Monday, December 31, 2007

Why I Like Animals More Than Most People

I shouldn't link to these on New Year's Eve; I really shouldn't, but I spent way too much time watching Animal Cops last night.

Our pets love us even when others don't or we don't deserve it.

Loyalty In the Streets--Standing By Your Best Friend Through Life and Death.

Got a pet? Give him or her extra hugs, love, and attention this New Year.

More Baconpunk


I'm having one of those "I just noticed something and now I see it everywhere"* kind of days and, of course, instead of it being something useful and uplifting and enlightening, something guaranteed to end hunger, destroy poverty, bring about world peace, reduce global warming, solve the energy crisis, and build strong bodies twelve ways, it's something entirely trivial.

Yep. Once again I'm posting about bacon.

Well, it's not my fault. A few days ago effin' reddit ran a discussion about interlinking bacon slices (aka "bacon porn" for the obligate carnivores among us) and that led me to all sorts of things I didn't know--like Bacon Salt, "a zero calorie, vegetarian (???!!!), kosher certified (wtf?) seasoning salt that makes everything taste like real bacon"** (with a separate, highly amusing discussion here and the first, only, and, we pray, last appearance on the Intarwebs of the phrase "hippie smegma").

Then, while I'm meditating upon the, uh, appropriateness of making everything taste like bacon, I ran across this: The Ultimate Bacon Sandwich, with loads of NSFV*** pics and links to such culinary monstrosities as Bacon Cereal and the Bacon Cheese Baconburger.

People, I never thought I'd say this, but maybe, just maybe, there's such a thing as too much bacon.


Then again, maybe not.

* There simply has to be some fancy-ass, high-falutin' piece of psychological jargon for this phenomenon but I'll be damned if I know what it is... or even where to start looking.

** Dudes! Hyphens! Make them your friends!

*** Not Safe For Vegans

Friday, December 28, 2007


For those who don't know (and not that you'd care; I mention this partly as further proof that deep within me I harbor the soul of a 16-yr. old girl), I have a MySpace profile.*

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh, but let me tell you something right now: according to the private MySpace messages I've been receiving I am soon to be surrounded by an endless bevy of hot, young, geographically-accessible beauties who can't spell "gullible" but have read The Joy of Sex front to back, found the mistakes, and added commentary, possibly with illustrations and NSFW video.

What, you think I'm lying? Well, I'll have you know I've received well over a dozen messages like these...

hiiiii wassup... yup this is totally random but.. next week im moving right near u and I wont know anybody who lives there... so im thinking we can be buddies hahah or friends or whatever.. maybe u could help show me around or introduce me to some new people... My M S N and A I M are right on my addy also so hit me up... xxooxx chat ya soon hunny

whats crackin babe.... we dont know each other or anything but.. next week im moving right near u and I wont knwo a single person.. so im just trying to make some new friends who can show me around once I move... If you dont have a girlfriend I mean heheh.. Ill wait for u to contact me.. my info is right on my ms page... hope to hear form ya soon xoxo

...which couldn't be more timely. See, I've been getting some very exclusive e-mails recently informing me that I'm one of the select few allowed access to products guaranteed to enlarge my penis and increase female pleasure. Limited time, low, low, price, very hush-hush and all that.

So while you losers are out partying away your empty, meaningless lives this New Year's Eve I'll be stocking up on crack and condoms in anticipation of the non-stop orgy sure to come!

* Not that I do anything with it. It's more for keeping track of people who don't keep in contact any other way.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

All the geekier blogs are pointing out that December 25 is Newtonmass, the day when people with a particular mindset celebrate Sir Isaac Newton's birthday (according to the Old Style, aka Julian, calendar).

I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know this but I love the idea that people might decorate their homes with apples, prisms, calculus textbooks, and stone tablets inscribed with the Three Laws of Motion.

Which got me to thinking, "What other notable persons were born on Christmas Day?"

Bunches, as it turns out, including a number of my own short duration personal saviours: Humphrey Bogart (1899), Cab Calloway (1907, because of this), character actor Dick Miller (1928), Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding (1945), Sissy Spacek (1949, and don't laugh; as a persecuted geeky high school student in Carrie she singlehandedly destroyed an entire gym-full of snooty prom-goers, something to which I deeply relate) . . .

And the big one for me--

Rod Serling (1924). Mr. Twilight Zone himself and further proof that every day, even Christmas, is Halloween.

Next year--Serlingmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brain Dump

So in case you hadn't noticed, the Holidailies thing didn't work out for me. It's not for lack of trying; Crom knows I've written hundreds of fantastic posts this month... in my head... but there seems to be a little difficulty in transferring them from cerebral cortex to keyboard and for the life of me I don't know why. Screw it; I'm posting Links of Interest instead.

Consumers Iss Der Craziest Peoples!*
I reported on the amusing Customer Reviews for Uranium Ore; what I didn't realize was this was not an isolated incident. Boing Boing directs us to the reviews for Bic ballpoint pens, including this Lovecraftian entry:

But, when that quality carbide ball touched the surface of the paper, it was not ink that came out. From a distance I heard the screams of men and the cackling of innumerable ravens. I stopped, cold and sweating profusely. I looked down at the Bic Crystal black medium ballpoint pen which I held in my hand, only to see darkness. I dashed it against the wall, recoiling in horror. I saw in the corner of my eye my faithful notebook, which now lay on the ground. Once unmarred, I saw now the small mark which I had made with the devil's own pen. It spread across the page like a plague, and looking at it I gazed upon true horrors. For, what I thought had been ink was in fact a portal to a dark, unforgiving dimension. A portal whose maw was now widening to engulf all hope and joy in the world.

'God, what have I done?' I exclaimed as I weeped and fell to my knees, 'What have I done?'

From beyond the Dark Gate I heard these words, words which I can never forget. A terrible, booming voice said to me, 'Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn!'

I ran, blindly stumbling, away from that place and never looked back. My only hope is that none shall follow in the path I've walked down, too blinded by hubris to realize my follies.

Lovecraftian Goodness
And speaking of the minions of Cthulhu (or these about to become so... oh, hell; now I've gone and spoiled everything!), there's a new blog in town, The Arkhamist, "Blogging Life in Arkham, Massachusetts." Recent starry-eyed college grad decides to move from Boston to small town, starts job at local paper, documents new life. Things are gonna start happening real soon now. Fun to read, but start with the first post for full effect. Are fictional blogs the new epistolary novel?

Gifty Madness
Also seen on Boing Boing, this lovely skull-shaped motorcycle helmet. Probably not DOT-approved, probably not legal in helmet law states, probably not safe at all, but undoubtedly cool and worthy of a place in my skull collection should I ever have a spare $150 or so.

Baconpunkery Continues
I've been spending way too much time hanging out on Warren Ellis's fairly frantic Whitechapel discussion board, which is fast and dense and fun and chock full of interesting people and interesting ideas and bizarre-ass topics and y'all should just hie your butts on over there and check it out and not make any comments about my obviously caffeine-induced run-on sentencery.

There's one section entitled Whitechapel Gourmandise Coffeehouse, Chophouse and Noshery, a sort of recipe exchange for the moderately eccentric wherein I saw a link to Experiments In Deliciousness: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies With Maple Cinnamon Glaze. This may well be the point at which Baconpunk** crosses over into genuine psychosis; however, I'm not willing to dismiss anything involving bacon without deep experimentation first.

In Keeping With the Season...
And remember: I'm no fan of Christmas music, but this is GREAT!

*A reference wasted on those of you unfamiliar with the Fox Movietone newsreels of the 'Thirties and 'Forties, standard time filler for television stations of the early 'Sixties.

**I've been informed recently that Warren merely adopted the term "baconpunk;" the word's true origin and meaning can be found here in Baconpunk: All Hail Our Fried, Greasy Master.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Aw, man! I missed the first Bread & Milk Party of the season at Ukrops today!

For those who don't know, this is a game that I believe is mandated by local ordinance: at the first sight of snow flurries all residents must report to their local grocery store (Ukrops being traditional and the cult fave in these parts) and compete against one another so as to empty the shelves of bread, milk, tomato soup, and crackers before the IMPENDING HORRIBLE SNOW APOCALYPSE!!! generates DOOM!, STARVATION!, CANNIBALISM!, YETI ATTACKS!, and a shortage of Wheat Thins and Easy Cheese. Participants must wear a panicked expression at all times and speak only of current weather conditions, else points will be deducted.

It's a hoot and I missed it.

Remember, I live in Virginia where the average annual snowfall is something like, what? Two inches? Three? Yet the crowds act as if they were laying in supplies for an entire Antarctic winter every single time it snows!

I'll refrain from ranting about Richmond drivers and snow showers.

Anyway, the precipitation stopped in the early afternoon and if there'd been any accumulation whatsoever it was gone by the time I left work at 4:30 p. m.

In other news, Boing Boing reports a Christmas Tree decorated with 99 handmade felt octopi. I don't do any Christmas decorating myself, though I enjoy what other people do, but I dunno... this is something I could get behind. Then again, there's this kitty living here who assumes all things soft are meant for ripping.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gift Suggestions For the Hard-To-Please...

...Which doesn't include me since I'm easy and I'm cheap. Besides, I've already posted my Christmas List; what follows are suggestions you may find useful in dealing with those difficult-to-buy-for people I just know are lurking on your list.

--Knightmare Chess and Knightmare Chess, Set 2
Tired of being beaten by that coffee shop chess hustler? You need Knightmare Chess from Steve Jackson Games, a gaming system (basically, a set of cards) which modifies the rules of chess in unexpected and unpredictable ways while you play. As far as I'm concerned, this makes the game a hell of a lot more interesting and far less humiliating when faced with a player of superior talent. You can even purchase blank cards and make your own rules, which, I'm certain, can lend itself to a certain amount of... uh... abuse.

--Dancing Robots
Cute! Kinetic! Perfect for home or work! Two for $4.95! Who could resist?

--Periscopes? Periscopes? Periscopes!
Gotta have a periscope if ya wanna be prepared! Surely you know someone who would delight in spying on the neighbors, the kids, co-workers, or whomever. Perfect for your eccentric friend with the survival bunker in his backyard.

--UFO Detector and UFO-2 Detector
If you'd rather not hear about alien abductions, missing time, and anal probing during the New Year, then you need to take steps to protect your family and friends. These devices supposedly sense electromagnetic disturbances in the Force (or something), then give off warning beeps and flashes which, I guess, allows you enough time to don your tin-foil hat and lead chastity belt. Batteries not included.

--Interactive LED Dining Table
Got Futurist Hipsters or demented tabletop gamers on your list? Get 'em these! Minimalist tables with frosted glass tops covering a buttload of colored LEDs that respond gently to motion.

It's a small, easily concealable universal television remote that allows you to turn a TV on or off. Doesn't do a damn thing more. "Why on earth would anyone want such a thing?" I can hear you asking. Well, how many times have you been in an airport, bar, restaurant, laundromat, or wherever and been forced to listen to a television that was just... there... as nothing more than a source of annoying background noise. Manage your environment! You can even hack one into an Ultra TV-B-Gone.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weekend Roundup

So it was Saturday morning and I was in the living room, wrapped in a nice, warm, faux-fur blanket, peacefully watching Village of the Damned, one of my favorite SF movies of all time, while preventing Sid-the-Cat from engaging in his usual furniture-endangering pre-noon Hyper-Spaz Kitty Routine through the simple expedient of scratching his ears, when the banging and hammering began.

"Oh, sweet Crom," I thought to myself. "It's officially Christmas."

Because, you see, every December for the past few years the cute little twenty-something couple who live above me have hung an increasingly complex array of lights from their balcony, a task involving an amazing amount of heated discussion, small-scale carpentry, and minor electrical mishaps. While it sounds to me like a Three Stooges routine minus the "Nyuck nyuck nyucks," they seem to accomplish it with minimal bloodshed or irreparable relationship damage and the results are always quite lovely.

Maybe I should hang my own lights. Are purple mini-bulbs Christmas-y or merely emo?

Anyway, while Chaos and cacophony held sway over all I spent my time surfin' the 'Net to see what was interesting and found a couple of items:

You may recall my Baconpunk* entry. You may also be aware of the recent flowchart meme permeating the Intarwebs, a sort of LOLcats for the geek/GTD crowd. As further evidence of the basic interconnectedness of all things I present to you the Bacon Flowchart!

Not sure what to get that Mad Scientist on your Christmas List? Well, you can't go wrong with a little U-238**! Be sure to read the comments and the Customer Reviews; they're hysterical!

Excellent Timewasters!
Whitechapel, Warren Ellis's new discussion forum for all things weird and wonderful.
Holidailies, wherein people solemnly vow to update their Web sites daily from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1.

*A term I would love to take credit for but was actually coined by Warren Ellis.

**The link for this product has, mysteriously, gone dead, not that I'm inferring a conspiracy or anything. And what's up with this UFO Detector?
Never mind. It's back.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Welcome To December...

...wherein I'm going to try something a little different.

About a gazillion years ago (as Internet time is reckoned), back before online journals were plug 'n' play and had to be hammered into being with blood, sweat, tears, and raw code, back when updating said journals was a distinctly user-hostile experience and readers had to suffer through non-standard HTML (anybody remember blink*?), colored cursor star trails, red text on green backgrounds, and numerous other graphic abominations, back when there just weren't that many journals to begin with and that rat-ass word "blog" was nonexistent, someone came up with a pretty nifty collaborative writing project wherein participants solemnly vowed to update their online presences daily for the month of December-- Holidailies.

Guess who's going to give this a try.

I promise nothing since I'm easily distracted by books, CDs, DVDs, reruns of House, shiny glowing things, Internet porn, Super-Secret Support Group drama, the antics of the Neurologically Typical (aka "hairless apes"), and, well, all sorts of things, but I'm giving it a shot anyway because... uh... I dunno... it'll give me an excuse to rant about my obsessions d'jour in public.

So anyway, December. Holidays. Christmas. My friend Sarah claims she knows it's officially Christmas when I post the links to my favorite seasonal readings and I wouldn't want to disappoint her!

First, "A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote (and here in one long, continuous scroll), which is perfectly lovely and one of the few traditionally-themed Christmas stories I can abide.

A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is wearing tennis shoes and a shapeless gray sweater over a summery calico dress. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen; but, due to a long youthful illness, her shoulders are pitifully hunched. Her face is remarkable—not unlike Lincoln's, craggy like that, and tinted by sun and wind; but it is delicate too, finely boned, and her eyes are sherry-colored and timid. "Oh my," she exclaims, her breath smoking the windowpane, "it's fruitcake weather!"

Second, "The Junky's Christmas" (not the godawful red-on-green version linked above) by William S. Burroughs, which also has a traditional theme but is a little... different.

IT WAS Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junksick and broke after seventy-two hours in the precinct jail. It was a clear bright day, but there was warmth in the sun. Danny shivered with an inner cold. He turned up the collar of his worn, greasy black overcoat.

Third, the little-known "Nackles" by hard-boiled crime fiction writer Donald E. Westlake, which I love because it's just plain wicked. Read this to the kiddies and they'll cower in fear every time they see a decorated pine tree.

Who is Nackles? Nackles is to Santa Claus what Satan is to God, what Ahriman is to Ahura Mazda, what the North Wind is to the South Wind. Nackles is the new Evil.

And finally, A Very Special Christmas Card from our friends at I-Mockery (warning: blasphemy alert).

Okay, that's enough for now; I'm off to see what's happening on Whitechapel, Warren Ellis's new discussion site.

*which, interestingly, for all its other wrong-headedness, is not supported by Internet Explorer, so you may be missing the full obnoxiousness of the experience.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Good News, Everyone!"

First, a confession: I'm a Futurama fan. A BIG Futurama fan (you, in the back row--shut the hell up!) and why shouldn't I be? What's not to like about an animated show for adults by Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Life In Hell) that takes place at the beginning of a 31st century chock-full of suicide booths, soap operas for androids, celebrity heads in jars, hideously addictive soft drinks and features an "alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking" robot, an undeniably hot one-eyed mutant, an increasingly senile mad scientist who runs a delivery service to fund his experiments, a decapodian M. D. with a woefully inadequate knowledge of human anatomy, and a not-so-bright, cryogenically-preserved pizza delivery boy from the year 2000?

Even better, as Groening himself said, "it was full of catnip for geeks" what with "allusions to classic videogames, programming languages, Schrodinger's cat, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle." Oh, yeah, and an occasional appearance by Lucy Liu.

Fox canceled the show in 2003 whereupon Cartoon Network began airing reruns to the wild acclaim and near-orgasmic excitement of die-hard fans while garnering a new generation of viewers. Soon thereafter began...The Rumors. Teasing rumors. Exciting rumors. Rumors of new episodes of Futurama. Oh, my, yes!

Well, as it turns out, the rumors were true--Futurama Is Back! Grab A Can of Slurm and Settle In as Bender's Big Score (spoilers galore) hits the DVD shelves TODAY, ultimately (meaning next year) being aired as half-hour episodes on Comedy Central. Get it fer cheap at

Naturally, the big question is whether my favorite character, the Robot Devil, will make an appearance.

Anyone besides me notice how much the Robot Devil sounds like deceased voice actor Hans Conried?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Christmas List 2007

Dear Santa,

Well, Black Friday is almost upon us once again and I figured what better time to convince... uh... remind you of how incredibly good I've been. After all these years you should know the litany by heart but in case you've forgotten:

"I've fomented no revolutions this year nor have I overthrown any governments despite almost overwhelming temptation. I haven't engaged in mass murder, no serial killings, no random acts of violence, no choke sex (hell, no sex at all!), no waylaying of strangers to harvest their body parts, and only minor, completely excusable corruptions of youth. I've refrained from kidnapping any heiresses, selling any government secrets, or even holding the planet for ransom. I haven't tampered with things man was not meant to know (much) and that annoying human sacrifice thing is now in the dim, dark, distant past. I've limited my stalking activities to the online realm and I haven't propositioned any of my female associates to do that...thing...with the Waring blender in quite a while..."

We'll conveniently ignore the fact that my being good wasn't entirely by choice; after all, at my age the opportunities to be truly bad are few and far between. Still, we must judge people by their actions and not their thoughts, mustn't we?

Well, whatever.

Books, CDs, and DVDs are always appreciated and I just happen to have an Wishlist set up for your convenience. Keep in mind that the more items you bring, the more I'm distracted from plotting World Domination--a bored G. W. is a dangerous G. W.--and besides, I'm well-armed and I know where you live.

Neighborhood Domination is another matter altogether and I'm figuring that some Catapult, Trebuchet, and Ballista kits would keep me busy and help me protect my backyard from random insurgents and drunken college students. Throw in a couple of rubber band-firing Gatling guns mounted on a Rip Saw UGV tank and I'll guarantee you everyone on my street will be good!

I love my HP computer dearly, but it does have enough age on it as to completely negate its Coolness Factor. I'm thinking an Alienware Area-51 ALX CF desktop for home and an Area-51 m9750 notebook for hanging out in trendy coffee shops (the latter got a mention in Wired 15.12) ought to bring me up to speed. Add an admiring Christina Ricci with a vintage copy of Redneck Rampage and my status as a Geek Gawd will be assured.

Speaking of the Coolness Factor, there's not much of it when cruising around Richmond in my 2000 Mitsubishi Galant, so I was thinking what I really need is a car that makes a statement, something like the Aston Martin DB9 for tooling around the countryside pretending I'm James Bond, the classic 1955 Lincoln Futura for tooling around town oozing Geeky Goodness, or maybe the greatest of all mechanized memes, Carthedral: "a 1971 Cadillac hearse modified with 1959 Cadillac tailfins. Welded on top is a VW beetle and metal armatures with fiber glass. Carthedral is a rolling Gothic Cathedral complete with flying buttresses, stained glass pointed windows, and gargoyles."

We all recognize the value of Gothic street cred, right?

An speaking of Gothic cred, the apartment could always use a few decorative accents and I'm thinking a nice, comfy electric chair would look great in the corner, especially if there was a Count Dracula casket beside it as a coffee table and a few skulls from Spellow House to round out the theme. May as well throw in a Coffin Clock so I'll know how much time I've wasted perusing Alan Moore's Lost Girls which, uh, I'll be needing a copy of as well. Feel free to toss in a Black Death sweatshirt in lieu of a frou-frou smoking jacket.

Well, that's about it for this year. As usual, I'll be leaving a little something for your efforts, only instead of milk, cookies, and Fentanyl I figured you might like a change of pace--you'll be finding a couple of bottles of genuine (and now fully legal in the US!) absinthe on top of the television set: Kubler for you and Lucid for Mrs. Claus, so put on your best Bohemian garb, grab a sugar cube or two, drink up, get nekkid, and see the Green Fairy! Leave the cat alone; he's new and wouldn't understand.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I'm feeling particularly cynical tonight and with Thanksgiving just a week away, what better time to post a link to William S. Burroughs' "A Thanksgiving Prayer"?

Now that that's out of my system...

The last photo (taken about 2:30 this morning on 18th Street in Richmond, VA--don't ask) reminds me of the interestingly-translated instructions on a can of Honda motorcycle touch-up paint I saw way back in the early 70s: "Be stirred, be thinned with lacquer." Sound advice for young and old.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween Post-Mortem

One would think, assuming you know me at all and, therefore, are aware that I am the consummate Halloween Junkie with fangs of candy corn and veins pulsing with pumpkin goo, that I would now regale you with tales of my most recent Samhain insanity, but you would be wrong.

Nope. It was, for the most part, a quiet and uneventful evening in the G. W. household.

I had originally intended to do a Halloween post wherein I acted as a sort of half-assed online DJ, inundating your poor computer screen with a slew of seasonally-appropriate YouTube links-- "Dinner With Drac" by John Zacherle, the obligatory "Monster Mash" (but a live version with both Bobby "Boris" Pickett and John Zacherle), "Werewolves of London" (also live, with a somewhat manic Warren Zevon), and so forth and so on, including what has to be the scariest music video of all time, Nina Hagen covering David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust."

Didn't happen.

After at work I came home, cooked up some Ramen noodles (which, I guess, is pretty scary all by itself), took an extended nap, and, really, didn't do much of anything beyond channel-surfing, hoping for an Addams Family marathon or repeats of all the Roseanne Halloween specials.

No such luck.

However, at 10:00 p. m. Turner Classic Movies unexpectedly (to me) aired one of the classic horror films of all time, The Body Snatcher with Boris Karloff.

Ah, bliss! Moody, atmospheric, high contrast black & white goodness! No quirky-assed, be-gimmicked serial killers, no gallons of squirting blood 'n' gore, no on-screen decapitations, just the unnervingly quiet menace of Boris Karloff, who can utter even the most prosaic of lines ("Why, hello, Toddy!") and fill it with horrific nuance. When Bela Lugosi as "Joseph" attempts to blackmail Karloff's character, cabman John Gray, midway through the film...

Joseph: I know you kill people to sell bodies.
John Gray: You say you came here of your own account? No one sent you, no one knows you're here?
Joseph: Give me money or I tell the police that you murder the subjects.
John Gray: Well, Joseph, you shall have money, why should you not? I don't suppose the great Dr MacFarlane is over lavish with his pay?
Joseph: No. know things aren't going to turn out well for poor Bela!*

And that was Halloween, 2007, safe and sane, quiet and uneventful, except for one little thing--

When I left for work the next morning I discovered that my front door had been covered with bloody (adult-sized) hand prints during the night.

And I still don't know to whom they belong.

Cue The Twilight Zone theme.

* In more ways than one. This was the last film Boris and Bela made together and Bela's role is a small one--his continuing drug use had taken its toll on both his looks and career.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dead Media

Last time, as you may recall, I posted pics of the 2007 Richmond Zombie Walk, which was absolutely fantabulous, a complete and total blast, and something I may actually participate in next year--hey, I've already got a genuine body bag, a certain amount of greasepaint, and a reprint of Dick Smith's Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook; the only thing stopping me is/has been laziness on my part.

But anyway...

My camera is an Olympus Camedia D-380, a two megapixel minimally-frilled device that was quite the bargain when I bought it back in--2002? 2003?--and it has served me well for the kind of occasional (very occasional), grab-'n' go photography I do these days, but photographing a bunch of zombies with an eight megabyte memory turned out to be distinctly limiting, since 8mb translates to about maybe 15 images. Obviously, I need additional, larger memory cards.

You know what's coming, don't you? You can smell it.

Yeah. The D-380 uses SmartMedia, an obsolete flash memory card, very difficult to find these days and, as you might suspect, the Olympus website had absolutely no redirects to current sources since they're long out of production. Well, "long" in digital terms, which can mean "minutes" in this ever changing world in which we live in.


Leave it to me to be a piss-poor consumer and not upgrade all my electronics on a regular basis. I have an Olympus OM-1n 35 mm. film camera from the late '70s that's pretty much a high-tech paperweight because it uses mercury batteries, which are no longer sold legally in the U. S. and for which there are no satisfactory substitutes. I have a cassette deck as an integral part of my stereo system, a VHS player in the closet; hell, I still have a Super-8 movie camera and a vacuum tube Yaesu FT-101ZD HF radio transceiver. Oh, and a working (last time I checked) but no longer used Mac 512Ke.

I'm an Analog Zombie from the Dead Media Project.

Well, this is where eBay comes into its own and, yes, I found SmartMedia cards for a reasonable enough price, but still, it saddens me to think that my apartment is becoming a monument to obsolescence.

Cautionary Tale: When my friend Anne got married of course I took my trusty D-380 to her pre-wedding party and at one point during the evening I had to make a mad dash for the bathroom (imminent diet soda/bladder emergency) and left it in the care of several friends, one of whom happened to be Bill G.

I should have known better.

At the end of the evening I came home, fired up my editing software, downloaded my pictures, and noticed one of them was a bit... odd: a little out of focus, strangely underlit, possessed of a mysterious abstract nebulosity, certainly not something I remembered taking (I'm not that artistic). A few minutes of digital fiddling solved the mystery--Bill G. had shoved my camera down the front of his pants and produced a post-modern portrait of his genitals.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 2007 Richmond Zombie Walk

Okay, first we need to establish the mood and you can do that by clicking here and watching Commander USA sing "The Zombie Song" (it's a tad faint, so maximize your volume). I'll wait.

Done? Cool!

Today was significant for two reasons: (1) my friend Beth was pimping her new horror novel, Homeplace, at Creatures 'N' Crooks Bookshoppe in Carytown (she's even got a YouTube video for it done by illustrator Cortney Skinner!) and (2) the third Richmond, VA Zombie Walk was taking place... in Carytown, which meant I didn't have to forsake one for the other!

I hauled my lazy ass out of bed much earlier than I preferred for a Saturday morning (having stayed up way too late getting psyched by watching Saw III), whereupon I showered, shaved, dressed, grabbed my man purse, my Olympus digital camera, extra batteries, a bottle of Diet Pepsi (you know, the essentials!), and headed over to the parking lot of Benedictine High School where the zombies were receiving their last minute instructions (click the pics for a larger image).

"And if the mummies show up again this year let's try not to have any altercations. We'll do our thing and they can do theirs."

You couldn't have asked for a nicer day to take a Zombie Walk--deep blue sky, fluffy white clouds, temps in the low eighties. People were in a great mood, even the Zombie Pope!

Jesus drove up a little later (hey, He's one of the Living Dead, too!), but I didn't get a picture.

Having been briefed, the zombies then headed for the Krogers parking lot at the west end of Carytown while I scurried towards Creatures 'N' Crooks in the middle, but not before grabbing a shot of my future ex-wife loading a few things into her pick-up truck.

By this time Beth had been hanging out at the bookstore for about an hour with only Cortney and Hamilton the Cat for company... which point I burst in announcing "Zombies a-comin!", which they were, but heading east on the other side of the street. This gave me a chance to purchase Homefront and Joe Lansdale's Lost Echoes (and yes, I apologized to Beth for being unfaithful) while catching up with Beth & Cortney and waiting for the crowd of... what? Fifty? A hundred? zombies to make the return circuit, eventually passing right in front of the bookstore.

I'll be linking to other, better pictures by those more skilled than I as they get posted, but in the meantime...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Last time, as you may recall (see Recipe Madness), I mentioned how my friend Margie and I are complete and total Bacon Whores; we believe everything is better with bacon.

(Margie: "Finally I know what to put on my tombstone--'Bacon Whore.' What better way to sum up my life?")

Then I posted about Bacon Brittle aka Bacon Toffee and wondered where the hell I've been that I'd never heard of such a thing.

Well, tonight we're going deeper into the weirdness.

Some of you may know I'm a big ol' fan of Warren Ellis, author of such little excursions into madness as Crooked Little Vein and Transmetropolitan. He's something of a 'Netslut as well, posting frequently on LiveJournal, MySpace, and his own personal websites, so, since I'm a complete geek, I check 'em all daily looking for interesting informational tidbits and singularly cool or obscene quotes to steal and claim as my own. Wednesday he linked to this saying,

"A few of my friend (sic) will know what I mean when I say that this may be a baconpunk object."

"Baconpunk"? WTF...?

"This" is Mo's Bacon Bar, "applewood smoked bacon, alder wood smoked salt, deep milk chocolate." $7.00 for 3 oz. (!) and currently out of stock, the little teases, but, oh yeah, baby, if anything is Baconpunk this is it!

And Margie and I will have matching tombstones.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recipe Madness

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... I'm posting recipes, of all things. First I told a brief story about my cat and now I'm posting recipes. Next thing you know I'll be camwhoring and posting surveys normally associated with 16-year old girls.

Anyway...confession time.

I like bacon. No, I love bacon. Oh, yes; I love bacon in all its trans-fatted, artery-hardening, coronary-inducing glory--which is why I rarely buy the stuff because, to my shame, when I do I'll cook up the entire damn package and devour every last piece over the course of an evening. On those rare occasions when I raid the breakfast buffet at Shoney's my plate is piled shamefully high with bacon, sausage patties, baked apples, maybe some scrambled eggs... but mostly bacon. I'm a Bacon Whore. Remember that poor, hyperactive dog on the old Beggin' Strips commercial? Yeah, it's like that.

From Pulp Fiction:
Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don't eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooooood. Pork chops taste gooooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got enough sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don't eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charmin' motherfuckin' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?

Sid-the-Cat likes bacon; in fact, Sid-the-Cat disdains all other people food except bacon. And Elvis Presley! Elvis liked bacon (more on this later)! And my friend Margie! Oh, sweet Jeebus, Margie is every bit the Bacon Whore I am; on more than one occasion the two of us have intentionally positioned ourselves in our favorite greasy spoon so as to have a full view of the kitchen griddle where there is always a HUGE pile o' bacon. You'd think we were watching porn the way we stare. And, though deep down we know it's not completely true, we both argue that everything is better with bacon.

I may be putting this to the test soon. See, I was cruisin' the Intarwebs the other day and ran across something called Bacon Brittle--toffee and bacon cooked up together--and had one of those "WTF?" moments. "Could this possibly be good?" I asked myself. "Toffee? Bacon? I mean, bacon tastes gooooood. Toffee tastes gooooood. But together?" Well, a few minutes on Google seemed to answer that question--search for "Bacon Brittle" or "Bacon Toffee" and you'll come up with a slew of positive reviews, recipes, and, to my complete surprise, a number of commercial outlets.

Once again, I'm late to the party.

This is what you do:

Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Brittle)
1. Line a baking tray with a Silpat, or oil it very well.
2. Crisp 5 pieces of bacon in a skillet or a broiler and drain on paper towels. Break or chop them into 1/4” bits and set aside. Don’t go too small, because you want them to have personality in your mouth. Use a smoky bacon, ideally lightly cured. Mine had Niman Ranch bacon in it.
3. Place in a heavy saucepan, in this order: 1/4 cup (63g) water, 1 stick (115g) butter, a large pinch of salt, and 1 cup (200g) sugar.
4. Over medium-high heat, cook till the mixture reaches 285F, stirring often. In practice, this means that you cook it until it’s a good toffee colour, about the same colour as the old tan m&ms. I’m not kidding about the stirring, though.
5. Pull it off heat, mix in the bacon bits, and pour onto the baking sheet. Spread quickly to about 1/4” thick, and let cool for 2 hours.
6. Using a hammer or the handle of a large knife, break the toffee into shards. This is best accomplished by whacking it through a folded paper towel.

Guess I'm gonna be firing up the stovetop soon.

And since I'm all about Sweet 'n' Salty today, I thought I'd mention this: my friend Cathy's online friend Ewokgirl posted about banana bread; specifically, Peanut Butter Banana Bread, which made me smack my forehead and wonder why the HELL didn't I think of that? Okay, sure, it conjures images of Elvis Presley's Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, aka The King-Killer, aka The WBWT Coronary (White Bread, White Trash), but still, creamy peanut butter and ripe bananas were made for one another, though perhaps without the lard and (possibly) apocryphal bacon strips (then again, there's Bacon Brittle, so ya never know).

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
1/3 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

In a large bowl, cream oil, peanut butter, and sugar; beat in eggs and bananas. Add flour mixed with baking powder, salt, and soda alternately with banana combination; mix with each addition until combined. Pour batter into a greased 9x5x3" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Makes one loaf.

Sounds good, huh? Unfortunately, my tiny little gas oven is a bit on the temperamental side, which means I won't be experimenting with this recipe any time soon; however, should you be so inclined, well, uh, you know...

One more before I go:

Chinese Chews
(stolen from The New James Beard)

"I have no idea why these are called Chinese Chews, but I've been making them for over 15 years and I've yet to find anyone who doesn't find the combination of flavors irresistible. Makes about 30 cookies." --James Beard

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 lb (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix 2 cups of the flour, the butter, and 1 cup of the sugar until crumbly, and spread this in a shallow 8-by-16-inch baking pan. Bake in a 300F oven for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

Beat the ingredients for the topping together and spread the mixture evenly over the prepared crumb crust. Return to the oven and bake until light brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool. Cut into fingers.

I have made these before and all I'm going to say is "OMFG, Best. Thing. EVER!"

Y'all will visit me when I'm in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, won't you?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Book Buying Orgy II

Well, the title gives it all away, so I won't be constructing any clever, albeit derivative, openings such as "Hi! My name is G. W. and I'm a book addict..." or "Perhaps I'm in need of an intervention..." or "It's not my fault; no, really, it's not my fault..." (okay, so they're not clever; so sod off); I'll just come out and say I returned to Barnes & Noble Sunday and bought a bunch of books.


Let the rationalizing begin.

My original intent was to buy only three books: The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, and 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Richmond by Nathan Lott. Some explanation:

During my last Book Buying Orgy I actually picked up The Wasp Factory but somehow managed to misplace it between the "Fiction" section and the checkout counter. When you're lugging around a huge-ass pile of books this can happen and when you're a leeetle obsessive this is annoying. Majorly annoying. My sense of...completeness...was disrupted and, sheesh, well, we can't have that, so Sunday's task was to remedy my neurotic discomfort. And to grab a copy of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Richmond, inspired as I was by my recent rambles through Forest Hill Park and the alleys of the Carytown/Museum District (remember, if you will, that when faced with any drive beyond an hour I'm more than likely going to stay at home. Remember, too, that even though I've lived here over 16 years I barely know anything at all about this place which, yes, I know, is sad). Oh, and The Crossing because friend Kevin (the quintessential Cormac McCarthy fan: "Blood Meridian is the only book where I finished the last page and immediately started over with the first").said "youhavetoreadityouhavenochoice" since I just finished All the Pretty Horses.

Three books. One, two, three. That's all. But B&N didn't have a copy of The Crossing and I figured since I was expecting to buy three and I had budgeted for three, I may as well find a third because... because... well, just because.

Long story short--I bought six.

I have a problem.

I don't care.

I did find 60 Hikes and The Wasp Factory; I also found:

Men And Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem (see the Bookslut entry here), a collection of short stories by the author of Gun, With Occasional Music, which I enjoyed for its out-and-out quirky-assedness. The Bookslut review promises more of the same so I'm all a-twitter.

Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee
To which I can only say Dudes! It's JOHN 'EFFIN' MCPHEE! I cannot imagine the subject he couldn't make interesting (and, believe me, I've tried), but TRUCKS and TRAINS and OCEAN TANKERS? Oh, sweet Jeebus, my inner 10-yr. old is having conniptions!

Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke
So I like Truman Capote's writing, so I think "A Christmas Memory" is one of the greatest short stories of all time, so I find the man with all his quirks and foibles and contradictions utterly, completely fascinating, so that doesn't make me gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!). No track lighting, Audrey Hepburn posters, or Tom of Finland collections in my apartment (okay, yeah, I've got a... few... musicals on CD and know the words to an awful lot of show tunes, still...). No, seriously, to me there's something about Capote, some strange... disparity... between the man and his work I'm hoping this biography will explain.

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace
The darling little twenty-something Gothy/Emo female cashier with the nasal piercing, the all-black clothing, and the black-rimmed Nerd Glasses was dutifully scanning my books when she came to Consider the Lobster and said, "What do you think of David Foster Wallace? He intrigues me."

And, you know? For a moment I was at a complete loss for words. I mean, how do you sum up Infinite Jest? Or The Broom of the System? Or the stories in Oblivion? Especially when what I'm thinking is No, honey; you intrigue me! I want to marry you, to rob banks and knock over 7-11s so as to support you in a style to which you're unaccustomed, sell crack and run whores whereby to shower you with expensive hipster gifts from the profits, buy you Mark Ryden originals, gaze at you longingly by moonlight in Hollywood Cemetery, to...

Never mind.

What I said was "How do you feel about... footnotes? Because DFW's footnotes can run as long, if not longer, than his novels."

"I love footnotes. I love it when things take me all sorts of directions I don't expect."

And, oh, people, the... things... that were flitting through my mind... but I was good; I merely took my bag o' books, looked over my shoulder, and said:

"Infinite Jest. Grab a copy. You're going to have a great time!"

See that big ol' "L" on my forehead?


Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Cat Is A Pervert

So these are some of my...uh...action figures (not dolls!) artfully arranged atop my computer tower:

Looks like The Thing is moderating a philosophical discussion between Action Figure Jesus and Buddy Christ while Edgar Allen Poe looks on with amusement (not pictured: Cthulhu Action Figure).

Exit: me.

Enter: Sid the Cat, who feels to need to leap and swat and bounce around the computer desk.

Exit: Sid the Cat, to hide under the computer desk, hoping for the opportunity to attack my feet when I sit down.

Enter: me, to see this:

Feel free to provide your own caption or comment.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekend Roundup

To be honest, the default mode for my life is set at "pretty much uneventful," which is not necessarily a bad thing--I see plenty of drama amongst the Super-Secret Support Group people I hang out with and want none of it--but at times I wind up feeling a bit "restless, irritable, and discontented."

I forget that sometimes Life can be a case of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.

Friday was yet another in a long string of utterly predictable, often boring, typically mind-numbing, frequently frustrating work days, but I managed to get through it without screaming, cursing, seriously fantasizing about a pre-frontal lobotomy, or opening up with automatic weapons fire. Came home, scratched the cat, fed the cat, changed the cat's litter box, scratched the cat some more, had a momentary lapse of reason, tried to scratch the cat's tummy, whereupon I was reminded suddenly that Sid the Cat was not named after Six-Dinner Sid; he was named after Sid Vicious. Thanked the Preparedness Gods that I had Neosporin in the medicine cabinet and spent the evening watching the Survivorman marathon while reading All the Pretty Horses during the commercial breaks. Sid, meanwhile, decided Neosporin is singularly icky-tasting while my chest looked like a good place to nap. At some point we both fell sound asleep.

Saturday was a stunningly beautiful day--deep blue skies, fluffy white clouds, cool temperatures--the kind of day when reasonable people are out and about enjoying the nice weather, so, naturally, I hooked up with Alex, Kevin, and Nick and spent the afternoon in a darkened movie theater watching the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween, which was oodles of fun for an aging horror whore such as myself--in-jokes a-plenty (White Zombie playing on a television in the background), a nicely ironic soundtrack ("Love Hurts," "{Don't Fear} The Reaper," "Only Women Bleed," etc.), and several cameos (ATTN: Cath--Mickey Dolenz alert!). And it's nice that Malcolm McDowell can still find work.

Saturday evening I went to the 11th Hour North Super-Secret Support Group meeting, after which a bunch of us headed over to our current favorite coffee shop, Common Groundz, and sat out front enjoying the cool night air and the Broad St. Impromptu Improvisational Theater--drunken college students attempting to unchain their bikes in a Monty Pythonesque display of ineptitude, drunken hip-hoppers trying to look cool while stumbling into brick walls, drunken cruisers showing off spinners costing more than their vehicles, drunken Club Kids in expensive-yet-disheveled clothing on their way home to wrap up the night with Jagermeister and unprotected sex, the Richmond PD converging on the nearby Hess gas station with five squad cars, a paddy wagon, and what looked for all the world like a SWAT van--yeah, a good time was had by all.

Sunday I decided I (1) needed to do something different while (2) taking advantage of the nice weather, so I grabbed my el cheapo work/combat boots, a GI-style canvas butt pack, a canteen full of water, a box of raisins, and drove southwards to explore Forest Hill Park, described here as "...hav(ing) been neglected for so long it has become beautiful again" and that's a pretty apt description. Once I wandered beyond the parking area and picnic shelters I was in another world, almost Myst-like, with decaying stone structures, paved, gravel, or dirt trails going nowhere in particular, a lake in the process of becoming a marsh, and only the occasional passer-by or trail biker. I followed a rocky, sometimes debris-ridden stream, passed through one long, massive culvert system, then another, and finally wound up on the south bank of the James River wondering why in hell I don't do things like this more often.

I woke up Monday morning with The Fever upon me--Book Fever. My zombie-like moans--"Muuust...haaave...boooooks!"--disturbed the cat, whereupon he graced me with the Kitty Stink-Eye (pat. pend.), m'rowred his little squeaky m'rowr, shifted position, and got on with the serious business of sleeping the day away. I, on the other hand, fired up Ye Olde Intarwebs and began the serious business of poring through my 15-screens-worth of Wish List in order to select the most likely candidates for purchase. My plan was to hike into Carytown, assault the Creatures 'N' Crooks bookstore, and load up on science fiction, mysteries, and horror novels; unfortunately, I hadn't considered they might be closed on Labor Day, something I discovered only when I grabbed their door handle and wrenched my shoulder, much to the amusement of the cute little smoothie-sucking giggly high school girls sitting nearby.

Okay, I thought, I'm a Big Boy, I can improvise, I can show a little adaptability. I'll go to Plan 9 Music, browse around the used DVD bins for a bit, then walk home and drive to Barnes & Noble.

Which I did, but this time instead of taking my usual, mundane, safe, predictable, boring route of Cary St. or Floyd to Nansemond to Grove, I decided to hike back through the residential alleys and see what there was to see.

Lots, as it turned out (and, no, that's not a pun); there's a whole 'nother world out there! Like the pepper garden someone has near Belmont--yellow wax peppers, green jalapeno peppers, red chile peppers, orange habaneros, bell peppers of various colors...who knew? Actually, there's a whole array of near-clandestine gardens in the area between Boulevard and North Thompson, clandestine in that they're not actually part of someone's back yard; they're sandwiched in between fences and the alley proper or growing in whatever otherwise unused strips of land happen to be available. Sunflowers, roses, morning glories, honeysuckle, random vegetables... lawn gnomes, gargoyles, sundials, gazing balls, decaying bird baths... once-ornate gates, dilapidated old brick garages encased in moss and ivy, sun-bleached children's playhouses... and none of them meticulously maintained which, as far as I'm concerned, gives 'em all a particular charm.

Add a light sprinkling of bikini-clad college-age women washing SUVs, elderly men fiddling with pre-Columbian lawn mowers, a few miscellaneous cats, dogs, squirrels, and chipmunks, and you have a perfectly delightful afternoon walk. I almost regretted arriving home so soon, but the Siren-calls of paperback books demanded I leave this green and pleasant land and re-enter the world of crass consumerism, an orgy I've detailed elsewhere.

Book Buying Orgy

So how do I celebrate (my lack of) Labor Day? Well, by heading out to my local Barnes & Noble and buying a whole bunch of books!

How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes For Great Food by Mark Bittman
I've needed a good, basic, all-inclusive, one-volume cookbook for years, but with gazillions of 'em out there from which to choose and new ones being printed by the forestload the question has always been which one? My mother swears by her Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook from the late 'Fifties/early 'Sixties and many, many people recommend The Joy of Cooking, but I dunno, they've always seemed kind of...frumpy...with too many recipes involving the perturbations of Jell-O and suspended fruit. The first cookbook I ever bought for myself was The New James Beard, this at a book fair in Harrisonburg where I had to fight--and I mean fight-- my way through a crowd of cooking-crazed militant Mennonite women (my friend Lynn suggested next time I should shout "Hey! Is that Jesus over by the technothrillers?" to clear a path) and I liked Beard's writing style, but still wanted something a little more detailed. My other cookbook was a gift, The Stuffed Cougar, which I think the city of Richmond requires you to own if you want to live here, having been published as a fundraiser for the hoity-toity Collegiate School. Compiled in the '70s, it's basically a collection of recipes most of which involve opening cans and crumbling potato chips (there's even a "Six-Can Casserole" submitted by the mother of one of my ex-girlfriends).

Anyway, praise be to the Intarweb, for diligent searching revealed the highly recommended How To Cook Everything--"...a more hip Joy of Cooking"--and it looks to be pretty close to my ideal.

I Got Somebody In Staunton: Stories by William Henry Lewis
Hey! Staunton, VA! Nine miles from where I grew up! Well, that, plus I love short stories, all the reviews are highly positive, and this was a PEN/Faulkner Award For Fiction finalist.

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
by Tim Pratt
Could be good, could be bad, but with a title like that I had to check it out! And an art school drop-out/barista/comic book writer as a main character fighting Primal Evil? Yeah, I'm there.

The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl
Mixed reviews, but still--historical fiction about ol' Edgar's last days? Yeah, I'm there too!

Glasshouse by Charles Stross
"...a claustrophobic far-future helter-skelter ride through an experimental archaeology project gone horribly wrong." I've read a couple of books by Stross and this one sounded interesting, so why not?

The Sign of the Book and The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning
Look, I like mysteries and I like books, so when someone develops a character who's both a rare book dealer and an occasional private investigator I get all gooey inside. Dunning's previous books in the series have been decent enough, offering an insider's look into the antiquarian book trade (which I find utterly fascinating; Used and Rare: Travels In the Book World is something I re-read frequently and is a great companion piece for Dunning's mysteries) as an interesting backdrop for all the hugger-mugger.

The Rift by Walter J. Williams
Nine hundred forty-four pages about an American Apocalypse via earthquake? Have I mentioned recently how much I love The-End-of-the-World-As-We-Know-It novels? Lucifer's Hammer? On the Beach? A Canticle For Leibowitz? Alas, Babylon? Oh, yeah, baby, and now I have something new to add to the list!

Hit Parade by Lawrence Block
Bottom line: Lawrence Block rocks! Nah, it ain't Great Literature, but when I'm looking for a fun read, entertainment pure and simple, Mr. Block delivers the goods consistently. Here we have the third collection of stories about introspective, introverted hit man John Keller.

So there ya go, my stockpile for fall, because as we ALL should know by now, "Books will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no books."