March 2004 Archives

Conan

The other day, I was ribbing my friend TomatoMan that there are other fantasy authors out there besides "Tolkien":http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/biography.html and all of the folks that are... attempting to follow in his footsteps, to put it charitably. Over the last year or two, I've been making a conscious effort to acquaint myself with more of these authors (as well as their science fiction counterparts). Such luminaries as Lovecraft (of whom I've been a fan for years), Moorcock, Lieber, Zelazny, Burroughs, and Howard. I've got a lot of stuff still to plow throw, but it's been a blast. (Lieber, especially, in an absolute gem!) "Robert E. Howard":http://www.rehupa.com/short_bio.htm, and his Conan stories in particular, have been something of a sticking point. I've read all kinds of things about how his work has been edited, rewritten, "pastiched":http://www.rehupa.com/vanhise_pastiche.htm, folded, spindled and mutilated over the years. Mostly by well-meaning friends, but mutilated all the same. I'd heard good things about his material, though, and have wanted to read some of the Conan stuff for ages. This morning, I discovered that "Del Rey":http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/ books is actually publishing the original, unadulterated tales here in the US. Until December of last year, when volume one was published, you could only read that material -- restored to its original form -- in "British":http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1857989961 "editions":http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1857987470. In fact, I had those books in my shopping cart at Amazon.co.uk before I discovered "the Del Rey edition":http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/catalog/display.pperl?0345461517 had come out. So when we went to the mall today to run a couple of errands, I bought it. It's a 496-page trade paperback. So far I've just read the introduction. But I'm really looking forward to diving in. (And "volume two":http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/catalog/display.pperl?0345461525 comes out in November. Which will give me something to read while I continue to wait for the next George RR Martin book....)

Ouch

So, the Mega Update is still cooking (significant stuff just has a way of never _finishing_, doesn't it?), but in the mean time, here's a great tip for you prospective cooks out there. When baking potatoes, always -- and I mean _always_ -- poke a few holes through the skin into the flesh of the potato with a fork before putting it into the oven. The purpose of this exercise, as you may know, is to allow the steam generating by the water in the potato boiling as it cooks to escape. The alternative, apparently, is to not do so, and turn the potato in question into a grenade. I forgot to do this last night when making dinner, and when I tested the fourth of four potatoes for doneness, it literally exploded in my hand. One second I'm standing there with a potato and a fork. *BANG!* And the next I, and my kitchen, am covered in potato. In my hand is an empty husk that sort of reminds me of John Hurt halfway through _Alien_. I am thankful for two things: first, that our oven mitts are the kind that go up to your elbow, and that I was wearing one instead of using a hot pad. Second, that my eyesight is crappy, and I was wearing glasses. That's not a story I wanted to have to tell in the ER. You Have Been Warned.