Sunday, January 30, 2005
You know what's really starting to annoy me?
I do a lot of typing. I mean, a lot of typing. I have long conversations via e-mail and on various internet forums, I write blog posts, I do a bit of creative writing, I keep an electronic log at work, I occasionally use instant messenger to chat... I'm pretty sure, now that I stop to think about it, that I type far more words on an average day than I speak, and that number has gone up a hell of a lot in the last few years.
The major result of this (aside from the occasional twinge of wrist pain, which, thankfully, has so far always gone away with a little rest) is that I have become a much worse typist.
That's right. Worse. My fingers have taken on a mind of their own. They move too fast now for me to control them. And, somehow, they've developed some kind of bizarre auto-complete system. If I try to type a word that ends in "in," I find it mysteriously acquires a "g" on the end. If I want to type "interested," I get "interesting," because apparently I use that word more often. "Actual" inevitably becomes "actually" (my single most overused word). "Though," if I'm not careful, morphs into "thought." Sometimes I type entire words wrong, because my fingers are supplying a similar word that usually comes after the one I just typed, instead of the one I want. Thus, "to go" becomes "to do." Sometimes, they jump ahead and type a word that's supposed to appear later in the sentence. Or they run one word in a sentence together with the next one to produce a different word entirely. (Frighteningly enough, it usually is a real word.) Sometimes they just throw random words in and I don't know where they came from. They've also gotten really bad about homophones. I know the difference between "their, "they're" and "there," damn it, but I often find myself typing the wrong one. There was a time when I almost never did that. And pronouns! The typing program in my head appears to regard them as completely interchangeable. "Her" becomes "his," "she" becomes "me"... It's amazing I can still communicate at all.
It's like having goddamn Microsoft Word running in my brain, and I can't turn any of the annoying features off. Gaah.
...is Ebert's Glossary of Movie Terms, a very funny list of movie cliches from a guy who's seen a lot of movies.
A couple of my favorites:
Del Close's Rule
Never share a foxhole with a character who carries a photo of his sweetheart.
Myth of the Seemingly Ordinary Day
The day begins like any other, with a man getting up, having breakfast, reading the paper, leaving the house, etc. His activities are so uneventful they are boring. That is the tip-off. No genuine ordinary day can be allowed to be boring in a movie. Only seemingly ordinary days—which inevitably lead up to a shocking scene of violence, which punctuates the seeming ordinariness.
I was also highly amused by this one...
Cooter Rule, The
When the young good-looking hero goes back to his boyhood farmhouse, he'll inevitably have a fight at the dinner table with an older, less attractive brother. The fight is usually about abandoning the farm and "Spitting on Daddy's memory" or the hero's annoying use of correct grammar. The hero storms out of the house, and sits down on a fence in the backyard. He is followed by his sweet, long-suffering sister-in-law. She says, "Trap, you're gonna have to forgive Cooter/Hunter/Trip/Billy Bob. He loves you. He don't mean nothin'. It's just his way, is all."
...because my first reaction was, "Whoa! That was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode!"
Friday, January 28, 2005
take the WHAT INTENTIONAL TORT ARE YOU test.
and go to mewing.net. because law school made laura do this.
Hey, it happens roughly once a week. What more do you want?
I did go into the new Wal-Mart today. It was pathetically exciting. Wow! A whole plethora of consumer goods available for purchase right here in my own neighborhood! I have the feeling this could be kind of a dangerous thing. Previously, whenever there was something I needed that I couldn't get at the local grocery or hardware store, I'd just add it to a big mental list of stuff I needed, and when the need got urgent enough or I happened to be going in that direction anyway, I'd head into Belen and shop. I'd be lying if I said that eliminated impulse purchasing, but, for large stuff, anyway, there was sort of a built-in waiting period. Now, should I happen to decide that I need a new TV -- which, actually, I kind of do -- I can go five minutes down the road and walk out with one. Instant gratification is a powerful lure, you know, and I can't count how many things I've previously decided I didn't really need because they weren't worth the hour-and-a-half trip it would take to purchase them. And I was doing so well at saving money there for a while, too.
My major purchase today was a vacuum cleaner, but that can't possibly be considered an impulse buy, as I needed one desperately. My old one had gotten to the point where it was literally held together with duct tape. I bought it way back when I was a penniless student, so it was an extremely cheap model, which I got even cheaper by buying it factory serviced. Its one and only advertising claim was that it was really light.
I gotta say, vacuum cleaners have changed a lot since the last time I looked. They've got these bagless see-through compartments now. Very spiffy. The one I just bought has about four filters, and a light in the front, and all kinds off stuff, and I think it cost about twenty or thirty dollars more than my old one originally did. What really convinces me that it was time for a new vacuum, though, is the fact that, the first time I used it on my floors, it completely filled the dirt compartment. Way up past the fill line. I vacuum my carpets an average of a couple of times a month, but it occurs to me now that they've probably never actually been clean since I moved in.
Also, I'm not sure, but I think the cats might be slightly less afraid of this one.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I think this is going to be one of Those Days. It started when I woke up well over an hour before I needed to be awake. Oh, good, I thought. I can get up now, have a nice leisurely cup (OK, three cups) of coffee, read my e-mail, and generally take my time. Which is how I like waking up in the morning, except that I don't like doing it early in the morning. Which is why, when I'm on morning shift, I set my alarm clock for the last possible moment that'll allow me to get to work on time. Which is actually kind of stressful. Anyway, I then, of course, failed to actually get up. It was dark and cold outside the bed, after all, and warm and cozy in it... I ended up drifting in and out of not very good sleep until the alarm screamed in my ear. At which point I started kicking myself, because I probably would have felt much better after an hour of good wakefulness than I did after an hour of bad sleep.
So I got up and got in the shower, and I'd just gotten my hair all good and lathered up with shampoo when I suddenly experienced the sudden conviction that I'd forgotten to turn the coffeepot on. Which, believe me, would have been a major crisis for me. So I got out of the shower, dripped water everywhere, went to the coffeepot... and discovered that I had, in fact, turned it on, and the coffee-making was proceeding normally.
And then, when I was finally ready to go to work and had actually gotten into my car, it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten my mp3 player, which I like to listen to when I'm hanging tapes. I debated with myself for a moment, then sighed and went back in the house, tracking mud across the kitchen floor (to go with the water, I guess) to get the thing. At which point I realized, of course, that, no, it was already in the car, just in the other backpack-pocket from the one I had checked.
I'm really hoping this pattern doesn't keep up...
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Because apparently I'm too lazy to actually write any coherent posts today, I shall instead simply spew forth whatever has recently been passing through my brain. Thus:
I just caught myself thinking, "Ooh! The new Wal-Mart opens tomorrow. I should go and see it!" I have now officially lived in a small town too long.
I live in constant regret of the fact that my living room carpet is exactly the same color as regurgitated cat chow.
I just finished re-reading The Ship Who Sang, and I cannot for the life of me understand why I thought Anne McCaffrey was a great writer when I was a teenager. Is she still standard reading for teen-girl geeks, I wonder, or has time passed her by?
I've been watching the new Battlestar Galactica. Well, I watched it last week, because a co-worker of mine, who doesn't have cable at the moment, called me up to ask me if I could tape it and then proceeded to recommend it to me with great enthusiasm. The episode was hard to follow with only what he'd given me for background, though, so he lent me the miniseries on tape. And, I dunno, I think the jury's still out. It's kind of slow moving, and it's not exciting me greatly, but it does seem to have a lot of potential, and I love the premise (which it now occurs to me the original pretty much wasted). Someone in the UK (where they're on the season finale already) told me next week's ep is really good, and I see TV Guide's Matt Roush (whose opinions I deeply respect) gave it an 8 out of 10, so I'm pretty sure I'll be tuning in on Friday. We'll see... Well, I suppose it was about time I got some use out of that cable TV subscription I'm paying for every month.
No rhyme or reason here, just a few interesting things I've come across lately on my travels around the internet:
For the Blake's 7 fans in the audience: a gallery of "postage stamps" featuring alternate careers for the crew. Very funny! (Warning: a few of the captions are a bit naughty.)
How to Deconstruct Almost Anything: "[T]he story of one computer professional's explorations in the world of postmodern literary criticism." Good, entertaining article explaining the mysteries of literary deconstructionism for techno-geeks.
Mr. Eclipse: "The Ultimate Resource For Eclipse Photography." Features, among other things, a list of predicted solar and lunar eclipses, and lots of really beautiful pictures.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Need to distinguish between the different varieties of Kryptonite, brush up on the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline, or double-check the lethal dosage of cordrazine? You're in luck, then, because Wikipedia features a chart of fictional chemical substances. Very cool.
(Link via Sore Eyes.)
Saturday, January 22, 2005
I've been meaning to mention this, and I somehow keep managing to forget. But I got myself a gmail account a while ago. I've mainly been using it for mailing lists and suchlike, and I've been fairly happy with it. Anyway, I've got six invites to give out, so if anybody out there is interested in a Google account, let me know.
Friday, January 21, 2005
I'm not even apologizing for not doing this on Thursday any more.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
It's often been my experience that driving directions from websites don't necessarily take you the fastest or the easiest route, but this takes the cake! Try it. The results are amusing.
1. Go to MSN maps and directions.
2. In the Start section, select "Norway" from the listbox and enter "Haugesund" into the "City" field. In the End section, select "Norway" from the listbox and enter "Trondheim" into the "City" field.
4. Click on "Get Directions."
And be sure and pack a lunch for your trip...
(Sent to me via e-mail by a friend -- Hi, John! -- who got it from the comp.risks newsgroup.)
Just got a package from Amazon, featuring season 4 of Babylon 5, the extended edition of Return of the King, and Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. Oooh, what to watch, what to watch? Hmm, do you think if I called in sick for a few days anybody would suspect...?
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Monday, January 17, 2005
Sunday, January 16, 2005
I'm feeling quite a bit better today. Hooray! Of course, I had to spend today at work, so that's less of a hooray, but still. I honestly did do pretty much nothing yesterday that didn't involve lying on the couch. It was such a waste of a day off that I was thinking plaintively before I went to bed that I really deserved a "do-over" on it. Then I realized that (somewhat surprisingly) I am in fact off for the holiday tomorrow, so I guess I actually do get one.
What I mostly spent yesterday on the couch doing, by the way, was watching a six-part British miniseries from the 80's called Edge of Darkness, which was recommended to me rather highly by a couple of overseas friends. Good show, even if the science and politics, in my opinion, get a bit dodgy at the end. Lots of great twists and turns in the plot, good acting... A little slow-moving by American standards -- I'm sure Hollywood would have told the story in half with time with three times as much sex and at least four or five explosions -- but I find the low-key British method of storytelling kind of refreshing once in a while. It also strongly reminded me of the other thing I love about British television: it features normal-looking people. I don't know if it's mainly attributable to a lesser cultural obsession with youth and beauty than the US has, or if it's just that they have a smaller pool of actors, but the people on British TV look like people, the kind I might pass on the street in my ordinary far-from-Southern-California life. The world that US TV characters inhabit, by contrast, is one where humanity appears to have been genetically engineered into a race of models, with a few moderately unattractive people kept around as comic relief. Really, I'm occasionally amazed that I can suspend my disbelief enough to watch US TV at all.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Friday, January 14, 2005
Man, I am suddenly totally exhausted. I have no idea why. I got enough sleep last night, and I haven't even done all that much today. But I feel like just curling up into a little ball and taking a nap. And I've still got another three and a half hours to work, plus the walk home. Sigh.
I really hope I'm not coming down with something. Well, OK, a tiny part of my brain is almost hoping I am, because I'd be rather glad of an excuse to just lie in bed for a few days and read. But every time I find myself thinking that, I end up regretting it. Besides, tomorrow's my day off...
You Are 21 Years Old
Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.
30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.
Actually, I think of myself as about 25 at heart. It seems profoundly wrong and unfair that my body didn't stop there. Of course, when I was 25, I don't think I felt more than 18, so I guess it's a never-ending cycle, really.
Apparently the Huygens probe is safely on Titan and transmitting happily. "The probe's landing is the farthest touchdown for any human-built object to... land on another world." says space.com. Very cool!
We're doing some tracking of the probe with the VLBA antennas, as it happens. Some very excited-looking people were starting to arrive last night just as I got off work. (They even brought the array operators t-shirts. I'm attempting not to be jealous.) The data's going to be correlated in Europe, though, so I don't really have anything to do with it, other than having run a few tests. But, hey, I can cheer it on, I guess. Go, Huygens!
Thursday, January 13, 2005
On an actual Thursday, even! Will wonders never cease?
Having finally finished the Angel discs, I decided to take a short break from my usual habit of inhaling entire year's worth of TV shows as rapidly as possible and interpose a movie or two instead. So a couple of days ago I watched Bubba Ho-Tep, which I recently picked up somewhere pretty cheap, and I've now finished watching most of the extras that came with it, as well. I saw this movie in the theater when it came out -- somewhat surprisingly, it did come to Albuquerque -- but I'm rather glad I sprang for the DVD, as I think I liked it even better on second viewing. Possibly just because the first time I spent a considerable chunk of the movie trying to figure out exactly what the heck it was I was watching, and the second time I was able to just relax and enjoy it for what it was right from the beginning. I can totally see why they had funding and distribution problems with it, though. Writer/director Don Coscarelli describes it as a "redemptive Elvis mummy picture," and, well, how on Earth do you market that? It isn't comedy, it isn't drama, it isn't horror... It's a little bit of each, blended together. And it's set in a rest home, for crying out loud, which is hardly going to pack in the oh-so-desirable teens and twentysomethings. Alas. But I do definitely recommend it if you're looking for something a bit... different. Even if you're not a Bruce Campbell fan, or, for that matter, an Elvis fan.
The disc's nice, too. It's got several good little "making of" featurettes, and the commentary track with Campbell and Coscarelli is quite good: they talk pretty much continually about interesting and relevant things, a talent not everybody who sets out to make a commentary track has apparently mastered. I do have to say, though, that the extra commentary with Campbell in-character as Elvis, while it sounds like a cute idea, gets old really, really fast.
Hmm. Now I have to decide what to watch next...
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Actualized type: INFJ
(who you are)
INFJ - "Author". Strong drive and enjoyment to help others. Complex personality. 1.5% of total population.
(who you prefer to be)
INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
These personality test thingies can be fun to play around with, but I ought to mention that I'm actually pretty leery about taking them too seriously. That having been said... I pretty much always seem to come out on the T/F border on these things, and I remember thinking, the very first time I ever took one, that the F/T-related qutestions were the hardest to answer, because there was a definite disjoint between my most natural behavior and the kind of behavior I strive for. In other words, that I was a natural F who'd spent pretty much her whole life trying very hard (and perhaps not without success) to be a T. So, y'know, that actually does fit my self-perception. Although whether I'm a J or a P has always seemed to me to depend greatly on what area of my life we're talking about. (Like I said, these classifications make me a little leery, and the fact that they gloss over stuff like that is a big part of the reason why.)
And, oh, yeah, I'm attracted to geeks. Big surprise, there.
If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Galadriel, Elf, Queen of Lothlorien, wife of Celeborn and grandmother of Arwen.
In the movie, I am played by Cate Blanchett.
"These new disk units will be great!" they told me. "They'll certainly make your job simpler. Why the playback should be so flawless there'll be essentially nothing to do!"
*kicks stupid disk unit in its digital nuts*
There. That made me feel a little better.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Monday, January 10, 2005
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Current clothes: Gray sweats. A black t-shirt that says, "I'm blogging this." (Hey, truth in advertising!) White socks. No shoes.
Current mood: Pretty good. A little distractible.
Current music: I've been doing that random shuffle thing on the mp3 player again. Let's see, most recently listened to songs, according to the current playlist: "Someday" by Over the Rhine, "Sulk" by Radiohead, "Gone" by U2, "Hail to Thee Camp Krusty" from The Simpsons' Yellow Album, something called "Fugue for Thought" by Bill McGuffie, "Pencil Neck Geek"by Freddie Blassie, The London Philharmonic version of Pink Floyd's "Breathe," and "I, Robot" by the Alan Parsons Project. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my mp3 player?
Current annoyance: I'd just gotten out of the shower a little while ago when there was a knock on my door, so I threw my jammies back onto my still-wet body and ran to answer it. It turned out to be some guy trying to sell me Dish Network. Now my nice comfy jammies are all damp. Also, I seem to have cut my ankle while I was shaving. That'll teach me to cave in to the dictates of modern female beauty standards.
Current thing: Making multiple commitments to things at once, apparently.
Current desktop picture: Still the same colliding galaxies as last month. Hmm, it's probably time I changed it.
Current song in head: Well, now it's "Breathe," 'cause I was just thinking about it. For most of yesterday it was "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders.
Current book: Freedom & Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull. Interesting, but kind of slow. I'm rather glad I didn't get around to reading it on the plane, actually. It's not really a reading-on-the-plane kind of book.
Current video in player: I'm still copying Farscape episodes. I'm a good portion of the way through season 3 now. Hopefully it shouldn't be too much longer. I'd really like to get the tapes finished and mailed off. I just keep getting sidetracked.
Current DVD in player: The last disc of Angel season 4. I've finished all the episodes now, but I've still got a couple of the extras to watch.
Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment. Most recently, my usual morning coffee.
Current worry: After showing much improvement, my plantar fasciitis is now back and bothering me again (possibly because, once it started to get better, I stopped exercising and icing the foot), and now I'm starting to think I really am gonna need to go and get a shot for it. And, man, I hate needles.
Current thought: I can't quite decide whether I want to go read for a bit now, or watch the rest of those Angel extras. Ah, decisions, decisions...
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Here's an interesting meme I found somewhere:
1. Go To Mapquest.com.
2. Click on Directions
3. Enter your current address and the address of your childhood home (or at least the town if you don't remember the exact address).
4. Put the time and distance in a post like this.
5. Repost the instructions to the meme in your own blog.
The first place I really remember living was a house in Merchantville, New Jersey, which we moved into when I was five. We moved again when I was about ten, but I lived in the same general location, at least, until I first came out here for college at the age of eighteen.
So, my childhood home in Merchantville, NJ to my current one in Socorro, NM, according to Mapquest:
Total Est. Time: 30 hours, 55 minutes
Total Est. Distance: 2013.59 miles
So you can go home again, but in my case, it'd take a while to get there.
Friday, January 07, 2005
Hey, I always get to it eventually. Here's the latest batch:
| You scored as Loner. |
What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with QuizFarm.com
Actually, I answered that with the responses I probably would have given when I was in high school. Fortunately, those days are long past me now, and I'm much less dysfunctional. I'm still a geeky loner, mind. But I've become comfortable with it.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Picking up (sort of) where the last post left off:
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Here's an interesting interview with Joss Whedon on the upcoming Firefly movie. An excerpt, illustrating just why I like this guy so darned much:
Q: How will you react if you’re one of the films that disappoints?
Joss: Then, I will crawl into a fetal position and stay there for a good month or so. I am one of those fans. That, I believe, if I've had success has been the key to it. Because I think the way they do. And I’m doing everything in my power to make sure that the funny parts are funny, the scary parts are scary and the exciting parts are exciting and it all gels and becomes something greater than the sum of its parts. We could fail. I’m not going to come out and say, "I've reinvented film. Citizen Kane? Bah. This is a real film." I’m just trying to make a good movie that actually means something and that is entertaining enough for people not to realize that. I’m perfectly well aware that I can fail. Every time I go into the editing room and look at the footage, I go, "Oh, look at that failure. Cover it up, will you? Cut to something that’s less fail-y." How will I react? I'll be devastated, but I believe, as I always have, that if I respond to what’s there, others will too.
They really, really, shouldn't ask him the science questions, though.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Well, here I am. Back at work after two nice, long weeks off.
I hadn't originally intended to take two weeks off, just a few days before and after my trip (which was really little more than a long weekend). But then I realized that doing that would require me to switch onto midnight shift for a couple of days, switch off of it again for my vacation, then switch back on for another half-week. Which really didn't appeal, so ultimately I just said, "Screw it, I've got lots of vacation time coming, I'll take the whole two weeks off."
Of course, I had great plans for the portion of that time off I didn't spend travelling. Well, OK, not great plans, exactly. More like a vague, "Hey, it'll be great! I can get lots of cool stuff done!" kind of plan. Which, uh, mostly didn't happen, in part due to a sudden attack of lazy-itis, I think. Sadly, my biggest "accomplishment" was watching through about half of Angel season 4. (Which, by the way, I'm quite liking. Good solid story-arc, a nice interplay between the big-picture plot stuff and the individual characters' smaller personal problems, and lots and lots of interesting twists and turns. And, unlike the third season (which did manage all that stuff eventually, but nearly lost me long before it did), season 4 starts out strong right from the beginning. I'm just seriously hoping that when they do get around to putting the plot elements into place that will explain everything, it's not going to end up being disappointingly anticlimactic. And, no, do not tell me whether it is or not! Thanks.)
Um, yeah, where was I? Oh, work. Right. Yep, I'm back at work. Back to random mechanical failures. Back to 1400 pieces of spam in my inbox. Yippee.
Honestly, it's not that I don't like my job. My job's OK. It's just that I don't like working.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
I was cleaning out my pantry a little while ago, and I found some cans of tuna. Possibly very, very, very old cans of tuna.
So, I stood there for a moment, holding a dusty can of tuna in my hand like Hamlet contemplating Yorick's skull, then proceeded to have a little conversation that went something like this:
Me: Eww! This tuna is ancient. I think I'm afraid of it. Right, we're throwing this away.
Voice in my head: But it's in a can. Isn't canned food supposed to be good, like, forever? Isn't that what we're supposed to be eating after the apocalypse?
Me: I don't care. It's fish. The newest can is probably at least a year old. I'm not eating it.
Happiness-kitty: Oooh! I recognize that can! It's tuna! You've got tuna! Oooh, tuna, tuna, tuna! Can I have some? Please? Pleeeeeese?
Me: Hmm. Is it morally wrong to give food to my cats that I'd be afraid to eat myself? It is, isn't it? It's wrong.
Voice in my head: You give them cat food, and you wouldn't eat that.
Me: Good point. In a dubious-logic kind of way.
So, OK, I gave them tuna. Hey, it smelled all right. Or, at least, it smelled like tuna.
Several minutes later, I made three interesting discoveries: 1) A cat's stomach can hold a truly remarkable amount of tuna. 2) Vomited-up tuna is possibly the most vile substance on the face of the Earth. 3) It is, in fact, wrong to give your cats food you'd be afraid to eat yourself, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with morality.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
I've been looking over that recently-posted list of books I read last year, and I thought I might talk a little about which of them really stood out. As it happens, I read quite a few extremely good books in 2004, and the "honorable mention" list, were I to make one, would be pretty long. But picking out the best of the best is actually pretty easy. So here ya go.
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: The author recounts his father's experiences in occupied Poland and in a German prison camp in WW2, and reflects on his own strained relationship with the man decades later. One of the most painful things I have ever read, but it's the kind of pain that's good to experience once in a while, I think, because we need to remember just what kind of horrors our species is capable of. Oh, and, yes, it's a cartoon. With mice. Somehow, this works.
I, Claudius by Robert Graves: An "autobiographical" account of the life of the Emperor Claudius, from his boyhood to his assumption of the rulership of Rome. My knowledge of Roman history isn't good enough to say how factually accurate it is, but all the details ring true, and it certainly seems like the author's done his homework quite exhaustively. So much so, in fact, that, as a novel, it shouldn't work. It's mostly long, long, long passages of, well, history. Not much dialog, not much plot in a conventional sense. But the history itself is so fascinating (murder! intrigue! scandal! sex!), and Graves' Claudius is so likeable and possessed of such a wonderful dry wit, that the end result is an utterly compelling read. (The sequel, Claudius the God, is also very much worth reading, but I found the first one decidedly superior.)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: Protagonist Henry De Tamble has an odd affliction: at uncontrollable intervals, he disappears from the present and reappears at random points in his own past or future. Which maybe sounds silly, but not to fear; this is a classic example of a book that asks you to accept one impossible premise and then works out the consequences of it in ways that are absolutely believable. Not only that, but every single thing it does, it does perfectly. The characters are living, breathing, real people. The out-of-sequence plot unfolds at exactly the right pace, drawing you inevitably to a conclusion that has an incredible emotional impact. It's billed, by the way, as a love story, which it very much is, but it's not a sappy or manipulative love story, and it's definitely not your cookie-cutter romance. I read it practically in one sitting (a rarity for me these days). It made me cry.
The Earthsea trilogy (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore) by Ursula K. LeGuin: What really impresses me about these books is that they work on absolutely every level. The prose is beautiful. The fantasy world-building is highly original and very well thought out. The stories are richly symbolic in a way that makes them feel as if they've been pulled directly out of the human collective unconscious, and yet they're simultaneously cracking good stories about very real-seeming human beings. Fantasy does not get better than this.
Life with Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse: I am frequently in the habit of walking down the street while reading a book, which often gets me some pretty strange looks. Well, I happened to be reading this during a period when I was doing a lot of walking because I didn't have a car, and I can only imagine what I must have looked like strolling down the street reading this and laughing my fool head off. But I couldn't stop doing it. And, well, that's Wodehouse, and I don't know what more to say, except, "Must read more Wodehouse!"
Oh, and, while I'm at it, the booby prize for Worst Book of the Year goes to Obsidian Fate by Diana G. Gallagher, an especially crappy Buffy novel, about which my main memory is thinking that, if the world were going to end, my greatest regret would be that I'd wasted the last week reading that piece of tripe. Oh, and it also spawned a rant about things that annoy me in TV tie-in books. So at least I got something out of it, I guess.
Well, for the last couple of years on January 1st I've posted a list of the books I read in the previous year, and as far as I'm concerned that's enough to count as a tradition, so I figured I'd do it again.
I seem to have been remarkably consistent over the past few years: the total was 94 in 2002, 94 in 2003, and 93 in 2004.
I am pleased to announce that my book-quota system actually has worked: I do have fewer books on my To-Read Pile now than I did at the start of 2004. Yay! Of course, the difference is a whole whopping 18 books, but, still, it's progress. Actually, it would have been a heck of a lot more than that if my mother hadn't shown up in October with a box full of about 30 books she'd decided she didn't want any more and thought I might like. I mean, come on, quota or no quota, how could I say no to that? I'm not made of stone!
Anyway, here's the list:
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Obsidian Fate by Diana G. Gallagher
The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski
The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
The Persistance of Vision by John Varley
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The Onion Ad Nauseam edited by Robert Seigel
The Annotated Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (annotated by Michael Patrick Hearn)
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll
The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
Pole to Pole by Michael Palin
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. II by Alan Moore
The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket
Alpha & Omega by Charles Seife
Doctor Who and the Underworld by Terrance Dicks
Fluke by Christopher Moore
Faking It by William Alan Miller
The Second Summoning by Tanya Huff
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Starfarers by Poul Anderson
The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle & John Dickson Carr
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket
The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides & Stephen Cole
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust
The Iliad by Homer (translated by Robert Fagels)
The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
The Future of Spacetime by Stephen W. Hawking, Kip S. Thorne, Igor Novikov, Timothy Ferris & Alan Lightman
Dense Macabre by Stephen King
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Burning by Justin Richards
The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt
Transmetropolitan: One More Time by Warren Ellis
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Bible Stories for Adults by James Morrow
Farscape: The Illustrated Season 4 Companion by Paul Simpson
Standard Candles by Jack McDevitt
The Lost Slayer, Part One: Prophecies by Christopher Golden
The Lost Slayer, Part Two: Dark Times by Christopher Golden
The Lost Slayer, Part Three: King of the Dead by Christopher Golden
Science Says edited by Rob Kaplan
The Lost Slayer, Part Four: Original Sins by Christopher Golden
Zod Wallop by William Browning Spencer
Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale
For Us, the Living by Robert Heinlein
The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
Sirius by Olaf Stapledon
Language Visible by David Sacks
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
Alaska Bound by Michael Dixon
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
Why Do People Hate America? by Ziauddin Sardar & Merryl Wyn Davies
The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket
White as Snow by Tanith Lee
Flight by Chris Kraft
Idoru by William Gibson
War in Heaven by Charles Wiliams
Kiss Kiss/Switch Bitch/My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones
Last Man Running by Chris Boucher
What Einstein Didn't Know by Robert L. Wolke
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
Life with Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Players at the Game of People by John Brunner
God's Debris by Scott Adams
How to Be a Villain by Neil Zawacki
Dead in Dixie by Charlaine Harris
Spoken Here by Mark Abley
Prophecy and Change edited by Marco Palmierei
The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Warrior Lovers by Catherine Salmon & Donald Symonds
Doctor Who -- Planet of Fire by Peter Grimwade
Voodoo Science by Robert Park
I Sing the Body Electric! by Ray Bradbury
Your Favorite Seuss by Dr. Seuss
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Dancing Barefoot by Wil Wheaton