Monday, September 30, 2013

The Old, Old West

Not the heroism of the greatest generation ...

Nor the fathomless mysteries of mathematics ...

Not even the Good Book ...

Can take my mind off my worries of late...

Except for ...

This book ...

My God! What has become of me?!?!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

JFK @ 50; Little One @ 9

Here’s what I bought Little One for her 9th birthday.

She’s been asking me all about the JFK assassination during our weekend errand runs over the summer, so I figured she’s of age to read up on Kennedy’s last days. Yeah, O’Reilly’s book is aimed at a 5th to 9th grade audience, but in 4th grade me and the Mrs. feel she can handle it. I skimmed the book before picking it up and it’s not graphic, nor does it appear to be too “fringe-y”, as far as conspiracy stuff goes.
We’ll read together about JFK this November during the 50th year anniversary of the assassination. After reading Posner’s and Bugliosi’s books thoroughly debunking the whole conspiracy conspiracy, I think I’ll go full steam down the grassy knoll for a 180 degree turn … maybe Mark Lane’s Plausible Denial or Edward Jay Epstein’s Inquest. Not sure which, but both have been on my shelves for years.

Anyway, here’s a pic of Little One, a little unsure what to make of the book –

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Little One!

She’s nine.

Nine years old. Wow, where does the time go?

Anyway, she played a phenomenal game of soccer this morning, and now she’s being picked up by her mom after spending the afternoon at the local fair with friends. Later tonight is a steak dinner (her request) followed by cake and gift opening. Tomorrow is her party with school friends, an indoor rock climbing experience that’s sure to be a blast for all of them.

Enjoy your day, my dear!

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Poor Car!

The Impala is wounded!

Of late it’s taken Schwartzeneggarian might to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees. That and that it sounds like a 757 pressurizing for take-off whenever I accelerate above 20 mph. The faint odor of burning graces the interior after twenty or so minutes of driving. So, also a bit overdue for an oil change, I take it to the dealer.


Needs a power steering pump, power steering rack, and an alignment.


$2000 and change.

Now, we took out an Extended Warranty on the Impala when we purchased the car at a discount from my wife’s company. It ran good for a year. Then, the tires balded. Then, two coolant leaks three months apart. Throw in regular maintenance plus a four-wheel brake job, and the auto repair dollars are starting to cut into my lavish lifestyle.

The goal was to look into buying a cheap little Japanese car (often built in the U.S. of A.) to solely get me back and forth to work. The big Honda Pilot we bought two months ago takes care of family trips and whatnot. So, if we could get rid of the Impala, that’d get rid of a car payment and as a bonus we’d probably save money on gas as it does consume about $180 a month in petrol.

But, after speaking with two separate salesmen on two separate occasions, it was recommended that we keep it. One, I still owe on it more than they could sell it for if I traded it in. There’s the rub. And two, I still had that golden Extended Warranty for another two or three years to keep it up and running.

Problem is, as my Service Advisor told me with a very, very grave expression on her face, we don’t know if a power steering pump and rack is covered. Hmmm. She actually said, “Hmmmm,” as she looked as if weighing whether or not to pull the plug on a comatose family member while being forced to solve a differential equation at gunpoint.

Monday I should know whether my beloved car will have an extended lifespan or if I’ll be sitting in a sales cubicle working the numbers on a 2007 Honda Civic with 110,000 miles on the odometer.

This problematic power steering prognosis could be Nature’s way of saying, “Go for it, dude!”

Will keep you updated ...

An Army at Dawn II

“The Apostles had formed several cells of secret agents with exotic noms de guerre (Mr. Fish, Sea Slug, Leroy the Badger) and imaginative covers (a onetime Foreign Legionnaire known as Pinkeye ostensibly worked as a black-market macaroni salesman). Leading the insurrectionists was “Black Beast,” Major General Émile Béthouart.”

- An Army at Dawn, page 107, by Rick Atkinson

* * *

Man, do I love this book so far. Similarly and intricately detailed as was Cornelius Ryan’s A Bridge Too Far, but eminently more readable. How exactly that’s defined, I can’t quite put into eminently readable words, so suffice it to say that for me, it’s true (though I will put Ryan’s classic through a re-read).

Anyway, I have a strange feeling that there will be an homage to Pinkeye, Mr. Fish, Sea Slug, and Leroy in a future fiction work from the pen of Hopper …

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Term Them Out!

Make RINOs an endangered species!

Breaking: Hopper has just come out in favor of term limits for US Senators. Two terms, sayonara!

Putting a two-term term limit in effect would get rid of these RINO mainstays:

- Orrin Hatch (senator since 1/3/1977)

- Mitch McConnell (senator since 1/3/1985)

- John McCain (senator since 1/3/1987)

- Susan Collins (senator since 1/3/1997)

and maybe

- John Cornyn (senator since 12/1/2002)

- Lisa Murkowsky (senator since 12/20/2002)

- Lindsay Graham (senator since 1/3/2003)

depending how the term limit law would be written.

Has any one of these fought and made a stand for conservatism in this day and age? Has any stepped up and offer real assistance to the young lions (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee) currently making the effort? Or are they fat and comfortable DC ornaments trading in our futures for their cushy power-soaked lifestyles?

Get someone younger and dynamic in there to fight for you!

Term them out!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What’s Been on My Tube

Confess I haven’t been watching much on teevee of late, and what I have seen I really haven’t had the urge to review or blog about. So how about quickie grades, eh? ’Fore I forget.

Over the past three weeks or so, I’ve seen the following:

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – C

Rear Window – A+

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – A-

Mermaids: The New Evidence – A

Clash of the Titans – B

On Deck:

To watch with the wife: Star Trek, the 1979 reboot flick.
To watch with Little One (almost age 9): Logan’s Run.

These two I will blog a review, especially because

(a) I haven’t seen either one in at least fifteen or twenty years

(b) I’m curious as to the reactions of mi esposa y mi hija mayor.

Hoping to get to both of them this weekend.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Obama Land

Well, yes and no.

Just starting to implement this at work, and by “implement,” I mean: notify my employees of the establishment of the health insurance exchanges on a statewide and federal level. Still not an expert on Obamacare (no one really is at this stage), but I got real good support from some excellent brokers we deal with who are helping us walk through this potential fiasco step by step.

My gut tells me it won’t be as bad as some say, but it won’t be as good as others insist. Health insurance rates won’t magically plummet 50 percent. But I don’t think it will crash the economy. It’ll be a drag, sure. I think instead of the typical 5 to 8 percent annual increases in premiums my industry has experienced over the past ten years we’ll see twice that amount. 15 percent will be the norm. Passed on, as always, to the consumer, which is you and I, the employees.

How do I know it will be a drag on the economy? Partly from experience. We eliminated three of the lowest level positions (they somehow pull us down in our “affordability” rankings; take my word for it). That’s three people out of work – and those three were a pair of college kids and a retiree. Second, we’re beginning to enforce the “no-part-timers-over-twenty-eight-hours-a-week” rule. That too hurts us in the governmental ranking of our company’s health care. And when I say it hurts us, I mean it hurts you, if you’re a part-time employee looking to make some extra dough to save, pay bills, or, gasp! stimulate the economy.

It’s a crazy, upside down world we’re living in. Obama’s America. Obama Land.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Partied Out

Ai Caramba! Am I partied-out.

Yesterday was the girls’ family birthday party. They’re now nine and five. Ouch! Where does a decade go?

We didn’t have as many people as we’ve had in the past, but now that all the little ones are making the slow transition into bigger ones, well, and seeing as our house ain’t particularly growing, it was a loud, raucous affair. Eight children, nine adults, two cakes, ziti and meatballs, cheese macaroni, chips, dips, yoo hoos and juice boxes, soda and beer. Thank God the weather held - actually, it was a beautiful day with short periods of oppressive cloudage - and most of the time the little elephants were out stampeding on the deck and in the backyard. My pal brought over his family’s bouncy castle, always a big hit.

Patch and Little One had a blast. Little One got a small guitar to compliment her Taylor Swift costume. Patch got a bitty baby doll (which she named “Aura”) and a very, very cute backpack thingie where she could carry it around. They both got heaps of clothes and books. And I know they had an awesome time because me and the Mrs. had to wake them up for school this morning!

Me, I ate like I’m gonna live forever all weekend long. Pizza, beer, ice cream, chips, cake, beer, ziti, cheese macs, and beer. Maybe that’s why I feel like manure. Feel like I could sleep for 72 hours straight. Didn’t get much reading done either, which always makes me feel oogy, cuz when I wasn’t partying I was cleaning up or doing errands related to partying. Oh, and since I didn’t mention, Saturday was a party at my brother’s place for his son, my nephew and Birthday Buddy (we share a birthday). So, all told, in two days I consumed:

Ten beers

Six Diet Cokes

Five slices of pizza

Three hamburgers

One hot dog

Three pieces of birthday cake

An estimated 2 bags of chips

1.5 pints of ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s)

Three cups of cheese macaroni

Four cups of ziti and four meatballs

Oh, and not to forget -

1 stalk of broccoli.

(Dipped in ranch dressing)

I also gained thirty-five pounds since last Thursday. No, just kidding; it only feels that way. However, on the horizon, is ... Dr. Ian Smith. So stay outta my way, unless you want to poke the grizzly bear!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who Can Solve My Problem?

Just a question, thrown out there …

[PS … more to come re: Joe Walsh, next time I got writer’s block or am up against a hard deadline …]

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Army at Dawn I

Ah, here’s a fun fact I learned earlier today that I instantly thought of sharing with you. From the Prologue of Rick Atkinson’s An Army at Dawn, my reading material for the next six weeks or so:

“In September 1939, the U.S. Army had ranked seventeenth in the world in size and combat power, just behind Romania.”

Wow! 75 years ago Dracula could’ve spanked us in a limited military engagement.

Only five percent in, and I love this book. Can’t put it down, can’t wait to read more of it. Probably sneak in a chapter or two during the girls’ birthday party tomorrow.

Good reading, all!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Not a Body, Just a ...

SCENE: The Impala, driving home from soccer practice minutes ago.

Little One has put forth the propostion that each of us has an evil twin (who conveniently goes by the reverse spelling of his or her name) out to do the original person harm. They are all part of an evil organization called G.A.C.

After riffing on our first names, telling each of us to beware of our evil twin – I would say, watch out for so-and-so, so-and-so, reversing the names.

I conclude –

ME: God, watch out for Dog!

GIRLS: (Laughter and giggles)

PATCH (age 5): Dad, where is God?

ME: God is … everywhere. He’s not like us. He can be in more than one place at once. He is a Spirit, not a body.

PATCH: He doesn’t have a body?

LITTLE ONE (age 9): No, Patch, he’s a spirit. He doesn’t have a body.

PATCH: (pausing, deep in thought) … so … he’s just a head?

GIRLS: (Laughter and giggles)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nother Year Done

Well, another birthday’s come and gone. This one was not a milestone birthday for me; hence it passed like I like them to: uneventfully.

The wife was kind enough to drop off and pick up the little ones from school so I didn’t have to. Instead, I clocked a couple hours of OT and got a lot of work done. Despite a huge year calendar hanging on the wall behind me with my birthday prominently circled (as are all the employees’ in my office), in all the hustle and bustle no cake was bought for me. Which is good. Though I like eating cake and have eaten my share of co-workers’ birthday cakes (especially ice creeam ones in the summer), the thought of a dozen people singing “Happy Birthday” to me mortifies me to the very depths of my soul. It happened to me last year. But I was overlooked this year. Which is not to say I’m off the hook. In July they overlooked Jerry’s birthday, but they got him the first week in August.

Anyway, after work I drove home leisurely. Stopped at the store for a Foster’s and drank it at home at the writing desk listening to some music and checking my normal sites. The wife got home with the girls after soccer practice and made me something delightfully destructive: some Kraft recipe for cheese macs with ground beef tossed in.

Then I opened my cards and gifts. The girls wrote me very cute “Happy-Birthday-I-love-you!” cards with crayon and magic marker drawings inside. They bought me two much, much needed pairs of pants for work. Now I’ll no longer look like a hobo. We hustled the girls to sleep late, around 9 pm, then I went back down to the writing office and listened to a whole bunch of nostalgic tunes.

My mother-in-law upped her game by buying for me Rick Atkinson’s WW2 trilogy – over 2,000 pages between three hard covers. The first, An Army at Dawn, details the 1940-43 war in Northern Africa. Rommel versus Montgomery, with Eisenhower and Clark arriving in the third act. I’ll probably start it tonight or tomorrow night. I have my Fall reading down now, as I promised her a dissertation based on my reading.

Oh, and my mom gave me some birthday bucks, which the wife and I will probably apply to a joint birthday celebration out at a local eatery, sans children.

Now to kick some buttock in the few remaining years of my fifth decade of life on earth!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Coolest Band on the Planet

… AC/DC, “Dog Eat Dog,” circa April, 1978

[Hone in on those last 60 seconds, those triplets in 4/4 which electrified me as a youth, particularly when played by another of my childhood band crushes, Black Sabbath.]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Patch is Five Years Old!

My goodness, where does the time go?

“Time stand still,” permit me to echo, as the gods oft requested, “not looking back but just want to look around me now …”

[Patch, circa five months of age …]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inverted Cup of Bone

This, He knew, was the hard road to His Father. There was no other, easier route. The nature of man is such that he must shrink from thoughts of his own death, more so when the body is well and not close to death. The manside of His nature became more and more pronounced as He dwelt upon the imminent dissolution of the bonds between this miraculously fashioned body with its sinews and blood and its bone structure and its mind imprisoned by an inverted cup of bone and yet free by the God-given power to think and to will. He considered the soul which would cling to this body until, in dreadful agony, the body died.

The manside of His nature was not reconciled to death. Thoughts of it, after thirty-four years of living within the body, were sickening. And yet, this had been His choice. He would come here and die for man.

Once He called out “My Father!” He prayed, sometimes in rapid murmuring; sometimes slowly, distinctly and loudly. Once, He looked up above the rock and, for a moment, fell silent. He saw an angel. The sight was luminous, but He was not encouraged. The angel said nothing. The silence probably meant that His Father would do nothing to lessen the suffering of Jesus.

- from The Day Christ Died, “1 A.M.”, © 1957 by Jim Bishop.

(Appropriate pronouns capitalized out of respect and reverence by lower-case me.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Have I mentioned it’s good for the soul?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Our Taylor Swift

And thus it begins ...

[Preview of Halloween 2013, minus a little bit of bright red lipstick.]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lung Scan

Oh … no wonder I had so much trouble with my lungs a few years ago! How’d that little thing get in there?

[Taken from a Harvard study that discovered 83% of radiologists examining this lung scan failed to spot the gorilla in the upper left corner.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Baseball v. Football

If you are a regular visitor of the Hopper, you may have read a few of my posts about baseball. How this is the first season I regularly watched baseball since, oh, 1978 or so. Yeah, I watched a World Series game or two every now and then (I remember the 2000 Subway Series, somewhat). But prior to this past April 1 I hadn’t seen a baseball game in at least three or four years.

So, on a whim, I started watching. And I found out I enjoy it. I like the slow pace of the game (which in the past I hated). I also like the statistical aspect of it – AVG, OBP, Slugging percentage, pitching stats, Sabermetrics, etc. – it appeals to that unrealized mathematician stuck somewhere in my left brain. Throw in the strategy and the unpredictability of seeing a phenomenal play, well, I enjoyed it.

Over the season I watched maybe 40 games. Which is probably the same amount of football games I watch in a season. Now, football I’ve been watching pretty consistently since Super Bowl XXI, where the Giants completely dominated the Broncos and gave justification to the years of losing teams of my youth. Football appeals to me for its martial qualities – it’s the closest thing to war we have other than, say, some type of organized paintball / laser tag / game of war itself.

This past Sunday I watched the Jets and Giants play. And you know what? I was genuinely surprised observing myself during these games. How immediately tense I became, in a physical sense of the word. How emotionally uncontrollably invested I found myself, how the game itself overwhelmed me. I’m not exaggerating too much for effect here, either. And because the Jets are the Jets and the Giants can beat any team or lose to any team any given weekend, I became extremely negative and cynical.

Is this how I want to spend six or seven hours a weekend over the next five months?

I am shocked because this is not at all how I experience baseball. True, I’m not emotionally invested in the Mets or Yankees as much. True, I can throw and catch a football but can’t hit a baseball (or catch a high fly ball) for the life of me. And maybe that ritualized Sunday afternoon atmosphere has something to do with it (rush home from Church and make sure we have snacks for the game and get into my sweatpants and kids don’t bug me from 1 to 7:15!). But it really was an eye-opening experience.

Hope to catch a baseball game one night this week. Yes, I know any game since the fourth of July is basically meaningless for the Mets and the Yanks are blowing a chance at the wild card. But I don’t care, because I still enjoy watching it for the sake of watching it, if that makes sense.

Then I’ll compare my observations to Week 2 of the NFL.

Very interesting, no?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Man Who Hated Meetings

That’s me!

What do you mean, I can’t write “man”? I just did.


Has to be “person”?

But I am a “man”! Physically, mentally, sociologically, whatever. I am a man.

What? It’s not acceptable any longer to use the word “man” in print format?

But I’m not writing for publication.

Oh. Didn’t know that didn’t matter. So I’m going to be perceived as “sexist” because I describe myself as a man, using the word “man”?

Yeah, but the title of the post refers to me. I’m a man who hates meetings. “The Person Who Hated Meetings”? That “person” is me! A man!

Wow, you are so tiresome. I bet you’d say something like, “If a person hates meetings, have them write down reasons why.” See what you did there – to appease feminists you used an incorrect plural pronoun, “them” when you should’ve used a singular “him,” based on traditional English language usage, to agree with the singular word “person.” Or, if you want to play the game, you can use, in increasing degrees of nauseating appeasement, “him or her,” “her or him,” “him/her” or “her/him” instead of the incorrect but increasingly fashionable “them.”


How dare you, Sir!

Oops, I meant, how dare you, Sir / Madam!

Argh! Now you got me doing it!

Oh, by the way, here’s why I hate meetings …

Breathe Brutus

“It is hard to appreciate the atomic hypothesis because atoms are so small and there are so many of them. For example, in your last breath, it is almost certain that you have inhaled at least one atom from the dying breath of Julius Caesar as he lamented, ‘Et tu, Brute.’”

- The Cosmic Code (1982), by Heinz Pagels

I don’t know whether to utter a “Whoa” a la Neo or cry out “Excellent” a la Ted, but something Keanu-ish (Keanu-ic? Keanic?) is called for here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Funniest Show on Teevee Now

Is Impractical Jokers. Hands down, without a doubt.


My tears of laughter.

Four high school pals from Staten Island – with the accents to prove it – compete against each to other to see who can make it through some of the mostly uncomfortable, occasionally humiliating, always hilarious “challenges” interacting with the general public. Like a demented Candid Camera, each has to do or say what the other three – hidden from the scene – tell him through an earpiece. If he refuses to obey, or doesn’t get a desired reaction from the unwitting public participant, he loses. At the end of each show the loser is punished – and it’s often the most uncomfortable, humiliating, and hilarious scene of the show.

Three minutes in my face is soaked by the tears running down my face. I wipe it off during the commercials so by the end of the show I have to change my shirt. Literally. I haven’t laughed so hard in … oh … at least six or seven years (last time was a drunken New Years Eve where I happened to have the rare privilege of hanging out with two of my good friends who are hardly ever in the same spot at the same time). In fact, I can count on laughing so hard during Impractical Jokers that I actually can’t breathe at least once per episode.

Case in point:

My wife looks at me incredulously, but – I’ve caught her laughing, too, and I think she’s slowly starting to see things my way here.

The guys – Joe, Q, Murr and Sal – are part of a comedy troupe call The Tenderloins. This past Saturday afternoon I found 33 videos of theirs on youtube and watched Every. Single. One. Of. Them. At least half made me laugh out loud in the room by myself, and two or three brought tears to my eyes like Impractical Jokers does. Funny, funny, funny stuff, in the best sense of the word.

Most of the time the biggest laughs come not from the awkward situations and genuine humor that results but from the reactions of the three guys watching from a safe location. Sal in particular has a habit of falling over because he laughs so uncontrollably hard. How can you, the viewer, not chuckle at that? It’s contagious!

I am a fan. I look forward to the show. I DVR it. Pathetic or cool? I’m going with cool. It’s a great show and I’m addicted.

Go – watch it!

Sunday, September 8, 2013



Just read that sunspots are not black.

They only appear that way in photographs of the sun due to the contrast with the much hotter and therefore brighter surrounding regions of the solar surface.

In actuality, sunspots are bright as the full moon.

Source: The Astronomer’s Universe, by Herbert Friedman

Saturday, September 7, 2013

President Golf

As of August 31, 2013, President Obama has played 141 rounds of golf during his four-point-six years as POTUS. At this pace, he’s on track to play 245 by the end of his second term.

In contrast, George W. Bush played 24 times during his eight years.

“Playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal,” Bush said.

Partisans and opponents will find numerous reasons to justify and criticize their man for his golfing preferences.

Me, I side with Bush on this.

President Obama, stop playing golf until we are at peace (or, at least, not in active conflict), the unemployment rate is down to trim 5 percent, and GDP is booming at a 3-5 percent annual increase.

In other words, just stop until you leave the White House. Then you’ll have plenty of time.

Although in fairness to the current disaster at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he’s nowhere near the top of the list.

According to an NPR article which quotes an ABC News article (take that for what it’s worth), Woodrow Wilson allegedly played 1,200 rounds of golf during his eight years. Second place is held by Dwight Eisenhower, at somewhere around 800.

[I’ve played something like 25 rounds of golf in my entire life, mostly during the years 2000-2002. Haven’t played since; always had a neutral-hate relationship with the game.]

Friday, September 6, 2013

Syria in a Parallel Universe

As this whole Syria stuff seems to be coming to a head – albeit as rapidly as a glacier surfing a sea of molasses – an odd thought occurred to me.

What would the pundits all be saying if Romney was President?

Now, my gut proclaims pretty confidently that all this is the result of Obama bloviating without a teleprompter (cf. “red line”). Not sure if Romney would have said such words in such a manner. But for the sake of argument, let’s just say he did.

Would everybody’s roles be reversed, then?

By “everybody,” I mean everybody on talk radio, everybody in the mainstream media, everybody on Capitol Hill.

The cynic in me (which grows stronger and more vociferous every day as we’re sentenced to now a fifth year of Hope and Change) says:



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hopper’s Update on Hoppingness

Well, in the past two weeks or so, I’ve read up on –

- Observational astronomy

- Ancient Egypt

- World War I trench warfare

- Hebrew as a language

- The British perspective during the Revolutionary War

- “Nothing” as a physics concept (ie, the vacuum, black holes, etc)

- The Fouke monster

- The USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor

Dammit Hopper! Pick a single subject and stick to it!!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Frederik Pohl

November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013.

A great writer, and by “great” I mean not only that he shaped and steered a substantial amount of a single genre through guidance and mentoring and penning riveting novels and short stories, but that he made me despair of ever writing half as well as he could. But that’s a compliment, ‘cuz I still want to do it.

Anyway, from what little I knew of him despite knowing about him for a while, he was witty, acerbic, and generally well-liked by the SF writers of his generation and later ones. Though he wasn’t of the Glorified Trifecta in the Science Fiction Pantheon (that’d be Asimov-Bradbury-Clarke-Heinlein, pick yer favorite three outta four), he would undoubtedly be the Shield Bearer, the Executive Officer, the Special Guest Star. If Science Fiction were Olympus, he’d be Hephaestus, sweatily and thunderously hammering out his wares on some hellish forge for the gods to use.

I’ve read very little Pohl over the years. The only reason I can think why is that he just wasn’t found in the library I lived at as a kid. Least I don’t remember him. So the personal backstory wasn’t there. But as an adult I learned he won a few Nebulas and Hugos (those’re the Oscars and Peoples Choice Awards of science fiction writing) so I decided to check him out. Read Gateway, the 1977 winner, and thought it was interesting. Read Man Plus, the 1976 winner, and was absolutely, completely, overwhelmingly floored. See here. No, really, see here. In between I read a fantastic novella, “The Merchants of Venus.” Dug that one too. On the shelf behind me is his 1990 novel The World at the End of Time, bought in late 2009 but still unread.

Now – I think I have a follow-up to my great Philip Jose Farmer Experiment of 2013. Beginning this January 1, I’m going to read a dozen Fred Pohl books and stories to get to the quintessence of the man and the writer. Then I’ll compare the two experiments.

If you’re a book nerd like me, I know you’re quivering with excitement!

Mr. Pohl, you did not write in vain. Loved your stuff and looking forward to reading more (all) of it.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Vaya Con Dios, Verano 2013!

In hindsight, it was a great summer. Bookended with trips down to my father-in-law’s down the Jersey shore on Memorial Day and Labor Day. Got lots of reading in, had lots of fun with the girls, got a lot accomplished. A fun summer.

It started three months ago with a trip to Yankee stadium to see the Yanks beat the Indians in an exciting contest. The big thing I did this summer, through no real conscious preplanned effort, was to get into baseball, for the first time in, oh, about thirty-five years. Now, we’ve always tried to see one Yankees game a year (though that was cast aside after the girls were born and money tightened). But I watched a few games early in April and it stuck. This summer I must’ve watched, to varying inning lengths, fifty or sixty games, predominantly Mets.

Let’s see … the end of June I painted Patch’s room bright pink and my folks helped stock it with cool post-toddler pre-tween furniture. We got rid of the Fisher Price slide and play house in the backyard that’d been there seemingly forever. In mid-July we bought a new car, well, a new used car, a 2012 Honda Pilot, all because the wife scored a huge promotion moving on to another company, her first career move in nearly seven years.

Reading-wise, I never did settle on one topic to investigate, like I did last summer (then it was WW2). So I hopped around, and it was satisfying. Listened to and read the massive Stephensonian tome Anathem. Burned through a couple of Westerns and a couple of slim SF paperbacks. Got back into Civil War history with a trivia book and a pair of battle analyses (Shiloh and the Wilderness).

Movie-wise, me and my pal went and saw World War Z and Wolverine. Were there others, or were we just sticking to movies that began with the letter W? Don’t know. I think there were parts of others, as my friend has a knack of convincing me to sneak in to other movies while the endless trailers for the one we paid for are rolling. So, I saw parts of Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Men in Black Some Number Or Other.

Me and my lovely little ones watched a few Saturday matinees, most notably The Incredible Shrinking Man and Clash of the Titans, the Harryhausen original. When I’m on my deathbed (hopefully more than a few decades hence), I won’t be thinking about the 100,000 hours I spent pushing papers and balancing the debits and credits. No, I’ll be thinking of the handful of hours I spent on the floor, sharing a blanket with Little One and Patch, watching corny SF flicks.

I started off the summer without missing a single workout – be it the aerobic bike riding / jogging or the anaerobic weightlifting I alternated in my garage – until, er, the fourth of July. Then I spent the second half of the summer griping about how out of shape I was. Hopefully this is a lesson learned, and I can rectify this disconnect now that fall is just around the corner.

There were other nice experiences this past summer: my Gospel Church experience, a trip to Brooklyn and the zoo there, the twelve or so hours I wasted watching Falling Skies (skitters!!!), some hilarious weekend afternoons spent with our best friends next town hours (more on that tomorrow), a trip down to Maryland for my sister-in-law’s engagement party, my introduction into the world of Lemony Snicket care of Little One, Sharknado, and, on a more serious note, the decision to home school my daughter re: Sunday school (more on that, too, in the days to follow).

So … while I agonized with plenty of sleepless nights these past hundred days, all in all, ’twas a great summer.

On to the greatest season of the year, fall!

Fall! Fall! Fall!