Saturday, January 30, 2016

This Week in Reading

Captain’s Fury, by Jim Butcher, pages 117 – 191.
A Cat on Stage Left, by Lydia Adamson, COMPLETED. Review here.
Vicious Circle, by Mike Carey, pages 1 – 37.

Darth Vader 1 – 6
Underworld Unleashed tie-ins: Azrael #10, Detective Comics #692, Green Lantern #69, Justice League America #105.
UltraForce 9 & 10

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review of A Cat on Stage Left

Book #4: A Cat on a Stage Left, by Alice Nestleton. Hardcover.

I found this series a number of years ago, after working my way through the Jim Qwilleran “Cat Who” series by Lilian Jackson Braun. It has been a while since I’ve read one, but not because I didn’t enjoy them. The library stopped acquiring the audio versions, and it has taken me a while to get around to tracking down print versions.

The series features actress Alice Nestleton, who supplements her income by cat-sitting, and occasionally dabbling in private investigation. In this book, a potential client is killed in front of Alice’s building, but she recognizes ability that something strange in afoot with the crime. The cat that the client was bringing her to “sit” was nothing more than a stuffed toy.

Along with her friend, mystery writer Sam Tully, Alice investigates the crime, which seems to involve some of their acquaintances from their early days on stage. The scheme ends up including money laundering, blackmail, and a bizarre weight-loss clinic.

The mystery is an interesting one, and the solution is unexpected. Nestleton and Tully make a good team in this one, and the character moments between them are strong. Along with Tully’s fictional detective character, Harry Bondo, they make a smart and streetwise detective team.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

This Week in Reading

Captain’s Fury, by Jim Butcher, pages 1 – 117.
Parenting Your Children Into Adulthood, by Ron Hitchcock, COMPLETED. Review here.
A Cat on Stage Left, by Lydia Adamson, pages 83 – 146.

Constantine the Hellblazer 8
Fusion 1, 2 & 4
Kanan the Last Padawan 1 – 6
Starfire 8
Trekker omnibus, pages 220 – 246 (*)
Watson & Holmes 1

(*) covering parts 1 and 2 of the story “Sins of the Father.” Ruth and Darrin Sutherland covered this story in detail on episode 13 of the excellent podcast Trekker Talk.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review of Parenting Your Child Into Adulthood

Book #3: Parenting Your Children Into Adulthood, by Ron Hitchcock. Paperback.

This is a parenting book that is clear that it is a different type of parenting book. The focus is not on making “better” children, which so many parenting books address. Hitchcock’s emphasis here is on the opportunities that parenting gives to turn people into “faithful stewards of God’s precious children.”

The book uses Hitchcock’s Parenting Adult Children (PAC) model as the organizing structure for the book. The four steps of the PAC model are nurture, values, mutuality, and interdependence, which are represent stages of strong parent-child relationships. The model is designed to prepare children for mature relationships with others, and to lay the groundwork for long-term parent-child friendships.

In discussing each of these steps, Hitchcock includes portions of his Life in Motion Resources Inventory (LIMRI). The LIMRI is an excellent tool for use in enriching all sorts of interpersonal relationships. There is an academic bent to the book, but it is also highly readable and these tools make it very practical.

Towards the end of the book, Hitchcock presents a unique and insightful interpretation on the Prodigal Son story. His take on the different personalities of the two sons in the story was something I had never considered, but his conclusions were interesting and profound. This ties in to another theme in the book, that of “successful” versus “faithful” parenting.

Again, this is not a parenting book about molding more obedient children. It is a book about teaching parents to view parenting as an opportunity to develop godly character traits in themselves.

Source: Church bookstore.

Note: I attend the church where Ron Hitchcock is a pastor, and have taken a number of his parenting classes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Own Podcast Awards!

Since I (1) listen to a lot of podcasts, and (2) have a blog, I believe I am qualified to talk about my favorites podcasts of 2015.

This year's awards are dedicated to the memory of Shawn Engel, who passed away in December. He was a terrific podcaster, whose solo show Just One of the Guys was excellent. He was also involved in the shows Parallel Lines, Who True Freaks, and Listen to the Prophets.

Favorite Podcast That I Guested On In 2015
Runners-Up: Back to the Bins, Crossover Nexus, Earth Destruction Directive, Just One of the Guys, King-Size Comics Giant-Size Fun, No Consoles for Old Men, Pop Culture Affidavit, Secret Origins, TV Rewind, Trentus Magnus Punches Reality, Unofficial 75 Greatest Marvels
Winner:  Bailey's Batman Podcast. Michael Bailey and I talked about the hardcover collection Batman From the Thirties to the Seventies, a volume I have owned for about 40 years.

Best Produced Podcast
Runners-Up: Beware of Monsters, Long Play, No Agenda, Spirit Blade Underground.
WinnerMy Star Wars Story. Scott Ryfun does a terrific job getting his guests to open up about their histories with Star Wars. He has had a wide range of guests on the show, and the interviews always sound terrific. He is able to largely "get out of the way" of his guests, letting them (as the podcast name implies) tell their unique, individual Star Wars story.

Off Into The Sunset Award, for a show that wrapped up its mission in 2015, and rode off victoriously into the sunset.
Runners-Up: Babble-On Project, Flowers & Fishnets, Just One Of The Guys, Uncovering the Bronze Age
Winner: Parallel Lines. Michael Bradley and the late Shawn Engel did a terrific job covering each and every issue of DC Comics "Tangent Universe" initiative. They ended with an excellent "feedback and farewell" episode. 

Where Have You Been All My Life? Award, for a show that started in or before 2014, but that I didn't start listening to (or even hear of, in some cases) until 2015.
Runners-Up:  Batgirl to Oracle, Men in Blazers, X-Files Truth
WinnerThe Classic Tales Podcast. I discovered this excellent show only a few months ago, and have become a huge fan. BJ Harrison produces high-quality audio versions of novels and stories in the public domain, across a wide range of genres.

Podfaded But Not Forgotten Award, for a show that ended (or maybe seems to have ended) in 2015, and it's hard to know if or when it's coming back.
Runners-up: The Book Guys Show,The Jen and Dave Show, The Ultraverse Network
Winner: Geeks On!  This was one of the first half-dozen or so podcasts that I ever listened to regularly. Their production had slowed over the last few years, and the last episode to hit the feed was in June of 2014. Sad to see it fade away, but it was a consistently excellent and thought-provoking podcast.

Back From The Dead Award, for shows that seemed to maybe have been dead, but released at least one episode in 2015!
Runners-up:Tom Versus
Winner: The Saint Cast. After taking 2014 off, Dr. Paul Camarata released 2 episodes in 2015, making me grateful for any episodes that he can release.

And now on to the two most prestigious awards ...

Best New Podcast of 2015
Runners-Up: Beware of Monsters, Ditch Diggers, Secret Origins, Warlord Worlds, Worth Playing For

Winner:  Trekker Talk. Darrin and Ruth Sutherland have introduced me to a comic and a character with which I was unfamiliar. Their show is a delight to listen to, and the hosts are a very friendly pair. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this new show, and look forward to listening to more episodes in 2016. 

Favorite Overall Podcast
Runners-Up: The Fire & Water Podcast, More Than One Lesson, No Agenda
Winner: Long Play. What a great idea for a show, having geeks talk about their favorite rock-n-roll albums. The concept of rotating hosts (full disclosure: including me for two episodes) keeps the episodes fresh and the albums diverse. The execution of the episodes has been terrific as well, with the songs fading in and out at just the right moments. Congratulations to Bob Fisher, Chris Honeywell, Luke Jaconetti, and the other people behind the podcast for delivering such a solid, fun, interesting, and unique show.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

This Week in Reading

Calico Joe, by John Grisham, COMPLETED. Review here.
Parenting Your Children Into Adulthood, by Ron Hitchcock, pages 41 – 85.
A Cat on Stage Left, by Lydia Adamson, pages 1 – 83.

Baker Street Graffiti
Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor 1 – 5
Plastic Man Annual 80-page Giant
Shazam: The New Beginning 2
Sludge 8
Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories 462