I Know, Right?

Where the hell have I been?

Short answer:  really frikkin’ busy.  An excuse? Not a good one.  But I will say the one I have is probably the best of all possible excuses.  All of my creative energy has been going into entertaining the Nugget.  She’s such a little sponge; everything I throw out there she soaks right up, and then quickly gets bored & wants to go back to watching Cinderella or Lion King – which she can soak up repeatedly, apparently without EVER getting bored.  That fact comes with the implication that maybe I’m the one getting bored with my own Nugget-specific creations, or at least bored enough to not want to repeat the same material over & over… but then I remember that I’m not a DVD & it’s actually normal to want to keep things fresh.  So all my fresh stuff, which is in high demand by my highly loyal audience of one, is 1) skewed very young; B) performed live and not captured on video; and 4) usually accompanied by a slight poop odor (usually hers).

I’m also in the middle of consuming the “Song of Ice & Fire” series by George R.R. Martin.  If you’re not familiar, it’s currently a five tome series, of which I’m almost done with the third, with each tome weighing in around 850 hardback pages.  This is also the series that HBO has turned into “A Game Of Thrones”, an awesome new drama series titled after the first book in the series.  Political intrigue, war, dragons, sex, incest, dwarves, wolves, accents… this series really does have it all from a fantasy perspective, but I’m almost done with #3 and there really hasn’t been a whole bunch of wizardry or supernatural involved; shapeshifting, dragons born from rocks, yes – but Martin isn’t really elaborating on those as vignettes.  He spends more time describing each character’s garb than I’d like, and I also suck at visualizing gates & keeps & towers in castles, so he doesn’t rank in the top five of my sci-fi/fantasy authors list… but this is still a FANTASTIC series, and I spend whatever free time I have reading it.  I’ve been swimming through Lannisters & Starks’ family trees since Christmas, and probably won’t grab a towel until Cinco de Mayo when I climb out to swing drunkenly at a piñata, inevitably miss, and hit my own nuts.

All this is to say I’m sort of intentionally quiet with Shower Sandwich, which, when I return to MAKING things, will be my primary channel for distribution.  I’ve had a few strangers post a few comments, and plenty of folks watching, so I feel like it’s not a complete failure; hence I’m not discouraged, I’m just … distracted, as I mentioned above.  Also – thanks to all of you who’ve watched & given your honest feedback.  It’s a process, but the process doesn’t get me very far without the commentary.

Now… back to the nerdery.

Review of “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson

AnathemAnathem by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, let me say I love all other books of Neal Stephenson’s that I’ve read. In most cases, they require a hefty investment (time, weight-the books are hefty, and spiritual collateral-you need to trust him), but the reward is more often than not HIGHLY worth it, and even when it’s not you still break even.

Now, to “Anathem”… The plot, in short, “Anathem” played to me like the work that might have inspired the screenplay of Armageddon, except they had to add Bruce Willis, remove all the references to geometry & logic, replace it with faux-geology, swirl in some sex jokes, and oh yeah why not have an Anthem by Aerosmith. Take the Michael Bay out of Armaggeddon, and you have some idea what Anathem is about. People stuck in remote places doing what the world has told them to do (or more appropriately what they can’t), and then some extraterrestrial threat presents itself & the people stuck in remote places become extremely important. Anathem = spaceship containing four races of interplanetary/interdimensional life forms; Armageddon = big rock.
None of this is to say that fans of Stephenson will be disappointed. Au contraire. Of all the books I’ve read of Neal’s, this one is the beefiest. Part of the premise is that you’re reading an account of the transpirations that happened on a different world/track and it had to be translated from Orth into your language. Yes, it includes a glossary & several clips from reference books; it even includes some geometrical puzzles & proofs. ANathem smacks you with this right up front, and it may take you a week to get through the first 100 pages.
If you get that far, you will be rewarded. Yes, the “action” is dry – there are zero vestiges of Michael Bay. The humor is also quite dry, but not surprisingly so. You’re encouraged to keep reading if you can get into some of the sharpest examinations of logic, dialogue, rhetoric, philosophy, geometry & nature you’re likely to find in a work of fiction. The voice you read learns much throughout the events that happen, and it speaks in a way that makes you think you’re finally about to learn something profound if you just keep going. Right up to the end I found myself getting little snippets of what Neal’s on about, of what his worldview really is or what I’m not considering about my own; these little nuggets were just big enough to keep me hitting the feed-bar.
Well, I kept going… and frankly, the “singularity” moment I was expecting never arrived for me. I’ll admit to not being able to follow the multitude of strings of social commentary Stephenson’s woven here; some of them are obvious & omnipresent, but I found myself repeatedly questioning whether or not there’s supposed to be some parallel meaning or secondary lesson I just didn’t quite see. In the end I decided there were probably more parallels than I could know (because Neal’s much better read & smarter than me), but of those I could perceive, I can say I’ve absorbed his POV. For other readers, this book may become a How-To or a DIY narrative. Still for others, Neal may have alienated them in the first 100 pages & never given them much of a reason to keep going, and their trust may not return.
In short, not my favorite Neal book. My fave is still Cryptonomicon. But I’m glad I read Anathem, if for no other reason than to be reminded what action movies would have been like without Ben Affleck.

View all my reviews

We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!!

We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!!.

See if you can find my picture in this internet-famous blog.

When you can’t, see if you can email my mom and tell her it’s her fault I’m not internet-famous.  I told her the extra fee for the lasers background would be an investment in my future, and I was right.  It would’ve been.  PARENTING FAIL.

Oh, Nine…

Yes, yes, the inevitable self-reflecting post that comes with every new year. This year, comrades, will be different. Nine is my favorite number, as it is the first odd perfect square, and it’s the number around which every single math skill I have is built. What does this mean? Well, aside from the fact that I’m a Supreme Nerd, consider that I’m also a bit superstitious. Maybe it’s the little Chinese man in me (we all have one… even Oprah), but I feel like the calendar year that represents one or several 9s has GOT to be especially significant to me – and ever the optimist, I believe it will of course be especially POSITIVE.  For instance, 1999 was a VERY good year.  Full scholarship to Penn State, lost my virginity, and made two of my life-long best friends.  It was 3x as good as any year I’ve ever had, and it had 3 nines in it.  It’s science.

So this year will be awesome, and I’ll start it off with an awesome post.  This could easily be another ‘here are my resolutions that I resolve during this first week of the year when everyone else is also resolving’ blog post, and you would still love me.  But because I am insanely creative & ever so Nerd-ertaining, let’s turn up the Awesome.  Presented below are all of the superheroes I will be by the end of 2009.


Secret Identity: Mediocre analyst who steals time from the company to blog, twitter, and buy stuff on eBay.
Corporate double-speak & nonsensical blurbs (i.e. “it is what it is”); politically correct insults
Able to work 16 hours in a single day
Makes amazingly important decisions with almost no data to support it by relying on “gut feel”
Impervious to actual analysis, busy work, and cubicles
Key Weakness:
Unable to add true value to any business situation, given status as “middle man” between the Supreme Executive Powers and The Data Monkeys.
How To Exploit:
Ask MISTER MANAGER to put together a presentation on what it is he does here.
Secret Identity: That funny friend who seems completely insecure & slightly socially inept unless he’s making fun of  someone, something, or himself.
Pop culture references, politically incorrect ethnic slurs, profanity, poop jokes, dick jokes, boob jokes, sex jokes, synonyms for ‘vagina’, and neoliberalism; also Mexican.
Able to work for hours & hours on stand-up material while only getting paid in laughter
Makes old jokes new again by adding insignificant pop-culture references that last less than two years so that new jokes become old jokes again
Impervious to public humiliation, physical intimacy with a real person, and postgraduate education
Key Weakness:
Inflated sense of self-worth – as this increases, humor & superpowers decrease (i.e. Seinfeld, Al Franken, Dane Cook)
How to Exploit:
Repeatedly explain that he’s “such a good guy” and tell him people still love him even if he’s not funny.
Secret Identity:  The guy who sees sees a bag of Oreos as a buffet, and who treats buffets as a self-defining feat of endurance.
Calories, nutrients, scientific names for parts of body/musculature (i.e. trapezius dorsi, gastrocnemius, gluteals), different types of spandex, perfect usage of ‘no homo’ dialects
Able to fepeatedly rise at crack of dawn to spend 60 minutes validating himself as physical specimen and/or trying to uncover the elusive ‘six pack’ with almost no true progress
Makes protein-packed lunches that are both nutrient-dense and delicious – tuna salad on rice cakes, boiled chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt
Impervious to bagels, Bugles, burritos, burgers & babyback ribs.
Key Weakness:
Simple sugars like those found in icing, M&Ms, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and anything creme-filled; also guilt.
How to Exploit:
Bring him a baked good that you made yourself, and deploy Guilt Trip when he politely declines.
Note to Mr. Lee, G-More & JBee:  these ideas are for sale – it will only cost you one cameo spot in each adapted screenplay.