Saturday, November 28, 2009


Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
When physicist Michael Shelborne mysteriously vanishes, his son Shel discovers that he had constructed a time travel device. Fearing his father may be stranded in time - or worse - Shel enlists the aid of Dave MacElroy, a linguist, to accompany him on the rescue mission. Their journey through history takes them from the enlightenment of Renaissance Italy through the American Wild West to the civil-rights upheavals of the 20th century. Along the way, they encounter a diverse cast of historical greats, sometimes in unexpected situations. Yet the elder Shelborne remains elusive. And then Shel violates his agreement with Dave not to visit the future. There he makes a devastating discovery that sends him fleeing back through the ages, and changes his life forever.

I really enjoyed this book. While I almost didn't pick it up because of the title (dumb if you ask me) I'm glad I took a chance. It's a very smart, realistic portrayal of time travel. The story is more about the people than the technical stuff. The plot is reminiscent of Timeline by Michael Crichton but far more satisfying. I think I've read 2 books by McDevitt now. The first, Eternity Road, was only so-so for me. It made me hesitate to read more by this author. Now I'm ready to find more. Has anyone out there read any other books by him? Can you recommend something?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A. J. Jacobs
For his first book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in a quest to learn everything in the world. In The Year of Living Biblically, he followed every single rule of the Bible -- from the Ten Commandments right on down to stoning adulterers.
Now comes a collection of his most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. (And which drives A.J.'s patient wife, Julie, to the brink of insanity.)

I really, really, really like Jacob's books. This guy is really going out of his way to make sense of life. He thinks way outside the box and he doesn't really care (well, I'm sure he cares a little) what people think of his weird experiments. He's like a mad scientist of humanity. I can't wait to see what he does next.
I'm not an in-depth book reviewer. I merely put these entries out there so I can keep track of what I've read and so I can recommend these books to those few of you who read my scribblings. I highly recommend you grab anything Jacobs has written and devour it. You won't regret a single moment.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Break in the Routine

My routine has been shot to Hades ever since the fire that damaged the theatre. The truth of that hit me this morning as I walked to work. First of all, I used to walk to and from work almost every day but recently have been having to drive due to needing to use the jeep for work-related errands. Second, the route I usually walk is different. It just feels odd. I know change can be good and I know the outcome of all this will be positive but, right now, it just feels odd.
I used to get up at 6:45 am to be in by 8 am. I accomplished a lot while no one was around the first couple hours. In the afternoons, I would head home around 2 pm and have time to work on art before Sarah came home. The last couple weeks I've been going in at 9 am and working longer days. I haven't done any significant art making for quite a while. I had also been walking 3 times a week after work but with it getting dark at 4:30 and the rain, that's not been possible. Everything is just "off." Pile on top of that the added worry of the Greenwood arsons and you've got several pretty stressful weeks.
I hope things will even out soon. I really hope we can be back in the theatre for the first show of 2010. I know routine sounds like a dull thing but it kinda keeps me on track. Right now, I feel like I'm derailed.


WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
During his decades-spanning career, award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer has "undoubtedly cemented his reputation as one of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation" (SF Site). Now he adds to his impressive body of work with an imaginative and mind-blowing new trilogy of the web — and its awakening ... Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.
But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the world wide web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter ...

Sawyer is one of my favorite writers of sci-fi. I normally don't like to read hard sci-fi but Sawyer makes it palatable by not forgetting character development. His stories are populated by realistically rendered people.
That said, this book is (in my humble opinion) not one of his best. Perhaps it's the storyline itself that doesn't interest me. An awakening worldwide web sounds intriguing but it barely emerges in this first book of a trilogy. The story of Caitlin is interesting and a side story about a chimp is also very interesting but I found the tech-speak and sentient web stuff pretty unreadable. I'll probably continue when parts 2 and 3 come out just to see how it all plays out. Perhaps as a whole, it will make a better story.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Our neighborhood has been experiencing a rash of arsons in the past few months. A couple of weeks ago, arson destroyed 4 businesses and severely damaged the theatre where we work. I'd like to say that's the last one but there have been a couple since. It's scary because you don't know when/where they will strike next. There seems to be no method to the madness.
I lost an apartment to fire in 1999. It affected me deeply at the time. In hindsight, I know that I was suffering from post traumatic stress for at least 6 months following the event. Once I was in my new apt. I woke up nearly every night thinking there was another fire. I would have to get up and check everything before being able to go back to bed. For a while after that fire, everytime I heard a siren I tensed up.
This new situation is different. I am handling it better but I am finding that the sound of sirens is bothering me again. I am also fearful about the random nature of the arsons. I find myself dwelling on the fear that our apt. may get torched. I know the fear is irrational but it's there all the same. I hope they catch this firebug. The whole neighborhood, including me, needs some peace.


Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture by Daniel Radosh
What does it mean when a band is judged by how hard they pray rather than how hard they rock? Would Jesus buy “Jesus junk” or wear “witness wear”? What do Christian skate parks, raves, and romance novels say about evangelicalism — and America? Daniel Radosh went searching for the answers and reached some surprising conclusions. Written with the perfect blend of amusement and respect, Rapture Ready! is an insightful, entertaining, and deeply weird journey through the often hidden world of Christian pop culture. This vast and influential subculture — a $7 billion industry and growing — can no longer be ignored by anyone who wants to understand the social, spiritual and political aspirations of evangelical Christians. Through 18 cities and towns in 13 states — from the Bible Belt to the outskirts of Hollywood — Radosh encounters a fascinating cast of characters, including Bibleman, the Caped Christian; Rob Adonis, the founder and star of Ultimate Christian Wrestling; Ken Ham, the nation’s leading prophet of creationism; and Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye and pastor of his own liberal, punk rock church. From Christian music festivals and theme parks to Passion plays and comedy nights, Radosh combines gonzo reporting with a keen eye for detail and just the right touch of wit. Rapture Ready! is an eye-opening survey of a parallel universe and a unique perspective on one of America’s most important social movements.
I heard about this book on a podcast so I thought I'd give it a go. As one who used to be immersed in this culture, I wanted to hear an outsiders perpective. Radosh was respectful but also critical when needed. I found much of what he had to say to be very insightful and downright funny. Here's a passage that cracked me up.
"Cameron Williams is one of Left Behind's main heroes. His friends call him Buck, 'because they said he was always bucking tradition and authority.' The other hero is Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. That's right, Buck Williams and Rayford Steele. There's also Steve Plank, Bruce Barnes, and Dick Burton. Apparently, having a porn star name is enough to keep you from getting rapture."
If you find this hilarious, this book is probably for you. If you are offended by this, stay away. I found it hilarious. I have always felt like a lot of Christian pop culture needed to be made fun of. In fact, I have done that and still do. Many times my art is a jab at the ridiculousness of Christian culture. So, needless to say, I found this book to be very entertaining.

Jim Butcher's the Dresden Files: Storm Front, Vol. 1 by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Adrian Syaif.

This is a comic adaptation of Jim Butcher's first Dresden book. I did not like it. The art was fine...nothing special though. The thing that bothered me was the number of typos. I read 3 pages in a row where there were typos. That's some pretty crummy editing. I had to put it down.