After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decide, Brian began writing epic fantasy. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades (put out by Tor Books in January), is the start of his series, Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. Tor.com has been good enough to release the first seven chapters as a teaser.
Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order. These are his good things.
Good things to read.
The Last Samurai. There’s no relation here, to the horrible Tom Cruise movie. The Last Samurai I’m talking about is a novel by Helet DeWitt about a single mother in London struggling to raise a super-genius of a young boy, and about that boy’s struggle to find a father figure he can believe it. Hysterically funny, tragic, smart, and compassionate.
Mr. Wuffles. I groaned when my two-year-old pulled this one off the shelf in the library. It looked like a boring picture book about cats. To my delight, it is, in fact, a tale of interstellar first contact, busted hyper-drives, enormous and malevolent predators, and cooperation against the odds. Also, Cheez-Its play an important role in cementing the friendship between alien races.
A News Outlet with a Different Political Slant. I saw a depressing chart recently (of course, I can’t find it now) indicating that we (Americans) have become more polarized in our reading choices. More than ever, conservatives read conservative newspapers, books, and magazines, while liberals read liberal stuff. This is a disaster. We don’t and shouldn’t agree about everything, but it’s worth knowing what the other half of the country thinks and why.
Good things to watch.
Fire. There’s not much of a plot to a campfire or a roaring blaze on the hearth, but while there are thousands of hours of television that I’ve regretted watching, I can’t say I look back on any evening around a campfire and think, “I really should have been watching reruns of Family Feud.”
Unforgiven. This 1992 western starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman was one of the great disappointments of my childhood. I rented it hoping for wise-cracking, gun-slinging heroics. I wanted Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. Instead I got a dark tale about vengeance and loss, one in which there didn’t seem to be any good guys, no one was particularly clever or particularly beautiful, and everyone is over the hill. I didn’t watch it again for maybe five or six years, when it immediately claimed the number one spot on my list of favorite movies. It has yet to be dethroned.
Figure Skating. What’s not to like? Unbelievable athleticism. Brutal wipe-outs. Sequined costumes. Great music. Bitter rivalries. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Good things to use.
Studded Snow Tires. Granted, if you live in Baton Rouge or Dallas, snow tires might not prove the most practical investment, but I live in Vermont, and it’s no exaggeration to say they are one of my favorite possessions. There’s no sensation quite as awful as that moment at the top of a long, steep, unplowed dirt road when you feel your car start to drift beneath you, a horror that is multiplied ten-fold if your kid’s in the car. On the flip side, there’s nothing like looking out the window, seeing the snow’s a foot deep on the ground, and thinking, “No problem.” Freedom of movement and peace of mind – the ultimate luxuries.
Heavy Clay Poker Chips. Even losing money feels good when you’re not playing with those shitty plastic chips.
Google Calendar. It’s free. It syncs automatically across devices. You can share all relevant information with all relevant people. It’s utterly intuitive. This isn’t to say I use it – I’m still wedded to the massive paper thing stuck to the refrigerator, but then, I’m an idiot.