Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Ballad of Irving

For those of you, like me, driving over the river and through the woods...I bring you the type of music you usually hear at 3 AM on AM radio on a dark desert highway.

He was short and fat, and rode out of the West
With a Mogen David on his silver vest.
He was mean and nasty right clear through,
Which was kinda weird, 'cause he was yellow too.

They called him Irving.
Big Irving.
Big, short Irving.
Big, short, fat Irving.
The hundred and forty-second fastest gun in the West.

Find the rest at DMDB.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Around the Web

From The Boogie Man is My Friend.

It's Turkeys all the Way Down

Once again I find myself lacking the time and motivation to write the reviews I should be writing - they're stacking up. Hopefully, I'll get some time this weekend to wind down and get them published for next week.

Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. I plan to.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins

For several decades, I owned a copy of Semi-Tough, and its follow-on novels, Dead Solid Perfect and Life Its Ownself. It was just one of those light hearted tales that stuck with me, and prompted me to read it over and over. Recently, while going through my library, though, I couldn't find it or any of Jenkins' books, so I must have loaned them out to someone who needed them worse than I - or they would have returned them, right?

So be from memory.

By the way, there was a movie called Semi-Tough that starred Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, and Jill Clayburgh, I think. It wasn't nearly as entertaining as the novel, though one scene really cracked me up - the one with the Motorman's Friend. Other than that, it was a snoozer for me.

Semi-Tough is the story of the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl from the point of view of Billy Clyde Puckett, quarterback from Fort Worth, Texas, starring his two best and oldest friends, Marvin "Shake" Tiller, wide receiver, and the only girl who ever really "got" them, Barbara Jean Bookman, whose daddy is in the "oil bidness".

This novel meanders along a crooked path, making fun of racial prejudice, the NFL, Texans, the oil bidness, and what passes for high society in Forth Worth. Bill Clyde's team has to play "the dog-ass Jets" for the championship, and there's no love lost between the squads. Having been written in 1972, it's well seasoned with sex, drugs and rock and roll - or perhaps rockabilly country western. By today's standards, the novel is pretty tame, and would only be offensive to the stridently politically correct, I suppose.

If you run across a copy, pick it up and read it...or send it my way. Mine is still AWOL.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hawk by Steven Brust

 So, Vlad has returned to Adrilankha, hoping to visit his son by his estranged wife, Cawti. But those pesky Jhereg assassins just won't go away, and in addition to having her house watched, they keep attempting to kill our old friend. Finally, he decides he's had enough, and a random conversational tidbit from Daymar sends him off down a convoluted path to redeeming himself with the organization. It will take all of his sneakiness and all of the help his old friends can provide, but it will be worth it to finally stop living life looking over his shoulder.

There's really nothing terribly new and exciting here, aside from a hint that Vlad's love life might eventually get better. Aliera's mysterious daughter puts in a cameo appearance, we get to find out a bit more about Vlad's old sidekick, Kragar, who now runs his area for the Jhereg, and Lady Teldra reveals some of her new Great Weapon powers.

What is this now, book fifteen of a planned nineteen? I hope Brust gets back in form at some point and starts writing a more inspired handful of books to finish things off, or the whole series will die with a whimper, not a bang.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Broken Soul by Faith Hunter

Second effort...I had written a couple of paragraphs about this book, when it all disappeared in a horrible keyboarding accident. Laptops and my big clumsy fingers, despite our constant contact, do not get along well.

Jane is finding her way with her new status, having been replaced as Leo's Enforcer, while still acting more or less in a consulting role. The breakup with Rick is still affecting her emotionally, but she seems poised, at the beginning of the novel, to explore a new relationship with Bruiser, Leo's former Onorio.

The European vampires are coming soon for a visit, and things are tense around vamp HQ, as preparations are made for their visit, which will probably be bloody. Jane gets plenty of opportunities to use some of her newfound skills in combat, real and practice. The bond with Beast has sped up her reflexes and increased her strength, which surprises people who think they can beat her. There's also her new gift of slowing down or stepping outside of time in a crisis situation to play around with.

In the middle of the usual crises, a deadly trio of two vampires and the leader's blood servant come to town, trying to acquire the magical artifacts that Jane has in safe keeping, and also to exploit a deep dark secret which Leo has been keeping to himself.

Lots of action, odd plot twists, and some interesting new "monster" lore.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Sorry, but I'm totally buried with IRL chores, no time to write reviews, though I'm still plugging along reading when I get a scrap of free time. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Poison fruit by Jacqueline Carey

 So, this is supposed to be the final book in the Agent of Hel series by Carey, and I'm  reading along, noticing that Daisy needs to find out why the demon spawn lawyer is trying to buy up all the real estate in Pemkowet, get over her love affair with Cody the were-sheriff and hook up with the ghoul, Stefan, and dispose of the Night Hag which is attacking people in their sleep, plus determine at last whether to remain on the side of the good guys, or claim her demonic heritage and all the powers that entails. How in the world can Carey wrap it all up in one book? I had to just read on to find out. Parenthetically, I'm also wondering what's next for Carey. It would be wonderful if she'd get back to Terre d'Ange. But I digress.

Yes, she did manage to wrap up all the disparate threads of the story. She may have left the door open a crack to return to Pemkowet at some point.

In order to rid the town of the Night Hag, Daisy has to dream her worst nightmare, breaking the world by claiming her demonic birthright and powers, which leaves her repeating the dream and worrying about its implications even after the hag is gone. Her breakup with Cody is messy and prolonged, and twisted, and made even more complex when the head of his clan convenes a "mixer" for prospective mates which Daisy is required to attend as Hel's representative.

The lawyer, acting for a mysterious client, has all sorts of tricks up his demonic sleeves, and drags the city fathers (and mothers) of Pemkowet into court to face a class action suit which results in them being forced to deliver the land where Hel's demesne is located to another minor deity. Daisy has to gather all of the eldritch forces she has obtained favors from in order to fight a losing battle to defend Hel's reign.

Her love affair with Stefan starts slowly and builds to a dangerous level, as her heightened emotions could, at any time, trigger his Outcast ravening. She, and we, learn a lot more about his past and the plight of the Outcasts through this story.

It all resolves into a neat little bundle at the end of this series. Let's see if Carey gets back to some serious and epic writing again, or if she continues to put out these light confections.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Around the Web

A book review on Alphecca.

How Rich People Think by Steve Siebold

 A while back, I read an article with excerpts from Siebold's book online, and found it so interesting, that I put it on my TBR list, waited for ages for my local library to get a copy, then even longer before my hold came to the top of the list. Now that I've finally started reading it, I think the article cherry-picked the best points out of the book, as I'm finding a great deal of it repetitive and, well, the best adjective is perhaps... "unsupported" as if he just pulled some assumptions out of thin air and run with them.

The format of the book is a series of paired statements beginning with "The middle class..." and "World class..."comparing the two groups. "World class" appears to be used interchangeably with "the rich" and "middle class" with "the poor", but he doesn't really define "world class" very well, though a partial definition appears twenty one chapters in, when he attempts to separate the "upper class" or ruthless rich, from the world class rich,

"Are some rich people ruthless? Of course, but that type of people we define as 'upper class.' Upper class consciousness is an ego-based level of thinking rooted in fear and scarcity, and some people operating at this level become rich. The world-class level of thinking is spirit-based with its roots firmly planted in love and abundance."

I agree with Siebold in his assumption that - all other things being equal - the difference between financial success and failure is largely (he would say entirely) a product of how a person thinks about money. I firmly believe that any citizen of the U.S. has the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become as successful as they want to be, if they will quit listening to the lies told by their friends, family, the news media, their local politicians, their schoolteachers, and coworkers, and be set free by the truth. That said, I also firmly believe that the results, as in pretty much everything else in life, will probably fall into a bell curve distribution, with a very small upper "head" succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, the vast majority landing somewhere in the middle, and a narrow "tail" bringing up the rear in abject failure. This is simply the nature of the world as we know it.

One of the best features of this book, from my point of view, is its function as a virtual bibliography of books on finances and success. At the tail end of each chapter there is the title of a relevant book for all you "world class" thinkers to read. I'm taking notes and putting a number of them on my wish list at the library.

Some pertinent quotes that I liked:

"Identify the biggest problem in your business or industry, that if solved, would earn you a fortune. Then go solve it."

I like that thought.

"While the masses are memorizing box scores and batting averages, the world class is directing the same amount of mental energy into revenue producing ideas."


"While the masses are playing video games, watching television and surfing the internet, champions are setting goals and designing strategies to make them a reality."

Not to mention the masses' wondering what is happening with the royal babies, and actually caring about Brittany Spears' latest trip to rehab, or falling for the latest conspiracy theory.

"Middle class earns money doing things they don't like to do...World class gets rich doing what they love."

I'm sorry, the first may be true, but the second is, once again, a perpetuation of the idea of "do what you love and the money will follow." The only people statistically speaking who are getting rich off this idea are the ones writing books touting such foolish advice.

I have yet to get rich by reading science fiction and fantasy books or, for that matter, by writing about what I've read. There's simply not that much of a market for my opinions. I could make a decent living running my own restaurant, or a catering business, but it's highly unlikely that I'll become a million- or billionaire doing so. Now, if I had figured out that there was a huge market for people to buy science fiction and fantasy online a decade or so ago, I could have founded Amazon, but my last name is not Bezos. One of these days I'll have to read his bio, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't a love of reading that got him to where he is today.

The question has yet to be answered, "Can you become rich/wealthy by doing something you hate well enough and long enough?"

"Don't let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream and he thinks you're crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you're lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you're greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn't understand." Robert Allen

Great stuff there.

"The most frequently uttered comment of the middle class in reference to money is "I can't afford it". Rich people know not being solvent enough to personally afford something is not relevant. The real question is, "is this worth buying, investing in, or pursuing?" If so, the wealthy know money is always available because rich people are always looking for great investments and superior performers to make those investments profitable. The great ones are aware that it's easier to borrow ten million than ten thousand, a critical non-linear concept to know when raising capital." (emphasis mine)

This one is very very true. Dave Ramsey is right when he criticizes consumer loans as a bad idea. Paying interest to purchase a depreciating asset (which nearly everything we middle class buy is) is a bad bad investment. A number of very successful people I have known in my life, however, use other people's money, wisely borrowed on favorable terms, quite regularly in order to make sound investments in property, the markets, or business. Not going to go all Adam Smith on y'all, but ready access to capital has been the root of all success in the last couple of centuries.

An action step:

"Start telling yourself on a daily basis that money is your friend and a positive force in your life, and your mind will go to work to help you acquire more."

This one just gets me giggling. It reminds me of a  recurring SNL sketch for some reason.

Regarding the world class,

"Materialism is only part of their motivation, the strongest for most is the freedom to do what they want when they want."

Oh Lord, don't we all want that?

This one is worth reading for the nuggets of gold inside, and especially for the bibliography stuff.