Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sesame Street Is The Best!

Orbie is back... and insane. I should point out that he cleaned off my hard drive before downloading the seasons. I hope no one wanted to see our wedding photos again!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Now Playing -
by Coldplay

Life - 

It's been a while, hasn't it?  I've been pretty occupied with work and nonsense lately, sorry about those waiting for updates on my thrilling life, or other videos from my roommate, Orbie. (Who should have a new one up Monday)  I'm assuming those people exist...
Nothing too important to report. Still no sign of the ratdog, nor have I seen the mysterious white creature again. I have been sleeping strangely though, with vivid dreams and penguins.

It's been warm out here, warm and humid. I think the thing about that that bugs me the most is the lack of wind. It aint the heat or the humidity, it's the way the air just sits there, wet and sticky. Like a dirty sock, draped over your head while it's still warm. Living in Idaho, the wind was a constant thing. The first thing I considered when buying something for my yard was whether it would blow away. (The saying out there was that Pocatello was so windy because Idaho Falls (To the North) sucks and Utah (To the South) Blows.) So this unmoving air thing kind of freaks me out. I open the windows at night to cool the house down and it's all the same air in the house the next morning!

Funky random storms too, vast, screaming sheets of rain, so thick that the roads fill and your wipers are ineffectual, then 3 minutes later, nothing. I love that.

Reviews Of Unusual Size

Five Things About...

By Richard Castle
2009, 208 pages, E-Book

1 - The first in a new series by critically acclaimed thriller author Richard Castle, starring Detective Nikki Heat. Inspired by the author's shadowing of a detective team.
2 - A fairly standard thriller/detective novel. Not an extremely thick plot weighing things down, but decent fun. I got a kick out of the secondary detective team and Castle's prose was basic but enjoyable.

3 - An odd little beast, this book. I had a hard time reading it as itself, as my knowledge of the background kept influencing my thoughts. Sometimes for the better, other times not so much. I actually like Castle himself much better than the main character in this, a reporter.

4 - For those that don't know, Richard Castle is actually a fictional character, played by Nathan Fillion on the television program CASTLE. He plays an award-winning author shadowing a detective for his next book, Heat Wave. So this is a book written by a fictional character based loosely around his fictional exploits with a non-existent detective. This book is referenced in the program and has just enough inside jokes to be almost ridiculous. Synergy!

5 - Authors James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Stephen J. Cannell all guest star in the TV series as Castle's poker buddies. There are rumors that one of them actually wrote this book, but it's more likely that it was written by the showrunners. For one thing, those authors would make a lot more money of their name was on the cover.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Foggy Rattlebottom!

Now Playing -
King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-Yo by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Life - 

I just lit my toaster oven on fire. Apparently, leaving the foil you cooked some oiled up taters on the night before in the oven while pre-heating it is a poor idea. With an oily, stinky, foggy, nasty result. But I think my oven is still fine. Crappy cheap frozen taquitos from work for dinner, comin atcha! (Or comin' at me, anyway.)

Why are taquitos, which is roughly "Small Taco" in Spanish, really small burritos? Shouldn't it be Burritoquitos? Which is really fun to say, once you get the hang of it....

That's all I've got for ya.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Return Of The Ratdog

Now Playing -
The Devil's Dance Floor by Flogging Molly
Life -
Not a lot going on here, just work, work and a little bit of work on the side. I did take my photo clerk with me on my last lobster pickup, which was a fun change from  my usual monotonous drive out to the co-op and back. We also stopped and looked at some puppies in a shop, where they had a Sharpei-Pug mix. Man, that's a goofy looking dog.

There's a little Min-Pin Ratdog that lives somewhere nearby that keeps showing up to bark at my dogs like a little bully. I don't know where it lives, but I hate the little yapper. It keeps barking till my boys are riled up, then taking off. I called the cops/animal control about it, but they said that unless it was on my property when they came, they couldn't do a lot about it, which seems like nonsense.

It tormented me for about three hours the other night, only leaving when I finally got dressed and chased it angerly off my property. I probably looked like a crazy man, but I did get a bit of satisfaction out of it when I barked back at it and it yelped, wet itself and ran away...

Writing - 

I continued working on my new kid's book, codenamed WV for now, just to be goofy and mysterious. I'm over 2,500 words right now.

I wonder about the whole secretive codenames when it comes to work in progress manuscripts (WIP MS) I noticed that a lot of authors scarcely mention their subject matter, let alone the title or any real details. Is this some sort of deep seated superstition? I suppose there could be some real concern with someone scalping your ideas, especially if they're extremely unique, but is that a very real concern?

I can only assume that if someone stumbled across my plans for the Robotic Hand Detective & The Case Of The Voodoo Rings, even if they thought it was the best idea they'd ever read, would they go to the trouble of writing their own book based off of it? I do have a lot of powerful movie and TV people that peruse my blog, amongst the millions of readers ROUS boasts, but how many of you are going to steal that idea and develop a TV series around it?

The Last Sentence - 

And that's not even mentioning the glittery body powder.
From - "W.V." (WIP)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lego Board Games!

Now Playing -
Meet Me Halfway by The Black Eyed Peas

Life - 

We celebrated Ludo's fourth birthday yesterday. We took him to the pet store and let him drag me around to meet all of the other dogs, paraded him around on a walk and bought him a bag of rawhides. I think he liked it. We usually buy him a new collar for his birthday, but his older one was still in pretty good shape, so we went with something he would enjoy. It's hard to believe that he's that old. He still acts like a puppy.

Pooka enjoyed it too!
Writing - 

I started on a new book the last couple of days. Only wrote one chapter, but the idea is really fun, and I like the main character's voice a lot. Onward!

Reviews Of Unusual Size


Five things about...

by Lego
2-4 players, 10-20 minutes per game

1 - Lego just recently released this line of board games featuring their pieces. This is awesome for many different reasons, but I only have room for five. The most important of which is that this is a buildable board game from Lego! How cool is that? Even the dice is buildable. You can put different panels on it, different colors, anything!

2 - At first, Magikus seems like an overly simple game. You select a row with the owl, roll the dice and collect a magical ingredient for your spell that matches the color that shows. Once you have all four, you can cast your spell and win the game!

3 - It seems simple, but then the magic of Legos enter the picture. They actively encourage you to change up the game! Add the bat into play and block your opponent. Steal their ingredients. Choose your own mix of ingredients before the game starts. The options really become almost endless once you start playing around.

4 - I love it because it's a pretty quick little game. You can play a round in ten minutes or so, change the rules, and play another. It isn't one of those games that you have to set aside 4 hours to play. (And that's a short game for Risk and Monopoly...)

5 - A couple of little things - I have an incredibly hard time remembering to move the stupid owl before I roll. The die, which is pretty cool has rubbery corners and will go everywhere, often becoming a kind of Lego wrecking ball for your carefully placed magical ingredients. It doesn't come with any minifigs. I was hoping for the Witch and Wizard on the cover of the box.


This game was great. Simple enough for my new roommate, Orbie, but complex enough to keep us entertained too! I can't wait to try out some of their other games. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rainy Beaches and a Chocolate Moose

Now Playing -
You Run Away by Barenaked Ladies

Life - 
Today is how a day off should be. Especially when you consider it was kind of a work-related trip. We sell live Maine lobsters at work, the only drug store in the nation to do so, and I've kind of become the Lobster Manager by default, dealing with the tank, keeping us in stock, etc... And one of the best/worst parts is actually obtaining the creepy little things. It means an hour of driving down to a small town called Pine Point, to the south of Portland to the lobster co-op, a drive that I'm not too fond of, but the guys at the lobster place are pretty cool, and the route takes me along Old Orchard Beach, which is the closest thing we've found to an old fashioned beach here in Maine. 
So, when we found out I'd need to get some extra lobster for an event at work on Monday, we decided to head there on my day off so that I could take Lindsay with me and wander around the beach. 

Of course, we awoke to rain. Which was fine by us. We love wandering around little beach towns in the rain, that's why we love Washington and Oregon so much! We got going pretty early, splitting a huge breakfast burrito at the Fairground Restaurant in Topsham and swinging by the store for some cash and something to bring the crustaceans back in. The roads were a bit gnarly on the way south, but nothing too horrible, but we did take a couple of brief detours to Toys-backwards R-Us, where we picked up a few Lego minifigs and a Lego board game (More on that some other time) we also swung by Len Libby's, a chocolate shop that boasts a 1,700 pound solid chocolate moose. Which was goofy, but kind of cool. He was also accompanied by a couple of dark chocolate bear cubs, a white chocolate pond and an indifferent cashier. 

A bag of puffed molasses caught our fancy and later in our teeth, and we hit Old Orchard. Essentially two streets, lined by all manner of motel, hotel, b&b, vacation rental and parking lots, Old Orchard does suffer a bit in comparison to other towns we've vistied, but I liked it all the same. They have a charmingly rickety amusement park and a pier filled with diversions jutting out into the ocean. Everyone seems to sell "Fried Dough" and "Pier Fries" and there were a ridiculous amount of clothing stores. Apparently, no one visits the beach wearing anything, which must make for some awkward first arrivals.
Of course, being a rainy Thursday at the first of the season, virtually no one was open and we saw a surprising number of vacant storefronts. Maybe those fill up for the summer, but it left some stretches of street feeling a bit forlorn. 

We grabbed some fries at a window dedicated to selling fires and nothing but, and wandered up the street for lunch at Al's "Famous" roast beef. We later learned that Al's was a new arrival from Boston, so I'm not sure where it was famous, but we were kept entertained within, if nothing else. Al's is a tiny place, only a few tables and a long, narrow hall leading back to the kitchen, and that space was filled by nearly a dozen silver haired ladies from New Hampshire that had ridden a bus up there for the day. 

They were all waiting for food, chatting in an odd combination of good natured ribbing and crotchety old lady complaining. A large black man, who we assumed worked nearby had stopped in for an order and found himself playing waiter for the ladies while the cooks were having some sort of issue in the kitchen. It was a kick to watch them all together.

When our food finally arrived, we took it outside and ate outside of a nearby church on some steps, in a drizzle that was just light enough to be pleasant. The roast beef was great. Light, super-tender and plentiful. We also got a Steak and Cheese... something. Which ended up being a small tube of shredded steak and cheese wrapped in egg-roll covering and deep fried. Very odd.

There was a great candy shop open though, filled with freshly pulled taffy, dancing jelly beans, homemade caramel corn, fudge, wham-zingers, rock candy and any other old-school candy you could think of. I would imagine the place in summer would be packed to the gills but still worth visiting just for the ambiance. 

Next door was a game store with more puzzles than I have ever seen in my life, including the worlds largest, a 23,000 piece puzzle. (Which was a horribly gaudy compilation of bright images that I could never possibly fathom spending the time it would take to complete staring at it.) We browsed for a bit, until the batty ladies from across the street wandered in and we made our escape, walking contentedly back to the car.

A lot of fun. We'll have to come back later in the season though, there were a few shops that looked interesting that were closed, and the entire pier, which looked like it was filled with all manner of fun things, was closed too.

Then we went to my lobster guys. Who are awesome. Legit, ruddy faced fishermen, I love coming here. They unload the boats right out back and know their Sea Cockroaches. He chatted with us for a while (I was looking into starting a shipping service with my work) and he showed off for Lindsay a bit, giving us an education on lobsters, using a few 4 pound beasts as examples. The entire trip was worth it just to see Lindsay's face. 

We can't wait to have some friends or family come out to visit so that we can hit the beach for a day, get a couple of lobsters on the way home and have them for dinner. (Hint hint..)

 Reviews Of Unusual Size

Five Things About...

by Carl Hiaasen
1987, 384 pages, e-book

1 - This was my introduction to Hiassen, back in the day, and one of his first novels, though he did write a few crime novels previously with Willaim D. Montalbano. (Which I thought were really great.)

2 - When a terrorist group pops up in Florida, with the goal of scaring everyone in the state away, crippling the tourism industry and giving the place back to the animals, it was never going to be easy catching them, especially when the PI on the case knows the leader. And when they use a giant crocodile to do their dirty work.

3 -
I've always like Hiassen, and this book is one of his better ones. It has a wacky plot and bizzaro characters, while still retaining a bit of a message about the history and wildlife of Florida.
4 - It's interesting to re-read his earlier books. Hiassen's style of writing hasn't changed much, but he seemed a lot less hesitant back then to go over the top. Which sounds funny in reference to a book that features men in suitcases, beauty pageants and shriners with guns.

5 - That cover above? Crappity-crap! It's like one of those artists that get big bucks selling badly photoshopped pictures of dogs with tennis balls in their mouths at L.L. Bean just started out, and only had fingerpaints.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Now Leaving Moonstone Bay

Now Playing -
My wife is watching The Truth About Cats and Dogs behind me on her computer so I guess... that.

Life - 
Yesterday, when I got home from work and went to make some delicious dinner, I found our propane tank empty and gas stove inoperable. Now, I got that puppy filled around three months ago, and only use it for the one burner on the stove, roughly every other day. I've never had gas appliances before, but $90 for 90 days of operating one stove burner seems prohibitively expensive.  I can't help but think there was either a leak, an improperly filled cylinder or some other sort of shenanigans. Or is it supposed to last for such a short time?

Either way, we said "Forget it" went out and bought a single burner hot plate and had them pull our cylinder. We were pretty unhappy with their service in other areas too, so it wasn't just the propane. Now I have to get used to cooking with cast-iron on an electric burner! 

We also bought dog food today! Between the two, our dogs eat around 10 cups of food a day, so it seems to go really fast. Their food is one area we refuse to skimp on, and still serve them Science Diet dog food. We really do feel that the food keeps their coats shiny, their breath fresher and is pretty healthy for them. It's also spendy. So every time we need food, we use every trick in the book we can get our hands on.
Ludo Will Pout For Food

Step One - Buy in bulk. PetCo offers a 10% discount if you buy at least 200lbs of a brand at once. They don't advertise it, but it's a great deal. 

Step Two - Scour the internet for coupons. Science Diet usually has pretty good coupons available, you just have to hunt for them.

Step Three - Join their club in the right area. Apparently, the PetCo Club card offers different deals depending on where you live. Out here, we get a free shampoo after ten. Big Whoop. Back in Idaho however, they offered a free bag with the purchase of ten, which we are still grandfathered in to out here.

Step Four - Sales - A no brainer, but vital when the difference is $10 a bag.
Using all of these today, we bought six 35lb bags of Science Diet Large Breed dog food. Normally, before tax, this would have cost $239.94 or $1.14 a pound. But today, with everything taken off, it cost us $125.94, or $.60 a pound. That's right baby. We rock. Oh yeah, and that gets us more than halfway towards a free bag, to boot!

The dogs were a little mad that we went to the pet store without us, but their eyes always get so happy when they see that food piled up.

Reviews Of Unusual Size - 


Five Things About...

by Stephen Hunter
 2003, 464 pages, e-book

1 - This is the second book featuring Bob The Nailer, a retired marine sniper. I enjoyed the first, which inspired the film Shooter. This time, Bob teams with a young journalist who wants to uncover the truth behind Bob's father's death.

2 - Bob is a hardcore mother who has the same appeal as Lee Child's Reacher or Daniel Craig's Bond, but he does like to go on and on about the specifics of the guns he's using. Or saw. Or held 15 years ago. Or wanted to hold... You get the idea.

3 - The story is a strong one, though I felt that the ending's big reveal came a little abruptly.

4 -Great, well rounded characters, in both the present day and the past.

5 - Too bad I had trouble keeping what was going on separate. Which I do not believe was the author's fault. The e-book I was reading seemed very strangely formatted, with no indication when I was suddenly in the head of a different character in a different time frame.


by Jack Kilborn
2009, 384 pages, e-book

1 - Jack Kilborn is the pseudonym of Joe Konrath, the creator of the Jack Daniels series of books and e-book advocate. Check out his blog, it's very interesting reading.

 2 -  It doesn't take long for residents of a small town to  start dying in creative ways when a supercharged and ruthless group of killers arrive, looking for someone...

3 - Filled with some nice suspense, some nasty baddies and characters that you'd best not get attached to, Afraid is the perfect outlet for Kilborn's nasty side. 

4 - Like most books, I got annoyed by the child in Afraid but Kilborn does get some nice characterization in there for him.

5 - Aside from the first Percy Jackson, this is the only novel my little nephew has ever read. He's twelve and while I applaud him tackling a book this size, after reading it, I wish he'd chosen a more appropriate book for his age. 


Writing - 

I'm still working on GRAVES, writing up the final couple of chapters before I edit each chapter by character, in an attempt to inject some more specific personalities to 'em.

I have also come to a difficult decision. Moonstone Bay is going to have to fade into my taillights for a while. I'm not leaving it forever, I don't think I could. I love the characters and location too much for that. And that's precisely why I've decided to stop writing it. I don't think my writing is strong enough for a book like The Whispering Ferns yet. I feel like I'm ready to start publishing my writing, but not the Moonstone Bay Mysteries. I want them to be some of my favorite work, not something I look back on in ten years and cringe about. That first book has to be good enough to justify the sequels I have planned. There's pirate treasure to bury, Sasquatches to track, to say nothing of Smith's parents!

So they're going to go on the back burner for a while. I have a few other irons in the fire and it's time to take a hammer to one of them. Maybe one about vampires. They're hot right now, aren't they?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cut, Paste, Kill




by Marshall Karp
2010, 296 pages, ARC

1 - This is the fourth book featuring the detective duo Lomax and Biggs. This time, they find themselves caught up in the crimes of a serial killer that believes they are righting society's wrongs, killing those that deserve it. At each scene the killer leaves an intricate scrapbook about the victim. A kind of vigilante with a Cricut.

2 - Like all of Karp's work, this book is funny. Sometimes extremely funny, so don't read it in a place that you might be embarrassed by sudden outbursts of the giggles, like church or a bathroom stall.

3 - There were a few great twists in the story. One was maybe a little over the top, but it fit with the story and though I should have, I never saw it coming.

4 - Carefully researched for scrapbooking accuracy and at times dark, CUT, PASTE, KILL still reads like a breeze, light, fast and funny. An excellent addition to Karp's series.

5 - Semi-Perfect! (Inside Joke, read the book!)

This was a very fun book, written by an author that knows how to make fans- by being smart, witty and honest. If you need further proof, check out his blog, his hilarious Facebook posts or pick up one of his other books. You will be glad you did. 
His last novel, Flipping Out was my favorite book of last year and CUT, Paste, Kill is a strong contender again this year. As always, stupendous!

CUT, PASTE, KILL is out on June 8th, order your copy now!