Monday, February 27, 2006


They say death always comes in threes. Don Knotts passed away over the weekend. Darren McGavin also passed away. He, of course, is best know for the quintissential father role of all time - The Old Man from A Christmas Story. Of genre note, he starred in the cult television show, Night Stalker, I've never seen an episode. Lastly, science fiction writer Octavia Butler passed away over the weekend, too. I haven't read all of her books and stories, but those I have read were thought-proviking and moving. I first read Dawn in my Science Fiction Literature class at Rutgers many years ago. The book really opened my eyes, made me think, terrified me, and made me want to read more of her work. I eventually picked up an omnibus of the Xenogenesis saga and really enjoyed it. I've read a few of her short stories and liked them, too. Her most recent book I read was Parable of the Sower for the SFFW SF Book Club a couple of years ago, and I've heard great things about Fledgling, her take on the Vampire myth.

On a happier note, I took Mrs. Blog o' Stuff to see Shinedown at the Starland Ballroom last night. I gave her the tickets as a Christmas gift, since Shinedown is a newer band we both enjoy quite a bit - they are a mix of southern rock and hard rock and lead singer Brent Smith has a deep, powerful voice. Shinedown was great, even if Smith's voice wasn't holding up the whole time, it sounded as if he had a cold. They dedicated their cover of Skynyrd's Simple Man to the late, great Dimebag Darrell and my only criticism of their performance was that it wasn't long enough.

Of the two opening bands, Flyleaf and local Philly hard rock band Halestorm, I enjoyed Halestorm much more. Flyleaf reminded me too much of the Cranberries, and I would never consider myself a fan of the Cranberries. Anyway, both bands were fronted by women and Lzzy Hale of Halestorm has an incredible, powerful voice. We liked Halestorm so much, we picked up their CD at the show.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Minor post & links

I decided to sign up with LiveJournal, if for nothing else to have an account with them.

Allan Heinberg will be writing the new Wonder Woman series when it launches. I thought the arc of JLA he co-wrote with Geoff Johns was OK and his Young Avengers series is pretty well received. Of course I'll give it a chance, but despite the last few issues of Rucka's run on WW being crap, Heinberg does have some pretty big shoes to fill.

Via Franklin and his new blog, I came across this very well thought-out article by the Bookslut, Jessa Crispin. For the most part I agree, as a reviewer for SFFWorld, and hearing what the other reviewers have said about vanity/self-published book titles, she pretty much nails the points.

I may be the last one to point this out, but ABC is starting up a Masters of Science Fiction anthology show. Sounds good to me.

Don't have time for more blogging now, until next time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Random Round-Up

Pitchers and catchers are in camp, baseball starts soon, and I’ve got to finalize the four players I will be holding over from last season Fantasy Baseball League. I finished in probably the worst position possible last season – 4th place. Fourth is just shy of winning money and results in picking 7th overall the following season. Granted, first place picks last, but the way we rotate the draft the first and last pick get back-to-back picks as the draft proceeds. I would have rather finished in last place, which of course is out of the pot, but at least last place guarantees first pick in the following year’s draft. As it is, I’ve got a few decent players to keep in Ichiro, Brad Lidge, and Mark Buerhle, I just need to figure out the final holdover. Of course the men are separated from the boys in the middle rounds when the rankings don’t mean is much and you’ve got to build the heart of your pitching rotation and outfield.

Random thought – I’ve been trying to weigh the benefits of LiveJournal vs Blogger. It seems most of the kewl kids and writers are on LiveJournal and lord knows I want to be one of the kewl kids. I’ve seen some of the WordPress journals and they seem entirely too restrictive for my tastes. Regardless, I may just register with LJ anyway.

On to the geekery – In watching my Farscape season 2 DVD set, the ninth episode, Out of their Minds, was on deck. During the course of the episode, a very familiar-looking bird-like creature appeared on the screen. Being the Henson fans that we are, Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff and I remarked simultaneously, how much the aliens on this episode (referred to as Halosians) resembled the Skeksis, the giant bird creatures from Henson’s epic fantasy The Dark Crystal. After watching the episode, I did the geeky thing and searched the Web to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough, the FX people behind the show created the Halosians in homage to the Skeksis (scroll down about 1/3 of the page).

I am still churning through both Judas Unchained and The Amber Wizard, and I’m still enjoying both books.

One of the many things that makes Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff the greatest is how she indulges my love for beer. For Valentine's Day she gave me some cool Guinness swag and whenever she stops at Wegmans, which has a very impressive beer selection, she always picks up some random beer for me. The most recent gem of a beer she picked up for me was Yard's Washington Porter. This had to be one of the better bottled porters I've had since Samuel Adams sadly stopped producing their Honey Porter a few years ago. Good, good stuff. She said she picked it up for me in honor of President's Day holiday.

Last, but not least, great news for Mr. Lynch; as if I needed another compelling reason to read this book as soon as it publishes.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Now We Know Why Hurley Hasn't Lost Weight

Two weeks in a row with strong Lost episodes, that hasn't happened in a while. Of course, the f-tards at ABC are skipping next week. This is becoming quite annoying, just when they build up the show's momentum, ABC decides to wait two weeks to show a new episode, and this is the second or third time they've done this during the second season. However, I don't think they will pull any April Fool's jokes on their audience. As it was, there were a lot of things to like in last night's episode. Sayid is a pretty complex character, so anytime the focus is on him, I'm happy. When I saw Clancy Brown's name on the opening credits I admit it, I was excited to see where the Kurgan/Lex Luthor was going to pop up. As soon as Kate's father mentioned a superior with whom Sayid would be meeting, I figured it out. Jack was being unreasonable last night, I thought and I'm pretty sure the numbers flipped to Egyptian Hieroglyphics just before Locke entered the numbers.

I liked the Oz references, too, from Henry Gale to the Hot Air Baloon down to Sayid's quote about it "always being inside me," a reference to the Tin Man. I'll be surprised if none of the characters mention the Oz references, considering what a cultural icon the Oz film and stories have become over the years. I nearly forgot about Danielle still hanging around the island, so I had a bit of a WTF moment when she popped up again.

I think the resolution of the frog hunt also showed us how sick of bastard Sawyer is capable of being. Overall, a solid episode.

Lasty, for the first time in maybe 5-10 years, I bought an X-Men comic book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Snow & Starships


Like I said last year around this time, any time there is a hint of snow where I live, which considering it is the Northeast is pretty frequent, newscasters act like the world is going to end. Granted, I was shoveling my long driveway for four hours on Sunday, but I'm still alive. I think most of the tri-state area survived, too.

I've been having this on-again, off-again relationship with the new Battlestar Galactica show on SciFi. I really enjoyed the mini-series and the first couple of episodes of the show. Around the fourth episode of season one, it started to bore me to sleep and I gave up on it. As buzz around the show continued to grow, I figured I would check in again. I haven't been disappointed after watching the last two or three new episodes. I've got it on my TiVO and I'm looking forward to catching up with it when SciFi decides to do the inevitable marathon of episodes. Not surprisingly, there's a Battlestar Galactica Wiki.

That channel is so confounding, though. On one hand they create quality programming like Battlestar Galactica and FarScape, on the other they cease publication of SciFiction and produce an abomination of a miniseries like Earthsea. They've got a miniseries coming up in march that looks to be a guilty craptacular fantasy-fest in Dark Kingom: The Dragon Lord. I'm not filled with any sort of confidence that it will be good, especially when the commercial says "Before Narnia, Before Lord of the Rings..." I will tune in to hopefully, be proven wrong.

Last and certainly not least, I posted my review of Wayne Thomas Batson's debut novel, The Door Within, last night.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Pandora's Star

I posted my review of Hamilton's Pandora's Star last night. As much as I loved Fallen Dragon, this might be even better. Pandora's Star was an incredible book and I'm lucky enough to be starting on the ARC of Judas Unchained right now. These are huge (PS Paperback 988 pages, JU ARC 827 pages!), epic, sprawling, books that make reading an addictive experience. Hamilton delivers just about exactly what I am looking for when I am looking for excellent, sprawling Space Opera.

On a completely unrelated note, am I the only person addicted to Wikipedia?

Am I wrong for not giving two craps about the Olympics or the World Baseball Classic?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lost improvement

Lost was an enormous improvement over the previous Charlie-beat down episode. I thought the islanders were a bit unforgiving towards him, and that lead Charlie to doing what he did with the baby. This week's episode was just about a slam-dunk with some more good Sawyer stuff. He'd been too calm and reserved since he returned and it was good to see his character proverbially erupt. Ana-Lucia is still fairly annoying, but I hate to admit she is growing on me. It was good to see Sayid once again, I almost forgot he was on the show. As usual, the preview of the upcoming episode looks almost as good, if not better than the current week's episode itself.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dark Elves and Dogfish

I finished of the final book in Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy yesterday, and overall, I liked the books more than I expected. A nice amount of fast-paced adventure, with more introspection from Drizzt than I expected. There really wasn't any suspense regarding whether or not Drizzt would survive his trials, but I still thought a bit more tension would have made the overall storyline a bit tighter. I'm still churning through Pandora's Star, but for more of my thoughts, go to the SFFW SF Book Club. In paperback this book is 988 pages, so that may explain why I've not yet finished the book. In the next day or two I'll be starting The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson, a YA fantasy I will be reviewing for

On the beer front, one microbrew/craft beer I've really been enjoying the past few months is Dogfish Head beer. One of the earliest craft breweries, Dogfish started in 1997 and is known for their three hoppy ales (60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, and 120 Minute IPA), but they do brew a wide variety of beers. The Raison D'Etre is very good as is the Chicory Stout. Word of warning on the Raison D'Etre it is 8% alcohol, almost double that of normal beers. They are both full bodied and very distinctive tastes. During the fall, their Punkin' Ale is one of the best cinnamon-spiced beers on the market. During this past Christmas Season, they started a limited run of Fort beer, which is brewed up with "a ton" of mashed up raspberries. Despite that I didn't find it too fruity, unlike some of the other fruit-spiked beers, and I'm not sure how long the beer will be available. The label is a piece of artwork by Tara McPherson, an artist known in comic circles for her various covers for Vertigo Comics.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Booky Linky

The start of a new month means new bookclub discussions start at SFFWorld.

In Fantasy, we've got two this month:
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin*
The Wraeththu Trilogy Omnibus by Storm Constantine

In Science Fiction we've got
Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton, which I'm reading right now.

Neil Gaiman relaunched his Web site today, too

A Dark Crystal sequel is being made. With such fond memories of the original, I the potential sequel gives me a case hesitant interest.

*Spoilers for future books will be removed from the discussion.