Arlighty. I’m almost packed and almost ready to go. I’m going to Montreal for a week and, since I’m traveling alone, I’m going to try to minimize my TWA (Time Waiting Around) by foregoing checked luggage in favor of squeezing everything into my carry-on bags. So, just the bare essentials: socks, shirts, underwear, toiletries, laptop, and about a dozen books. On the reading menu this trip:

Look to Windward



Girlfriend In A Coma

Under the Skin


Girl in the Glass

Midwich Cuckoos

Stainless Steel Rat


Overman Culture

Chances are someone out there has read at least one of the above.  Thoughts?  Recommendations?  Warnings?

Hey, to all those wondering what the heck is up, will be down for a few days as they gear up for their SGU-heavy re-launch. Keep checking back because there are BIG THINGS UNIVERSE headed your way in the coming weeks.

Speaking of checking in – Hey, remember that short story I completed a while back? Yeah, the one that took me forever to finish? Well, it‘s going to be published as part of an upcoming anthology (with a release date in early 2010). As to the theme of the collected works and who else will be contributing (I‘m in truly amazing company), head on over to where editor extraordinaire Lou Anders will be making the grand announcement this month. And, while you’re there, check out his comic and film reviews and get the latest updates on the Pyr front.

Which reminds me – Finish up Blood of Ambrose all you slow readers. Discussion begins next week and we’ll be joined by author James Enge.

Finished up Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, a series I started off liking but ended up loving, especially in the latter installments as things really picked up. The final volume, Whys and Wherefores, offers up one of the finest endings I’ve ever read in a comic book series. Sure, there are a few questions still left unanswered but, overall, an immensely satisfying ride.

The gang at SFSignal are running a Stargate SG-1 Watchathon as we count down toward the premiere of Stargate: Universe.  Head on over and relive those golden years when Teal’c was, uh, actually golden.  So far –—children-of-the-gods-pt-1/—children-of-the-gods-pt-2/

Oh, dear.  How embarrassing.  Daughter enlists help of friends to beat the guy attacking her mother.  Only problem was the guy wasn’t, uh, “attacking” her:

BTW – My new favorite show = Food Detectives hosted by the always entertaining Ted Allen.  “What’s the deal with the 5-second rule? Does turkey really make you sleep? Is double-dipping really unsanitary?”  Tune in or cruise by the website for the science-errific scoop: 

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday boy Major D. Davis.

43 thoughts on “July 2, 2009: Oh, This and That.

  1. Glad to hear you liked Y so much – I really want to pick that up for my husband to read…


    Hey. I’m cheap – if you’re done with ’em, can I borrow them for a bit?? 😉

    Joe, why not just keep extra clothes at your mum’s? A week’s worth of undies, socks, shirts, slacks – whatever else – stowed away in a suitcase or unused dresser drawer. Doesn’t have to be anything special – maybe some older stuff you don’t wear much anymore. It just seems it would make travelling back home so much easier.

    Wow. That came off sounding rather…bossy. Sorry. 😛

    Anyhoo – have a great trip and visit!


  2. So, not wearing pants? Have a great time in Montreal with your family. Get them prepared, we expect some great stories.

    Cheers, Chev

  3. Look to Windward is excellent, and got me interested in the whole Culture series. I think the best Culture novel is Excession, and if you haven’t picked it up yet you are in for a treat.

  4. Safe travels Joe.
    When are you heading back to Tokyo? (sorry if you’ve already answered and I’ve missed it)
    Really, really consider a Reader/Kindle even just for your travel times. Saves you so much room in your luggage. I’m a hand-luggage chick now with all the extra space.

  5. I believe that MythBusters found that double dipping really wasn’t that bad.

  6. Hi Joe!

    Have a safe trip tomorrow! 🙂

    Bought SGA S5 today and enjoyed the first two eps…for the third or fourth time, but this time was special cuz it was DVD versus iTunes download. 🙂 Plus, I get to watch them all AGAIN with stunning and amazingly interesting commentary. 🙂

    Update on my pets. Sarah, the beagle-terrier is doing fine as usual. A few allergies and a bit overweight, but otherwise OK.

    Simon, our diabetic/doggy-MS lab, is doing pretty well, His 3rd eyelid is starting to encroach on his “good” eye, but he can see enough to know where the food and the door is. I just keep some lights on when going down the hall and such. His MS (degenerative myelopathy, to be exact) seems to be not advancing too much with the drug therapy he’s on. I bought him a ramp to get in/out of the vehicles as I put my back out lifting him into the Jeep a week or so ago.

    We got a kitten! It’s a feral kitty a client of my vet brought to the vet and she needed a home. Haven’t seen much of her – just a black and white blur as she runs away from us. We’re taking it very easy and trying to win her over with tuna, some toys, and calm voices. She’s basically living in our garage (attached, with a kitty door), which keeps the mess down in the house. We haven’t even named her, as we don’t know her well enough yet.

    In your previous post, you talked about the dogs waking you up by just hanging out, walking around, and playing? My Simon does that, except he just stands up and pants at me. That always wakes up the Doggie Mom in me, and she gets me out of bed to let the dog out. (Who says pets ain’t like kids?)

    Again, have a safe trip! 🙂


  7. Y: The Last Man was one of my favourite series, and I was so sad when the final issue came around. I just love that, as the series progresses, everyone changes — nobody’s the same person they started out as. And nobody’s quite who they seem at first.

    Also, there are monkeys. There can never be too many monkeys in comics. 🙂

    Of the books you have packed, I have read only two: The Midwich Cuckoos and The Girl in the Glass. If the others are even half as good as those two, you’re in for a great reading experience.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on Ascent when you’re done. That cover really caught my eye! I’m guessing it’s space exploration with a bit of cold war thrown in for good measure?

  8. Hey Joe,

    So before I even really *read* the post properly I had to weigh in on a couple of the books (OK, 2 – the only ones listed which I’ve read, but still):

    Look to Windward:
    Something I found almost surprising about Iain M. Banks’ books was that they never failed to impress. I have yet to read “Matter”, but I plan to. Anyway, I found Look to Windward rather profound, and quite beautiful. Rather sombre subject matter, and I love the characterizations of the Minds.

    Girlfriend in a Coma:
    Not my usual subject matter, but I read it several years ago (grade 10, I think), and found it quite thought-provoking. Also, (kind of random) my dad used to babysit for Douglas Coupland.

    Overall, I’m not sure whether to say read Banks’ book first (because it was so good), or to save it for last, to savour it… I’ll leave it up to you 😀

    Also, about packing a ton of books: when I went to the Galapagos Islands I took about 8 books with me. It was a school trip and we had those big camping backpacks… And I still had to buy more books on the way home.


  9. Hmm… I’m pretty sure Mythbusters already covered the 5-second rule and double dipping. But since I’m too lazy to find the videos that could back up my claims, well…

    Um, where was I going with this?

  10. Just read “Look to Windward” last month. Interesting characters, hiliarious dialogue, strange space ship names, etc– all standard Banks. Pretty good and I enjoyed it, but like most of Bank’s books the overall plot seems to be missing. For some reason when I’m done with one of his books I can remember the characters, but quickly forget the actual story.

    I remember “Stainless Steel Rat” to be a pretty amusing and entertaining read.

  11. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for a great last few days of blogs! Have enjoyed the character moments, glimpses into the real life of the actors, and some behind the scenes actions of the staff. Your blog has been a welcome break from my audit prep at work!

    Wising you a safe and fun vacation in Montreal, and a happy 4th of July to all American readers!

    Patty O

  12. CONGRATULATIONS on getting your short story published!! And in such a great way.

  13. Congratulations on the publishing of your short story!! Wonderful news.

    Ummm, with so many books, is there any room for more than 1 set of any of the clothes you mentioned? Hopefully, your carry on is like the TARDIS – small on the outside and HUGE on the inside.


  14. The Stainless Steel Rat is a great read. It sparked a lot of sequels that got a little too self-reverential and tired for my taste. But if you like it may I recommend ‘The Stainless Steel Rat For President.’ I think it captured the humour that made the original so great and benefited from having a clearer goal-oriented plot.

    Us New Zealanders are over here waiting for SGA Season 5 on DVD to come out (which, if we go by the Season 4 precedent, will come out before most of it’s aired on TV).

    Safe travels. Air France, that Yemeni flight… it’s a good thing air disasters don’t come in threes. Or is that ’70s icons?

  15. Havent read any of those, wow I’m lame.

    Can’t wait for the big SGU stuff, Really excited!!!!!

    Congratulations on the short story!!!!!! Feels like I have to wait till 2010 for all the cool stuff like the stargate movies and the short stories and stuff.

    Thanks for the bday dedication as well

    Major D. Davis

  16. Congrats on your short story!

    Regarding your Montreal trip… (well, mostly the 12 books you’re bringing with you), what’s your opinion on the Kindle?

    You can put hundreds of books in your carry on, with the size of 1 book. kinda handy. I have one, but I’m not one who brings it on every errand. but trips? yeah. it’s kinda nice not having to worry about fitting in more books in the suitcase.

    anyway, just wondering if you’ve pondered the kindle, or are violently opposed. (I did a quick search on your blog but couldn’t find a blatant mention.)

  17. I haven’t read the Prestige but I saw the movie. If that’s any indication and the adage holds true, it should be a pretty good read.

    While I was positively delighted with the full frontal in CotG, I think it was a good call to drop the whole frozen solid post-gate travel idea.

    @Funcokler Xerow Yeah, Mythbusters confirmed it. But I remember seeing a study on the news a few years back where they dropped various foods of different texture (sliced meat, fruit, bread) on the floor for up to a minute, and there was little or no bacteria growth in that little time.

  18. I’d been wondering if your story would be in a Lou Anders / Pyr anthology. I wish we didn’t have to wait so long for the book to come out, but at least next month we’ll get a teaser, and learn who’s writing the other stories. This is fun! Thanks for keeping us posted.

    Talk about News of the Weird, the story about the guy getting whacked with a baseball bat because the gal is a “screamer” — that could’ve been extremely funny (since I wasn’t involved) if the kids hadn’t been arraigned on counts of assault and conspiracy. And it seems like I might be unaware of other things that could’ve been going on, like S&M or similar stuff I’d rather not hear about. The story you linked reminds me of Ford’s “The Drowned Life,” and the scene with the, what, 50-ish woman and the mind-reading octopus. Like the narrator, I didn’t know whether to feel disturbed, or consider the event acceptable. (But then, nobody got hit with a baseball bat. – “Jupiter’s Skull” from The Empire of Ice Cream had a passage with a partly similar theme, and it seemed like commentors weren’t too comfortable with it; but likely you remember that better than I do.)

    Speaking of, I’ll look forward to hearing your comments on The Girl in the Glass, or whatever you like best from the books you listed. (I haven’t read Valis, but wouldn’t hesitate to read anything by Philip K. Dick, no matter his state of mind.) I hope you have a good trip.

  19. Coucou!!

    ça va Joseph? Vous allez bien?

    Cool vous partez à Montréal! mais tout seul snifff..

    Waou sa en fait des livre, et vous avez lu tout ça O_O

    Oui j’ai vu la page d’acceuil de ma MGM éhéh la class, sgu powa!!!

    J’ai des questions à vous posez:

    1. Avez vous bien reçu mon email?
    2. Si vous auriez des enfants, aimeriez vous autant vos chiens? leurs consacreriez vous autant de temp que maintenant?

    Merci =)
    Bisou, aplus tard.

  20. Congrats on your short story news! Have a wonderful trip, even though it will be in dirty pants 🙂

    @Major Davis: Happy Birthday, kid!

  21. The Stainless Steel Rat is the only book you mentioned that I’ve read. An enjoyable series of books that are lightweight as far as “deep thinking”, but excellent for pacing, humor, and overall readability. Perfect selection for whiling away some time at airports. not so much for some light reading before bed though; SSR will keep you engaged enough you won’t want to put the book down.
    Thanks for posting the story of the girl and her friends. Thought it was hilarious myself, even if her mum does deny screaming. Hope you and your partner in crime and creativity have a safe, troublefree trip eastwards

  22. Have a safe flight back to a soggy Montreal. Too bad, it is the start of the summer festival season.

  23. Hi Mr M!!

    That’s great news re: Short Story with Lou “The Pulse” Anders! Fab! Would this be perchance FF3??

    Safe trip to Montreal, can you ask your Mom for more cake recipes? We made the Friendship Cake again here’s great!

    Douglas Coupland is terrific…I bought his City of Glass about Vancouver before I travelled there last year. I thought it was a pretty weird book (being factual), but after spending my 10 days in Van., I finally clicked alot of what he said. Intriguing.

    I am on hols to Spain on Monday 6th July with HRH and their Imperial Majesties and will be in an Internet Black Out Area. So with the exception of Sat and Sun, I will be offline for most of the next couple of weeks.

    Urgent news/spoilers can reach me by Carrier Pigeon in Malaga, Spain. I had planned to go to the Czech Republic, but U-NO-HU is there with her beau, and well she might think the “JM Blogees” were after her!

    Safe Trip and best to all in Montreal. I seem to recall last year that your first evening there was spent on the telephone to your Uncles whom your mother had telephoned to say you were in Montreal?! Classic! Same thing happens when I travel home too….Cinema Paradiso moments.

    Safe trip and hi to your Mom and all the family


  24. Thank you again for the book suggestions. The Blade Itself has proven to be so exciting that I am buying a copy. (I borrow everything and only buy what I want to keep, otherwise my house would be so full I would need a new one.

    A suggestion for the bookclub:

    Tamora Pierce – Trickster’s Choice or Terrier are kind of awesome. YA fiction is where it is at today.

  25. I have read three of those. “The Stainless Steel Rat” is an excellent read and will have you moving on the the other books in that series in no time.

    “The Midwich Cuckoos” is also a good read but not as strong as “Day of the Triffids” and one of my all time fav’s since I was in grade school “The Chrysalids”. After reading this blog for awhile I would highly recommend that you read “Web”. Being arachniphobic, that one scared the pants off me but kept me glued to the pages at the same time.

    As for “Girlfriend in a Coma”, Douglas Coupland is one of my all time favourite authors and I think that you will love this book. It takes a bit of a different path from his normal (and I say that with a smile on my face) path but it is freaking amazing. Most of his stuff takes place in Vancouver so it may draw you in even more and make it more personal.

    Also bu Douglas Coupland and among the great reads of my lifetime are: “All Families are Psychotic” (I will always remember my ex fondly for giving me that book and introducing me to Coupland’s work), “JPod” I don’t care what CBC says the show was hillarious and true to the novel. Also in the” JPod” vein, “Microserfs” they are very generational novels.

    People swear by “Shampoo Planet” but that was not my fav. Quite frankly, all of his novels are an amazing read and If you haven’t already read any of his stuff you will soon be rushing to the bookstore for more.

  26. Harry Harrison and the Stainless Steel Rat is directly responsible for a concoction created during a Milwaukee bar crawl, made to “honor” Panther Sweat. You can’t drink this shit unless you’re already drunk and I don’t recall the portions, and use the cheapest well booze possible:

    In a shaker with crushed ice,
    grapefruit juice
    banana liqueur
    and maybe triple sec, but I was awfully intoxicated… yeah, triple sec.

    Shake well, pour through strainer into martini glass. Should look yellow and, um, sweaty.

    Have fun, no open flames. Pants optional.

  27. Dick, Harrison, Vance = all fave authors, nice classic reads

    Have a safe trip Joe, congrats on being published

    USA Have a fun and safe Independence weekend! Don’t forget to fire something!

  28. Hi Joe,
    So I started to read Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. I’m a big Jane Austen as well as SciFi fan. I know this book is supposed to be funny but I got about a third of the way through and just couldn’t be bothered to read the rest. I’ll be interested to read your comments on the book as someone who doesnt know the original P&P by heart. I’ve never read a zombie book before but I have to imagine it could be written more interestingly that this book.
    So “Girlfriend in a Coma”, I have to wonder if this book title is related to the song by The Smiths of the same name. -Jennifer in Orlando.

  29. Your twitter numbers should see an increase today..
    Grant Imahara from Mythbusters has listed @JellMaxBubLu
    as one of his #followfriday picks.

  30. Look To Windward – fantastic book. I really liked the characters, and the plot, too. The Mind was also very interesting – I had only read three others by Banks when I read this one, and it really made me want to read more. It’s currently one of my favourite books (but is sadly out on loan and being difficult to get back…)

    Midwich Cuckoos – I remember all of Wyndam’s books scaring the life out of me when I read them at 10, and they still do! Not as good as Triffids or Chyrsalids, but still excellent. You should just read everything by him 😉 Although I didn’t like Web as much as the others – bit of a slow start.

    Most of the others are on my soon-to-read list, enjoy your trip!

  31. “What’s the deal with the 5-second rule? Does turkey really make you sleep? Is double-dipping really unsanitary?”

    The Mythbusters already answered all those questions. The 5-second rule is irrelevant, once it hits the floor duration doesn’t matter.
    Turkey does contain Tryptophan that causes you to get tired, only there isn’t enough of it to have any effect.
    Double dipping isn’t unsanitary, since there is more bacteria in the dip than there would be from your mouth.

  32. Bon Voyage! Enjoy your trip and your visit! Don’t eat too much, or mom might whip out her Padre Pepe again! 😉


  33. I’ve read the Prestige and it was great! Even if you’ve seen the movie the book is different enough to keep the suspense cracking. It’s actually one of the rare books that I can say both the movie and book are equally good.

    Enjoy your trip!

  34. Congratulations on the short story and have a wonderful and safe time in Montreal.

    Thanks for the USA July 4th wishes. The only thing I’m going to be firing up is my Quicken program. Receipt backlog here.

  35. Unrelated note that seemed to fit into “this and that” — spent the weekend watching Season 5 of SGA on DVD.

    First off, thank you for captioning the special features!! I’m hearing-impaired and need those captions to know what is said. Too many special features (and regular features!) are not captioned, so I very much appreciate the time and expense in making sure these were. Thank you!!

    Second and last, season 5 was outstanding and worth the wait (I don’t have cable/satellite so had to wait for over a year to see the final season after watching seasons 1-4 on DVD). Though it’s been said the show is over, done, move along, I will say again it’s really too bad SGA was canceled. The writing in season 5 was excellent and there were more stories to tell. It’s a shame the show was canceled, and at least we have the DVDs so that those of us who love it can keep reliving the good times.

  36. yeah i think mythbusters said something about they type of food being dropped…ifs its gooey it will pick up bacteria easier etc..

  37. There probably isn’t another PKDick reader who would agree with me on this, but I’d switch out Valis for a lesser known work of his that gets at a lot of the same themes but to me was a better read, actually one of my favorite Dick novels — Radio Free Albemuth. It looks, from what I see on the commercials that they’re reviving the Midwich Cukoo thing on that new show Torchwood. What’s better than evil children? Wyndam is a good writer — Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalis. I haven’t read him in years, though. I’d like to check out that Vance novel, myself. If you get to Girl in the Glass, hope you enjoy it.

    Jeff Ford

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