Thursday, April 30, 2009

So I Bought Some Books Today

One of the things that is good about travelling 110% of the time for work is that I build up lots of Amex Rewards points. I build them up way faster than I can really keep track of; every time I check I seem to have another couple hundred bucks worth of points. So, I try to spend them from time to time, usually by ordering Barnes & Noble gift cards. This past weekend when I got back from Columbia I had a $100 card waiting for me. So what do I do with a $100 gift card? Why, spend it, of course. I didn't spend all of it (there's $15.85 or something like that left), but I got a number of books that I'm looking forward to diving into.

With Arrow, Sword, and Spear
This was a total impulse purchase off the bargain racks at the front of the store. To quote the cover, it is "a history of warfare in the ancient world." The author's idea of the ancient world includes China and India, which is the real reason I picked this up, as I wanted to learn a bit about how those cultures did warfare in ancient times.

The Silmarillion
Yeah, I never owned a copy of this book, so I wanted one. The version I got is a hardback with 45 Ted Naismith color plates in it, which is pretty sweet. And I didn't even notice this until I got out of the store, but it has a fold-out map in the back of "Beleriand and the Lands to the North," whatever that is. Maps are cool, though.

The Ultramarines Omnibus
Being a collection of three novels set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, focusing on the space marine chapter, the Ultramarines. I don't play Warhammer 40,000, or any Games Workshop games, anymore. So why did I buy this? I dunno, but it's 750 pages of military sci-fi adventure with lots of shooting of space orks and daemonic extra-planar entities and stuff. And the Ultramarines were my first Space Marine chapter when I played the game, so there.

I've been reading more pulp fiction from the '30s over the last few years, stuff from C.L. Moore and Robert E. Howard, as examples. This is another Howard novel, but the title character is new to me, and I think only appeared in this book. This is Howard's entry into the Sword & Planet genre. Definitely an impulse purchase, but odds are it will be a good one. Not necessarily good bang for the buck, though; it cost $12.99 for 150+ pages, which is only $1 less than that massive Ultramarines book.

By the Sword
Man, I love Mercedes Lackey stories. She writes the best female protagonists ever. Most writers create female characters who are all tough as nails, until some "bad boy" hot dude rolls around and then it turns into erotica as the woman swoons and her bosom heaves, and a bunch of stuff happens that I don't want to read about in the detail people seem to think I need. Lackey's heroines kick butt and take names without having to turn into sex addicts at the drop of a hat, and I respect that. This story concerns the grand-daughter of one of my favorite Lackey characters ever, the sorceress Kethry (who actually bothered to marry the man she fell in love with), and hopefully will continue the run of strong heroines who don't turn into simpering idiots when 'hot dude' rolls around.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fortune Cookie Adventures

"Someone thinks you are wonderfully mysterious."
Q's Chinese Restaurant, Columbia, MO

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl

I have a review of the first third of an old anime series up on Anime Dream. You know you want to click that link...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

Last night I went to see the new Dreamworks flick Monsters vs. Aliens. I found it to be a perfectly serviceable piece of throw-away entertainment. I don't usually watch movies in theatres, but I can't do 3D in my home, so this was one I wanted to catch in a theatre. I sure paid for that privilege, dropping $10.75 to catch it in 3D. Luckily, the 3D was mostly good, and I can only remember one obvious "stupid 3D trick" where they intentionally throw something right at the viewer, in this case a rubber bouncy ball of the kind stuck on a string tied to a wooden paddle. The aliens were pretty serviceable, it obviously caricatures of various '50s era monster movie villains. My favorite was the B.O.B. the blob, and the scene where he tries to hit on a plate of jello is maybe the funniest in the whole movie. The rest of it is perfectly serviceable, though not great. I'm glad I saw it, but I can't say I'm eager to rush out and see it again, and it is definitely not one I feel any need to add to my collection when the DVD comes out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Lo, I doth hate those bepoxed vermin with the heat of a thousand suns. May their benighted fortunes forever be trod on by the sandals of cruel, fickle fate. Unfortunately, it appears that will only happen after she gets done trodding on the Blues.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Planning my Summer Vacation

As some of you may know, I am planning to go to Toronto for my 35th birthday this June. I am going by myself, since I only have enough frequent flyer miles to get myself there for free, and no more. I also have enough hotel points to stay in downtown Toronto in a nice Marriott or Hilton for free, so this should be a pretty reasonable vacation from a wallet standpoint. The primary reason for going to Toronto is to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame. As a pro hockey fan for 20 years, I figure I need to make the proverbial "journey to Mecca" and get to the Hall. This is where they store the Stanley Cup, people. I was originally planning on a quick weekend trip: up on Friday, hit the Hall on Saturday, and then back on Sunday.

However, I then checked to see if my favorite baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays (long story), were in town that weekend. It turns out that they are! Playing the Phillies! That's pretty awesome. What isn't really awesome is the fact that the game is at 1:05 P.M. on Saturday, which screws up my perfect plan of spending all day at the Hall and then going to a ballgame that night. But an afternoon ball game with the roof open (assuming it's a sunny day)? That's pretty sweet. So, I'm probably going to need to make some adjustments to my original plans. I'm either going to head up on Thursday and hit the Hall on Friday, or come back to STL on Monday. We'll just have to see which days has better free flight options on American Airlines, I guess.

He Who Has Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear

Or, in this case, he who has eyes to read, let him read, in this case a fascinating and insightful look into the effects of Christianity in Africa by a quite unlikely source. Original link courtesy of the Business as Mission network.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, the St. Louis Blues are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

In light of this momentous occasion, there is only one thing to do.

Aahhhh, yeah.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Memoir '44

This time on my journey through my game collection we come to Memoir '44, a board game depicting ground warfare in France during WWII, from the D-Day invasion up to 1945. There are a number of expansions for the game that cover other theatres, but the main game focuses on France. The game is designed by Richard Borg, and is part of his Commands & Colors rules set. I already covered the basic rules in my post about C&C Ancients, so I won't cover that again. The difference in this game is that there are only three types of units, so tactics is a little simpler. You have infantry (which can engage in close combat, or fire from a distance with rifles), tanks (which move faster than infantry, have better range, and have a smaller chance of taking damage when attacked), and artillery (which don't move well but are hard to damage and have lots of range). There is also more varied terrain in this game, which can have a significant effect on game tactics.

Memoir '44 is a pretty basic wargame overall. It takes no more than 2 hours to play a game, including setup and breakdown, and it isn't very complicated, so even people who aren't really into complex wargames can quickly grasp what is going on and develop decent strategies. The limitations of your command cards can be irritating (like when you really want to attack with your left flank, but all you have are center and right activation cards), but you usually have enough to do that you can do something useful each turn. This has been a popular game for the publisher, Days of Wonder, and there are many expansions available, covering different theatres of the war, and even changing the game by including airplanes. The main game comes with about 20 scenarios, though, so just that by itself gives a lot of variety in games. As you can probably tell, I like this game quite a bit.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What is Going On, David Backes?

So, I know the Blues have a big game tonight against Detroit, our evil nemesis who usually cannot be stopped. I went to Yahoo! to check the score, and I see that we won! Yeah! And then I see that David Backes scored four goals. Four goals! That is insane! Where on earth did that come from? What did Andy Murray put in his corn flakes this morning? Whatever it was, how about giving it to the whole team from now on. Maybe that would get us into the playoffs.