Thursday, May 01, 2003

  • THE THING: This book: Immortal Khan, by H. Doug Matsuoka, © 2001
          Centuries old Khan
              master of machinery
                  is hunted and found.
    The story opens with a car/motorcycle/helicopter chase. You can't go wrong with something like that.

    Khan was a master craftsman of metalworks in centuries old China. He would create toys and diversions of incredible complexity. When he was asked to use his abilities to create weapons, he know he could no longer be a part of that society, so he ran. He eventually met Chung Li, who taught him many things about his mond and body, and through his studies learned the ways of immortality.

    Flash forward to the present day. Chung is searching for his old student, to prevent history from repeating itself.

    This book was just a blast to read. The ancient Chinese masters would switch between traditional-sounding speech, and modern vernacular. It was funny, and gave the book a gangster-style feel at times. There is some great suspenseful action, and creative characters, as well as creative ways to develop them.

    The text has an odd flow to it, though. It is written almost like a film script, of sorts. There are what seem like sorts of chapter titles that describe the setting. Sometimes they stand alone, but sometimes they are actually integrated into the text of the story....

    "A waiter carries a tray of various elegant serving vessels through the busy tables at the crowded restaurant. He turns a corner and begins ascending


    A large wooden carving of a dragon descending through clouds runs the height of the stairway. At the top of the stairs, Waiter steps into


    Which passes the doorways of a number of unoccupied private dining areas."

    It's a little odd at first, but it gives the story an almost breathless flow, and a definite cinematic quality.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $5.95. A high-quality paperback book. Although, my version is of course an eBook. Buy eBooks, people. Thank you. ( I don't own any eBook stock or anything, I just want to make sure they keep making them!)

  • THE THING: A bottle of Hine XO Cognac
          Smooth, sweet, strong, but soft
              oaky, bold, no bite at all.
                  tastes great chilled or warm.
    Who doesn't love a nice fine glass of cognac? OK, a few people. I however, have developed quite a fondness for the stuff. This particular bottle was given to me by my next door neighbor, on a returned trip from overseas, as a cat sitting favor. This stuff was so good, I would shovel cat turds for weeks, gladly, for another bottle. I had never had any Thomas Hine Brand Cognac before, but it's one I shall certainly be looking for in the future.

    It's taste is warm and inviting; there is no bitterness or sticky sweet-tang flavor at all. Usually I drink it at room temperature, or cooled a little, but I had a flask full of the stuff at the weeding I attended last weekend, and it had warmed up nicely in my breast pocket. I think it tasted even better slightly warmed.

    Apparently, the Hine cognacs are famous for being good with cigars; they even make a line exclusively for that. SO, go buy a nice cigar, fill a snifter of the Hine, and enjoy. Trust me, it's good stuff.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

  • THE THING: A story: Foggery, by Mark Rich, © 1996
          Very short story,
              vegetable-shaped intruders,
                  witty, insightful.
    This is a great little story, which starts out with an alien asking the classic alien question: "Take me to your leader." A couple paragraphs later, the stringy piece of celery shaped alien ends up offing himself, seemingly due to an endless tirade of double talk, political correctness and red tape. And it just gets funnier from there.

    Why are the vegetable shaped aliens here? What do they want? Why do they keep knocking people out and stealing their clothes? And can Mr. Fogg impress Adelaide Jones, the young, new, female reporter, enough that she will consider a date? That last one is the real plot pusher.

    These short, cheap books are one of my favorite parts of owning an e-book.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $3. A dollar for each time I've read it already (that would be three times, for the non-math people out there). Oh, and in a shameless promotion of the industry: BUY eBOOKS!!

  • THE THING: A book: Death Rat!, by Micheal Nelson, © 2003
          quirky narrative
              deception and funk music
                  ridiculous cool
    I think this is Mike Nelson's first novel. He's written a couple other books, but they're mainly just collections of his thoughts and reviews of things. (This Blog is not a concept stolen from his ideas!! It's NOT! Seriously. It's not. Nope. This is an original concept by me. No theivery. No plagiarism. Just me. It's all me. So get those thoughts out of your head right now. I mean it. Thank you.) And, yes, this IS the Mike Nelson who was the second host of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

    Warning: Try not to read this book in public. I was in the Springfield Taco Bell, enjoying some fine insta-mex food, reading "Death Rat!", cackling like a hyena. It was not very becoming. Bits of soft-shell taco were being splattered all over the table. It's a funny book, I tell you.

    My twisted anology for this book: It's like fidge ripple ice cream. The whole package is real good, but every once in a while you hit a nice thick rich ribbon of fudge, and it's gooey deliciousness takes you by surprise. The whole book is quite well put-together: odd, funny, and quick... but sometimes there will be a string of occurences that just had me laughing out loud. I'd go back 2 pages and reread it, just to relive the experience, and I'd laugh again, possibly harder.

    There are some wonderful characters drifting through the book: Ponty Feeb, the protagonist, an aging history writer trying to make a comeback. Gus Bromstad, his arch rival, another writer. The Danish private investigating squad is pretty funny. The governor of Minnesota, who rappels down from the third floor window of his mansion to avoid dealing with his assisstants. The 38-or-so inhabitants of Holey, Minnesota. But probably best is King Leo, the funkadelic master craftsman, who really stirs the book into a frenzy. Whenever he introduces himself, he always gives other names he will answer to, in case the new introductee needs alternates...

    "You can call me King Leo, or you can call me the Sovereign Ruler of Groove, Milord Nasty Pants, the Magistrate of Penetrate, the Pharoah of Funk, Maharaja of the Mojo, Ceasar the Pleaser, Benevolent Despot of the Lower Places, the Commander in Chief of the Overstuffed Briefs, or the Exchequer of Milk Chocolate Soul." (pg. 193)

    Any book that has the phrase "Milord Nasty Pants" is a winner by me! (Although "Benevolent Despot of the Lower Places" and "The Commander in Chief of the Overstuffed Briefs", however verbose, are still quite funny...)

    If you need a book to jumpstart the summer reading season, I can think of none better than "Death Rat!"

The Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $17.95. And, since it's a $14.95 trade paperback, it's a bargain.

Monday, April 28, 2003

  • THE THING: The wedding of Rob and Jess.
          a beautiful day
              champagne, gin, whisky sours
                  lost a cummerbund
    It certainly was a nice day yesterday for the wediing. It was about 7 degrees too warm to be wearing a tuxedo, but besides that, it was very pleasant.

    So, there was the usual ceremony, which led into a limo ride strangely reminiscent of the one from the bachelor party. OK, it wasn't quite that crowded, but almost. At least no one was sitting on the bar. There was champagne in the limo, and Reid brought some vodka (at least I'm giving him the credit, since he was pouring). I had filled my flask (thanks again, Rob!) with cognac. It was quite yummy.

    Then we had pictures taken at Perona Farms, where the reception was. They had a stone bridge leading to an island with fountains around -- it was pretty nice. I only mention it because of the remarkable fact that none of us fell in.

    Then drinks in their patio/courtyard. That was quite nice. I stepped out there for a few minutes after it had gotten dark, and there was a beautiful crisp sky. Jupiter was pretty magnificent, I must say.

    I got to see a bunch of friends who I haven't seen in months, at least. It was nice to do some catching up.

    There was food and dancing, and it was all quite festive. It was VERY festive for me... I do enjoy an open bar. I didn't get sick until I got home, which was nice. Then off to bed (Hillary said I had my glasses on until 3:00 am).

    I woke up this morning to find pieces of my tux in random places, however, the cummerbund was missing. I have no idea where it went. It was in my coat pocket for the reception, but somehow it didn't make it home. My cuff links fell off at least seven times, but somehow they made it home. One was grotesquely bent (it got stepped on during the bridge photo session mentioned above), but they somehow remained on my person. Alas, for the cummerbund, this was not to be. Poor cummerbund... where could he be? Probably trampled by hordes of wedding reception revelers. Poor cummerbund. *-sniffle-*

    Anybody out there wondering how much a cummerbund is worth? I know the thought was racing through my head as I was driving towards Springfield to return my tuxedo, sans cummerbund. Well, I will keep you in suspense no longer! Fifteen dollars.

I will now take this opportunity to discuss the cummerbund. WHAT IS UP WITH IT? I really am not a fan of odd, unfunctional fashion. What is the point of wrapping pleated material around your waist? Why is that considered part of formal wear? Weird. Just weird.