Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neil Gaiman Came to Town

Twice I have thought, "He is really cool." The first time while watching It Might Get Loud as Jimmy Page played his guitar. The second time tonight, during Neil Gaiman's appearance at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Yes, a cool, smart, English writer dude. He is brilliant. His body of work includes comic books, children's books, adult books, scripts, and more. And then there is Neil himself. This is the second time I have sat in one of his audiences, and between these appearances and his online persona, I think he is a genuinely nice guy. One who I would enjoy having conversation with over a beer.

What I appreciate most is his connection to his fans. If you follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter, you will see how he answers his fans, shares their news and just appreciates them. Today he signed about 800 books for fans who pre-purchased the tenth anniversary edition of American Gods. Which is much more than I can say for another author who stamped books for an appearance.

If you ever need book recommendations, Mr. Gaiman's are great. Thanks to him I found my way to Robin McKinley (Sunshine is a new favorite), Gene Wolfe, Diana Wynne Jones, and Robert Holdstock.

About the event. It was wonderful. Once it got started. The show should have started at 8:00 p.m., but at the appointed hour we were still standing in a line that wrapped around the Saban, along Hamilton Drive. My guess is that the long wait occurred because all tickets were will call, as well as signed books to be picked up inside. Thankfully the show did not start until most of the audience was seated, somewhere around 9:00 p.m.

Patton Oswalt was the moderator/interviewer. Funny, funny guy. I saw him do something similar at Comic-Con two years ago, but this was better. Like us audience members, Mr. Oswalt is a big fan, and that went a long way. The evening included a hilarious book reading by Neil himself, Mr. Oswalt and Zelda Williams, as well as some extra tidbits on what the lot of us might soon expect. The future's looking good for American Gods Two; a musical set in 1920s Paris; non-fiction work; a children's book called Chu's Day; and American Gods, the TV show. One of the best things about the night besides Neil Gaiman? The fact that there were about 1,500 people in the Saban Theatre to see an author.

I highly encourage you to go see Neil Gaiman is he is ever in your town for an appearance. He does not disappoint. Plus, your vocabulary may grow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Case of Zombie Attack

There was talk of zombies at work today, and that immediately reminded me of one of the funniest NPR programs I have ever heard.

In 2003, I was stuck somewhere in a Southern California freeway when NPR's Talk of the Nation went into its final segment about zombies. It was a segment about how people should prepare to defend themselves against zombie attack. The host interviews author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead, Max Brooks.

If you ever need a good case of the sillies, you should definitely listen to the October 30, 2003 edition of Talk of the Nation.

I hope NPR never takes this off their website, or never archives it in some password and money-protected place.

And remember, as Max Brooks says, "If a zombie's coming after you with its arms up and its mouth open and its biting, and gnawing, and moaning don't worry about brain and the flesh. Just get out of there."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DC Has a New Green Lantern Fan

In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight,
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power...Green Lantern's light!

That is one great superhero oath. The first time I heard it was at the 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego, during the Green Lantern session. The cutest little kid asked Ryan Reynolds, "What does it feel like to say the Green Lantern oath?" He was so cute standing up there in his Green Lantern t-shirt that Ryan Reynolds had to say it for all of us in the audience. Ever since then I have been anxiously waiting for the release of this movie.

For some reason I thought it was supposed to come out in March, but I'm glad it was released in June because life was a little goofy in the Spring. Since I was so impatient, I saw this movie on opening weekend.

It was different.

If you just go based upon the trailers and you haven't followed the comic book, then you have no idea that so much of this movie takes place in space. I get the marketing angle, after all, you do want as much of the general populace to go see Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. But, I wonder if this is what turns a lot of people off about the movie?

Nah, its also a bit confusing (somehow Hal Jordan just knows that the pulse of his ring means something's up) and its a little choppy, but as far as summer popcorn movies go, it's just fine. I enjoyed it (and yes, the eye candy is fantastic). I even texted my comic-book-expert friend right away to find out just which Green Lantern comic book I should read first. He recommended Green Lantern: Secret Origin.

So now I know that the ring alerts Hal Jordan to "extraterrestrial incidents" in which he should intervene.

Obviously, I'm hooked. Not majorly hooked, but enough that I've got some new summer reading. I think it's the idea of willpower being the force behind the Green Lantern Corps' power. That, and the oath.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Mighty Mites

Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas FootballTwelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football by Jim Dent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The idiom says, "Don't just a book by it's cover." What about the book jacket?

All it took was reading the book jacket, and I was a goner for Jim Dent's Twelve Mighty Orphans. Then again, maybe I should have judged this book by it's cover because the rest of the title is "the Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football"—what's not to love?

The book covers the story of the Masonic Home Mighty Mites during the 1930s and 1940s, when America was in the dark depths of the Great Depression. For hundreds of children, the Masonic Home was the place you came to when one or both of your parents died or because they could simply not afford to care for you. Life at the Home may not have been the most comfortable (no shoes for orphans between April 1 and October 1) or nurturing (the deans wielded paddles and a heavy hand), but it was a place of lasting friendships and education.

Enter Coach Rusty Russell. Coach Russell himself possessed a tenacious and determined spirit. During the Big War he was devastatingly injured when a canister of mustard gas landed nearby and blinded him. He eventually regained his eyesight, but was forced to wear thick glasses in order to see. Once back in the U.S., doctors instructed him to give up football, but he wore his glasses and was selected to the all-conference teams for football and basketball. The man gave up a good job at Temple High School in Texas, where he had a 20-3 record and took his team to the 1925 state-semifinal. He walked away from Temple to the Masonic Home where he would be faced with always-undersized players, an old blue Dodge for transportation, and uniforms made from t-shirts and spray paint.

I haven't even got to the orphans yet. But really, what's the point? Jim Dent tells their story so wonderfully, and I wouldn't want to cheat anyone from this experience. Just go get the book. Even if you don't love football, surely you love the underdog. After all, the Mighty Mites were playing at the same time Seabiscuit was racing and James "Cinderella Man" Braddock was fighting; and their story is just as movie-worthy.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

June Baby Blanket

A blanket for a baby boy. I have a lot of projects to knit for all the boys-to-be-born this year to my friends. This blanket was made from two strands of Bernat Softee Baby, one in chiffon, and one in denim marl. I like to use this yarn for babies because it's soft and can be easily washed and dried.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Got It Right This Time

Here's the hat my sister was hoping for last time. The pattern is from the String Or Nothing blog, and the yarn is the Brown Sheep Company's Lamb's Pride in Jaded Dreams. Since the yarn is 85% wool and 15% mohair, it is pretty stiff, and the top of the hat sits up on its own.

Maybe it will appear in a photo by Mindy Metivier Photography.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I thought I was finally so smart with my knitting. It turns out, not so much. I made a mistake with this baby hat. The i-cord should have tapered more instead of looking like a little piggy tail.

The tail is in fact so long that you can make a kind of double knot on the top.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Words

Where have all the thank-yous gone?

There seems to be a glaring lack of "thank you" in retail settings as of late. Too often I find myself thanking a cashier or sales person for helping me, only to receive a "You're welcome," in response. What happened to thanking me for coming in and spending money in your establishment?

I think I'm going to start sending emails to companies when their employees neglect to say "thank you" to a customer. And, I may just stop shopping at stores who forget to express their appreciation to the people who keep them in business. After all, I do have many choices, and next time I need to take some sweets over to a friend's house, I won't be stopping at a certain bakery in Irvine. On the other hand, when I'm thirsting for an Arnold Palmer, I will definitely patron Nordstrom's e-bar, because they always say "thank you."