Sunday, December 25, 2011


Still just reading for escapism. Tags for the post are "fantasy", "science fiction" and "urban fantasy".

Tweeted on Oct 27th:

Just finished "A Dance With Dragons". 5000 pages down, an estimated 25,000 more to go :-(
This series is very good, but, I think he needs several authors helping him to finish this thing -- if indeed it is ever intended to be finished. So many characters, so many narratives.

I did read this in the iBook format rather than the Kindle format. Couldn't tell much difference.

Read two short-story collections, which I still buy in hardcopy and leave at the house in Florida. "Down These Strange Streets", edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. An urban fantasy collection. The marquee author was a woman I have never heard of, who turns out to have written the novels that the HBO "True Blood" series is based on. Generally fairly enjoyable. Two stories had male homosexual partners as the primary characters. I normally enjoy a little gratuitous heterosexual sex in novels. I still pretty much get a "yuck" reaction from gratuitous male homosexual sex scenes. For pulp, genre fiction like this, I think that virtual sex scenes, where you can specify your orientation and get appropriate verbiage, would be good tech. Ha ha.

The other collection was my annual favorite "Year's Best Science Fiction", edited by Gardner Dozois. 28th edition, nothing really stood out at it often does.

Then back to Kindle books. I'm still of two minds about this. I guess you can loan them, I'll figure out how someday. Meanwhile, it's so damn convenient, and cheaper. I discussed it with my friend Michael who owns two bookstores in Louisville. He says that volume genre readers like me are accounting for the majority of Kindle sales. He seemed to think it's OK, that the volume that genre readers tend to consume makes it economically compelling.

So read on the iPad:

  • "Boneshaker", by Cherie Priest. Steampunk and zombies in an alternate history Seattle. An entertaining read. I just saw where they are making a movie of it. 3 stars.
  • "Reamde, A Novel", by Neal Stephenson. For the 1st 500 pages of this, it was like, didn't I just read this in Cory Doctorow's "For The Win"? But it brings in Islamic terrorists, which, frankly, I'm kind of sick of. But it is a good read. Stephenson's turns of phrase make me laugh out loud, annoying my wife. 4 stars.
  • "The Children of the Sky", by Vernor Vinge. This is a long-awaited sequel to "A Fire On The Deep", which, with "A Deepness In The Sky", were totally great space operas 20 years ago. This one is a good read, but quite a bit less cosmic, more local politics and empire building. 3 stars.
Several more books queued on the iPad. Time to clear the magazine stack first.

Thursday, December 15, 2011



So there was a great crowd at O'Neill's tonight, they were still playing at 10:40 when I left, past the 10:30 quitting time, because they still had a good crowd. I signed up at 7:40 and was like 8th guitarist on the list. I did get to play my 1st song with Sherri McGee on drums, what fun! We did "Who Do You Love", Sherri really rocks out on that, she is so fun to play with. Then did "Crossroads" and "How Blues Can You Get" with a different drummer, they were OK.

So I went to Lynagh's, got there a little late, like 10:50. Jamie Greene, who runs the open mic there, says he could use me to play. Jamie is a fabulous musician. He plays Kaki King / Preston Reed style, left-handed, he is a genuine talent. He says he's got a group that will play after me who are annoying the hell out of him.

So I do "I Need To Know" by Delbert McClinton, 1st time ever. Flubbed a few times, but overall OK. Then "You Don't Know Me", my favorite Ray Charles song. Then someone said "let it rip" so I did "Rollin' and Tumblin'".

Then I started "Me and the Devil Blues", by Robert Johnson, played in a 1930's Robert Johnson style. Halfway through it, I hear noise behind me. The guitarist from the annoying group is tuning his guitar. Then he starts shredding in B with a fuzz tone on max distortion -- I'm playing in A. I stop, tell him I'm playing in A, and that he's welcome to play blues fills behind me. So I start up again, he plays masturbatory shredding with max fuzz over me. What an asshole! So I finish quickly, don't do my last song (Hard Times), and leave the stage. I finish my drink, and as I'm leaving, he's still just shredding away. I told him, "Man that was rude -- just rude". He follows me outside and says "I apologized twice -- I was trying to play with you." What an asshole. Jamie was very apologetic, said he was already thinking of banning them, now it was official.

I don't know. There's other old guys play there. It's mostly acoustic. I can appreciate young turks getting in the face of old farts. But, the total lack of musicianship was really, really offensive. And the total disrespect of Robert Johnson just adds to it.

BTW, here's a recording of Robert Johnson doing "Me and the Devil Blues". I really like the art someone has put to it.

Sherri and Keith Hubbard are playing tomorrow night at Skybar downtown. Keith said I was welcome to come sit in, so I'll put on a gigging shirt and take the Blues Junior and Black Beauty (Les Paul with all gold fittings) out and see how that goes. Never been to Skybar before, hopefully it will be fun. Keith said he's starting at 8, Sherri will get there around 9. When I played fill behind Bob Hopps solo on keys it went well, hopefully this will too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Didn't Know This Was Called A Pen

I actually had to read around 5 articles on squid anatomy via The Google before I found one that identified the clear, feather-like spine that supports the squid's mantle as the "pen". I guess it is an appropriate name.

I made spaghetti sauce with diced calimari (squid) instead of meatballs last night. Kroger sells California squid frozen in 3 pound boxes. I partially thawed the box and split it into 3 one-pound servings. (Separating the partialy thawed squid was greatly complicated by their tentacles have frozen together in tangled clumps.) I cooked one pound last night and refroze the other two.

Cleaning the squid is easy. The 1 pound of whole squid clean up to maybe 7 ounces of tentacles and diced mantle. Saute in olive oil with garlic, onion salt and pepper; add diced zucchini and canned mushrooms; then add your tomato sauce, sugar, oregano, basil, and bay leaves and simmer. Yum!

This "pen" was around 5 inches long.

The "pen" looks and feels completely artificial, like it's made of plastic. The part off the spine is completely clear, like stiff cellophane. It amazes me how much it looks like a feather.

It does smell like squid tho.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Good Bird Day

This past Thursday at around 12:30, I getting ready to make my lunch and was looking out the back window. It was snowing fairly hard, although nothing stuck. There are the usual 5-6 goldfinches at the 2 feeders. And, on the ground, 6-8 juncos -- the advance scout had brought the whole gang!

And then, on the pear tree right in front of the window, a downy woodpecker came around working its way up the tree -- followed by what may have been a white-breasted nuthatch! I have seen these at the in-laws in Louisville but never here. This one was going up the tree, rather than down the tree head-first as nuthatches are known for. Didn't get to see it for long, but I think that is what it was. It was dark on top and white underneath, smaller and rounder than a junco. We have wrens around, but no wrens in the bird book have this coloration. I'll keep watching for it and hopefully can confirm the identification.

Meanwhile, at my wife's direction, Carlos cut the burning bush outside my office way down. And then my wife trimmed the hell out of my ficus. It is now around 1/3 of its former size. This tree was given to me by my employees at Renlar sometime in the early 90's. It has moved with me from job to job; it has been in at least 6 different offices. I have always said, "As grows the tree, so grows the software." I guess I'll have to watch and see how my software career goes ;->

In the meantime tho, I'm guessing that from here on the crazy cardinal will be leaving my screen alone. We'll see, I guess.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Almost A Rock Star

Aw man! Justin Wells got my slot for The Last Waltz doing "Mannish Boy". Justin is a monster, he is indeed more worthy. #AlmostARockStar

So once or twice a month after playing at O'Neill's on Wednesday night, I go into Lynagh's, where the Old Farts Blues Jam played for several years, and do 4-5 songs solo at their open mic. A couple of months ago, I was talking to Tim the bartender/drummer & vocalist about Levon Helm's recent (fabulous) work. Tim sez, "I get to channel Levon soon, at The Last Waltz recreation." Local musicians have been, for the last 6 years, around Thanksgiving, staging a recreation of The Band's Last Waltz, with different musicians taking the place of the all-star cast of the original Last Waltz.

Then Tim sez, "We try to get different people every year, you should do the Muddy Waters "Mannish Boy" number. Check back in November."

Hell yeah! So I was in there last week, and he tells me, he thinks they could use me. He took my number and told me he'd call me Friday after meeting with the organizers.

So no call came in, I went in there tonight. Turns out the posters were already printed, and Justin Wells is doing the Muddy Waters. Aw, so close.

Justin is the lead singer and guitar player for Fifth on the Floor, a very good local band who had a very successful regional tour earlier this year. I played behind Justin once at Lynagh's, playing lead fills on the Strat and singing harmony behind his flattop and lead vocals. He is a good guy, a real performing personality, and a great musician. He's a big guy, well over 6 ft, with the long haired and bearded mountain man look going on. His stage presence is totally kick-ass, he is way more worthy. Still, I would have loved to have played Buster's once. It is a really nice venue. probably Lexington's best music club.

Tim offered to put me on the sitting-in list, I declined, I'll hang out with my baby instead. He said, maybe next year I would have another shot, and could maybe do "Further On Up The Road", which was one of the first songs I started doing in my musical career revival. I also do "Who Do You Love" and "Up On Cripple Creek" from The Last Waltz.

Ha ha. It's fun for me, at my age, just go get to know and play with some of the good and great young musicians in Lexington. A rock star gig at Buster's would be completely icing on the cake.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The First Junco of Winter

Cleaned and refilled my safflower seed feeder at the back of the yard yesterday. Scattered some safflower below the feeders and on both patios for the juncos. They only like to feed from the ground.

Within an hour, there was a junco in the crabapple tree by the lower patio checking it out. But I didn't see him eat any. Normally they are in flocks of at least a half dozen birds. Maybe he was an advance scout.

Don't seem to see to many birds lately. The goldfinches are there year round, and the crazy male cardinal is still rattling my screen and trying to get at the ficus in my office. The people two doors down the street who had several cats moved recently, maybe that will help the bird numbers.

The Cooper's hawk is still around as well. I haven't seen her in my yard lately, but I've seen her around the neighborhood.


Thursday night I'm walking my dog Dexter. Just taking our 6 o'clock stroll around the block (Lyon Dr and Ft. Harrod). There's a rabbit in the back yard but he doesn't see it -- he is at this point pretty oblivious to critters unless they trip his motion detectors. So we're out front on the sidewalk, he's running, running, running in the easement -- blam! Right into the next door neighbor's brick mailbox. Yeouch! You could hear the thunk. But, he must have a pretty thick skull, he just kept on going.

I guess I'll have to add that to my list of stuff you got to watch.