Friday, June 23, 2006

what have i been doing

What have I been doing? Not blogging for one thing. Too many things to do. Or, too little motivation to blog. I don't know. I do this in spurts. I haven't been feeling my muse lately I guess.

I have been :

riding my bike... a lot

doing yardwork... a lot

drinking red wine... a lot

reading... a lot

I recently finished Anne Rice's book The Witching Hour. I'd read the first four books in her Vampire Chronicles series but I had at least two people tell me they liked her Mayfair Witches books better so I thought I'd give it a try. I can say one thing for this book: It is long! Almost 1,000 pages. And the pages are large with a fairly small font so it's a whole lotta words. It was somewhat of a struggle to get through this book. Typically I read one to two books a week. This book took me a month. The story was pretty good but there seemed to be a lot of filler that could have been cut out without affecting the story. The long descriptions of the lives of every Mayfair witch from every generation got tedious after a while. It reminded me somewhat of Moby Dick. That's another book I struggled with. Page after page of long tedious decriptions of the intricacies of the whaling industry. Large chunks of the book read like a technical manual for whalers. You could have eliminated abut 3/4 of that book and been left with a pretty decent adventure story.

Perhaps the biggest disappointement of The Witching Hour was the ending. You realize when the book's done that the story is just getting started. It's like the whole 1000 pages was just the set up, the prologue, and the real story is about to begin. The story continues in the books Lasher and Taltos but after spending a month with the Mayfairs I needed a break from them so I'm on to other things.

The next thing I read was Everfree by Nick Sagan (son af the famous astronomer Carl Sagan). I read it in one day. It's the final book (supposedly) of his trilogy that began with Idlewild and Edenborn. I enjoyed all three books. Some intersting ideas. Everfree wasn't as good as the other two. The plot interested me less and there were many themes that started but were left undeveloped. A little more character development would've helped. This was the opposite extreme of The Witching Hour. I wanted more descriptions, more explanations. It seemed more like a novella or long short story than a novel. I guess if you look at the entire trilogy as just one book it makes for a pretty decent novel. It seems kind of light weight however if you compare it to recent novels by Charles Stross, Neal Asher or the debut novel from David Marusek, Counting Heads, which I'm currently reading. While Everfree is supposed to conclude the trilogy, Sagan has left the door open for future books in this series. The suggestion that an alien race may be responsible for Black Ep and all of the post humans problems opens up whole new possibilities and story lines.

In other news:

I am very excited because I just received in the mail, Roast Beef's new zine: Man Why You Even Got To Do A Thing. It was excellent. Very funny, very cool. Some brilliant writing. The story about Jesus and Mary Magdeline getting into a typical married couple fight is hilarious. There's also an interview where they discuss the amount of fiber that can be obtained from beans that are commercially available as compared to beans that are only privately available (What are these? Secret black market beans?) Made me laugh out loud. On his blog he just announced issue #2 of the zine is in the works. The "sex" issue. I can't wait. If you want to order a copy of his zine it can be found here.

What else? Oh yeah. Last night I taught the boys how to play poker. Number 1 son has been bugging me about it because he keeps seeing Texas Holdem tournaments on ESPN and he wants to play. He's all about the money. The wife was out with the girls last night so it seemed like a good time to play. I got a nice set of poker chips and a table for Christmas so I broke those out for the first time. I got an automatic card shuffler too but I didn't use it. I mean, what good is an automatic card shuffler? By the time I load the machine with the cards and push the button and then take the cards out I could have shuffled them 3 or 4 times myself, manually. This whole idea of an automatic card shuffler does not make sense to me. Unless, I guess, you are missing a hand or a whole arm. Then it might come in handy (sorry). Or, if you lack the manual dexterity in your fingers to shuffle cards and not have them fly out in a card explosion onto the floor. I have seen this happen and it is not pretty.

First I had to teach them the basics. You know, four of a kind beats a flush, that sort of thing. Then I told them about betting and tried to decribe some basic betting strategies. I told them about bluffing. Number 1 son like this idea alot. A way to trick people out of money even if you have lousy cards. Then we started with the basic games. They loved five card draw. We played that for an hour. When number one son made a fifty dollar bet I figured he was bluffing so I called and sure enough, he was. The very next hand, Number 2 son made a 100 dollar bet. We felt he was bluffing for sure so we both called. He had a flush. Kicked our butts and won the biggest pot of the night. Did I mention he's 6 years old? We played 7 card stud for a while and then Texas Holdem. The boys had a great time and mastered the basics fairly well. Except for one thing. Number 2 son couldn't quite grasp the concept of folding. He stayed in every hand whether he had anything or not. When I'd ask him why he didn't fold a hand he'd say "I forgot".

I'm planning more poker nights in the future. My goal is to get the boys proficient enough to be able to take the other kids in the neighborhood. I think that'd be a great way for them to increase their Yu-Gi-Oh and basketball card collections at no cost to me.

Next weekend is the big family reunion. My dad is turning 70 and he wanted his family around him so my brother and my sisters and their families are all coming home and we're going to spend 5 days together. We're going to Brown county and we're renting a boat to party on Lake Monroe. We're also celebrating my boy's birthdays. They'll be 7 and 9 years old in July. Number 2 son was born on the 4th of July. Should be fun. I always enjoy the chance to get drunk and obnoxious in front of my parents (who never approved of drinking and rarely imbibe). I also get to stress out my sister-in-law. She's a high maintenance, nervous type and it's easy and fun to push her buttons and watch her stress.


Blogger Neal Asher said...

Why thanks!

4:10 AM  

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