Friday, April 30, 2010

Magazine Titles for The Rest of Us

****Warning - Today's content may not be suitable for young children or prudes. THIS MEANS YOU MOM.****

The Queen has been having uncharacteristically normal days yesterday and the day before. I had to run some errands each evening for the good of the household, and her royal highness decided she was up for making a break from the confines of the castle keep where she spends most of her time. This, in itself, is noteworthy as she has more often than not declined such offers of late.

Nevertheless, we enjoyed a couple of evenings together of almost normal wedded bliss doing nothing more exciting than running mundane errands. Our conversation, as it is want to do when I’ve been fed but deprived of a full night’s sleep, took a turn for the odd and unusual but vaguely amusing. At least, it made The Queen laugh which means it was at least amusing to her. I must confess to a giggle or two myself. I might have even smiled. It’s been known to happen on occasion.

The genesis of our departure from composure was my recollection of a magazine article I read while at mediation on Monday. The mediation was winding down, and I didn’t want to get into a new file (this mediator is smart enough to have a hard wired and wireless internet connection for lowly adjusters such as myself whose company’s IT departments do not trust us to change the settings on our laptops). So, I started flippin’ through the mediator’s selection of magazines. I’m not terribly interested the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue since they didn’t see fit to have The Queen as their model. Texas Lawyer is something no self respecting person should be forced to read. I’m not into yachts. So, Yachting magazine was out. Fortune magazine is just depressing in this economy. That left me with a magazine called Dwell.

For those who are not familiar, Dwell is a magazine about homes and interior design. From what I can tell, it’s mostly about more modern architecture and interior design. Some of it looks kind of neat. Some of it looks painfully uncomfortable. A lot of it looks like they are going to have a hard time selling it. To each their own I suppose.

Anyway, The Queen commented that Dwell was a funny name for a magazine to which I agreed. Then we started coming up with one word names for other magazines. It turns out that these names sound dirty, but aren’t. No, really. They’re not. Get your mind out of the gutter.

The first one we came up with was FONDLE. You have to pause before you say it and say it quickly and dramatically with a sidelong glance to get the full effect. We originally thought this would be a great title for a magazine about poetry, but that really didn’t make sense. So, now it’s Fondle: A Touching Magazine for Massage Therapists. Now that I think about it some more, we could also name it Fondle & Stroke. It breaks the one word rule, but I’ve seen some odd two word combinations lately too (Garden & Gun comes to mind).

Then there was SCREW (or SCREWED). A magazine for the metal fastener industry.

BONER was up next. It’s the journal of paleontologists.

And we can’t leave out SUCK IT! (also breaking the one word rule). The magazine for the plastic straw industry. Picture this.

Person 1: Whatcha readin’?
Person 2: SUCK IT!
Person 1: Well, there’s no reason to be rude.
Person 2: No, seriously. SUCK IT!
Person 1: Do you have Tourette’s or something?
Person 2: Are you mental? I’m reading SUCK IT!
Person 1: I’m mental? You wanna take this outside little man?

I want to publish one issue just to see how many fights get started. Is there something wrong with that?

Fortunately, I slept really well last night. I actually went to bed before 11:00 PM. My goal was 9:00, but The Queen wanted to go to Barnes & Noble (oh, darn) from which there is no escape. Unfortunately, this means I can’t remember any other amusing magazine titles we created at the moment. I think there was a German magazine called SCHITT, but I can’t remember what that one was about.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Midlife Crisis Wish List Update

So, yesterday, mom and I were going to meet for a late lunch/early dinner at a shopping center near where The Queen and I reside. Mom suggested the location as she needed to locate and purchase a new top to wear for a concert. Mom E., for those who are wondering, is a tremendously gifted musician (she has a masters degree in piano performance from SMU), and her current day job is the chorale director and professor of music theory (among other duties) at a small college. As such, she would be the one directing for her students at said concert.

I was under the impression that we would eat first and do any necessary shopping duties afterward. I was apparently mistaken as mom forced me to assist her in her efforts to locate the above mentioned top prior to allowing me to satiate my substantial hunger. In fairness to me, I had been working hard all day up to that point and had only had a bowl of yogurt and granola to tide me over since awakening (By the time we got to a restaurant after 5:00, I was ready to chew an arm off). In fairness to mom, she did point out that some of the stores might have closed by the time we finished eating since it was Sunday after 4:00 when we got to the shopping center.

Add to this the fact that, as some might recall, I have an aversion to clothes shopping in general and women's clothing in particular (especially when the one doing the shopping is the same person who taught me to speak "Thingie"). To say that my heart was not in it is yet another understatement of colossal proportions. It didn't help matters one bit that I spent a few minutes in the firearms section of Dick's Sporting Goods while waiting for mom to get to the shopping center. It was there that I came across a rifle that I didn't recognize.

It turns out that this little gem is the Savage Mark II BVT (which apparently stands for bull/varmint barrel with a thumb hole stock) in .22LR (they have it in .17HMR as well, but I'm not interested in that little varmint nose pickin' round). Of course I couldn't resist asking to fondle...I mean hold it for a few minutes. The stock on the one at Dick's appeared to have a darker finish than the one pictured above. It's satiny smooth, and it has the heft of a bigger rifle (as opposed to my Marlin 60 which I can shoot relatively accurately, pistol style, with one hand at arm's length). It's real comfy for my monkey man arms, and Dick's was even kind enough to put a scope on it as part of a package deal. To top it all off, they've got it on clearance for $329.99 which is a steal when you consider that the best price I found online was $339.00 WITHOUT the scope (and the little detail of shipping, handling and FFL transfer fees).

The Mark II is a bolt action instead of the increasingly more common semi-automatic. Now that I think about some, I'm seriously considering dropping the Ruger 10/22 from the wish list in favor of the Mark II. I already have a semi-auto .22 in the Marlin 60. The Marlin is plenty accurate for plinking and "shoot it as fast as you can" noise making. It was never designed as nor intended to be a serious tack driver. While the Ruger would be an improvement over the Marlin in terms of accuracy, but a bolt action would be a bigger improvement. Since I am more interested in improving my accuracy skills right now, the Savage is going to the top of the wish list

Did I mention the fact that it's all kinds of pretty?

Yeah, I want it. I want it real bad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Returning The Favor - Part 3

Well, my faithful readers, I am happy to report that yesterday's post succeeded in baiting the GunDiva into opening her prize. I told you I was good at this didn't I? You can read her initial reaction in the comments on yesterday's post.

You've got to love it when a plan comes together.

Alright, alright, alright already. I've tormented you all long enough. Maybe. It's not like the surprise is going to be anything earth shattering. Especially for those of you who weren't on the receiving end. In fact, most of you will probably roll your eyes and say "That's it?"

Drum roll, please (Visualize Ed McMahon handing the white envelope to The Amazing Carnak)...

The surprise was that I sent TWO books to GunDiva instead of just one.


(cricket, cricket)

See, I told you it would be a let down. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Seriously though, there's two reasons why I went ahead and sent two books. One: That's just the kind of guy I am. I like to exceed expectations. I like to give a little extra when I can. I like to make someone's day with something completely unexpected (or a moment of shear terror if you're my mother in law). Two: I just couldn't decide on just one book to send.

GunDiva had (finally) revealed to me that she has never read science fiction and just started reading fantasy not too long ago. As a result, it was fertile ground for me to make some introductions to her reading repertoire. Since she introduced me to her favorite author who happens to write action/smut books (okay, okay...she called it a romance novel), I figured I should introduce her to a couple of my faves in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

The first book I sent was GunDiva's introduction to the SciFi genre.

If you are interested in reading the teaser summary, click on this link which will take you to Modesitt's website. I sent her this one as it was the first book of Modesitt's that I read and one that I've reread several times. It was written in 1997. If you decide to read the book, you will notice that the "bad guys" bear a striking resemblance to Mormons (Modesitt lives in Utah). However, personally, I think the book is more of an allegorical commentary on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the wake of Gulf War 1. Whether or not that is true, it is, at least to me, a fascinating book about faith, fanaticism, the nature of war and responsibility.

Modesitt has been one of my favorite SciFi authors since reading The Parafaith war. I've now read almost all of his SciFi novels (there are a couple that I haven't been able to find), and one of these days I'm going to have to start reading his fantasy books as well.

Next up is my favorite satirical author who happens to write in the fantasy genre, Terry Pratchett. Pratchett is a Brit whose Discworld novels are addictive. you start reading Discworld, it is hard to stop. I have sent GunDiva the novel Night Watch which is one of my favorite Discworld novels. Again, if you'd like to read the teaser, click the link.

Pratchett's characters of phenomenal characters in every sense of the word, and I love his advice to authors which was basically (I'm paraphrasing here) be careful about the small characters you create as you may be writing about them for a long time to come. That comment was specifically in reference to a minor character called "The Death of Rats" which first appeared in the novel Reaper Man.

I sincerely hope GunDiva enjoys these two books as much as I do; however, I understand that not everyone's tastes are the same. I look forward to hearing her unbiased reviews once she has a chance to wade through them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Returning The Favor - Part 2

I know some of you might be tuning in to find out what I sent to GunDiva in return for her bequeathing Crazy Kisses to me. I did, in fact, promise to post something today about that very subject. Unfortunately, GunDiva has not cooperated with my evil plan (yes, I do have one). She has confirmed receipt of the package, but she says she won't open it until she finishes grading some papers. Curses! Foiled again. So, some of you might have to wait a little longer than you expected (Jennifer, remember what I said in the comments about teaching you patience?).

You see, I love surprises. In particular, I love being the one to give surprises. It gives me no end of amusement to scare the living daylights out of my mother in law by sneaking up behind her and whispering "boo" in her ear. Just yesterday, I demonstrated this to great affect on the teenage daughter of a friend of ours who was here helping The Queen and I by cooking a whole mess of food. After telling the young lass what I do to my mother in law, I lurked outside the guest bathroom door when she went in for necessary business. When she came out, I jumped out and gave her a good scare. She squealed in fright, and her mother (who witnessed the stalking), The Queen (who was also witness) and I laughed hysterically.

I also enjoy employing the element of surprise in gift giving which, in the Erickson family, is an art form. One year, my sister and I chipped in to get mom a new VCR (back in the day when a 3 head VHS was the pinnacle of high tech and we were but poor high school and college students). Knowing that mother would not leave well enough alone in trying to figure out what was in the box, we devised a devious plan to thwart her efforts. The VCR box went into a much larger box that was weighted down with about 60 pounds worth of barbell weights. Needless to say, mom was clueless until she opened the box.

Sometimes the fun is in the hints. My sister and I have tormented mother on more than one occassion with subtle and not so subtle hints. One incident in particular comes to mind. My sister called me one day out of the blue and said "Guess what?". I said "You're pregnant." Of course I was right. I'm very good at guessing games. We proceeded to plot against mom. We came up with the idea to give her a little box with a stuffed rabbit inside holding some little fake lillies. Unfortunately, this hint backfired on us. Mom was puzzled by the receipt of a small box with a toy bunny holding flowers in it (she is a big fan of bunnies). It took my very astute grandmother to pointedly tell her "The rabbit DIED!" I suppose it is possible to be TOO subtle. Oh well. We had a great laugh despite the hint failure. If The Queen and I are ever blessed with a child, I will build a full blown pine coffin for the stuffed rabbit so there will be no confusion.

As you might have guessed by now, there is a surprise lurking in the package I sent to GunDiva. I promise it will be a pleasant surprise for the GunDiva, and it is not ticking or otherwise capable of bodily injury. However, I want to hear GunDiva's report of her reaction to the surprise before spoiling it here.

It shouldn't be long. I promise. Nothing encourages people to open gifts faster than to tell them there is something "special" inside.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Paint Job

Astute and attentive readers will note that I changed the template for the blog. I suppose now that I've mentioned it, the inattentive readers will notice it too. Since I know we are all generally a conservative lot by nature (who isn't resistant to change?), why would I do such a thing?

A. Because I was bored with the old template.
B. Because the center text column was too narrow.
C. There was a butt load of wasted space on the left.
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above.
F. The voices in my head told me to, and I do almost everything they tell me to.

I may change the color scheme around again. I really liked the white on black of the old template; however, dark blue is my all time favorite color. Seriously. Half my casual clothes are in some shade of blue with a significant amount in dark blue. The first car I ever bought: midnight blue metallic. My first motorcycle: electric blue. My favorite color on The Queen: yep, you guessed it...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Returning The Favor

I just got back from putting a package in the mail to GunDiva. It should get to her by Monday. So, I won't spoil the surprise for her yet. I'll post something Tuesday to let everyone know what I sent her in response to Crazy Kisses.

Crazy Kisses Book Review

First off, I’d like to put GunDiva’s mind at ease and say I enjoyed Crazy Kisses. I’m still not sure if I REALLY liked it or not, but I enjoyed reading it. I know that’s a subtle distinction; but, then again, I’m known for that sort of thing.

My package of tasty wood pulp and ink goodness arrived from GunDiva late last week just ahead of a long and busy weekend which means I didn’t have a lot of time to seriously sit down and start devouring the book until Tuesday morning. That’s like setting a plate of fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies in front of me and telling not to touch. It’s not quite torture, but it’s most annoying. Nevertheless, I finished the book by late afternoon on Wednesday despite having to work both days. Don’t ask how much work actually got done ‘cause I won’t answer.

Crazy Kisses is a fairly standard length book of 354 pages not including the preview of the sequel teaser at the end. It is a stand alone story that is part of a larger series of books. Other than the male protagonist’s last name, there are no five dollar words that would get in the way of the average readers comprehension and enjoyment.

First warning: if you are offended by the F-word, you’ll have trouble getting past the first sentence. Having spent the better part of a couple of years reforming a bad cussing habit, I am not necessarily offended by cuss words. I do, however, get fairly tired of reading or hearing them when there are much better means of expression. Fortunately, Ms. Janzen did not feel the need to have all her characters cussing like drunken sailors on three day shore leave. In her defense, the worst offender in the book is the male protagonist who is a black ops soldier who would be expected to be a little coarse.

First technical nit pick: Now, having said that, if an author is going to indulge in cuss words, there is a much broader palette of colorful language to choose from than just the F-bomb. A soldier would have some very inventive ways of expressing himself in that manner if he were so inclined.

Second warning: if you are offended by sex in your entertainment, you are three turds short of being completely out of luck with this book. It takes Ms. Janzen just 34 pages to get to the first sex scene. There are at least two major, full blown sex scenes described in detail plus a couple of other scenes involving sex to a greater or lesser degree. Then there’s the whole naked angel painting thing.

If there is one thing I have to say I could have done without in this book, it would have to be the sex scenes. Now, I’m no prude. I am, in fact, a big fan of certain activities when they involve The Queen. I do not, however, enjoy reading about or watching someone else have sex. To each their own, I suppose.

GunDiva promised the book would deliver “hot guns, fast cars, hotter sex (not necessarily in that order)”.

She was wrong on one count: the only fast car mentioned in the entire book was a Pontiac GTO. Unfortunately, the Goat only appeared briefly in one scene near the end of the book and it was not moving. There was no classic car chase a la Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt. Bummer.

The guns are there, but they were not lovingly described in the way the sex scenes were.

Second and final technical nit pick: there is a scene where the male and female protagonists are running away from bad guys with guns. On page 76, they “take cover” behind a hedge. There is a difference between “cover” and “concealment”. Concealment will hide you from view but won’t necessarily stop a bullet. Cover will hide you AND stop or significantly slow down a bullet. By those definitions, a hedge is concealment not cover.

Ms. Janzen did a fairly good job of making me interested in the main characters. I’m a character guy. I love to see characters developed in depth. That’s why I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, etc. I would like to have seen some of her secondary characters developed a little (okay, a lot) more, but then you’re talking about a 500+ page book. That’s fine for me, but some people would find it tedious. It is also apparent from reading the summaries of her other books on her website that her other books take up the slack in this area.

Bottomline: Crazy Kisses is an enjoyable read which doesn’t quite hit the bullseye with my tastes. Your experience may vary.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Worm

I received a nice little gift in the mail yesterday from GunDiva.

No, it was not one of the items from my midlife crisis list (drat!). GunDiva and I haven't "known" (in the blogosphere sense of the term) each other long enough that she would feel generous enough to drop a minimum of $400 to accommodate one of my desired arsenal additions.

Oh well.

She did, however, send the next best thing: a book. In celebration of her 200TH post, GunDiva ran a little contest. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of her winners.

As you all should know, I love books. I am addicted to books. I read them quickly and often. Sometimes I read the same book 3 or 4 times (or well over a dozen times for Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers).

My one failing as a reader is that I tend to get tied down to a few favorite authors and don't venture very far from that comfort zone. Every time I try to find a new author to add to the circle of old familiars, something gets in the way.

As a result, I look to my friends to introduce me to authors I might not otherwise experience. My friend Alex introduced me to Tom Clancy and R.A. Salvatore. My wife got me hooked on Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (it's only fair...I got her hooked on Clive Cussler and I'm trying to get her to read Terry Pratchett).

So, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to devouring Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen (an author I had never heard of until GunDiva's blog). I can normally run though a book this size (354 pages) in about a day and a half. However, I've got a busy weekend planned, and I may not finish this one until next Tuesday. Once I do, I plan on writing up a review. I also plan on finding a suitable book to send GunDiva's way as a way of saying thanks. If any of GunDiva's peeps (I know there are some lurking in the shadows here) are reading this and have suggestions on authors she has NOT read, please feel free to drop a comment.