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What I'm Reading
  • Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    by Jim Butcher

    Butcher has done it again. After 14 books, the Dresden Files is still my favorite book series. If you’re a fan, you know why you’re a fan. If you’ve never read any of this series, start with book one, Storm Front. This is not one of those series where you can pick and choose which ones you want to read. Well, you could, but it would suck.


My Wife is Trying to Kill Me

You read that correctly. Andrea is trying to kill me.

OK, maybe my untimely demise isn’t her intended outcome. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. My sweet wife has recently taken up baking as a hobby. And, to my delight and my dismay, she’s getting really good at it.

The real problem is that we have both undertaken new projects that are in direct conflict. I just started a 100-day fitness challenge at my office. Andrea has decided to bake at least one different pie each week this year. That’s a minimum of 52 pies. Assuming that I have the willpower to limit myself to one piece of each pie[1], the math is not in my favor. I’ve estimated[2] a total for the year of 319.8 grams of protein, 1,716 grams of fat and 2,763 grams of carbohydrates, giving me a total of 27,352 p-Calories[3] for the year. That means I have ten extra pounds to work off that I haven’t even gained yet.

The best I can hope for is that Andi’s pies suck. This project means a lot to her, and I’m not wishing for her to fail. But if, by some misfortune, she did crank out one terrible, inedible pie after another, my job would get much easier. Judging by her efforts to date, this seems about as likely as me looking good in an athletic-fit t-shirt[4] by the end of the month.

Here are her endeavors to date, as well as my subjective and arbitrary rating for each:

  • Christmas Week: Chocolate Pecan Pie[5] (3.5/5)
  • January 1: Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie[6] (2.5/5)
  • January 8: Amish Milk Pie[7] (5/5)
  • January 15: Angus Barn Chocolate Chess Pie[8] (4/5)
  • January 22: Impossible Pie[9] (1.5/5)
  • January 29: Butterscotch Pie[10] (3.5/5)

There is still nearly half of the butterscotch pie in our fridge as I type this. But I’m not going to have any more of it. Nope. I am the poster child for self control. I am king of the self control parade. Of course, if Andi had picked up on my hints and made another Amish milk pie, there wouldn’t be a problem. There would be no pie left in the fridge to worry about.

I’m sure there will be more to write as this pie vs. fitness story develops, and I plan on doing so. If the updates stop coming, you can just assume that I’ve gotten so fat that I have to wash myself with a rag on a stick.

  1. Highly unlikely.  ↩

  2. Of the pies she’s already made this year, I was only able to find the nutritional info for two of them. I averaged the two and multiplied by 52 to get my estimation. Very scientifical.  ↩

  3. p-Calories are the U.S. standard measurement for calories derived from pie. Do not confuse this with the European p-Calorie, which also includes calories delivered via cake and other pastries.  ↩

  4. The athletic-fit t-shirt has been in style for quite some time now. When is the chubbo-fit trend going to resurface? On me, an athletic-fit shirt looks more like a sausage casing. Hopefully not for much longer.  ↩

  5. Chocolate Pecan Pie: This pie did not suck. You can find the recipe in Ken Haedrich’s Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie. This book can be used as evidence in the investigation surrounding my death.  ↩

  6. Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie: This pie was only OK. I think it was executed well, but just not my kind of pie. This is the pie that gave me a glimmer of hope that I might make it through Andi’s year-long experiment alive. You can find the recipe on Martha Stewart’s website.  ↩

  7. Amish Milk Pie: I know it’s not the most enticingly named pie. It doesn’t matter. Take one bite, and you won’t care if it’s called “crap on a stick”. This is, without exaggeration, one of the most delicious desserts I have ever tasted. Andi says it wasn’t difficult to make. I suspect that is because she used witchcraft. You can find the recipe in Ken Haedrich’s Pie, if you dare. You will eat too much of it. I take no responsibility for any harm that comes to your body by doing so, nor am I responsible for any damage done to your soul as a result of your dabbling in the Dark Arts. You have been warned.  ↩

  8. Angus Barn Chocolate Chess Pie: Though it didn’t resemble any chess pie I’ve ever had, it was still delicious. I docked its rating only because it developed a fragile shell on top during baking that made it impossible to cut without demolishing said shell. Taken from Haedrich’s Pie.  ↩

  9. Impossible Pie: Finally, a pie had no problem avoiding. This one gave me hope that there are other recipes in the Pie book that I won’t like. I would describe it as a crustless coconut chess pie with twice the butter and none of the sugar. That being said, one of Andi’s coworkers loved it and begged her for the recipe. I can only assume this person just returned from being lost in the woods for months, having eaten nothing but toxic berries and tree bark.  ↩

  10. Butterscotch Pie: This pie, taken from the book Country Living: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen would have scored higher, but the crust was a little gummy. Andrea says she didn’t roll it out thin enough, so it didn’t cook completely. Crust problems aside, the filling was great. Imagine a crust filled with a delicious, from-scratch butterscotch pudding, topped with fresh whipped cream and chilled in the fridge.  ↩


Happiness is a New Book

There are few things that I love more in this world than books.

I love old, beaten-up paperbacks. Especially when I am the one who has done the beating up. I’ve got a few that are so worn out, with their torn covers and bent, stained pages, that they defy the laws of physics by staying in one piece.

For example, my copies of The Godfather and Fletch Won have been read so many times, you can lay them flat on the table, and they will stay open to any page you choose. Those pages should start falling out any day now.

And, of course, there’s my copy of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This book means a lot to me. It is a cherished birthday gift from a cherished friend. Shortly after I got it, Parker the Wonder Dog – just a puppy at the time – tore a tasty chunk off of the front cover. I was so pissed off at the time. Now, when I pull that book from the shelf, not only am I reminded of where my friend and I were in our respective lives at that time, but also of Parker as an out-of-control puppy, and it makes me smile every time. Books are memories.

I love cloth-bound books, whatever that cloth may be. The cover of my copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which is sitting on my nightstand, has a cover that appears to be made of linen. Many cloth-bound books are also bound with a thin little ribbon bookmark. I love these. A sewn-in bookmark tells you that somebody thinks this is good stuff, worthy of a little something extra. I’d like to read up on the history of the sewn-in bookmark, but I’m not quite sure where to start. Funny, I love these little ribbons for what they tell me about the care that went into the book’s production, but I rarely use them.[1]

I love comic books. I quit reading them regularly a couple of years ago because they have gotten ridiculously expensive and I have poor impulse control. Like an alcoholic who has trouble understanding the very concept of “just one drink,” I have had to give up comics cold turkey.[2] Hopefully, this hiatus is temporary, because a good comic book or graphic novel is magic. There is nothing like it when a great comic team of writer, penciler, inker, colorist and letterer are all on the same page, firing on all cylinders. I could easily list a dozen examples of terrific stories told by amazing teams, but the first two that come to mind are Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on Astonishing X-Men[3] (especially the first six issues) and Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on Batman: Hush[4].

There are comics that have made me bite my nails as I squirm in suspense, many that have made me laugh – sometimes a surprised HA!, other times a prolonged fit of laughter that comes from somewhere deep inside – and there have been comics that have made me cry. I didn’t realize until I started writing this just how terribly I miss comic books. I feel an Amazon shopping spree coming soon.

I also love bad books, if I can figure out early enough that I don’t like them. It’s very much like when I find out at the last minute that a meeting at work has been canceled, and I have been given the precious gift of two hours of my life back to do with what I will. Discovering that the book I’m currently reading sucks allows me to stop reading it without guilt and move on to another book that I may find more enjoyable. I have no shortage of books on deck, waiting to be read. I could easily name you a dozen books off the top of my head that I’m ready to pick up and read right now. If I actually looked at my bookshelves, that number would triple. A trip to the bookstore or library, and that number easily grows ten-fold. So thank you to terrible books for being bad enough for me to put down. I could use the extra reading time.

  1. These cloth-bound books also usually come with dust jackets, which, ironically, I hate. They just get in my way.  ↩

  2. OK, not quite cold turkey. I still buy the occasional trade paperback or hardback collection. Though I’m behind, I still plan on filling my bookshelves with special volumes, like the Starman Omnibuses and the Invincible hardcover editions.  ↩

  3. This run of Astonishing X-Men was written by Joss Whedon (one of my creative heroes) with pencils and inks by John Cassaday, lettering by cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos and colors by the incomparable Laura Martin. This run demonstrated to me just how much a colorist could add to the storytelling process.  ↩

  4. This amazing story was written by Jeph Loeb (who also wrote the screenplay to the 1985 Academy Award-winning Teen Wolf), penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, colored by Alex Sinclair and lettered by Comicraft’s Richard Starkings.  ↩


New phone = new blogging schedule?

So, I finally got my Motorola Droid today. As I was checking out the Android Marketplace, I saw that there was a free WordPress app that allows you to update your blog from the phone. "How exciting," I thought. "Now maybe I can blog more regularly!"

Of course, if you know me, you know that's not bloody likely. But it's certainly nice to know the option is available.

Brook's Christmas List - 2009

And you can find my list here:

Andrea's Christmas List - 2009

You can find Andrea's wish list here: