Monday, July 31, 2006
Last night I took the test, open-book. Wound up getting 74 out of 75 correct. Misread the book on a homeland security question. I'm sure I'm on a watchlist somewhere now, but since it's unlikely the US Navy's going to host Fleet Week on our lake I think I'm okay to take the ski boat out for a spin and not wind up in Guantanamo.
So I printed out my temporary certificate and ordered a "permanent" card (permanent until the state wants some more money and requires everyone to take the test again). This afternoon I get to keelhaul some campers; just because they happen to be floating on innertubes whilst being hauled doesn't need to spoil my fun. Aarrrrgghhhh! (Piracy was not covered in the boating test.)
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Pirates II Times Two
I covered his eyes during the crow-pecking scene and he did all right with everything else. Well, he got bored in places, and understandably so. The only time he grabbed me was when the Kraken roars at the end, but the entire audience flinched at that point so it wasn't just him.
Good movie. Not as good as the first; lot of loose ends to be tied up in the third. We skipped the concession stand as soda and a three-hour sit don't go well together (the movie's 150 minutes and we got there 20 minutes early and there were 10-plus minutes of previews).
Sidenote: If you arrive in the theater after the previews have started and you ask the guy with his kid who were there twenty minutes early to leave their good seats and move over (and the people next to them to move over the other way) so you and your also-late-arriving friend can have good seats too, don't get all huffy when they display a decided lack enthusiasm* for your revised seating arrangement. Maybe couch it in feng shui terms and see if that approach fares any better. Or offer some cash; cash works surprisingly well. Particularly at a pirate movie.
*Wish I had said "I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request." Man, that would have been sweet.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Latest StVdP Haul
- Harry Connick, Jr's We Are in Love in a one-of-a-kind collector's jewel case: the front has the WAiL booklet, the back and spine the info for the soundtrack to St. Elmo's Fire. Gotta love shopping at Vinnie the P's!
- 5-CD audiobook (abridged) of Sara Paretsky's Fire Sale. Was going to pick up the book at Freddy's $6 summer read table (got Books Five and Six of Stephen King's Dark Tower series there). Shopping around pays off again: got the CD set for $3.
- Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (this copy was formerly of the Roosevelt branch of the Chicago Public Library)
- Right as Rain by George P. Pelecanos
- Hell to Pay also by Pelecanos
- Symptoms of Withdrawl by Christopher Kennedy Lawford (because she likes the author, not because she's going through withdrawl. So far as I know. What are those symptoms again?)
Summer's almost over. Better get busy.
Don't Buy Deliver Us From Evelyn
I know, I know. I've hyped Chris Well's novel here several times already (here for instance), even written a review for it on Amazon (which I hyped here, too). So why am I suggesting you delay buying the book for a couple more weeks?
Wealth? Fame? Being part of something bigger than yourself?
Yes. Yes! YES!!!
Here's the deal. August 9th is Chris Well's 40th birthday and for approximately $10 -- the price of DUfE at Amazon -- you're invited to the party. What's he handing out by way of party favors?
Wealth: You'll receive a wealth of bonus material culled from Chris's numerous years as a writer. Short stories, humorous Lists (Bad Valentine #5: "You're like the aunt I never had."), comics, and assorted other goodies -- including a sneak peek at Book Three of Well's Kansas City Blues series: Kingdom Come.
Fame: Your name in print! Everyone who buys the book at Amazon as part of this deal will be thanked by name in Kingdom Come. Probably not in the first chapter, but somewhere in the book (most likely a special section, separate from the story ... I'm hoping for an intermission mid-way through).
Be a part of something bigger than yourself: Chris's reason for the promo goes beyond selling his book. It's his goal to be #1, at least as Amazon reckons things. No one knows for certain how Ammy figures her rankings, but there's a suspicion that a fair number of sales in a brief period of time can have a substantial effect in the book's position. So rather than encourage buyers to buy his book today or tomorrow (or any time prior to the 9th), Well is asking to set that money aside (in a very short term, very high yield money market account, perhaps) and buy his book in a couple weeks. He's not aware of anyone gaming the system like this for a fiction title (several authors/publishers have done it for non-fiction books), so you could be a part of history.
I'll probably mention this a time or three before the ninth. Chris has given me permission to tease some of the advance materials he's leaked my way. Rather than dump it all here and now, I'll spread it out over a few posts.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
(You Better) Shop Around
The Dollar Store? Wasn't expecting it to, but it doesn't hurt to check and sure enough: Nope.
Fred Meyer (local chain recently acquired by Kroger)? Yep.
Target? Still yep.
The price difference between the two? $5+ at Freddy's for a box (even after coupon); 3 boxes for $7 at Tarjay (that's $2.33 each).
In (almost) the words of Smokey Robinson (co-written by Berry Gordy):
'A-gotta get yourself a bargain son
Don't be sold on the very first one
[Cereal] come a dime a dozen*
A-try to find one who's gonna give ya [free iTunes downloads at a reasonable price]
*Adjusted for inflation from the 60's, perhaps
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Why God Made Little Green Apples
Like this one. (That's an apple in her mouth, not a white patch on her throat.)
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Another PhilPix: Then and Now
They've stopped by now and again. Here's Crackers with Phil when the boy was one. And Hawkeye and Phil when he (the boy again) was three.
This is Phil (age 6) and the Tellers.
The only crucial thing, really, is the list of books I've read this year. I've got a mostly up-to-date address book, fortunately; about all I've been updating on it lately is the reading list. I think I can check old blog posts to help compile the list (the What I'm Reading part doesn't overwrite previous entries).
At least I have an excuse now when I fall far short of my book-a-week goal at the end of the year...
Sunday, July 23, 2006
In da House
Best 3-D experience ever.
Above average movie. Some funny bits. Some scary bits. Some inappropriate bits that went over the boy's head. Touchy-feely ending. A Fred Willard/Catherine O'Hara pairing that's even better than the usual Eugene Levy/O'Hara match-up.
Not sure if it should have had a) a point or b) a clearer point, if in fact it had one, but it's probably better not to dwell on such things. Still, worth it if for nothing else than the excellent 3-D (which was never really exploited in a "House of Wax paddleball" kind of way) and the second pop-bottle bit in JD's bedroom.
If you have the choice between the 3-D and non- versions at your local multiplex, go extradimensional. It's worth the extra buck-fifty and you get to keep the polarized-lens specs.
Mini Family Reunion
Dina's cousin June (technically Dina's mom's cousin, but it's all family) and her daughter Victoria were in Corvallis for a wedding. They were joined by Bunny and Bob (Bunny is related to June on June's mother's side if you're charting this out) who live about ten miles away from where I grew up in San Jose. We met at the Harrison House and then went downtown to a Mongolian grill restaurant.
Here's a Kodak moment at the B&B. (from left: Phil, Dina, June, Bunny, Victoria, Bob)
Friday, July 21, 2006
Sleepout? Not Quite
Yeah, you're more macho...
So we hiked up to the gym to spend the night. On the concrete. With no stars overhead.
While it lasted, here's what the sleepout looked like:
This morning after very little sleep (and what I had included a dream where I was on the sleepout from hell, lying on the concrete floor of the gym), we all went back down to the waterfront where there still was no cougar, and the kids got in the lake for a polar bear swim. (There were no actual polar bears either...)
Phil says he went in deeper than this, but I didn't see it. He spent most of his time building a sand trench and goofing around with the chaplain's boys, Johnny and Daniel [1, 2, 3].
Needless to say, Dina gets the next outdoor, overnight parent-child bonding experience. If it involves sleeping on a concrete floor, she can have the next indoor one, too.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Long Night of the Soil
I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like ... no, I'm less excited than that.
Y'all enjoy your sleep tonight. Someone should. Unlikely to be me. (Maybe I'll get a story idea or two from the evening, though...)
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Are You Psych'd?
If you don't get USA Network or 10pm is past your bedtime, don't despair. iTunes is passing out the series premiere this week free. If you're on dial-up, the download might be complete by Friday at 10. Even so, it's worth tying up the phoneline for.
Check it out!
[7/17, 11:07pm: Even with broadband it took forever for this to download. My favorite line? "In the spirit world things get jumbled and out of sequence." Okay, maybe you have to see the whole scene; but trust me ... it's wonderful.]
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
After Fourteen-and-a-Half Months...
At the end of March 2005 I posted an Amazon book review of Hank Hanegraaff's The Last Disciple. The more I got involved in my own writing, it seems, the less time I had to write reviews for Amazon. Still, I miss the old days of compulsively checking to see if anyone had voted to say my review was helpful, so this morning I wrote a review of Chris Well's Deliver Us from Evelyn; I've recommended the book here before (and my ranking is on the verge of dropping out of the high 1000's), so why not beat the marketing drum over where it can do some real good.
Why you should read my review of Deliver Us from Evelyn: Maybe I'll get encouraged to write more reviews. Or maybe not. Life's a gamble sometimes and the odds, who can say? One thing's for sure: you'll read a name I'd pay $9.73 to go back in time and steal away from Chris Well. Those of you with time machines (and not the one "demonstrated" in Napoleon Dynamite) take note.
BTW: All of my reviews can be found in drop-down menus over in the sidebar. Some of 'em you'll have to scroll through pages and pages over at Amazon to find my actual review, but the drop-downs make for a good starting point.
And, as of now, 1 out of 1 people have found my DUfE review helpful. Yaaay!
Labels: Book Reviews
More Phil Pix
- Phil and Friends: 1, 2
- Playing Tag
- At the Beach
- Playing Basketball
- Phil and Mama: 1, 2
- By the Campfire Pit: 1, 2
- American Gothic 2006
Imagine my surprise when I walked into the post office today and was greeted with "I saw you in the paper" by our local postmaster.
Turns out the Eugene Register-Guard (the local daily, which I usually read but for some reason didn't this past weekend) had run part of the press release in the Sunday "Oregon Life" section. Four-plus column inches, baby! Take a look: clip (Register-Guard, 7/16/2006, p.B-4). And, in case you think I might have dummied that up with InDesign or QuarkXpress or something, here it is in the online edition of the paper.
On top of that I got a card from one of the families at church congratulating me on landing the role and making the paper. (If only Western-Union hadn't gotten out of the telegraph biz...)
I wonder if I can get additional traction with a "Local Man Mentioned in Newspaper" press release.
If you've been staying up all night hoping for a post, here it is -- now go to bed.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
My Private War with Burger King
Pardon me while I vent about the Burger King restaurants in Eugene. There are two, one on the north side, one on the south. There's also one in Springfield, but I don't have anything against that store ... at the moment.
BK is doing a Superman Returns promotional with their kids' meals. Last week the family went to the North BK to get one. Now we've had problems in the past with this store not having the advertised toys in stock, so it wasn't too much of a surprise that they were out of the Super toy. Unfortunately they only had the infant toy. To say that salted my fries would be putting it mildly. So I made the drive-thru guy get the manager. The manager said, "Yeah, we only get one case of toys a week" and I could exchange the baby toy at another store or I didn't have to take the baby toy at all.
So I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. If the store isn't going to order sufficient toys to meet demand they should at least post notices at the reader board when they're out of stock. Coming back later (when they're probably out of stock ... again) or going to another store just ups the odds of another purchase while you're in the neighborhood. Giving an infant toy or nothing in the kids' meals (which are marketed to kids up to 8 or 10) is just insulting. No more North BK.
Today we went to the South BK. They had Super toys. Two kinds in fact. They also had cash registers programmed to overcharge customers. The boy's kids' meal was overcharged a quarter. "Yeah," the register girl said, "the applesauce instead of fries is more expensive." Except that it isn't according to the menu. Cue the manager. "Yeah, whoever programmed the machine did it wrong ... if you order extra mayonnaise," he says, "it charges you more, too." And they'll gladly take your money unless you complain. So now no more South BK.
Are there more grevious things going on in the world? Yeah, a baby toy bait-and-switch and stealth overcharging twenty-five cents here and there can't hold a candle to African genocide or even domestic televangelist hoo-hah. But you fight the battles you can (give me a gun and put me in a room with a warlord and I'll solve the warlord problem; give me a pair of steel-toed boots and a televangelist and he'll be hurting in a tender location). And really this isn't much of a battle--if the Burger King exercises his sovreignty without sufficient noblesse oblige I'll let some other clown annex my fiefdom--still, I feel better having vented.
Got a fast-food gripe of your own? (or a gripe about my gripe?) Get snarky.
Friday, July 14, 2006
My TV Fix
My TV lineup is now just Monk and, as of last week, Psych. Both well-written, well-acted, and witty. The new Sharona on Monk has even grown on me.
But I think it's Dulé Hill I'm most looking forward to seeing tonight (even more than Tony Shaloub, and that's saying something). He and Richard Schiff were my main reasons for watching The West Wing, so I'm glad he's landed a good role on a good show post-Wing.
For a moment it looked like I'd have to accomodate the Stephen King four-week Nightmares & Dreamscapes anthology on TNT, but that airs locally at 6pm. Not conducive to my schedule or family-friendly-before-the-boy-goes-to-bed lifestyle. I'll wait for the inevitable DVD boxed set.
Reminder: The Other Blog
Anyhoo, check out the posts. When there's big writing news to be had I'll cross-post there and here, but the day-to-day, theoretical stuff will just be there.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Oooh! A Graph
What it will do is show you a graph of your name (ie, the name you enter) based on how many babies were named thusly from the 1880's to 2005. For instance, hardly anyone was named Christopher (in the U.S., I'm guessing) before 1930. Then in the mid-50's the name shot way up, roughly plateauing from the mid-60's to early-80's, at which point it has dropped off precipitously (still in the top-10, overall, though).
William--my grandfather's, father's, brother's and nephew's name--has been in decline since the 1880's. I think my family may be solely responsible for keeping the name alive at all.
Dina disappeared from the 1890's to the 1930's; it spiked in 1960 (when the Mrs. was born) and looks to have disappeared again.
Philip has had its ups and downs over time. Now it's down; looks like fewer than 400 one-l Phils were born in 2000. On the other hand, the boy's middle name, Nathaniel, spiked in 2003 (64th most popular boy's name).
What's the story of your name?
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Like a Tent Meeting at iTunes
Single of the Week: "The Storm" by The Procussions. Unless you really hate hip-hop (like "get off my lawn, I'm missing the Lawrence Welk Show" hating) you'll like this song. I don't know a phat beat from a I-don't-know-what groove, so I can't evaluate it in those terms. I know what I like, though, and this I liked.
Discovery Download: "Love Found Me" by DecembeRadio. Not ear-bleeding, but definitely some driving rock'n'roll here. Again, fans of the Welk show may disapprove, so be sure to play the song really loud on the parkstrip outside their retirement home. But really, who could hate lyrics like these: "No turning back/My life is like an eight track/I can't rewind/So I'm making up for lost time." Witness-y, yeah; but not cringingly awkward.
And they're not passing the plate. Can I get an "Amen"? I hear that "Hallelujah," sister.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Wilbur Watch #1
Of course, our entries were just "as told by" stories. We went to Wilbur and cajoled a story out of him -- I bribed him with some pemmican, don't know what the others used -- then tried to recapture his voice. Wilbur's a crusty old coot; can't imagine why Brandilyn doesn't want to get stories from him first-hand. Congrats on getting the "bear story" out of him, David.
So head on over and read the post already. Leave Wilbur a note (not me or David or any of the other writers) and let him know if he made you laugh, cry, or kiss five minutes good-bye. And check in at S&B tomorrow (and the next day and the next day, all the while telling two friends who'll tell two friends...) to see what goings-on are a'going on.
(Don't forget to check out the opening chapters of Violet Dawn ... or pre-order it.)
Sunday, July 09, 2006
In between dodgeball games, the campers played elbow tag. Here's Phil and old-time friend Kailie. (Here's how they looked 3 years ago.)
After the campers went back to their cabins to change for dinner, Phil had some solo time in the sprinklers. He discovered yesterday that he could aim the sprinklers at each other, lock their movement by wrapping a sandal around the rotating sprayer, and create a curtain of mist where the two jets of water collide. Here's how that looked:
Saturday, July 08, 2006
A Fit of Exposition
"PD James? She's the best-selling novelist, creator of Adam Dalgliesh, and formerly of the Home Office and other governmental posts, yes? I've heard she was created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991--she was given the title in '91, I heard about it some time later."
Indeed. And while all that is true (and culled from the author bio page), it exemplifies the problem I had with the opening chapter.
"The first chapter of the book was rife with characters explaining significant backstory, plot elements, and trivia about the 1920s and '30s, wasn't it? First there was Conrad Ackroyd going on about the Dupayne Museum, said museum devoted to the art and notorious murders of the Interwar Period."
"The Interwar Period, as everyone knows and if they didn't might have guessed from context in the preceding sentence [now third above] yet which I will explain to everyone anyway, is that period of time between the first and second World Wars (frequently cited as WWI and WWII)."
Great chunks of data are conveyed this way, paragraph after paragraph, not only by the aforementioned Ackroyd, but also, in chapter two, James Calder-Hale, curator of the aforementioned Dupayne Museum.
"If only someone -- anyone -- could give us an example!"
Okay, here goes. Dalgliesh and Ackroyd are in the museum, shouting comes from behind a closed door, door opens and a young man rushes out.
Almost at once another figure appeared standing in the doorway. He showed no surprise at encountering visitors but spoke directly to Ackroyd.A page later, as Calder-Hale turns to go, Ackroyd asks what answer was given to Neville Dupayne, which C-H then provides.
"What's it for, the museum? That's what Neville Dupayne has just asked. What's it for? I makes me wonder if he's his father's son, except that poor Madeleine was so boringly virtuous. Not enough vitality for sexual capers. Good to see you here again."
Not all the exposition is conveyed in dialogue, for instance
"Oh, like when Dalgliesh's memory drifts back in time and across a page or so covering the history of Conrad and Nellie Ackroyd's marriage, their hobbies, their tea service, and the household help. I thought the bit on their afternoon tea was quite nice."
"Granted, the fact that Dalgliesh never intended to, and in fact never did, take tea with Connie and Nels, did make the whole flashback a trifle unnecessary."
Things eventually do settle down in the exposition department. I'm at chapter five now and while there's still a bit of infodumping it's broken up and spread out more. But still no murder--though from the back jacket copy it's clear who's gonna get it. (Book Two: The First Victim begins on page 113.) Those first couple chapters, however,
"It reminded me of the beginning of a rollercoaster ride where you're being pulled by a chain up a giant hill, clackclackclack, and with every clack you lunge forward against your shoulder harness then wham your skull back against the headrest, like on The Demon at Great America in Santa Clara, California -- the county seat of your hometown, San Jose -- an amusement park that was originally owned by the Marriott's hotel chain, but was sold to Paramount in the mid-80s."
Yeah. Something like that. [But not quite...
"Santa Clara is a city within Santa Clara County" proclaims your -- that is, my -- mother. "but it is not the county seat. The county seat of Santa Clara County is San Jose. (bet you knew that!)"
I didn't, but there you have it. (7/9)]
(And, yes, I'm infuriatingly jealous that I haven't written almost twenty books and can't get away with such "style" -- maybe because I'm not British, maybe because I don't have men with bushy hats and pikes (the weapon, not the fish, though I suppose those might be scary, or perhaps a sturgeon or gar, instead) to intimidate agents, editors, and the buying public. <sigh>)
Friday, July 07, 2006
My First Podcast
Now that I've met Mark Bertrand personally (and it's surprising how easily you get over the fact he has a mechanical left hand (even has a leather sock he slips over it when driving)--the swapping glasses for a monacle when he talks about Graham Greene is a bit much, though) I could imagine him better throughout the conversation.
It's a bit of work getting the podcast on the iPod and then fiddling with the iPod in the car to get it queued up, but ultimately it was worth it. Strange listening to something similar to talk radio (insofar as it's talking coming through my radio) and not shouting at the host for boneheadedness (liberal, conservative, I shout at 'em all). Might this become a habit? Stay tuned.
BTW: Tony Hines has done his first video podcast (which I watched via PowerBook at home rather than on the iPod while driving). Check it out.
Got a recommendation for a podcast I should try? Leave a snarky remark to tell me what and why.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Well, knocked is a bit of an overstatement, but Phil has a new gap in his lower pearly whites. A previous gap has been filled almost completely by
Is Fame Just a Week Away?
[Note: If, at some point in the future, you're looking for the Scenes & Beans blog and can't rememeber the kannerlake.blogspot.com address, don't worry about tracking this post down. There's a snazzy badge over on the left under "What I'm Writing" that will take you there. (Yes, you could bookmark the S&B site, but you're a rebel, I know.) Happy trails!]
In related news, I sent out a handful of press releases about my role in the blog today. Will it garner me and S&B any attention? Hope so. There are a few others I have yet to send, but should I land a mention here and/or there I'll be sure to let you know.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
A Camp's-Eye View of Phil
- Phil and other campers: 1, 2
- Craft Time: 1*, 2, 3
*tip your head 30 degrees to the left and this looks a lot better
- Happiness is a brown Sharpie
- A boy and his camera
(Phil says this is the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector praying in the temple, but it looks a bit like West Side Story to me)
Monday, July 03, 2006
iTunes ... not just for lunch and dinner any more
Phil wound up with an Air Hogs F-16 set (came with a free second non-R/C plane) and the Hot Wheels V-Drop. Thanks, grandparents!
I got a box of cereal and a free song. Possibly more: 1 box in 10 has a five song bonus.
The F-16 has already been stuck 30-feet up in a pine tree. Hooray! for discarded portable-canopy aluminum poles.
Only one free song for me. (Must eat more cereal...)
If you wind up with a free code with your Cheerios and you're not gonna use it, send it my way. Please and thank you.
A Phil's-Eye View of Camp
Taken at check-in time:
Meeting Mark Bertrand
But we had coffee, posed for a photograph (I think there was something in the coffee; I don't seem to be focusing properly and Mark is smirking), talked publishing, the genius of Joss Whedon, his move to South Dakota, Flannery O'Connor, pros and cons of book contracts, Dorothy Sayers, kids these days, Mike Snyder and Christopher Fisher, the heat, book imprints, Dave Long and his growing list of authors, his book, my book, short story contests and flash fiction, marketing gimmickry, and who knows else what. If your ears were burning between 3:30 and 6:30p, we were probably talking about you ... complentarily, I'm sure.
A good visit; too short, but good.
Hey! When did I get this strange looking mole on the side of my
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Philip's Big Day
Here's how the first part of his day went:
- Golfing: 1, 2, 3
- The foursome (Jackson, Phil, and the dads)
- On second thought, "No pictures!"
- On the carousel
- Dina & Phil, carousel riders
- Air Hockey: Philip vs. Jackson
- Opening presents
- Aaack, Kryptonite!
- Sliding down
- After the splash
- Out of the pool
- Mama in the tube
- More toobin: 1, 2, 3, 4
Phil played hard for almost five hours straight, napped for the last ten minutes of the car ride home, then went all-out for another four hours. Fireworks ended around 10pm, yet somehow he still wanted to play. Nevertheless when we finally got him to bed he conked out almost immediately.
Kids, go figger -- just when you think harnessing the energy of a six-year-old would lessen our need for foreign oil, he goes kaput. <sheesh!>