Another reason my wife is cooler than yours

First off, come visit my little city at MyMiniCity: Underpopetown.  Why?  Because.  That’s why.

Yesterday at about 1:15 my friend Keith showed up, ostensibly so that I could take him out to lunch to celebrate his graduation from art college (which happened two weeks ago but which I missed because I had to work).  I had been planning to take him to the local brewpub but once he got into the house he seemed awfully determined to go out and get sushi right now; so after making plans with Jennifer that we would be back by 5:30 to have lasagna for dinner, we headed out.  After lunch we went to Great Escape Games, where I bought him a copy of Monte Cook’s World of Darkness as a belated birthday/Christmas present, and a copy of All Flesh Must Be Eaten (a zombie apocalypse role-playing game — because hey, zombies) for myself.

After that, Keith decided that seeing a movie would be a cool idea.  I thought we’d be pushing time, and Keith isn’t normally one to push time boundaries like that, but what the heck.  We went to one theater, where the only movie playing at a time that worked for us was Alvin and the Chipmunks; since neither of us wanted to see yet more childhood memories pillaged and mutilated, we looked for another theater at Arden, where we spent twenty minutes looking for a place to park.  All in vain, though; we found no place.

So we headed back home.  And Keith said he wanted to stop at Starbuck’s or something because the sushi and the heat in the car (I guess his car’s heater is broken in the “on” position) was making him thirsty and sleepy.  I admit that I was becoming suspicious at this point, but decided that if he really didn’t want me to be home before 5:30 there must be a good reason, so I agreed and we went to the True Love Cafe, where we had orange mochas and an interesting conversation with some other patrons about D. B. Cooper.  By then it was 5:10, and Keith had run out of delaying tactics, so we headed back to my place.

Turns out we got back to my house a little bit early.  There wasn’t enough time for Jennifer to finish the decorating and hide everyone in the kitchen or wherever to shout “SURPRISE!” at me.  I was a little surprised to see my friends Kent and John hanging out, but they’re both old friends and it’s not entirely unusual to have them swing by unannounced.  But then Wally from my writers’ group came out of the kitchen carrying a bunch of decorations and that gave me pause.  Why was Wally here?  Why was he carrying decorations?  It was then that I really took in the fact that John and Kent were also putting up decorations, that the table had been decorated, and that everything had a pirate theme.

And that’s when Jennifer came out of the kitchen, looking distraught.  “Surprise!” she said kind of half heartedly. So at that point I guess I knew that a surprise party for my 40th birthday was in the works.

Apparently Jennifer had been hard at work for months, and I never had a clue.  She’d emailed all my friends, including my writing group buddies, and arranged for all of this.  Even my little sister came up, which was always a treat.  All in all there were about twenty-five people there, from college friends I’ve known for over twenty years to friends I’ve known for just a few months.  Some of my friends brought their children, which is always fun.

The party was a full on pirate theme, including pirate hats that we all got to wear if we wanted, little pirate flags on the walls, and a treasure chest for gifts.  I would have been perfectly happy without the gifts, of course.

The best part — okay, the second best part after seeing all my friends and family — was the cake which Jennifer made.  I’ve never seen a cake in the shape of Cthulhu before, and it was brilliant.

Pirates and Cthulhu.  My wife sure does know me.  It was the best birthday party ever.

Turning 40 isn’t easy for any man.  But with a great wife who apparently adores me and who treats me well, and with great friends and family, the transition is just a bit easier.

And for those wondering, here is a picture of the Best Birthday Cake in the History of the World:

Well, Crap

Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s.  From the news bulletin:

I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news.  I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom "stroke".

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism.  For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers.  Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

He goes on to say,

I know it’s a very human thing to say "Is there anything I can do", but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

…which makes sense.  He wants to keep things positive, and he’s approaching this with the characteristic humor that has made him such a brilliant genius.

This news really depresses me (probably not as much as it depresses Mr. Pratchett and his family, of course).  Terry Pratchett is one of my top three favorite writers; I count him as one of my greatest influences, along with Neil Gaiman and Stephen King.  He masterfully balances humor and poignance in his novels, creating stories that are simultaneously hilarious and thought-provoking.  Small Gods, while giving us all a good laugh, also invites us to examine the origins of our religious beliefs.  Night Watch is funny as always, but also gets the reader considering the way their own lives have been shaped by the decisions they have made in the past.  In short, Terry Pratchett is one of the best humorists, living, dead, or otherwise,  If I can achieve 10% — maybe 12% — of his talent, I’ll consider myself a very happy writer indeed.

He’s not dead yet, of course.  So let’s hope those high end experts in brain chemistry will get their own brains in gear sooner rather than later.

Tin Man, Part One

Just finished watching Part One of the Sci Fi Channel’s miniseries, Tin Man.  Despite some less than clever plot elements, an alarmingly lackluster performance by the usually very talented Zooey Deschanel, and a tendency for the villains to employ just the right amount of stupid to set themselves up for a really obvious fall, I really enjoyed it.  I like the look and the design, I’m enjoying the overall story, and Richard Dreyfuss was brilliant as the Mystic Man.

What I’m not sure I understand is why it was necessary to brand this show as a "reimagination" of The Wizard of Oz.  Sure there are a few plot similarities here and there, but, really, none of them are so essential to the plot that they couldn’t be removed or reworked with just a little effort on the part of the writers.  I think this would have been more cleverly done as an original tale; or, at most, an homage to The Wizard of Oz, with some more blatant references to the original.

I’ve only seen part one, so I’m withholding my final rating for now.  But I am sufficiently intrigued to continue watching.