So for the third year in a row, Mrs. Blog o' Stuff and I are having both sets of parents, my aunt/uncle with their kids (the youngest of whom is our Godchild, the eldest is the hockey team we follow, the middle will be a gold medal winning gymnast) and my wife's aunt/uncle and their daughter (who should get a few athletic scholarship to college) over for the holidays. This is always a hectic thing and somewhat stressful since both my mother-in-law and father sometimes speak a little, shall we say, out of turn, and have diarrhea of the mouth. Anyway, it has turned out to be very nice day each of the last two years, Mrs. Blog o' Stuff does a spectacular job with the spread of food and everybody brings beer, so I'm usually well stocked for the subsequent month as our invitation always clearly asks the invitees to "bring libations and good cheer." The first year, we thought our hot water heater was dying the day before the party and this year, our vacuum cleaner died just as we finished trimming the tree this past weekend. Let's just say the dust-buster doesn'tt quite cut it when picking up the needles from the tree. I always hope to get one of those trees where the needles don't fall off.*** So those are my weekend plans.
Closing out the year-end list from a couple of days ago... are two debut novelists who really impressed me this year. (clicking on the title of each book will take you to my review of the book.)
Robert Buettner – His debut novel, Orphanage, published last month and is receiving a lot of good reviews and hefty words of praise. It is military SF, and with Buettner's military background, he is keeping up the fine tradition of stories of interstellar war set out in books like Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Buettner's writing has a cinematic quality and the pace keeps the pages moving quite briskly. The sequel to Orphanage publishes next year and I can't wait to read it.
Minister Faust – Canadian media personality made quite a splash this summer when his genre-defying novel, Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, was published by Del Rey books. This book mixes almost many genres – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mythic Fiction, Mystery – and the final product is a fun, entertaining read.
For about the 800th time in the past couple of years, Randy Johnson is almost a New York Yankee. I've got mixed feelings on this one. Sure Johnson is a great pitcher, but the Yanks are doing what sent them down the river in the '80s, flushing out their farm system for older pitchers. When George gets a hard-on for a guy, he usually winds up getting him in the long run (See Clemens and Giambi).
The NHL players' union took a big step in reducing salary by 24%, but they are still far from complying with what the NHL owners want to do. Why can't the players just get it through their heads and go with the NFL-like system the NHL owners are proposing?
Beer of the week: Tillburg's Dutch Brown Ale. Similar to Newcastle, but better, plus, it has a funky Jeroen Bosch painting on the bottle. Found this one at a local liquor store after talking beer with one of the guys working there, told him I liked Newcastle and he suggested I try Tillburg's, the rest is history.
Writer of the week, well, I think the five I highlighted the past couple of days will suffice.
***paraphrased from what the mother in A Christmas Story says when the family goes shopping for Christmas trees –"this isn't one of those trees where all the needles fall off, is it? " The greatest Christmas movie of my generation and ever, IMHO (yes, even better than It's a Wonderful Life in my personal canon of Christmas entertainment).