The last couple of weeks have been dominated by work, writing, and wrangling cats. All well and good, but with the drawback that I’ve been accumulating blog topics faster than I can write about them. I know most people probably don’t read big honking round-up posts like this, but for my own sake I need to get this stuff out of my system. So here’s a big old bucket o’ blog nuggets, wherein I discuss writing, traffic, soccer, comic books, the hockey off-season, cats and more:

WRITING UPDATE: The major revision work on Subnetworks is underway.  I’ve been working on draft three for a little over a week now, nose seriously to the grindstone, and I’m making great progress. I also finished a short story a few weeks ago, and have another one underway that looks like it’s going to balloon into a novella. [Cue Yosemite Sam cursing here.] But really the novel remains the main focus, and I’m hoping to start sending out agent queries within the next couple of months. Once that’s underway, I’ll probably start working on Rogue Souls again. Really enjoying writing this year!

CARMAGGEDDON: Last weekend, they closed down Interstate 405 for an entire weekend to demolish a bridge. For those of you unfamiliar with LA, Jenn described it best in a recent tweet: closing off the 405 is like severing the city’s femoral artery. Massive traffic jams and other apocalyptic scenarios were predicted, and I was nervous. I take the 405 every day to get to and from work, and it looked like I was going to get trapped in Brentwood in the chaos, since my shift was going to end well after the 405 shut down. We were allowed to leave early, however, so as to make it through the pass before the onramps closed.

So how horrible was it? It was a freaking ghost freeway. I think I got home twice as fast as usual. The roads stayed clear the entire weekend. Proof, I think, that when it comes down to it, LA folks really don’t need to be getting in each other’s way so damn much!  Carmageddon? Wasn’t. And as many people observed afterward, the real Carmaggeddon is pretty much every other day in southern California.

SGT. MALARKEY: One of my more recent non-fiction reads was Easy Company Soldier by Sgt. Don Malarkey (with Bob Welch), a memoir of his experiences serving in the 101st Airborne during World War II. Anyone familiar with Band of Brothers (the HBO series, Stephen Ambrose’s book, or both) will be familiar with the sweep of his journey already, but it’s a quick, straight-shooting first-person account, quite well written, that provides another close-in, heartfelt perspective on the heroics and hardships of Easy Company.

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP SOCCER: If you missed the Women’s World Cup tournament from Germany this year, you missed some pretty awesome soccer. Team USA was amazing in their crazy run to the final, where they were edged out by a resilient, underdog Japanese team. I saw USA take on Brazil, France, and Japan: the Brazil and Japan games in particular were intense. Clutch scoring for USA came from Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, and there was heroic goaltending from athlete/supermodel Hope Solo, who I swear is some kind of hero from the Marvel universe come to life. A tough loss for USA, but a thrilling win for Japan; great stuff!

BOSSYPANTS: Tina Fey seems like one of those celebrities who should be incredibly overexposed by now, but I can’t seem to get sick of her. If you love 30 Rock and get a kick out of Fey’s sense of humor, I recommend her comedic autobiography Bossypants. While driving around town or doing busywork around the house, I listened to the audiobook version, which Fey reads herself. Funny, intelligent, enjoyable material throughout.

NHL OFF-SEASON: I’ve been following the Los Angeles Kings for a few years now, and they keep getting better, but they seem to be improving at the expense of my favorite players. GM Dean Lombardi and coach Terry Murray tend to want only North American, north-south, hard-nosed “character” guys in their locker room. They pretty much coached Alexander Frolov and Oscar Moller back to Europe, traded away fan favorite Wayne Simmonds, and aren’t bringing back cornerstone utility forward Michal Handzus, some of the team’s most interesting and likable players. I like the acquisitions of Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, who should be upgrades over Handzus and Ryan Smyth, but weirdly the more dangerous LA gets, the less I like them. They’re building a winner, but I don’t like the way they’re doing it…or maybe I just don’t like winners. Hmm.

Meanwhile my first love, the Buffalo Sabres, have gone from bargain basement shoppers to high rollers with new owner Terry Pegula. Some impressive big-spending going on in Buffalo, and the high profile acquisitions of Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino, and Robyn Regehr should make for a tough team, provided they can get under the salary cap. On paper, both teams are looking pretty formidable for next year! And the Kings and Sabres are starting the season in Europe, where they’ll face off in Germany on my birthday. Great way to ring in the season! Wonder which team I’ll be rooting for?

FURTHER MASTICATION: Following up on my enjoyment of the first volume of Chew, Jenn hooked me up with volume 2, “International Flavor.” This absurdist, episodic dark comedy about cibopathic detective Tony Chu, who can perceive information through eaten objects, including murder victims, is wildly inventive, gross, funny, weird, and one-of-a-kind. If you want to visit a world of weird superpowers, where the FDA and the US Departure of Agriculture are rival intelligence agencies, with bionic supercops, a bird flu ravaged ecosystem, mysterious mutated fruits that taste like meat, and, uh, incongruous vampires, Chew is for you!

THE LAST AIRBENDER:  LEGEND OF KORRA:  If you’re not excited about this new animated series, it’s probably because you haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender yet. Which means you have work to do! So get to it; you’ll thank me!

CAT INTEGRATION UPDATE: And finally, for those who made it this far, I reward you with a link to Jenn’s brilliant photo essay about Finley’s devious conquest of our household. Follow the link for insane cuteness!

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