Saturday, November 29, 2008

V

Books:
Starbucks Nation by Chris Ver Wiel [241/handshake] started off with a decent enough premise - a Hollywood writer, who despises the LA culture, sees his dead writing partner at a Starbucks one afternoon, and gets into the limo with him.
However, the execution of the story SUCKED. The book is supposed to be funny (all the quotes on the back cover say so, and I can tell by the way that it's written that it's supposed to be a biting satire) but the problem is that it just isn't. funny. at. all. Dean Koontz is more amusing. And that's not really physical possible.
I forced myself through the damn thing, though, because I didn't have any other V novels, and because of the old stand by of, "I thought it would get better".
Maybe I just didn't "get it", because the 5 reviews at Amazon were all positive (and gushing about the humor) as well, but man. Huge disappointment here.

CDs:
I picked up The Best of the Vines by The Vines for my listening pleasure. And was overall quite pleased. The Vines have only been around since 2002, so it is a little surprising to me that they have a Best of album already, and I had only ever heard two of their songs before, but I did like the rest of the tracks as well. (Although the slower songs aren't quite as enjoyable as the harder songs like, "Get Free", "Ride" or "F.T.W.") Still, The Vines are a decent enough band, and so I was happy with that selection.

DVDs Netflix:
I checked out Varian's War from the library, which is a movie based on actual events - about Varian Fry, an American journalist who pulled a Schindler's List during World War II.
However, I couldn't watch the entire movie because the disc was scratched and after about twenty minutes in, became unplayable. [sigh]
So, figuring I needed a V movie, I turned to Netflix, to see if there was something there to watch on the computer. I found Vacancy, a 2007 thriller starring Kate Beckinsale and Owen Wilson. (ETA -And by "Owen", I mean "Luke". Doh!)
The movie is pretty lean, at 85 minutes, and the first 15 of it or so is actually rather slow. Once the action begins, it does kick into gear and become ...well, "enjoyable" is too strong a word. Um. "There"? "Adequate"?
I think overall that it had potential to be truly frightening - there was some true tension for about ten, fifteen minutes when the couple begin to realize that things are Not As They Should Be - but sadly it winds up being just another slasher flick.

Time to go to the library and see what the Ws have in store!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cool, thanks!

Things that I'm thankful for from today:
It's rained all day today.
Turkey, potatoes & gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, veggies, and the apple pie that is currently baking.
Roof over our heads.
Having the day off work.
Having an internet connection.
Having a post pre-made for me (the boq from last time means I get to simply answer it this time around.)



If an asteroid were to hit the earth and eliminate all mammalian life, what animal species (other than homo sapiens) would you miss most?
The rhino. Just because nobody cares about rhinos (because they're so damn ugly). But if they were gone...that would truly be sad. (Okay, maybe not. But I mean, in theory, I'd miss them. ...eventually.)

Who's more popular - Jesus or the Beatles?
Looks like Jesus FTW.

How many bones have you broken in your life?
Of my own, zero.
Other beings? ...I have no idea how many. At least one every year (the wishbone from the turkey from Thanksgiving) for a good 20 years of my life.

"Where is my mind?"
Currently focusing on trying to answer these questions.
"Where is My Mind?" by The Pixies

Knowing the pros and cons of time travel, if you were given the opportunity to go back to see (and speak with) your 14-year-old self, would you? (And what would you say if so)
Eh. I wouldn't listen to myself even if I did, so nah.

What's a good cure for writer's block?
Alcohol?

What's your favorite type of cake?
Pan.
Mmm. Pancake.

Go to wikipedia, and click "random article" thrice. What'd you land on?
Dr. Watson (debugger).

"What's the consolation prize?"
Tell them what they've won!!!
Rice-a-roni, the San Francisco Treat! (Ding ding!)
"Macy's Day Parade" by Green Day
Speaking of, we watched that today, as is our tradition, and MAN was it poorly directed this year. So many audio cross-overs, and stepped on lines by the hosts. And then there was when the balloon nearly hit Meredith Vierra, Al Roker & Matt Lauer (sadly, off camera). Speaking of Matt Lauer, after Kermit's touching "I Believe" song, Matt had to go and ruin the moment with his lame-ass joke about taking the act "on the toad." This year was certainly more of a joke than normal.

What's gas going for in your neck of the woods right now?
It's down to $1.89 per gallon at the Arco down the street.

and finally....

How would you describe the year 2008 in three words or less?
Obama made history.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Here. Have a bOq.

For anyone just joining us, "BOQ" (pronounced "bawk", like a chicken says) is a Bunch Of Questions.
You can either answer them in the comments, or on your own blog, or just out loud in front of your computer (oh, yes. I can hear everything you say when you're reading my blog.).

It's gonna be a random one - as opposed to a themed boq. Perhaps that'll happen next time.

And here we go:



<b> If an asteroid were to hit the earth and eliminate all mammalian life, what animal species (other than homo sapiens) would you miss most? </b>

<b> Who's more popular - Jesus or the Beatles? </b>

<b> How many bones have you broken in your life? </b>

<b> <i> "Where is my mind?" </i> </b>

<b> Knowing the pros and cons of time travel, if you were given the opportunity to go back to see (and speak with) your 14-year-old self, would you? (And what would you say if so) </b>

<b> What's a good cure for writer's block? </b>

<b> What's your favorite type of cake? </b>

<b> Go to wikipedia, and click "random article" thrice. What'd you land on? </b>

<b> <i> "What's the consolation prize?" </i> </b>

<b> What's gas going for in your neck of the woods right now? </b>

and finally....

<b> How would you describe the year 2008 in three words or less? </b>

Sunday, November 23, 2008

U

Books:

I seem to have a knack for picking out first-time books. Vacation [215/jumped] is a first-time novel by Deb Olin Unferth (although she's written and published short stories previously).
The story was at times confusing - although often I think it meant to be, in an attempt to convey the muddleheadedness of the characters it was tracking - and at times it was funny, and at times it was heartbreaking.
...you know, I kinda suck at reviewing things. Publishers Weekly had this to say about Vacation:

In this enthralling headscratcher of a first novel, Unferth (the story collection Minor Robberies) weaves an intricate tale of quests and escapes, of leaving and following. As a child, Myers falls out of a window, shattering his skull and unknowingly living the rest of his life with a misshapen head. Years later, he follows his wife, who spends her evenings following a man she doesn't know. The man, whom Myers identifies as a former classmate of his named Gray, is unaware that he is being doubly tracked. The marriages of both men fall apart, and Myers finds himself on vacation, traveling in search of Gray while Gray's ex-wife and daughter look for him, too. The problem is that Gray does not know where Gray is. If this all sounds puzzling, it is; still, with grace and skill, Unferth manages to weave together the most far-fetched of events. A subplot involving a dolphin untrainer and a woman in search of her birth father is distracting, and Unferth's wordplay can verge on the excessive, but a poignancy emerges in spite of Unferth's post-modern indulgences.

And that accurately sums it up. So, thanks for that, professional critics!

CDs:
I was happy with the two musical selections this go around. U2's 18 Singles was, well, eighteen tracks from U2, so that was familiar.
And then I also listened to the self-titled album from Under the Influence of Giants, which was surprisingly good. I especially enjoyed "Ah Ha!", "Stay Illogical", and "Lay Me Down". All around catchy pop songs that aren't played on the radio, but certainly could be, if, you know, radio stations didn't suck.

DVDs:
Because I felt like depressing myself horribly (and because there were no other decent "U" titles to choose from), I watched United 93, the fictional interpretation of what happened to the final hijacked plane from September 11th.
I did find the movie interesting in how even the air traffic controllers at first didn't really comprehend the severity of what was happening. The whole situation was just so outside the realm of consideration of the American people at that time... And, I have to applaud that the filmmakers did a fair job of humanizing the terrorists, as well as the men and women on board the plane. Considering how sensitive a topic 9/11 is, I think they did a very good job of staying pretty neutral and just presenting the movie as a story based on actual events without stating a political agenda.
Plus, Sledge Hammer was in it. Cool!

Friday, November 21, 2008

What kind of Pokemon are you?

Well, this might not tell you that, but the Typealyzer will supposedly analyze your blog and tell you what type of blog you've got.

I don't know how accurate it is, since it labeled me (or my blog, rather) as being of The Mechanics type:

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.


Plus, I don't even own a pair of overalls, so that avatar is way off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Various shtuff

Randmoe post, with me being UTP@ to a small degree.

There is only one remaining episode of The Shield left. Six days. And then it's all over for The Strike Team and the folks who populate their universe. If the final episode is even half as affecting as the penultimate was, I'll be thinking about it for weeks.
If anyone out there wants to play massive catchup in the next six days, I highly recommend it. (Although S4 and S6 are both somewhat weak, imo. Seasons 2, 3, 5 and the last half of seven are amazing.)

I spent the first 30 years of my life without cavities. I am most certainly making up for lost time now.
And I gotta say - not a big fan of the pain factor.

Discussion at work today - what makes a monster a monster? Is it just physical appearance - must they be grotesque looking - or is it (as I believe) entirely the actions of a being that make it monstrous (or not)?
I believe it's gotta be the things that are done that determine whether the monster label applies. I mean, Frankenstein's monster looked evil and monstrous, but wasn't (at first). It was his actions and reactions that caused him to become a creature of evil.
King Kong is another example. He was terrifying to look at, but at heart he was just a big ol' softie. (Until he got chained up and transfered across the planet and made a spectacle of and shot at.)
And going the other way, many attractive men and women are, in fact, monsters. Dracula had sex appeal, for example. And yet, he was all killy.
Vic Mackey can certainly be charming as all get-out (Lord knows I've rooted for the guy) but he's not exactly a role model. (Okay. Done letting the Shield get in my thoughts)
So, yeah. I think it's gotta be "judge a monster on what it does, not what it looks like."

There've been rumors for a while now that a movie based on Monopoly (the board game) will be made. And that Ridley Scott would be directing.
I just... Monopoly? Really?
Well, one of my all time favorite movies EVER was (loosely) based on a board game, so who knows. And I've wondered for a while why more movies aren't based on board games. But ...Monopoly??

I saw three separate houses completely decked out in Xmas lights tonight. And I know for a fact that two of them were not done yesterday, so... the only conclusion I can draw is that crazy is contagious.

One of the things not discussed in the comments from last time I posted was Knight Rider still being on the air. Here's something even MORE confusing - more people are watching *that* crap than the too-damn-cool-for-network-television-anyway show, Pushing Daisies. What is wrong with Americans?

I'm hungry. Chimichanga, perhaps?

I need to get back to wrok on Wolf. Although I feel that the title might be better changed to Wolf World. ...except htat as soon as I typed that, I hated that title. I guess just Wolf works, it's just irritating that the title ahs been sullied by that '94 movie with Jack Nicholson.

Speaking of wolves, a quick poll (I've asked this before of some (all?) of you, but sometimes public opinion changes, plus I've forgotten what the consensus was): Scarier - werewolves who walk on 2 legs, or werewolves who walk on 4?

I've got a post on 2009 predictions to write that I've been thinking of for a bit. I can only hope that I actually get around to doing it before 2009. (Although if I wait long enough, making the predictions about the year will be a lot simpler. Maybe I'll make some 2007 predictions first. I bet I'll get them all right!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baffling things

[-] NBC recently canceled My Own Worst Enemy and Lipstick Jungle. ...and yet Knight Rider remains intact.

[-] Sushi.

[-] As walking to the bus this morning, I passed a man wearing a suit who was urinating behind a clothing donation shed.

[-] Twilight. Please just make it go away.

[-] Why I'm still awake at ten after ten.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

T

Books:
I quite enjoyed Gary Tigerman's The Orion Protocol (316/are). It was a sci-fi/thriller with just enough plausibility in it regarding the conspiracies relating to the government and NASA to make you go, "Hmm." or at the very least, "Huh." (I suppose if I were younger and more impassioned, (and if these were factual events) I would get outraged over them, but really, with conspiracies my attitude now is, "Yeah, so the government doesn't want to tell the truth. What else is new?")
Anyway. Basic plot of the book is that when the astronauts landed on the moon all those years ago, they discovered that someone had beaten us there. An abandoned alien mining station was investigated, and of course, kept secret. (The reason being that the government doesn't want widespread panic. Apparently the Brookings Report [an actual document from the 60s] recommends that evidence of extraterrestrial life be suppressed by government agencies. [although reading the wiki article, it appears that Tigerman made the Report more nefarious than it truly is. Ah well, artistic license.])
Anywhat. After discovering that there is a much more advanced civilization out there, the Orion Protocol was developed - also secretly. In fact, so secret, that not even (every) US President knows about it.
In the novel, there's a newly elected President, who has one of his staff members try to unearth what exactly the Orion Protocol is.
Interesting coincidence: the President in the novel is never named (simply refered to as "Mr President" or "the Commander-in-Chief", etc), BUT! He is described as fairly young, quite athletic, very well liked, tall and skinny, and he ultimately believes in doing the job for the people, not being a politician.
Also amusing- at one point, his staff member asks him if he wants to continue hearing some news, and he responds, "You bethca". Heh.
AND! John McCain is mentioned (by name!) near the end (appearing on a CNN discussion program). Just how much does Mr. Tigerman really know? [eyebrow]
Anyway, it was an entertaining read.

CDs:

I wasn't super impressed with either music selection this go around. Although one was better than the other. That was Kill the House Lights by Thursday.
Thursday is somewhat punkish, sorta metal, angsty rock band, that wasn't supremely great, but did manage to grow on me.
The other band was awful. ...In fact, I can't remember what the other disc was. But I do know that when I put it in, it started off good - kinda distorted/Sonic Youth type of sound, but then the second song was exactly the same. But worse. And when I got to the third track, and it too was super-distorted noise, I skipped through all of the tracks, and found that ALL of them were. Yeah. Um. No. It's a shame I can't remember what they were called so I could warn everyone away from them, but it's not likely that you'd stumble across them anyway.

DVDs:
There Will Be Blood delivered on it's title, although I expected more. The movie itself was compelling/almost greatness, just like pretty much everything that Paul Thomas Anderson has done. Daniel Day Lewis totally deserved his Oscar. I felt that the movie could've been about 20 minutes shorter and that probably would've made it absolutely perfect, but overall still a great movie that I'm glad I watched.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Simpsons. Or maybe Chuck.

Question:

If you could join the cast of a television program for one week, what show would you pick? You wouldn't be one of the pre-existing characters, you'd be you. But you'd simply live in that Universe for one week, and then come back to your regular life.

So which program's universe would you most like to live in for a bit?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I almost wish that the campaigning was still going on for the 2008 election, because then I'd have something to talk about.

I was considering bloggging about how absolutely nihilistic I was feeling earlier today (a sample of my thoughts: "Can we just trash this whole civilization thing and start over? Or better yet - just trash humanity and let some other species step in and see if they do better. But not the chimps. ...or any primate, for that matter. Freakin' monkeys are smelly and violent and stupid."
See? If you're so cynical that you're dissing monkeys, things are bleak indeed.)

Anyway. I decided not to blog about that stuff. Although I don't really have a backup plan. Hrm.
Lately Wolf has been nagging at my consciousness, so I may soon cave and start working on it again. Here's hoping, anyway.

For now, though, I think I need ice cream. That makes everything better.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

S

Books:

I checked out Rob Stenett's The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher (323/sound).
Quite enjoyable. The book is about this: Ryan Fisher, an atheist real estate agent, decides on a whim to place an ad with a Jesus fish inside a Christian paper. His sales begin to skyrocket, as his clients assume he his a Christian as well. To sell this lie a little better, he decides he better go to a church.
After attending for a while, and through a series of sitcomish circumstances, he begins to pass himself off as "Pastor Ryan".
And then he figures that he could probably start his own church.
And he does. Even though he doesn't believe in God, or Jesus, or any of the religious trappings that go along with running a church, he begins to grow his congregation and before you know it, he's attracting the ire of the other church leaders, religious fanatics and even Oprah Winfrey invites him onto her show to discus the state of religion in America.
The book does a nice job of looking at the state of religion in America, and makes some really good points about what a church should do and what people go to churches for.
The author is apparently a Christian - there were interviews at the end of the book, and the book was also labeled "Christian fiction" - but the story isn't preachy at all, and the fact that the protagonist is an atheist is highly commendable. (He never does convert, and there's no bashing of his belief [or lack thereof]) Plus, the book is highly readable, and while not really laugh-out-loud funny, it did cause me to smile for many of it. It was truly a "feel good" book.
It made me want to start my own megachurch and/or become a pastor. :) I mean, how hard could it be really?

CDs:
I grabbed two CDs this go around. Neither were remarkable, though.
Say Hi to Your Mom's Ferocious Mopes has a great title (and great band name) but sadly musically was just kinda meh.
Saturday Looks Good to Me's Sound on Sound was better, but really only just.

DVDs:
The "S" movie I watched was The Station Agent. I thought the performances were good, and I liked the characters, but there didn't seem to be a point to the movie. Maybe I was just missing something? [shrug]

I've already picked up the T choices, but I'm not super impressed with the music. So, that being said, I'm open to suggestions for anything coming up (U - Z). And remember that if you want to see whether I'd be able to check it out, you can go here to see if the library is carrying it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tension

My jaw, my back and my neck are so unbelievably tense. So irksome. I mean, I left work 4 and a half hours ago, and I am still clenching my jaw.

(Watching "Wife Swap" probably isn't helping. I don't want to watch it, but the show really is like a train wreck.)

Good things from today:

Obama's first press conference. It's a huge relief hearing a president speak who isn't smug, condescending, arrogant, imbecilic, inarticulate and just... Bush. Ya know? Obama may wind up being "just another politician", but he is light years better than Dubya, and for now, that's quite enough.

Steph made spaghetti. Yummy.

It's Friday. I am so ready for the weekend. It would be better if it were a few weeks long, rather than days, but I'll take what I can get for now.

Annika's blog entry. It's the opening of the old Voltron cartoon, but the nostalgia factor totally brought a smile to my face.
and speaking of amusing video, this had many LOL moments for me:



Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Is it January yet?

I just really would like to be in '09 now, thanks.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election '08 Ball

I am so glad that after tomorrow, this fucking election will be done.

Whether the end result is positive or negative, at least it will be finished, and we can put it behind us.

And, now, I'll ask the 8-ball what's going to happen. I asked the 8-ball about the 2004 presidential election, and it was wrong (or was it??) so with that in mind, let's see what it has to say this go around:

8-ball, do you know the outcome of tomorrow's presidential election?
DON'T COUNT ON IT

Um. Okay. Do you have a guess as to the outcome?
BETTER NOT TELL YOU NOW

Oh, for the love of god. Look. 8-ball. I simply want to know, as do my readers, will Barack Obama be elected President of the United States tomorrow?
ASK AGAIN LATER

Wow. This totally isn't playing out the way I had hoped.

Maybe I need to be more vague to begin with.
Let's see... will the election occur tomorrow?
AS I SEE IT YES

Oh, we're starting to get somewhere.
Will Nevada go to Obama?
OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD

Um. Really? What about Colorado, will that go to Obama?
IT IS CERTAIN

Well, that's a little better. Can we wrap this up - will Obama wind up becoming president?
WITHOUT A DOUBT

There ya go, guys. It took some coaxing, but the 8-ball has spoken. I'll see you all on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

R

Books:
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex [426/Boov] may be a young adult book (that's where it was shelved at the library, after all), but even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of it. Pardon my language. The characters are great, the story pretty unique, and best of all - it was actually funny. The basic plot: After an alien race called the Boov have landed and conquered Earth (renaming it Smekland, after their beloved Captain Smek), they relocated all humans to reservations. (We get to keep Florida! Since all humans eventually move there anyway.)
Eleven year old Gratuity (her friends call her "Tip") Tucci does not trust the Boov and so she did not relocate - because the night before they made their presence known to humanity, she witnessed them abduct her mother.
After hiding from the Boov as they move into the abandoned city, Gratuity begins to make her way to Florida to find her mom. Along the way, she encounters a 'fugitive' Boov (named J.Lo [ha!!]) who joins her on her quest. A road-trip novel follows.
I haven't returned The True Meaning of Smekday yet, because I plan on reading it aloud to the girls. I know Harper will love it, if for no other reason than Tip's cat is named Pig. But the book itself is pure joy for anyone.

CDs:
I think I wasn't in the mood for music this week, because I only gave Don't You Know Who I Thought I Was - The Best of the Replacements by The Replacements one listen. I enjoyed it, but wasn't overly wowed. [shrug]

DVDs:

Rendition, was superbly well done, in my opinion. The movie is about an Egyptian-American who gets detained for questioning after American Intelligence links him with a terrorist organization. His family at home begins to investigate after he doesn't arrive home after his flight [he was detained in a Washington layover].
The movie gets it's point across without being preachy, and the acting is top-notch. Overall, a great film that I recommend.