Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Back to Lee Child again and one of his Jack Reacher novels. I believe "Persuader" (465 pages) is the seventh in the series though I've been jumping around randomly throughout the series. From the cover:

"Jack Reacher.
The ultimate loner.
An elite ex-military cop who left the service years ago, he's moved from place to place...without family...without possessions...without commitments.
And without fear. Which is good, because trouble-big, violent, complicated trouble-finds Reacher wherever he goes. And when trouble finds him, Reacher does not quit, not once...not ever.
But some unfinished business has now found Reacher. And Reacher is a man who hates unfinished business.
Ten years ago, a key investigation went sour and someone got away with murder. Now a chance encounter brings it all back. Now Reacher sees his one last shot. Some would call it vengeance. Some would call it redemption. Reacher would call it...justice."

Another great effort by Child. As I've stated before each book is easily picked up regardless of the order the stories were written in. And though each novel follows the same loner character in Jack Reacher, the stories are almost always unique and rarely is there a "been there, done that" quality about the books. Here Reacher works with the government to infiltrate a smuggling operation to find a lost agent though his motivations are mostly personal. Recommended for fans of mysteries and thrillers. Child has a definite knack for keeping the reader on edge with the situations he throws at his hero.

I recently read that one of the Reacher novels is in production as a movie. While I'm excited by this prospect I'm not sure the casting of Tom Cruise is good casting for Jack Reacher. Well maybe a really short Jack Reacher...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Layfette, Louisiana

In spite of a lot of pissing and moaning, I generally enjoy the South. Not Oklahoma but the real South. It's like a whole other world when compared to other parts of our great country. Travel to southern Louisiana and it's like a whole other universe. That's what I did last weekend. I skipped the Gay Pride festivities here in Oklahoma City in favor of a quick four day trip to Layfette, Louisiana to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I know, I'm a bad gay with no pride...

So what makes bayou country so unique? Here are a few examples:

Where else in the country can you pull up to a drive up daiquiri stand, order some drinks, and not be threatened with an open container fine because you bought the alcoholic concoction without the straw in it? I'm sure this isn't unique to Louisiana but it certainly is in my neck of the woods. Of course the straw doesn't stay outside of the drink for long. Definitely go with the Sweet Tart!

According to my sister-in-law, part Coon Ass according to my brother, one doesn't order toast for breakfast. One needs to order toast bread so you know for sure what exactly is getting toasted on what you're ordering. Makes sense to me.

One of the festivities we took in down south was a graduation party for my sister-in-law's niece. A pretty typical affair, lots of beer, food, family and zeitago music. Well mostly typical. As the event wore on we found ourselves playing beer pong and flip cup (a gamed I admit that I'd never played before, I blame the small town college I attended). The anchor for our flip cup game proceeded to play, and play well, with a beer in hand and a baby slung over her shoulder. Only in the South.

Ever seen the show Swamp People on the History Channel? Yeah, they really exist and I've spoken to a couple of them! I can't really say that I caught all of the conversation.

Out in the boonies around Layfette I saw quite a few storefronts advertising boudin and cracklins. After being reminded what boudin was I realized I had eaten it before but I couldn't for the life of my figure out what a cracklin was. It's pork rinds. Interesting.

Finally if you're in the market for a mobile home there's hundreds of businesses to choose from north of the Layfette area. We drove up just east of Opelousas (I call it Umpaloompa) to fetch some lumber for a home project my brother is working on and it was staggering to see how many lots of mobile homes there were. Hello? Hurricanes? Speaking of hurricanes my brother has been know to flee north while my sister-in-law prefers to ride it out with her family and "party."

I kid the South, specifically Louisiana and Layfette. It really is a great place to visit, take in the sights, the culture and the people. It's definitely a lot more fun than Atlanta, but that's another place and another story.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Duma Key

Back to the world of Stephen King I go with "Duma Key" (611 pages). I love a bargain book from the store! From Goodreads:

"Six months after a crane crushes his pickup truck and his body self-made millionaire Edgar Freemantle launches into a new life. His wife asked for a divorce after he stabbed her with a plastic knife and tried to strangle her one-handed (he lost his arm and for a time his rational brain in the accident). He divides his wealth into four equal parts for his wife, his two daughters, himself and leaves Minnesota for Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily remote stretch of the Florida coast where he has rented a house. All of the land on Duma Key, and the few houses, are owned by Elizabeth Eastlake, an octogenarian whose tragic and mysterious past unfolds perilously. When Edgar begins to paint, his formidable talent seems to come from someplace outside him, and the paintings, many of them, have a power that cannot be controlled."

I really thought this book was fantastic, especially for something written fairly recently by King. Indeed I didn't want the story to end and I really savored the story, something that doesn't happen often when I read anything. I basically bought the book because it was extremely cheap for a hardcover at Barnes and Noble. Reading the dust cover didn't give me too much confident but a few pages into the read my perception changed. I was immediately lured into Edgar's story of woe and his recuperation living on Duma Key, a story that is winding and methodical with its large volume. As the mystery of Duma Key and its residents slowly unfolded I was drawn in even more. Toward the last one hundred pages or so the novel slipped into King's patented over-kill of goofiness but luckily he never went completely over the cliff (for me the difference between a four star review and a five star review). The conclusion left me satisfied in spite of some of the tragic events and unresolved relationships, but I guess such is life more times than not.

Recommended for fans of King, at some of his better writing lately, as well of fans of light horror and of the supernatural.

RIP Thunder Alley, Maybe...

"Gunfire that left at least eight people wounded and a pregnant woman injured is prompting Oklahoma City officials and the Oklahoma City Thunder to re-evaluate the watch party held during playoffs outside Chesapeake Energy Arena."


There's always some dick weed that has to ruin a good time.

"Thunder Alley originally was an occasional pregame party that included interactive games, concessions, and merchandise. It began three hours before tipoff and would shut down once the game started.

During this year's playoffs, a watch party was added and fans were invited to bring chairs and blankets to Thunder Alley to view the game on a new video display board (74 feet tall by 20 feet wide) that was mounted on the northwest side of Chesapeake Arena during recent renovations to the facility."

I was in Thunder Alley with some friends the other night watching the Thunder send the Lakers packing along with an estimated 6,000 fans packed into roughly a one block area. It was a pandemonium. Luckily we left the area early to avoid traffic and missed out on the violence that happened after the game. Even if we had stayed we were parked well west of Bricktown to be involved or even near by. Speculation is swirling as to whether or not the shooting had anything to do with the NBA playoffs and the watch party. I've heard many rumors including that the incident was completely separate or that the shooting was the result of OKC fans taunting a Lakers fan. In the end I guess it doesn't really matter. It looks like the city is going to shut down the watch party portion of the festivities at the very least.

So what went wrong?

Supposedly the city had an added police force in the area, a force I didn't feel was present walking through the throng with the exception of a police watch tower added to the mix.

Why is it that the city can provide a relatively safe environment during Opening Night (New Years Eve) with an estimated group of 100,000 people but not do the same with a group of 6,000?

The younger crowd mixed with alcohol probably didn't help matters. There was a beer garden area selling drinks as well ice chests all over the place. It seemed to me that everyone had a beer in hand. The prospects of having a beer before the next game look bleak now even if they cancel the watch party portion of Thunder Alley.

Finally I wonder what could've happened if our open carry law was in effect on Monday. Not that the shooting wouldn't have occurred but maybe it would be worse with some idiot gun owner trying to be a hero, causing more injuries. The law was recently signed by our Governor and goes into effect on November 1st.

Just some thoughts to chew on. What was really a great event for OKC and Thunder fans has just turned into a big turd. Welcome to the big leagues OKC! If this had been the NBA finals would fans be expected to riot, loot, and turn over cars? An arrest has been made in the shootings and hopefully it will come to light that it had nothing to do with a silly basketball game. I'd hate to think that OKC has joined a long and pathetic list of fans that act like fools after a sporting event.

Edit: oh and by the way, no one got shot up this weekend at the Gay Pride parade which had a much bigger turnout. Just saying...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sleep Paralysis

Has anyone ever experienced this phenomenon? I'm pretty sure I did early this morning before waking and it scared the shit out of me.

From the good people at WedMD:

"Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Some people may also feel pressure or a sense of choking. Sleep paralysis may accompany other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an overpowering need to sleep caused by a problem with the brain's ability to regulate sleep."

I had a similar experience. I had a feeling of being conscious yet unable to move, mostly. For some reason I thought I was scratching my head and became a little freaked out when there was no sensation to the scratching. I believe now I was actually scratching the pillow underneath me, if that's even possible. I definitely had trouble breathing or at least I thought I did. It was like I couldn't catch my breath and I was convinced that I was suffering some kind of fatal medical condition. I mentally willed myself to breath or move to no avail for maybe a minute. Terror doesn't even begin to describe how I felt throughout this ordeal. Finally I was able to breath normally again and move. I got up off the sofa (my normal sleeping place) and relocated to my bed without any further incidents.

Since I don't have narcolepsy and this has never happened before I'm not really worried about it. Most likely, from the reading I've done, in my case it was probably from a lack of sleep or the alcohol I ingested last night. Still, it was a horrifying experience that I don't want repeated any time soon.

It's also interesting to note that previous, less medically advanced cultures, thought that sleep paralysis was the result of demons or the devil sitting on your chest. Modern scientists conclude that some reported alien abduction encounters and ghost encounters could simply be explained away as a sleep paralysis episode. Who knows, maybe I was possessed by the devil, something that a few people who know me wouldn't dispute! Interesting stuff.

So, dear reader, has this phenomenon happened to you and if so what was your experience?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Dance with Dragons

I'm finally all up to date with George R. R. Martin's series "A Song of Ice and Fire" with the fifth installment "A Dance with Dragons" (1016 pages). I made the rare hardback purchase with this book, as I just couldn't wait to see where the story was headed. From Goodreads:

"The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.

In the east, Daenerys, last scion of House Targaryen, her dragons grown to terrifying maturity, rules as queen of a city built on dust and death, beset by enemies.

Now that her whereabouts are known many are seeking Daenerys and her dragons. Among them the dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, who has escaped King’s Landing with a price on his head, wrongfully condemned to death for the murder of his nephew, King Joffrey. But not before killing his hated father, Lord Tywin.

To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark's bastard son Jon Snow has been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but he has enemies both in the Watch and beyond the Wall, where the wildling armies are massing for an assault.

On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all…"

In the acknowledgements of the novel, Martin states: "The last one was a bitch. This one was three bitches and a bastard." At times it was three bitches and a bastard to read! "A Dance with Dragons" covers about half of the characters in the series much like the previous novel "A Feast for Crows" covered the other half. Hopefully the next book in the series won't be so massive that it will need to be cut up like the last two, or at least not split up in such a way as to wait years to see what happens to a good portion of the characters.

I think "A Dance with Dragons" was a stronger effort from the previous installment mostly because it featured the better or more liked characters in the series. It still suffers from the same problems as the previous novel as well, a feeling that the story isn't progressing fast enough in spite of its thousands of pages. In true Martin fashion nearly all the characters end their final chapters in some kind of cliffhanger that won't be revealed until the next book in the series. This isn't necessarily a bad thing unless you consider that the last two novels took five and six years to complete. I hope myself and the author are alive to see the finished product some day!

Again, I love the characters (literally hundreds) and the rich world and cultures that Martin has created. Humor, tension, and plot twists definitely make this series a worthwhile read. I only wish the stories flowed as well and quickly as the first three books in the series. Recommended for fans of fantasy. As I've said before, a friend of mine called it "Lord of the Rings with tits." Start with the first novel "A Game of Thrones" or check out the series on HBO.