Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bloody Awesome

I donated blood today, and if you live in Austin (or anywhere really) you should too, as they are mega-low on the blood donations this summer [unless of course you are scared to death of needles like Dr. M]. Not only will you have the fun of answering a series of semi-embarrassing questions (they aren't so bad, although I don't often get asked if I've ever accepted money for sex or had sex with an African), but you will also get tasty Nutter-butters, or the cookie or snack of your choice afterward.

Or you could just purchase this blood drop mascot costume for $1200 and wear it around. Doesn't that seem like a lot for a costume? I guess mascot costumes must be more heavy duty than your usual Halloween/costume ball fair.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hawey Podda

I just realized that, although I have come up with many a Harry Potter related post in the past week or so, I never did write up what I thought of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). And since it is my personal quest to write a little something about every book I read, it must be done.

Of course, you can't really write about this last book in the series without writing about the series as a whole: I really liked this series. Isn't that crazy? No, I guess not, since practically every human on earth is either reading the books, watching the movies, or both. And because I can't succinctly verbalize exactly what it is I like about these books, and because I don't want to give away any plot details for those who haven't read it, I'll just blurt out some observations here. All stream-of-consciousness blog-style:

I like that the world has another really great children's series to latch onto. And I like that the characters, the plots, and the whole Harry-Potter-Universe actually do grow, deepen, complicate and change as the books progress. I love series. I love really long books. I love good and evil and sacrifice. I like all the descriptions of the everyday life of wizards and witches. I like that Rowling doesn't recap everything that happened in previous books. I love Neville. The movies are nice as reminders of the books, but they aren't nearly as great as the books themselves. The ending of the series is satisfying. I like having things both ways. I like that there is one real cuss in the series (that I counted, anyway). I love the battles. I kind of love Snape, even though I sometimes hate him (although I love Alan Rickman -- why isn't there more Snape in the movies?) I like that some characters really die. I love reading. I love that friends loaned me every volume of this series except the first one, as I don't have room for all these gigantic books in my house.

I love Harry Potter!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Right now the World Heavyweight Champion is The Great Khali (7'3" -- a very big dude, played by Dalip Singh Rana). And the World Cruiserweight Champion is Hornswaggle (4'5", Finlay's sidekick -- a "leprechaun" played by little person Dylan Postl). Usually Hornswaggle jumps up from under the ring while Finlay is fighting, and distracts the referee so Finlay can bash his opponent with his shillelagh, and doesn't actually compete himself. You can read how he won the championship (and watch a clip) here. The following clip will show you why I love to watch wrestling (this is pre-championship for both men, but it's the only clip I could find of the two of them together).

[Do yourself a favor, and check out the "Finishing and signature moves" section on the Wikipedia pages for each of these wrestlers. You won't be disapointed.]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Share time

So, I subscribe to a lot of magazines. Really. I've pared them down a bit in recent years, but I still have quite a few that come every month or so and beg me to read them. In the past, I worked at a relatively big place with a break room where I could drop old magazines. But now My work is small and doesn't even have a break room. And Dr. M has left the working world for student-times. But I can't just recycle the magazines, because they deserve better than that. So I need you, dear readers. If any of you would like me to pass old issues of the following magazines your way, just let me know. Preference to folks in Austin, but I would even mail small batches out to select friends out of state.

Choose from:
  • Harper's Magazine [one of my favorites, I've subscribed since high school and I shall never stop!]
  • Jane [actually I read that Jane has been axed by its publishers, so there might only be one or two issues of this one to share]
  • Seed [super awesome science/culture magazine]
  • Smithsonian
  • Interview [I like the pictures]
  • Bitch [don't let the "feminist" part scare you -- this is a pretty great magazine]
  • Blueprint [this is a new magazine from the Martha Stewart empire -- I like it, but I don't think I'm going to renew it. I've still got a couple issues on the way, though.]
  • Spin
  • Oxford American [this is a great one -- excellent essays, fiction, and photographs exploring southern culture]
Don't be shy -- ease my magazine subscription guilt!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

DC Potter

Have you watched DC Cab lately? I saw it about a billion times as a kid, and then made Dr. M rent it the other weekend for nostalgia purposes. I still think it's pretty fun to watch, but that might be childhood memories rubbing off of it.

Anyway, the big climax of the movie revolves around the two children of an ambassador getting kidnapped right when our hero drops their maids off in his cab. I just spent half an hour trying to find a picture of these kids: they look exactly like a tiny version of Harry Potter and Hermione. All private school uniforms, round glasses, frizzy hair. I think J. K. Rowling might have based her character design on these two. Seriously, watch the movie and see what you think. And take a picture of the screen because shouldn't everything be on the internet now?

And since I can't provide an illustration of what I'm talking about, how about a little Gary Busey clip? While little-kid Kristy thought he was pretty funny, grown-up Kristy thinks he makes the movie worth watching:

[In addition, I finished reading the new Harry Potter last night (thanks choo!). I thought the ending was very satisfying. Now I have a Harry Potter Hangover from reading 350 pages in one night and staying up too late.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007


Can't talk. Must read Harry Potter. Why does work have to get in the way of my reading?

[Get your own lightening bolt tattoo here!]

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Scarecrow of Oz

The ninth book in the Oz series, The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), was also reportedly one of Baum's favorites. Perhaps he liked it so much because he wrote in two characters from his non-Oz books, and let them prance around in Oz for a bit. In the preface we certainly get more of his passive-aggressive "thanks" to all the children that won't let him stop writing Oz books:

I am deeply grateful to my little readers for their continued enthusiasm over the Oz stories, as evinced in the many letters they send me, all of which are lovingly cherished. It takes more and more Oz Books every year to satisfy the demands of old and new readers, and there have been formed many "Oz Reading Societies," where the Oz Books owned by different members are read aloud. All this is very gratifying to me and encourages me to write more Oz stories. When the children have had enough of them, I hope they will let me know, and then I'll try to write something different.

Our two new characters are Trot, a young girl, and Cap'n Bill, a boarder at her mother's boarding house and her best friend. Cap'n Bill used to be a ship's captain, but he lost his leg (now he has a wooden one) and spends most of his time now just hanging out with Trot. The two go out on a little boat, but get sucked into a whirlpool and spit out in an underground cave. They are both a bit worried, but each tries to keep their spirits up for the other person's sake. After a day or so, a strange creature (the Ork) washes up in the same cavern.

The Ork sat upon its haunches much as a cat does, but used the finger-like claws of its front legs almost as cleverly as if they were hands. Perhaps the most curious thing about the creature was its tail, or what ought to have been its tail. This queer arrangement of skin, bones and muscle was shaped like the pro­pellers used on boats and airships, having fan-like surfaces and being pivoted to its body.

The Ork and our two heroes eventually escape the cave, having a few adventures on the way, and after a series of stops (on an island where the only inhabitant is a real jerk, and in the Land of Mo where it rains lemonade and snows popcorn), they fly over the deadly desert and land in Jinxland, an isolated corner of the Land of Oz that is separated from the rest of the country by a range of mountains and a big gulf.

Oh, and on their way they run into Button Bright, who we previously saw in The Road to Oz.

Jinxland is a lovely place, but it is under the thumb of an evil king (King Krewl), and no one there even knows about the lovely Ozma back in the Emerald City. The king is trying to marry his niece, Gloria, off to the rich but awful Googly-Goo. She, on the other hand, is in love with Pon, the gardener's assistant. But actually, Pon is the son of the previous king (King Phearse), who was overturned by King Krewl. And Gloria is the daughter of King Kynd, the king who was killed by Pon's father. Got it? Basically, Gloria is the true ruler of Jinxland, and Pon is royalty.

Because Gloria won't submit to her rich suitor, the King pays a wicked witch to freeze her heart and get her to stop loving Pon. That works, but she doesn't love or care about anything else either and still won't marry Googly-Goo. The wicked witch also turns Cap'n Bill into a grasshopper with a wooden leg, which makes everyone sad.

Luckily Glinda the Good has been reading about all this in her magic book, so she sends the Scarecrow to help out. Eventually the Scarecrow, with the fortuitous return of the Ork and his fellow Orks, is able to get rid of King Krewl, put Gloria on the throne, turn everyone back to normal, and get the whole gang over the mountains and into Oz and back to the Emerald City for a celebration (a rather familiar ending for the Oz books).

[And, as always, you can read the full text here. This site is even more awesome, though, as the creator has scanned in the illustrations from the book and embedded them with the text. Very fun.]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Three Things I Love

1. Getting into a really hot car after freezing all day at work.

2. James Yun, aka Jimmy Wang Yang. He is super fun to watch, is cute, and also seems nice.

3. Every cat on earth. Even mean ones. Even your cat.

What do you love?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three Things I Hate

[Off the top of my head. Not necessarily in order of dislike.]

1. Flip Flops (these are not good for your feet, people. Okay at the pool, bad for walking around.)
2. Matt Hardy (He is soooo boring -- why do people like him? in addition to hating his dumb wrestling moves, I also hate his hair, his facial hair, and his pants.)
3. Unnecessary abbreviations, both spoken and written. We have enough time to just say the complete names of people, couples, films, and events, and to spell out every letter of our words. Believe me.

What do you hate?

Tomorrow: three things I love.

Monday, July 16, 2007


My latest science fiction read, Triplanetary by E. E. "Doc" Smith (1948), was given to me from the duplicates pile of the lovely choo. E. E. Smith was a chemical engineer who started writing science fiction in the 1920s and pioneered the space opera genre of sci-fi.

Triplanetary is the first book in the Lensman series, and (from what I can read on the Internets) was kind of a prequel to the rest of the books in the series that was fashioned together from earlier writings by Smith. The bulk of the book is the serialized novella "Triplanetary," printed in Amazing Stories in 1934 [and which you can read here thanks to Project Gutenberg -- and even if you don't read it all, scroll down through the text to see the Amazing Stories covers and illustrations that accompanied the serial. Nice.]

This book begins with two ultra-long lived, all-powerful alien races. One (the good guys) has the goal of encouraging Civilization and democracy and attaining peace in the universe. The other (the bad guys) want to rule all the planets in the universe with an iron fist. The good guys find out about the bad guys, but they are more powerful so they hide their own existence. The bad guys carry on with their plan, while in the background the good guys encourage the growth of democratically enlightened and technologically sophisticated societies on Earth and nearby planets. The good guys have foreseen that to save the universe, they will eventually have to mate with a highly-evolved form of human, uniting the strengths of the two races and ensuring the destruction of the bad guys.

The problem is, the bad guys keep noticing the nascent societies and infiltrating them with bad-guy-spies that end up destroying all the good guys' work. We are led through Atlantis (good guy society) and its destruction (by the bad guys); Rome (good guy society) and its fall (by the bad guys -- Nero was a spy, don't you know); World War I (instigated by bad guys) and World War II (also bad guys). Finally, about halfway through the book we end up in future (from that point on, the text is basically that of the 1934 serial by the same name). There our space opera really begins, with a valiant hero, his brave but womanly love interest, and lots of cool space ships, physics, aliens, and guns.

I won't get into all the details here, except for one: on a distant and unknown planet a highly developed aquatic race called the Nevians have managed to harness the atomic power of iron and make it do amazing things. The problem is, they have hardly any iron on their planet. So they make an insanely cool spaceship to go out into the universe and find some. Eventually they run into Earth and start sucking all the iron out of Pittsburgh with their special ray. This ray shoots into the city and immediately vaporizes and takes any iron in all the buildings, machines, earth, and people. That's right, if this ray hits you, all the iron in your blood is removed. Your blood turns white and you die instantly. Now that is a cool ray.

I really enjoyed this book -- Smith has an entertaining writing style, with nice action sequences, and fun science stuff. His weak point is romance, but there isn't too much of that to get in the way of the fun. I plan to continue on with the lovely Lensman series.

[Back cover here.]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Carmelized Onion, Canadian Bacon and Fried Egg Sandwiches

Go make this sandwich right now:

  1. Thinly slice one yellow onion
  2. Heat two teaspoons of canola oil in a non-stick frying pan
  3. Toss in your onions, along with 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon vinegar (if you have it, otherwise I'm sure another kind of vinegar would be fine)
  4. Cook those onions over medium-high for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are golden and smell delicious and carmelized
  5. Remove the onions from the pan and set them aside
  6. Put two pieces of Canadian bacon in the pan and cook for about one minute on each side
  7. Take that bacon out of the pan
  8. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, spray on a little cooking spray, and break two eggs into the pan.
  9. Cook the eggs over medium-low heat for about two minutes on each side, or longer if you don't like runny yolks
  10. Toast some good hearty white bread, put one egg, one slice of bacon, and a ton of onions into the sandwich.

Eat it!

I want to eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of my life. Also for dessert.

[Oh, and pictured above is actually a fried egg jellyfish, not something you should put on a sandwich. I considered that he might make the post less appetizing, but I couldn't resist him when I did an image search for "fried egg." Isn't he neat?]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nothing but Blue Skies

I think I was in a bad mood when I read Nothing but Blue Skies by Thomas McGuane (1992). Well, actually I know I was, but I think I might have taken my mood out on this book. I really like 92 in the Shade, the movie McGuane wrote and directed, based on his novel of the same name. And I also liked his screenplay for Rancho Deluxe. Sadly, Nothing but Blue Skies just didn't do it for me.

This book tells the story of Frank Copenhaver, a successful Montana businessman whose wife has just left him for another man. Frank does not take this well, and slides down an emotional slope that leads him into frantic and unpredictable sex with his wife's best friend, too much drinking, bar fights, arrests, neglecting of the business interests, loss of money, and lots and lots of fly fishing. This book has some very funny comic scenes, and I think if the tone of the book had played more towards absurdist comedy, I would have liked it better. As it is, the comedy is cut with more serious contemplations of Frank's life, particularly the (I think) rather tired yearning for his young hippy days and Big Chill-like questioning of his current rich-guy status (Where did our ideals and fun-times go? Why am I so old and rich now?).

Other books have done the middle-aged man crisis of identity better than this, and while I would gladly read more McGuane (maybe some 70s stuff), I can't wholeheartedly recommend this one.

[I can, however, recommend the author photo from the book jacket. Nice.]

[In addition, did you know McGuane was married to Margot Kidder for one year (and they had a child together), and then married Jimmy Buffet's sister?]

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Of Walking in Ice

Of walking in ice : Munich -Paris, 11/23 to 12/14, 1974 is the diary Werner Herzog kept as he walked from Munich to Paris in 1974 as a sort of self-created pilgrimage to save the life of his seriously ill friend, writer and film critic Lotte Eisner. It was published in German in 1978, and then translated and published in English in 1980.

If you have ever heard Herzog speak, or listened to one of his DVD commentaries, it is impossible to read this book and not have his dead-pan German accent echoing through your head. This has the effect of making many passages seem a little more funny than they were probably intended to be, but that isn't a bad thing. I read this documentation of Herzog's tough journey through the wintery German and French countryside during our recent never-ending spell of rain, and since it pretty much never stops raining on him through the entire journey (seriously, in the three weeks there are maybe two hours where he isn't freezing, soaked, and depressed by the grayness of nature and the suspicion of the people), I kind of felt like I was right there with Herzog on his journey.

And apparently it worked, because Eisner didn't die for another nine years...

[Back cover here.]

Thursday, July 05, 2007


What do you get when you take the produce above, chop away at it for an hour or so (together with some green onions and a buttload of cilantro, sadly unphotographed) and then mix it up with a combination of lime juice, fish sauce, sambal oelek, sugar and water? Something like this. It is a Thai flavored cole slaw mega veggie explosion that I took to a friend's fourth of July bbq, and I think it turned out reasonably well, although since the chopping intensity to eating enjoyment ratio wasn't quite to my liking, I probably won't be making it again. Unless I get an awesome new knife that I want to put to the test.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Stanley Elkin's Greatest Hits

My latest read was Stanley Elkin's Greatest Hits (1980) by -- you guessed it -- Stanley Elkin. This is one of Dr. M's books, and he has been telling me that I should read it, as I would really really like it. Darn it if that Dr. M isn't right some of the time.

This is a collection of novellas, stories, and parts of novels taken from Elkin's other books. It has made me want to read everything by Elkin I can get my hands on. I find it very hard to summarize something that I really like, particularly when it is made out of so many discrete pieces, but lets just say that Elkin plays with language, is both funny and sad, has fun with the ways words fit together, and can draw up some very real and memorable characters. Plus one section ends with about 30 pages of a guy having sex with a bear, and it is honestly a very moving and appropriate way to end the story. No joke.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's Lame:

Getting ready to drive to a park for a Sunday afternoon walk and discovering that your back two tires are totally flat. Then waiting for two hours for a tow truck and noticing that one of the front tires is half-flat too. Then having the mechanic tell you that someone apparently pierced your tires with an ice pick. Then having to pay for three new tires.

Enemies? Random vandalism? Karmic vengeance? The jury is still out...