Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Waydown #12.12.18

Well, more like four months but that's not as bad as it could be.

So this blog-zine thing hasn't set the world on fire.  Even in the Pulp Legacy world it hasn't gone far.  I have no idea if anybody has even read any of these posts.  One APAer said it was a pretty good idea and might post their own zine.  But whether for more zines or for posting feedback, this blog has seen no more activity since I'm posting these zines than before.  Which is fine.  I didn't expect this to go far.  As usual I'm writing for myself, and while I'm getting this out, the fact that this is more accessible doesn't guarantee more interest.  But it's there if you want it.  I'll keep posting this because I must write.

Within the time that I was editing this, I got a new phone. I got a Samsung Galaxy S3, to replace my HTC Evo. This isn't as significant an event as when I first got a smartphone, since that was a life-changer and this is just a life-continuer. I loved my Evo but I needed a new phone. The worst problem was the battery, which had gotten ridiculous: I would let it charge overnight then in the morning, with only my GPS on for the Nav unit on my way to work, it would say I had a 15% charge within 45 minutes, then it would be dead about 5 minutes later. And I know the hardware was outdated, and I knew there was stuff that newer phones could do that I was interested in, so it was time that I gave it up. I was holding out for a sale, almost went to Best Buy on Black Friday to get a crazy deal, and I came close a time or two but eventually got one on Amazon at the price I wanted, and re-upped my contract with Sprint for another two years which I was happy to do since I like them. The phone came basically six weeks early (as Amazon initially said they were out of stock on it) and two days after ordering I had it up and running. I'm still figuring out the new functions but so far it's a significant improvement, though with enough familiar stuff that I can get going with it. I heard the Samsung GS3 was better than an iPhone (as if I'd get an iPhone in the first place) and it hasn't disappointed. Probably won't be long until I'm doing what I do here on a computer on the phone instead (I mean, more).

I get up at 6 every morning for work, 8 on weekends but not often much later than that.  That first hour after getting up is torture, and I have great sympathy for anyone who has to deal with me at that time, but I’ve found getting up that early and into the day, I get a lot done and am just more productive before lunch.  I fear I’ve somehow I’ve become... a morning person.  It’s always seemed against my nature but most of the rest of my family are morning people so it might make sense that I eventually would be as well.  It probably helps that things can be a lot easier when I get up that early (fitting in with Carla’s schedule, dealing with traffic, getting to work on time (-ish), etc.) and that I don’t stay up as late at night as I used to (with the intention of getting at least six hours of sleep).  I never thought I would ever be someone who enjoyed the morning.  Then again, I never thought I’d have to get up at 6 every day.  But that’s my limit.  There’s such a thing as too much of a morning.

I've been thinking of maybe giving each of my new zines a theme.  Maybe writing a bit about or in the context of a particular interest or phase in my life, though keeping the Reviews and Raves section the same, since those are my stand-bys and maybe even help define this project as I've done it.  For the time being I'll just have the usual stuff and whatever else I think to drop in.

Great writing advice: http://daadams.com/2012/12/13/creative-writing-ramblings/
(Yes, read it.)


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (audiobook).  I wouldn't have imagined that I would have had any interest in the Steve Jobs biography but Carla was borrowing the audiobook CDs and I was putting them on the computer anyway and I didn’t have any other book lined up to listen to so I thought I would give it a spin.  Jobs as a celebrity wasn't always much to talk about and he wasn't much of a visionary because I don’t care for Apple as a company (I love the iPods but the rest can burn).  I admit, there was a lot more to him than I thought.  I didn’t have the historical perspective on him or his achievements because I never bothered to look up any information on him. There was a lot to learn.  His life story is not all that interesting -- sure, he grew up a genius but a lot of the things in his early life were pretty predictable: a rebellious spirit that caused him some great problems throughout his life but also led him to changing the world with Apple and his other various endeavors.  I didn’t realize it but he really did change the world.  He also had a tendency to be an asshole, which kept people, even his closest creative partners and business associates, at a distance, but it was also how he was able to see his visions through.  There aren’t a lot of deep details but the writer paints in broad strokes so you get a good view of the man as a man, as balanced as might be possible, which might not be notable except that the book does not actually try to play up how great he was at every turn.  There are some parts, with testimonies by his confidants, that attest to how much of a jerk he could be.  But parts of how much good he did as well.  The book does not get a real emotional center until near the end when Jobs discovered he had cancer through the rest of his life until he succumbed to it.  There are always two ways that these kinds of books end: the subject overcomes the difficulties and rises as a hero, and the events of their life are transcribed from the positive perspective of someone who not only survived but triumphed; or they die.  Autobiographies often seem to be the former, biographies seem to be the latter.  So the book, ending with Jobs’ death, is as definitive as it’s likely to be.  And also leaves you in a post-Apple world, knowing that the kinds of innovations and marvels that the man brought about may not be seen again in your lifetime.  It’s a testament to writing when a book can show you how great a man is, instead of just telling you, and you believe it.  I have no more interest in buying an iPad any more than I did before, but I can respect where it came from much better than I did.

The book is read by Dylan Baker, an actor you'd recognize from a lot of movies but mostly as Doc Connor from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. That they would use such a recognizable actor shows that the adaptation of this book is intended as the highest class, as it is. The reading is very measured and Baker doesn't put a spin on voices. There's not a lot of personality in the voice but it doesn't really need it, and maybe it mirrors Jobs' often lack of real emotion in many of his interpersonal dealings. It's over nine discs, which took me about two weeks to get through, which seems to be my going rate.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (audiobook).  Yet another William Gibson book, and I really was not expecting much. This is the first book in the series that includes Spook Country, the first audiobook I ever listened to and a story I did not care for, so I didn't have high hopes for this one.  What a surprise then that I actually enjoyed it. I don't want to say that my enjoyment of the book had only to do with my expectations and how they were exceeded, but that maybe it actually is a good book.  The book focuses on one character instead of three; his best and worst books seem to center on more than one character, and this was great when it was good because it was more characters to explore the world he was creating (mostly in his cyberpunk books) and it was still pretty good when the books were bad since there was an alternative to the worst parts.  In this book he is able to mold the world, a modern-day one, around that one main character and it fits much better without the ambition of trying to fill in the world and going too far.  There are explosions of current-time companies and products but it’s a function that involves the main character, so it’s not an unwieldy attempt to be timely and -- ug -- hip, like in Spook Country, but rather one that defines her and places the story in a certain time and context, setting it rather than trying to keep up with it.  The book has more inspiration than Gibson has shown since his original cyberpunk trilogy.  If I read this book first I would think that it was a return to form and I’d be excited about the books that came after it in the series but I’ve already gone through the next in the series and am sad that it doesn’t carry the same inspiration. Zero History, the the third book in that series, is the next book I'm going to get to so I'll use that as a tie-breaker. Formed only around my love for Neuromancer and the Sprawl Trilogy, I’ll give the man the benefit of a doubt, though it goes against my best judgment.  Hope is so modern-day but that’s not always a curse.
The audiobook is narrated by Shelly Frasier and she’s probably my favorite narrator of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to to this point.  Her tone is almost eerily consistent and a touch frigid, which actually suits the material well.  She gives distinct voices  to the character but they’re never irritating and usually only just enough to make it so you can differentiate between the characters.  It’s an easy tone that carries through the book rather than pushes.  I enjoyed her voice so much that I’d be tempted to get more audiobooks she’s read just because they’d be so easy to listen to.

See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody by Bob Mould (audiobook).  My entry into Bob Mould's work was through Sugar, in the mid-'90s.  It was a blast of pop hooks and guitar shreds, both of which have always been my thing.  I wasn't the biggest Mould fan in the world then, since his solo work didn't have as much of the things I loved about his music and it was still years before I discovered Husker Du and Beaster.  The significant thing about being a fan of his was discovering his personal life and, in what I thought was a simple puff piece in Rolling Stone, finding out he was gay.  At the time, early in college, I didn't know any out-people and I didn't know anything about the lifestyle.  This didn't turn me off of his music but it did make me reconsider, trying to fit it into some context of being about a homosexual relationship.  But I'm a big believer that you find your own truth in art and I didn't necessarily make his music, to me, about his being gay.  It was still great music, I still listen to it.  But I didn't think his life was much more beyond being a respected, veteran songwriter and performer and that there was no need to investigate further. But I got the book (twice, as a gift, because people know me; then later got the audiobook because I knew I wouldn't be able to read it any time soon) because I thought that there must be something else there, in the history and the personality, worth filling a book.

It shouldn't be necessary to dig into an artist's life for any further investigation into what they mean in the music they creates.  But Mould wrote an autobiography anyway.  Call it cashing in on the rock-star bio craze -- he probably hasn't made a mountain of cash with his music and if he gets some kind of success with a book then he deserves it, with all the work he put into the life he reveals in the words.  It's not really an extraordinary tale -- he was a rock star who didn't take over the world but got a lot of respect and has had a long, fruitful career, one which is still going.  Deep secrets are the rock bio's stock in trade but there aren't many here, at least not that would be scandalous or world-beating.  It's the story of a man's life told well but it's not always riveting reading.  The biggest catch, and the worst thing about the book, is Mould starting a story with great potential but ending it before it gets to anything really interesting (if there was anything really interesting that happened in the story in the first place).  But the book isn't just for big fans of Mould and his work: he's still a man who grew up in the Mid-West and since his music never overtook every corner of the world, some of it is still unknown to all but the deepest fans who have been following him for years.  (At the time of my going through the book, I didn't have either of his first two solo albums, of which he goes deeply into the creation.)  The center of Mould's story, predictably, is his life as a gay man, less that he decided he was gay and how he came out to the world but how he came to live with that side of himself and how he eventually became comfortable with his sexuality (enough to write a book about it).  It's not just a coming-out tale that many gay people could relate to but also for any person uncomfortable with their lives and experiences and self, which is a lot of the people who found something in his music in the first place.  There are also stories of becoming internationally reknowned as an aritst with Husker Du and also some pop success with Sugar, as well as going into the making of and touring for Beaster (an album that has come to mean a lot to me personally), and how everything after that was a bit of a disappointment commercially, especially a few electronica-leaning projects, but Mould defends how he was following his muse while admitting that he had a few missteps.  The auto-bio is about taking stock while looking back, after all.  So there are a number of things to find, for a broad audience.  It doesn't go very deep but it's honest.  And hopefully it's not a story that is fully written, as Mould continues to live and to keep seeking the fullest experession of that life.  You couldn't ask for more in an autobiography.
The recording sounds really tinny, like it was recorded in a kitchen near lots of shiny, metal appliances. A lot different from the slick productions I've heard to this point. Mould isn't a natural or gifted orator – nearly every sentence ends with a heavy, exasperated sigh, though it sounds genuine and there actually is a flow to it. After listening to the same voice for about 10 hours it's a bit jarring to hear a snippet of music at the end and Mould's singing/yelling voice but it's welcome. I don't know why these audiobooks on rock stars don't have more music in them (unless it's a bullshit legal thing). It's about 10 hours. I got through it in about a week and a half.

Modern Masters Volume 12: Michael Golden (TwoMorrows Publishing).  I'm a fan of anything that TwoMorrows puts out, from Back Issue and Write! to even The Jack Kirby Collector.  They're a class act, putting out scores of publications about comics and creators, and their output of comics-related material could rarely be beat.  They don't overanalyze or deeply criticize if they don't need to, and their interest is far-ranging.  The series of books (which now number a few dozen volumes) on artists are a no-brainer for any comics fan.  They're beautiful books, oversized to show art bigger than a comics format, and a big stack of pages.  It was inevitable that I would get the volume on Michael Golden (or, um, borrow it).  It's packed with many of his pages and lots of art, including original versions of pages and convention sketches that have never before been published.  Running alongside the art is an interview with Golden, though it's more like a rambling conversation.  There's a wealth of material but it's a shame that it's all so scatter-shot.  The art seems like they are random pages picked willy-nilly, most of it great, but not all of his greatest stuff and even a few lackluster pieces here and there that seem out of place.  This is, of course, the problem with these kinds of books, that they can only show so many pieces and it comes out as an overview of an artist's work, hitting some high points but aiming more toward getting a broad look at the body of work in general.  The interview is much the same way, spread over an entire career but frustratingly never going into detail (Avengers Annual #10 only gets half a page?).  It's probably the case that many artists don't have much to say and may not make for a great interview, but Golden was also an editor for DC (a fact that had slipped by me) and even presents himself first and foremost as a storyteller, including being a writer, so he could certainly keep a conversation going with more depth than we get.  But this isn't The Comics Journal.  The book is more focused on the art, as it should be (the interview runs out about three-quarters of the way through, leading into a gallery of mish-mashed pieces, all brilliant).  The words are to give it continuity and keep it going, showing another side of the artist.  I would ask for a deeper interview (which would work here but wouldn't with every artist profiled in the series) but that would pull it away from its original mission.  That they have so many gorgeous, extraordinary pieces packed into the pages, that it isn't a complete showing is only a minor quibble.  Though now that I think about it: as much as I love books and printed pages, one day when this kind of project is available online so as to include a real gallery with a complete catalog of art will be an extraordinary thing.  For now, this is good.  There are plenty more books to get to in this series, spotlighting a broad range of popular, usually iconic artists, all unique in their own fashion.

Almighty (self-published).  I picked this up at House of Secrets.  It was given a high profile (displayed on an endcap facing the front door), giving the impression that it deserved to be looked at (though not realizing that the recognition was given more because the shop's owners were including the creator in a project later on).  It's a book smaller in format than a regular comic, which usually irritates comics readers but I find it endearing and I'm more drawn to (or at least not drawn away from) books in an irregular size (since I'm not organizing it as part of a collection).  It even seems to play some kind of psychological trick, the smaller size and closer panels bringing an immediacy to it, maybe even the fact that it's nearer to a paperback novel lending it some kind of pulp feel.  Anyway, the pages looked nice when I paged through them and it was only ten bucks so I went for it.  If nothing else, I was supporting a local artist. The art is, indeed, good.  Probably not up to mass-market standards, and a few rough panels make it clear the guy, Ed Laroche, is just starting out, but if this book doesn't hit all the buttons it should, it shows potential.  It reads like the first few volumes of Y the Last Man, but that could be to me only because I was reading that series recently and/or because the escapee-helped-to-safety-by-the-tough-mercenary-chick troupe is popular nowadays.  That it's a dreary post-apocolayptic yarn doesn't help, especially when that apocalypse is never explained, and even annoyingly when this world dozens of years in the future looks like just like the present day.  Basically Laroche couldn't think of a better place to set a story where he would have free reign than in a poorly-designated period of some future.  The story is barely a sketch, and it's certainly not anything new, but Laroche believes in it enough to keep the art going to support it.  That the art is often a sketch works in its favor and it's appealing, even more because it works better in black & white.  Put this guy with a good writer and they could make dynamite.  Even keep it in black & white, retain the tough chicks, and leave it in that bland post-apocalypse -- just give the art some kind of purpose.  And keep the size of the book.

Recently I finished the audiobook for Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith. I've been holding off on listening to more audiobooks since I'm behind on writing reviews to what I've already listened to and I've started getting into podcasts and there's only so much time in the day. The only progress on stuff I'm reading is that I have Iron Man: Extremis on the nightstand and it's ridiculous that it's taking any longer than, say, than two sittings to get through but there's only so much I can give it.

Avengers Alliance. I never thought I would play a Facebook game but it took a Marvel comics game, right before the Avengers movie hit, to get me to do it.  I started on it, back in March, just out of curiosity.  How great could it be?  Besides, it was free and I was unemployed at the time and there wasn't any reason not to.  Right away I was struck by how accurate it is regarding the Marvel Universe.  I don’t think it was created by Marvel but they either had some say in it or the creator is a big Marvel fan.  It’s so basic and simple it wouldn’t be much fun on its own but you control the Marvel heroes, picking characters for your team and taking them on missions, and if you love those characters, it can be a blast.  In the game you’re a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent -- that’s not quite as much fun but it makes sense; you control the characters just the same and you’re free to develop your avatar on your own, so it’s maybe ideal.  You also ally with Facebook friends and give each other equipment and supplies as gifts, so there’s a social component, and a reward for getting your friends to play it.

I haven’t been able to play it as much since I’ve been working (though when I do play it's usually at work) but I still check in every day, receive and send gifts, and send my team of Avengers on mini-missions that you don’t actually play but they get rewards for being out of action for a while.  Half my co-workers are playing it too (a lot more than me) so that’s our at-work conversations most days.  The game is simple enough that it can be appealing to nearly anyone, though there’s a combat component to it that might not do much for anyone who doesn’t care for fighting games (which is usually me but, again, it's the Avengers).  But you fight villains from all over Marvel comics, some as obscure as you could ask for.  There are also a lot of characters that feature in stories that hold the missions together so you’re really immersed in the universe.  For anyone who doesn’t want to play an actual video game, it’s about as close to being in Marvel Universe as you can get.

Right now my agent is level 32 (some of my friends are well over 100 already).  On my team I have Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow (which you start with); She-Hulk, who I picked from a few that it gave for free early on; Iron Fist and Ms. Marvel, who I spent Command Points to get; and Captain America, who I got only recently (and that took an embarrassingly long time. How can anyone play an Avengers game without Captain America?).  For an Avengers game, there’s actually not a huge selection of actual Avengers that you can recruit.  Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are about as obscure as you can get.  There are probably more X-Men than Avengers to choose from.  And of course Spider-Man and Wolverine are included in there (I might not ever consider them real Avengers but there's a younger generation playing this game and those are Avengers as much as anyone).  So, that it’s an Avengers team is about as loosely termed as you can get but considering just about any hero is an Avengers these days in the comics, it’s fairly accurate.  Of course I’m a loyalist so I only pick Avengers.  (I wouldn’t have considered Iron Fist an Avenger for this but I needed a cheap Scrapper on my team.)

There’s a PVP mode where you can play other players.  This doesn’t do much for me but I checked it out to earn some XP for doing it. You don't actually really play against another player; you set up your team and it plays for you while you're away so you can earn tournament points (which can be used to get rewards, including unlocking new heroes) even while you're away, if your heroes are good enough. (That this was automated took me until very recently to realize.) My one point of contention with the game is that if you lose to someone in PVP, you have an option to get revenge and play them again.  Real heroes do not seek revenge.

There are already a few people from the APA and who might be reading this who are already on the game.  And if they're not, why not?  It’s free, you can play as casually as you want, and it’s a bit of fun.  It gets to be more fun the more you stick with it.  I’m surprised that more of my comics-loving friends aren’t on it.

(The Intended) Best Of 2010:

There was a problem with the Kanye West track and the plan was to edit it, which would have made room for at least one more track, but one copy, listened to once, was as far as it went. There didn't seem much point to make more. No one has asked about it.
Extras/Additional Alternatives:
Barely gave any thought about a 2011 one. But if challenged I could come up with a track-listing.

Something I wrote for an e-mail circle that ended up being an essay (and I didn't include you in that circle since you could read it here but if you want, I could jump you in to the conversation):

A while ago we were talking about the so-called “greatest” music of the ‘80s and ‘90s.  Boring started the conversation, I don’t think he ever said why.  And it’s given me something to ponder in the time since.

I originally asked Tom if he wanted to know what we thought was the greatest music of those eras or what our favorites of that era were.  Those can be two totally different things.  Then there's what was the most popular music of that time, which is also a different thing but could be considered by some to be deserving of being called "the greatest" (and which anyone can find by doing some research on the pop charts).  I still don’t know what project he was working on that he needed our opinions, though if he told us from the beginning it could have helped us help him.

What makes music more great, if it’s popular or if you love it?  I could give you a list of albums that I plan to be listening to on my deathbed but there's stuff that no one else in the world seems to ever have heard besides me.  And there’s plenty of music beloved by everyone else in the world that doesn’t do a thing for me.  Nothing wrong with either one.  But if you ask someone what a great album is, there needs to be a qualifier for how they come to call it that.

A good number of people will say that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the greatest album ever made but I wouldn’t personally agree.  It’s not even my favorite Beatles album.  But no one has ever heard of the Meices except me.  Yeah, Doolittle and Appetite for Destruction and Substance are on my all-time list (not just for ‘80s and ‘90s albums but overall) but a lot of people would put a lot of music ahead of that.  I’ve never been a Beach Boys or Zepplin fan and it’s only the last few years that I’ve began to acquaint myself with Pink Floyd.  It could be a matter of personal taste... if that’s what you’re asking for.

Add another level to it and question the context of the era.  There are some albums that might be great overall but not great for the era, or vice-versa.  A lot of the best albums are timeless and could fit in any other era.  Imagine Nevermind in the late-‘70s with the early punks or Aenima amidst the formative prog-rock or Is This It in the early-‘90s with the alt-rock period or Paul’s Boutique around 2000.  OK Computer could almost be a better album in any other era except the ‘90s. If those albums had hit in difference decades, we would be living in a different world.  Most that were best for a certain era are forgotten now (like every rap-rock album except for anything by Rage Against The Machine).  And so much of the second half of the ‘80s and the early half of the ‘90s blend together anyway, especially since the seismic shift that came with Nirvana and grunge guiding alternative music and culture into the mainstream right in the middle of the transitions of those periods in time.  For someone who just really loves music, the time period it comes from is usually of very little consequence except for a historical context, which is completely unnecessary to just enjoy a song.

Also the matter of how that music has aged.  Stuff that sounded so great back can sound so worn now. What was so great back then might not be as great now; what might have been only hanging around at the time might have a greater significance later on.  There was a lot of angry music in the ‘90s that I related to more than anything but now it sounds almost silly.  I’ve come to appreciate the softer or poppier sides of Nine Inch Nails more in the time since I took so much comfort in those blasts of anger.  The rage in that music is still genuine and effective but now it seems so overdone and, since so often I felt that it only changed me, ineffectual.  There was probably a time when the Chili Peppers really fit with what was happening in pop music but now it’s best for the components of the songs rather than the songs themselves (and certainly not the lyrics). I keep rediscovering the Replacements, for as much as I started listening to them back, I'm listening to them now more than ever. So much music that went overlooked back when it should have changed the world might now have a new peak as it ingratiates itself into history and new audiences discover it.

Consider what age you were back then too.  I feel lucky now that I had such great music that my teenaged and college-age angst could connect to back in the early ‘90s.  Much better than if I’d been that age just half a dozen years later and tried to relate to rap-rock.  I would probably be a completely different person if I hadn’t had that music back then.  And I still hold a lot of that music dear to my heart, even if I’ve grown to realize that as music it wasn’t great.  You go through phases in your life and what you enjoy can wax and wane: you may not get as much out of angry music now as you did when you were young and angry, and there may be some music that you just don’t have the ability to appreciate quite yet.  I’m still waiting for my tastes to develop far enough so I can fully understand and enjoy jazz.  There are a number of factors that come into play in determining how much you enjoy certain music, sometimes beyond just a matter of taste, but that list, if I could even compile it, would probably be longer than I have space for here.

I’ve heard that the music that you’re listening to when you’re 25 is what you’ll probably listen to the rest of your life.  I was listening to a lot of my usual stuff, a lot of alt-rock but some from pop radio, but digging deeper into it, as well as exploring some stuff from even before my own life started, then always an aggressive appetite for new stuff, and that’s how I’ve been in the time since so I’d say that probably holds up.  A person listening to a narrow range of music at that time, no matter how passionate about it, probably isn’t a serious, life-long music-listener in the first place so it probably holds up for them too.  Music is different things for different people at different times and that’s a great part of its beauty.

But really, it’s so subjective anyway that posing the question of what a person thinks is the greatest music of any era, for a serious discussion, opens the floodgates way too wide.  So, again: this would have been a lot easier if Boring had just told us specifically what he wanted and what he wanted it for in the first place. Or he could send us his own list so we could make fun of it.

And don’t even get me started on singles vs. albums.  That might be an even lengthier e-mail.


White wine. I’ve never been much a wine drinker, especially not white wine, but I’ve found that it goes well with dinner.  Early on we would switch between red and white but eventually started going with white, to make the decision easy and since white seemed to go with a lot more than red would.  Now we drink white even with, say, beef.  We would have red on occasion, say, with pizza, but even that we ditched since, especially on weeknights, we’d be groggy the next day from it, if not outright hung over (well, me, really. I'm a lightweight sometimes anymore).  Now, we might keep a bottle of red around just in case but usually it's usually for special occasions (namely weekends).  We never spend extravagantly on wine, and we’ve found a number of white wines under $10 that we like.  (One tip I knew about wine before I ever started drinking it is that expensive wine isn’t necessarily always better than cheaper stuff.)  We pick from a wide variety from different stores and we seem to have a different bottle every night, mostly because we usually don’t remember which we’ve had that we really liked.  It’s generally a pinot griogio and sometimes a sauvagnon blanc so that’s about as far as my knowledge about white wine goes these days.  It’s a lot lighter than beer and I like venturing into the wide world of wine.  I also know my limits with wine, and even the both of us finishing off a bottle probably won’t wreck us (well, me) the next day.  I probably won’t go farther than this but for one or two nights a week and special dinners, it’s great.

Interval training.  25 minutes of an easy run as warm-up; one minute (or two blocks) of running as hard as hard running; one minute of walking (not jogging); repeat eight to 12 times; increase two blocks of hard running to three blocks toward end of run (optional); 25 minutes of easy run as cool-down; walk the rest of the way home.

Peanut butter-filled pretzels.  Zara recommended these and they're brilliant.  I'm actually not a huge pretzel fan and I'm not always particularly into peanut butter but you put these two together and they're magic.  Needless to say, the ones from Fresh & Easy are the best.  But beware: Combos -- which are cheese-filled pretzels -- are fucking rank.

Using one paper towel instead of two.  When I remember. I'm getting better about it.

I have never spent more time editing anything than I spent editing this.

For some reason the pictures in this were easy to insert this time. I didn't do anything to change the pictures, just put them in here and for a few made them bigger. I guess HTML can be agreeable when you stick to the defaults (which I would do if it would work correctly more consistently). Made this a lot less of a pain to put together (though still seemed to take forever). Though going back and re-editing everything after the version it published was different than what it said it would post was a pain but that shouldn't be surprising. HTML can suck my ass.

Next time I'll probably talk about the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game and I have five more audiobooks to review so I should be able to fill up some more space. Maybe someone will read this stuff.