Saturday, December 24, 2011

Felicia Navidad!

Or whatever floats your boat this time of year.

I'll be back next week hopefully to do some end of the year postings before heading to Dallas for a long New Years weekend.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Shot

Dave's book club keeps rolling right along frantically trying to reach my goal of 50 books read this year. It's not going to happen unfortunately with Vegas, home for the holidays, and Dallas finishing off the rest of the year. I resumed "One Shot" (466 pages) by Lee Child which I had momentarily set down to read "Out of Oz" last week. From Goodreads:

"Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me. And sure enough, from the world he lives in—no phone, no address, no commitments–ex–military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. In Lee Child’s astonishing new thriller, Reacher’s arrival will change everything—about a case that isn’t what it seems, about lives tangled in baffling ways, about a killer who missed one shot–and by doing so give Jack Reacher one shot at the truth.…

The gunman worked from a parking structure just thirty yards away–point-blank range for a trained military sniper like James Barr. His victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But why does Barr want Reacher at his side? There are good reasons why Reacher is the last person Barr would want to see. But when Reacher hears Barr’s own words, he understands. And a slam-dunk case explodes. Soon Reacher is teamed with a young defense lawyer who is working against her D.A. father and dueling with a prosecution team that has an explosive secret of its own. Like most things Reacher has known in life, this case is a complex battlefield. But, as always, in battle, Reacher is at his best.

Moving in the shadows, picking his spots, Reacher gets closer and closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. And for Reacher, the only way to take him down is to know his ruthlessness and respect his cunning–and then match him shot for shot…"

My fourth Reacher novel this year by Lee Child. I like the author and his awesome main character but I'm probably over it for a while, at least until sometime next year. Too much of a good thing and all that. It dawned on me while reading this current novel why I like this series so much. Each story is completely different from the last, at least in what I've read so far. With a fresh narrative it's actually a welcome to have a reoccurring character. While "One Shot" doesn't quite measure up to the previous two novels I've read by Child, it's still a great thriller and a great read. An author that gets better with his yearly outputs? I wish Janet Evanovich was listening.

Anyhoo, another great story by Child, well written and a worthy mystery/thriller. Recommended for fans of the genre. Pick up any Reacher novel by Child as reading them in order isn't necessary to appreciate the series.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Who's the Coach of the Year?

This guy!

"Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been named the winner of the 2011 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The award, presented by the Fiesta Bowl, is selected by the members of the 1,200-member strong Football Writers Association of America."


While we're talking about college football: suck it BCS...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Out of Oz

I ventured into the world of Oz yet again as seen through the eyes of Gregory Maguire in "Out of Oz" (568 pages) in the final volume in the "Wicked Years." From the cover of the book:

"Once peaceful and prosperous, the spectacular Land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law. And look who’s knocking at the door. It’s none other than Dorothy. Yes. That Dorothy.

Yet amidst all this chaos, Elphaba’s granddaughter, the tiny green baby born at the close of
Son of a Witch, has come of age. Now it is up to Rain to take up her broom—and her legacy—in an Oz wracked by war.

The stirring, long-awaited conclusion to the bestselling series begun with
Wicked, Out of Oz is a magical journey rife with revelations and reversals, reprisals and surprises—the hallmarks of the unique imagination of Gregory Maguire."

What can I say? I'm a huge fan of the "Wicked Years" by Maguire. I've been hooked on the series since I pickup up "Wicked" for the first time a couple of years ago. I really think Maguire was back in full form after an uneven, though enjoyable, second and third installment in the series. The events formed and expanded upon starting with the first novel are wrapped up satisfactorily in this final book. Though, in keeping with the previous books, there's still some questions left to ponder by the author. Practically every character, major or minor from the previous novels, has either a role to play here or if not at least a mention. Good stuff.

Highly recommended for fans of the series, second only to "Wicked." I'd also recommend reading the other books in the series before tackling this novel solo as so much has happened over the course of the previous three installments.


Who released Glinda from Southstairs near the novel's conclusion? I took it as Elphaba. One can dream...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Blue Memory Meme

Yet again from Sunday Stealing and a day early. It's been a while...

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1) If the whole world were listening to you right now, what would you say?
Shut the fuck up!!

2) If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
I have absolutely no clue. Maybe Al Gore, he's a pretty cool guy. Or maybe Bret Easton Ellis, to see if he's as fucked up as his novels.

3) You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go?
It would have to be somewhere close and cheap. Vegas is out since I'm going next week. Hmmm. Chicago, New York, or San Francisco?

4) What do you think about most?
It is, to say the least.

5) You have the opportunity to spend a romantic night with the music celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
Again I have no clue, I can't think of a musician crush I'm having right now.

6) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?
A little incident that landed me in jail in Colorado a couple of years ago.

7) What's your strangest talent?
The ability to remember little factoids that normal people don't give a shit about. An example would be me correcting someone who uses the phase "don't drink the Kool-Aid" when everyone knows they drank Flavor Aid at Jonestown.

8) What would be a question you'd be afraid to tell the truth on?
Nothing comes to mind, at least for the purposes of this blog. I'm a pretty up front person when necessary.

9) Ever had a poem or song written about you?
Now that you mention it I think someone has.

10) When is the last time you played the air guitar?
Today. It's something one has to do daily for a healthy and long life.

11) Do you have any strange phobias?
Not really. I used to be a little nervous flying but as much as I've traveled lately it isn't an issue anymore.

12) What's your religion?

13) What is your current desktop picture?
Blackhawks hockey logo.

14) When you are outside, what are you most likely doing?
Walking to or from my car.

15) What's the last song you listened to?
Fist Up by the Blow.

16) Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band?
Off the top of my head would be Shiny Toy Guns. Given some thought would be Fleetwood Mac.

17) What was the last lie you told?
On this meme. Can you find it?

18) Do you believe in karma?

19) What is a saying you say a lot?
"Bye Felicia!"

20) What is your greatest weakness; your greatest strength?
I hate these kinds of questions. My absolute and utter ability to not give a shit about a person or a situation given time. Ditto.

21) Who is your celebrity crush?
Paul Rudd or Chris Pine lately.

22) Give me the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word: heart.
Ache. It's a heartache, nothing but a heartache. Hits you when it's too late, hits you when you're down. It's a fools game, nothing but a fools game. Standing in the cold rain feeling like a clown.

23) How do you vent your anger?
I either curl up into myself or I go batshit crazy.

24) Do you have a collection of anything?
Too many moldering in boxes in storage. Video games, stamps, coins, trading cards...

25) What is your favorite word?

26) Are you happy with the person you've become?

27) What's a sound you hate; sound you love?
I hate the sound Styrofoam being mashed. I love the sound of a spring storm sans tornado.

28) What's your biggest "what if"?
Too numerous to mention. The road/harder path less traveled kind of thing.

29) Do you believe in ghosts?
It's fun to consider but not really.

30) How about aliens?
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

31) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?
Buying that black pullover from Express last fall.

32) What's the worst place you have ever been to?
Jail or Kansas.

33) Can insanity bring on more creativity?
I don't think so, either you have the aptitude or not.

34) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender?
Mila Kunis.

35) To you, what is the meaning of life?
Good friends, better food, and top shelf liquor.

36) Define “Art”.
I can't. It is what I think it is and may not apply to someone else.

37) Do you believe in luck?
Not really but I ALWAYS wash my hands after pissing while playing blackjack, you know, for luck.

38) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?
I don't know, all of mine have failed at one point or another.

39) What's a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?
Come on Eileen.

40) Where were you yesterday?
At home most of the day chillaxing.

41) What's the worst injury you've ever had?
I sprained my ankle severely once when playing basketball. I know it's not a major injury but I couldn't walk without crutches or a boot for a month.

42) Do you have any obsessions right now?
Always. Right now, Futurama, Skyward Sword, and the War on Christmas.

43) What's up?
Same old shit just another day or nada is my usual response.

44) Ever had a rumor spread about you?
I'm sure I have. I love it. I matter!

45) Do you believe in real magic?
Nope and I don't believe in fake magic either.

46) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?
Absolutely. It's one of my defining characteristics. An elephant never forgets... to kill!!

47) What's your favorite (non-pet) animal?
Tasmanian Devils.

48) What is your secret weapon to get people to like you?
My sparkling personality. Unfortunately it's the same thing I use to get them to hate me.

49) Where is your best friend?
Probably sitting across town being a total dousche.

50) What do you think is Satan's last name?
Seery, Martin, or Brown.

Cowtown Christmas Parade

Well the Stockyard City Christmas Parade to be exact but it'll always be Cowtown to me. I guess this is becoming a Christmas tradition, going with the Rents and my great niece Lo.

As usual we were right near the dais that held the parade "commentators." Throughout the parade all I could think was...

"Don't they look lovely June?"
"Fabulous Harry I love the feathers."

My favorite part, the longhorns. Later in the parade there was a couple riding two longhorns which were spotted black and white. Their animals names were Oreo and T-bone. How awesome is that?

Nothing says Oklahoma like an outhouse attached to a truck at a parade! Really?

Lamas! Watch out, they spit!

Lo, as sweet as an outbreak of anthrax...

Actually a pretty fun parade only minimally marred by my mother accosting the former Lt. Governor. The only thing missing, in my opinion, was a couple of High School bands. How can you have a parade without a marching band or two?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Skyward Sword Final Anaylsis

I just finished my first run through of The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword on the Nintendo Wii and all I can say is that it's a fantastic game worthy to be included in a long line of great Zelda games. The big question? Is this this the best Zelda game to date? Not even close but still a wonderful experience. I'd probably rank the game third after The Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past.

What Skyward Sword does well it does exceedingly well. Beautiful graphics, an orchestrated soundtrack, true 1:1 ratio using the controller, a ramped up difficulty from the past two installments, and superb dungeons. What drags down the game from being the best in the series is linear gameplay, a repeat battle of an annoying boss, three times, and one too many fetch quests, especially toward to last third of the game. I'm also a little puzzled that Ganondorf isn't Link's nemesis in this game, which is usually the case in most all console versions of The Legend of Zelda.

My criticisms aside this is a remarkable game that should be played by any Zelda, Nintendo, or Wii fan. Rolling through the quest should take the typical gamer anywhere from 40 to 60 hours to complete with an additional "Hero Mode" opened up upon completion for the more serious gamers. I would rank this game as one of the best games the Wii has to offer. I still can't decide if it overtakes Super Mario Galaxy 2. Play this game if you haven't already or buy a Wii just for the experience, it's definitely worth the 99 bucks.


I read a quirky little book last night called "Kitchen" (152 pages) by Banana Yoshimoto translated from the Japanese by Megan Backus. The book consists of two novellas. From the cover:

"When Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen was first published in Japan in 1988, 'Banana-mania' seized the country. Kitchen won two of Japan's most prestigious literary prizes, climbed its way to the top of the best-seller list, then remained there for over a year and sold millions of copies. With the appearance of the critically acclaimed Tugumi (1989) and NP (1991), the Japanese literary world realized that in Banana Yoshimoto it was confronted not with a passing fluke but with a full-fledged phenomenon: a young writer of great talent and great passion whose work has quickly earned a place among the best of twentieth-century Japanese literature.

Banana Yoshimoto's
Kitchen is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, transsexuality, kitchens, love, tragedy, and the terms they all come to in the minds of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Told in a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, 'Kitchen' and its companion story, 'Moonlight Shadow,' are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a masterful storyteller. They are the work of a very special new writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul."

Yoshimoto's two stories of loss and love are written perfectly in a very minimalistic way. She has a rare gift of encapsulating many emotions with a simple turn of phrase. I don't think there was much missed through the translations but there were a couple of times I was scratching my head at certain structures here and there; however, I'm not sure if this was really due to the translation or just a product of her quirky style of writing. Highly recommended for a quick and satisfying read with a few sad tones that ultimately end triumphantly. A nice and surprising find.

"One caravan has stopped, another starts up. There are people I have yet to meet, others I'll never see again. People who are gone before you know it, people who are just passing through. Even as we exchange hellos, they seem to grow transparent. I must keep living with the flowing river before my eyes."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gone Tomorrow

Another Reacher novel in the books so to speak. "Gone Tomorrow" (543 pages) by Lee Child. From Goodreads:

"New York City. Two in the morning. A subway car heading uptown. Jack Reacher, plus five other passengers. Four are okay. The fifth isn’t.

In the next few tense seconds Reacher will make a choice--and trigger an electrifying chain of events in this gritty, gripping masterwork of suspense by #1 New York Times bestseller Lee Child.

Susan Mark was the fifth passenger. She had a lonely heart, an estranged son, and a big secret. Reacher, working with a woman cop and a host of shadowy feds, wants to know just how big a hole Susan Mark was in, how many lives had already been twisted before hers, and what danger is looming around him now.

Because a race has begun through the streets of Manhattan in a maze crowded with violent, skilled soldiers on all sides of a shadow war. Susan Mark’s plain little life was critical to dozens of others in Washington, California, Afghanistan . . . from a former Delta Force operator now running for the U.S. Senate, to a beautiful young woman with a fantastic story to tell–and to a host of others who have just one thing in common: They’re all lying to Reacher. A little. A lot. Or maybe just enough to get him killed.

In a novel that slams through one hairpin surprise after another, Lee Child unleashes a thriller that spans three decades and gnaws at the heart of America . . . and for Jack Reacher, a man who trusts no one and likes it that way, it’s a mystery with only one answer–the kind that comes when you finally get face-to-face and look your worst enemy in the eye."

I really enjoyed this novel again by Child for two reasons primarily: the back story dealing with events with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980's and the setting in Manhattan. Having just been to New York City last summer, there's something really cool about reading about current places you've just visited. The story unraveled and took place primary where I was staying and sightseeing during my stay there. Very cool. If only more novels took place in Oklahoma City!

Highly recommended especially for fans of thrillers. There were a few parts were I was on edge and squeamish too, a rarity for me when reading anything.

Must See TV

I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of television. Sure my TV is on more often than not when I'm at home but usually it's just background noise while I'm reading or doing something else. There's rarely a show that I absolutely must catch on first airing, thanks mostly to the Internet. Lately I've found myself glued to a few shows, meaning more than one at a time, amazingly enough. I thought I would compose a list of what I'm watching and what I think television has to offer that's good recently. I also need to preface my list by saying that there isn't anything worth watching on the networks, namely ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Expanded cable and premium cable offer so much better stories that I've found it impossible to watch anything on the big 4. I mean there's no nudity, cursing, and barely watered down adult themes!

The Walking Dead: I've pretty much given up Sunday Funday lately just to watch the offerings on Sunday night on AMC. That's saying a lot! Though the first half of the second season just ended it still makes my list of what everyone should be watching now. Current episodes can be found and watched online as well as On Demand. The latest slate of episodes were a little uneven especially compared to last season, but it's still one of the best and most unique shows on TV right now. It's a worthy watch for no other reason than to contemplate how people would really react if indeed a zombie apocalypse were to happened. The themes of morality versus survival are heavy this season and it really makes one wonder how they would behave in such a dire environment.

American Horror Story: The only show I've watched religiously on FX. Airing on Wednesday night, the show is the story about a couple and their daughter who move to L.A. and move into the locally famous "murder house." Gruesome death scenes preface each episode from different eras of the nearly 100 year old house where those who have died are doomed to remain on the premises. Exceptional actors and bloody special effects makes American Horror Story a must watch. Though a little over the top, the stories abound with nudity, sex, and violence, all good things! Definitely a mind fuck from week to week but that's what keeps me coming back for more, just to see where the hell the story is going to veer off to.

Hell on Wheels: Another gritty new series by AMC on Sunday nights. It's pretty much the story of the transcontinental construction (say that three times) of our railway system. It's a western that tackles themes of the encroachment of civilization to native areas, political palm greasing, and the complications of the end of the Civil War. I'm still withholding judgement on the show but I'm liking what I see so far. Man I really miss Deadwood!

Top Chef: In its 9th season, Top Chef is still a must watch for me on Bravo on Wednesday nights. The series has lost a little bit of it's spice over the years but it's still a well done series with plenty of drama and culinary contests. It's one of the few shows I tune in to season after season and often even blog about, at least I did until I became so lazy here.

Returning shows I'm most exited about:

A Game of Thrones: One of the, if not the best new show on television. The second season is due to return in April on HBO. I came a little late to the party and had to watch the first season online. I did it in one setting. I'm excited to see if the second season follows the second novel as closely as the first season did the first novel. Absolutely not to be missed. Watch the series online or buy it on DVD if you haven't seen it already. I can't imagine anyone not liking this show, especially fans of the series of novels.

Futurama: Good news everyone! Futurama is back on Comedy Central on Thursday night. Though the show is in hiatus right now you can catch a mix of the older episodes as well as the newer ones on Thursday nights. I'm a bit of a Futurama fanatic. I own all of the original episodes on DVD and if I happen to catch the reruns on TV, I usually stop to watch no matter how many times I've seen them. Though the show is not nearly as funny as when it first aired on FOX a decade ago, it's still better than most crap on TV right now. As the writers and actors seem to be getting back in their groove the quality of the show seems to be getting better and better.

So that's pretty much my list of must see TV right now. I'm sure I've missing some terrific shows but I'm somewhat limited by my lack of viewing hours as well as my limited expanded basic cable set up. What's everyone else watching now? What am I missing?

The Obligatory Countdown to Vegas Post

Ah the Glitter Gulch, my favorite titty bar in all of Las Vegas. Just kidding.

So it should be an interesting trip this year since I'm only traveling with the Rents (parents). No other friends or family are going this trip. Essentially that means I'll be in lone wolf mode a lot, especially at night.

10 days to go!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bad Luck and Trouble

Reports of me abandoning my blog have been exaggerated. In fact I've been without a computer since just before Thanksgiving. My dad has had his in the shop so I loaned my laptop out to him while it was being fixed. I could access the Internet on my phone if necessary but it's not very conducive to blogging. Hopefully I'll be back to some kind of regular schedule now.

In the meantime I read "Bad Luck and Trouble" (473 pages) by Lee Child, another novel in his Jack Reacher series. Yet again, it was a random book in the middle of the series but luckily prior knowledge of the previous novels didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. From Goodreads:

"From a helicopter high above the empty California desert, a man is sent free-falling into the night…. In Chicago, a woman learns that an elite team of ex–army investigators is being hunted down one by one.... And on the streets of Portland, Jack Reacher—soldier, cop, hero—is pulled out of his wandering life by a code that few other people could understand. From the first shocking scenes in Lee Child’s explosive new novel, Jack Reacher is plunged like a knife into the heart of a conspiracy that is killing old friends…and is on its way to something even worse.

A decade postmilitary, Reacher has an ATM card and the clothes on his back—no phone, no ties, and no address. But now a woman from his old unit has done the impossible. From Chicago, Frances Neagley finds Reacher, using a signal only the eight members of their elite team of army investigators would know. She tells him a terrifying story—about the brutal death of a man they both served with. Soon Reacher is reuniting with the survivors of his old team, scrambling to raise the living, bury the dead, and connect the dots in a mystery that is growing darker by the day. The deeper they dig, the more they don’t know: about two other comrades who have suddenly gone missing—and a trail that leads into the neon of Vegas and the darkness of international terrorism.

For now, Reacher can only react. To every sound. Every suspicion. Every scent and every moment. Then Reacher will trust the people he once trusted with his life—and take this thing all the way to the end. Because in a world of bad luck and trouble, when someone targets Jack Reacher and his team, they’d better be ready for what comes right back at them…"

Another excellent novel by Child, an author I just recently started reading thanks solely to my mother, an avid reader of mysteries. The story flies by with the help of excellent writing and an interesting collection of characters that you wouldn't want to find yourself going against. The Reacher character is such a great protagonist, someone who's so loyal he's willing to do what he thinks is right regardless of the boundaries of the law and maybe what some would consider moral. He also has a unique talent for numbers and information that is fascinating to read and clearly shows he's more than an ex-army brute.

Check out any book by Lee Child, I believe every novel he's ever written is centered around the Jack Reacher character. Highly recommended. I'm already into another installment in the series.