they might be, and mimics their voices.

So imagine my amusement when I was watching the credits, and the same actor, Frank Welker, was listed as both "Fred" and "Scooby Doo."

Jeez. This guy's as versatile as Mel Blanc:

Dinky Dog
Dynomutt the Dog Wonder
Hefty Smurf
Iceman (from the Spiderman cartoon)
Uni and Tiamat (from Dungeons and Dragons)
Scooter (from Go-Bots)
Pretty much the majority of the characters on Transformers
The Gremlins
Slimer (from the Ghostbusters cartoon)
Abu (Aladdin)
Curious George...

I got tired of typing, so I end with a quote:

"The best letter I ever got (and I have had lots of mail) was from a little girl back east who invited me (AKA "Hefty Smurf") along with Papa Smurf and Smurfette, to have tea with her in the forest."



You know the part of the novel when you're done with the beginning and just beginning the middle? I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I have finally passed it, and I only have another six thousand words to do tomorrow before I'm caught up again. For now.


Veteran's Day

Ray and I went to the Veteran's Day parade this morning...

Last night, we went to a Chinese buffet. Lee was working late, and I figured I could get some writing done at the mall while Ray played at the playground, so I offered up mall plus supper at anywhere Ray wanted to go. (I was expecting McDonalds, which I would otherwise boycott, but she decided she'd wait until she was going out somewhere with Dad. My angel.) While we were there, we sat next to a family with a girl named "Katie" and a mom named "Betsy" (my two sisters' names), and with Ray leading the conversation, I found out about the parade. Katie announced that if we were going to the parade, we had to stand outside of Starbucks, because they have coffee. Katie's in seventh grade.

So, when Ray woke up just before eight thirty this morning, and I remembered about the parade, we rushed off downtown and made it just in time. We walked up the street toward the headwaters, stopping, incidentally, about half a block away from the judges (and cannon), in front of Starbucks.

Cannon...a family next to us (Mom, Dad, Grandma, little girl with a big red bow, no hat or gloves, and a miniature folding lawn chair) whipped out their earplugs. "They're going to fire it! Here comes the marshall! Put your ear plugs in! Hurry!" But it wasn't that loud, and resonated in the lungs more than the eardrums, due to the fact that it wasn't facing us directly and had to echo off the windows across the street before it hit us. Those windows shook.

The guys in the front on horses managed to control the horses when the cannon went off, but it was close. We saw all kinds of vets, representatives from the different divisions in town (AF, Army), ROTC and JROTC groups, high school marching bands, and more Girl/Boy scouts than you can shake a stick at. Many old cars, including one with an aaaaoooooogaaaaaah horn. Someone gave us a flag; we lost it; someone else gave us another one.

Eventually, we went into the Starbucks for hot chocolate. Ray's nose was an icicle, so we grabbed a table at the window (why there was nobody else there, I'll never know) and watch another fifteen minutes or so. After deciding we were ready to brave the cold again, we went outside, changed our minds, and followed the parade route back to the car. Brrrrrrr.....

One of the last floats we saw before we left was the MDA float, a trailer with a curve of the earth and a few space-thingies floating over top. "That's where I work," I said. "Oooohhhhh..." Ray said. She walked down the street and told the next few people she saw that her mom worked at that place (point).


I forgot. There was a bagpipe marching band. Kilts. Nice.

Morals and Ethics

Sorry. Philsophical day.

I am vehemently against adult human beings following a moral system over an ethical one. The reason the 10 Athetistic Commandments bother me so much is that they outline yet another moral system, in place of an ethical one, with the very people you'd hope would reject morals. You could take them as a parody...but they don't come across as a joke.

Most people accept "morals" and "ethics" as being the same thing. They're not. I'm going to use biblical examples here, but that's what I'm familiar with.

Morality is a system of right and wrong, in which one follows given rules. The result of following a given rule is reward; the result of not following a given rule is punishment. The 10 Commandments and the Old Testament outline a moral system. "Thou Shalt." If someone doesn't follow the instructions contained in the Old Testament, various punishments are outlined; also, the stories illustrate what happens when someone doesn't do what God wants, and the result is never good.

Ethics is a system of good and bad (like Ray's preschool--good choice, bad choice), in which one espouses principals. The result of following a principal is the same as the result of not following a principal--whatever happens, happens. The Golden Rule and the New Testament outline an ethical system. "Treat everyone as you want to be treated." If someone doesn't follow the instructions, Christ points out that they'll never know God. Hell isn't mentioned, and Heaven isn't a place of reward--it's just "knowing God." They do throw in "life everlasting," but I hope you see the point.

The difference between the two systems is that with Morality, one's responsibility is limited to following rules. Whether or not the rules accomplish what needs to be accomplished is not under question, and, in fact, must never come under question. With Ethics, one is responsible for the consequences of one's actions, regardless of intent or even the supposed worthiness of the principal you follow. Suppose you come across someone who does not want to be treated the way you would want to be treated: you still have to live with the consequences. Maybe next time, you'll ask first.

This is not to say people who follow the 10 Commandments (either in the Book religions or the Atheistic version) do not take responsibility for their actions or that people who practice the Golden Rule always do; only that the systems themselves push for certain types of behavior and contain different assumptions. Morality assumes you follow instructions; Ethics assumes you're guided by a principal. Children follow instructions; adults should learn to make up their own minds and accept the consequences of their actions, all the way through. Mistakes will be made. "We are all sinners." This is something you live with--unless you truly follow a moral system, in which case you find a way to punish yourself or make yourself outcast from your group (or find a Judas goat).


Fishing for Children

Find a good spot in the mezzanine area over the play place at the mall. Bring one laser pointer.

"We have to catch the ruby spot! There it is! Go get it! Go get it!"

KELO blooper...

From So. Dak.'s own KELO TV!

"Angela Kennecke talks about President Bush (1st one) and how his mother died. All to the clip of someone throwing a dead coyote in a pickup."

(via Mike.)


Election Results

I have too much to say about the election results, so instead I will relate the following story:

I was talking to someone at work today about the election. She said her husband was almost in a froth because she hadn't voted to support the Colorado ballot measure that would have allowed the state to start/participate in a lawsuit against the federal government to force them to enforce immegration laws. She also said they'd gotten in a shouting match because she'd voted to raise the minimum wage to $6.85 cents (and tied to inflation).

Nevermind that keeping minimum wages low (so low that only an immigrant can afford to take the job, because it isn't a living wage) only contributes to the influx of them damn aliens...



First thing this morning. Electronic voting machine (solo), down.

It took me five years to trust electronic deposits. It'll take a lot longer to trust these jokers.

Ten Atheistic Commandments

I've seen this around a number of places now. My immediate reaction upon reading these the other day was...bleah.

1. Thou SHALT NOT believe all thou art told.

Then don't believe this list, either...because there's a friggin' agenda.

2. Thou SHALT seek knowledge and truth constantly.

Which means that anything that doesn't fit in the currently accepted definition of "truth" is irrational and a falsehood. Why did the pendulum swing so far away from science? Was it not pushed by decades of this that and the other scientific toy? The belief that science was the only rational tool for improving people's lives?

3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.

Thou SHALT force your beliefs down someone else's throat. Science doesn't understand what's going on any better than religion does--people need both spirituality and rationality. The world works the way it works regardless of whether physics groks it or not. Science makes for a good description of the world in certain, limited areas...but so does religion. Science can tell you it's OK to hurt people who aren't genetically ideal...science can tell you it's OK to come up with biological weapons (as long as they aren't really intended to be used, of course!) Science can justify dehumanizing "stupid" people.

4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.

And will you forgive them or not? Religion is a tool that people use. Mistakes have been made. Science is a tool that people use. Mistakes have been made. Shall we not forget the atrocities committed in the name of rationality? Hiroshima? Holocaust, anyone?

5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations.

Because they're damned well going to grow up to appreciate it, whether they like it or not. Was it religion that invented the internal combustion engine?

6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man.

Even if that peace is oppression. Even if your leaders are actively destroying the things you hold dear. Pacifism has flaws, too. Is this really something you want people to believe in?

7. Thou SHALT live this one life thou hast to its fullest.

Even if it means doing so at someone else's expense. I don't see anything in here about compassion...kindness...appreciation...just peace and contributions.

8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics.

And what does that mean, exactly?

9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State.

Because it's a great rallying point between "Us" and "Them."

10. Thou SHALT support those who follow these commandments.

And nobody else?

I don't care for the Old Testament's 10 commandments, either, but these are just instructions for turning the atheism/religion spectrum into a self-sustaining Middle Eastern conflict. Path to unendingly unpleasant place, good intentions, I'm sure.

Excuse of the Day

Ray said her teacher had to go home today because of hiccups. Hm...


The Lessons of Scooby Doo

Evil wears many faces...fear wears but two.

Live life to the fullest...braaaaaap!

Luck goes to those who already survived the banana peel to the sole of the foot, the flying water hose to the pants, and the door to the face.

Nothing is what it seems...except a flat-out bribe.

The biggest challenge you will ever face is your own incompetence.


The Scooby Snacks box looks like the box for goldfish crackers. Intentional?


An O. Henry Love Story.


Lee took Ray out to give me some writing time (and to give Ray out-of-the-house time) and picked up Variable Star, by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson, and some good chocolate for me.

I finished up writing, decided I needed COFFEE, and picked up World War Z, by Max Brooks (also wrote The Zombie Survival Guide) while I was at Borders. Darling, I love you. Have some zombies. Sucked me in for a good forty minutes at the bookstore, anyway. Lee says, "Interesting."

What D. Saw...

I saw the moon rise. It was p-i-n-k. And the size of a golf ball.

Luke...I am your father...

Report to room 100A for your allowance...

My brother Matt's wife, Erica, has the coolest meeting rooms at work.

35 of 100

In 2005, Time magazine picked the 100 best English-language novels (1923-present). Mark the selections you have read in bold. If you liked it, add a star (*) in front of the title, if you didn’t, give it a minus (-). [I’ve added, if you feel totally indifferent or just can’t remember, mark it with a question mark (?).] Then, put the total number of books you’ve read in the subject line.

The Adventures of Augie March - Saul Bellow
All the King’s Men - Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral - Philip Roth
An American Tragedy - Theodore Dreiser
* Animal Farm - George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra - John O’Hara
? Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
The Assistant - Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds - Flann O’Brien
Atonement - Ian McEwan
- Beloved - Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories - Christopher Isherwood
* The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
- Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
Call It Sleep - Henry Roth
* Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
* The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
* A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner - William Styron
The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
? The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time - Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather
A Death in the Family - James Agee
The Death of the Heart - Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance - James Dickey
Dog Soldiers - Robert Stone
Falconer - John Cheever
* The French Lieutenant’s Woman - John Fowles
The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain - James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
* The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Gravity’s Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
* The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
The Heart of the Matter - Graham Greene
Herzog - Saul Bellow
Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas - V.S. Naipaul
* I, Claudius - Robert Graves
? Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Light in August - William Faulkner
* The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
* Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
* Lord of the Flies - William Golding
* The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving - Henry Green
Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children - Christina Stead
Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Money - Martin Amis
The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
? Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
?!? Naked Lunch - William Burroughs
Native Son - Richard Wright
* Neuromancer - William Gibson
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
* 1984 - George Orwell
? On the Road - Jack Kerouac
* One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird - Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire - Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India - E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays - Joan Didion
Portnoy’s Complaint - Philip Roth
* Possession - A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
- Rabbit, Run - John Updike
Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions - William Gaddis
* Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
* Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
* Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor - John Barth
* The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold - John le Carré
? The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
? Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
* To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
* Ubik - Philip K. Dick
Under the Net - Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry
* Watchmen - Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise - Don DeLillo
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

(Via ***Dave)


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Loses Baby Gorilla Umande

From the CMZ newsletter:

Umande Finally Meets Mom

Umande now has a gorilla mom to call his very own! Lulu, a 41-year-old female, and Umande have been getting to know each other since his arrival at the Columbus Zoo in early October. They seemed to form a bond early on. He would vocalize when he saw the other gorillas, but his vocalization was different and longer towards Lulu, and she would vocalize back. On the first day he was allowed to touch the gorillas through the mesh, he spent the entire day near Lulu. They touched their tongues and noses together and built nests next to each other on opposite sides of the mesh. At one point when Lulu leaned against the mesh, Umande grabbed on to her like he was ready to go for a ride on her back.

I wonder how his keeper's doing. Every time we went up to the zoo, the same woman was taking care of the baby.


Field Day?

Ted Haggard, the leader of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (a very popular, massive church on the north side of town, and a big supplier of Focus on the Family shock troops), resigned yesterday after being accused of having sex with a gay prostitute.

Why does it have to be like this? Why is sex immediately equivalent to dirty laundry? Nobody was hurt here. And who knows what to believe...I mean, the timing is so bad, it's hard to believe it.


Way Back When

Jack Black is the leader of the pseudo-punk Nasties in Neverending Story III (1994). The same facial expressions, the same gestures as in King Kong. Hm...he was in Waterworld, too.

Prince of Egypt

Watching Prince of Egypt with Ray. What a cruel story...the only solution to conflict being death, death, death in the name of a miracle. Death is justified if your people are oppressed. (Justified...as if it were an act without a price.)

Thousands of years later, the Moses story is still being carried out in the Mideast. Because it's OK to assume violence is a good answer...if you're being oppressed.


Kagu Tsuchi, Japanese Fire God

When the Japanese Fire God, Kagu Tsuchi, was born, he burnt his mother, Izanami-no-Mikoto, to death. His father, Izanagi-no-Mikoto, killed Kagu Tsuchi, chopped him into eight pieces which turned into eight mountain gods. (My guess is these were volcanoes?)

Izanagi-no-Mikoto followed his sister-wife to the land of the dead, but she'd already eaten of the food there and couldn't return. She told him to wait for her in a cave, but he became impatient and tried to find her: she was rotted and eaten by worms. She was angry at him for seeing her like that, and sent demons after him to kill him. "You have seen my nakedness; now I will see thine!" He escaped, but her undead zombie corpse tried to follow him. He started speaking the words of divorce. She threatened to kill 1000 people a day if he did, and he replied that he'd cause 1500 people to be born every day, at which point another god intervened, and she disappeared...