Friday, November 11, 2011

"Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh" cover art

Wikipedia says, "Although drawn by different artists, the cover art for the series maintains a fairly consistent look and feel."

I guess there's no accounting for taste, but I beg to differ.  There is a great deal of variability in the cover art to my taste.  Four cycles (1000+ pages each) into this saga, readers have built up mind-pictures of these vivid characters, shaped by the cover images.  The reader develops a visual canon along with the story, so subsequent covers will either build on or clash with the readers' images.

Michael Whalen (1,2); establishes forever the mind-picture of Jago and Bren in the Invader cover (my favorite cover of the series by far, until recently, maybe)
artistry 4/5; portrayal of Atevi: 4/5; portrayal of Bren: 4/5 (Invader much better portrayals)
Michael Whalen again (6,7,8): below the standard of Invader, but hey, he's Michael Whalen.  Still gorgeous.
artistry 4/5; portrayal of Atevi:3/5; portrayal of Bren: 4/5 - "Pretender" Bren looks like Will Porter (in 10 yrs!) 
Dorian Vallejo (3):  Whelan is a tough act to follow - but this gives us a wonderful Ur-image of Mechieti
artistry 4/5; portrayal of Atevi: 3/5; portrayal of Bren: 4/5 
Stephen Youll (4,5):
sorry, really don't like the hard sci-fi style
artistry: 1/5; portrayal of Atevi: 3/5; portrayal of Bren: 3/5 

Donato: after Whelan again, a vague but evocative cover... lots of promise
artistry: 4/5; portrayal of Atevi: 2/5; portrayal of Bren: 2/5
Todd Lockwood: a return to the Whelan style, but with an individualistic sense I really like - I don't think he's really got Bren down yet, but the Conspirator and Deceiver scenes are magnificent
artistry: 5/5; portrayal of Atevi: 4/5; portrayal of Bren: 3/5

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


1968 was a rough time in many ways, and Robert Kennedy symbolized for me the one best hope for a path though the situation the nation was in.

I pray that Obama will be, at long last, a fulfillment of that hope - that he will govern with a sense of thoughtfulness and resourcefulness, and inspire and lead Americans in working together for the betterment of our nation and our world.

McCain's speech was a gracious and earnest expression of true patriotism. It was the most inspirational speech I have ever heard him give. I hope that instead of fading quickly into the background, McCain continues his call for unity throughout an Obama administration, not with an eye towards capitulation, but allowing an honest and respectful consideration of Obama's policies and actions in office.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In Memoriam

Maya Stein 1995-2008
A lovable dog. A fine and faithful companion.

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers, 1897-1935

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wine with football?

"Gary Vaynerchuk of is a rabid Jets fan, and he
talks to NPR's Scott Simon about how his beloved Jets will beat the
unstoppable Pats. And, of course, what wine goes with the game."

His answer - a white wine! What a oenie!

I'm having Harpoon IPA. My prediction 17-6 Pats.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My afternoon at Fenway in August

Clay Buchholz's first major-league pitch

I don't get a chance to attend many MLB games, but the one game I love to go to as often as I can is the "August weekday afternoon rescheduled April rainout game" at Fenway Park. There seems to be one of these games almost every year, and if the weather report is good, I'll play hookey from work, go to Fenway and stand in line for a same-day ticket (all Fenway games are "sold out", but they do sell a couple hundred same-day seats - a bit more with a rain-out game). This year's game came on August 17th. My wife and I went and stood in line for a couple of hours, made some friends, talked some baseball, talked about Boston with some visitors, got to the front of the line and got seats behind home plate in the last row of the grandstand. Very nice!

It turned out that today was the major league debut of Red Sox prospect Clay Buchholz, called up specially for this double-header start. Before the game, I was returning to my seat from a beer run and was walking up the aisle behind a cute girl with a "Buchholz" t-shirt. I remarked, "Wow, you really came prepared. Where did you get the t-shirt? Pawtucket?"

And the girl said "I got it made custom in Texas. I'm Clay's mom." So I met Clay's mom and sister and grandparents, just in from Texas, first visit to Fenway Park and to Boston. Absolutely wonderful people. They were thrilled and a bit awed to be here. Clay's mom was just going around the ballpark, looking around, taking pictures. I wished for this to be the first of many, many visits to Fenway for them.

summer-2007 012

Clay's first pitch was a ball. As were the next 5. He has a 94 MPH fastball that a batter must respect, but he's also got nasty off-speed stuff that he wasn't throwing them for strikes. Then he started locking in and throwing strikes. He got out of the inning with only one run scored (unearned), and the Sox put up 6 on John "Running Dog" Lackey. In the end, Clay did them proud: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K and a win.
summer-2007 035

Great game.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Lineup Toy

Creating a batting order has long been an interest of mine. Around this time of year, baseball fans start discussing and thinking about lineups for their teams, and the question is always "what lineup would be best to use". So I made a little toy program I call The Lineup Toy to help answer the question, or at least provide a useful starting point.

In baseball, runs are generally scored by players getting on base and other players knocking them in. So it makes sense to put the best players at getting on base in front of the players who are best at knocking them in.

The players at the top of the batting order get more plate appearances than the players lower in the order. The higher a player's OBP, the fewer outs that player makes. Since the length of your game is limited by 27 outs, putting high OBP guys on top of a lineup gives your team more plate appearances as a whole, and more chances to score runs.

This suggests a fairly simple-minded strategy for constructing a reasonable lineup:
1. Put the best OPS in 3rd
2. Put the best remaining Slg in 4th
3. Put the best remaining OBP's in 1st and 2nd (with the better Slg in 2nd)
4. Arrange the remaining players in order of descending Slg

Now, this might lead to some pretty strange-looking creations. But like I said, it's a simple-minded method. The Lineup Toy doesn't take into account factors like speed and stolen bases. Take the Lineup Toy's suggestion and use some common sense to tweak it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

No on (Massachusetts) Question 1

I'm voting no on 1 for Liberal reasons. The retail liquor businesses in this state are small businesses by law. Yes, the laws give them special protection. But I think that's a good thing. You might ask, why doesn't the same principle apply to flowers or baked goods? Because they're not controlled substances. Well then, how about cigarettes or prescription drugs?

I say bring it on!

Imagine what it would be like if the "three store per company" rule applied to drug stores (or bakeries or florists or banks or gas stations)? It certainly would be less efficient - much less convenient. It would be more time-consuming and energy-consuming to purchase "controlled" goods. Probably more expensive, too, for those of us living outside cities. But there would be more independent pharmacies, bakeries and florists, which I believe would provide more good jobs and more opportunities for local business ownership.

And more people would be able to afford their white wine and brie. (Oh, I forgot cheese shops. Them too!)

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