Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: Halloween

People who protest Halloween need to sod off.

Happy Halloween.

I went looking for my giant bow
so I could use this costume again.
Alas, I couldn't find it. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween movie suggestions

I have a couple of lite-horror movie suggestions for you. Horror movies that made me laugh.

I just finished watching "The Cabin in the Woods". Have you ever seen a movie that can't be marketed? It fits no genre? Any trailer that tells you what it's about would ruin it? The only thing that can tell you if it's good is if someone who likes the same movies as you recommends it? Sure you have. The Princess Bride, The Matrix, Moon, stuff like that. The Cabin in the Woods is like that. The only possible marketing goes:

"Alright, look, Joss Whedon is involved. What else do you need to know? Can you just trust us on this? Alright, it... it's like he misses working on Buffy. I know the poster and the name make it look like another 'college kids in a cabin' type movie, and it is, but it's so much more than that. It's scary in the same way a Buffy episode was scary. Not like that silent smiling man episode, that freaked me out, but like the other stuff. But still with the sense of humor."

I'm gonna make Yummy watch it. She doesn't do horror movies well, but I think she's going to love this one. It'll probably end up in my permanent DVD collection.

The next movie I'm gonna make Yummy watch is "Dale and Tucker vs Evil." This also starts with a bunch of college students heading for a cabin in the woods. Along the way they meet a couple of creepy rednecks. The film then starts following the rednecks. They're just a couple of guys looking to spend a weekend in the woods. But they keep encountering the college students and accidentally terrifying them. When the students start to fight back they start dying in hilarious ways.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Links: October 26

Google engineer Jeff Dean has earned his own Chuck Norris style list. [link]

A cloud of water vapor that holds 140 trillion times the water on Earth has been found around a black hole 10 billion light years away. [link]

The original Coke recipe? [link]

Old paintings with the people removed. [link]

Other uses for tampons. [link]

A long list of life hacks (some of which you've seen here before). [link]

The problems with stealing paintings for profit. [link]

Pictures of Google data centers. [link]

Just read the part under "I always thought Garamond sounded like a weapon name." [link]

Pics of young Mitt Romney being a jackass. [link]

Chuck Yeager reenacts his historic flight. [link]
Honestly, it's a better headline than story.

It's a thoroughly told story, but once again, the death of Bin Laden. [link]

$50,000 to the person who brings the FTC the (figurative) heads of the robocallers! [link]

A whale trying to speak. [link]

The Taliban wants the media to cover the up side of shooting teenage girls. [link]

Modern chain mail. [link]

For your next party with the dwarves. [link]

David Lo Pan Style.

I may need this stand for my next TV. [link]
But where does the Playstation fit?

Infusions of young blood may actually help old folks health in many areas. [link]

More realistic versions of cereal box characters. [link]

Gangnam Busters.

Behind the scenes on horror movies. [link]

I don't mind catching fire. I just don't want my sunscreen to feel greasy. [link]

10 HP pram.

A bigot speaks in Missouri... oops, maybe not.

Tattoos that started as paintings. [link]

"It makes Republicans look like knee-dragging, still-tending, tobacco-spitting Neanderthals,"[link]

American and what they know about foreign policy. [link]

If I spent much time at the lake I might need one of these.

About a solitary cell. [link]

OK. It's late and I'm done.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A chat with the printer

Tonight, the part of the printer will be performed by Mr. H.R. Gumby and I will be played by someone slightly more British, but equally snarky.

Hello, Printer. I have this lovely document for you to print. Just one page. Can you handle it?
Printer? Hello. Print test page?
Processsssss... You have reached the printer sharing software of Bruce Muckup. I have nodded off due to a prolonged lack of use. However, if you chuck something heavy at my keyboard I'll be all too happy to
[insert sound of a dictionary failing to maintain it's orbit right on top of a keyboard]
I'll just pass this document along for you then, alright?
What was that?
Yes. That's great. My document?
What was that? A fighter jet?
Mmmm... I see. Perhaps you could print that first and cool off later?
And snow skiing Terminator sound?
Mmmmhm. OK. I mean my dot matrix printer usually knew to just print on the paper, but I understand if you have trouble hitting a sheet of paper from less than a millimeter away. You go right ahead.
No, no. You're doing fine. But if you might step it up? There is a bit of a queue forming.
What? You have four trays of the damn stuff.
Oh, man. The Bulk Feeder never works. You get all jammed up. It's like feeding the dog cheese.
You have the exact same paper in tray 1. You know that. Just use it.
Oooh... So there is. I'll use that, then.
Thank god.
Oh shit. Where?
(note: usually the display highlights what part of the printer is jammed. This time it really was highlighting the display screen instead of anywhere that paper might go.)
Your monitor?
You mangled a sheet of paper so badly that you managed to jam it up through a data cable and into that little computer monitor of yours?
How is it that, despite the lack of sensors in that area, you managed to figure out that paper made it there?
There are some point in your logic worthy of consideration, however, let me try something else. If I pull open this drawer and remove the piece of paper I find there that should clear the jam.
But didn't you already...?

Oh shit. Where?
Didn't we cover this already?
What monitor?
The wheels then?
Right. I'll remove this piece of paper from the same drawer the last one came from and close you back up!
Where now? Your uterus?
And by monitor you mean...?
Ah, this same drawer as last time. Perhaps you'd like your bulk feeder back.
I am going to castrate the entire Canon management structure with a piece of letter sized paper.

[skipping ahead]

Has someone actually been doing that? It would explain so much.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: October 23

A quick word about the Presidential foreign policy debate the other day.

Mitt Romney said during that debate that our international influence hadn't increased since Obama took office.

Four years ago Americans couldn't travel outside of this country safely. Our own government advised that we pretend to be Canadian even in friendlier parts of Europe. We had become so disliked in the previous eight years that Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize just for not being George Bush.

I don't think Romney would be another George Bush, but we still have a lot more rebuilding to do before we start adopting policies that even resemble Republican tactics.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I grudgingly signed up for Google+. I avoided LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, ... whatever it was that MySpace tossed out, I skipped them all. I have e-mail. I have chat. I don't need other stuff. Several times a week I put some thought into shutting down the blog. It takes time that I could be using to whittle down my massive unread book collection.

I finally signed up because the new boss wants video teleconference abilities in our offices. He's located in Texas and we're located north of Washington, D.C. But there's no room to set this up. There's 8-10 of us crowded around a table at staff meetings. The room barely fits the table and the table doesn't seat all of us anymore. To put the monitor and camera on one wall would take away a seat or two and the camera wouldn't be able to see the people sitting at that end of the table. There'd need to be a camera on both sides of the room. Or knock out a wall and put two of the more useless rooms together.

I tried to figure out another option. This new Army base has a different firewall configuration than the previous one did. YouTube is accessible for some reason. Apple system updates are not. Maybe Google Hangouts would work. Imagine my surprise to find out that it does work! Imagine my further surprise when I found out it only works on my computer. Everyone else on our floor gets blocked.

If you haven't seen Google Hangouts, then let me explain. It's a multi-person video chat. All participants line up at the bottom of the screen and one takes over a much larger screen. I think that person is selected by who is doing the talking. With this we'd be able to break into smaller groups for the meeting or even just participate from home.

But, alas, the firewall gets in the way. And I can't find a way out of Google+ without shutting down everything. Gmail, Blogger, YouTube, Docs, Picasa, ... I'm assuming my phone would hold onto those contacts, but I can't be sure. So I've tried to leave the forms blank and make information as invisible as possible. Alas, I can't change my birthday to the Eleventeenth of Screwyou. I have populated my circles with all the people who have invited me over the last year or so. But I'm not getting any updates from people who aren't actually friends of mine. Luckily my friends don't post too much.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Movie Review: Looper

We finally saw Looper. Took us long enough.

The basic idea is that gangsters from 30 years in the future are sending people back in time so people in the present can kill them. Why they're sending back live people instead of corpses is never made clear. All of the killers get retired this way. Typical payment is made with silver bars strapped to the body. One day they kill a person with gold bars. That person is themselves from the future. They know they have only 30 years left to live. Why they kill themselves instead of having someone else kill them is never made clear.

Early in the movie you get the impression that this will be something like the original Terminator movie. What's going on must always happen. A self fulfilling paradox. But the movie messes with you. They know you're going to be picking the movie apart and throw you some distractions and false leads.

I have to applaud Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance. He has to play his character as Bruce Willis would play it. A bit of makeup and a few mannerisms and he comes off as Bruce Willis with a splash of DeNiro.

When you leave this movie you're going to want to talk about it with someone. You'll likely poke some holes in it. You may find some holes that were probably there, but got cut. But finding them is half the fun.

I liked the movie. At the moment I think I'll want it on DVD, but I may change my mind.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Links: October 19

Alpha Centauri has a planet! [link]

About time they got this green street built. It was planned years ago. [link]

I'd been talking to my Boeing engineer uncle about the feasibility of taking apart a C-17 and putting in a field near the family farm. I mean back when I saw one available on eBay. I was going to make it a house. This guy did it with a smaller plane. [link]

Brain damage making people into savants and how to reproduce the effect. [link]

Edison, Tesla, Ford, and, like it or not, Jobs. [link]

Salt art that requires a lot of work. [link]

Read about the drawings. It makes them a lot more interesting. [link]

10 things learned from running for office. [link]

The typewritten letter about Tom Hanks being bribed with a typewriter was real. Here's a bit more on the story. [link]

25 shows that accomplished interesting things. [link]

The worst sound in the world. [link]

A brief history of household wiring. [link]

Posters for 6 women in science. [link]

An explanation of Romney's tax plan. [link]

Paul Revere did not say "The Redcoats are coming." Due to the large number of people loyal to England who might overhear, he said "The Regulars are coming out!" [link]

The oldest cat ever was 38 years old. [link]

The Bunny Kitty Suicides.

Wolverine and Psy doing the Gangnam dance with claws.

Team Fortress Style.

Imagine if this off road vehicle prototype from the 50's had been accepted. What would they look like now?

The start of jack o lantern season. [link]

The new S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series won't have any of the character from The Avengers and related movies. None but Agent Coulson! [link]

Lego Batcave. [link]

A planet with the power to really screw up the economy if we were to visit it. [link]

Something we're glad we didn't find on the beach. [link]

NBC has changed their mind about their reboot of The Munsters. But since the pilot cost $10 million they're still going to air it as a Halloween special. [link]

Horror movies available on YouTube. [link]

How to make a 9 layer fluid density tower.

Acoustic barcodes. [link]

Strange graves. [link]

How to piss off your cat. [link]

The political leaning of states over the years. [link]

Handheld 3D scanner.

Endeavor drives through LA. [link]
I know that the space program is moving in new areas, but it still feels like a funeral procession. The greatest and most moving funeral procession ever.

Bacteria cultured from cash. [link]

DNA has a half life of 521 years. [link]

And a bigot-level Christian that pretended to be gay for a year. [link]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Felix Baumgartner

I used to fancy myself a novelist. One of the stories I outlined but never wrote was a murder mystery on a space elevator. A couple of the passengers were going to set the record for the highest sky dive and at some point their outfits would be used in an escape attempt. Either in an aerial chase scene or by getting rid of one so everyone would think the killer had escaped already.  It was inspired by a Star Trek: Voyager scene where the half Klingon woman was doing that on the holodeck. The skydiving in a space suit part came another step towards coming true when Felix Baumgartner took a flying leap from 24 miles up. He reached a top speed of 834 mph or about 1.24 time the speed of sound. From that altitude it took him only 4 minutes and 19 seconds.

I can see my house from here!
It wasn't known what would happen when a body reached the speed of sound outside of a vehicle.
The temperatures if the suit failed could freeze him to death.
The pressure is low enough that... well, the previous record holder's hand had swollen to twice it's normal size because it was partially exposed. So, bad things.
UV radiation at that altitude is 100,000x what it is on the surface. Luckily he wouldn't be spending much time up there.
As he falls, an uncontrolled spin could generate G-forces sufficient to force the blood to his hands and feet and cause major damage or death.

Any guess when Richard Branson makes his own attempt?

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm not here, beaches!

I was out Monday and will remain out Tuesday. I've got out of town guests. The chap in the picture was encountered at Bethany Beach, Deleware. He's demanding to know why we're still there if The Season is over.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Links: October 12

An interview about the use of navies as a basis for science fiction space stories. [link]

This election will likely determine interrogation methods in the near future. [link]

Earth's Mightiest Pugs.
...all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll whisper "no" bark my fool head off.

Iron Old Man [link]

Spider attack on a wasp caught in amber. [link]

There was a plan for Jurassic Park 4 that died the death it deserved. [link]
Although I can totally see the Syfy Channel making it into a series.

Another sci-fi inspired propulsion system that can get us to Mars in only 6 weeks. [link]
Yeah, I remember the magnetic constriction plasma drive that was developed 12 years ago or so. It could make the trip that fast, too. And whatever happened to ion drives? Two or three probes and done?

The most interesting man in the world survived a whole episode of Star Trek while wearing a red shirt. [link]

The hunt for Dyson Spheres is on. [link]
"It's strange to write a serious research proposal and have half of your bibliography be science fiction."

Asteroid mining (paid) interns wanted. [link]
I am, alas, too old.

I gotta get a copy of the Oct 3 Entertainment Weekly so I can strip it for it's circuitry. [link]

Maine GOP attacks candidate for playing World of Warcraft. [link]

A hotel offers sleep painting. [link]

Dwarfism may prevent cancer and diabetes. [link]

Endangered water walking, fish eating spiders being released back into the wild. [link]

Scout denied Eagle Scout award because he's gay. [link]
Ironically, the project that should have earned him the award is a tolerance wall.

I'm going to remind readers of the site It's for Eagle Scouts who are returning their badges because they're ashamed of what Boy Scouts have become.

tl;dr - who invented fire? [link]

Abortion rates drop when free birth control is available. [link]

Blinky amateur satellite. [link]

Space X drone docks with the ISS. [link]

How cork is made. [link]

Different species of ant make different kinds of home. [link]

The shifting of value between quantifiable and non-quantifiable states. [link]
I made that sound drier than it really is.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

RIP Joe Kubert

Considering the circles I run in online you'd think I would have heard about this a lot sooner. Luckily DC comics ran full page obits in several of their comics.

More Kubert ads at link.

The cartoonist Joe Kubert passed away on August 12. Most of you will be more familiar with his school and the work of his students than with the work of Joe Kubert himself. The Kubert School has been running ads in comic books for years. If you've read comics since 1976 you've probably seen a few of them.

Joe himself is known for his work in Sgt. Rock, Hawkman, Tor, Son of Sinbad, Viking Prince, and Tales of the Green Beret (written by Robin Moore). His sons, Adam and Andy Kubert are notable cartoonists themselves. Graduates of his school include dozens of cartoonists, editors, and art directors for DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, various television cartoons, some of my favorite online comics, and greeting card companies. If you've seen anything drawn in the last 50 years it's probably been influenced by Kubert in some way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stephan Pastis's signature

Pastis signing My Krodie's book. 
I got a new signature for my Team Cul De Sac book. Stephan Pastis, the creator of the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine", was talking and signing at "Politics and Prose" last Saturday. The crowd was insane. The bookstore was completely packed. The books available in-house sold out really early. While signing books the line ran an intricate maze through the shelves, down the hall, and across the parking lot. My Krodie and I ended up near the end of the line and it wasn't until about 4 hours from the beginning of the talk that we got our books signed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Because SCIENCE! That's why!

We've all heard about these people. The ones who don't think there's any value in a space program. "There's plenty of people on Earth that need that money, etc. etc. etc." And I've heard a lot of other  people say that the first people are urban legends. Who could doubt the value of NASA? I've talked to several of these people who don't see the value of space travel. Heck, at my last job the owner of the company didn't even understand the value of the IT department (yes, really). 

With that preamble, I want to present this screen capture of a conversation that I stole from somewhere else. It covers a bunch of things that my own talk leaves out because I can't remember stats worth a damn

And here's Neil deGrasse Tyson putting the spending that NASA does get into perspective. 

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Links: October 5

Tilt shift Van Gogh. [link]

United States history according to conservatives. [link]

Curiosity rover finds old stream bed. [link] [link 2]

A 2,700 year old stash of weed. [link]

The only two Jews in Kabul, Afghanistan hate each other. [link]

Similarly, the last two fluent speakers of a dying language won't talk to each other. [link]

Free material for teacher created by teachers. [link]

A free font designed for dyslexics. [link]

It's been 30 years since Cheers first aired. Here's an interview with the cast and crew. [link]

Animals used in wars. [link]

This election season isn't nearly as nasty as the ones shown in these examples. [link]

New comet found. It's gonna be REALLY bright next year. [link]

The Private Equity Rich vs Obama. [link]

Put a yellow bow on a dog leash to let people know to give that dog some space. [link]

Skydiver to go for the highest skydiver record and to break sound barrier while falling. [link]

Todd Akin's numbers are slowly recovering as he convinces people that "legitimate rape" and "women can't get pregnant from rape" are just him misspeaking. Here's more of his speeches that should convince you otherwise. [link]

22 things you're doing "wrong". [link]

And you think water screws up electronics now. Just you wait. [link]

CNN poll indicates a shift in how people view the role of government. [link]

Millionaires collecting unemployment. [link]

In the Presidential debate Romney talked about cutting funding to PBS to help balance the budget. This is what Neil DeGrasse Tyson had to say. [link]
Here's Big Bird's response. [link]

A Star Wars vs Star Trek video that actually looks good.

Gee, AT&T and Time Warner, if you want the deals like Google gets then you need to innovate like Google does. [link]

Could your lights be used for wireless transmitters? [link]

Ben Affleck was offered the role of Daredevil for the reboot. "[If I were involved] that wouldn't be a reboot." [link]

Commander Jeffrey Sinclair of Babylon 5 passed away last week. [link]

Stan Lee now has a pacemaker. [link]

Gangnam Style with natural sounds.

Klingon Style.

Marching Gangnam Style

License plate reading cameras. [link]

This is how you do stained glass. [link]

How to mess with people with OCD. [link]

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Department of Acquisitions: TV set

I bought a house, blah, blah, you've heard it already. Said house came with a TV set. This is a Motorola 17K4A from 1951. To answer your next question, it does sorta work. It turns on, the screen flickers, and then the power cord gets hot and the breaker gets thrown.  So, some work is needed. It's still awesome, though.

TV set from 1951.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Movie Idea: Oh My Darling Clemenstein

I came up with this movie idea a few years back and promptly forgot about it. It's the early to mid-1800's in North America. A young doctor from Boston packs up and moves west to practice medicine on the frontier. He soon establishes a small hospital but also has a regular route checking on small communities. Alas, he failed to realize that when it came to women, the pickin's would be slim and certainly not what he was used to back east. So he decides to build himself a bride from parts of settler and native women who die or get close enough to it that he can fool their families to let him take them away.

Sure, a Frankenstein rip-off based around an amusing title isn't a strong basis for a movie, but picture some amazon from the WWE butchering "Oklahoma!" the way Frank Boyle did "Puttin' On the Ritz" in "Young Frankenstein".

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The other super powers

Why is it that only humans get the super powers? They may turn in to animal-things, but they start human. Except for the Ninja Turtles. Damn. Three sentences in and I'm poking holes in my premise already.

Sure, the Green Lantern ring may have realized that dolphins, while smart, aren't smart enough to be intergalactic cops. And Peter Parker's radioactive spider wouldn't have had access to the snakes that were being experimented on. And I don't think Barry Allen had any lab animals in the crime lab when it blew. But there's bound to be some creatures that got exposed to whatever granted powers to the humans.

Surely there was a road runner or at least some bugs near the gamma bomb test site. I'd love to see the crossover when The Hulk faces off against The Roadrunner. "HULK SMASH PUNY BIRDY!" followed by an eardrum rupturing "BEEP! BEEP!" and a sprint that The Flash would be hard pressed to follow.

The Fantastic Four had no animals on their fateful trip to space, but what powers did their intestinal flora and fauna develop? It could be something worthless like the ability to turn invisible. It doesn't benefit them, but it would make trips to the restroom frustrating. When do you stop wiping? How do you know when the toilet is clean? The ability to catch fire would be a much more disturbing power. Would you incinerate from the inside out or just have a rocket powered ass? What about turning into rock? You'd literally start shitting bricks. But I'd be more worried about it becoming a threat similar to that I think posed by Superman's guts. Superman can withstand Kryptonian digestive bacteria, but it could digest the planet if it ever got out.

How many powers have been granted by meteorites? Shouldn't there by some coyotes that can fly or indestructible cats? How much would an ecosystem suffer with Tazmanian Devils that actually spin around and chew through trees?

And mutants! There's plenty of mutants allied with Prof. X or Magneto and, I'd imagine, lots that are unaffiliated. Why just people? The beaver with uncontrolled laser vision would have the best dam, but it'd be an ecological disaster. Telepathic deer would have a huge advantage over hunters. But a winged horse would just end up in a zoo or a circus.

I'm not really going anywhere with this. I just think comic book writers are biased.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Audio Book Review: The Deathstalker

I'm a Simon R Green fan. Regular readers have seen me review lots of his Nightside books. But I'd been avoiding his Deathstalker series. Partially because I want to start a series from the beginning and partially because of the name. Deathstalker? Really? Do you have any idea what kind of story a name like that evokes? It tells me you wanted to write Buck Rogers but weren't good enough. You liked Star Wars, but focused on the name Skywalker instead of what made the early movies good.

When I found the audio versions I figured I'd go ahead and try them. I'm not sure how the audiobook stack up to the dead tree version, but I'm pretty sure there was some adaptation done. Instead of someone just reading the books they have several someones and a sound effects team performing them. And there's no "...he said" anywhere. That and the books become episodic. Each book becomes 5 or 6 episodes that must end with some resolution of that part of the story. So there's a lot of deux ex machina going on to make sure the story ends by the end of the episode.

From what I could tell, these audio versions of the Deathstalker series were created with the long distance truck driver in mind. This is the first audiobook that I've heard that came with trailers and ads for other episodic audio programs. And they always announce that they'll be available in truck stops soon.

The first three books in the series talk about the rebellion against the empire. The next three cover the other threats that remain after the empire falls. The next four books take place 200 years later as the golden age that came after the rebellion.

The empire is headed by someone called "The Iron Bitch". That should tell you what kind of empire she runs. Other major players within the empire are the families. They tend to specialize in different areas of industry. Owen Deathstalker is the head of his family. I'm not sure what his family did, but Owen was a minor historian. Or he was until he was outlawed by the Iron Bitch for reasons unknown. He flees his concubine and security forces and meets up with Hazel Dark (or D'ark) whose own space ship has crashed on his planet. Hazel is a criminal who just found the organ smuggling ship she was working on shot out from under her with all hands but her lost. It was shot down by Captain John Silence who is just excellent at taking orders. Alas, his own ship was lost in the battle and he was unable to prevent the Deathstalker from escaping. He picks up Jack Random, famous rebel of days gone by, and Ruby Journey, bounty hunter friend of Hazel Dark, and Tobias Moon, last of a Borg-like race known as the Haddenmen, and Giles Deathstalker, a Sean Connery sounding guy from 900 years ago who started the Deathstalker family. Together they enter the Madness Maze (yes, I know, just go with it) and gain powers that slowly unfold over the next few books.

Also a problem:
Two recently discovered alien races that appear to be on a similar technological level, and therefore threat, to the empire.
The families of Campbell, Chojiro, Shreck, and others.
Clones and ESPers also rebelling against the empire.
A planet of artificial intelligences who want humans destroyed.
The Recreated are coming from an area of 1000 dead stars known as The Dark Void. No idea what they are or how to stop them, but they want to do some killing.
The Iron Bitch's head killer, Dram.
And just why was the Deathstalker outlawed anyway?

The first five books are an elaborate space soap opera that deals not just with the Deathstalker, but with people from the court of Emperess Lionstone (a.k.a. The Iron Bitch) and the other major families. The Deathstalker's group splits up to address threats and recruit friends on a number of worlds and manages to get the immediate problem solved before the CD runs out.

As I said, the next four books pick up 200 years after the end of the first series. A new figurehead emperor takes the throne to act as speaker of parlament. He'd been serving as a Paragon, the highly trained warriors that do what normal cops can't. He needs an official protector and has to pick between his two best friends: a Deathstalker and a psycho with a great record. This begins an Arthurian tale of ill advised romances and betrayals that brings down the empire just as the original Deathstalker's warning about The Terror from another galaxy begins to come true. Only this series doesn't feel obliged to wrap up their current story or provide quite as dramatic cliff hangers before you have to go get the next episode.

It took me months to listen to the whole thing. I did mostly listen to it in the car on my weekly trips to the office or weekend trips to Baltimore. If you liked the grand scale of the Dune books, but found the prose a bit to hard to fight through then you'll like these books.