Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Zappa Plays Zappa

A couple of weeks ago I went to the 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. It was a great festival with many top-notch bands and musicians playing. One of my absolute favorite sets of the four days was that of one of Frank Zappa's son, Dweezil playing the music of his father, in the ensemble, Zappa Plays Zappa.

I never saw FZ live, but I have many albums and CDs of his music. He stands out as one of America's finest musicians, known for his scathing satire and well-orchestrated pieces. Dweezil and his band mates did justice to the memory of Frank and his music. I was completely blown away with how great the show was.

I wanted to let people know of the current tour dates in case they are coming to a town near you.

Tags: Zappa Plays Zappa, Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Caverns of Mare Cetus

One of my uncles, Jim Erjavec, has been hard at work writing a science fiction/horror novel over the last few years. The Caverns of Mare Cetus is now in publication.

I had read an original draft of the first chapter last year, and I thought that it was both tense and engaging. Here is the plotline from the website:

Mare Cetus, a lifeless world nearly twelve light years from Earth, is riddled with strange and spectacular caverns. Explorers have long sought knowledge, fame, and fortune on Mare, but lately an increasing number of them have met their demise in mysterious ways.

Earth year 2165:
Hunter Larson leads a team to lay claim on a priceless ore deposit hidden deep within the black maze of Mare's Laramax caverns. His thoughts haunted by the grisly events surrounding the last expedition to probe the Laramax, he's relying on Renata Stone, a brilliant and accomplished cavern explorer, to add stability and vigilance to his volatile team of experts.

Unknown to Hunter, the Corporation has
implemented a plan to ensure the mission's success--but at what price? As Hunter's team penetrates the blackness of the Laramax, they are blind to the terrifying fate that awaits them.

Please check out the excerpts, share with your friends and family who read science fiction, e-mail him, or write a review on the site if you have finished the book. Thanks!

Technorati tag: science fiction

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I've been tagged

David Glickman of the Boylston Chess Club tagged me. Please read. My tag is at the bottom of this page.

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

My dad taught me chess about thirty five years ago, when I was five. I played regularly until high school, but in college I did not play at all. Only after I moved far from home, my dad and I played correspondence chess. I played my first rated games at the Chess Emporium in Phoenix in 2002. Since then, I have been an active player.

I am sure I would have been an expert if not for the lulls (I am rated in the low 1400's currently).

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I use my Chessmaster program to examine my games, and I look at tactical puzzles a couple of times per month. What actually seems to help me the most is not think about chess too much before a game. When I'm relaxed, I tend to play much better.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

I don't have any particular method that I could put my finger on. Sometimes remembering a tactical motif has helped in a game, while other times just remembering the opening well has helped.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

I always play e4. As Black I always play the Caro-Kann. One of my friends chided me for how slow an opening it often is, but as I have had so many great games with it, I keep playing it. I like the Dutch against d4, although I usually play the KID.

5. Who is your favorite chess player and why?

Tal is my favorite for his mad brilliance. His play did not always work, but he played on the edge.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Jeremy Silman's Reassess Your Chess.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

Silman's Complete Endgame Course.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

Yes, with much more frequency than online chess. (However, I highly recommend Chessworld.net for those who like deliberate play.) My favorite game was playing my friend Rich DuRocher at the last Minnesota Open. My favorite tournament was finishing second in the U1600 section at the St. Olaf Open a couple of months ago.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts (on your own blog).

I blog about other subjects other than chess, but my two favorite chess related posts are my game against Rich and this game from the Twin Cities Chess League.

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

I think at my level (class C), studying the openings should not usually be more than 15-20% of the time, unless you have difficulty getting a decent game against a particularly difficult and frequently played opening.

Now that I am done, I tag Phorku. (He plays my dad quite often at the Parma Chess Club.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I have been blogging for a year.

My classmate and friend Janet has been interested in blogs and blogging for many years, and my friend, Jeff, started his blog over a year ago. (His first post was a picture of Melissa and me on our wedding day.) Because of those influences, I decided to start this blog a year ago today.

I have enjoyed writing this blog, regardless of whether I'm posting a single picture or writing a description of a book or a concert. However, as I have not been writing as often, I'd like to take some time to review what I have written over the last year to evaluate what are the most gratifying entries.