Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Random Ten: "Read, dammit!" Edition

First, an addendum to yesterday's You Must Read These post. These are also books you must read. Because I said so, dammit!

Winterbirth and Bloodheir by Brian Ruckley - books 1 & 2, respectively, of Ruckley's The Godless World trilogy. This is classic epic fantasy, in the mold of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Magic is at a minimum here, though it has its place. Plus, militant religious fanatics bent on domination! This is one of the better series in epic fantasy in recent years, a solid bit of storytelling with a complex, fully-realized world and some characters that you can actually get behind. I'm anxiously awaiting the trilogy's conclusion, Fall of Thanes, which will be published in May, 2009.

The Darkness That Comes Before; The Warrior ProphetThe Thousand-Fold Thought by R. Scott Bakker - comprising The Prince of Nothing trilogy, Bakker's epic fantasy series is simply the best fantasy going. Yes, better than GRRM. Way better than Jordan. This series is what every epic fantasy should strive to emulate. Well-written, deftly-plotted, world-building that's almost daunting (and definitely envy-inducing), brutal and beautiful and painful and joyous, The Prince of Nothing books spin a dark tale of one man, the ultimate trickster, who arrives from the North and manages to finagle his way into the ultimate position of power, through manipulation and a preternatural understanding of human nature. And he doesn't care who he ruins along the way, who he kills or betrays, for he is on a mission. And that mission: save the world from the rising of the No-God. Yeah, I read these a while ago, but I'm thinking I need to re-read them again soon. I'm sure there's a ton I missed on the first go-round.

Okay, I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting, but the music, she calls. Onto the list!

1. "True Dreams of Wichita" - Soul Coughing
2. "I've Got Your Number" - Elbow
3. "We Might As Well Be Strangers" - Keane
4. "Fuck and Run" - Liz Phair
5. "Nude" - Radiohead
6. "Lost!" - Coldplay
7. "Buddy Holly" - Weezer
8. "Seal the Bulkheads" - Richard Gibbs (Battlestar Galactica (2003) soundtrack)
9. "One Of These Things First" - Nick Drake
10. "Cold Water" - Damien Rice

Yes. Yes, I think I like that list, and would like to subscribe to its newsletter. But what about the bonus?

11. "Such Great Heights" - The Postal Service

Not bad, not bad at all. I think my musical self-worth has been mildly assuaged for the week.

Cue Gordon Ramsey: "Video."


Thursday, March 26, 2009

You must read these. NOW.

Twiddling my thumbs, waiting for code to build and automated unit tests to run. Time to issue a decree to all denizens of Limboland!

And it is thus: read more.

I read. A lot. Not as much as The Wife, granted, who can sit down and polish off a decent-sized book (200-300 pages, say) in a single day if she has the time (new Taltos books from Brust seems to garner this attention, in particular), but I'd say I go through, on average, 2-3 books of fiction a month. Sometimes it's more, sometimes less - it all depends on the books currently in the queue.

My bent, naturally (as I am the Viscount of Nerd), is toward the more speculative of the fictive arts. F&SF, as the kids call it. Though I've been known to read other genre fiction - I will happily gobble up anything and everything from Stephen King, for example, and have a soft spot for Ludlum and even Clancy, Jebus save me - and have even occasionally dabbled in what is often referred to as "literature", or as I like to call it (in my head, where no one else can here, except for that one guy) "fiction with a high-falutin' accent", speculative fiction is my one true fictive love.

(Wow. Now that, friends, is a tortured sentence. I was going to edit it, but I thought I'd leave it up there as a shining example of how, exactly, not to write with the English. Also: lazy.)

Anyway: I am a reader. I wish for you would be too. Please to have some of my tasty recommendations from recently-read pile!

Anathem by Neal Stephenson - or as I privately refer to it, The Geeks Shall (Maybe) Inherit the (Not) Earth. You wouldn't know it from the first 150 pages or so, but this is probably one of NS's most "straightforward" science fiction books. Though "straightforward" means something totally different when NS is involved, I'll grant you that. This book is dense and large and intimidating, but it's well worth the effort. You'll find the first third or so a tough slog, and may even want to chuck the fucking thing across the room at points, but stick with it. If, for nothing else, the sheer beauty of world building done right.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - I read this about 6 months ago, so it's not really in my recently-read pile any more, but damn if this book didn't stick with me. It's one of the strangest, human, touching and tragic love stories I've ever read. Extremely well-written, to boot. Read it. Read it now!

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell - more a series of interconnected short stories than a proper novel, this is still an engrossing read. Mitchell pulls off the nifty trick of telling all of the stories in the first person and somehow giving each narrator, reliable or otherwise, their own distinct voices. It ends a little unsatisfactorily, but that's my only beef. Heh. Beef.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett - first-timer Brett has come up with a unique take on the classic high/epic fantasy milieu: what if demons rose from the ground every night, all night, and the only way to not get killed was to be behind a series of protective wards, sigils of a lost magic, and that even those wards might fail and you're toast? What would that world be like? This is actually my current read, and I'm about halfway through. Thoroughly enjoying it. Brutal in just the right amount, with characters that I actually kind of care about (my main beef with most epic fantasy). Suckiness: it's brand new, and book 1 of a series. So there's that.

Okay: unit tests done. Time to check in. And check out! Ha!

Go: read, dammit.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Random Ten: "Quack Me Up Before You Quack-Quack" Edition

The quacking has resumed. For most of the week, there was no quacking, as the president of my organization was out of the office. Until today, that is. She's back, with her infernal laptop, and the damnable quack quack quack has, much to my dismay, re-entered my work life.

So: what to do? I know! Let's FRT - quack-style!

Quack. "Such Great Quacks" - Iron & Wine
Quack. "Quackless" - Soul Coughing
Quack. "Tired of Quack" - Weezer
Quack. "Window Quacks" - Band of Horses
Quack. "What A Good Quack" - Barenaked Ladies
Quack. "Motion Picture Soundquack" - Radiohead
Quack. "You Can Do Better Than Quack" - Death Cab for Cutie
Quack. "Street Quack (Fade Out)" - Radiohead
Quack. "Viva la Quack" - Coldplay
Quack. "Dickquack" - Kate Nash

My my: what a quacking list. But what's the bonus quack?

Extra Quack. "U-Quack" - Pixies

Brilliant. I went to school near U-Quack, so this song is near-and-dear ("In the sleepy West / of the woody East / lives a Valley full / full of Pioneer...")

(But sweet merciful Daffy, they got old and fat, didn't they? Yowza.)

Until next time, kids: keep your feet on the quack, but keep reaching for the quacks.

God help me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You gotta be quacking quacking me

He looks so innocent, doesn't he? Not evil at all. And yet, his is the very heart of darkness...

Because I know the vast and awesome readership of Limboland demands it, an update to the whole quacking cellphone nonsense...

So, it turns out that it's not a cellphone's ringer that's set to quack - it's an Outlook new mail notification sound. That's why it's constantly going off. Worse, the person who is responsible for unleashing this torrent of anatine hullabaloo on my workplace is none other than the president and founder of the organization, whose office just happens to be two doors down from mine.

Seriously. And she gets a metric fuckload of email.

What to do? Can't rightly march into her office, yank the laptop from her desk and send it plunging into the river, to live (and die) amongst the ducks whose call the infernal machine apes at every new electronic message arrival. I doubt even complaining about it would do anything - she probably thinks it's cute.

Grrr. And also: argh.

People. Meh.

Friday Random Ten: "It's Friday, Time to Blog" edition

Boy, sometimes I sure wish I'd get off my lazy butt and do some blog entries about other stuff, rather than just doing these FRTs.

But then I settle down and let the warm, fuzzy glow of the TV wash over me, and everything's okay again.

Oh, TV. When have you ever done me wrong?


1. "Islands on the Coast" - Band of Horses
2. "Cannonball" - Damien Rice
3. "We Looked Like Giants" - Death Cab for Cutie
4. "Bullets' - Augustana
5. "Midnight Show" - The Killers
6. "X&Y" - Coldplay
7. "Rusted Wheel" - Silversun Pickups
8. "Polaris" - Jimmy Eat World
9. "Heaven Forbid" - The Fray
10. "Monkey Gone to Heaven" - Pixies

Not bad, not bad. Let's see what's behind door number 11, shall we...?

11. "The General Specific" - Band of Horses

Oh, the dreaded band repeat in the bonus! So sorry - thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you. Johnny, tell 'em what they've won!

Thanks for stopping by, folks! We'll see you next time on Friday Random Ten!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday Random Ten: Mailbox Orange Aquatic Edition

Yes, friends, it's Friday again. And you know what that means! Indeed, time to open up my soul - or at least my music library - to all and sundry. "Why do I do this?" you ask. That's a great question.


(What? That's a great answer!)

So, without further ado, let the humiliation - er, I mean, the list begin!

1. "The Ice Is Getting Thinner" - Death Cab for Cutie
Z. "For Emma" - Bon Iver
Maroon. "Johnny Sunshine" - Liz Phair
Pie. "Take a Bow" - Muse
-99. "Black Star" - Radiohead
6. "A is for Asthma" - Kate Nash
23. "23" - Jimmy Eat World
Aston Villa FC. "The Beatiful Occupation" - Travis
C#. "Heirloom" - Bjork
10. "Sunshine" - Keane

Bonus bonus bonus!

Flapjacks. "A Message" - Coldplay

Feh. Coldplay it is. Have some. Have some now!


(Did you get this week's theme? Huh? Well, well, aren't you the observant one, my plucky little shellfish!)