Behold! I Am… Dr. Syphilis!

I have been keeping something from you.

This blog, as well as the other mundane trappings of my life, have served me well in masking my true identity. But now, the time has come to reveal myself to the world. For I am of the Third Wave of super-powered humans! I am… Dr. Syphilis.

Dr. Syphilis

I am grateful to Mur Lafferty and J. C. Hutchins for my excellent (and amusing) super-identity above, bestowed on me due to my help as part of the Third Wave Street Team, helping to promote Mur’s brilliant novel, Playing for Keeps. Would you like to discover your Third Wave power as well? Head over to the website, contact Mur to join, and get active in promoting the Playing for Keeps phenomenon!

So how has Playing for Keeps been doing since I last mentioned it in this space? Well, I’ll let Mur tell her yourself, from a recent press release:

Superheroes Lend Voices To Audio Novel

Celebrities from the SciFi Channel hit Who Wants To Be A Superhero? cameo on popular podcast novel.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PRLog.Org)Jan 14, 2008 – As one of the most popular audiobooks on the Internet, Mur Lafferty’s “Playing For Keeps,” comes to a close, superheroes are flocking to lend their voices to the final episode.

“Playing For Keeps” is Lafferty’s celebrated superhero novel. It tells the story of people with minor superpower who fall directly in the middle of a battle between bullying superheroes and manipulative, charming villains.

It has been released via audio and PDF audio download weekly to over 13,000 listeners worldwide since November. While available for free in digital formats, it was also recently released in hard and softcover print version.

The novel has had coverage in the world’s most popular blog, BoingBoing.net. Locus and Campbell award-winning author Cory Doctorow had a sneak peek at the novel, blogging, “I was really impressed with it and I’m so excited to see that she’s releasing it! Can’t wait to (re)read it.”

Doctorow also loaned his voice to cameo for an episode recap.

“Playing For Keeps” has five episodes left, and will feature stars of the SciFi Channel show, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” as cameo voices in the audiobook. They will read episode recaps, filling the audience in on the previous chapters’ action.

“Superhero” season 2 finalist Hygena appeared as the episode recap reader on episode 10, and future episodes will feature Feedback and The Defuser, winners of “Superhero” seasons 1 and 2, respectively.

“I have been building a community of superhero fans during the release of this book,” author Mur Lafferty said. “What bigger superhero fans can I find than the contestants from the show ‘Who Wants to be a Superhero?’ I’m thrilled that these fantastic superheroes will be appearing in my audiobook.”

“Playing For Keeps” can be found for free at www.playingforkeepsnovel.com and at www.podiobooks.com, or for purchase at www. playingforkeepsnovel.com.

# # #

About the author:
Mur Lafferty is a writer and podcast producer living in Durham, NC. She is the author of the award-nominated “Heaven” novellas, one of the most popular audiobook serials in podcasting. She has been published in Hub magazine and Escape Pod, and is an open and new media enthusiast.

MurVerse
Durham, NC
919 210 7630
mur.lafferty@gmail.com

Two weeks have passed since the above statement, and we are down to three episodes remaining! I’ve really enjoyed listening along, as Mur and the rest of the First Wave Volunteers have been doing a stunning job presenting this excellent story. Don’t take my word for it, though… Laura has finished the print novel, and has her rave review here.

If you haven’t done so yet (and if not, seriously, why haven’t you?), check out the official site. There you will find the novel as both free podcasts of audio and pdf episodes, as well as for purchase in both hardcover and softcover formats. Additionally, there numerous extra goodies to be had, including the fan companion podcast Stories of the Third Wave, t-shirts and other merchandise, fan art, and much more!

Laura Saves Human Civilization from the Apocalypse

So, what exactly did Laura do in China this past summer? Earlier this week, she gave an excellent talk at the Space Telescope Science Institute on just that. She covered the history of the International Space University (which sponsored the program), her cultural experiences in Beijing, and her fascinating and awesome project, the Phoenix Lunar Archive. Don’t just take my word for it: Matt thought it was awesome, and he’s bigger than me. And a former professional wrestler. So listen to him.

Check out her site for more details, including a link to the archived webcast, and enjoy!

Upcoming Interview on WHFS 105.7 FM

This Sunday, January 20, I’m going to be interviewed on WHFS 105.7 FM radio for their Lifebridge Health show, Ask the Experts. I’ll be on as a guest from 08:00-09:00 EST, along with with Jackie Daley from Sinai Hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control department, discussing (unsurprisingly) MRSA.

If interested, you can obviously tune in if you are in the Baltimore area, or check out the live feed from their website.

Dogfish Head 2008 Beer Release Schedule and New Brew Preview

Dogfish Head has published its beer release schedule for the year. 2008 may now officially begin! (Well, I jest with that last bit. A little.)

I am an unabashed fan of Dogfish Head’s brews. While I am enthusiastic about seeking out and trying different beers from any (and all, eventually) microbreweries, DFH continues to maintain a particular hold on my refrigerator. Their variety of offerings is amazing in terms of style and flavor, and their degree of quality is consistantly excellent. I have honestly only ever been disappointed in two of their beers – the Chicory Stout and the Festina Peche – and in both case, because I found them to be merely “good.” A list of my preferred beverages would be solidly dominated by DFH selections, and topped with my all-time favorite, the ridiculously extreme 120 Minute IPA.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that I peruse the 2008 schedule. As usual, there is a core selection of Year-Round Beers, as well as Seasonal Releases. I am greatly pleased that the Midas Touch Golden Elixir (another personal favorite, and the beverage singlehandedly responsible for my last name being a vengeful cry in some circles: “Cmaaarrr!” – a story for another time) has been reinstated this year in a more year-round capacity.

Of greater note is the extensive list of Limited Releases, which are some the most creative, excellent, and downright bizarre brews in existence anywhere. These include the previously revered 120 Minute IPA, the awesome World Wide Stout, and the brilliant Burton Baton… the last of which I need to keep an eye out for next month, because it was quite teh skarce in 2007. That said, there are two all-new beverages on the list, and I am seriously excited.

The first of these is the Palo Santo Marron, or “Holy Tree Brown,” which is new to bottled distribution. It was previously available once before, at the end of 2006, on-tap only in their Rehoboth Beach brewpub location. This one sounds quite interesting – from the website:

An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means “holy tree” and it’s wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.

This beer is a 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the Palo Santo wood.  It was a huge hit at our Rehoboth Beach brewpub when first released in November of 2006, so it’s coming back… into full production.

At 10,000 gallons each, these are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition. It’s all very exciting. We have wood. Now you do too.

That said, the one I’m incredibly stoked for is the Theobroma – “Food of the Gods.” Tee and I heard a vague bit about this a few weeks back at the Gaithersburg brewpub, and its great to have some more details. By way of background, DFH has a working relationship with the University of Pennsylvania archeology department. If drinking vessels are found at a dig site, they are subjected to molecular archaeological techniques to analyze the residue of the evaporated contents. If the findings seem to be of an unusual fermented beverage, then DFH has been able to get access to the deduced components of the drinks, and “resurrect” libations that may not have been brewed for thousands of years. Products thus far include the previously venerated Midas Touch (discovered in the tomb of a Phrygian ruler in ~700 B.C. who is believed to have inspired the tales of King Midas), the wonderful Chateau Jiahu (found in the 9,000 year-old Neolithic village of Jiahu in Hinan province, Northern China), and now… Theobroma. From the website:

This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions.  The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC.  As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (food of the gods) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).  Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for an August 2008 release. Special kegs from our test batches may be available earlier in the year at Dogfish events around the country!

Yes, 2008 is shaping up to be an excellent year for libation enthusiasm!

So, I’ve Been Ending My Progress Notes With ’08 For A Couple Of Weeks Now…

With a new year, invariably, comes chatter of resolutions. (Top Ten lists as well, but I digress.) Many people make them. Very few stick with them. Some pay the concept no mind. As Mur astutely points out, it negates the idea of a “resolution” (namely, the whole “resolve” part) to stop talking about it after a few months, then after a few more, looking forward to making resolutions again for the following year.

My own history with resolutions hasn’t been all that successful. The only one that I can recall keeping was that of losing weight a couple of years back, and that was motivated not by an arbitrary numerical date change, but by a significant personal event. That said, the idea of making resolutions to time with a “new year” isn’t necessarily flawed – a flip of the calendar is as good as any symbolic milestone to use as a starting point for changing something about one’s self for the positive. Without some other independent factor, though, the follow-through usually fails.

Instead of resolutions, then, several of my friends have been establishing hopes or goals to look forward to in 2008. I’ve pondered doing something like this, but I’m finding the potential pool of candidate goals is quite large, and all seem to be equally screaming for my attention. If there’s one thing I truly want to change, it’s less specific things (i.e. lose 20 pounds by June), and more a global approach to my daily living and workflow that will allow me to do more of what I want, and make what I do better. As such, I’ve decided to experiment with the following – I’ve selected a theme for the year:

Balance.

Despite all that I’ve accomplished over the last year – some of the more meaningful items included moving out of fellowship into full-fledged attending physicianhood, passing my Infectious Diseases boards (I never mentioned that, did I? Well, I did now!), and actively participating in some podcasting voice work – there’s a lot more that I didn’t get to. Be it finishing research projects from my fellowship, gaming more, combating the entropic beast that has taken over the house, keeping in closer touch with meaningful people both near and remotely (and yes, that includes blogging), or realizing a seekrit projekt or five, balance is the key thing needed to shoehorn these into an already overfull schedule. Noone will ever accuse me of having a lot of so-called “free time,” but it is true that what I do have I often don’t put to the best use possible.

So here’s the experiment: I’m committing to regularly discussing “balance” in this space, at least once a month. A Balance Report, if you will. While I’m not aiming to discuss specific goals, I have a few ideas on how I can balance my existence better in the coming months that I’ll ruminate on, and maybe even enact. At the very least, it will keep my Theme for 2008 in the forefront of my mind.

Oh, I will be putting up a couple of “2007 retrospective posts” in the coming days. Not out of any sense of nostalgia, mind you, but more because I promised to blog about several date-specific topics (conventions and movies, for instance), and didn’t. That will be remedied.