Sunday, April 13, 2008


I'm not doing a lot of reading since the family re-united after my vacation phase. We're mostly spending time together and watching videos.

The stuff I'm trying to read includes The Economist, which I'm two issues behind on and....

Something from the Nightside by Simon Green. This is one of those Dresden Files like books where the main character is engaged with a secret, supernatural world, parallel to our own. It's a page turner, like Dresden, but lacks the strong characters that Jim Butcher crafts so well.

Friday, by Robert Heinlein. I'm giving up on this one. Heinlein writes first person for the main character, a female genetically engineered courier. I just can't get over the creepy, disconnect that the female narrator is actually a man. It just isn't working. I feel like I'm reading about a transvestite.

Alpha Dogs, by Donna Fenn is the business book I mentioned. I bought it in the airport and it's good airport business reading. This book is about businesses who innovate and do creative things, often well beyond their core competencies. It's not about a business that does things really well, it's about businesses that extended themselves into other areas of their field. If I could wave a magic business wand and make things happen, I would implement everything discussed in E-Myth Revisited to perfect businesses processes and then implement and extend innovative new methods for doing business like in Alpha Dogs.

Phoenicians by Glenn Markoe is like reading the footnotes for the speculative Phoenician book I read while on vacation. It has just the facts, which are actually just as interesting as the narrative structure of the last book. The last book ignored a lot of facts for the sake of its narrative, while this book provides the bare bones and lets you decide context and meaning. It has been helpful in my D&D campaign, mostly in finding additional information about the inland regions of Lebanon, where my campaign will be taking place. Like other historical books on the subject, truth is often stranger than fiction, with bizarre cities composed of priests of every known god, and ancient citadels, built into mountainsides, guarding mountain passes. Sometimes these places are written about in the Bible, providing excellent flavor text (but questionable accuracy), especially when Biblical folks were enemies with these pagans. Sometimes entire cities would be put to the sword and burnt to the ground because of their beliefs. Gotta love the Bible.

AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax. It's interesting to begin reading this beat up tome from my childhood. My wife looks at me funny as I laugh out loud at Gary Gygax's prose. He occasionally writes like Yoda talks, before there was a Yoda. "Peeping players there will undoubtedly be..." If you wondered from where the "old school" principles of game mastering arose, much of it is from this tome, with its archaic language, strange charts, and thoughtful advice from a brilliant insurance agent from Wisconsin, about to become a gaming rock star. He spent two years writing it by himself. There was no design team, no corporate paycheck, no legions of play testers. This one man wrote this great game book and many still think it's the best version of Dungeons & Dragons.

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