Monthly Archives: January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve said it before I’ll say it again… Reading Lawrence Block’s writing books is like having a best friend who’s a successful writer taking you out for a coffee and giving you the low down about what it takes to have a career. In this book, which is an update of an earlier work called “Writing the Novel from Plot to Print,” he leads the neophyte writer through the whole process of what it takes to write a book. Continue reading
Belgian timing is not my strong suit. It really doesn’t take long to get from city to city in this small country. So while I got up early and took time to actually take advantage of the free breakfast at Hostel Uppelink and didn’t rush to get the train, I was still in Brugge before 10 am which is when everything actually opens. Okay, not exactly true. The central square was packed with the weekly Wednesday market and some of the souvenir shops, restaurants and their version of a Belfry were open, but the tourist information office, not so much. Continue reading
Really wasn’t expecting to go the Netherlands this trip, and yet, here I was, just past 8am, hanging out with fully armed Belgian soldiers, waiting for the train to Rotterdam. As it turned out, our train was delayed so we were instructed to take the following train (which had a change rather than being a direct route). This wasn’t a big deal and they announced instructions in Dutch and English. The problem was the poor Albanian guy who was trying to get to Amsterdam (the ultimate destination of the train which would drop me in Rotterdam). He was having a hard time figuring out where to go so I made sure he got on the right train and then changed where we were supposed to. I left him on the second train. I hope he made it. Continue reading
Once again, the boys from Jersey had their alarms set. They had overslept yesterday and missed Amsterdam so were trying it again today. The night before, when I’d gotten in, I mentioned the double alarm and gave my permission for one of their number to hit the guy who hadn’t woken with his alarm the day before if he did it again. I figured that was fair. This time, though, I was ready. I realized I had basically six days in Belgium and had spent two in Brussels. I also knew I had a hostel waiting for me for two nights in Antwerp and in Ghent but that I could arrive whenever so it was a flexible plan. But it was cold in Brussels and I kinda wanted to see what else this fair country had to offer. Continue reading
I awoke with a plan… and someone else’s alarm. There were these four young college guys from Jersey in our room and they were planning on hitting Amsterdam today (it’s a three-hour train ride – something I would remember a couple of days later) and so had set alarms to get up in time to make the early train. Unfortunately, being college guys, they were not to be roused by a mere alarm. Me, however, being an old college professor, I get up at the slightest sound so when his alarm went off for the second time, I was ready to hit the day. Continue reading
Wasn’t supposed to be here all by myself but them’s the breaks. Rasa was supposed to join me, but they wouldn’t give her the time off work and then sent her to Germany besides, so here I am. Thing is, a couple months back, RyanAir (that bane of the comfortable traveler) had a special and it was either Brussels or Paris for us. Since that was right around the time of the terrorist attack in Paris, we opted for Belgium. Besides, I’d never been before and it was as good a place as any. So I booked the flights and we figured Rasa would get the time off after the three months probation period. At least we hoped so. We we wrong. Continue reading
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Going back to re-read these collections is like visiting an old friend. In this 4th of the yearly volumes you can see Breathed is hitting his stride. The characters are really in place and the softball political humor is in the strike-zone (don't get me wrong, a softball can still hurt if it hits you, but won't do any permanent damage and that's exactly what the politics is here). Continue reading
David Bowie died.
He was probably my first rock and roll hero. I remember seeing him sing Space Oddity on some early 70s TV show, then seeking out the song, finding it on cassette on ChangesOneBowie. From there it wasn’t hard to pick up the albums which had come before and stick with the man through permutations and variations. I identified with him. He was the ultimate shapeshifter, able to morph into whatever guise was required at the time. I knew I wasn’t alone in this, but it wasn’t until yesterday, when news of his death was made known that I realized just how many people identified with him. Continue reading
In case you’re wondering what books do when the store is closed, you finally have an answer!
I’ll say this for Robert Sawyer, he’s got some great concepts. Sadly, this book doesn’t have much more than that. Continue reading
As we roll over into 2016, a number of reading challenges have made themselves known. I think for next year, I’ll actually make one of my own but for this year, I’m just going to link to a couple of them.
Honestly, I love this. We’ve become a nation, a world, where gameplay is everything. Where if there’s no “challenge” then there’s no reason to do anything. This is why we “tag” people on Facebook, to push them into doing some silly task or even something worthwhile (the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge… but see, there’s that word again.) Continue reading
It’s Never Too Late to Sign Up For Class
Yup… to start the New Year I write about starting a “new you.” Here’s a look at how you can keep your mind active with new learning, increased social communities and just plain having fun.