Friday, December 26, 2008


Hope you all had a nice holiday. We spent it with my folks up near Kingman (yes, that Kingman ... the Kingman of Timothy McVeigh, Michael Fortier and other nascent nihilists). The weather was cold and rainy (with even some snow on the surrounding hills) but the house and company were warm. The food was great, though I ate, and continue to eat, too much of it.

Alex and the grandparents loved all their gifts, as did we. Between the wife and I, we attempted a more sustainable gift-giving balance for the gifts to each other. All of our gifts were 2nd-hand or fair-trade. I got her quite a few books that she had wanted from the Goodwill and a soap dish from world of good. I hit the jackpot with the books that she got me from the Goodwill:

Book of Lost Tales Part I by J.R.R. Tolkien

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Lazarus Effect by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom. Herbert, along with Larry Niven, are my two favorite sci-fi authors. Herbert, the author of the Dune novels, has had many other great novels and the world of Destination: Void are no exception. Lazarus is one of the 4 books set in that universe. I read all of these books as a teen but am trying to replace them all in hardback and re-read.

The King of Torts by John Grisham - I'm not really a fan of most popular novelists, but Grisham is an exception. They're always good page turners and Grisham usually has a liberal message in there somewhere.

Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House by Valerie Plame Wilson

Animal Farm by George Orwell - Classic novel that translates Stalinist Russia into farm creatures. Though I've read 1984, I've never read this and this is a nice hardbound edition.

William Shakespeare: The Complete Works - A very nice hardbound edition.

Two great books by our recently departed humorist, George Carlin:

Braindroppings - Carlin's first book and contains several of his most famous stand-up bits.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? - First of all, you know my wife (a Christian) must love me if she buys me this book. This book, and Carlin in general, skewers popular religion, albeit in a hilarious manner. Second of all, Wal-Mart refused to carry this book. There is no bigger enticement for me to get something than for it to be banned by Wal-Mart. This was Carlin's last book before he died.

Lastly, my son picked me up a book, The World of Chess by Anthony Saidy and Normal Lessing. I love chess and have probably 80 books about chess. This is a nice coffee table book with a history of the game and game annotations from the masters. Skimming through it, I was delighted to find a reference to The Turk, a chess automaton from the 18th century that was proven to be a hoax. It's got an interesting history and played famous people such as Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. It was mostly destroyed in a fire in 1854. What makes it even more interesting is that I've actually met the guy, John Gaughan, that currently owns and built the modern incarnation of the Turk (which I've seen). It even has the chess set from the original Turk. I wrote about our visit to his fantastic workshop a few months ago.


CyberKitten said...

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

I'm now back from my annual visit to see my Mother and my Sister's growing brood (oh, and my Brother - grin)

I'm looking forward to a New Year on the Blog-Side.

I *think* I've read The Lazarus Effect. As far as I can remember - failing I'm afraid at my age - I've read pretty much everything that Frank Herbert produced. He was great wasn't he? He was one of my foundations of my early SF reading.

I'll be taking - or at least trying to take - some new directions with my reading in 2009. I wonder where I'll end up... [muses].

Happy Holidays to you all!

dbackdad said...

CK - Merry Christmas to you too! Hope you had a nice time with the family. Holidays with family can sometimes go either way. I've been witness and participant to both ways ... though, thankfully, the last 5 or 6 have been without incident and enjoyable.

I'll be taking - or at least trying to take - some new directions with my reading in 2009 - That really seems to be the way of it ... doesn't it? I have a terrible tendency to get in a rut with my reading. For the last year or two, it actually has been that I've been reading too much non-fiction and not enough fiction and sci-fi. The few excursions in the fiction direction that I've taken have been on cues from you, my friend Eric, and others. And I've almost universally enjoyed those readings. I just need to really concentrate on doing it more often.

Definitely looking forward to your blog output this year also.

CyberKitten said...

dbackdad said: CK - Merry Christmas to you too! Hope you had a nice time with the family.

Thanks. It was OK. I don't go home very often so its good to see the folks.

dbackdad said: For the last year or two, it actually has been that I've been reading too much non-fiction and not enough fiction and sci-fi.

[laughs] I'm doing the opposite. Reading too much fiction and not enough non-fiction. I think that'll be changing this year. I have loads of non-fiction books in piles unread ATM. It's not good.

dbackdad said: Definitely looking forward to your blog output this year also.

Thanks. I'll try to keep it fresh and surprising.

Jeff said...

Animal Farm just may be my favorite book. I think it's probabyl slightly better than 1984, but not by much. It's a great quick read.

Sadie Lou said...

Score on the books! You both have great taste. Isn't it wonderful to be matched with someone so into you that could pick out books to give you as gifts? It's like picking out art for a stranger--where would even begin to know what they would respond to?
I love all of your selections--as diverse as you are.
I'm going to search your blog to see if you did a review of Ben Stein's "Expelled". I got it as a gift for Christmas and I was quite impressed.
But I'll leave that discussion for the post (I hope you have one!) If not, consider it a request.
Happy New Year my friend. I'm sorry I haven't been around much--LolliShops is keeping me on my toes and then some.
(Merry Christmas too)
~Sadie Lou

dbackdad said...

Happy New Year Sadie! It's always fantastic to hear from you. Glad you are doing so well with your crafts. Every time I visit your site, there's always a lot of excitement and activity.

I have a few movie reviews in the works (most recently Day the Earth Stood Still and Frost/Nixon) but have not seen Expelled yet. I did see Religulous, which just may be the anti-Expelled. Mostly, I didn't want to give Ben Stein any of my money. :-) But I don't want to speak ill of it. It's not fair to the film to disagree with something I haven't seen. I hate those people that rail on movies just because of a title or what they perceive it to be about. And I don't want to be one of "those" people. I am glad that you liked it. The ultimate goal of film is to entertain and obviously you were.

But, since you have requested, I will make an effort to see it. Maybe I can catch it on HBO or Cinemax.

Sadie Lou said...

You have already made up your mind about Expelled, I can tell.
This wasn't film, per se, it was a documentary--no different than a Michael Moore "film" in terms of presenting a biased view point.
The biased view point being that teachers/professors.journalists are punished or "expelled" if they mention ID as a topic worth mentioning/discussing.
Ben doesn't go into the theories behind ID or what it is or isn't rather than he spends most of his time exposing a deep, dark secret:
If you want to keep your job in the field of Science--there is only ONE view point.
Most of the people being interviewed were not even "believers"--they just felt that they were fired or forced to quit based on a very narrow "belief" that they are required to adhere to.
I highly recommend it.
Please shoot me a comment on my blog (WHEN) you review it--not if.
Pretty Please??
I promise I'll watch something you want me to watch!

dbackdad said...

lol. Am I so transparent?

For you, Sadie, I will definitely watch it. Stay tuned.

Sadie Lou said...