Category Archives: Literature

What I’m reading

In slumber, the sound of distant crowing.

There are a lot of heartbreaks you set yourself up for as a parent. Perhaps you have a while before you need to deal with some of them — the first date, going off to college and moving out, the eventual wedding — but no dagger strikes so deep yet as the odd and unforeseeable moments when you look at your young one, and realize they will never again be as young as they are right now, and comprehend the two or the ten or the twenty-nine months you’ve lost forever since the last time your heart broke when you realized this.

And if you happen to be mercifully oblivious in your distance from that place on some particular evening, there is nothing that snaps you, like an elastic band, back into that wistful reverie faster than coming in your nightly story time to the last chapter of Peter Pan, wherein the eternally young and impish boy returns after many years to the home of one Wendy Moira Angela Darling, now grown up and with a daughter of her own:

Continue reading In slumber, the sound of distant crowing.

More than a footnote.

My wife alerted me last night to a terrible loss to the literary world — writer David Foster Wallace was found dead Friday night of an apparent suicide. DFW was already at 46 a giant of American literature and, even though he tended to the self-absorbed, his writing was passionate and magnetic. I always found his love of the footnote charming and amusing, even when it was distracting. I’m sad to think of all the wonderful books we’ll never see now.

Sometimes you can go back.

I was surprised and overjoyed to find out that one of my favorite novelists, Nelson DeMille, is returning to catch his readers up on the cast of one of his best books, The Gold Coast. The end of October will see the publication of The Gate House, and I’m already itching to read it.

DeMille hinted last year about retirement, but apparently either exaggerated or reconsidered. In either case I’m happy because his books are some of the most enjoyable page-turners I’ve ever read. Less hardware porn than Clancy, more believable than Cussler, and more Hemingway-esque than Ludlum or Follett; and always these books are driven by interesting characters, narrative, and dialogue that easily shifts from funny to touching without violating reason.

If you haven’t checked them out, try The Gold Coast (sort of The Godfather meets The Great Gatsby, or The Talbot Odyssey (great spy thriller). Anything DeMille writes is guaranteed enjoyable summer reading, at worst — at his best he elevates the thriller to elegant social satire.

Jeffty is five.

Cinematical reviews a portrait of one of the only writers to come out of the science fiction genre who will matter in a hundred years — Harlan Ellison, in a biopic called Dreams With Sharp Teeth. Go HE!

I met Harlan once at a book-signing and, determined not to raise his legendary ire with any controversial comments, I simply told him, absolutely truthfully, “You’ve made me laugh and cry more than any other writer whose work I’ve read.” For a moment he was actually taken aback, but graciously and somewhat sotto voce he said, “That’s one of the nicest compliments anyone’s ever paid me.”

The impish Harlan did eventually reclaim control of the host body, but in the meantime it was nice to give back a little of the joy I’d had from reading his work. I challenge you to read “The Deathbird” without a sniffle, or “The 3 Most Important Things in Life” without a snicker. By the way, he shares a birthday with my wife, so a belated happy 74th to ya, Harlan.

Evie’s story corner, No. 1.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No spelling, punctuation, or other content changes have been made from the author’s original work.

The Hero, by Evelyn (age 7)

Once upon a time, when Nature was wild beyond rights, there was a young man who took a dare to go into the woods alone for 30 days. Yes, it was a terrible dare to take in those days, but he took it, never knowing what dangers and adventures he would face. So when the day came for departure, he went into the woods with a smile on his face. The people were far too busy worrying to notice his waving hand dissapear into the woods. Yes, he stayed there for the 30 days, he encountered many dangers, like the abyss, the vultures, and the crocodile. And there were his adventures. There was the shark adventure, the turtle adventure, and the ghost adventure. At the end of the 30 days, he was famous. He was known worldwide. Known as “The Most Famous Man In The World,” people came from far and wide just to hear the story. And he told the story to everyone.


Real life continues unabated.

This weekend was as good a time as any to take a step back from work for a bit, so I might as well wrap up some non-Fedora things I’ve been doing lately — less accomplishments than enjoyments, really.

I got some reading done for pleasure, including one of Alan Moore’s latest latest works. Eleya and I also sadly bade farewell to our favorite regular comic that came to a glorious and touching end this past month, Y: The Last Man. Apparently some group of Hollywood-based mental midgets is trying to make this into a film; let’s all hope no one at that particular meeting is high enough to actually greenlight it. Need I mention LXG? I didn’t think so.

I also saw a couple of good movies with family members — Enchanted with my daughter, an irresistibly sweet movie about making your own happy ending, and (violent mood swing!) In the Valley of Elah with my wife, a moving and bitter elegy about the cost of war that, stacked up with No Country for Old Men, probably had Daniel Day-Lewis wondering if he should bother writing notes for an Oscar acceptance speech in the face of these towering performances from Tommy Lee Jones.

Evie turned seven on Thursday, and among other gifts we got our little shutterbug a 7MP camera of her very own. That’s turned out to be a mixed blessing, as she is always sneaking up to take pictures when one is not looking one’s best, such as on Easter weekend, lazing on the couch with a three-day growth of whiskers reading all sorts of mind-rotting comic books. But this is the pain one must suffer when trying to raise the next P. T. Anderson.

We also showed the house once this weekend — disappointed it wasn’t more — and, to allow for future showings without the carpets sporting tufts of dog hair the size of guinea pigs, got the dog an appointment at the groomer down the street. We had a nice family stroll to pick her up on Friday, with delightful springlike weather that it seems is going to return for most of next week. That should make it easy for me to start taking some lunchtime walks of my own, to get away from the computer for long enough to burn a few calories.

Time to sign off; Eleya and I are going to suck the marrow from the last of the weekend’s bones by watching Rendition, a heartwarming tale about — oh, wait, that’s not it at all. Nope, more high drama, tears, and deep social meaning, and nary an explosion to be seen, I’m betting. TTFN.

Random assortment.

Sorry I don’t have time to look up links. Google is your friend; use it. 🙂


Got a release notes package put together, only to find out that I broke something stupid that I had originally done right and then subsequently “fixed,” in the way that you might fix a car by, say, hitting it hard with a sledgehammer. Thankfully Bill Nottingham pulled my posterior out of that particular conflagration. Now I need to handle some of the F8 IG draft bugs coming in.


I’ve watched all this week’s episodes of Ken Burns’ latest doc, “The War,” and it’s not bad in terms of dramatic heft. Unfortunately it’s about a mile wide and six inches deep; I think any documentary trying to tell this particular story in only 14 hours is, by definition, doomed to that kind of coverage. Now I have a respite until the concluding episodes starting Sunday night.


I’ve done precious little reading this whole summer, although I did finally finish Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” last month. (I usually only get around to reading for 20-30 minutes at bedtime, putting the book aside when I start to nod off.) Right now I’m reading the first volume trade paperback collection of Alan Moore’s “Supreme,” which is an interesting homage to the history of superhero comics in his customary sly, nudge-nudge fashion. Eleya just finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go,” which I’d like to get to as soon as I finish “Supreme.” And if I get too uppity, the third volume of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle is still giving me the finger from the reading room bookshelf, cheeky bastard.

Today, it’s (almost) all good news.

Geek stuff:

A while back I posted about a problem with Nautilus’ handling of audio CD copies. In today’s news, that looks to be fixed in the upcoming GNOME release, which should by all rights make it easily into Fedora 8.

More geek stuff:

Today also saw the arrival of my car kit for hooking up my iPod. Tonight saw me sweating buckets in the intense humidity of the garage while I removed the center dash assembly and stereo to install the adapter/modulator/thingie. All went swimmingly (bonus humidity joke) and now I can not only play the iPod through the car stereo, but I can also control it through the in-dash CD player. There’s added functionality for using the single CD player’s changer controls to further address up to five playlists, if you save them to the iPod under specific names, for convenience.

Family and miscellanea:

I finished reading Evie “Harry Potter 3, the Curse of the Bulbous Ear Trumpet,” or whatever that one was called. I decided that will be the last HP book for her for a little while, as they get increasingly dark — well, for a six-year-old — and concerned with issues that need not yet concern said six-year-old. We started “The Hobbit” instead, since she likes fantasies and fairy tales and such, and I’m quite enjoying getting back into providing voices for a cast of dozens.

As for myself, I finished HP 7 for myself on Sunday in a final 400-page sprint and decided it is easily the best of the whole lot, with moments where actual writing skill was wielded in creating clever juxtaposition of words. There was a world of difference from the third and previous books, to be certain.

Some additional geek stuff:

I got some additional work done on the Documentation Guide this weekend, and am still hoping we get enough translators on board to do a Fedora 7 fedora-release-notes package update. Of course, F8 test1 is due shortly and our real release notes push for F8 should be starting soon thereafter. We’ll send out additional shouts when the Beats pages are scrubbed and ready for all community members to pitch in content. And you WILL be pitching in content, won’t you? Yes, I thought so, good on ya mates!

And finally the bad news:

Ingmar Bergman is dead.