Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Post-Turkey Day Wrap-Up

I love this time of year!

I know I've stated this many times ad-nauseaum here already, but actually the reason this time has nothing to do with the holidays. It has to do with work. Many of you don't know this, but November and December are wind-down months at my office. Most of the busy work is between the months of April and September, with October being a transition month. But especially starting in mid to late November, we get to sit back and take a breather while more mundane, non-critical tasks are completed and reviewed. So in addition to the already festive mood I'm in, I get the added luxury of having it pretty easy at my nine-to-fiver as well.

So, this is my rather roundabout way of saying that the return back to the office after 4 luxurious days off has been a breeze. Nothing too taxing for me to stress over. How was your own transition back into the daily grind?

In addition to an easy, breezy start to the week, I had a rather sweet weekend spent at home finishing up some odds and ends. I did a bit of house cleaning, sure. But more importantly--I finished up two items of import which I shall go into more detail below:

Dragons are such terrible dancers.

Yes, at long last, I have finished reading the massive 960 page fantasy novel A Dance with Dragons after only 4 months. Took me long enough, eh? Yes, normally I would have finished it within a month, but it was so good that I wanted to savor it for as long as possible. Plus, I kept getting distracted by personal life issues I shall not discuss. But in the end I got through it, and what an ending it was! For those of you who may not know, ADWD is the fifth book in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series -- a.k.a., the "Game of Thrones" series. It's been several years overdue, and probably only came out at long last back in July due to the well-received and hyped HBO adaptation of the first novel, which I suspect kicked the author into gear to complete this latest installment in his ongoing opus.

The book had many epic ups and downs, but I was particularly hard hit by how a favorite character was treated near the very tail end of the novel. However, the epilogue made up for it in spades with a very cool "twist" of sorts and the death of a fairly important secondary character. His end came about quite chillingly, too, which left me with my mouth hanging wide open. I won't spoil the details here concerning who it was or what the extenuating circumstances were, but I'll leave you with the last couple of sentences below, including an ending line that by itself should win a major literary award:

"They were all around him, half a dozen of them, white-faced children with dark eyes, boys and girls together.
"And in their hands, the daggers."

How's that for a closer? Damn, I wish I could deliver an ending that bad ass!

Speaking of dancing: have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?

"It's just something I ask of all my victims."

Yes, I have defeated the Joker and brought law and order of a sort back to Gotham City! I finished up Batman: Arkham City for the Playstation 3 over the weekend. The ending boss fight was a bit anticlimactic to say the least, but that's becoming common practice with games these days. What matters is that the whole rest of the game was aces in terms of story, gameplay, and adherence to the Batman mythos. I believe I had more fun on this sequel than the previous game, mostly due to the amped up everything: environments, gadgets, combat, and the Rogue's Gallery of villains. I even completed damn near all of the side missions save for two. I think I'll spend a few more days cleaning up any overlooked items I missed during this initial playthrough, but even now I'm searching for my next game to play and conquer. Nothing big, mind you. Just something to tide me through the holiday season when I'll be taking 2 weeks off from work at the end of the year.

If you have any suggestions, send them my way.

And now in the too cute to ignore category . . .

I posted up on Facebook earlier today this Youtube video I stumbled upon while searching for something entirely different (don't you just love when that happens?). It's a vid put together by two college-aged ESL teachers for their middle grade students in Japan. The clip primarily teaches the funny differences between American and British English. Even though these two are not professional actors (and it shows!), I simply find it so adorable the effort they put into educating their young charges on the wackier challenges our fair language can present to the unsuspecting new learner:

I especially adore the female contingent of this awkwardly nervous but lovable duo. She has such great positive energy that I'm sure her students appreciate. Actually, the pair of them offer up great chemistry together. Heck, if I had the money I would love to produce a more refined series of tutorial vids starring these two. As someone who's had to learn not one but two second languages (heh, heh), I can't stress enough how important fun and engaging learning aids can be when picking up a foreign language.

My hat's off to them both!


  1. I know how you love this time of year, David. This is one thing I know we differ on :) I think the thing that gets me is how easily I can go a whole week without seeing proper daylight.

    But it sounds like we do have this in common: December is usually a wind-down month at my workplace too. A time when so many people are off work nobody expects anything major to get done, so I usually get a chance to catch up on some things that have been shunted to one side by the insanity that is normal working life.

  2. I just saw this Batman and Arkham City last night. My son was playing it :) maybe I'll have to challenge him . . . NOT. He'd kick my hiney

  3. My "back to work" transition is going smoothly, so far. For me, it's the opposite. End of the year means "hurry and and try and settle as many cases as humanly possible!" And so, we're scurrying until the third week of December. Then, we rest. I LOVE this time of year as well! The icing on the cake would be if it was COLD! Oh it's been chilly -by Texas standards anyway. But it's not been crazy cold! That's what would make the holidays truly exciting -at least for me. :)

  4. I'm sorry but I skipped past the ADWD bit, even though I know you probably wouldn't have spoilers in it, I don't want to read anything to tip me off...:)
    Glad you had a nice holiday.

  5. That is a bad ass ending! Four months to finish the book, huh? Crazy!

    I'm still waiting on revisions from my editor so there was no real transition for me after the Thanksgiving holiday. December is going to be a busy month!

  6. Ian -- Oh cool! I think you're the only other person I know where December is a slow month for them at work. Excellent!

    Kim -- Finally! At long last your son and I are playing the same game at roughly the same time. Miracle of miracles! :) I hopes he likes it, though. I'm pretty sure he does, as that game is insanely good.

    Yvonne -- Damn, sorry to hear. That must be nerve-wracking, I imagine. You know, my company is based in Houston (Thomson Reuters), and I think they're on the same busy schedule this month over there. Incidentally, your office might even be using some of our publications, as we publish case laws and other materials of a legal and regulatory nature. If you're using Westlaw, for instance . . . yup, that's one of our brands!

    Sprite -- I never spoil anything. But I did include the last and closing lines of the book, so it might be good you skipped it. Although, since you're still in the middle of reading AFFC, I doubt it would have much effect were you to take a glimpse. I don't provide any meaningful context with the quote.

    Jen -- Yeah, longer than usual, even considering what a huge tome it is. But I was in fact reading other books along with it, as I normally do. Including a certain debut novel with a "creep"-y antagonist. :) That also accounts for the length of time it took me to complete Martin's novel.


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