Sunday, February 28, 2010

6th Annual Cameo Ball ("Post")

I survived having to dress up in a tux and attend the 6th Annual Cameo Ball last night. Truth be told, it was pretty neat. And it was all for a good cause - raising funds for Eve's Place, a sanctuary for women and children who are victims of Domestic Violence. . We even had the winning bid on one of the silent auctions - a gift basket containing munchies and various exotic beers. Liz tried to win four dancing lessons (genre : tangos, foxtrots, waltzes, etc.) but was outbid in the final seconds. . A good time was had by all. I was even coaxed out onto the dance floor for "our song" (Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers). If I get ambitious, I'll put up more details and pics on a separate blog.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday Next - First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

2007; 362 pages. #5 in the Thursday Next Series (or #6, if you count "The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco"). Genre : Fictional Book-Jumping. Overall Rating : 9*/10.
I've switched from the "A through F" rating system to the "Ten Star" one. Why? Because there's something about the rating "A-" that seems disappointing, despite the fact that it means it was an excellent book. I rated this one an integer (9), but I fully expect to get anal with this system, handing out ratings such as "7.426 Stars out of 10".
My review in 50 words or less...
TN-FAS takes place 14 years after Something Rotten. Thursday and two of her literary selves battle baddies, deal with alternative timelines, and book-jump like crazy. Starts slow, but the last 250 pages are fantastic. If you haven't read the earlier books in this series, start with them.
The Last Among Prequels version of this review is here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bon Jovi Concert

Bon Jovi was in town last night, and under no circumstances does Liz ever miss any of their Phoenix concerts. This was their "Circle" tour, and a few lucky ticket-winners got to sit on folding chairs in a circle on stage whilst Mr. Jovi serenaded them from within the circle. No, Liz was not one of those privileged peeps. . I was allowed to skip this concert, as Liz went with a friend. I went with Liz a long time ago to see these guys, and they do put on a fine concert. The problem is that the audience is about 85% female, all of whom are standing up the whole time, shrieking, and dancing around. Not exactly my idea of what to do at a concert. Seeing these guys once was enough for me. . Liz says it was, as always, a fan-freaking-tastic experience. And FWIW, Paul McCartney is here in concert soon. But I get to skip that one as well. I'm sure it will be more dancing, yelling, and swooning. I'll pass.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It was a slow news day...

Muckraking just ain't like it used to be.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Republicans I like

Newly-elected Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and four other GOP senators voted to end the ridiculous Republican filibuster on a Jobs Bill crucial to getting our economy moving again. You can say he's being politically expedient - he hails from a very liberal state, and campaigned on a bipartisanship platform. Still, it's nice to see a Republican who has not yet been lobotomized by the TeaBaggers. . Among the other GOP senators joining him in this burst of sanity was Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), whom I've admired for a long time. . Still, for all extents and purposes the GOP is controlled by the Dittoheads, most of which are too loony to ever get elected (again). Rush, Cheney, and Sarah snicker every time someone takes them seriously. But even they seem a bit ...erm... left-leaning compared to the Wing-Nut pictured below. .

Monday, February 22, 2010

Phoenix 104 - Sacramento 88

It was a perfect evening. Supper at Majerle's, a sports bar owned by former-Suns star Dan Majerle. The food was decent, and we got to watch Arizona State beat U-of-A in collegiate hoops. . Then it was off to the Suns game. We were in the nose-bleed section, literally one row from the very top of the arena, and behind one of the baskets. But the tickets were free, so I'm not complaining. And although there were 17,000+ at the game, there were plenty of empty seats. After 5 minutes, we moved about 15 rows closer, and our collective vertigo went away. . The Kings are a laughably bad team, were on the road, and were playing the second night in a row. We were well-rested and still have Amar'e. So of course, the Kings out-hustled and out-scored us the whole first half. But we turned things around in the third quarter, and put them away in the fourth; and the final score made it look deceptively like it was a romp. . The most-interesting thing for me were the time-out and intermission acts - the things you don't see when you watch the game on TV. There was the Gorilla and his team of gymnasts doing eye-popping slam dunks off a trampoline. There were a bunch of Geezerettes doing a dance routine and wishing they were young again. And there were the "Four Tops Look-Alikes" from the nearby casino serenading us at half-time, but seeming like they would've preferred to be doing something else on a weekend night. . Best of all, Sunday Suns games start early. So we were home in bed, and reading a book by 9:30 PM.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why I'm a Democrat

Sadly, this is not a spoof. . On a brighter note, we're off to see the Phoenix Suns play tonight. Amar'e is still with us and we're playing the lowly Sacramento Kings. On paper, we win by 20. But we shall see.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Food of the Gods - H.G. Wells

1904; 254 pages. Full Title : "The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth". 1967 price (new) : $0.75; used-book price today : $2.00. Genres : Classic Fiction; Early Sci-Fi; Edwardian Literature. Overall Rating : "B".
I think there's only one other book on my TBR shelf that's been there longer than The F ood of the Gods. 2010 so far has been a good year for getting some of the dust-covered books off that shelf.
My review in 50 words or less...
Think "Science Gone Amok". Two scientists synthesize a growth-enhancing compound and test it on hatchlings. But rats, wasps, and earwigs get into the elixir. Rampaging critters ensue. Besides the Crictonesque theme, Wells also examines how life changes because of this discovery. A complex, slow read. But good.
The gigantic version of this review is here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Nite Motivation

You know that there's a great story behind this pic, and that we'll never find out what it is.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

RIF thought for the day

"These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves." (Gilbert Highet) .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

YFKM - Tiger Woods speaks!!

It isn't fair. Tiger "Cheetah" Woods keeps hogging up all the YFKM entries. Today's MSNBC headline is shown below. The article is here. Some predictions are in order. .First, Mrs. Tiger won't be there. She's been positively uncooperative in this whole affair. Second, the "friends, colleagues, and close associates" mentioned in the sub-headline will be thoroughly touched. Tears will flow, hankies will get honked, group hugs will abound, and all of them will have heart-touching things to say to Tiger afterwards, conveniently just loud enough for the microphone to pick up. They're doing the sound-testing even as I write this. . Third, Tiger will tell you he's deeply sorry, but won't say exactly about what. Mostly he's sorry the media won't let this story go. Fourth, he'll tell you that "the overwhelming majority" of the reports of his infidelity are lies, although he won't tell you which ones are true. . Fifth, he'll tell you he's be working very hard to change his lifestyle, but he won't directly reference any of those phony "sightings" at the various sex rehab clinics that were "leaked" by his PR suits over the last few months. You're supposed to make that connection yourself. Sixth, he's going to announce he going back on tour (he needs the money for the alimony payments), but he won't be taking any questions about his personal life because "he's moving on" and wants you to do the same. . Oh and last but not least, he won't be flashing those new pearly-whites much, cuz he knows the gossip sheets are going to be comparing "before" and "after" photos. The implants have apparently healed, but are they really perfect replicas of the ones Mrs. Tiger knocked out? We'll see. . Good luck , Tiger. You scumbag. You can go back to golf anytime you like, but your womanizing is not going to be forgotten. Your integrity, and therefore your endorsement believability is irretrievably lost.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hurricane Punch - Tim Dorsey

2007; 362 pages. Book #8 in Dorsey's Serge Storms series. Genres : Humor, Crime fiction, Beach Novel. Overall Rating : "B+".
A new (at least for me) author. Why am I always the last to find out about laugh-out-loud funny writers like this?
My review in 50 words or less...
What's so funny about a serial killer and a perpetually stoned/drunk sidekick? Lots, actually. A hilarious tour of Florida while staying in the eyes of hurricanes. Obnoxious buttheads are ingeniously dispatched, the cops are outwitted, and a copycat killer is dealt with. Light reading but highly recommended.
The loquacious version of the review is here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

RIP - Pernell Roberts

Pernell Roberts (far left in the pic)
b. : 18 May 1928
d. : 24 January 2010
. Time to start catching up on the RIP's. Pernell Roberts is best known for playing Adam on the immensely-popular TV Western from the early 60's - Bonanza. Adam was the eldest son of Lorne Greene's character, Ben. As can be seen above, Adam was the original Cowboy Goth - a good guy who almost always dressed head-to-toe in black. (*) . In 1965, Roberts left Bonanza after six seasons; claiming (correctly IMHO) that his character was getting shafted in the scripts. In hindsight, it didn't do his career much good. OTOH, Bonanza was getting stale by then too. . Pernell resurfaced in 1979 as the title character in Trapper John M.D. Which stupidly transformed the madcap (movie) M*A*S*H hero into a middle-aged Chief of Surgery in a dramatic series. Amazingly, that show enjoyed seven successful years in primetime TV. . (*) : Okay, Richard Boone's character, Paladin, in Have Gun Will Travel, was also a good guy who also always dressed in black. So there were two 60's Goth Cowboy heroes. . A word or two about Bonanza. It kicked Ratings butt - being the #1 TV show three years in a row. It was sponsored by Chevrolet, and was what every household tuned their TV's to at 9:00 PM each Sunday night. At 7:00 PM, every TV set was tuned to The Wonderful World Of Disney. And for the life of me, I can't remember what aired in between those two blockbusters. The FBI (with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) maybe? The Ed Sullivan Show? Perry Mason? Lawrence Welk? Perhaps it changed from one season to the next. .
They still run Bonanza in syndication, expecially if you have a big-screen TV and get that Western Channel up there around channel 197 or so. The stories are lame by today's standards. (**) But then again, all the other 60's Westerns that are shown on the cable channel are pretty bad as well.
Pernell was the last surviving member of the Bonanza family shown above. And with his passing, a bit of Americana, lame or not, passes into history.
(**) : With one notable exception. One episode featured Hoss crossing paths with a leprechaun. At least that's what he (and you, the audience) thinks for 3/4 of the show. It's an absolutely hilarious episode in the otherwise staidly dramatic Bonanza series.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I spent all afternoon yesterday, looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift. And here it is! .So whattaya think? Cool, huh?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seeing God

What is it with all these people who think God lacks communication skills, and so has to try to get messages to us via supernatural pictures? Here's one from a lady who sees Jesus on the bottom of her iron. Seriously. . Then there's the guy who sees Jesus' face on his driver's-side window on cold, humid mornings. Hmm. Methinks there's a bit of skullduggery going on here. I'm always impressed that when God makes these images, She remembers to use the medieval-type rendering of Jesus - long hair, a beard, very anglo, and very unlikely. .
Here's another message from God, this time putting a cross on a calf. I am not making this up. At least we know this one wasn't faked. BTW, the owners of this calf said they've decided to spare him the slaughterhouse fate, so maybe this is a case of Divine Intervention. .
The problem is - if you've seen too many of these silly images, you start looking for your very own personal pictograph from God. I think this is already happening to me.
For instance, there's this one, which I'm sure is a heaven-sent message that playing NES Mario Brothers is satanic, and that the princess is in another castle.
. And then there's this one, which tells me that Marxism has God's approval. .
So stay alert, cuz you never know when The Creator's trying to get your attention. If images fail, She may have to resort to sending Jehovah's Witnesses to your doorstep.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Today is...

Or, to quote Cherchy LaFemme, from that fantastical cartoon strip, Pogo : "Friday the Thirteenth falls on a Saturday this month!!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Factotum - Charles Bukowski

1975; 205 pages. Genre : Autobiographical Fiction. Overall Rating : "C-".
The sequel to Ham On Rye, lifestory-wise. But actually written seven years earlier.
My review in 50 words or less...
Hank Chinaski staggers from city-to-city and job-to-job, staying drunk and broke throughout, but never getting anywhere. He finds a woman (several actually), but not happiness. A vivid look at Skid Row. A (relatively) early effort by Bukowski, and it shows.
The bada-bing version of this review is here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Valentine's Day is this coming Sunday. Which means 50% of us (that would be all us guys) will be out wandering the malls on Saturday, wondering what in the heck to buy to go along with the Hallmark card we picked up. Without reading it. Hopefully, it doesn't say something like, "To my favorite mother-in-law" or "For my main hunk".

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Un Lun Dun - China Mieville

2007; 471 pages. Awards : NY Times Bestseller; 2008 Locus Award for Young Adult Book. Miéville has won a Locus Award four times. Genre : YA; Sci Fantasy. Overall Rating : "A".
This is (so far) Miéville's only YA book; all his other works are Sci Fi. Wikipedia calls him a part of the "New Weird" literary movement, but their article on that genre leaves a lot to be desired.
My review in 50 words or less...
Un Lun Dun = UnLondon, which is in an alternate dimension. This is a Gaimanesque blend of Through The Looking Glass and His Dark Materials. Breaks all the rules of a traditional "quest" storyline. Written in "English", not "American". It's YA, but for adults too. Miéville roolz!
The yadda-yadda-yadda version of the review is here.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sunday English Lesson

If this is going to be a "one language only" nation, I vote for Spanish.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Elliptical

Santa brought Liz an elliptical for Christmas. To save room in his sleigh, Santa brought it only partially assembled. Santa's elves, who moonlight at Sports Authority, assured me that "it was extremely simple to put it together the rest of the way. Three, maybe four parts maximum." . Santa's elves lied. When I opened it, there were fourteen pages of assembly instructions, and a couple gazillion parts - albeit, that includes nuts, bolts, washers, etc. . I am extremely mechanically uninclined (and disinclined). I can screw in a lightbulb and shoot a staple gun, but that's about it. So this project quickly stressed me out. I've learned there's only one thing to do when that happens. Go to a bookstore for a couple hours and forget about the task at hand. Which is exactly what I did. . Liz, OTOH, is quite mechanically inclined. So while I was gone, she took Phillips screwdriver and Allen wrench in hand (those were the only tools required), and set to work putting the elliptical together. When I returned, she was just in the process of plugging it in and testing it out.
It was three days before she stopped walking around the house with that smug look on her face.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris

2004; 257 pages. #1 National Bestseller, whatever that means. Genre : Anecdotal Humor; Semi-Autobiography. Overall Rating : "C".
January was a good month for reading some books that have been on my TBR shelf for more than a year. This was one of them.
My review in 50 words or less...
22 stories about growing up in a dysfunctional family and coping with a world that is freaked out by gays. Some of the tales are hilarious; some are heart-warming; some are meh. Okay, but Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day are better.
The cowabunga version of the review is here.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

RIP - Tom Parham

Thomas M. Parham, Jr.
b. : ??/?? 1931
d. : 16 November 2008
. I met "Dr. Tom" when my company acquired a slow-release Nitrogen business unit in the mid-1990's. Tom had done the original R&D work for the technology, and indeed his name was, and is, on a number of patents for the manufacture of the compounds. He was in his 60's then, and shortly after joining us, he retired. But he stayed on with us as a consultant, and I took several business trips - to Oregon, to Toronto, and to Ohio - with him. . If you look up "gentleman" in the dictionary, you'll find Dr. Tom's picture right beside it. He loved his family, he loved his hometown, he loved his work, and he loved his Virginia Tech Hokies. He had the ability to find some subtle, mild humor in everything in life. I will miss his warmth and his wit. . But this post is also about technology. Tom finally fully retired in the early 2000's. I kept in touch with him by e-mailing him a "funny" every year or so. He'd respond and we'd catch up on who was doing what. . A few years ago (in 2007 apparently), when I asked him how he was doing, he said, "Not too good." He said he had cancer - I forget what type - and the doctors gave him a year or so to live. A while later (after November 2008 apparently), when I sent him a funny, he didn't answer. I was scared as to what that meant. . I had his telephone number, but I avoided calling his house for fear of what I might learn. And that's the way things stayed until the other day, when I said to myself, "Self. If Tom has passed away, you can probably find the funeral home's notice of it by using the right searchwords to google it." It took me a couple tries, but I finally found it here. And although I'm sad he's passed on, I'm happy to have met him, worked with him, and know a little bit more about his life via his obituary. . I'm also glad we have things like Google, FaceBook, and online obituaries now. I have another "RIP technology" story to tell (which involves Wikipedia), but it will save for another post. Sadly, I have no photograph of Dr. Tom, as our trips took place in the days before the use of digital cameras. But if I come across a pic of him taken by a co-worker, I will post it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wednesday Literary Allusion

Ah, HHGTTG. One of my favorite books, even if the sequels got progessively more ho-hum. The movie was good too, provided you'd read the book beforehand.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Merry Imbolc !!

This is always a day of some contention among some of my multiple personalities. My Beaker People persona celebrates it as Imbolc, and for him it's the day halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It's always a time to look forward to the thawing of the snowy weather. He says the Druids stole the day and profaned it. See here. . My Druid persona calls it Brigid's Day. For him, it's a day to honor Brigid, who among other things, is the patron goddess of multiple personalities, since she had three of them. He says the early Roman Catholic church stole the day and profaned it. See here. . My Estonian freedom fighter, being Catholic, knows it as Candlemas, and lights dozens of candles all over the house to celebrate the visit of Mary with 40-day-old Jesus to the temple for purification, as recounted in Luke. He thinks the Germans stole it a long time ago and profaned it. See here. . My Gnostic persona, thinks it is a day of weather divination, but feels that the idea of Groundhog Day's Punxatawny Phil is just a trifle silly. Now a prognosticating badger, or bear, or even a snake - that's a lot more believable. See here. He thinks Bill Murray stole it and profaned it by making a film, whose only redeeming quality is that involves time-travel. Kinda. . And my Carthagenian general persona thinks all of the above personae are superstitious geese and need to get a life. He kinda enjoyed the film. See here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Jobs that suck

Join the People's Army, and enjoy the perks year-round. .