madbaker: (mammoth garlic)
I went to SF in SF for the first time in quite a while last night. They often run them on Sunday evenings, so I tend not to go unless there's an author I want to hear/get books signed. In this case it was two - one local, one formerly local now in Oregon. I've quite enjoyed both their books, which are quite different but maybe share a sense of humor. I haven't quite enjoyed them enough to buy them; my bar for buying books has gotten pretty high the last five years.

Megan O'Keefe has written a steampunkish fantasy trilogy centering around two con artists. I like well-done heist novels, and the characters are fun. (Plus the interactions are Wodehouse-esque.) Curtis Chen has written a couple sci-fi novels about a spy with a superpower (he can open a "pocket" to an empty parallel universe, which is handy for storing stuff). But the spy is hardly James Bond; he's a total amateur.

Both authors read from a couple of their works and took questions. I enjoyed it. The only downside was suffering a major calf cramp as I jogged across a busy intersection. I couldn't exactly do anything about it, and limping the 3 blocks to where I parked didn't help matters. It's better today although still bugging me.
madbaker: (scary clown)
Friday we went across town to the Balboa, an art deco theatre in the Richmond. It takes less time to drive down to Palo Alto than it does to drive from one side of SF to the other. But SF in SF was hosting a free showing of Bubba Ho-Tep, which I had never seen; and Joe Lansdale, who wrote the short story the film was adapted from, was there to sign books and talk about the film and story.

I haven't actually read any of Lansdale's stuff, but it sounded like a good outing. We had a fine time and I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I expected to. It's not just a low-budget goofy movie with Bruce Campbell.

The wife reminded me to ask my standard author question, which I got from George "Kill 'em All" RR Martin: on the spectrum of gardeners to architects, where do you put yourself? Gardeners plant seeds and see what comes up; architects plot structure before building. I find it to be a non-fanboy question that sometimes leads to a good discussion.

Oddly enough, hardly anyone admits to being an architect. There's no best answer, because the one that works for the author is the right one. Too much gardening leads to unconnected scenes, with no plot or story structure; too much architecting probably feels forced.

madbaker: (PVP)
I enjoyed the heck out of it. I liked it better than Force Awakens. It hit the right notes without being a remake.
What would have made it better? Some chemistry between the two main characters. And the wife pointed out they really needed a couple of scene-change wipes. But other than that -- I may have to watch Star Wars tonight.

madbaker: (life is good)
As I get time (ha!) and effort (ha ha!) to sum up...
Omnivore Books had an event for Stephen Grasse, the founder of Sailor Jerry rum (which I have not had) and Hendricks Gin (which I have and liked). He's got a new book out: Colonial Spirits, about the US history with founders and booze. Short version: if it could be made into booze, they did. Jefferson "made shitty wine"; Washington was smarter and distilled whiskey, which they have re-opened on Mount Vernon.

Grasse is an interesting guy. He's apparently a bit of a rock star in the booze consulting world. He knows it and certainly has some diva qualities. On the other hand, he's got lots of good stories and knows how to play to an audience be it large (the bookstore was pretty full) or small (six of us went out to dinner with him afterwards). It was a fun time and I may try some of the adapted colonial booze recipes from his book. Some of the punches look good; they made a sample at the event that I quite enjoyed.

madbaker: (life is good)
One of my former go-to authors, Dave Duncan, was in town on short notice and signing books at Borderlands. It's not really fair to call him a "former go-to" but I'm not sure what else to call him. During the late '90s to early '00s I bought his books unread and enjoyed them immensely. Then... his publisher dropped him, presumably for insufficient sales. I special-ordered a couple of his subsequent books but didn't like them enough to keep. He fell to my "be aware of his publishing and consider his books in my library queue" list.

The last time he was in the Bay Area must have been around 2000, because I have books from then signed. It was a bit sad that there were only four of us there yesterday... although one was a collector with a huge box that I really hope he isn't selling on E-Bay today. On the other hand, I got to chat with Mr. Duncan and show my bona fides ("I enjoyed Eye of Strife; it reminded me of the Hunter's Haunt books"). His wife was also a very nice woman.

I didn't get all my remaining books of his signed, but the ones that I re-read more I took. It was still six hardcovers. I hope he wasn't too disappointed by the turnout.

madbaker: (life is good)
I'm going drinking with Charles Stross tonight!
Details tomorrow.

madbaker: (PVP)
Christmas was fine. Star Wars Thursday. It was 40 degrees when I hit the office this morning. So far no one else is in. Can I go home and cuddle under the covers yet?

madbaker: (Skippy)
This is Aardman's best film since Chicken Run. It might even be better, since there is no intelligible dialogue. Tons of sight gags, ranging from juvenile (pantomime horse fart jokes) to ones that mostly adults will get (the prison jokes in the jail, I mean animal containment unit). The staring dog wrecked me. Every. Single. Time. But there's also a plot with emotional arcs and everything.

Nice Ferris Bueller joke at the end, too.

Not written or directed by Nick Park or Peter Lord, which shows that they have a deep bench.

madbaker: (life is good)
It is hard to get rid of books that I once liked (and in some cases, have gotten personalized/signed by the author). But if I haven't read them in the last five years and don't really think I'm going to reread them, why am I holding on to them?

That's a question that is harder to follow through upon than it is to answer.

madbaker: (life is good)
I've mentioned it before: Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles are part of my comfort books. It's good to know that others feel the same way.

madbaker: (life is good)
I just finished Simon Morden's Arcanum. I enjoyed his Petrovich books, so I was willing to give this a shot - despite the previous books being post-apocalyptic technopunk and this being historic epic fantasy.

I liked it quite a bit more than I expected. Especially given the potentially fatal cliched plot (European feudal society based on magic, magic goes away). His characterization was excellent; people were flawed, but sometimes were heroic and sometimes did bad things for good reasons, or maybe reasons they thought were good. Like real people.

I heartily hope he is writing more in this setting. ([livejournal.com profile] desperance, any insight?)

madbaker: (life is good)
There are a few authors whose work I try to read as soon as it comes out. One recent book from a fantasy author I like has this dedication:
To those fans the faithful few
who have stayed with me all the way,
for a quarter of a century.
You know who you are.
I guess I'm one. I remember in 1990 or so reading book one of a quadrology from the library, finishing it in about three days, and instantly going back to binge on the next three. And then buying them a month later, because I already wanted to re-read them again.

I liked his characterization, world-building, style. So I bought his books as they came out. He went from major publishing company paperback release, to hardcover deals, to NYT-bestselling hardcovers. The last five years or so, he's been publishing in trade/paper through specialty presses. Which if I can get them at all, it's through special order or ILL because the print run was so limited.

I'm not privy as to why. I'm sure that publishing consolidation hurt, as even in his heyday he was never more than a solid B-lister. He may have had a poor-selling run that cut him from their lists.

I'm glad he continues to write. But.

madbaker: (Giants)
I am tired this morning. Gloriously so, but still tired.
That was the toughest, most nail-biting of the three Series yet. I didn't know if the Giants would pull it out. Only one reliably good pitcher? No problem. We'll put him in to throw the final five innings.

As one sports columnist put it: "If this game had a soundtrack, Bumgarner's entrance would be accompanied by the wah-wah-wah music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." Which to me is a perfect read.

Go Giants. Well done. Now take the winter off to recover.

madbaker: (Giants)
Still plenty of baseball left, though. But a good start.

madbaker: (life is good)
This was not a great shock - he was 96, after all.
But Vance, Heinlein, and Zelazny were the trinity of SF writers that formed my early tastes. I remember reading the Demon Princes series around age 11. (My mother was vaguely concerned when she saw the '70s Daw cover of The Palace of Love. No graphic sex in the text, mom.)

I didn't care for all of his stuff; the Dying Earth works are too florid for me. Not a big fan of purple prose. But I loved Cugel the Clever regardless - I had more than one D&D character who aspired to be him - and other works, like The Languages of Pao, stuck with me.

Farewell, Grand Master. May you continue your world travels elsewhere.

madbaker: (Chef!)
Congratulations to local boy Chris Cosentino, who won the latest season of Top Chef Masters!

madbaker: (life is good)
I'm not certain that I want this hanging in my kitchen, but I'm fairly certain I want to look at it.

Literary Pin-Up Calendar

madbaker: (abyss)
Ursula Vernon's Digger won the Hugo for best webcomic. Very well deserved.

MINE

Aug. 17th, 2012 01:53 pm
madbaker: (Saluminati)
Salumi by Ruhlman and Polcyn is in my hot little hands. I'm looking forward to inspiration. Although I don't have any space in the oubliette or the freezer, so implementation may have to wait until winter, alas.

Brilliant.

Jun. 28th, 2012 07:49 am
madbaker: (PVP)
"What happened to the Star Wars that I used to know?"

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