Tag Archives: The Secret Lair

Meanwhile, at The Secret Lair…

The Secret LairWhen I’m not blogging here (which seems to be an awful lot, of late), one of the things I’m doing is blogging over at The Secret Lair. If you’re missing my particular perspective on geeky movies and such, you may want have a peek. Recently, I talked about the rebooting of the Spider-Man movie franchise, the trailer for The A-Team movie and (of all things) Friday the 13th. You should also check out Chris Miller’s rant on the apparent lack of a remake of The Rockford Files, if only because it ties in to The A-Team discussion. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct you to the latest installment of our webcomic, featuring our version of a yuletide classic carol.

Later this week, we’ll have a review of the Star Trek Online beta from one of our intrepid field reporters and possibly a review of the zombie/Star Wars hybrid novel Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber (provided I actually finish the book on time). I have no idea what Miller has cooked up for tomorrow morning, but I’m sure it will be curmudgeonly.

EDIT: Links removed, as The Secret Lair is no longer a going concern.

Situation Report: Fall 2009

The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things…

—Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and The Carpenter” (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There)

There may not be a whole lot of activity here in my little corner of this here series of tubes, but life does not stop when a person fails to update his blog regularly. To wit:

The Secret Lair

The Secret LairThe podcast is still going strong, with a new episode appearing every few weeks or so, and a new installment of our webcomic appearing only slightly less frequently. In the most recent illustrated adventure, which I shall henceforth refer to as the Irradiated Arachnid Incident, the side effects of a spider-bite are not what you might expect. Meanwhile, Chris and I managed to convince our wives (yes, there was alcohol involved) to join us in a discussion of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, that book they made into that movie with that one guy. We also sat down with Mick Bradley, with whom we have had dealings in the past, to discuss that most mysterious and misunderstood style of roleplaying, the story game.

Recent episodes of the podcast have featured staff reports from some creative (and incredibly generous) folks we are fortunate to call friends, those being Dr. John Cmar, Jay “Kingfish” Lynn, Natalie Metzger and Ken Newquist. These reports speak of schemes of ever-escalating complexity and crackpottedness, with a smattering of bizarre truth thrown in to blur the line between the real and the surreal.

Game Night

Approximately every two weeks, the gamers descend upon the International House of Johnson for one form of interactive entertainment or another. We’re currently in the middle of a Savage Worlds campaign run by Chris Miller, but last night we took a break from polyhedral dice and roleplaying to rock.

Live at the International House of Johnson - Photo by David MeadArmed with fake guitars, fake drums and a very real microphone, we took to the virtual stage in Rock Band 2 on the Xbox 360. Four adults and the aforementioned fake instruments do not fit particularly will into the area around our “entertainment center”, but that didn’t dissuade us in the slightest. Some of the songs we rocked out to:

  •  “Re: Your Brains” and “Skullcrusher Mountain” by Jonathan Coulton
  • “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “Here it Goes Again” by OK Go
  • “Take it on the Run” by REO Speedwagon
  • “The Best Day Ever” by Spongebob Squarepants (featuring guest vocalist Kyle Abraham Johnson)
  • “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull (featuring Chris Miller on vocals and no one on the fake flute)

After the out-rocking concluded, we gathered at the dining room table for Monty Python Fluxx, followed by Fist of Dragonstones, the latter of which I thought was woefully underappreciated.

Olde Fartz

After a bit of a late-summer hiatus, the Olde Fartz Distance Learning Center is back in session. Our favorite game of late has been Half-Life 2 Deathmatch, though we did return to our roots for an evening of WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos a few weeks ago. There’s also talk of playing some Team Fortress 2 and Dungeon Siege, and P.G. Holyfiend keeps yammering about Sins of a Solar Empire, too. Yammering, I tell you. Enrollment in the Olde Fartz has increased to the point where we have abandoned Skype voice conferencing in favor of a TeamSpeak server. If you’re interested in joining the fun, drop me a line and I’ll take your application to the admissions committee.

Con on the Cob

Con on the CobLast year I managed to attend all four days of Con on the Cob, a local gaming, art and general geek convention. This year, Laura and I only attended on Saturday, but we still had a lot of fun. We both bought new dice (practically a con requirement) and I bought Dominion, an excellent card game from Rio Grande Games. ((Laura and I have played several times since the convention, but the four-player limit means it’s tough to include at Game Night (when we typically have six or seven people). There’s one expansion to the game (Intrigue) with a second (Seaside) on the way, both adding cards and allowing for additional players, so it might just grace the Game Night table someday soon.)) We watched a bit of the Iron Artist competition, then briefly fled to a nearby restaurant with Chris Miller and Rachel Ross for dinner, then it was back to the con for a couple of games of Dominion. Next year, I think we’re going to shoot for attending on both Friday and Saturday so we can do a little more gaming and maybe record an episode of The Secret Lair on-site.

Alas, I have no convention photos to share this year, as the battery charger for our Fujifilm Finepix J10 went AWOL right before my sister’s wedding. ((Did I mention that my sister got married? And we drove to Chicago for the wedding? And that Kyle wore suspenders? And that the bride and groom were joined “by the power of the Internet”? No? I should have. Sorry.)) A new charger has been purchased and will hopefully be delivered in time for Hallowe’en costume photos.

NaNoWriMo vs. NaBloPoMo vs. HoNoToGroABeMo

I have no intention of attempting to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days come November, nor will I make any real effort to post at least one blog entry a day in the same time period. On the other hand, I fully intend to shave off my beard on October 31st and then spend a month failing to grow anything resembling a manly face-mane. That’s right, for the third year running, How Not to Grow A Beard Month will return. Mega-kudos once again to The Cynical Optimist for creating and maintaining the website.

The Great Superhero Movie Project

Despite a general dearth of new reviews, I have been watching and rating various superhero movies over the past few months. There are currently 112 movies on the list (with more to be added soon); I’ve seen about 90 of them, rated about 60 and reviewed a paltry 11. Yeah, I have a bit of catching up to do in the review department.

The Secret Lair: Expansion

Things are a bit turbulent over at The Secret Lair these days. Chris Miller, my co-overlord, has packed up his belongings and moved to California, where he will take command of The Secret Lair West, our new facility located somewhere near Los Angeles. During one of his pre-move trips to L.A., Chris managed to accidentally shakes things up a bit and our own Secretary of Artistic Propaganda, Natalie Metzger, immortalized the event as an episode of The Secret Lair Webcomic.

The Secret Lair Webcomic - Episode 008

Meanwhile, closer to home, I’ve had to deal with not only the ramifications of Chris’ departure, but the day-to-day administrative duties of running an illegal, covert facility near what passes for a major metropolitan area in northeast Ohio.

As a result of the hubbub, we anticipate that our podcast release schedule will be even more sporadic than normal, though we did recently release our final face-to-face episode for the foreseeable future, recorded during Game Night at the International House of Johnson and including a number of very special guests.

Once the dust has settled (and we’ve determined that it’s not radioactive), we’ll fire up Skype and get back to what we do best. And if anyone out there knows exactly what that is, please let us know.

EDIT: Like the sands through the hourglass, so have fallen links to The Secret Lair.

Origins 2008 Wrap-up

Here’s how it went down: Chris Miller and I hit the road in the MVoD at approximately 6:00 Friday morning, armed with a cooler full of bottled water, some geeky t-shirts and our Zoom H2 digital voice recorder.

Friday

  • Arriving at around 9:00, we met Mur Lafferty, Jim Van Verth, the Pink Tornado, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura for breakfast at Max & Erma’s, buffet style.
  • Registration. Piece of cake! Pro tip: pre-register; it saves time and money. I decided not to buy any event passes because I wanted to play it by ear. I didn’t even pick up a handy program guide; I was totally footloose and fancy free.
  • The Board Room: Rio Grande Games was giving away two free games with the purchase of a $16 pass to the Board Room. I snagged Crocodile Pool Party and Dragonriders. I wound up selling Dragonriders for $10 to a random guy in the hall about four hours later.
  • While in the Board Room, we played Pandemic with Mur, Jim, Cmar and Laura. I want this game, but it is apparently very scarce at the moment.
  • Lunch at The North Market. I played it safe and went with a known quantity: General Tso’s Chicken. During lunch the phrase “Give in to your sapphic desires!” was uttered, entirely within the context of the conversation.
  • Arkham Horror on Flickr, by codeshamanBack to the Board Room for some Arkham Horror with all the expansions. We were joined by Shannon Farrell and Carlos (whose last name I can never remember). Three and a half hours later, we had to wrap up the game due to time constraints. By the end of the game, Cmar had tapped Granny no less than fifteen times; she was exhausted, but he was not.
  • Eventually we found ourselves gathered for dinner at Buca di Beppo with all of the above plus David Moore, Mario Dongu, Rachel Ross, John and JD. No vicious Internet rumors were started after I finished my linguine. None.
  • Karaoke at The Big Bar on Two in the Hyatt. Paul Tevis nailed Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Rob Balder performed “Always a Goth Chick”, his parody of Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman.” Everyone else sucked. One whiskey sour, one Long Island Iced Tea and two gin and tonics later, it was…
  • Bedtime!

Saturday

  • Breakfast with David, Shannon, Cmaaarrr and SciFi Laura at Max & Erma’s.
  • Chris had to return home unexpectedly due to an emergency (don’t worry, everyone’s fine).
  • I took a quick trip to Best Buy, where I bought a Fujifilm Finepix J10 digital camera.
  • I met up with Gunnar “Miscellaneous G™” Hultgren and Jon “Man Mountain” Pollom for lunch at The North Market. How many days in a row can I eat General Tso’s Chicken for lunch? The world may never know.
  • Wonder WomanArmed with my new camera, I roamed the halls of the convention center looking for photo-ops. I managed to get a picture of Wonder Woman, but that was about it. I also visited the dealer’s room and carefully avoided the Chessex Bin o’ Hepatitis (more commonly referred to as the big dice bin; I was tempted to pick up some cheap dice, but the idea of rooting around in there just wasn’t very appealing).
  • FeedbackLater in the afternoon, I attended the Heroes and Villains costume contest, sponsored by the Ohio Gamers Association. There weren’t hundreds (or even hundred, singular) of contestants, but there were some very good costumes. Matthew “Feedback” Atherton, winner of season one of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? was the master of ceremonies and he did a very good job and hung around to chat with people afterward. He even did a promo for the upcoming release of Mur’s superhero novel, Playing For Keeps (available on Amazon.com, August 25th). The guy is just too damn likable.
  • Mur “dragged” us to a barbecue where we played Mad Scientist University. The card game was ridiculously fun, owing to some excellent players with truly wild imaginations. I knew we were in for a treat early on when Ralph Melton equipped dwarfs with decoder rings, shrunk them down Inner Space-style and injected them into a human being to decode RNA. We created a bizarre continuity involving vampires, penguins, the Moore sphere, and a fifty-page index written by mosquitos. Much of the game was recorded by David Moore and may eventually be released to the public, but only after heavy censoring by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Tannhäuser in ProgressDavid had to run off to play the role of an NPC in an ARG and it was Mur’s evening with The Pink Tornado, so Jim, Cmar, Laura and I went to the Board Room and broke out Tannhäuser, which is essentially a first-person shooter board game. I had played once before but opted not to participate, instead providing occasional helpful (I hope) tips with the rules based on my prior experience. I started zonking out around midnight, so it was soon…
  • Bedtime!

Sunday

  • At 10:00, we met for breakfast with the gang and Max & Erma’s. How many days in a row can I eat the same buffet for breakfast? Three.
  • After breakfast, David, Mario and I returned to Room 929 to record The Secret Lair Origins Report. Assuming I didn’t completely fail my Use Zoom H2 Digital Recorder roll, we should have that posted in the next couple of days.
  • At noon, I dashed to the dealer’s room to buy AmuseAmaze, a word game that I thought Laura might enjoy. By some stroke of luck, I found the rest of our merry gang playing some sort of card game and managed to say my goodbyes before dashing back to the Crown Plaza to…
  • Pile my luggage and loot onto a cart, load up the MVoD and hit the highway.

And that pretty much wrapped it up for Origins 2008. With Mr. Miller soon moving to the Los Angeles area, I don’t know whether I’ll be inclined to attend Origins 2009, but I do know that my next convention is Con on the Cob in early October.

Art from The Fuzzy Slug: Natalie Metzger

Natalie Metzger is The Secretary of Artistic Propaganda over at The Secret Lair. In addition to designing our site banner and Overlord avatars, Natalie also writes and draws our official webcomic. In the (very) quiet times between podcast episodes, it is Natalie’s webcomic that keeps The Secret Lair alive.
The Secret Lair Crew by Natalie Metzger
The Secret Lair Crew(L-R): Kris Johnson, Chris Miller, Natalie Metzger

Before she turned Chris and I into cartoons, Natalie turned us into a zombie and an orc, respectively. Code Zombie is her rendition of a Twitter avatar that Chris used once upon a yesterday, while Ootk’j, Orc Warrior is an adaptation of one of my early 5 O’Clock Shadow self-portraits.

Between drawings of Chris and I, Natalie has created several covers for the PDF version of Mur Lafferty’s superhero audionovel, Playing For Keeps as well as the cover of for Sam Chupp’s sword-and-sorcery audionovel, Heart of the Hunter.

KJToo FaviconNatalie also (at my request) created the new favicon for KJToo.com. If you’re the sort who visits the site rather than reading the RSS feed, hopefully you’ve already seen it in your browser’s address bar. As an added and unexpected bonus, Natalie also created two critters that each contain the letters “KJToo” cleverly integrated into their design.

KJ Kritter 1
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The Fuzzy Slug is the home of all of Natalie’s artistic creations, not just drawings but photographs and even the occasional furred beastie. One never knows what may show up at the Slug from day to day, but you can bet it will be interesting.

Coffee Shop Writing: Week 1 Summary

I’ll let Mr. Miller summarize his own efforts; not because I don’t know what he wrote all week, but because I can’t bring myself to admit that he wrote more than I did.

Monday

I started a new short(?) story tentatively titled “The Long December” and discovered that immortality is simply a matter of who’s in charge. Word count: 299

Tuesday

I continued “The Long December” after a late arrival at the coffee shop. Word count: 285.

Wednesday

Faced with the uncomfortable fact that “The Long December” was turning into a parable, I wrote a blog entry: Coffee Shop Writing: Day 3. Three days into this experiment and the meta-writing has already begun. Word count: 650ish.

Thursday

Kate: Advanced Text Editor
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Zombie Day. Due to issues with Puppy Linux, I abandoned it in favor of Kubuntu, which I didn’t *quite* manage to get configured Wednesday night. Goodbye (for now) Geany, hello Kate! I didn’t get any writing done at all today; I need more than four hours of sleep before I can write. If I can’t get more than four hours of sleep, I need four hours to wake up so I can write. Later in the day I wrote another blog entry, Tomorrow is Arbor Day. Celebrate with The Secret Lair. It’s about 375 words, but I didn’t write it in the coffee shop, so it doesn’t count. Word count: 0.

Friday

Instead of sitting down to write, I distracted Chris ((To be fair, he had a 200+ word head start by the time I arrived, thanks to a writing prompt at Plotstorming.com.)) by talking about Kubuntu’s apparent lack of an e-mail client, ((The default client is Kmail, which is—according to the Adept Package Manager—installed, but which nobody thought to provide a link to. Is this what I get for downloading a release candidate? EDIT: Kmail is the e-mail component of Kontact, which has a handy shortcut on the Kubuntu taskbar, but which I mistook for an address book. This is because I am an idiot.)) the audio quality issues we’re having with episodes of The Secret Lair, and pretty much anything that wasn’t writing. It worked. I should be ashamed of myself.

Then I decided to fire up Kate and write this summary. I announced that I was writing just as Chris was packing up his things and heading back to his home office. “What are you writing?” he asked.

I told him.

“Good God!,” he exclaimed. “I’ve never met anyone who could write so much about doing so little!”

So true. Word count: 401. ((Total for the week: about 1,600.))

Tomorrow is Arbor Day. Celebrate with The Secret Lair.

The first panel of Natalie Metzger‘s latest webcomical creation for The Secret Lair provides an insight—one some might classify as profoundly disturbing—into the decidedly non-traditional celebrations Chris Miller and I have adopted for certain of the minor holidays observed here in the United States.

Preview of The Secret Lair Webcomic, Episode 0004.Lest anyone get the wrong impression, let me assure you that none of our festivities involve any sort of violence toward this particular holiday‘s honorees, despite the fact that certain deciduous individuals among them persist in perennially covering our lawns with their palmate-netted castoffs. Indeed, The Secret Lair is as environmentally friendly as any facility housing a trans-dimensional alien power siphon, an unregulated plutonium refinery and three separate sub-basements dedicated to various (allegedly) biohazardous experimentation possibly can be. We’re not technically a “green” facility, but there is a very nice hyacinth in Mr. Miller’s office and one of the minions has planted daffodils on the west bank of the moat. ((These are, unfortunately, no longer officially being tended, as the would-be floriculturist severely underestimated the tentacle reach of the giant squid.)) In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that the koi pond near the Visitor Center is an artifice: a hologram designed to disguise one of our surface-to-air missile batteries. ((Astute visitors will surely notice that the koi swim in a pattern that is repeated every ninty-two-point-five minutes—or rather, they would notice the pattern if they weren’t fleeing the hunter-seeker robots that are automatically deployed when our hidden DNA scanners detect the presence of unauthorized personnel near the Visitor Center.))

If you are in northeast Ohio this Arbor Day, you would do well to avoid The Secret Lair. ((The facility and its immediate surroundings are slightly out of phase with the “normal” time/space continuum; we expect the issue to be resolved no later than Wednesday of last week.)) However, admission to The Holden Arboretum is free beginning on Friday the 25th and continuing through Sunday the 27th. Mr. Miller and I are—due to the aforementioned non-traditional observances—banned from the grounds for life, but we hold no grudge and encourage you to visit the Arboretum this weekend if you are able.

The Secret Lair: Comics, Clones, Books and Budding Rivalries

The Secret Lair - Overlord KrisThere’s plenty of activity over at The Secret Lair these days. We’ve posted our discussion on Richard K. Morgan’s Market Forces in the latest episode of The Secret Library, the donations from our loyal minions have completely covered the cost of our new Samson Zoom H2 mobile recorder, our promo has been played on some great podcasts (including J.C. Hutchins‘ UltraCreatives and Geek Radio Daily) and the comic strips just keep coming!

P.G. Holyfield, who apparently isn’t busy enough recording his own audionovel, has published some comics over at Bitstrips suggesting that things aren’t exactly rosy over at The Secret Lair. I couldn’t let that kind of impudence go unanswered, so I fired a shot across his bow. Unfortunately for Mr. Holyfiend, he couldn’t take the hint, and his continued poking and prodding has awakened the dragon. I am assured by a very reliable and trustworthy source that his uppance will soon come.

Rivalries aside (and Mr. Holyfiend has more than one), I’ve ventured into morally and bioethically challenging territory with a strip that addresses cloning. “Evil Kris” introduces a new character to The Secret Lair and brings up a very interesting question from my co-overlord, Mr. Miller.

Bitstrips: Evil Kris
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Meanwhile, the Secretary of Artistic Propaganda has been busy creating comic strips the old fashioned way. The overlords and their rivals must leverage emerging technologies to bring the illustrated funny, but Natalie Metzger has something better than a drag-and-drop interface: loads and loads of talent. Episode 0002 of our web comic finds yours truly participating in a very dubious blood drive. Click the preview panel below to see the full comic (and yummy cookies!).

Blood Drive

I’ve seen the scripts for the next few episodes of the webcomic and I must admit that I’m very pleased with our Secretary of Artistic Propaganda. Ms. Metzger has quickly risen through the ranks of the various minions, pursuivants, lickspittles, lieutenants, lackeys, lobbyists, goons and thugs we employ at The Secret Lair and proven herself to be quite valuable. I have informed the Disposal Squad that they can stand down…for now.

The Secret Lair…Illustrated!

The Secret Lair has gone two-dimensional! Thanks to the efforts of some very talented (and funny) folks, the evil overlords have recently been featured in not one but two comic strips.

The first strip comes from the Lair’s own Secretary of Propaganda, Natalie Metzger. Natalie is the very talented artist who created our official site banner, community site banner and evil overlord avatars. Click the thumbnail below to view at 750 x 500 pixels. The full size image, a whopping 1500 x 1000 pixels, can be seen at The Secret Lair. This is the first of what we hope will be many, many Secret Lair strips from the Secretary of Propaganda.

The Secret Lair: New Pet
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The second strip, “Problems at the Lair?” by P.G. Holyfied, relates an unfortunate early communications problem; one long since resolved, I can assure you.

Bitstrips: Problems at the Lair?
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What I’m Reading (February 2008 Edition)

Bloginatrix Lorelle van Fossen issued another of her blog challenges earlier this week: Blog about what you are reading, what you like to read, and why. I hesitated to take up the challenge because we’ve been talking about books and such a lot over at The Secret Lair, but then J.C. Hutchins took up the call and I thought I’d be a good little clone and follow suit.

What I’m Reading
Blood and Rust by S. A. SwiniarskiBlood and Rust by S.A. Swiniarski is actually two previously-published horror novels collected in one volume. Both stories are set in Cleveland, Ohio, but in different eras.

Raven, set in the present, is the story of a man who wakes up in a storm drain with no memory of how he got there or who he is. His investigation into the events leading up to his awakening reveal the horrible truth: somehow, in the last few days, he has become a vampire.

The Flesh, The Blood and The Fire is set in the late 1930s, after Safety Director Eliot Ness failed to capture the Cleveland Torso Murderer, a notorious serial killer who left more than a dozen decapitated, mutilated corpses in his wake. From the back cover text: …one Cleveland cop refused to give up the case. And his search led him down a bloody trail from the depths of the city’s shantytowns to the inner citadels of industrial power to the darkest parts of the human soul…

Swiniarski, who publishes science fiction novels under the name S. Andrew Swann, is a local author and Chris Miller (persuasive fellow that he is) talked me into buying Forests of the Night, the first book in Swann’s Moreau series (which now has four volumes) last winter. Looking at Swann’s bibliography, I realized that I’d read another of his books, The Dragons of the Cuyahoga, several years ago; so after finishing Forests of the Night I grabbed the sequel to Dragons: The Dwarves of Whiskey Island. Both were fun reads; enough so that I thought it might be worth giving his horror a try.

Spook Country by William GibsonSome people might consider this cheating, as I’m listening to Spook Country by William Gibson on CD, but I’m not going to argue the merits of listening to an unabridged audio production versus reading the actual text; I’m just going to enjoy the damn book.

The first Gibson novel I ever “read” was Virtual Light way back in the days when books on CD were a novelty but books on cassette were abundant at the local library and I was still driving a hand-me-down ’77 Mercury Marquis (ride-engineered by Lincoln-Mercury). My 30-minute commute to and from work was the perfect time to catch up on my reading, and I would go to the library check out any of the Recorded Books audiobooks if Frank Muller was the narrator. Unfortunately, Frank Muller was severely injured in a motorcycle accident several years ago and is no longer able to narrate; Spook Country is narrated by Robertson Dean. I’ve only listened to about 10 minutes of the first disc, so I can’t render even a partial review at this time, except to say that Dean seems like a good narrator.

Skein of Shadows by The Wandering MenSkein of Shadows by The Wandering Men is a book I’ve mentioned here before. At last year’s Con on the Cob I interviewed one of the authors, Brannon Hollingsworth, then pre-ordered a signed copy. The book arrived in the mail just before I went on The Great December Information Detoxification and I had every intention of reading it while on my vacation to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As usual, I managed to get distracted by a host of other stuff and I find myself just over halfway through the book.

Skein of Shadows is five short works, each by a different author, that tell a single story. I really enjoyed “Vendetta”, “Fiend Fighter” and “Seaborn Sentinel” (by Nathan Ellsworth, Davis Riddle and Brannon Hall, respectively), but “The Bonds That Bind Us” by Corey Blankenship feels disconnected and has really slowed me down, to the point where I don’t look forward to picking the book up and continuing where I left off. This is unfortunate, because I’m very curious about the final story in the book, Brannon Hollingsworth’s “Tenet’s Tale”.

I Am America (And So Can You!)I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert is one of those rare books—along with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction—for which I’ll break my “no hardcovers” rule; the books just work better as hardcovers. Plus it was a Christmas gift.

I Am America is one of those books that can easily be read in little bits over the course of a few months, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. The humor is an extension of what Colbert does Monday through Thursday on The Colbert Report, complete with margin notes that duplicate the ironic bullet points on “The Wørd”.

What I Like To Read (and Why)

  • Science Fiction – No surprise there. As a child of Star Wars I tend to prefer the more fantastical sci-fi to the hard stuff. I’m in the definite majority minority of people who prefer Kevin J. Anderson’s Star Wars novels to those written by Timothy Zahn. Speaking of Anderson, I also like the Dune stuff he’s written with Brian Herbert, which is probably cause for the hardcore Frank Herbert fans to burn me as a heretic.
  • Fantasy – Again, this isn’t a big shocker. I think the first fantasy novel I read was Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb, which I picked up thinking it would help me beat The Curse of the Azure Bonds game for my Apple //GS. No such luck. Not long after that I started reading the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series also falls into this category, as do the Harry Potter novels, which I loved to the last (more than I can say about Dark Tower, unfortunately).
  • Mystery/Thriller – It’s probably not fair to lump these two genres together into one, but when you’re writing your own list you should feel more than free to separate them. I read plenty of Agatha Christie (and before that Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon) in my youth, but I don’t read much in the way of pure mystery anymore. Instead, I go for stuff like the Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
  • Horror – I read plenty of Stephen King, Robin Cook and Dean Koontz in my post-adolescent years, and I do enjoy a good vampire novel now and again (though most of those probably fall into the Fantasy genre). I read most of a Lovecraft short story collection last year, but H.P. can be a difficult slog.
  • Non-Fiction – Every once in a while I pick up a random non-fiction tome, such as Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey—The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World or Daniel Schorr’s Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism. Come to think of it, NPR seems to drive a lot of my non-fiction reading.
  • Chuck Palahniuk – I have no idea what genre this guy writes in, but I love it.

You can always see what I’m reading (as well as what I plan to read and what I’ve recently read) over at GoodReads.com.