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Folly of the Faithful Canine
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in deckardcanine's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, May 26th, 2016
6:09 pm
Book Review: The Book of Ti'ana
I rescued this pretty tome from the giveaway shelf before my company saw fit to discontinue it. If it weren't free, I wouldn't have bothered. As it was, I surprised myself a little by actually reading it -- in full, no less.

See, it's based on the Myst series, on which I have mixed feelings. Besides, adaptations from games to anything other than games rarely do well. Certainly literature offers no direct interaction, and the graphics are limited to the occasional B&W drawing of ordinary scenery. But the Myst-verse seemed ripe for decent extensive storytelling, not least because of its major premise of Linking Books that literally transport you to other worlds when you touch pages.

My personal experience of the series consists of large chunks of the first and third games and all of the second. Thankfully, this book by game co-developer Rand Miller was written in 1996, so I wouldn't expect to get left behind with assumptions of preexisting knowledge of later entries.

Plot summaryCollapse )

HuhCollapse )

I'm glad to move on to a more consistently favored classic in the wake of my birthday, Callahan's Cross-Time Saloon by Spider Robinson. My sources offer no alternative first name for him, so no wonder he grew up to be peculiar.
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
11:04 pm
You Were Due for an Upgrade, Right?
One day my mom forgot her phone
And looked for it when she came home.
She called it up and heard the sound,
But still the phone remained unfound.
It had to be within the kitchen,
But exactly what position?
Finally, the phone was traced—
Inside a paper bag of waste.
The cleaner hadn’t noticed when
She poured the trash in from a can.
My mom believes a certain cat
Had deemed her phone a thing to bat
Right off the desk, and thus it fell
Into the can. Gee, kitty, swell.
The lesson learned: We must take care
To leave no pricey stuff just there.
Saturday, May 21st, 2016
4:00 pm
My family took me out last night to celebrate my birthday a little early. Since I didn't find out when to expect them until Thursday, I initially declined an office invitation to a happy hour with karaoke in honor of the company's 20th anniversary. When I learned that the happy hour would end 20 minutes before my ride (just enough time to run home and freshen up), I asked the inviter if there were still slots, explaining why I hadn't RSVPed before. I needn't have worried.

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I went home tired and overfed. But pleased.
Sunday, May 15th, 2016
10:37 pm
Problems in Black and White
The maker had anticipated nothing of the kind.
To add that last ingredient, he must have lost his mind,
But as soon as his creations moved, he realized his mistake.
Alas, already they were leaving havoc in their wake.
It took who knows how many days to bring them to a halt.
They’d made things so bizarre that they got sealed inside a vault.
Their captors kept them under wraps for more than sixty years,
Until they somehow got away. Would this all end in tears?
…Why, no, in fact, they mostly play for laughs throughout the show.
I’m speaking of the siblings known as Warners, don’t you know.
I doubt if any viewers get anxiety attacks
From following the comedy of Animaniacs.
Sunday, May 8th, 2016
3:39 pm
Mother's Day 2016
For the first time since college, I don’t have Mom here
To celebrate Mother’s Day. Oh, don’t you fear:
She’s fully alive on vacation in Greece.
We’ve spoken online, and she’ll soon read this piece.
It’s merely too bad I can’t hug her or kiss her
Till more than a week from today, so I miss her.
Adulthood’s done zip to reduce my affection.
I add this with love to our poem collection.
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
11:51 pm
I'm Not Saying Who Framed Him
In an alternate Hollywood, toons are alive,
Interacting with humans for work.
Two private detectives liked helping them out,
Till one died; now his bro’s a drunk jerk
Who gets desperate for money and snoops on the wife
Of a toon star who’s lately distracted.
The next morning, her lover apparent is dead.
Could the husband have overreacted?
That’s the common belief, but he swears it’s not so
And a toon never gets a fair trial.
The detective reluctantly takes up the case
And discovers ambitions quite vile....
Sunday, April 24th, 2016
11:33 pm
I Cannot Lie Either
For decades, maybe longer, in the music industry,
A body part has dominated creativity.
You think I mean the brain? Heck no; it’s something lower down.
Alas, I don’t know whether I should smile at this or frown.
This part becomes a subject known for pleasure and disgust—
In lyrics, more the former, and more often than the bust.
For reasons I can hardly guess, musicians dwell on size.
The bigger ones consistently are better in their eyes,
Despite what other media would sooner have you feel.
Don’t ask me to explain it, for to me it lacks appeal.
I wonder if the lyricists keep working while they’re sitting.
If so, their frequent focus on the derriere is fitting.
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
11:08 pm
Book Review: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
I had just vaguely heard of Bill Bryson, probably from seeing his name on my parents' bookshelves. It figures that they would recommend one of his most linguistic publications to me. They know me well.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

Now I've returned to a book I actually started before picking up The Mother Tongue. It's Myst: The Book of Ti'ana, which I rescued from a giveaway shelf. I don't expect much quality, given its basis on a computer game, but I got curious and wanted to vary my reading.
Monday, April 18th, 2016
12:20 am
A Conversational Curmudgeon
Have you started a sentence with “Needless to say”?
It’s common but leaves me in utter dismay.
You’d save us all time if you skipped the whole thought,
Just letting us think for ourselves as we ought.
The worst part to me is that I have to tell
This advice, which I think should be needless as well.
Sunday, April 10th, 2016
11:31 pm
The Artist’s Self-Doubt
I write all these poems and draw my cartoons
And sometimes compose a few musical tunes.
It strikes me that while my creation is fun,
I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Who else do I know who tries so many arts?
Could this be a sign I’ve been lacking in smarts?
Is specialization the way I should go?
I’m asking in earnest; I really don’t know.
Monday, April 4th, 2016
12:33 am
Coming to Zootopia
A rabbit had wanted, from early in life,
To join the police in the city.
That kind of career never went to a critter
As small as she was. What a pity!
A neighborhood bully could beat her in fights
And told her she ought to stop trying,
And even her parents discouraged her dream
For fear that she’d soon end up dying.
In spite of these factors, when fifteen years passed,
She entered a cop training course.
At first she was bombing at all that she did.
What place could she have on the force?
But “Never give up” was the young rabbit’s creed.
She learned to become more resourceful.
By using her legs and her sensitive ears,
She’d take on some rivals more forceful.
The coach quit the trash talk in light of her marks.
Her dream job was finally won!
But dreams don’t survive in reality well;
Her struggle had only begun….
Sunday, March 27th, 2016
10:52 pm
An Eggregious Misconception
You’ve probably heard that chocolate milk
Must come from cows of the chocolate ilk.
If this is the truth, it follows, then,
That Easter eggs come from Easter hens,
With mates selected for colors bold.
They must be quite a sight to behold.
I hope that one year, I get my kicks
When some of the eggs hatch Easter chicks.
Saturday, March 19th, 2016
6:37 pm
Having Fun Yet?
“I’m going to the ATM,” I told my office mate.
Without a second’s pause, she said, “Have fun,” and I thought, “Wait.
An automatic teller isn’t made to bring us fun.
Just what does she imagine that I do when I’m at one?
Punch buttons willy-nilly while I giggle like a fool?”
I then recalled she had two kids in element’ry school.
She must have made that statement out of habit as a mother—
A new unthinking sentence I was happy to discover.
I later said, “I’m going to the dentist”; as you’ve guessed,
She said the phrase again, and man, that context was the best.
Sunday, March 13th, 2016
11:12 pm
My Saddest Day of 2014
Some years ago, while living in a house,
I noticed an abandoned newborn mouse.
He lay upon the sidewalk, very still.
I thought he was already dead until
I realized that he wasn’t rotten, bleeding,
Or luring any insects to a feeding,
Just tiny, pink, and hairless like a worm.
I tapped him with my shoe and saw him squirm.
His eyes still closed, he turned his head to me
And opened up his mouth, no teeth to see.
I pitied him but had a place to go.
I did come back within three hours or so.
Alas, he lay exactly where he had
Before, his movements slowed; he’d soon be dead.
It looked unlikely Mama would return.
She must have lost her life or her concern.
I weighed my options: If I took him home
And nursed him back to health, where would he roam?
I’m sure I lacked the nutrients to nourish
And needed lots of time to help him flourish.
Perhaps I’d simply move him to the grass
So that the sidewalk wouldn’t be a mess.
But in the end, I walked back home and got
A cloth and litter scooper. It was not
Too hard to put the baby in a bag,
Which seemed to make him comfy as it sagged.
I sealed it with a trace amount of air,
Then put it in a can and left him there.
I told my landlords so as not to freak
Them out if they should chance to take a peek
While taking out the garbage: He had been
Discovered well outside the house, not in.
I sighed and felt that no one could dispute
I’d never killed an animal so cute.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2016
4:37 pm
Book Review: The Man Who Spoke Snakish
Andrus Kivirähk's 2007 novel became quite a hit in his native Estonia, even inspiring a board game (tho I can hardly imagine how that works). After word of mouth generated international interest, it finally got an English translation out last year. I wanted it as soon as I saw the cover in the bookstore, for reasons my friends and family can guess/.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

I haven't decided what to read next. I had set aside William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive, which I got free from a workplace shelf purge; but it may be a bad idea to chase a tragedy with punk, and I haven't read the middle volume of the series. Maybe I'll pick something that promises to be lighter.
Sunday, March 6th, 2016
11:11 pm
Two Wheels, Too Many, Too Few
I mentioned before why I don’t own a car;
It’s hardly the only way one can go far.
Perhaps you thought, “How about riding a bike?
It still gives you exercise, just as you like.
It doesn’t cost much as a basic machine.
It doesn’t use gas, and it’s very much green.”
For sure, I’ve considered the prospect for me,
But I can come up with a problem or three.
For starters, I gave up on bikes in first grade,
With training wheels on (I was just that afraid).
At this point, I don’t fear the pain from a fall
But can’t say I won’t feel embarrassed at all.
I’ve also discovered that people resent
The bicyclists riding upon the cement,
Yet those in the streets face a worse disrespect.
The way people drive, it’s not hard to get wrecked.
And finally, once you come down from your wheels,
You ought to take caution so nobody steals,
But nothing you do guarantees that a thief
Or a vandal won’t leave you sans ride and in grief.
It’s possible none of these faults is too bad
To sample advantages yet to be had,
But knowing myself, I don’t have enough trust:
A bike in my hands wouldn’t take long to rust.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
7:14 pm
Book Review: That Hideous Strength
Why did I wait almost five years to continue the Space Trilogy? Maybe the second volume felt like too good a stopping point, leaving little more to my literary appetite. Maybe the last title turned me off. At any rate, I probably should have read this sooner.

...Because if you don't remember the previous villains' names, you may get almost halfway thru the book before seeing any connections at all to the previous volumes. I was prepared to accuse C.S. Lewis, of all authors, of lying to his readership: This couldn't be a sequel! Even when the connections did become clear, there was no space travel depicted and only a slight discussion thereof. After I finished, I skimmed the first half for a new perspective.

PlotCollapse )

EvaluationCollapse )

This is the first Lewis book that I consider at least as much miss as hit. I hope I haven't read all his adult works that I'd like.

My next read was published much more recently and translated from Estonian to English only last year: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk. It's long but going fast.
1:50 am
Vietnam Vacation Photos
I think the best way to handle my vacation report is to post photos and annotations first and then fill in more details as they come to me.

PhotosCollapse )

HighlightsCollapse )
Sunday, February 21st, 2016
10:27 am
Does this post seem somewhat late,
Consid’ring my vacation dates?
There’s more at work than mere jet lag
Or waiting for a missing bag,
Arriving at my first hotel,
I soon found out not all was well:
My lanyard pouch was left ajar,
My passport lost! I’d traveled far.
It must have fallen on the ground.
I checked the airport lost-and-found,
To no avail. At least I’d brought
My visa letter; I would not
Be turned away but spend the night
At that hotel, tho all affright.
To make things worse, it’s hard to get
Good service in the week of Tet
In Vietnam: The embassy
And consulate were closed to me.
My tour involved domestic flights,
But once I took the bus all night.
Mercifully, some kindly sort
Did submit my pass-a-port.
The bad news: I was in Hanoi;
It had to ship from Saigon. Oy!
I’d have to spend another day
Or two before I flew away,
And when I did, the different route
Was many hours longer. Shoot!
I paid a lot for one mistake.
The thought can cause my head to shake.
Some ten if-onlys fill my head
Whenever I reflect. That said,
I try to see the brighter side.
For instance, what a nice bus ride.
It made a conversation piece
With others on the tour at least.
I also got to visit two
More countries’ airports; that was new.
The trip had felt a little brief;
A longer stay meant some relief.
Despite the waits, I felt less bored.
The prices, I could still afford.
A different airline would provide
More shows and movies on my ride.
In short, I’d say I’m almost glad
I made an error just so bad.
Saturday, January 30th, 2016
10:42 pm
Building Good Lives
There’s a place I used to visit with my sister every week.
It was always fun, but now when I describe it, you may freak.
The people there were all the same in height and girth and weight.
There seemed to be no kids apart from us (it wasn’t late).
A lot of folks were mean; it’s just as well they had no youths.
Quite few of them had houses, and the houses had no roofs.
Don’t get me wrong; they often had construction going on,
But any day, an edifice might suddenly be gone.
There was neither much for plant life nor for paving of a street.
It was even hard to find a place with anything to eat.
But those facts rarely bothered us, because our time was grand
In the itty-bitty little place we knew as Legoland.

(ADDENDUM: If the ending confuses you, understand that I'm not talking about the theme park, which didn't exist in my childhood. Ads at that time used the term "Legoland" to refer to pretty much any large personal collection of LEGO blocks, so my sister and I co-opted it as the name of a township of sorts.)
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