Two unrelated things

Bakery-Deli-Logo-SmallI have posted about Rise ‘n Roll Bakery before, at least once, but I can’t find it at the moment.  The “long story short” version is that they serve the greatest doughnuts in the world, or more specifically they serve the greatest doughnut holes in the world.  This is known; it’s not up for debate.  The best.  Ever.

The problem with Rise ‘n Roll is that until very recently the closest location to me was in freaking Middlebury, deep in Amish country, where people like me dare not go.  Granted, that’s mostly because we’re lazy, as I’m sure that the people in Middlebury are perfectly nice– they’re Amish, after all– and wouldn’t, like, hurt me or anything if I tried to buy their delicious doughnuts.

Note the “until recently” there.  Because just this week they opened a new location, and the new location is practically next door to my comic shop.  In other words, I’ll be driving past this place at least twice a week, basically forever.

This is going to make me very very fat.  Or at least I thought it was.  I swung by the comic shop today to drop off some promotional materials for my signing on the 9th, since I wanted them to have them before new comic book day tomorrow.  On the way back, for the first time, I pulled into Rise ‘n Roll to buy some doughnut holes.

And discovered something terrible.  Something that shouldn’t have surprised me, but did, and now I am very very sad.

Rise ‘n Roll does all their baking in the morning.

Which means that by 4:00 PM, which is about the time I’ll be driving past them, almost every time, their doughnuts, and their delicious doughnut holes, are gone.  And they’re likely to always be gone.

Which means that the new Rise ‘n Roll is even worse than I thought.  It’s not going to make me fat.  It’s just going to make me want to be fat, but it will be a terrible, no-doughnuts-for-you tease.

I may have to burn the place down.

(Sidenote: their website is risenroll.com, which I parse as “risen roll,” which brings to mind all sorts of hilariously blasphemous story ideas about resurrected Jesus pastry.  This may or may not be deliberate; I’m not sure.)


Second thing, this one shorter.  I got this in the mail yesterday:

FullSizeRenderDerek Dieter is running against a woman for City Clerk.

Can you tell?

THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE is live!

Sanctum_72dpiMy third book, The Sanctum of the Sphere: The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 2 is finally officially available!

  • Digital version: $4.95
  • Omnibus print edition (Includes The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1): $14.99

I’m pretty damn proud of this book– particularly of the print edition, as I’ve learned a lot about how to do layout for these things and, in my opinion at least, the book looks great.  As of this exact second (I’m administering an ISTEP test right now, so I’m actually writing this a couple of days early) the book already has one review on Goodreads, and it’s a 4.5 star review, so at least one person liked it other than me!  Hopefully by the time that link exists for you to click on there will be one or two more.

The back cover copy:

“Go rob that train.” Nice, normal. An everyday heist. 

But nothing is ever normal for Brazel, Grond and Rhundi.

A simple act of motorized larceny quickly explodes into a galaxy-spanning adventure for the two thieves. Blade-wielding elves, a fast-moving global war, a secret outlaw space city, incomprehensible insectoids and one impossibly lucky human are just the start of their problems. And that’s before they learn that someone from Grond’s past has gotten the Benevolence involved…

What is happening on the ogrespace moon Khkk?

Who are the Noble Opposition?

And what is the secret of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE?

#ATOZCHALLENGE, Day 24: X Clan

XArtist: X Clan
Best Album: Xodus
Best Song: Heed the Word of the Brother
This Letter Could Have Been About: The X-Ecutioners, Xzibit

Why I’m Writing About This Artist: I love that I genuinely had to think about what to choose to write about for X.  I suspect most people didn’t have many choices for this one, and a lot of them are cheating.  Nope!  I had three without even thinking about it, and I could probably come up with a few more if I tried for a few minutes.

One movement in hiphop that I haven’t talked about very much during these posts is Afrocentrism.  It came up in the Chuck D and Queen Latifah posts, if I remember right, but it wasn’t dwelled on.  Enter X Clan.  I still clearly remember seeing the video for Heed the Word of the Brother on Yo! MTV Raps for the first time, and it blew my damn mind.  Africa medallions were a thing back then, although as a chubby white kid there was absolutely no chance that I was ever going to own one much less wear it outside the house, but X Clan took Afrocentrism to an all-new level, filling their lyrics with references to Egyptian gods and African magic and ramping the political content (which I was already used to and comfortable with) to a new level.  They never saw a huge amount of commercial success, but they made a hell of an impact on me.

(Fun fact!  The one contribution I ever made to a lyrics website was for an X Clan song, where I was entertained by the sheer number of wrong ways people were misinterpreting the admittedly uncommon phrase “unguent jar.”  These guys got themselves some vocabulary.)

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REVIEW: Ken Liu’s THE GRACE OF KINGS

18952341Ken Liu has had a hell of a year.  You may recall my review of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, which I loved, and which I note seems to have grown in my estimation since I wrote the review.  Ken Liu, who is not related to Cixin Liu, translated that book, meaning he was at least partially responsible for (at the moment) my favorite science fiction book of the year.

And now he is solely responsible for my favorite fantasy book of the year.  His debut novel The Grace of Kings is a genuinely remarkable work, one of the most inventive and interesting fantasy stories I’ve read in years.  It is billed as Book One of The Dandelion Dynasty, but tells a complete enough story that it doesn’t feel like it needs a sequel to be complete.  This is a good thing; this is a weighty tome (640 pages) with a complicated list of characters, a map in the front that is absolutely critical to a clear understanding of what’s going on, and a timespan that covers at least several years and may actually stretch out to close to a couple of decades.  This book demands that you pay attention to it, but is crazily rewarding to those who do.

Liu calls the genre of the book “silkpunk,” meaning a fantasy-science fiction hybrid heavily infused with Chinese culture, but I’d say for all that the book is squarely in the fantasy genre anyway– it’s just fantasy featuring airships, battle kites (yes, battle kites,) giant mechanical whales, and a few other awesome things I won’t spoil here.

But it also has a main character who is eight feet tall and has two pupils in each of his eyes, who fights with a sword in one hand and a giant tetsubo in the other, a magic book, and a subplot involving the gods that is the only real hint that there are more books coming in this series.  My sole reservation is to point out that you really do need to pay attention while you’re reading, as the book is chockfull of characters with unfamiliar Chinese names and keeping them straight can be a bit of a challenge at times.  Other than that?  I loved this fucking book and you should buy it and read it right now.  If this isn’t still my favorite book of the year at the end of 2015 it will have been an outstanding year for reading.

#ATOZCHALLENGE, Day 23: Wu-Tang Clan

WArtist: Wu-Tang Clan
Best Album: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Best Song: C.R.E.A.M.
This Letter Could Have Been About: Watsky, Whodini, Wyclef Jean, Westside Connection

Why I’m Writing About This Artist: This is another one of those “Where do I start?” artists.  How about the roster?  From memory: The RZA, the GZA, Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck.  The ones I had to hit Wikipedia to remember: Cappadonna and U-God.  Understand that each of those guys has multiple solo albums along with the seven albums the Clan released and a few under pseudonyms or “related” acts like the Killa Beez.  It would take a dissertation to explain how the Clan’s various works fit together and I’m trying to limit myself to 500 words here.  Let’s just say this: by 1993, when Enter the Wu-Tang came out, the golden age of hiphop was drawing to a close.  In fact, I’d be comfortable calling Enter the Wu-Tang the final album of that era.

It was… different.  For starters, there were like 600 guys in the group.  Then there was the constant references to Eastern mysticism and the near-constant sampling of kung-fu flicks.  The Clan was a breath of fresh, if insane, air.  And they blew the hell up, starting a clothing line and who knows what else.  I’m pretty sure you could get Wu-Tang action figures at one point.

Add, at the very least, Enter the Wu-Tang to your record collection immediately if you don’t already own it.

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