Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

I’d always wanted to read Pirsig’s sixties classic. The first exposure which I can recall having towards this book was as a young teenager when I ran across it in a mall bookstore chain, now defunct. (B. Dalton’s for those who remember.) I skimmed it at the time and thought, “there’s no way I could ever read this!”

Having finished it on a plane back in October, I’m still convinced I was right. IT would take me several more read-thoughs to grasp everything Pirsig has set down here. At a dense 500 pages, I don’t expect to ever have that much time.

I enjoyed this book. Pirsig, a student of philosophy turned motorcycle rambler uses a cross country trip taken by he and his son to expose a philosophy which he’s clearly put quite a bit of time into. The book’s subtitle is “An Inquiry into Values” and so it is. Pirsig invites the reader early on to listen in on a series of fairly informal value based debates. These are not Socratic in nature, exactly, since Pirsig has some serious beef with Socrates and the nature of dialog.

Already I’ve found that I’m having a hard time explaining succinctly what Pirsig’s real Values are. But it goes a little sump’n like this:

Humans recognize Quality inherently in thought, deed, and material property. You know when something is Quality. Since this value exists outside of any codified system of Western thought, and across time and culture, it is a universal truth. Plato and Aristotle were unable to rationalize Quality (arête in Greek) into their system of dialectic, and so they vilified it as sloppy thinking. But, in the modern age (the sixties, for Persig) one of the reasons we have all become so uptight is that we can see this huge gulf between Quality in life, and those things we are expected to do, make, buy, etc.

This philosophy makes some sense, though at times it also reads as a window into an acid trip experienced by a particularly bright scholar of the Greek classicists.

Where does motorcycle maintence come into play? Well, turns out that Persig has a real affinity for the mechanical, and he likes to use tuning a cycle, or repairing it, or preaching to others about it’s maintenance as a form of zen meditation, which allows him to become, as the old joke goes, one with everything.

This book was enjoyable, if dated. It’s hippie philosophy, but lots of it rings true. Persig is extremely bright, has good ideas, and presents them in a format that is compelling. He’s no stylist, to be sure, but his book has enough content to keep a person so inclined busy for years.


Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

I enjoyed Gibson’s newest book back in the summer when I read it. In fact, I think it might be the best thing he’s written since Neuromancer. It’s not science fiction. It’s just fiction. The way Gibson writes though, it’s easy to forget that everything described is both possible and probable in the here-and-now. The Professor has my copy in FL. Else I’d quote a particular passage that makes this point. It’s a passage in which Gibson describes the reflective visor of a motorcycle helmet.

Pattern Recognition tells the story of a young woman hired to find the creator of film footage that has generated a cult following on the internet. Her search gets her mixed up with a collection of Gibson’s usual “high-tech low-lifes” across 4 continents.

The language is slick, still an conscious Pyncheon imitation, but with all the descriptive style that Gibson brought to short stories like Burning Chrome so many years ago.

This is a post-9/11 novel, which is very much at home in the immediate now in which it was published. It will be interesting to see how it weathers the years.

Okay. It's been far too long and the next few weeks are likely to be busy enough that I'll not have time to catch up, so I'm determined to do it today. The list of books unchronicled here is getting out of hand. This is bad form, it suggests the breaking of a habit I'd wanted to keep, and there is a stack on my desk now that I'd really like to put back on shelves before I have to box them up. The books in the overdue stack are:

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. PirsigThe Thin Man by Dashiell HammettBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai SijieFury by Salman Rushdie‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen KingOn Writing by Stephen KingThe Stand by Stephen KingGalapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

Before I dive in, starting with the Gibson, I'll give the brief update on our lives for indifferent posterity.

I'm typing this now with a ring on a finger of my left hand. After a beautiful, joyous weekend in Playa del Carmen Mexico the Professor and I are officially married. About 25 of our closest friends and families came down do bear witness, to drink, to dance, and to play on the beach for a wonderful weekend. I'll never forget it.

We are moving to Vancouver Canada in about three weeks. Probably. It's been a really interesting last few months for the future. I had to turn down the job in Redmond. I just couldn't get excited about it at all, and decided that it would be a mistake to take a job I couldn't get passionate about. This is a huge luxury, I recognize, and I am appropriately grateful. In any case it turns out to have been a great decision, since shortly thereafter I was offered a really cool position with a gaming software giant in Vancouver, British Columbia! Wow! What an hell of an opportunity! Now though, there is another wrinkle in the tapestry, since I just got a call yesterday from a friend at a Bungie. Turns out there is a position there for which I’m being considered. This is incredibly flattering. So I’m going to visit with them next week. But in all probability, Vancouver it is!

The Professor is in Florida now, where she’s been since the day after we returned from our wedding. Again, the strange inversion that seems to characterize our lives has returned. In the traditional case, one leaves their parents to live with their new husband after the nuptials. In this case, the opposite has occurred. It’s a very understandable turn of events. The Professor seems to be the only sane bedrock upon which a very dysfunctional group of people can build emotional happiness. They need her. And in any case, I’m about to take her far, far away, hopefully to a life where she can spend more time focusing on enriching herself, and not all her time coddling others. We shall see.

This blog is not supposed be a Dear Diary though, so without further ado, on to those stars of the show, the books!


Monday, November 22, 2004

Still way behind. But in order not to forget the order... On a recent trip to Vancover I just finished:

Fury by Salman Rushdie
Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Will write more soon I promise (to myself.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Way past time for another post. The world moves to fast to chronicle... I don't know how journalists do it.

I'm behind. Books I've read recently which will be reviewed:
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
The Thin Man by Daschiell Hammett
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence by Robert Pirsig

I've also accepted a job in Redmond, and will be moving within the month... So back to painting the hallway. I'll write these soon when I'm a little less fragged.


Thursday, September 30, 2004

All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland

Well, I was a big Coupland fan in my late teens. “He’s the one that coined the phrase Generation X, you know…” ;)

All Families Are Psychotic was a freebie that someone had left in the library of the Mexican resort. It was either that or a Toni Morrison novel I’d not read… I was looking for something a bit more up-beat, being on vacation and all. Plus, it never seems to good to dwell on racial tensions while staying at a resort where exclusively pale skinned euro types are being served by exclusively dark skinned mayan types.

So I read this one over a blazing hot afternoon, sultry evening and bright squinty morning. I enjoyed it, although it was goofy and contrived in many cases. It gave Coupland a chance to introduce us to a cast of quirky characters who stumbled their way through the ultra-modern consumerized world in which we live. Nasa astronauts having affairs, AIDS mom’s getting drunk with WPO protesters, Florida in general—AFAP is a fun ride which offers little in the way of meaningful succor, but lots of fun quips and observations along the way.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Another update here, this one also briefer that I would like. (should like? would like? neither seem right, though they are in common usage... 'briefer than I like' feels as if it would be gramatically correct--- it is not as long as I currently like--- 'should like' suggests that I am being remiss somehow and that I actually like it. 'Would like' suggests that under different conditions than currently exist, I might not like it. But in the case where under these current conditions I simply do not like the length, I am left to find a different construct altogether. Common usage here is apparently incorrect. If Wm. Saffire didn't spend all his time turning his On Language column into partisan attacks perhaps I would ask him.

In the meantime, here is an update, to be followed by a few more, until I am up-to-date!

The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow

This is another of the novels I read while in Mexico what seems like a lifetime ago. The Professor loaned it to me before the trip. I read through it quickly despite it’s length. It’s a fascinating, frusturating fictional retelling of the life and trial of the Rosenburgs told through the eyes of their adult son during the late sixties. For those of you who don’t remember (like I didn’t), the Rosenburgs were a young couple, New York jews, who fell afoul of the McCarthy Red Witch Hunts in the mid nineteen fourties. The US government tried and executed them on trumped up evidence. It was a pig circus trial, as Bob Dylan would say. Their story, and this novel should represent a VERY TOPICAL reminder to us all that giving up rights and allowing your government to instill fear in the populace by creating a witch hunt atmosphere is very dangerous enterprise. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for you.

Doctorow, who wrotethis novel in 1971 could not have possibly predicted the anti-terrorist Witch Hunts that have been ongoing here since (“the tragic events of “) 9/11. But his novel certainly speaks to them. Daniel, the sometime narrator of this schizophrenic novel is a disturbed, deeply unsettled young man existing on the fringe of the late sixties radical movement. He recounts through memory, flashback, and a few other more unusual devices the saga of his (admittedly leftist) parents downfall.

The writing is cerebral, the language precise. While the construction of the novel is mildly challenging, Doctorow keeps his linguistic high-jinx fairly subdued and lets his upsetting tale more or less tell itself. I wish people like my fascist friend Wes could read this book and understand the message here. Alas. This one will likely fade into complete obscurity over the next hundred years.

Post Note to Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Since reading the aforementioned book I’ve spent a little time researching the history of India, curious as to the veracity of Rushdie’s timetable and the events he portrays. While Saleem himself admits that the tale is a chronicle ofevents the way HE remembers them, they still seem to be fairly accurate. In those cases in which magic or the supernatural play a role, the events themselves DO seem to have unfolded in wuch a way, and it looks as if Rushdie simply used the Indian culture’s superstitions as a alternate basis of explanation for cause and effect. In any case, this book should be required reading for any courses on the modern history of India. Rarely has the history of one’s homeland been the receptacle of such passion from so skilled a writer.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

O fantastical novel! O skilled and tremendous writer! O fortunate and blessed reader! There is likely no finer use of time or shelf space than to write, to read, or to own this novel. From Parvati the Witch, to the Monkey, to Jamila Singer, to Taj the Boatman, to the Kolonyos Kid, to Wm. Methwold, to the magicians of the ghetto, to the litereally hundreds of other characters who dance and float through this unique narrative, there is scarcely a wasted word, and seldom a character that I will ever forget.

In case it's unclear, I loved this book. Structurally, it is a novel, written in the last days of a dying man's life, told to an audience whose role becomes more clear throughout the course. It begins, in a sense, where it ends. The book is a masterpiece of framework stories, and a fine work of history tambien.

The superficial narrative recounts the biography of the narrator, Saleem Sanai, a young man born at the stroke of midnight on the date India gained indipendence from Gr. Britan. The makers of Forrest Gump mast assuredly borrowed from this novel, written in 1981. For throughout the book, Saleem's life and fortunes are tied inexorably to the history and those important events which shape his native land.

I could go on for hours about this book, and wish deeply that I had someone with which to discuss it's linguistic playfulness, it's structural elegance, it's wit, it's com- and it's -passion. Salmon Rushdie is a storyteller and a writer of the first order.

I'll be lucky to read another book this good this year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The world turns and times change.

LoneStar got the axe yesterday. Many of us got riffed, which is a fancy way of firing someone without leaving any black mark upon their record. The entire leads team got killed, along with several designers, etc. Since I was one of those leads... I'm starting today by turning over a new leaf! Time to find a new job.

Will it be in Austin? Will it be in games? Not even the Shadow knows... Stay tuned.

The good news is, I have several months in which to determine what to do next. I'm going to try to establish a routine that keeps me productive, healtier, and spending less money, just in case the next thing takes a while, or doesn't offer compensation the way I'd like it to.

The routine, I hope will include: a brisk walk every morning, no drinking, smoking, etc. I'll be trying to write every day, and spending time looking for work. Should be a fun fall.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

I'm behind. Not behind on reading, just on catching up the blog... I really want to rememdy it, because I'm afraid I'll forget all the million things I wanted to say about these books, particularly Midnight's Children. But while I can write while I'm doing something else, I can't write WELL while I'm doing something else. (I suppose the quality of this blog makes it obvious that I'm always doing something else, huh?) Right now, I'm enjoying the first quiet night this week at home with The Professor. We are watching Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it-- the movie looks as it it will be a good one!

I promise to review another work with the word Midnight in it's title tomorrow while I should be working... :)


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Just returned from glorious vacation to sunny Mexico! The Professor and I took a few days off to head down to the Yuctun to survey the site of our upcoming nuptuials. Now I'm tanned, rested and back in Austin, just in time to start the weekend.

Mouse (the siamese kitten) is here with me at home and won't tolerate being more than a few feet from me now... I think maybe he missed us! When I stop typing for a minute, he crawls into my lap. When I start typing again, he jumps onto the desk-- he is currently laying his chin upon the kayboard, just above the keypad looking at me as if to say, "please quit paying attention to that machine, and take a nap with me!"

I've got 3 reviews to post for you this weekend!

First is the long awaited conclusion of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I finished it in a blitz last week on the way back from Seattle. I loved it!

On the Mexican trip, I took The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctrow-- which I liked quite a bit. Also picked up and read Douglas Coupland's new book, All Families are Psychotic. It was fun and fast. (I'd use the construct: "A fun, fast read" but I hate it when that particular verb is embodied into a noun.) Reviews of all three forthcoming!

But first, a nap with the patient Mr. Mouse.


Saturday, July 31, 2004

Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated by Gore Vidal

It's no secret that I've long been admirer of Gore Vidal. The fluency of his writing, the proliferate volume of his work, and his keen attention to matters of policy both foregin and domestic all conspired to make him one of the writers I most admired as a teen.

In Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Vidal muses on questions surrounding why the United States Federal Government is such a target for terrorists and saboteurs. He uses Timothy McVeigh, the man who was sentenced to death for the bombing of the Murray Federal building in OKC in 1999 as his case study of a domestic terrorist, and uses Osama bin Laden to explore the roots of foreign terrorists. The book's title, taken from historian Charles Beard, summarizes Gore's conclusion. To wit: "The United Stated Federal Government, since the time of Truman, hhas been engaged in a perpetual series of wars and police actions both foregin and domestic, which are neither constitutional nor just. The goal of these wars is to justify a pentagon budget that is out of control, and to feed an ever more hungry and corrupt defense industry, the leaders of which also control congress."

Is this book proposing conspiracy theories? Absolutely. Vidal, a died-in-the-wool Jeffersonian is not a fan of th US Federal Government. He explores OKC, Waco, Ruby Ridge, the FBI, both attacks on the World Trade Center, and the (first) war in Iraq. That this book was written between 1997 and 2000, and is still HIGHLY relevant to conventional politics should come as no suprise; Vidal is, as usual, preiscent.

If you watched F/911, if you are fascinated by the ongoing erosion of states' and individuals' rights, if you care about civil liberty, if you vote or if you pay taxes you should probably read this book. While it goes too far on occasion, it provides a compelling viewpoint, one that the reader is not forced to adopt, but which is persuasive as an explanation and comes from a source with far more credibility than current muckrakers like Michael Moore are likely to ever have.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

Last night we went to Crawford, Texas to watch the film Farenheight 911. The event was a sort of protest rally cum movie event. Crawford is the hometown on the president, W. The left, the right, and the curious were all lined up and present in this one-stoplight town two hours from anything. It was fascinating.

I had not seen the film before, and found it engaging, troubling, and despite Moore's unashamed bias, probably pretty accurate. The central take home message for me was:

The Bush administration did not take sufficient precautions to prevent a major terrorist action because they were too focused on seeking justification for an attack on Iraq. The tragic events of September 11th were cynically used to create an enviornment of fear among the american people which made it easy for Bush, et. al. to justify starting a war for profit. Many of the major players inside the administration and their Saudi & Afghani oil-baron friends have profited immensely from the war, due to their oil and defense investments.

I may have already believed some of this before seeing the film, but now I have seen evidence that certainly convinced me of the deep seated corruption present in the Bush administration.

The night was also a great case study in the exercie of the First Amendment. Both the pro-Bush locals and the pro-Moore visitors were all able to co-exist and express themselves one way or another without any violence. In fact, with the exception of one drunken redneck, I didn't even see anything that could be described as hostility.

All in all, it was a fascinating evening which was lots of fun. Thanks for MG & Weezel for riding up there with me, and thanks to the good people at the Crawford Peace House and the Alamo Drafthouse for putting on the event.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A few thoughts from my first solo night in a few months.

-This house is huge.
-I get so much done when I'm by mylsef.
-I don't talk to myself aloud.
-I would be a MUCH better software developer if I lived alone.
-Beer & chips are actually a pretty decent meal, if the beer is newcastle.
-It's hard to UNtrain yourself not to do the stuff you would never do alone. Example: piss with the bathroom door open, go eat Taco C. if you want to, etc. True solo freedom is a little overwhelming when you aren't used to it.
-I can already tell I'm really going to miss the professor while she's gone.
-I'm not going to get sleepy tonight. Not sure why. Maybe it's the no-sex thing.
-The cats get bored of one person much faster than they get bored of two.
-I keep resisting the urge to call someone up, just 'cause.
-In a way, I'm already failing, since I'm now communicating.
Well, the world keeps turning, luckily for all of us onboard.

I finished
From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
on friday.

From a Buick 8 wasn't a terrible book. I pretty much challenge any avid reader to start any of King's books, give them more than 2 pages, and then put one down. I think it's impossible. Since King has sold more books than the bible (literally) I think he is a fascinating study in the type of writing that actually DOES interest the modern populous. So, I've made an effort to read all of his work to date, with the exception of the last 2 Gunslinger novels, which I just didn't really care for.

From a Buick 8 is the story of a Troop of Pennsylvania State Troopers who take custody of a strange car in the seventies. They keep the car in a shed. The car is an intra-dimensional portal of sorts, and should be familiar to readers of some of King's other recent work, Hearts in Atlantis, or the twin novels Despiration / The Regulators. King tells the (fundamentally dumb) story well, although his usual just-plain-folks mechanism of storytelling is a bit overdone, especially in the beginning.

Stephen King is a master story-teller. He is not (necessarily) a master of language, or concept. But he unapologeticall spins a hell of a yarn in every book he has written. This one is no exception, though I would suggest an interested reader check out at least 15 of his other books first. (A few in order: It, On Writing, The Stand, Different Seasons, The Dead Zone, Hearts in Atlantis, Salem's Lot, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Green Mile, Graveyard Shift)

For those curious, or my own records, I'm still reading the Rushdie novel, and I still really think it is wonderful, but for some reason, it just dropped my reading to a crawl... Hence the King book, and several others I've started. I'm midway through Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace by Gore Vidal right now, as well as Small Unit Leadership by Col. Dandridge Malone. Will keep you updated on these and the plot thickens!

In other news, the Professor is gone for 2 weeks to Florida to visit family. Boo. My Aunt just turned 60 and we had a nice party. Maggie Pearl appears to have had a stroke, which is upsetting. My brother's girlfriend Christina just returned from Spain, where she visited Ibeza, among other locales. LoneStar keeps on keeping on. And that's all the news that's fit to print.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

My updating has fallen off terribly. I'm just not reading very much right now, unfortunately. Not sure if it's a lull in the current books, or if it's just a product of summertime, when the livin' is easy.

I do have all of my books unpacked now, and my study is almost in shape. I love it!

I'm still reading Midnight's Children, and still enjoying it, whenever I have a chance to sneak a few pages.

I did finish one book last week though. It was Debugging the Development Process by Steve Maguire.

Debugging the Development Process by Steve Maguire
David Stafford gave me this book when I was a young computer artist, ten years ago. I read it then, and re-read it now with more battle weary Program Manager eyes. It still holds up. Maguire is a veteran of the early days of Microsoft. His book is among the best I've read on how to run a software project. It is filled with great tips and hard won experience. It focuses primarily on how to ship quality software on time without overworking your team. As anyone who works with me knows, this is a topic I think a lot about. Maguire's ideas are as valid now as they were ten years ago. A book that anyone who indends to derive a living from shipping software should read.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Still busy. Still no resolution on Midnight's Children (Saleem just lost his finger) but it is over 500 pages, and I've been kinda busy, so I'll not be too hard on myself.

Recent events: Jerm & Kara came to visit. I moved into Kingfisher Creek. Went to the Gaines Family Reunion. Had some great parties. A nice fish fry. Got an offer on theWARWICK. Back to work now...

The best thing about a 3 day weekend is that it is followed up by a 4 day week!


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Things are so hectic here right now that there is barely time to write brief notes on what is going on, much less actually read anything. Summary of events since last post:

Got new kitten. Mousey Tounge is the brother of poor Ghengis. Mouse had the same two infections as did his little sister, but after several very expensive and stressful trips to vets, we think that he is on the mend. He certainly thinks so, and is one of the most playful, happiest kittens I've ever seen!

Weezel's Graduation and Graduation Party both went off well. I was very proud of her. The ceremony at UT was really wonderful, fireworks in front of the tower, etc. The party at my folks house was a lot of fun; much grilling, beer sipping, and good conversation.

Closed on the new house yesterday! Rebecca and I spend our first night in the new estate at Kingfisher Creek! I was awakened this morning at dawn (literally) by the neighbors rooster crowing. It was pretty cool!

Back to work! Next update will be on Midnight's Children.


Friday, May 21, 2004

Little Genghis Khan died last night. She was a six week old sealpoint siamese kitten. The Professor loved her very much. It was a sad day.


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Congratulations to The Weezel on completing her undergraduate education! We are all very proud of her for being so cool!

Coming soon, a revew of Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie!


Monday, April 26, 2004

I do believe that I don't believe.

-I believe that this White House is the most corrupt administration since this country was founded.

-I believe that we have pursued a course of foreign policy that has brought us to the brink of widespread jyhad, one in which was have become a hated nation, and one in which, for the first time in my life, almost 10% of the world would kill me on sight if given the option.

-I believe that unless new and pwerful programmers are brought onboard soon, this game will not ship on time.

-I believe that our tech leadership lacks the ability to successfully architect a piece of software in the timeframe we are attempting.

- I believe that my parents will lose their home due to sustained financial mismanagement, stubborn pride, and a complete inability to plan in advance.

- I believe that I will go get high.


Saturday, April 24, 2004

Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

The copy of this book I have is rag-tagged. It is well worn and well loved. I wonder what strange pathways it went down to end up at the Half Price Books near campus where I picked it up?

This is an older collection of Vonnegut short stories. Most of them were wonderful. They were not organized around any particular theme that I could detect. It seems somhow pedantic for me to talk about Vonnegut at all really. His wit and social satire seem so commonly understood that I'm not sure I have much to add that isn't already culturally agreed upon. So I'll just say this: I deeply enjoyed several of these stories. They made me think, and they made me smile and sometimes made me a little sad. While his writing lacks the finesse or poignancy of short story writers like J. Lumphar or Robert Owen Butler, his content is great. Vonnegut gives science fiction a good name.

Perdido Street Station by China Mevielle

Mevielle is a good writer. He isn't a great writer, but he has a fine vocabulary, especially when it comes to descriptors. I've not read his more famous book, The Scar. LT tells me that it is better than this one. I don't think I will take the time to find out.

Perdido Street Station is a fictional narrative without a genre. It is an organic, messy blend of sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk and horror. It is the tale of a scientist, his woman/beetle lover, and a lawful-evil
city. I mention the city specifically because it is probably the area in which Mevielle best succeeds. The City of New Cruzoban takes on a life of it's own, and I'll remember it's vile alleys, it's putrid rivers of slime, it's charnel houses, and it's brothels of Remade freaks long after I've forgotten the characters and the everything-plus-the-kitcken-sink plot.

I will give some bonus points for the best demon-summoning scene I've ever read.

This book is cool if you like science fiction. Mevielle has a great imagination, a competent narrative style, and a command of synonyms that lets him always reach out and find the perfect word, so long as he sticks to describing physical spaces.

On a personal note, I'm finally all moved out of theWarwick. Extra special thanks to all who helped in the herculean transformation. The place looks good. There is a realtor sign out front, and a lockbox on the door. Now we wait.


Monday, April 19, 2004

I've not forgotten about you, dear reader.

I just haven't finished a book in almost a month! It's terrible.

I'm nearly finished with Perdido Street Station by China Mevielle, and with Welcome to the Monkey House by Vonnegut.

I'm also busy moving theWARWICK.

Stay tuned!


Monday, March 22, 2004

Spent the weekend fixing up theWARWICK. The current owners of the Kingfisher Creek house accepted our offer! Whooppee!!! So on June 4th, the Professor & I will take possession of a new home! I'm very excited!

Got some relatives in town tonight. We might go to Shady Grove... Alternately, showing up there with 10 people at 7pm doesn't seem very wise to me... Maybe I'll just stay home and try to finish Welcome to the Monkey House... Expect a review soon!

Also, BIG CONGRATULATIONS to El Cog, Ion Storm's newest tester!!!! Very exciting!


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Well, it's Spring Break here. It's also St. Patty's Day. And it's SXSW... I'm just about to get summoned downtown by the Professor and her friends from BCS. I hear it's a zoo down there.

It's been some time since my last update. Since then, I've only finished one book. Review forthcoming. But a lot of other interesting stuff has happened.

We are all preparing to move out of theWARWICK. After a good 8 years of operation, theWARWICK will be closing it's doors on April 15th. Perhaps on that day, I'll write a retrospective. :)

I have found a new house, and am involved in contract negotiations right now... With luck, the Professor and I will be moving into a snazzy new place in the next few months. I'm very excited!

Mike is off to get an apartment and seems excited. Robert & his "Circle A" friends are looking for a house to rent out. That will be a lot of fun... Except for whomever gets stuck footing the bill.

Right now I'm reading Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House. But a few days ago I finished another book. Review follows:

Darwin's Children by Greg Bear

Darwin's Children is the sequel to the very interesting 2000 book, Darkwin's Radio. Unlike Darwin's Radio, Darwin's Children sucks.

The premise of the novels has to do with endrogenous retroviruses, which are sleeping in our DNA. They are activated, and cause mutations that lead to the next stage of evolution, in which a new species of children are born. This is all pretty interesting, to a point. But where Darwin's Radio takes us up to the point where the first child is born, Darwin's Children deals with the next 18 years, in which a repressive government takes over, and endless political manouvering ensues.

The book is very badly written, below even the minimal style bar that Greg Bear had set in works like Blood Music or Eon. The premesis is muddled. The supernatural plays a role, in a literal Deus Ex Machina scene where the presence of God is revealed in an MRI machine. The action is haphazard. The suspense is non-existant. The characters are unclear. (Even at the end of the book, I kept having to ask myself, "who is this person again.")

In fact, I'll not waste an further words on this book. It sucked. For 400 pages. End of story.


Sunday, February 29, 2004

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

How little I knew about Truman Capote! Turns out that in addition to being the man who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's, Capote also threw one the NTY's "Best 50 Parties of All Time" and was Harper Lee's childhood friend. Not only that, but the character Dill Harris in her book To Kill A Mockingbird IS Capote as a youth. Whoda thunkit?

In Cold Blood is one of the first "true crime" novels. It started the genre that later brought us things like 'Helter Skelter' and now has whole sections devoted to grisly wallowing in the deeds of Jon Benet Ramsey & Jeffrey Dahlmer. First, just the facts: In the 1950's Holcomb, Kansas was shocked by the apparently motiveless murder of a family of four. Capote's book explores in fascinating detail the events leading up to the murder and the subsequent search for, and trial and execution of those responsible.

Capote's style is solid, every page filled with direct quotes from the 'characters' in the story. The format is remniscent of a dective novel, or a thriller, made all the more engaging because every detail is 'true'. In In Cold Blood, Capote blurs the line between fiction and factual reporting, but does so in a way that strengthens both.

Cool book.


Roads by Larry McMurtry

Roads is a book that I will buy another copy of. While the first one will go onto my shelf, alongside all of McMurtry's other works, this second copy has a different fate in store. Roads is a book that I want to keep in my car. I want to paste a US roadmap to outside (like book covers in school) and annotate each highway and interstate segment with the page number on which he offers commentary on that artery. It would be great to always have this book with you while you were on a roadtrip.

Roads contains a dozen essays, each one of which is just a chronological ramble on LMM's drives from one place to another. His usual sardonic wit and attention to social structure and mannerisms is present on every page. He is rarely positive about any place he drives through. In addition, his fearsome arsenal of literary memories is brought to bear every few pages as he quotes, quips, and quibbles with and about the various author's whose hometowns he visits. He indicts Hemmingway's third wife for her tacky taste in furniture, praises Willa Cather's Arizona & Nebraska. In almost every county he explores, LMM is able to talk fluently about the works of those author's whose writings mention a particular landmark. I'd love to hear a conversation between he and Mrs. Anne Fadiman.

This book is also likely to be of interest to any other McMurtry scholars out there because of it's deep biographical component. He doesn't hesitate to remnisce (seldom elegaic, usually half-way bitterly) about those places which have touched his life when he passes through them. As a companion piece to In A Narrow Grave, this book serves to, in a sense, chronicle the last 20 years of LMM's mental progress (why do I want to use the word decay there?), literary adventures, and geographical wandering. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Travels with Charley by my beloved Steinbeck, and Lars Somebody's Travels with Lizbeth, written much later. Like those, this book is a travelogue, describing one man's undirected journeys across America; both the geographical patchwork of highways, roads, and interstates, and the far more interesting network of books, loves, and memories.

It's been a few weeks. Today is that strange and rare day, February 29th. I've been enjoying it, cause I don't expect to see another for several years.

The last two weeks have seen the Professor and I playing hosts. Last weekend her friend Kerri came into town from New Orleans. I guess she was eager to escape the Big Easy on Mardi Gras. As much as I like boobs and drunken tourists pissing in the streets, I still can't say I blame her. There is always something about having your city fill up with out-of-towners that makes you a little smug and a little irritated. At any rate, Kerri was a wonderful young woman who was quick to smile, liked a drink, and is obviously crazy about the Professor & Lil' Sis.

This weekend we had the esteemed Senator and his charming wife in from Houston. Since Jake has recently moved out of theWarwick, I finally have a guest room. We ended up partying pretty late into the night both nights and having lots of good, silly fun. The Chappell show, R. Kelly, Aqua-Teen-Hunger-Force, and the Marketing of Christ were all oft discussed topics. Good times.

I've been reading quite a bit. I finished Roads by LMM about a week ago, then this week started and finished In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Reviews of both up next.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

The Professor & I went to Half Price books for the big V-Day. My present to her was an armload of books. It was great fun browsing the shelves together. She got wuite a stack & of course I picked up a few myself on the sly! Since someday pretty soon these books all get to be mine too, it's orth chronicling them here. In no particular order:

Synge Biography by David Kiely
The Blind Assassin by Margret Atwood
P is For Peril by Sue Grafton
Letters to Sartre by Simone de Bauvoir
The Courtisans by Joanna Richardson
Dictations on Haunted Writing by Avital Ronell
An Irish Voice by Gerry Adams
The Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom by Caitlin & John Matthews
Foucalt's Pendulum by Umberto Eco
The Cat Who Sniffed Glu by Lillian Braun
The Once and Future Goddess by Elinor Gadan
A Feminist Tarot by Sall Gearhart & Susan Renni
Le Divorce by Diane Johnson
From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland
In Cold Blood By Truman Capote
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
They Whisper by Robert Owen Butler
Black House by Stephen King & Peter Straub
The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett

Can't wait to sink my teeth into a few! Stay tuned, dear non-existant reader!


Sunday, February 08, 2004

By now it's evening. My earlier rant about my roomate seems very petty and mean spirited. Oh well. Never mess with another man's beer. Alas.

In the mean time, I just wanted to remind myself that on this day my very kind mother and father had all us kids & the Professor over for an exquisite Sunday dinner. There was fried chicken, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, rolls, brownies for dessert, a fire in the fireplace, and lots of good natured conversation. It was, as usual, one of the highlights of my week.

We are about to play some settler, and I'm finishing up readin the NYTimes magazine for this week, which has a fascinating article on virus authors.

The most recent trains from Non-Sequiterville:
A recent trip to the bookstore with LT really made me want to start reading more. He showed me a wonderful book on Science (sort of an 'all about science' type grimorie that was really cool. There were so many other things there I wanted to just sit down on the floor and browse. He also told me about some 'open-source' classes that MIT has started offering, in which all courseware & lectures are freely availible for anyone on the net. How fucking cool! So anyone with the time and inclination can become an MIT educated scholar! I really want to look into this!

I left Roads by LMM at work, so I've been reading Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pyncheon. Wow. It is an incredible conjuring trick. He perverts language and structure so deeply. Much of it is flirting with the edge of non-sense, but some passages are just incredibly cool. It's about 800 pages long, and only slightly less dense than plutonium, so don't expect a review for some time.

Off to play Settlers with the people. SHEEP!

It's a grey sunday here in Austin. I'm holed up in my room after a tasty Thai Kitchen lunch, as is my heathen custom of a morning. (If you can puzzle out all the references in that sentence, good work!)

I'm currently furious at my roomates, or at least, at Cog. I After being awakened many times throughout the night to the sounds of drunken hooting, I finally wake up this morn. The entire house reeks of cigarettes. Why? Cause Cog & his slimy friend Proctor (who is apparently sleeping in my brother's room) smoked up the garage. Dumbasses. The downstairs is a mess, and when starting to clean up, I find one of my beers of the month opened and full on the counter. WTF? I go look in the garage, which is a mess and reeks, only to find that they have consumed ALL of my beers of the month! I only got to try one! Add to this that fuckhead is late on rent (that's late for both of the two months he's lived here) and I'm starting to get a little hot under the collar. I think that a good flaying will improve roomate relations greatly. When you pay rent, you get some priviliges, when you are freeloading, you had better fucking tiptoe. I am pissed about this, and blood will flow.

I unexpectedly started and finished a book on Friday. It went by so fast that it had not occured to me to chronicle it here, but I shall.

Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside of the Box by Carolyn Gerin

The debonaire and magnificent Ilan Mitchelsmith and his wife gave the Professor this book sometime this week. I picked it up on Friday night and promptly read it cover to cover in one sitting. (It's only about 100 pages.) Obviously, with my upcoming change in marital status, the topic of our wedding has been much on the Professor's mind. This book deals with the topic in an irreverent, wholly realistic way that is the anthesis of all the books and magazines put out by the wedding industry. It is divided into ten chapters which addess all of the major topics a future bride would need to consider. Things like "How to pick a location" and "How to plan your time" and "Cool ideas for non-traditional ceremonies" and "The cake" and "The food" etc. are all given a few pages. If you know a future bride who is a little overwhelmed about a wedding, and starting to really lose sight of things, this book is a fine cooling mist. The tone is one that really seemed to put the Professor at ease, and for the first time since our first stressful wedding conversation, I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this deal can acutally be the fun, laid back event that it should be; an event that brings our friends and familes together to join us in celebrating our excitement in being togther.


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Well, for my first official meeting on FLX, I claw my way through rush hour traffic, arrive here at the ungodly hour of 7:59 am, only to wait around until 8:50 to learn that the meeting was cancelled, but bossman forgot to send out mail about it. Doh!

So I'm eating a nasty breakfast taco and reading. I'm switch hitting pretty fiercely here at work, trying to finish up Roads by Larry McMurtry, and also Peoplware and Small Unit Leadership. Will keep you posted. In the mean time I'll stare out at the grey day, eat my taco, and ponder why Town Lake appears to be flowing backwards.


Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Beardless Warriors by Richard Matheson

Apparently Matheson was drafted and entered World War II in the European theater in 1944. This story is largely an autobiohraphical bit mixed with a high adventure story. If anything, it seems too... happy. It is also the most straightforward novel about WWII I've ever read. Comparisons to Norman Mailer's 'The Naked and the Dead' and Remerque's "All Quiet On the Western Front" and Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22 are inevitable. Matheson's novel has none of the cynicism of Heller, none of the post-modern stylings of Vonnegut. He gives a very personal play-by-play account of a young man's introduction to an infantry squad and the ten days that follow. The action seqeunces (which comprise at least 80% of the book) are well narrated. It is no wonder that Matheson is such a hollywood favorite; his descriptions of physical spaces, characteristics, and stage direction are precise. The emotional depth in his characters is no deeper than the puddles gathering outside on First street. From the gruff sarge with the heart of gold (the cliche-ness of which one of his characters even comments on) to the numb protaganist, these characters are almost all stock.

If all this sounds like I didn't enjoy this book, I've given the wrong impression. It is an exciting account of an infantry unit whose members learn to work together to overcome the horrors of war. It reads like a John Wayne movie, or an episode of Band of Brothers. Yes, it's a little bit obvious and makes you feel a bit guilty, but it's still damn entertaining and well executed.
Yesterday morning on the drive back in from visiting the Professor in College Station I finished Matheson's The Beardless Warriors. Yesterday was so hectic that I didn't have time to write down my thoughts. It's grey and cold outside here. It's rush hour. So now is a great time for me to stay here at work and consider how pleased I am not to be invading Germany with an M1 Garand.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

It's pouring rain here. Poor Texas. There are few things sadder than a black dog alone in the rain in the middle of the night.

This was a hell of a week. On balance, it was a very good one, really, as the very good outweighed the pretty bad. Three things of note happened:

1) Vic got a great job offer from a firm that seems like a perfect fit. This is such great news. It takes a real load off of my mind, and I know that it will lift a great weight from his shoulders, which in turn, takes another load off my mind.
2) Rebecca does NOT have cervical cancer. Words can't express how great this is.
3) Brute Force 2 was killed today. This sucks. Looks like I've got to figure out what to do next.

I'm reading Richard Matheson's The Beardless Warriors. It is a really wonderful novel about WWII. I expect to finish it this weekend, as soon as this hangover goes away and I can focus on words again.


PS: Godda,m I hate the DTs. When did I get to be such a fucking drunk? I can barely type because my fucking hands are too shaky. This sucks. Must stop.

Saturday, January 17, 2004


Here at the Professor's house, I just finished up the horror novel I'd been ripping through in the last few days. It was okay, except for the end, which was very unsatisfying. Review:

A Terrible Beauty by Graham Masterton

Set in modern day Cork in Ireland, this largely forgettable horror story details the intertwined investigation of two ritualistic mass murderers. The heroine, a tough detective superintendent in the Irish Guarda (don't know how to include an accent mark in this editor), starts by trying to track down historical information on a mass grave discovered on a local farie hill. The tale ends in a harrowing confrontation between her, a buddy cop, some random guy, and a modern copycat killer.

The Irish mythological darkness that pervades this story is cool. The main character is interesting and likeable. The plot is complex enough, and has enough forensic details and political intrigue to keep you going. A series of scenes dealing with the abduction, torture and murder of young women are pretty fucking grueseome. The end sucks, cause the rabbit pulled out of the hat is, well, dumb.

Writing and language are overall pretty good. Masterson won a Brahm Stoker award for another of his novels. Maybe that one will be a little better. In the meantime, I'll give this one a B+ (way better than most Koontz or Barker, not in the same league as Thomas Harris or Stephen King.

The Prof. & sis are ready to go. Check ya later. :)


Thursday, January 15, 2004

This morning I dreamed that someone had given me an owl. It rested above the stairwell. It was tiny, and very soft. It would fly around the house as it wished, and come perch on my shoulder. It would lick my face if I stood still. It was a very cool dream. Perhaps Crysiana will take a small owl as a familiar.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A grey day is high time for another update. January always feels like today looks. O'ercast & dark. Tonight I'm quadruple booked. I need to get better at just saying 'no' to things. The problem is, I never really DON'T WANT to do a particular thing, it's just that usually in order to decline, I have to explain to someone that something else that someone else wants me to do is more important or interesting than whatever the subject wants me to do. Then of course, there are timing issues too. Maybe the secret is to wait until about 6pm before actually committing to anything, gather all the possibles together, then sort out and call back with confirms.

I just got something in the mail from the Wedding It was "The Groom's Companion" or something like that. It had a counter on the top of the email counting down the weeks until I am to be hitched. (I didn't know we had even picked a date yet.) It also had a bunch of dumb articles, each of which was labeled with a timer. "Packing for the Honeymoon: 2-4 weeks out." Every article was linked to a site which sold shit. "Click here to buy the perfect new luggage to go with your wedding." WTF? My old luggage becomes unserviceable because it might not match a bridesmaid dress during the one second that someone sees it in the trunk? I really think the whole thing is a sham, just designed to part folks from their money. I'm not just being a curmudgeon here. On the same topic, last night, the Professor was lamenting that no one would talk wedding stuff with her. (This was after I'd opened an elephant sized hole in the conversation, with an invitation for her to talk to me about the wedding.) Seems that what she meant was that none of the people (women) she is close to were willing to talk to her about it. They all were more interested in their own lives. Where's the sisterhood? Jerm has been saying for years that there isn't one. I'll point to this as people's exhibit DD sustaining this point of view.

Work today has been all about learning more Maya. It's a lot of fun to be balls deep in a 3D package again. Makes me feel like a real developer, not just a manager-type. I also got to write up my bio for upper management. Never a good sign. That means that they are looking for underqualified people to fire. Luckily, I've been at this for about 10 years now, and actually have a pretty good bio, especially for someone my age. Ah well. What can you do?

I've been bouncing around on the reading quite a bit. Still trying to finish: A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Creating Emotion in Games, Peopleware, Godel Escher Bach, Roads, and Quicksilver. But I loaned out Quicksilver to LT. Then I picked up Riddey Walker by a guy named Hobart, but couldn't get into it. So I grabbed Graham Masterton's A Terrible Beauty off the stack. It won a Bram Stoker award for horror fiction a few years ago. So far it is interesting, pulpy, and promises to be a fast-food novel. Fun! Will post a review when and if I finish it.


Sunday, January 11, 2004

Time for another update. A few interesting things before I get to the meat.
First, the NYT Magazine has an interesting article on blogs and blogging today.
Second, it seems that my friend the Duff has run across this blog and wanted to add a few comments. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't yet support that. Too bad. Maybe they will eventually get their shit together.

This weekend was great. RS & I hung out with my little sister & her boyfriend on Friday, with my little brother & his girlfriend on Saturday night. Lots of fun both nights. On Saturday evening, several of us all went down to Ararat, a cool middle-eastern resturant. Good times.

After much delay, I finally finished The Crying of Lot 49 last night. Thoughts below.

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

"Shall I project a world?"

This seems to be the most commonly quoted passage from Pynchon's 4th (and shortest) novel. The Crying of Lot 49 is a fascinating, very challenging novel written in the early sixties. Pynchon is one of the masters of postmodernism. This novel explores themes of self-delusion, paranoia, conspiracy theories, information theory, textual revisionism, and a bunch of other weird, disconnected and disconcerting topics. It is a largely linear narrative, on the surface, it tells a story of a young woman drawn into a strange subculture in central California.

Plot summary: Oedipas Maas had a very wealthy boyfriend. He died and named her executor of his estate. In the course of her duties, she discovers hints to the existance of a secret society called the Trystero, which serves as a sort of anti/alternate postal service, and (apparently) has for several hundred years. Almost everyone Oedipas comes in contact with vanishes or dies. She continues to trace a series of clues and strange connections which become more and more bizarre. She eventually begins to doubt her own sanity. She (and we) are offerend a glimpse into a weird, dark world before the novels close in which, to quote Bob Dylan, 'nothing is revealed.'

Language. Pynchon is a master of language. It is no wonder that he is sometimes compared to Nabakov. His prose is dense, his metaphors beautiful. His writing is superlative and surreal. I understand now why William Gibson is always compared in turn, to Pynchon, in whose stylistic footsteps he very clearly follows. Likewise, I understand a great deal more now about David Foster Wallace. It had for years seemed to me that DFW was in a league unto himself when it came to wordplay, linguistic gymnasticis, and bizzare plot threads and narrative devices. It turns out the DFW is very clearly emulating Pynchon, happily dancing along in the disorenting cloud of DDT left in his master's wake. Likewise, an exploration of Pynchon's obvious penchant for the language theories of Wittgenstein would be fun. I thoughts the Broom of the Systerm was original in playing with logos & language as a symbol. It is not. The Crying of Lot 49 very obviously paved this road decades earlier.

I had a really hard time at first knowing what to do with the conclusion of this novel. I didn't 'get it'. The Professor told me there was nothing to get. She described the book as just Pynchon being playful with language, and in large part it is. Last night though, after reviewing a few websites on the topic ( ) I began to think of the book as more like something out of a Lovecraft story. Like Lovecraft, Pynchon doesn't want to explain to me how the world outside our own works. He doesn't want me to 'get it.' He wants to give me just a glimpe into some strange 'other spaces' where the rules and laws and logic that govern here don't hold complete sway. He wants me to underneath dark bridges and watch the funeral pyre of a sotted bum, and think about all the information destroyed when his matress burns. He wants me to wonder what the symbol of Trystero means. He wants me to think about language and reality as binary, either real, or unreal. Then he wants to close the window. It's a taste of a very strange candy that is offered here, one that is not satisfying at all, just very stimulating.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I don't feel like I did the McMurtry essays justice with the anemic paragraph below. There is a lot more worthy of mention, and there are some really annoying typos. In fact the whole section could really use a rewrite. But instead, since I'm at work, I'll just drop a few more observations into an equally ill-structured paragraph and move on.

In A Narrow Grave by Larry McMurtry Part II
I think that Professor Stout's ideas about the use of nostalgia by writers in the service of identity formation really resonate in this book. Her focus is on Irish Drama, specifically Yates' tenure at the Abby Theater, and she wouldn't be caught dead reading anything about Texas, but her theories are still pretty applicable.

It is worth mentioning that the essays cover a lot more fertile ground that just that mentioned below. LMM talks about the fliming of HUD, about a fiddler's jamboree in East Texas, about high plains whorehouses, about the dangerous bar-rooms of Houston, about the promiscious liberalism of Austin, and the violent injustice of the Texas border patrol (R. Cog Sr. for example).

There are a few good critical dissections of this novel. I read through them last night, and really wanted to carry on a dialog with the authors. These can be found in Taking Stock: A Larry McMurtry Casebook, editor Clay Reynolds. These essays give LMM a great deal of credit. They also do so much more quoting from the gems in this work that I feel really slipshod about the job I did below. But, they got paid, or at least, accrued debts in the observance of their duties as observers.

Okay, gotta get back to work on BF2 now.

Last night late and over lunch I continued the downward spiral into the insanity that is Pynchon. The Crying of Lot 49 is nearly concluded. What a cool, wild ride. Expect a post on it soon.


PS: It is so much easier to type here at work than it is at home... God my desk setup there sucks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I just finished In A Narrow Grave. Review.

In A Narrow Grave by Larry McMurtry

Written in 1968 and now out of print, I was surpised to even hear of McMurtry's fourth book, titled 'In A Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas'. I thought that I'd read almost all of LMM's novels, and was going through a recent collection of Essays he wrote entitled 'Roads' in which we mentions that anyone who wants to know his opinion on Austin should read In A Narrow Grave. Luckily, my kind mother found the book for me in some used bookstore (of which LMM himself is said to own the largest in the state, somewhere up near Archer City) and gave it to me for Christmas.

In A Narrow Grave is a collection of 10 essays written in an elegaic tone. They deal with the character of several Texas cities, a farewell to the departed cowboy god of Texas, embodied (to LMM) by Frank Dobie's portrait of rancher Charles Goodnight and characters like Woodrow Call from Lonesome Dove, or the grandfather from Horseman Pass By. Indeed, LMM is clearly obsessed by the dissapearing myth of the cowboy. His entire tone is one of a wistful lament. Texas is a vast, empty space for LMM, now dead without his mythical heroes and indians. Reading In A Narrow Grave is like looking at a template for every LMM novel to date. His use of language is precise, folksy and possessed of a sort of tounge-in-cheek colloquial character. McMurtry repeats himself regularly, like the characters he describes, his thoughts keep coming back to the relationship between West Texas men and women, the status-obsessed provincialism of his hometown of Archer County (where he claims bestiality was rampant). It is his (and the earlier McMurtrys') love / hate relationship with his home soil to which he returns most frequently in this collection. While the focus is ostensibly on Texas as a whole, McMurtry seems to never be able to tear his gaze far from Archer County and his mythical town of Thalia. Like an old cowboy endlessly repeating himself around the campfire to any new bucks who will stop and listen, McMurtry seems stuck. In his essays he cannot leave Archer City behind, and as a man he can't seem to escape either. He is trapped by his books and his native land; stuck watching the plains suburbanize, selling used novels in a drafty warehouse, and hoping to catch a last glimpse of his cowboy god; a god who has already passed forever beyond his reach.
It has been a few days. New Years has come and gone. Garner X has come and gone. Both were lots of fun. I was surrounded by good friends and family, and things went off pretty well without and problems.

I'm back at work now, and feel like I'm now back in the swing of things. I've got a handle on the coming month's tasks, have greeted almost everyone and taken a barometer of the team mood. It's nice to see the parking garage filled with cars again now that everyone is back from vacation. Onward & upward with the creation of BF2! Today I'm trying to drill down into the customer satisfaction survey we recieved last month, working on learning Maya, dissecting reviews & how we are addressing their primary criticisms, and installing Call of Duty. I've finally given up on waiting for an Xbox version.

Several book reviews are just about to be posted: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, and In A Narrow Grave by Larry McMurtray are both within about 20 pages of being finished. So stay tuned!