April 25, 2014

Malthusian Dramatics, Anticipated Fictions, Ticket to Ride, and Hoop Snakes


I thought Malthus (the cat) had a cavity.  He had been yowling more than usual and seemingly avoided all dry cat food.  Miniature tabbed cans of various meats marinated in gag-inducing gravy were purchased for the effusive feline and a vet appointment made.  Usually, wet food is reserved for special occasions, however I figured the dry stuff would exacerbate any misery he already endured.   Sure enough, twice daily portions of wet food and he had quieted down to normal levels.

Earlier this month, the veterinarian reported his teeth, gums, and body are all healthy.   Apparently, as I would come to learn, all/most black cats have a bit o' Siamese in them and they just like the sound of their own voice.  Or that's the "expert" hypothesis.

My theory:  after 6 years, he finally figured out how to get better food.

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The overabundance of choices in upcoming science fiction is a tad overwhelming.  Much of my time is wasted and enjoyed consuming the variety of media dedicated (sometimes half-heartedly) to this genre.  If you are browsing for a new series, here are a few I have been enjoying (and others I have not):

Television:
Orphan Black has just premiered its second season after garnering high praise for the first.  Going after big ideas, it succeeds more often than not.  The series is presently limited to ten episodes (the eleventh having just aired), so you won't have to spend a lot of time catching up, that is, if you can find it.

Finishing its first season, Almost Human largely played it safe as a cop drama mixed with last year's Popular Science featured article topics.  Now in the renewal/cancellation limbo most television science fiction enters after their initial run, I believe Almost Human deserves an opportunity to, and can, reach farther.

Falling Skies and Under the Dome aren't exactly guilty pleasures, because the pleasure derived is part of a deeper sickness, perhaps even a gross desperation to fill an indescribable and dark emptiness.  (I watched Armageddon nine times... in the theater, the illness runs deep.)  If Orphan Black and Almost Human don't assuage the sci-fi craving, these may be the nicotine gum to your science fiction cigarette.

Books/Graphic Novels:
Paolo Bacigalupi brought incredible depth and characterization to future world of "The Windup Girl".  His second foray into adult science fiction, "The Water Knife" has been generating buzz since Knopf picked it up last year.  Look for critics jumping to review this tome nearer to its release in September.

Rumors are circulating about a possible China Mieville short story collection due out in November.  His Embassytown jumped into my personal Top 5 science fiction books, and if the strength of his writing continues to hold up, this'll be a great compilation.

John Scalzi's "Lock In" shows up in August and Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder trilogy concludes with "Visitors" in November.  Scalzi is always a joy to read and Card's young adult trio is reminiscent of his earlier short stories and novels (The Worthing Saga and Treason being adequate parallels).

While I am not a graphic novel aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, Saga and The Walking Dead are two currently running series that continue to impress.  The former I've talked about before and the latter has been crescendoing in action from the first issue to the 126th.  Each does what they do well.

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Ticket to Ride: USA is often our wind down game on Board Game Sundays.  A quick game with easy mechanics, Ticket to Ride is fun and approachable.  Instead of borrowing it from the group constantly, we purchased Ticket to Ride: Europe for our personal collection.  Same game with relatively minor enhancements to the mechanics, the new map routing feels stronger than the USA version and a the whole thing  comes off as a more stable game overall.

If I had to choose, I'd grab TtR: Europe over USA, however the completionist in me thinks this won't be the final Ticket to Ride expansion we place on the shelf.

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Hoop Snake
by Rebecca Wee

Any of several snakes, such as the mud snake, said to grasp the tail in the mouth and move with a rolling, hoop-like motion.
-AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

the second time we met
he told me about the hoop snake

(temporal, exquisite,
a godless man

so I listened)

we weren't sure though
if it could be true

a snake that takes its tail in its mouth,
then rolls through the world

but there are reasons to believe in god
and this seems a good one

we brought wine to the porch, spoke
of piety, marriage,

devotion assumed for reasons
that could not sustain it

while lightning took apart the sky
the fields leapt up the stream's

muddy lustre its sinuous length
liminal, lush, the grass black

the unheard melodies and those that catch
the leaves beginning to fret

I don't remember now what he said his eyes
revising that dark

after he left I walked through the grass the rain
asked how do things work?

we are after something miraculous

we open our mouths we believe
we turn
at times

we gather speed