Tuesday, November 20, 2018

TENNIS TUESDAY: 2018 Season Ends With Djokovic and Halep On Top

The 2018 tennis season is now over since the 2018 ATP Tour finals concluded on Sunday with Sascha Zverev's improbable win over Novak Djokovic in the final. For the record, Djokovic ended the year at #1 on the ATP Tour and Simona Halep ended the WTA tour at #1.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Ricardo Lara Becomes 1st LGBT Individual Elected Statewide In California

Ricardo Lara has been declared the winner of the California Insurance Commissioner race, defeating former Republican (and current Independent) Steve Poizner. Lara is an openly LGBT state Senator and as of today he leads Poizner 52%-48% (or 400,000 votes) with nearly 10 million votes tabulated:

Lara becomes the first openly LGBT individual elected statewide in California!

Hat tip to Equality California.

EYE CANDY: David McIntosh (4th time!)

British bodybuilder has appeared as Eye Candy here multiple times before (September 24, 2012, December 31, 2012 and February 11, 2013). I recently went to his Instagram page (@king_david85) and he still looks amazing!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018 ATP YEC: Zverev Stuns Djokovic To Win Biggest Title

Sascha Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets 6-4 6-3 to win the Nitto ATP Finals in London, becoming the youngest player to win the ATP's year-end championship since Djokovic won the title in 2008.  21-year-old Zverev will end the year ranked at World #4, behind Djokovic at #1, Rafael Nadal at #2 and Roger Federer at #3. In the semifinals, Zverev defeated Federer 7-5 7-6(5). His win over Djokovic ended a 14-match winning streak the Serbian had against Top 10 players in 2018 and evened their career head to head at 2-all (his head-to-head with Federer is now 3-all).

Last year, Grigor Dimitrov beat David Goffin to win the 2017 ATP year-end championship. This win often presages  a quantum increase in success, but Dimitrov didn't have a great 2018 afterwards.

Friday, November 16, 2018

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Jared Polis Becomes 1st Openly Gay Man Elected Governor

Former Congressman Jared Polis has become the first openly gay man to be elected as the Chief Executive of a State. Polis, 43,  is now the Governor-elect of Colorado, having been elected as a Democrat on Tuesday November 6 with 51.7% of the vote. He is a dot-com millionaire and he and his partner Marlon Reis are parents to a son and daughter.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Foundryside (Founders, #1) by Robert Patrick Bennett

Foundryside is the first book in an epic fantasy series called The Founders trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett, the author of the Hugo-nominated Divine Cities trilogy (City of Stairs, City of Blades, City of Miracles).

Foundryside has some interesting parallels with the Divine Cities, in that the main protagonist appears to be a woman of color and her primary sidekick is a big, taciturn dude who is really good at killing people. In the Divine Cities trilogy the actual main character in each of the entries in the trilogy changed, while it looks like in Foundryside the main character will presumably remain the same, Sancia Grado (although we only have one book to make this conclusion from).

Sancia is delightful, which is great because we the reader spend a lot of time with her. (If this was a movie, she would basically be in every scene.) It is true that she’s a thief, but she’s also an escaped slave and has been mutilated by her former (unknown) masters to have curious but definitely useful abilities. She carries scars, both physical and emotional which broaden and deepen her as a character.

A key feature of Foundryside is its magic system, which is based around “scriving,” a combination of writing code and spell-casting. Basically scriving allows the scrive to change the reality of the scrived object. Examples include lamps which float in the air on their own, specialized locks that require specialized keys, and extremely powerful weapons in a civilization which is barely out of what we would call the Bronze Age. (There’s a lot of horse drawn carriages, swords, crossbows and armor in Foundryside.)

On top of this intriguing magic system Bennett layers on a feudal society and sets the story in Tevanne, a city which is basically controlled by a handful of family-run Houses that have a monopoly on the scriving market. The book begins with an extended caper of Sancia stealing something incredibly valuable (and powerful) from one of the houses and being tracked down by its head of security, who just happens to be the scion of one of the main Houses, Gregor Dandolo. Gregor is a lone survivor of a bloody engagement in a recent war and is the large dude I mentioned earlier who is very good at killing things whom I would say is the second main character of Foundryside.

Another strong aspect of Foundryside is that there are several other character that are compelling besides Sancia and Gregor. There’s Ofelia Dandolo, Gregor’s mom who also runs House Dandolo and seems to have decidedly un-maternal feelings towards her sole surviving family member. There’s House Dandolo’s primary scriver, Orso Ignacio, and his assistant Berenice who play key roles in the story. There’s also Estelle Candiolo, Orso’s former fling/girlfriend/potential wife from decades before, who is the daughter of the former head of House Candiolo and the wife of the current head, Thomas Ziauno.

I don’t want to say much about the story or plot but we do find out much more about Sancia, her origins and the source of her powers. (Also, she’s probably a lesbian, or at least has a female love interest, yay!) Foundryside being a Bennett book, there’s very rich world-building and an extremely interesting historical backstory, which in this case involves gone-but-not-forgotten ancestors who modern-day people in Tevanne basically think were gods for what THEY could do with scriving. I would not be surprised if the future books in the Founders series gives us more information about these folks, called Hierophants in the book. I look forward to reading the sequels to Foundryside with great interest, enthusiasm and impatience! HIGHLY recommended.

Title: Foundryside.
Robert Jackson Bennett.
Paperback: 512 pages.
Date Published: August 12, 2018.
Date Read: November 5, 2018.

★★  (5.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A (4.0/4.0).


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

AZ-SEN: Openly LGBT Kyrsten Sinema Wins!

Congressperson Kyrsten Sinema has won election to the United States  Senate from Arizona, defeating Congresswoman Martha McSally in a very close race. Sinema, 42, is the first female Senator from Arizona, and as a bisexual woman, only the second openly LGBTQ member of the "world's most exclusive deliberative body," following openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin (who was re-elected last Tuesday) in Wisconsin with 55% of the vote. She will also be one of the youngest members of the U.S. Senate.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

TENNIS NEWS: Djokovic Returns To #1, Khachanov Breaks Through, ATP YEC Field Set (Isner, Nishikori IN, Nadal, Delpo OUT)

Because Nadal cut his entire season short (he ended up not playing the rest of the year after retiring with an injury against Del Potro in the US Open semifinals) Djokovic was assured to  return to World #1 last Monday when the Paris Masters points dropped off the calendar. This was a historic changeabout for Djojkovic who started 2018  with 6 losses and 6 wins but then had a 20-match winning streak which resulted in 3 titles (2018 Wimbledon and 2018 US Open).


The highlight of the Paris Masters was the 47th match between Federer and Djokovic, which the Serbian was able to win the 3-hour semifinal showdown 7-6(6) 5-7 7-6(3) despite never breaking Federer's serve.

By Nadal being unable to compete in the ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic will end up as the year-end #1 since World #3 Roger Federer will be unable to get enough points to surpass the Serb by the end of the year. This is the fifth time Djokovic has ended the year at #1 (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018).

Karen Khachanov defeated Djokovic in the final of the ATP Paris Masters in straight sets 7-5 6-4 to win the biggest match of his career. The 6-foot-6 Russian reached a career high of World #11 and seized the ATP World Tour Finals first alternate spot with the win.

The Elite Eight is set with the field consisting of Djokovic, Federer, Sascha Zverev, Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, John Isner and Kei Nshikori. The two alternates are Borna Coric and Karen Khachanov. The draw is set, with Djokovic, Zverev, Isner and Cilic in the Guga Kuerten group and Federer, Thiem,  Nishikori and Anderson in the Lleyton Hewitt group.


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