How NECON cured my jet lag

Fifteen hours of sleep over a three-day period, on top of two cross-country flights will do it!

I got into Providence on Thursday afternoon after a couple of uneventful flights that took me through Charlotte. It was an early morning departure, so I got my sleep deprivation off to a good start. I can make the drive from PVD to NECON in my sleep, I’ve done it so often over the past dozen years or so. There was a pot-luck dinner at the convention hotel, a new development, so that was good. Spent the evening in the quad having great conversations with a number of people. I talk more over the NECON weekend than I do for the rest of the month.

One person I met was a fortuitous blast from the past. The first time I went to NECON was shortly after I had a story accepted to Borderlands 5. It was the Monteleones who mentioned the conference to me and suggested I might like to attend. A while after that, the anthology was sold to Time Warner for the paperback release. One weekend, while my wife was out of town, I went to the local pub, which is located right next to the interstate. I was sitting on the deck and the traffic noise was loud. My cell phone rang, which was a rare enough event at the time. Caller ID showed a NY area code. It was the editor from Time Warner, who really liked my story (“One of Those Weeks”) and wanted to talk to me about it. She also asked if I had a novel to show her. At the time I didn’t. The editor was at NECON and remembered the story. She asked again if I had a novel, and this time I do, so that’s  cool. Fingers crossed.

I was on one panel, wherein we discussed awards, what they’re good for, and some of the recent controversies surrounding them. I took part in the pub quiz, and while we didn’t win, we didn’t end up with zero points, either! It was a lot of fun. Then, for the first time, I was invited to take part in the roast. That set off a few alarm bells, because there’s generally a lot of subterfuge around the process, with reversals and twists, so I thought there was a small chance I might end up on the receiving end. I was part of the “rapid round,” where ten people who’d never taken part in a roast before got 15 seconds to hit the victim (Rio Youers) with their best shot. The risk, of course, was that someone would use your joke before your turn came up, but that didn’t happen.

The con was a good mix of veterans and newbies, and it was fully subscribed. I think that’s the first time that’s happened when I’ve been in attendance. Everyone seemed to have a grand old time–I know I did. I had to get up at crazy o’clock on Sunday morning to get my 8:00 flight (there aren’t many options that get me back from PVD other than very early morning or late evening), which got me home shortly after noon. Lack of sleep caught up with me a few hours later–I nodded off a few times while we were watching a movie, so I did something I rarely do: I took a nap. That helped greatly and I now feel like I’m completely over the jet lag that had been messing with my sleep since my return from Okinawa.

Time to get back to the regular routine.

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Stranger and stranger

I had the weekend to myself, so I watched a lot of Netflix.

First, I finished Season 1 of Bloodline, wherein all is revealed. Leave it to a cop to be able to set up the near-perfect frame-up job. “Near” being the operative word, which sets up Season 2: the cover-up and the repercussions.

Then I binged my way through the eight episodes of Stranger Things. I’m not a child of the eighties—the seventies was my formative decade—but I lived through the 80s, so I was familiar with all the allusions, from the Ford Pinto to Realistic electronics from Radio Shack to the music featured in the series. It’s a mash-up of just about everything you can imagine from that decade, and more. Off the top of my head, I found myself thinking of E.T., Close Encounters, It, Firestarter, Super 8, Carrie, The Goonies, Poltergeist, Altered States, Stand By Me, and so on.

The entire young cast could have been lifted en masse and dropped into the It remake. In fact, the guy who plays Mike (aka Turtle Face) will be Richie Tozier in the new film. My favorite character was Dustin, he of no front teeth. He was a real trip. I was thrilled to see Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. She was so incredible in Intruders (based on the Michael Marshall Smith novel), where she had to channel a 70-year old foul-mouthed man. She’s only 12, but she has serious acting chops.

Good to see Winona Ryder again, too. She has a difficult part, because for most of the eight hours she has to be in full-on hysteria. I found it interesting that you could tell her character knew how crazy she sounded at times to everyone else. I particularly enjoyed her scenes with Eleven later in the story, where she gets to be motherly and less hysterical. Matthew Modine’s evil scientist was the weakest part, I thought. He has no redeeming traits whatsoever. Monotone bad guy. But the rest of the cast and characters were stellar, and the story was terrific, too. I might watch it again before too much time passes.

I also watched the first two episodes of The Night Of on HBO. It’s a remake of a British series called Criminal Justice, and the focus is on the justice system. A guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time gets arrested for a crime he probably didn’t commit. The first episode is a case study in everything a person in that situation should not do. John Turturro plays a sketchy ambulance-chasing lawyer (originally it was supposed to be De Niro) who happens to be in the right place at the right time to insinuate himself into what he sees as a potentially lucrative case. The series is gritty and as realistic a portrayal of the system as I’ve ever seen on film. It doesn’t move along very fast, because nothing moves quickly. Thus far there are no bad guys. The lead detective, Box, is very good at his job and doesn’t mind testing the limits of a suspect’s rights, but he thinks he has his guy and he just wants to wrap up the package for the prosecutor. Interesting to see James Gandolfini’s names among the executive producers. I guess that’s something you can do from beyond the grave. It’s an eight-part series—I really look forward to seeing the rest, and might track down the original British series, too.

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Lester the Lobster

I was sound asleep at 12:30 am the night before last when the guy delivered my delayed baggage, and I feel like I could have slept through the night. However, last night I was wide awake at 1:30 am and remained more or less awake for the next couple of hours. Jet lag, man. It’s a drag.

I was trying to remember what the other movie was that I watched on my way to Japan and it finally came to me: a very odd indie film called The Lobster. It’s a dystopian flick set in a time and place where it is against the law to be unattached. If your partner dies or leaves you, you have 45 days to get a new one. You’re shipped off to this hotel resort with other singles and if you fail to connect with someone after that period (it’s a little fluid, because there are ways of extending your deadline), you are turned into the animal of your choice. Colin Farrell picks a lobster because they have blue blood (status), live a long time and are fertile all their lives. The hotel is run by Olivia Coleman, and John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw are among his fellow desperately seeking singles. It has the feel of a Wes Anderson movie, with voiceover narration provided by Rachel Weisz, who enters the film later as a renegade single who lives in the nearby forest.

What’s it all about? I couldn’t possibly tell you, but it seems to have something to say about loneliness and togetherness. And poking your eyes out with a sharp stick. It’s surreal and absurd and I think I liked it.

I finished the fourth Game of Thrones novel and I think that Martin made a huge mis-step there. Once he discovered that the novel was going to be too long, he decided to split it into two books, which is all well and good. However, instead of slicing it in half temporally, he divides the two books by character, which means that Jon Snow, Daenerys and Tyrion, three of the series’ most interesting characters, don’t appear in it at all. It’s bad enough reading the books now, having to wait a couple of weeks to get to the fifth book to find out what’s going on with them. I can’t imagine what it was like for people reading the books upon release having to wait six more years (after waiting five years for the fourth novel) to catch up with them. Well, as someone who read The Dark Tower books as they came out, I can sort of sympathize. I can’t imagine that HBO did the same thing with the TV adaptation. I’m only at the beginning of the third season there, though.

I started watching the Netflix original Bloodline last night. Intrigued enough to carry on.

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I was happy that Air Canada finally delivered my delayed luggage to my door. Less happy that they chose to do so at 12:30 am. As a remedy for recovering from jet lag, I can’t recommend getting woken up in the middle of the night highly enough.

So, I’m back from a week in Okinawa, where I got to meet my grand-daughter for the first time. In this picture, she is one week old.

My trip across the Pacific took me to Calgary, then Tokyo and finally to Naha, Okinawa. Breaking the trek into parts seems to help, although the 4-hour layover in Narita was a bit of a killer, making the final 3-hour flight at the end of a 24-hour trip brutal. The layovers were much shorter on the return trip, and I was able to complete the journey in a mere 20 hours.

This was my first time on Okinawa, where my daughter and her husband (and, now, their daughter) have been living since last fall. Until they went there, I didn’t have a firm grasp on where Okinawa was, but it’s like Japan’s Hawaii. It’s a long way from the “mainland,” and is tropical, has sandy beaches and coral reefs and surf. It’s closer to Taiwan and Korea than Tokyo, I believe. It has a slightly different historical tradition than Japan, too, so the culture is somewhat different. It rained a lot during the week, mostly thanks to Super Typhoon Nepartak, which missed the island on its way to Taiwan but caught us with its outer bands. Good thing it missed—at one point it was offering gusts of wind in excess of 200 mph. A buoy registered a pressure of 897 millibars, which is really, really low, indicative of a very powerful storm.

It takes a long time to get anywhere on the island. In the cities and towns, the roads are narrow, with lots of stops. There is a toll expressway, but even there the maximum speed is 80 km/hr (50 mph). Thanks to Google maps, we were able to navigate without too much trouble. I don’t know what we would have done without it. The hospital where my granddaughter was born is visible from the expressway, but the route to it from the exit was convoluted, and the fact that we couldn’t really read the street signs didn’t help! My wife did all the driving (she lived in the UK for 5 years and has more experience driving on the right) and I navigated.

The American military presence in Okinawa is contentious and strongly felt. Kadena is the biggest base, and just about everywhere we went we encountered Air Force personnel, many of them very loud and very brash, which is at odds with Japanese culture. We went to a curry restaurant one night and the place was packed with young men, many of them still teenagers, yelling and roaring at the tops of their lungs. My daughter and her husband have encountered that a number of times before and have been so uncomfortable that they’ve left the establishment.

We didn’t really do much sight seeing, but we covered the stretch from Naha, where the airport is to Nishara (hospital) to Kadena (restaurants and shops) to Onna (apartment) a number of times. That accounts for about half the length of the island. We didn’t have many language problems, though our trip to the grocery store was interesting. Figuring out whether those were ham slices or chicken at the deli was a real challenge (we got it wrong).

I watched a lot of movies in transit. On the return flight, I saw Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with Tina Fey, which was a lot more serious than I expected, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The trailers focused on the funny bits (stopping the convoy so she could pee; the clip where the Afghani woman driver accidentally shifts into reverse) but it’s a decent look at the lives of embedded reporters, and Fey is a compelling viewpoint character. I liked it a lot. Then I watched a German movie called Grüße aus Fukushima (Greetings from Fukushima). It’s about a self-absorbed young German woman who has a personal setback, so she joins an organization that sends her to Japan to be a clown to entertain a group of elderly people who are still in a shelter after the tsunami. She has a hard time fitting in, but she befriends one woman, Satomi, who is determined to return to her destroyed family home in the “dead zone” caused by the flood and nuclear incident. It’s an east-meets-west kind of story that reveals a lot about the Japanese culture as the two come to understand each other and their personal tragedies. It’s also a ghost story. A touching drama in black and white. Completing my international film festival, I watched a Canadian movie called The Confirmation starring Clive Owen, Maria Bello and Jaeden Lieberher (who will be Bill Denborough in the forthcoming It. Owen is a recovering alcoholic who is looking after his son for the weekend. He’s struggling to find work, and when his valuable carpentry tools are stolen, he is launched on an improbable journey to try to get them back, with son in tow. They meet a bunch of shifty characters (including Patton Oswalt as the shiftiest of the bunch) and learn a lot about each other along the way.

On the trip over, I watched Spectre, the latest James Bond, which was pretty good, and an hour-long documentary about Queen from their early days through the recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I saw something else, too, I’m sure, but I can’t recall it at the moment. Thanks jet lag.

I caught up on Aquarius and Murder in the First (an interesting and timely plot development involving the Black Lives Matter movement and a scene in which a black cop shoots a black suspect) since I got back, and watched the first episode of Irdis Elba: No Limits, in which he practices to become a rally driver and tackles his first rally drive in Ireland. My favorite quote from the episode was this: “I’ll tell you one thing about flipping cars (i.e., rolling over): once you’ve done it…you don’t want to do it again.” It was also fun seeing Tess Gerritsen cameo-ing on Rizzoli & Isles in a meta-scene where the author gets to meet her creations.

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I stumbled upon a real blast from the past, a TV show that was a favorite when I was eight or nine. It’s called Randall & Hopkirk Deceased. Imagine if Miles Archer came back as a ghost in The Maltese Falcon. Hopkirk is killed in the first episode and returns as a ghost for the rest of the series, assisting his partner and friend Randall in solving crimes. He can walk through walls—he teleports, really—but he can’t touch or move things (mostly). Given that the show is nearly fifty years old, it’s understandably dated, but I was fond of the show back in the day. I know there was a short-lived remake recently, but I never saw any of it.

I finished the second season of Game of Thrones and am about 80% of the way through the third novel. I’m starting to see a few points of departure between the books and the series. I understand these will increase as time goes on.

I went to see Independence Day: Resurgence last night. My low expectations were met. It’s a pretty bad movie, all in all. I mean, if you’re an alien species that needs the molten core of a planet for a power source and you have thousands of planets to pick and choose from, why would you opt for the one where people might not want you to take their molten core? There are so many plot holes and logic problems and so much laughably absurd behavior that the movie could almost be a case study on those topics. Brent Spiner (ST:TNG’s Data) is one bright spot in the film as a sort of mad scientist freshly awakened from a 20-year coma (he has a wonderful relationship with another character). It’s always fun to see Judd Hirsch, even if his character is so stereotyped as to be almost offensive.

The movie ends with an obvious setup for a sequel, but given this one’s dire performance and reviews, I’d be surprised if there’s a third film. In my lifetime, anyway.

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Five armies vs five kings

I finished my first new short story in a while. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks and doing the necessary research, but it took me a while to get around to putting pen to paper. On Friday morning, I wrote the first half of the story longhand. Then, when I was in the shower, I realized that I had begun the story in the wrong place. Usually this means that I’ve started it too soon, but in this case I started it too late. So during breakfast I wrote another several hundred words. I finished the first draft, a very rough draft, that evening.

Since then I’ve been proofing and revising it mercilessly. Generally my stories get shorter upon revision, but this one got longer by about a third. It took me a while to get everything to flow the way I wanted it to. Lots of awkward transitions. But I finally got it to the place where it was time to let it go, so I submitted it this morning.

I have a couple of other short stories I want to write. I have a long flight ahead of me this weekend, so I’ll probably get a little writing done then, as well as a lot of reading. I’m about ⅔ of the way through the third Game of Thrones novel. I just reached the Red Wedding, which I’d heard about when it happened on the TV series. The funny thing is that I expected it to take place during Joffrey’s wedding, not when it actually did, so I was quite taken by surprise. I’ve been studiously avoiding all the spoilers out there, especially this week after the finale. I know that Joffrey will get his due, but I really don’t know much else about what’s going to happen, so I’m enjoying this immensely. I’m a few episodes into the second season of the TV series, too. Now I know how to imagine Brienne of Tarth.

I saw all of the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out in the theater and have the extended cut DVDs of all three. Also went to see the first two Hobbit movies but, for some reason, when the third one came out I didn’t get around to seeing it. A couple of months ago I stumbled across it on HBO and recorded it. I had some free time on the weekend, so I finally decided to watch it. I think Game of Thrones has spoiled me. That TV series looks so grim but real, whereas the world of The Hobbit feels fake to me now. I was acutely aware of the special effects, and the dialog felt stagey and artificial. About 45 minutes into it, I’d had enough, and I deleted it from the DVR. I’d also recorded Mad Max: Fury Road, which I saw in the theater when it came out, so I watched that instead. I liked it very much the first time, and I think I got even more out of it the second time. Good film.

I finished The Path on Hulu. An okay series, but I’m not sure I’ll bother with the second season. I watched the first episode of the new Orange is the New Black and will probably continue with it this week. Saw the two-hour premiere of the second season of Aquarius and the second episode. I think Hodiak (David Duchovny) is one of my new favorite cops. They’ve given him some terrific lines. The first episode of Queen of the South was okay. It reminded me a little of Burn Notice. Based on the previews, it looks like the rest of the season will take place in America, whereas in the novel, Teresa hid out in Europe. The new season of Murder in the First is off to a good start. Imagine having your lover as the prosecutor against you in a vehicular homicide case! And I’ve seen TV shows that rip stories from the headlines before, but never so blatantly as on this week’s Rizzoli and Isles, where the story was based on the Michael Peterson case that was documented so well in The Staircase back in 2004. I wrote about the documentary back in January. Peterson is a novelist whose wife reportedly died after falling down the stairs and a friend of the family died under suspiciously similar circumstances a number of years earlier.

I’m off to see the new Independence Day movie with my buddy Danel Olson tonight. I have modest expectations of the film.

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I received my contributor copy of the signed/limited edition of The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film the other day. Impressive, big book!  Signed by Danel Olson, Stanley Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali, Academy-Award winning director Lee Unkrich, “woman in the tub” model Lia Beldam, second unit cinematographer Greg MacGillivray, and 13 other contributors, including me. There were only 100 copies available, and it is now sold out, according to the Centipede Press website.

I probably didn’t have the full Comicpalooza experience. That’s the thing when you live close to the convention and only pop in when needed rather than staying at the con and spending all three days there. I went in on Friday morning to spend some time wandering the dealer’s room and exhibit hall. Then, at 2:30 I had my panel on Horror Literature, moderated by Doug Goodman and featuring Les Klinger, Nate Southard and Lee Thomas. Then I headed back down to the exhibit hall for my 3:30 signing at the Barnes & Noble booth, which was much better attended than I expected. I had people waiting for me to arrive! I signed their stock of The Road to the Dark Tower, The Dark Tower Companion and The Stephen King Illustrated Companion when I was done, too.

That Republican candidate whose name I don’t want to mention on this blog was in my town that evening so my wife met me downtown for dinner to avoid the circus. I didn’t have anything on the schedule for Saturday so I didn’t go in that day. I went in again on Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t factor in the fact that there was an Astros game nearby, so parking was a nightmare. The place I’d parked on Friday was full, the next lot I tried wanted ⅓ more than I’d paid on Friday. I went down one street and found places near the ball park charging $40! Then it started to rain. Hard. I found a lot where they were only charging $10 but they directed me to go in through the exit of the parking garage across the street after I paid. It seemed a little fishy, but everyone was doing it so I thought…why not. Worked out okay, so I guess it was legit.

The panel on Thrillers was also moderated by Doug Goodman, and we were joined by Quincy J. Allen, Tony Burnett and George Wright Padgett. At first we heavily outnumbered the audience, but more people came along during the discussion, so it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t buy anything at all at the exhibit hall, and I wandered through the autograph and photograph area without parting with any money there, too. I saw David Prowse and Peter Mayhew (Vader and Chewbacca) and many of the other celebrities in attendance, but only from a distance.

I have some extra time on my hands this week and next, so I’ve been catching up on some saved-up TV shows. I binged through the latest and penultimate season of Orphan Black earlier this week. It has never again quite hit the lofty heights that it did in the first season, and the conspiracies are getting really hard to follow, but it’s still a decent show elevated by Tatiana Maslany’s performances. I’m also nearly through the first season of Game of Thrones, which so far is sticking pretty close to the book. I’m about ⅓ of the way through the third novel in the series. I plan to finish off The Path, which I’ve been ignoring for the past couple of weeks and plow through the new Orange is the New Black season. Not sure what else I’ll get up to. Maybe I’ll watch Cell, although I haven’t heard much good about it and I was never that fond of the book, either.

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Comicpalooza 2016

This weekend, Comicpalooza comes to Houston. I’ve attended the past couple of years, but this is the first time I was invited to be part of the literary track. I have a panel on Friday at 2:30 (Horror Explorations in Literature) followed by a signing at the Barnes & Noble booth from 3:30 – 4:30. My second panel is on Sunday afternoon, also at 2:30, on Writing in the Thriller Genre.


I finished watching the final season of Banshee. If you’ve never seen it, I recommend it. It’s over-the-top, bigger than life, but full of terrific characters. It’s about Lucas Hood, an ex-con who comes to a small town in Pennsylvania looking for his old flame and the spoils of their lasts job. Through the most unlikely of circumstances, he ends up becoming the town’s sheriff, all the while pulling off heists and fielding off a variety of antagonists. His small gang consists of Sugar, the ex-boxer he met on his first day in town, Job, the flamboyant computer hacker and Carrie, the ex-lover, now married to the D.A. with two kids.

At the end of Season 3, Job had been taken prisoner by unknowns. Season 4 starts nearly two years later, with Hood living off the radar while he tries to figure out how to punish himself for some of his mistakes. The season also starts with a Who Killed Laura Palmer? -esque mystery featuring a prominent character from the previous three seasons. For a small town, Banshee attracts a lot of bad characters, including a former Amish man who runs most of the crime in town (and is now its mayor), along with his psychotic killing machine of a manservent, white supremacists, and the like. Plus, this season, satanists, cartel and a serial killer. The series is best known for its ultra-violent (and highly stylized) fight scenes and for its vivid sex scenes. This season continues in that regard, and it wouldn’t be a season of Banshee without at least one RPG or bazooka blast. Plus good use of a flame thrower. This season also introduced Eliza Dushku (who, as it happens, will be at Comicpalooza) as a crack-smoking FBI agent.

As series finales go, Banshee had a pretty good one. The serial killer plot was mostly wrapped up at the end of episode 7 (of 8), except not quite. There were several confrontations, both big and small, with guns and bombs and car crashes and ass-whoopings. Hood had an excellent near-death moment where he remembered just about every other time he’d almost been killed. Most things were wrapped up in nice little bows, most people got to say their goodbyes in one way or another. It’s nice when a show gets to plan its exit like that. Satisfying.

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A smashing success

I’d like to tell you all about my lithotripsy procedure. I’d like to, but I can’t. Because I don’t remember a moment of it. They stuck an IV in my arm and hooked me up to some of the same stuff that killed Michael Jackson and I was out like a boxer through the entire process. I came to some time later, wondering when they were going to get started. Apparently it all went off without a hitch. I didn’t even suffer any of the bruising or aches that was a possible side effect of having my kidney zapped with sonic blasts. At least, that’s what I assume they did. for all I know it was like the picture.

One amusing anecdote. After I had the IV in, the doctor came by and asked me if I’d passed the stone since I last saw him. “I have to ask the obvious question,” he said, because he’d had one case where the guy did pass the stone but showed up for his surgery and let them start an IV before proudly holding up the stone in a little vial.

We watched a couple of movies this weekend. First, it was Hail, Caesar!, the Coen brothers’ tribute to the golden age of cinema. It stars Josh Brolin as a studio fixer. The guy who gets actors and directors out of trouble when they fall off the wagon or get pregnant out of wedlock, stuff like that. He’s very good at his job. When mega-star Baird Whitlock (an amiably dim-witted George Clooney) is kidnapped, he goes about getting him back in a calm, professional manner. The movie has lots of little set pieces rather than an overall plot. There are a couple of song-and-dance routines, one featuring Scarlett Johansson and another with Channing Tatum straight out of Fred Astaire, sort of. There’s a cowboy star who’s thrust into a parlor picture directed by Ralph Fiennes that leads to a Pygmalion-esque scene where the director tries to get rid of the oater’s drawl. Tilda Swinton plays twin rival gossip columnists, sort like Ann Landers and Dear Abby. It’s all very amusing and has probably more inside jokes than we could catch. I was surprised at how well it reviewed…this is one of those films that the reviewers liked significantly better than the general public.

Then we watched Blackway (previously titled Go With Me) a straight-up thriller starring Anthony Hopkins, Julia Stiles and Ray Liotta. Stiles has come back to the small Pacific northwest town where she grew up after her mother died. She crosses paths with Liotta, a by-the-numbers bad dude, and he decides to stalk her. Kill her cat, all that kind of stuff. So she turns to the cops…no help there. She’s referred to a logging camp group (Hal Holbrook seems to be the head honcho) and Hopkins agrees to help her get Liotta off her back. I didn’t find that the film had a great deal of suspense, and very little by way of character dimension. I have no idea why Liotta was behaving like he did, or why Stiles’ character was so determined to stay in town, or even why Hopkins was willing to confront this bad dude, though I suspect it was supposed to be something to do with his daughter. I kept thinking of Stiles as Lumen from Dexter and wondering when she was going to run into the serial killer, because we all know where he ended up.

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Bring me my sonic screwdriver

I finished the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, and now I’m ready to move on to A Clash of Kings. Good stuff. I haven’t read any fantasy in a long time, although this is almost more Arthurian historical than fantasy. There are a few supernatural characters, but it’s mostly about the House of This versus the House of That, Kings and would-be Kings, etc. I have the first season on DVD to watch in a couple of weeks when I have some free time to binge watch. I’ll also be catching up on the current season of Orphan Black, then.

So, lithotripsy, a word which basically means “smash stones.” I have to have this non-invasive procedure on Friday because Petra, my pet rock, refuses to budge. It’s supposed to be fairly routine, with minimal discomfort, but there’s anesthesia involved, so no driving for 24 hours afterword. The procedure uses sound waves to turn the rock into sand, which will then pass more readily. Some possible discomfort from that process, but then it will be all done, I hope. They’ll need to analyze the fragments to see what they’re made from to see if I can modify my diet to prevent this from happening again. I’m all for that.

We’re in the midst of a rare patch of dry weather (my Facebook “blast from the past” notification yesterday reminded me that five years ago we were in the midst of a major drought) these days. The yard is almost completely dry for the first time in a couple of weeks. More rain in the forecast starting over the weekend, but nothing like what we’ve been through, I think.

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