Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Since I had read "Red Dragon" and "Hannibal Rising" fairly recently I thought I would go back and re-read "Hannibal" (486 pages) by Thomas Harris, a book I've owned since its release in 1999. From Goodreads:

"Invite Hannibal Lecter into the palace of your mind and be invited into his mind palace in turn. Note the similarities in yours and his, the high vaulted chambers of your dreams, the shadowed halls, the locked storerooms where you dare not go, the scrap of half-forgotten music, the muffled cries from behind a wall.

In one of the most eagerly anticipated literary events of the decade, Thomas Harris takes us once again into the mind of a killer, crafting a chilling portrait of insidiously evolving evil - a tour de force of psychological suspense.

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaped from custody, seven years since FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling interviewed him in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. The doctor is still at large, pursuing his own ineffable interests, savoring the scents, the essences of an unguarded world. But Starling has never forgotten her encounters with Dr. Lecter, and the metallic rasp of his seldom-used voice still sounds in her dreams.

Mason Verger remembers Dr. Lecter, too, and is obsessed with revenge. He was Dr. Lecter's sixth victim, and he has survived to rule his own butcher's empire. From his respirator, Verger monitors every twitch in his worldwide web. Soon he sees that to draw the doctor, he must have the most exquisite and innocent-appearing bait; he must have what Dr. Lecter likes best."

The good:

I don't care what anyone says, I really enjoyed this novel both times I read it, second only to Harris' "Silence of the Lambs." Unsurprisingly there was a lot that I had forgot in my first reading more than a decade ago. Though the movie follows the novel very closely for the most part, the book adds quite a bit more particularly in its dealings with the Verger family. In fact Margot Verger is left out of the movie completely which is really a shame considering the impact she had on the story.

The novel, for me, moved at lightening speed in spite of the length and knowing what the conclusion would be. Chapters are short for the most part, clocking in at over 100, so the book can be put down and picked back up easily.

The middle of the novel, which takes place in Florence, is simply stunning. It kept me on the edge of my seat through its entirety, even knowing how events would turn out. If for no other reason I would recommend this novel just for these parts alone.

The bad:

I guess I should mention the ending, which seems to be the biggest beef with most readers of "Hannibal." Completely different from the movie, the ending takes a sudden turn which, admittedly, stretches the credibility of the characterization of Clarice Starling. It's the final chapter that really leaves the reader out on a limb to ponder just what the hell is going on with Starling. I think the movie did a much better job with the conclusion but the book didn't leave as bitter of a taste in my mouth as it seemingly did with most other readers.

The ugly:

Hannibal Lecter. Enough said.

Death by genetically mutated super pigs! That's how I want to go out.

Lobotomy dinner. Yummy.

Recommended for fans of suspense and horror. Despite his detractors I find Harris to be a highly readable novelist and I enjoyed his minimalistic style. Even with the controversial ending "Hannibal" is a great effort and a fantastic read.

I'd be curious to hear from others who've read "Hannibal," specifically their thoughts on the ending.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The More Things Change...

... the more they stay the same.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 2

Another addition of Sunday Stealing!

Cheers to all of us thieves!

26. What type of errands do you like running?
None right now considering it's close to 110 degrees outside, and hotter than the hubs of hell.

27. Have you ever eaten snow?
Only for pleasure, not for survival.

28. What color are your bedsheets?
Right now they are maroon.

29. What’s your favorite flower?
Lillies or wild roses, I have one in my front yard, though it's a thorny bastard, it puts off a heavy fragrance.

30. Do you do ballet?
I've been to the ballet. In fact the last time I saw the Oklahoma City ballet they used canned music. Lame. I've never danced in that style.

31. Do you listen to classical music?
I do and I'm a big fan.

32. What is the first TV Theme song that pops in your head?
The theme from "Dallas."

33. Do you watch Sponge Bob?
No, not regularly but I've seen the show a few times.

34. What temperature is it outside right now?
104 degrees, probably 142 with the humidity.

35. Do people consider you smart?
Maybe a smart ass. I have a knack for remember inane bits of facts and trivia that probably doesn't endear me to anyone.

36. How many piercing do you have?
None, I used to have my ear pierced a million years ago but it has long since closed up. To quote George Carlin about men wearing earrings: "it's over!"

37. Are you signed on [to] AIM?
Nope. I have an accout but I never use it anymore.

38. Have you ever tried gluing your fingers together?
I think everyone has tried this at one time or another when they were a kid.

39. How do you feel about your family?
They're very awesome.

40. Do you have an iPod?
I do but I only use it when flying or mowing the lawn, well before the lawn burned up from the lack of rain.

41. What time do you go to bed?
It varies wildly. One night it could be 9PM and the next 4AM.

42. What CD is currently in your CD player?
A Shiny Toy Guns CD in my car.

43. What movie do you know every line to?
"Weird Science." I must have watched that movie a thousand times in Junior High School.

44. What is your favorite salad dressing?
It varies but in general Blue Cheese or 1,000 Island. I hate, hate, hate Ranch, and after working in restaurants I hate everyone that has to have a side of Ranch dressing to go along with everything they eat!

45. What do you want for Christmas this year?
A Nintendo 3DS unless I get one before then or perhaps an e-Reader.

46. What family member/friend lives the farthest from you? Where?
My friend Lindsay who lives in New York City off the top of my head.

47. Do you like hugs?
They're ok I guess.

48. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
I can't remember, probably watching an important football or basketball game.

49. What’s the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name?
It can't be done unless said person doesn't speak English or is illiterate.

50. Last person you hugged?
Your mom, after I left her money on the nightstand.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Black Echo

I've been wanting to read the Hieronymus Bosch, not the painter, novels by Michael Connelly for some time. As luck would have it I happened upon the first book, "The Black Echo" (412 pages) in the series courtesy of my mother. For once I won't be starting a series somewhere in the middle. From Goodreads:

"For LAPD homicide cop Harry Bosch - hero, maverick, nighthawk - the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal.

The dead man, Billy Meadows, was a fellow Vietnam 'tunnel rat' who fought side by side with him in a nightmare underground war that brought them to the depths of hell. Now, Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city to the tortuous link that must be uncovered, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit.

Joining with an enigmatic and seductive female FBI agent, pitted against enemies inside his own department, Bosch must make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, as he tracks down a killer whose true face will shock him."

The good:

I really like the character of Harry Bosch, in spite of all the crime novel clichés. He's a grizzled, insomniac LAPD detective with a troubled early life. The book does a nice job of introducing Bosch and slowly putting the pieces together of his life and the reasons he is the way he is. Again, it's a cliché, but he does his work his own way and often isn't considered part of the LAPD "family." I'll be interested to see how he grows as I read more novels from the series.

Connelly is a very readable writer and his books always move at a fast clip. The story is decent enough here but nothing too thrilling as a large portion of it deals with a bank robbery, though it is intriguing how the robbery goes down. It took me a few days to get through the novel, which is kind of unusual for me with this kind of read. Hopefully further readings into the series will be a little more exciting. The novel is mostly redeemed toward the end with a clever twist I didn't really see coming.

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. Go see it at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The bad:

Another book written in the early '90s. Pay phones and pagers to communicate, orange screen computers and snail mail to gather information. It's a wonder that good police work could be done, and swiftly, in such an age!

It's funny to read about all the places people could smoke in LA in 1992. Bosch is always lighting a cigarette and I'm sure it made me smoke a little more than usual while reading.

I disliked that the structure of the book was laid out in lengthy parts rather than chapters. It's just a personal taste but I like to lay down a book at the end of the chapter if necessary. Due to time constraints this wasn't always possible with this novel.

The ugly:

Being a "tunnel rat" in Vietnam. Smoking out spider holes is not a job I'd want or wish on anyone else.

In conclusion, "The Black Echo" is a decent enough story, though it is a little mediocre compared to the Connelly novels that I've read. I look forward to reading other books in the series and hopefully the stories will improve. Recommended to fans of the genre and the author.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Poor Mittens!

Willard Romney, trying to become only the second retarded President in U.S. history, really knows how to put his foot in it! I know, that statement is actually insulting to the developmentally disabled. The Rainbow Tour made its way to England where Romney had some unkind words about London hosting the 2012 Olympics:

"'You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out,' Romney told NBC. 'There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials … that obviously is not something which is encouraging.'"

To which Prime Minister David Cameron (of the Conservative Party) responded:

"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

Burn! Of course Romney back-pedaled on the issue when pressed further after an uproar in the London press, like he always does and always has his entire political career. What was meant as a visit to prove his chops at being nuanced at foreign policy has turned into another example of his buffoonery. The guy just can't catch a break. Too bad speaking is a required part of the job he's seeking, otherwise he might be a shoo-in.

I can't wait until the Presidential debates! Obama is going to mop the floor with this smarmy asshole. Though I think the election is going to be a nail biter. In a world where George W. Bush was elected twice (well once technically) anything is possible.


Drum Corps International

These are the last days of my core group of friends (more on that later)... Jackie, Dann, Mel, Matt, and Justin. Who else would travel to Edmond with me to see a bunch of marching bands?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting Alone

The new Shiny Toy Guns video for their song "Waiting Alone." It's kind of a bizarre video, and toward the end a little bit violent. I'm liking the song though! I can't wait for the new album.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Seven Years and One Month

Yep, I totally missed my seven year blogiversery on the 24th last month. I'm a bad blogger these days and oddly enough I've had more time than ever for it not to be so. I just wanted to give a quick thanks to all the readers out there especially in what has been a pretty lean year of postings. Thanks again!

Click here to see how it all started...

Something to Bitch About

The best thing about having a blog is having a place on the Internets to rant! I had a few things to bitch about so I thought I would combine them into one blog posting:

Willard Romney and all his day one promises. Off the top of my head he's said that he's going to repeal the Affordable Care Act, end regulations on businesses, get tough with China, initiate tax cuts, and approve the Keystone Pipeline. I'm sure there's more that he's promised but I don't have an Etch A Sketch in front of me to predict the future.

What's allegedly off limits with Willard Romney. I'm tired of hearing from politicians and their surrogates what's off limits, or should be off limits during the Presidential campaign (Obama does this too). Apparently with the Romney campaign his tax records, his religion, and his work at Bain Capital should be off limits to scrutiny and attack. Really? So I guess all we have to put under the microscope for Romney is his work on the Winter Olympics (by the way, the U.S. Winter Olympic clothing was made in Burma) and his four years as Governor of Massachusetts, where his biggest legislative accomplishment is very similar to President Obama's biggest accomplishment, health care reform. What bugs me the most is the issue of his religion and the lack of discussion about it. Mormons are batshit crazy, though in fairness, I think most religions are batshit crazy anyways.

Adult Swim live action shows. In general I love Adult Swim at night on the Cartoon Network but the live action shows have got to go! Childrens Hospital, NTSF: SD: SUV::, Eagle Heart, and the ultimately craptastic Eric and Andre Show. Someone must be watching these shows as they're still getting produced but I just can't stomach them.

Everyone being outraged by Chick-fil-A. The news of their homophobia and overall douchebaggery is nothing new! This shitty company has been on my banned list for a long, long time. Oh and while we're at it, yay for the Muppets!

The Boy Scouts of America. Same as with Chick-fil-A.

New Leaf Florist. I had some flowers delivered to my house this morning which is a nice thing but damn if New Leaf Florist isn't persistent in getting them delivered. They banged very loudly on my door twice and called me twice at 8:30AM in an attempt to get me to the door. Just leave the delivery on the porch for Christ's sake! I was a little grumpy since I woke up in the middle of the night and didn't get back to sleep until around 5AM...

The gun control debate. Why is it that when we have some kind of gun shooting tragedy in this country it's always too early to talk about gun control and putting limits on the purchasing of ammunition? It's exactly the right time to have this debate! I'm all for rednecks owning their precious guns but I think it's time to talk (again) about limiting what kind of guns said rednecks should be able to purchase. I'm not sure the founding fathers ever intended the Second Amendment to include weapons that could release 100 rounds from a magazine in 30 seconds. I guess I could be wrong, I'll leave such discussion to the experts, like the NRA.

Rachael Ray. She's always on my list of things to bitch about. She's the spawn of Satan and must be stopped.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Lord of the Rings

"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."

I'm not sure why I never got around to reading "The Lord of the Rings" (1137 pages) by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. I think when I was younger I was under the impression that the epic novel was some kind of difficult read, part of this may have been just based on the size of the volume alone. Later, having seen the movies I thought there probably wasn't much of a point. That, and I usually don't go for fantasy stories. Recently my friend Dann gave me a copy of the tome to read "in case I ever got bored." What seems like a year ago I reluctantly started the book just to see how it would be. I was pretty much hooked after a couple of pages. From the cover of the book:

"In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

From his fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, Sauron's power spread far and wide. He gathered all the Great Rings to him, but ever he searched far and wide for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.

On his eleventy-first birthday Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest - to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.
The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard, Merry, Pippin, and Sam, Gimli the Dwarf, Legolas the Elf, Boromir of Gondor, and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider."

The good:

Overall I really liked the tale presented here, though I knew from the movies the direction the story was going to take. Having said that, there is so much more that the story has to offer over the movie. Indeed complete sections of the book have been omitted from the movie much to my surprise and enjoyment. I found the book, in spite of it's ghastly length, to be quite readable, putting aside my earlier fears that this was a book to be feared.

I found many of my favorite parts of the story to be ones that were omitted or shortened by the needs of the movie. I really enjoyed reading and learning about Imrahil, Glorfindel, Beregond, and most of all Tom Bombadil. Specific chapters in the book that I really enjoyed and that were new to me involved the Old Forest and the Scouring of the Shire, especially the latter which really highlighted the growth and strength that the Hobbits had attained through their trials.

Lastly I loved how the book tied up all the multiple stories as it drew to its conclusion. Perhaps this was done even better than the movie "The Return of the King." I'll admit I had a few tears in my eyes as I laid the book down for the last time. On top of this there is much more information to be had after the conclusion in the form of many appendices. I really appreciated "Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring."

The bad:

There were some moments, particularly during parts of "The Two Towers" where pacing was a problem and I could feel my eye lids drooping from time to time. Tolkien creates a rich and colorful world but sometimes his descriptive skills were a little overkill. I wanted and expected a little more action than what was present and a little more in the way of conflict between the characters, at least initially in the part of "The Fellowship of the Ring." A minor quibble to be sure.

Often times fantasy novels of this type leave out strong female roles. This too is the case with "The Lord of the Rings." Arwen only mutters a few lines of dialogue in the entire book, Galadriel, whom I loved, is featured little unfortunately, and Éowyn has to hide and masculate (is that a word?) herself when she could have been strong without becoming, to all intents and purposes, a man. I guess the 1950s was a mans world, even in literature!

There are so many locals and characters mentioned in this book that I could understand how it could become overwhelming for a reader. Luckily, for myself, seeing the movies a few times helped me keep most everyone and every place in check.

The ugly:


I'm really glad I took the time to read "The Lord of the Rings," indeed I'm kicking myself a little for taking so long. The story added many new and heavier layers that the movies omitted or shortened; however, there are some occasions where the movies have added new twists to an old story that were better than the book. Apples and oranges I suppose. For my part, seeing the movies first didn't hinder the enjoyment of the book one bit. I maybe wish that I had read the book in its three parts taking breaks in-between with other reads. Highly recommended to fans of fantasy and similar genres or fans of an epic yarn. I intend to read "The Hobbit" before the end of the year (and before the movie opens!).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 1

If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press... well, in my case it's Sunday Stealing.

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. You have 10 dollars and need to buy snacks at a gas station. What do you get?
I'm not sure I could spend that much on "snacks" without grabbing a pack of smokes as well. Usually if I'm in a snacking mood at the quickie mart I'll grab a Dr. Pepper and a pack of Sour Skittles.

2. If you were reincarnated as a sea creature, what would you want to be?
A Giant Squid. Then I could feed on sperm. Whales that is.

3. Who’s your favorite redhead?
Why Kathy Griffin of course! Of the people I actually know I'd have to say my bestie Kim.

4. What do you order when you’re at IHOP?
Usually biscuits and gravy with sausage, hash browns, and eggs, sometimes scrambled and sometimes over easy. If the pumpkin pancakes are in season I'll have those too!

5. Last book you read?
The Poet by Michael Connelly.

6. Describe your mood.

7. Describe the last time you were injured.
Emotionally or physically?

8. Of all your friends, who would you want to be stuck in a well with?
Probably my friend Justin because he's one of the funniest people I know and he would definitely help pass the time until we were rescued. If we weren't going to be rescued I'd pick my friend Timmy. If I'd have to go cannibal it might as well be Asian for dinner.

9. Rock concert or symphony?
It really depends on the band or the orchestral composition. In general I'd say a rock concert.

10. What is the wallpaper of your cell phone? The number? (We'll just say "hi" - promise.)
There is no wall paper on my phone. My number is 867-5309.

11. Favorite soda?
Dr. Pepper if caffeine is needed and Sierra Mist when it isn't needed.

12. What type of shirt are you wearing?
A muscle shirt.

13. If you could only use one form of transportation?
A train or subway. Unfortunately here in Oklahoma City I'd have to go with a car since our mass transportation is a joke.

14. Most recent movie you have watched in theater?
"The Dark Knight Rises."

15. Name an actor/actress/singer you have had the hots for.
Chris Pine.

16. What’s your favorite kind of cake?
Strawberry cake. I have a killer recipe, email me!

17. What did you have for dinner last night?
Blackened chicken diablo.

18. Look to your left, what do you see?
A framed movie poster. It's Peter Pan from its last theatrical release in the early '90s I believe.

19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Not always but often.

20. Favorite toy as a child?
This is really hard. I'd have to go with legos or video games (Nintendo).

21. Do you buy your own groceries?
I hate to say it but usually not. I do a lot of pilfering from the RENTS (parents).

22. Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
Of course! Everyone does it.

23. When was the last time you had gummy worms?
I couldn't say.

24. What’s your favorite fruit?
Probably grapes.

25. Do you have a picture of yourself doing a cartwheel?
Not yet but I'll get right on that!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Impressions

So I got my butt out of bed early this morning to see "The Dark Knight Rises" with the RENTS (parents). I've been chomping at the bit to see the final installment in Christopher Nolan's trilogy, being a big fan of his previous two movies, "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight."

I was a little worried about seating as we got off to a late start leaving the house. Luckily the theatre was actually less than half full and we had our pick of seats. I couldn't help but wonder if recent events with the opening of the movie had something to do with the lack of people in seats. Or it could just be that the movie is showing on a hundred screens at the AMC. In any event it was definitely the least packed "blockbuster" I've seen on opening weekend this summer.

Right off the bat the movie picks up on events left over from "The Dark Knight" and also picks up threads from "Batman Begins" as well. It would be to the advantage of the viewer to screen the first two movies before watching "The Dark Knight Rises" to get a complete picture of what's going on. Having said that I think the movie can pretty much stand alone if necessary.

For anyone who hasn't heard, the movie is 18 hours long. I compensated by slowly sipping my small Coke throughout the movie. Too bad I couldn't get an extra small Coke for twenty-five cents less (thanks Futurama!). I learned my lesson after viewing "The Amazing Spiderman," nearly drowning in my own piss by the end of the movie, not a pleasant feeling.

Once again Nolan did a great job with directing. Everything from the actors to the locations were as realistic as could be considering this is a comic book movie. I was most surprised by the superb job of Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle, a casting choice I thought was dubious initially. In fact she was one of my favorite characters in the whole production among a fantastic cast.

One of the few complaints I would have about the movie was the character Bane. I love Tom Hardy's acting and the character he played in general but I had a really hard time understanding what he was saying throughout the movie. Fortunately this seemed to get better toward the latter half of the film. "The Dark Knight Rises" won't be winning any awards for sound editing.

In conclusion, a fantastic last outing for the "Dark Knight Trilogy." Full of action with a decent story that ties up some loose ends and takes the viewer for a couple of appreciated twists and turns. The series ends well on an emotional high note that I didn't see coming. Go see this movie! I would rate it as my favorite in the trilogy followed by "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." My favorite popcorn flick of the summer. A-

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fuck Rep. Louie Gohmert

"Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said Friday that the shootings that took place in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater hours earlier were a result of 'ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs' and questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter."

Wait, what??


How can the people of the 1st Congressional District of Texas stomach this asshole?

Let the politicization of mass murder begin!

It never ceases to amaze me what people will say on the heels of a tragedy of this kind. Indeed a friend of mine on Facespace said something similar: "Too bad there wasn't someone at that theatre with a concealed carry permit. How many lives could have been saved?" Or how many more people could have been injured or killed in a shootout in a confined space?

What I want to know is why anyone would need an AR-15 assault rifle to begin with and how said person could access a movie theatre so easily?

Tragic and disgusting.


Another nugget from an online "friend":

"Another rampant shooting in Colorado. Wasn't Columbine enough? Prayers and condolences to the families and victims of that fatal tragedy♥ This country has become so desensitized by video game and movie violence, that it doesn't realize that even a PH.D. student like James Holmes can be demoralized by it."

My response:

"Is this a joke? Video game and movie violence is to blame for this disgusting mass murder? The guy is a psychopath and I'm sure he had other problems besides playing Resident Evil or watching rated R movies. And why would being a PHD student raise your estimation of him? People should really think before they 'speak.'"

Monday, July 09, 2012

Animal Crossing: Jump Out Nintendo Direct

Have I ever mentioned I'm an Animal Crossing fanatic? Surely I've mentioned this once or twice. For those unaware Animal Crossing is basically Nintendo's version of the SIMS. I've dropped a ton of hours playing the three installments in this franchise over the years and loved every hour of it.

I finally found a new trailer of the Nintendo 3DS version of the game after being disappointed with zero news at E3 last month. Despite the trailer being in Japanese there's some pretty cool stuff to see.

My impressions:

First, the graphics look pretty good considering this is a game for a handheld system.

It looks like the travel system has gone back to a train, or streetcar perhaps?

At one point someone is toggling through what looks like items that can be place around town outside of the houses, lamp posts, park benches, things of that nature.

Solar panels. Nifty.

From what I've seen of the shops they look about the same as previous versions of the game with the exceptions of a shoe shop and the ability to buy pants at the clothing store, a fun addition.

I definitely spied some new household items and furniture in the game, though that is certainly to be expected.

So, based on this video, the game is going to be more of the same Animal Crossing goodness with some tweaks and a few new revisions. This is totally fine with me as long as the game stays on par with other installments in the series. The best I can guess is an early 2013 release. Bring it!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The Imaginary Meme, Last Part

I thought I would participate in Sunday Stealing this week since I actually like the questions. It's been a while...

181. What's the BEST rock band that you have seen live?
Without a doubt Shiny Toy Guns. I'm still pissed we had to give away two of the tickets because a couple of my friends took a powder.

182. Could you image being in a situation where you would run from the police?
I can and I have though not anytime recently. I hauled ass away from a road block once for obvious reasons.

183. Have you ever been asked for an autograph?
Only to sign various court summons!

184. What would you change about your living room?
I would try to find a way to texture over the wallpaper various previous owners started applying around 1930.

185. Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Always a glass. Plastic is so bad for the environment, I'm looking at you bottled water drinkers!

186. Last hug?
My mom or my great-niece.

187. Have you ever had to make up your mind?
I can't decide.

188. What is on top of your refrigerator?
Two candle sticks and a large decorative plate, moved from atop the dining room table.

189. Did it work out for you in terms of kids? (Meaning how did it work out & are you happy. In other words, from “Have none, wanted none” to “8 kids & 3 grand kids).
Yes. I don't want kids nor do I have kids.

190. Are you afraid of the dark?
No, in fact I prefer it when I'm trying to sleep.

191. What if you had three wishes – what would you wish for?
More wishes.
Enough wealth to be comfortable enough to do what I want.
Long lasting and good health.

192. Do you feel sad often?
Sometimes but not often. I'm usually pretty happy if I stay away from mass quantities of refreshing adult beverages.

193. Have you ever been in lust for an extended period of time?
Yes. Chris Pine.

194. Do you shower daily?
Of course. Sometimes twice!

195. Have you ever prank called someone?
Sometimes when I was a kid with friends. Our favorite was the "Devil's number," which turned out to be a number for a modem.

196. If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
I have a garage and it's pretty clean. All hail big trash day.

197. You are about to die. What do you do with your worldly possessions?
Take them with me of course!

198. Tell us about the first time that you bought a car.
It was a million years ago and I was excited that I didn't need a RENT (a parent) to co-sign for me.

199. What is your favorite type of music?
I actually like all kinds of music with the exceptions being heavy rap and modern country.

200. What’s your family like?
In a word: awesome.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Poet

After reading "The Scarecrow" by Michael Connelly earlier this year I was eager to track down "The Poet" (501 pages). I was finally able to find it on the cheap down at a used bookstore. From Goodreads:

"Jack McEvoy is a Denver crime reporter with the stickiest assignment of his career. His twin brother, homicide detective Sean McEvoy, was found dead in his car from a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head - an Edgar Allen Poe quote smeared on the windshield. Jack is going to write the story. The problem is that Jack doesn't believe that his brother killed himself, and the more information he uncovers, the more it looks like Sean's death was the work of a serial killer. Jack's research turns up similar cases in cities across the country, and within days, he's sucked into an intense FBI investigation of an Internet pedophile who may also be a cop killer nicknamed the Poet. It's only a matter of time before the Poet kills again, and as Jack and the FBI team struggle to stay ahead of him, the killer moves in, dangerously close."

The good:

Since "The Scarecrow" was a sequel of sorts to "The Poet" it was interesting to go back and read about Jack McEvoy's first adventure and see how the traumatic events in the novel landed him in L.A. and his current situation. Though the two novels are separated by eleven years and I read the second book first, this didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story one bit.

Even though Jack's a snake of sorts, being a crime beat reporter, I felt a lot of empathy for his actions even when those actions crossed the line between bringing light on the death of his brother and bringing himself personal glory with a once in a lifetime news story. Jack is pretty much a cynic at heart and I think that before all of his other qualities draws me to his character. Having only read the two novels by Connelly I can't say if all of his characters are rendered this way but I appreciated where Jack was coming from even if is moral compass wasn't always pointing north.

For the most part "The Poet" is a by the numbers mystery/thriller. The first half of the book moves at a sizzling rate, I could hardly put it down, being drawn into the initial investigation. The second half of the book slows down moving the reader through the steps of his and the FBI's investigation. Only toward the very last fifty pages or so does the story really get turned on its head, not once but a couple of times. By the conclusion I was really impressed on where the author ultimately ended up, something refreshing for me considering how many thrillers or mysteries I've read lately.

The bad:

Since the book was published in 1996 there's a lot of outdated technology used by the newspaper and law enforcement agencies during the time. While maybe cutting edge during the time some of it seemed kind of funny to read about at this later date. No cell phones, dial-up modems, hour long information searches, and grossly expensive digital camera technology, not to mention two major print newspapers still being alive in Denver. Appreciate the times we live in folks!

The ugly:

A lot of the subject matter in the book deals with pedophilia, a topic that should always make a reader squeamish.

A terrific novel by a wonderful writer. I enjoyed all 501 pages from beginning to end and really appreciated the curve balls the writer threw at me particularly near the conclusion. Recommended for fans of the genre and to anyone who likes a good read in general. Read "The Poet" and then follow it up with "The Scarecrow!"

Jack Reacher

"When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: 'Get Jack Reacher!' So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep."

The novel that this movie is based on, "One Shot" by Lee Child, is a fantastic story; however, I think Tom Cruise has been insanely miscast as Reacher. In the books Reacher is a mountain, towering somewhere around 6'4" and weighing in at over 250 pounds. His size is partially what makes him such a bad mofo. How tall is Cruise? 5'2"?

In general I like Tom Cruise movies. He's adept at playing the every man. Jack Reach isn't just any run of the mill anti-hero though. I'm sure I'll still catch the movie this winter, even if my interest has waned a bit with the casting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

I have to give my friend Dann credit for recently snagging me a copy of "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister" (368 pages) by Gregory Maguire. I had been wanting to see what else Maguire had to offer besides his "Wicked Years" novels based on the land of Oz. From the dust jacket of the book:

"From Gregory Maguire, the acclaimed author of 'Wicked,' comes his much-anticipated second novel, a brilliant and provocative retelling of the timeless Cinderella tale.

We all have heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty . . . and what curses accompanied Cinderella's exquisite looks?

Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, 'Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister' tells the story of Iris, an unlikely heroine who finds herself swept from the lowly streets of Haarlem to a strange world of wealth, artifice, and ambition. Iris's path quickly becomes intertwined with that of Clara, the mysterious and unnaturally beautiful girl destined to become her sister.

While Clara retreats to the cinders of the family hearth, burning all memories of her past, Iris seeks out the shadowy secrets of her new household--and the treacherous truth of her former life.

Far more than a mere fairy-tale, 'Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister' is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed--and love unveiled--in the most unexpected of places."

The good:

I think Maguire really succeeds in his retelling of Cinderella. Here the read is more like a historical fiction version of Cinderella rather than just a retelling, maybe not as good as "Wicked" but I think a litter smarter.

As usual Maguire's characters are interesting even while they may not always be endearing. The only character in the novel who most resembles themselves from Cinderella would probably be the role of the step-mother but in this tale her motivations and actions could be construed as necessary out of a slanted view of taking care of her family.

A couple of twists during and after the Ball really propelled this novel for me from a three star to a four star review on Goodreads. Luckily Maguire closes the story with most questions answered, something he never seemed to do very well in the "Wicked Years" books.

The bad:

Some of the writing is clunky but not overly detrimental to the story. Maguire is also very proud of his vocabulary skills.

Clara's character (Cinderella) goes through the biggest transformation in the novel yet I like her very little, which was probably the point. She has a minor act of redemption near the end but it's too little too late to salvage any positive feelings for her.

The ugly:

Names and places throughout Holland. Yuck.

A nice little tale about the Cinderella myth. Some readers may be a little disappointed that story pretty much ends at the same place as the original Cinderella; however, there's a nice little epilogue that informs the reader on the outcome of all the major players in the book. Recommended for fans of Maguire and the genre (fairy tale historical fiction?).

The Great Gatsby

I think my high school offered "The Great Gatsby" (180 pages) by F. Scott Fitzgerald as required reading in Advance Placement English during the 9th grade. Since I was in retarded English until the 11th grade I never had a chance to read the supposed "great American novel" until now. From the book:

"The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted 'gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,' it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature."

The good:

I guess Baz Luhrman's upcoming Gatsby film was my primary motivation for wanting to read the novel.

The Jazz Age would be a great time to live in America I think. I've always been interested in this time in American history and culture. How cool would it be to be a bootlegger for Arnold Rothstein? Well it didn't turn out too well for Jay Gatsby...

I found the story very readable considering the era in which it was written. I was hooked after a chapter or two. I enjoyed the themes and found the dialogues very intriguing.

The bad:

Great American novel? More like a novella. At 180 pages this story is pretty lean and could've used a bit more girth. How often do I complain about that in a book?

Most of the characters are unlikable and even down right disgusting (Daisy and Tom). The best I can describe anyone is probably Gatsby whom I just felt sorry for by the conclusion. I'm still not sure what to think about Nick Carraway and his self righteousness, or maybe he was just drunk throughout the story.

The ugly:

There were a couple of lines here and there that to me were very racist. Whether these feelings were Fitzgerald's or his characters I'm not sure.

Old money trumps new money every time.

Again, I really enjoyed the story and interaction between the characters even though most of the characters aren't sympathetic, or at least they weren't to me. The great American novel? Hardly, but there is some good stuff to be found here especially for those interested in America of the Jazz Age. I think the great American novel would include more than just a story about New York's social elite. Recommended.

Monday, July 02, 2012

RIP Gail...

"July 28, 1980 - June 26, 2012 OKLAHOMA CITY Gail, 31, beloved wife, sister, daughter, & aunt, was called home Tues. June 26th by the Lord. Always willing to help anyone in need, Gail will be deeply missed. She enjoyed spending time with her family & friends, swimming, & playing with her 'boo boos.'"


Gail was a wonderful person and a delight to know. I'll miss her infectious laugh and good spirit. She was taken far too early but I'm glad to have known her for the last decade or so. Safe travels my friend...