So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Super Bowl Spread

No, not the point spread. The buffet.

Here's what I've got so far...

The ChipsThe DipsThe ProteinVeggiesDessert
So what am I missing? I'll have to restock the Diet Pepsi and bottled waters. I'm a bit low in the protein department. KFC wings? Big Hoagie? Planter's Honey Roast? Smokehouse Almonds?

Help me out. What're you planning for your Super Bowl Spread?

Mikesell : 6:51 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dentistry Without Novocaine, So That's What It's Like

Went to see the dentist today. Needed a filling. Passed on the anesthetic.

Because I'm so darn manly.

Also, because it was to replace a post-root canal temporary filling, and the tooth had no nerves left to feel pain.

But I'm sticking with "I'm so darn manly."

Mikesell : 6:27 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Monday, January 29, 2007

Almost as Good as the Rainman

Here's the sitch: you need a simple mathematical calculation done, 9 x 12.75, for instance. Back in my PC days I'd have hit the Windows and R keys, typed in "calc" and keyed in the equation. More recently, I'd hit ctrl and the space bar, then C and Enter, to bring up the calculator via Quicksilver.

And while I've known you can enter an equation into a the search field at Google and it will return the solution, I've seldom remembered that fact before launching a calculator program separately.

Behold the joy of the Google search field in the upper-right hand corner of Firefox. Simply key in the math: 9*12.75, and before you even hit enter the answer appears in a drop down from the search field (=114.75). It's just that easy.

Impress your loved ones. Your friends. Yourself.

Mikesell : 8:20 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Getting People This Year?

Just checked what it'll cost to file our taxes online with the company we've used for the last few years. Almost $60. Tax-deductible next year, I believe, but still...

My sister Julia, a CPA, pointed me in the direction of irs.gov and their FreeFile program. Turns out if your AGI (automated gyroscope inverter?) is under $52,000 there are places that will prepare and e-file your federal return at no charge to you.

Will they sell your personal info? They say they won't.

On the list of companies providing the service is H&R Block, an outfit that sounds vaguely familiar (most don't). So we're looking at them this time around. State filing costs, but it's less than what the other company is charging.

If you're interested in e-filing this year, give the list a look. Try the FreeFile Wizard (not actual warlock) to see which outfits are available based on your AGI (aqueous gluten incubator? albatross galoshes investment?) and a few other factors. The money you save might be your own.

(This is not an ad. I have no expectation of remuneration or a free T-shirt. Consult a Certified Public Accountant before accepting advice from people you don't know on the Internet. Remuneration and free T-shirts will gladly not be refused should they be offered.)


Mikesell : 4:23 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Submission #2: Gone

I sent out my second short-fiction submission of the year a few minutes ago.

#1 went out a week ago and is (as far as I know) still under consideration.

This could become a habit.


Mikesell : 12:30 AM : 6 snarky remarks

Sunday, January 28, 2007

No More Slow Blogging Days

I just signed up for a "we pay you to blog" advertising service called PayPerPost. My friend Michelle has been a member since last fall and has turned up some interesting finds. Plus she's gotten paid. Getting paid is good. At least, that's what I've heard.

So, is this site going to turn into the equivalent of those cable networks that have ten minutes of ads between every five minutes of your favorite movie? Gosh, I hope so -- ka-ching!!! But that's unlikely since stuff of marginal interest happens here on a not infrequent basis. I'll try to save the ads for those times when nothing's going on. Or something's in the $5 DVD bin at WalMart that I can't live without and I've already given plasma for the month.

Stay tuned.


Mikesell : 8:30 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Remains of the (Snow) Day

A little over two weeks ago we had the first of several school-closing snow days. On the 11th (of January, not the eleventh snow day), Phil and I built our first-ever snowman [blog post]. As of last night we still had a little bit of the Snowy out in the yard.

Here's the difference two weeks can make:If only the pounds around my belly melted away as effortlessly.

Mikesell : 8:48 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, January 26, 2007

Six Oddnesses

I got tagged by Michelle in the latest "awkward confessional" meme that's circulating on the internets. Six Weird Things About Me. I came up with six, but one of them deserves a post all of its own, so I've resorted to hyperbole and making things up for one of the items below. Can you find it?

Six Weird Things About Me
  1. I'm terrified of the new $100 bills. Ben Franklin's big ol' noggin, the way his eyes follow you. It's uncanny. If you want to scare me half to death, send me a $100 bill in the mail. I can tell counterfeit, so don't be a jerk. Krugerands are also frightening. They make me think of Freddy Kruger, and horizontal stripes -- like on his bloodstained brown and red rugby shirt -- don't look good on me at all.

  2. I often daydream of being on Oprah, not to discuss my writing, but my line of hand-beaded luxury accessories (purses, neckties, chewing gum valises, etc.) Not that I actually do any hand-beading; I think mainly because I'm afraid I'm not ready for Oprah yet.

  3. I do not enjoy the aerial bucket rides at amusement parks. Not so much because of the precarious height and flimsy connection from bucket to cable and the way they swing threateningly in even the slightest breeze, but because I imagine that I'm being carried to a detention facility high in the Swiss alps as I've been framed for the murder of a loved one and also I don't speak French and will not be able to understand the guards who will beat me for not obeying rules I cannot possibly understand. But I blame my fear on heights, mostly.

  4. I pronounce the L in Salmon, even when not referring to the author, Rushdie.

  5. I am right-handed, but wear my wristwatch on my right hand. I blame this on my older, left-handed brother who refuses to wear his watch on the wrong hand and make things even. Should open war ever break out between our two families, this is why.

  6. I have only one anecdote that deals with the prefix "pseudo." If you use said prefix conversationally, I will tell the anecdote to you. So you will be prepared to laugh at the appropriate moment, should I ever tell you the anecdote in person, I will tell it now so you will be ready.
    When Dina and I lived in Sunnyvale, our rental condo had underground parking. None of that is germane to the anecdote, but it helps set the scene, which, again, is not at all relevant. Suffice it to say that I was waiting in the car -- our Plymouth Champ, if I recall correctly and irrelevantly -- listening to talk radio, probably KGO, doesn't really matter, and the caller was ranting about people who pretend they're smart. Whether the caller was a liberal complaining about conservatives putting on smartypants airs or vice versa isn't important so don't worry about it. What is important -- and the closest thing to a point this anecdote has -- is that this caller referred to such people as "suede-o intellectuals."
    I guarantee I will not tell the anecdote any better than that.

As far as I can tell, all my blogging buddies have already been hit by this meme. Rather than add to their shame by tagging them a second (or third, or fourth) time, I'll open up the tag to whoever has wanted to share six weird things about him- or herself and feels slighted that no one has tagged them yet. If you're playing along, leave a note in the comments so we can all come over and point and laugh and spill hot cocoa on your faux hardwood floors. Maybe I'll share my "pseudo" anecdote again.


Mikesell : 11:13 AM : 4 snarky remarks

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We're #8,547!

This morning I checked rhymezone.com for things that rhyme with Purim. (Don't ask.) One of the two responses was Durham, the third definition of which reveals that it's a name shared by 1 in every 5,882 families and ranks at the 696 spot in the U.S.

So I plugged in Mikesell. Unlike Durham, it isn't a breed of cattle, nor is it home to Duke University. The only definition is as a surname:
rare: 1 in 100000 families; popularity rank in the U.S.: #8547

How do you rate? (click the Durham or Mikesell link above, substitute your name in the URL, hit enter.)

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Mikesell : 9:30 AM : 7 snarky remarks

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stay in and Vote

Although I didn't submit anything for publication last year until the end of March, my first publication came mid-February (submitted the previous December), a poem at Infuze: Saint Francis and the Birds.

Infuze is currently preparing (or preparing to prepare) their second "Best of..." annual. They're looking for reader feedback on what to include.

VOTE for the poem and story of your choice. The poll options aren't linked to the selections, so let me draw your attention to a few of the short stories:
One vote per poll per person, or possibly IP address -- you can vote for a story and a poem.

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Mikesell : 9:56 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Submission Away!

I just sent out my first story submission of the year. By contrast, I didn't send out anything last year until the end of March.

And I've a second piece going through revisions right now.

And a third I'm finishing some research on.

And then there's the novel. Ay-yi-yi, the novel.

Worst case, I'm getting a jump on this year's rejections.

Best case? When do they announce the Pulitzers?

Yeah right. I'll settle for anything to the best-side of center.


Mikesell : 11:52 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Stopped by StVdP earlier in the week and picked up a couple CDs. One, Peter Gabriel's Us, I've been hunting for a while. The other, a John Debney/Royal Scottish National Orchestra recording of Bernard Herrmann's score for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, was an unexpected treat. (They also had six or eight soundtracks by Danny Elfman, but I hadn't seen the movies, so I passed.)

If you're looking for Christian music at near-thrift store prices, check out some of the deals at Christian Discs' $3.99 (or less) sale. Some of my favorites:
Can't vouch for, but wouldn't be surprised to find it excellent:
Phil Keaggy: Cinemascapes

In the event that Sandi Patti/y is more your style:
Artist of My Soul, All the Best, Find it on the Wings

See something I missed in the almost 300 CDs on sale? Give me an earful in the comments (and don't miss the other almost-300 CDs in the $6.99 Super Sale).

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Mikesell : 2:19 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Getting Allan Sherman

Growing up, back in the day of pterodactyls and vinyl records, I often stole my folks' albums to play on my turntable (and more recently I ripped quite a few to MP3 format). Not the Perry Como, the comedy records. Smothers Brothers. Bill Cosby. One called Comedy Caravan with, among others, Andy Griffith out of uniform, and Stan Freberg doing Dragnet spoofs. They had two Allan Sherman records: My Son, the Celebrity and My Son, The Folk Singer. The "Weird" Al of their generation (or vice versa).

I didn't get all the musical references. Mexican Hat Dance, I did. Sir Greenbaum's Madrigal, yep. Harvey and Sheila, but of course. Years later I'd make the connection between The Bronx Bird Watcher and Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado.

A few months back I picked up a Louis Armstrong CD. One of the tracks was St. James Infirmary, which includes the lyric
I went down to the St. James Infirmary
Saw my baby there
Stretched out on a long white table
So sweet...so cold...so fair
which immediately recalled Sherman's spoof
I went down to Mt. Sinai Hospital
To see my old zaydie there
And I said, Thanks God for the Blue Cross
And I wish we had the Medicare

Then earlier this week I picked up the Jimmy Stewart version of Flight of the Phoenix. Along with Ernest "It's not a disaster film without me" Borgnine and George "Me, either" Kennedy, the movie includes a small role played by Barrie Chase. Oh, I thought to myself, I know her -- she's from that Allan Sherman song, Barry is the Baby's Name:
We'll call him Barry, Barry.
That'll be the baby's name.
We thought of Lance or Josh,
But, oh, my gosh,
They're not the same.

But if it's Barry, Barry,
That's a name with style and grace.
And if he's not a he,
It still could be
Like in Barrie Chase.

Granted, I have no idea (at the moment) what tune the song is based on, but at least the last line make sense now.

There's a lot more on the records I still don't get. They say everything comes back into fashion, eventually. Maybe next time the 50s and 60s swing by again, I'll figure out a little more.

Poor Phil, though. He's gonna have to figure out Allan Sherman and "Weird" Al when he's older...


Mikesell : 5:27 PM : 6 snarky remarks

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

End of the 6.33 Day Weekend

Put Phil on the school bus this morning at 9:45. The first time since 7:45a on the 11th. It's still only 28F out, but the roads are clear(ish) of yesterday's slush.

The 10-day shows a warming trend through the next week, with lows above freezing showing up on Friday. Come August I'll be wishing I'd bottled some of this chill ... which makes sense, since now I'm wishing I had a picnic basket of summer sun. <sigh>


Mikesell : 12:19 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Icy and Dicey

I had an early dentist appointment this morning. 7:30. It normally takes 45 minutes to get from home to the part of town I had the appointment, but I left at 6:30 in case weather was bad or there was traffic. With log trucks you never know what to expect (sometimes they trundle along at 40, sometimes they go faster than any sane person would attempt). No log trucks. No traffic, really, until I got well into town.

What there was, was ice. Lots and lots. Miles and miles. Of ice.

The first ten miles took about half an hour. That included the hill at Low Pass, which had several cars off to the side, spinning their wheels on the western face. I was all alone on the north side (the road takes a 90-degree turn at the top), which was just fine by me: didn't need anyone to see me fishtailing at the bottom of the hill (the 90-degree turn that heads the road back east).

The next half hour was spent traveling the rest of the way to Junction City (15-ish miles). A few more cars nosed off the road, a little more testing of the limits of Subaru's All-Wheel Drive system, a lot more conversating with God.

Wound up a half hour late to the dentist, which wound up being a half hour earlier than he could see me.

Fifteen-minutes-in-the-chair later I was back on the road. Which took me as far as the Barnes & Noble a mile away. For about an hour, a large coffee, and a two-degree bump in the weather.

The road back home was slushy. Slower going than usual, but no real hazards.

By comparison, the mail/bank run this afternoon was dull. Blissfully, blissfully dull.

[6:45p -- just saw this via Drudge: home video of an Icy Street in Portland. Would have been too freaked to drive this morning if I'd seen that before heading out. Which wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing...]

Mikesell : 7:44 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, January 15, 2007

Note to Eva Longoria

For future reference, sweetie, the thong goes on underneath. [photo]

Photo credit: AP's coverage of the 2007 Golden Globes

Mikesell : 11:09 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Advantage of Low Expectations

Phil and I had a big day today. Mongolian Grill after church. Haircut for him after lunch. Then to the $1.50 theater for Flushed Away. I had high hopes for lunch and the haircut, hopes that were met or exceeded. The movie, though, not so much--so I was pleasantly surprised.

It's not a great movie, but it has some fun moments. The singing slugs, for instance. Most things with Whitey the sewer rat. Everything with the frog mime. The rest? Pretty much, meh.

Still, not a waste of a buck-fifty. Phil had a blast and that's worth at least the three we paid to get in.


Mikesell : 11:05 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Refer Madness

(Sorry 'bout the title, there. Couldn't resist.)

About ten years ago I joined MyPoints, one of those we-send-you-emails, you-read-them/respond-and-earn-points outfits. Since then I've earned more than $200 in Barnes & Noble gift certificates. Could've earned more -- not that a $25 gift card per year isn't a nice pick-me-up -- if I actually took advantage of any of the "offers." And then there was the year or so they went quiet, retooling the program or what, I don't know.

What I do know is that lately the emails have been coming more consistently. 5-20 points a day (you get 5 points for each email you respond to, whether you take advantage of the offer or not). With a little over 3,000 points you can get a $25 B&N gift card (many other deals available, I just like that one). You can get a $10 card at the same points/cash ratio if you like the "more rewards, more often" feeling.

Full Disclosure: They're doing a membership drive right now. If I refer you (hence the post's title) you get 125 points to start, I get a 200 bounty referral bonus. Interested? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. Next month the referral bonus goes down to 100 points, which is still nice, so if you come upon this post after 1/31/07 and want the hook-up, please let me know.


Mikesell : 12:05 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Joys of Fatherhood

This morning, around 6:30, after the Snow Day had been called, I crawled into Phil's bed with him. (He usually gets up around this time and crawls in our bed with Dina while I get myself ready to get him ready for school...) Phil woke halfway up for the "no school" announcement, then laced his fingers through mine and drifted back to sleep,

It was nice, lying there, him holding my hand, me listening to him breathe. <sigh>

Then he yawned and stretched and hit me in the face.

Good times.


Mikesell : 3:17 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Our First Snowman

We got about a half-inch to an inch of snow last night. Enough to close school today (possibly more snow fell elsewhere on the bus route, or the highway was icy at 5:30a when the district made the call, or the thought of trying to teach kids who'd rather be out playing prompted teachers to call in sick ... whatever). Anyhoo, Phil and I went out and had a snowball fight around 10:30 (beaned him good, right behind ear -- then invoked the "no faces" rule, which he promptly and most ruthlessly violated ... ouch).

I noticed a couple things while we were out playing. First, Phil's getting better at dodging snowballs. Second, when snowballs would sail past him (ooooh, so close!) they'd roll when they landed and pick up more snow. Now I thought that kind of thing only happened in cartoons and corny movies. But, no, apparently a rolling snowball will (under certain conditions; I've tried it before without success, hence my thinking it was a myth) get bigger and bigger until it engulfs Mr. Magoo or you turn it into a snowman.

Which is what Phil and I did for the first time ever.
Now to wait for Mr. Magoo to wander by...


Mikesell : 1:49 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Pocket-Sized Gat

Came across an interesting site the other day (circuitously via digg) that lets you make a nifty 8-page mini-booklet from a single sheet of paper (with clever folding and a scissors snip): PocketMod.

Thinking it'd be neat to make a pocket-sized "book," I made a template in InDesign and imported one of my Flashing in the Gutters stories to try it out. As an experiment it's not too shabby. There are some margin issues that require trimming with scissors after you print -- about a half inch at the bottom for me, your mileage may vary -- but it was a good learning experience.

Here's a PDF of my favorite of the three stories I contributed to FitG: Schrödinger’s Gat. (Click the "folding guide" button on the PocketMod page for instructions on how to create the booklet.)

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Mikesell : 1:09 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Poetry Contest Followthrough

Over the past couple months I've been linking to the winners and honorable mentioners in Dragons, Knights & Angels Magazine's fall poetry contest. Turns out there was one I missed while away on Christmas holiday.

Jane Lebak is no stranger to the readers of DKA. Her short story, Even a Stone, placed second in their fiction contest, and Damage is among the more moving tales I've read. So it's no surprise that her poem, When Angels Fledge, did well among tough competition.

Congrats, Jane! (and I loved your piece in the latest Door)

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Mikesell : 1:42 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Virtual Road Rage

A couple Christmases ago my brother and his family bought Phil the game Rush Hour Jr.. They also got me the limousine expansion pack. A fun game for the both of us.

Several weeks ago I discovered the game Gridlock (via digg, I believe). Same principle: get the designated block off the screen, moving the other blocks either up/down or left/right. I got through the first dozen or so levels quickly. Level 27 stumped me for days and days. Level 28 appears a poser, too.

If your commute's giving you nothing to complain about, give the game a try. If you're reading this on your web-enabled phone bumper-to-bumper on the 405, get off on Crenshaw and take a breather -- drive out to the coast, listen to the surf awhile -- before subjecting yourself to more frustration.


Mikesell : 7:38 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Livin' Large

We stopped by Kohl's last night and I tried on a few shirts. Fabric dye inconsistencies kept me from purchasing any, but I did discover that I fit in large-sized fitted shirts, as opposed to just the extra-larges. Polos in "large" are snug, which is their way, but it's a not-quite-attractive snug.

And if I cinch my brown leather belt corset-tight I can add another notch. It might provoke an intestinal revolt, though, so I'm going to hold off a little longer.


Mikesell : 4:10 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, January 05, 2007

CFBA Friday: Tangerine

This week's Christian Fiction Bloggers' Assn. pick is Tangerine by Marilynn Griffith. Dina read one of her previous books, Pink, last month and really enjoyed it. Makes me wish I had mooched a copy of Tangerine for her.

Let me direct you to a few CFBA members who are running special posts this week:
Be sure to peruse the other CFBA blogs -- Kelly's and Val's posts I found clicking randomly at the list -- and stop by Marilynn's blog, too: Rhythms of Grace.

Look for a couple more of these summaries over the next weeks. I'll have an interview (fingers crossed) and review for Robert Liparulo and his latest, Germ, at the end of the month.

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Mikesell : 11:07 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Hello, Little Wanderers

The #1 query sending folks to my blog is still the Go Kart image search (currently about 7%). But recently people have come looking for "pronounce mancala" (I have no idea) and "remo williams novel online read" (syntax your I admire, but these are not the remo williams novels you're looking for) and "godstuff jonathan bell" (another fan!).

Welcome all. It's nice to have some traffic here, whatever the source. (We're back up to double digits in first-time and repeat visitors; things were awfully sketchy during the holidays).


Mikesell : 12:14 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Welcome Tri-County News Readers

This week's Tri-County News, sibling-publication of the West Lane News, has an article* about, among other things. my participation in Brandilyn Collins' Scenes & Beans character blog. Please note that the photo caption mistakenly refers to Kanner Lake, site of S&B blog, as "his [i.e., my] fictional Idaho town." It's not. It's Brandilyn's -- I just wallop mailboxes there with a baseball bat late at night when everyone's asleep. And the "photo courtesy [me]" was taken by my son, Philip. Here's a color close-up.

Anyhoo, welcome TCN readers. Glad you stopped by. Links to other things I've written can be found by clicking the Published Works link in the left-hand menu. Enjoy!

*reprint of the August '06 WLN article.

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Mikesell : 4:30 PM : 0 snarky remarks

New Year, New Notches

Picked up a Victorinox knife yesterday, the Fieldmaster model (didn't buy from Amazon; the cutlery-store-at-the-mall's website doesn't show all the "features"). Just finished adding two notches to a black leather belt using the reamer blade.

The imprinting on the back of the belt says "size 44." Fortunately it's been years since I've needed that much leather. And as nice as it is to convert it to a size 38, I've got another notch or two (or four) to add before I retire it permanently.

I'll get better-fitting belts in the meantime, but since I already got rid of the 44" waist pants in a "never again" moment, the belt will serve as a reminder of how far I've come.

Stay tuned.


Mikesell : 1:51 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Back to School

Phil's Christmas vacation has come to an end and it was back to school this morning. My sister Julia's pre-tax season vacation is up tomorrow, so it was back to California for her. Phil wanted her to see his school before she left, so we caravaned, stopping outside his classroom for a photo op before he headed in and she headed out.

Phil had a great time over the break (see earlier posts (1, 2) for his Christmas experience). With Aunt Julia here he caught a couple movies (Night at the Museum, Open Season), got his first Build-a-Bear friend (a monkey), burned through Christmas gift cards (things from Toys R Us that he's "always wanted" even though they only came out last year), and stayed up way too late, way too often.

Still, he's been excited about school starting again. And, frankly, we have been, too. It's a win-win for everybody.

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Mikesell : 11:55 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 Books Read

Rather than hitting my goal of 52 books last year, or even 48 (four per month), I wound up with only 37. And yes, I'm counting graphic novels as books, as well as Advance Review Copies and novel-length manuscripts. Hit 92% of my target for non-fiction, though: 11 out of 12. Average book length: 303 pages.

The 2006 List

2007's target? A novel a week would be nice, but who knows? 12 nonfiction books would be nice. I've counted the short stories in my Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor and the Dorothy L. Sayers omnibus, Lord Peter, and the total is 52. So above and beyond whatever else I read, my goal is to finish both those books. If I finish early I've got the Complete Father Brown stories by Chesterton (50) and Ray Bradbury's Twice 22 (44) to keep me busy. And then there's the dozen or so novels in my "to be read" pile, not to mention a few more short story collections and nonfiction books.

In other book news, I picked up this from the discount table at Waldenbooks today: (M.C. Escher) Masterpieces in 3-D. Stereoscopic Escher prints: cool beans.


Mikesell : 10:44 PM : 2 snarky remarks