STICKY

PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy these Reviews, Responses, Works of Fiction, and Retellings brought to you by one who hopes to someday join the ranks of those who have written something worth reading.
(Kaylia Metcalfe)

Higher Hope



Book Review for Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow

On the cover of the book, there is a quote from WORLD Magazine that says “Writes in the style of John Grisham, combining compelling legal and ethical plotlines… but Whitlow has explicit spiritual themes.”

First of all, WORLD Magazine obviously never read John Grisham. Maybe WORLD Magazine read the back of a John Grisham novel and deduced that why yes, this is a book about legal stuff…. Therefore it will be perfectly applicably comparable to any other book about legal stuff. I know this because Whitlow and Grisham have only a few things in common: they both write about legal stuff involving young lawyers and they write based in the South. Other than that? Nope, not so much.

Also, the second part about Whitlow having “explicit spiritual themes” is true… but totally irrelevant. Well, okay, irrelevant in matters of if this book is good, if the characters are compelling, if it is an enjoyable read, if you would recommend it to a friend… because all those things are going to be in or not be in a book with or without ‘explicit spiritual themes’ and I, for one, would like to think that we read books because we enjoy the plot and the characters not because the characters and the author happen to believe in the same spiritual superstitions that we do.

Maybe that’s just me.

Let me put it out there front and center. I don’t agree with the faith or value system of the main character (Tami) in regards to her political views, her gender relations views, her religious views.

But, again, all that stuff is irrelevant because had the book been written well it wouldn’t have mattered. In fact, it still doesn’t matter I just know someone out there is going to say I am picking on this book because I don’t agree with her religious beliefs and since the book is seeped in her religious beliefs, I can’t be a fair judge.

So, let’s take out the religious part. Let’s just look at it in terms of actual literary devices such as narrative devices, narrative flow, character development and motivations. Is the book good based on these criteria?

A resounding No.

Narrative flow is a staple of novels. It is what ties the story together, giving us the information we need to follow along. It is the pacing, the structure of the book and it employs narrative devices like flashbacks, foreshadowing, symbolism, point of view, etc. In this case the narrative flow was constantly (read: practically every other chapter) interrupted by a switch in point of view.

We would have a chapter written in the first person (“I walked down the hall. I felt dizzy with anticipation.”)* from the main character Tami’s point of view. This worked well enough; as readers we perched ourselves in her head and watched the story unfold with all her impressions, thoughts, and emotions laid out before us. She took her place as our protagonist.

Then the next chapter would jolt us out of our comfortable first person view and thrust us into not only a different character’s view… but into the third person omniscient point of view. Suddenly it was “She (not Tami, a different she) sat in her rocking chair and thought about her life. She was tired.”* The other she, Sister Dabny, is not our protagonist but neither is she the antagonist… and she isn’t even a symbolic foil for Tami, she is just another important character.

Now, an intentional play with the narrative structure like this could have worked if there had been a pay off at the end. The switch between two different characters can be done, if done right,,,,, perhaps by being in first person for both so that the story can run on parallel tracks telling the same story from two different sides… which can be engaging. But in this case because we got so much more emotion and general character development (such as it was) in Tami’s case, the fact that we switch to third person for the competing story of Sister Dabny actually stifles the narrative flow taking us out of the story and leaving us bitter and unsettled. At the climax of the book we stay in Tami’s head and then don’t ever go back to Sister Dabny throwing the idea of parallel structure out the window and leaving us thinking Whitlow simply either couldn’t make up his mind or simple didn’t care.

The other thing that hurts this book is the lack of decent character development. Had the story been about a “normal” young lawyer, the author could have gotten away with a bit of sketchiness on the development side of things, counting on our general knowledge of young women raised in the south and such to cover any gaping holes in who she is. But Tami is special… she has this huge aspect of her personality that is driven by a very unique and very not at all mainstream religion that permeates her psyche and dictates her thoughts, feelings, actions. Yet it is never really explained to the reader. We follow her story getting bits and pieces of how her beliefs affect her and the world through her eyes but her actual motivations for believing what she does and how that translates through her actions is lacking.

And then Whitlow breaks his own rules in regards to Tami’s faith.

We have hundreds of pages preaching to us about what she will and will not do because of her belief system… but then there are two examples of her acting so out of character that we either think Whitlow went out to lunch one day and forgot who Tami is or that he was just lazy enough to think he could get away with having her do actions extremely out of character and hope his readers were lazy enough to not notice. The infractions are small enough that they could have gone unnoticed in any other character, but in Tami’s case we spend so much of the book getting beat down by the rigidness with which she lives her life that these moments stand out in sharp relief.

Again, had this been in some way obviously intentional, such as a way of showing the reader that Tami’s beliefs are crumbling or that she is changing; that could have saved it. But there is absolutely no indication of either thing and we are left scratching out heads and being generally frustrated.

And then we have the climax. Or rather, we get about half of the climax. The story focuses on a few things: a case Tami’s firm is bringing against Sister Dabny, Tami’s romantic entanglement with two young (highly unbelievable) men, and Tami’s decision about her career path. Only one of these story lines is wrapped up (and not in a very satisfying manner either) leaving the other two just out there… twitching and demanding attention.

Because of course there is a sequel to Higher Hope, the final page of the book tells us, called Deeper Water and if we really want to know what happens to Tami, if 413 pages wasn’t enough we can go out and buy it!

I think I’ll pass.


Feel free to buy, read, and agree/disagree with me. Oh, and if you have a grandmother like mine, this book might be the perfect birthday gift.






*Not actual lines from the book

Science and Soda

The headline ran: Too Much Cola Can Cause Muscle Problems and even though there wasn't an (Soda Can Kill YOU!) it almost felt like there should be.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the science/media cycle is at it again.




This time announcing the rather obvious fact that "Soda is bad for you!" with an added bonus of "How? Muscle Problems" and in the third sentence the phrase "serious paralysis" is used. Because if the scientist have taught us anything it is that when it bleeds, it leads in the world of the media.

Please note: I am not a scientist… I am just a reader of the news who occasionally likes to stretch my critical thinking muscles. Oh and I sort of have this odd vested interest in keeping my body healthy so even though I only rarely drink soda, I clicked on the article not sure exactly what I would find but at once willing to believe that soda can in fact cause muscle problems and also being wary of how such a claim was going to be proven.

Let me break it down.

Our bodies need potassium. We can’t have too much or too little, but like porridge, chairs, and beds we need to have an amount called in scientific terms “just right.” We get potassium by eating food with potassium and then our kidneys (nifty little buggers the kidneys) filter out the excess and send it off to be disposed of leaving us in balance.



If, however, our kidneys aren’t able to do this job whether by some imbalance in the body or by an external stimulus, then our level of potassium changes. If it gets low enough to bypass the label of “low potassium” it reaches the level called hypokalemia of “H!” for the duration of this blog post because I am tired of Microsoft telling me I don’t know how to spell.

Ways one could be put at risk for H! include;
• Taking certain antibiotics (carbenicillin, gentamicin, amphotericin B)
• Taking certain drugs, called diuretics, that can cause excess urination
• Prolonged Diarrhea (including the use of too many laxatives, which can cause diarrhea)
• Having diseases that affect the kidney's ability to retain potassium (for example, Liddle syndrome, Cushing syndrome, hyperaldosteronism, Bartter syndrome, Fanconi syndrome)
• Having eating disorders (such as bulimia)
• Eating large amounts of licorice or using products such as herbal teas and chewing tobaccos that contain licorice made with glycyrrhetinic acid (this substance is no longer used in licorice made in the United States)
• Excessive sweating
• Excessive vomiting
• Kidney problems
• Lack of enough potassium in diet (rarely)


Now you will notice that several things on that list would already have you under the care and supervision of a doctor. Also, even though we take in potassium via our foods our kidneys are equipped to take care of the balancing for us, so eating an unhealthy diet (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway) will put you at risk but not nearly as big of a risk as say having one of those diseases or being one of those medications listed above.

In other words, while serious, H! isn’t sneaking around just waiting to attack you.

Now having H! can be a bad thing… there are a myriad of symptoms and such. What you need to remember before I helpfully list them for you is that every disease has a whole slew of possible side effects as do most things in life including vitamins, antibiotics, and generally living life. But here are the bad things that can happen should you get H!

Symptoms of H! include:
• Abnormal heart rhythms (dysrhythmias), especially in people with heart disease
• Breakdown of muscle fibers (rhabdomyolysis)
• Constipation
• Fatigue
• Muscle weakness or spasms
• Paralysis (which can include the lungs)


In severe cases, patients can develop paralysis that can be life threatening. H! also can lead to dangerous irregular heartbeat. Over time, lack of potassium can lead to kidney damage (hypokalemic nephropathy).

Again I want to point out that these symptoms are on par with anemia, caffeine withdrawal, hang overs… in other words lots of other things as well. (well ok maybe not that last one).

And the cure? An easy regiment of potassium supplements. Ta-Da!



Ok, got all that? Still with me?

Remember soda?



The article that started all this ,by the way, did not bring up any of that… instead it provided the following;

Elisaf [Mr. Science for the piece] said the three most common ingredients in cola -- glucose, fructose and caffeine -- can contribute to hypokalemia.

Notice the word "contribute" not the word "cause" Ok… fair enough, how?

"The individual role of each of these ingredients in the pathophysiology of cola-induced hypokalemia has not been determined and may vary in different patients,"

Oh. Wait.. What????

"However, in most the cases we looked at for our review, caffeine intoxication was thought to play the most important role. This has been borne out by case studies that focus on other products that contain high levels of caffeine but no glucose or fructose."

So… you are saying that one of the three ingredients has been linked to case studies…. That… say that that ingredient can contribute to H!... and since it is also in cola, then consuming cola can then also increase your chances of H!.

Anyone else see a bit of a problem with Elisaf?

Ok, to be fair, I am sure that the research was balanced and through and had a good sample size and such right? Right?

[R]esearchers conducted a review of people who drank between two to nine liters of cola a day.
Two of the patients were pregnant women who were admitted to hospital with low potassium levels.
One was a 21-year-old woman who drank up to three liters of cola a day and complained of fatigue, appetite loss and persistent vomiting. An electrocardiogram revealed she had a heart blockage, and blood tests showed she had low potassium levels, the researchers explained in a news release.
The second pregnant patient, who'd consumed up to seven liters of cola a day for 10 months, had low potassium levels and was suffering from increasing muscular weakness, the researchers noted.
Both patients made a rapid and full recovery after they stopped drinking cola and took oral or intravenous potassium.


I didn’t think we need any more testing to tell you that drinking that much soda a day is beyond stupid. (and while pregnant? Even stupider.) Apparently I was wrong. Newsflash: Soda is bad for you.

So, the article? A waste of my time. But the research for this rant about the article… well, hopefully not.

Is there a link between soda and low potassium? It looks like there is a slight one, but one that needs more testing. If you are drinking that much cola then you should already be aware of the fact that you are harming your body.

Less soda, more of this:



However, if you do end up with low potassium will you get H!? You might if it goes untreated for long enough. If you get H! will you suffer from muscle issues? You might… again depending on how long you go untreated.

So sure, drink enough soda and jump through the other hoops and you could get H! and then of course you would DIE and we would all nod sagely and say ‘Ahh yes, another death due to soda. If only she knew that soda was bad for her. If only someone had done a study and written an article or something….’



Medical stuff found here.

A Tale of Never Mind

So, I have an admission to make.

I didn’t finish Tale of Two Cities.



In fact, I didn’t even get half way through Tale of Two Cities.

Because… wow did that book (at least the first six chapters of it) royally bore me to tears.

And my time and eyesight is limited.

And I am the proud member of three book clubs.

And I have a stack of books to review, books that y’all might actually be interested in reading.

And I am working on what will hopefully be the final story in the collection.

So, I made the executive decision to quit Tale of Two Cities and devote my time and energy to things I will actually enjoy. I didn’t think you would mind.

Yes, I still plan on reading titles recommended by the 501 book...



...but I reserve the right to pass or quit reading any book that either looks horribly uninteresting or which bores me to the point of tears.

In other literary news, you can click here to read my review of Don’t Call Me a Crook



... and if TV is more your thing or if this guy looks like he might be your kind of thing....



...I have a review of his new Fox show Mental up over here.

Happy Thursday!

Mental

What’s the point in reviewing something everyone has read already, seen already, decided upon already?

It’s still fun!

But today I am going to review something a bit new… the pilot episode of Mental, a new medical show from Fox (home of that other medical show: House) that just premiered because lets face it, the summer rerun season is here and isn’t yet another medical show what every television network needs? (especially the network that is home of House.)

No? Well ok… I’m sure this medical show will have a totally new twist, a cast of characters so new and unique, a premise so smart and edgy that we, the audience, won’t be able to resist. And I am sure it will have nothing in common with Fox's other medical show; House.

Or not.

We join Dr. Gallagher (Chris Vance) who is a British hotshot maverick of a doctor who seems to like showing off his body and who has just started his new job running the psych unit of a large hospital in LA after only running a clinic in Vermont. (The Vermont angle is repeated so many times I figured the state paid for product placement.) Fish out of water meets hunky doctor who likes to break the rules… oh and has a bit of lust for his boss who might dress like the JC Penny’s version of Dr. Cuddy (from House) with the chest size to pull it off, but really is no substitute.

The similarities don't end with a flirtation to the boss and the desire to ride a bike (not a motorcycle like House but still a bicycle in LA) Dr. Gallagher seems to have more than a few things in common with Dr. House complete with wide eyed lackeys (doctors who play detective) who don’t understand his methods but admire his results and a tendency to do things his own way… such as get totally naked with a patient in order to win the much sought after element of trust.

Trust indeed.

Before the credits even roll I am drawing House parallels left and right with a few Lie to Me parallels thrown in for good measure and being secretly glad that the lovely Jacqueline McKenzie has made it back to the screen, as Dr. Gallagher's buttoned down foil, after The 4400 went kaput. (The 4400 by the way is an excellent sci fi show and should not be missed… check out the miniseries, you won’t regret it.)



Ahem, back to Mental. The show is okay… Dr. Gallagher butts heads with McKenzie's Veronica over whether routine or reality is a better form of therapy as expected. The show also has its moments of connection (throw cute kids into the mix and there you go) and a few moments of queasiness (the leering med student for example).

Can I go off on a tangent? What is it with people (doctors) on TV breaking and entering without any sort of repercussions. Doctors Without Borders has nothing on the crop of Doctors Without Permission. Do the ends justify the means? (Wait, this show is on Fox, home of 24 and Jack Bauer's Torture Always Works and the end so totally justifies the means that you better not even bother to ask... never mind, I withdraw the question.)


Gah, whatever. The show wants to celebrate both rational treatment and out of the box thinking, we are encouraged to feel bad for a dead cat (and dead spouse) collector, and we get glimpses of what the mental patients see and experience. As shticks go, this is well, sort of new. We get not so subtle ploys for emotional intrigue (someone has cancer, someone else has a sibling with a mental disorder Shocker!) but on the whole the show leaves little impact on the viewer after the end credits roll.

I may or may watch more episodes… chances are that had it started its run during the regular season it would have never seen the light of day but because of the summer schedule, it might have a chance. (But really, why not just watch House reruns and use the summer to catch up on your Netflix queue... or watch Glee!)

Despite the handsome doctor



(former Whistler from Prisonbreak... another Fox show where the ends always justify the means) and the always engaging Jacqueline McKenzie...



...I almost hope the show will fail so that they could be cast in something more worthy of their talents and my time.

Still Not Equal.

And again we take a step in the wrong direction.

There might be silver linings regarding the marriages that already took place.

But still.

I am again disappointed and dismayed with my state.

CA and NH: Hope and Sighs

The California Supreme Court has announced that it will rule Tuesday, May 26, 2009, at 10 am, on whether Proposition 8, which passed in November by a slim majority of voters (4%) and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, was a valid amendment to the California Constitution.
.
The court will rule on these questions before the judges.
1. Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to, the California Constitution?
2. Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?
3. If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

I don’t need to tell you which way I hope they rule.

And I am sure there will be plenty of talk about it in the blogosphere on Tuesday.


On the same token, interesting news from New Hampshire.

Apparently the state’s House and Senate approved a bill allowing same sex marriage that was rejected by the state Governor and sent back for a vote with some new language added in. The vote on the amended bill fell two votes shy of passing keeping same sex marriage still illegal in NH.

What, you may be wondering was the new language that the governor wanted added in? The governor (John Lynch a three term Democrat) said he wouldn’t sign the bill into law until it contained “the strongest and clearest protections for religious institutions and associations, and for the individuals working with such institutions."

In other words protection for religious groups so that they can “decline to take part in any marriage ceremony without incurring fines or risking lawsuits’

Which, ummm, Duh!

Don’t religious groups ALREADY have the right of refusal? The Mormon church won’t marry you (or even let you inside the Temple) if you aren’t Mormon, the Catholic church won’t marry you unless at least one of you is Catholic… and even then if it is a mixed marriage you have to get married on the church steps and are not allowed to take your vows up at the alter.

No problem.

I, personally have absolutely no issue with a religious group or the designated “holy” person from said religious group refusing to do one of their sacred rites with or for a nonbeliever. Just like I wouldn’t expect a Pagan Priestess to baptize me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I would also never ask a Pentecostal minister to partake in the sacred ritual of Beltane.

Again, duh!

Now, things would be different if there weren’t alternative ways to get married… if say a clergy person was he ONLY legal way for two people to tie the knot that would be a whole different kettle of fish. But we have judges, we have ships captains, we have “progressive” preachers… if you want a religious ceremony you CAN find someone to marry you to your beloved even if you are of the same gender. If you want a wedding and don’t need it to be religious then you have even more options.

So, again… why does this need to be implicitly stated in the law itself?

Either there are gay couples who are going to be petty enough to raise this issue or the governor is being preemptively petty… either way I think it is a colossal waste of time and effort.

Of course, that’s just me.

Dear House and Senate of NH,
Your governor is being slightly twitty but perhaps he is just trying to stop some mindless stupidity later on. Get over it and pass the darn bill.
Sincerely,
A CA resident


/bangs head on desk.

Grandma Awesome

I spent an hour trying on jeans this morning.

I hate trying on clothes, jeans especially because every darn brand has a different scale system meaning that I can’t just grab a handful of size 7s and wing it, I have to grab 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s and hope that I managed to match the brand of “We are going to make our sizes small to make you feel better” with the right number and the “We only do odd/even numbers to mess with your head… they really have no bearing on your waist size at all hahahaha” group.

After failing miserably with jeans I tried on dresses, skirts, sweaters,a nd tops… all of which took their turns getting tossed into the “reject” pile on the dressing room bench.

Needless to say I left the store disgruntled and feeling fat, flabby, and frumpy.

A few hours later I was watching Castle in a coffee shop (my apartment is without power while the PG and E guys make all sorts of fun noises all up and down my block) and still feeling slightly body conscious and quasi body issue depressed. I sipped my decalf white mocha (with nonfat milk and no whipped cream) and nibbled on my organic yogurt with fruit and granola while trying to ignore the pastries and cookies that taunted from the other side of the room.

On my computer screen the delightfully yummy Nathan Fillion (Castle on the aforementioned show) has a scene with his 15 year old daughter… trying to help her pick out a dress for prom. He keeps telling that she is beautiful and she keeps telling him he isn’t helping. Her grandmother (one of the best parts of the show played with charm and spot on perfection by the beautiful Susan Sullivan) enters and tells Daughter that the dress she is currently wearing is horrible, giving her something else to try on.

Castle is perturbed, “Do you want to give her body image issues?” he asks.

Her response is one of the best summations of women and body issues that I have ever heard… here it is:

Grandma Awesome: “Newsflash, she already has body image issues. It’s an intrinsic part of being a woman. Every woman in the world has issues. There is always some part of her that she absolutely hates; her hands are too small, her feet are too big, her hair is too straight, too curly, her ears stick out.. “ (glancing at herself in the mirror and giving herself a playful smack on the rear), “.. oh god, her butt is too flat, her nose is too big… and you know, nothing you can say will change how we feel. What men don’t understand is that the right clothes, the right shoes, the right make up, it just hides the flaws we think we have. They make us look beautiful to ourselves, and that’s what makes us look beautiful to others.”

Spot on Grandma Awesome, spot on.

Glee

Every now and then something comes along that I almost miss because I think I already know what it is.

Today it was Glee.



I had seen the promos and I had rolled my eyes… a musical comedy? Set in a high school? Gee… where have I heard of that before? Now, unlike many many people here in the States, I have avoided High School Musical in all its conceptions like the plague (except for the South Park parody) and I had no misgivings regarding that fact.

Glee looked like more of the same. Also, most of the “teen angst” shows on television do nothing to stimulate my interest. Gossip Girl? The Hills? Puh-leeeeze, take a pill and call me when you graduate and are in a show that matters.

But boredom can be a catalyst for greatness and so today I watched the pilot episode of Glee via Hulu.com.

Wow.

Yeah the story is a bit contrived, yeah there is a slight (ok more than slight) after school special vibe… but the performances are really great and the cute little moments help keep the cheese factor at a tolerable level. There is also the matter of a stellar cast!

The show centers around a group of misfits who somehow come together in the high school’s glee club. It is the quintessential whole is more than the sum of its parts with a dash of high school cliques are evil and not everyone fits into a little box. Decent enough messages.

Will it last, I have no idea, I loved Firefly and look where that got me, but until it takes its final bow, I will be an avid supporter and gleeful spectator.

Glee!

Every now and then something comes along that I almost miss because I think I already know what it is.

Today it was Glee.



I had seen the promos and I had rolled my eyes… a musical comedy? Set in a high school? Gee… where have I heard of that before? Now, unlike many many people here in the States, I have avoided High School Musical in all its conceptions like the plague (except for the South Park parody) and I had no misgivings regarding that fact.

Glee looked like more of the same. Also, most of the “teen angst” shows on television do nothing to stimulate my interest. Gossip Girl? The Hills? Puh-leeeeze, take a pill and call me when you graduate and are in a show that matters.

But boredom can be a catalyst for greatness and so today I watched the pilot episode of Glee via Hulu.com.

Wow.

Yeah the story is a bit contrived, yeah there is a slight (ok more than slight) after school special vibe… but the performances are really great and the cute little moments help keep the cheese factor at a tolerable level. There is also the matter of a stellar cast!

The show centers around a group of misfits who somehow come together in the high school’s glee club. It is the quintessential whole is more than the sum of its parts with a dash of high school cliques are evil and not everyone fits into a little box. Decent enough messages.

Will it last, I have no idea, I loved Firefly and look where that got me, but until it takes its final bow, I will be an avid supporter and gleeful spectator.

Don't Call Me a Crook

book Review for Don’t Call Me a Crook.




Reading a memoir offers the unique experience of seeing someone’s life through their own eyes…. Which can be both a good and a bad thing. First off the conversational tone used in Don’t Call Me a Crook flows easily and keeps the reader engaged. On the other hand the story meanders along like a drunken fable, keeping in chronological order sure, but also recounting the matter of his life in what can only be described as a bragging tone of juvenile triumphs. With the same laid back air of one discussing the weather Bobby talks about violence, death, theft, and the engines of ships. He clearly isn’t looking for approval but an audience who would be shocked and held in awe for all his many adventures. What he doesn’t realize that while we might listen with our mouths slightly ajar, it is more with a dawning horror than a growing sense of admiration that we finish his tale.

As a reader of mostly fiction (and occasional writer of the same) I always find myself looking for the hidden meaning, the sense of symbolism and subtext that can turn the average story into something of fine literary merit. Considering the source material for this book I was surprised to find a current of human nature and human tragedy woven into Bobby’s recollections that I think totally escapes the author himself.

Bobby is a sociopath.

Of course, he doesn’t start off that way; he starts off as a frolicking fun loving chap who might lack for a clear focus or direction in life but who’s charm and is on par with an excitable puppy. His early adventures, or misadventures, involve a sort of mischief and whimsy. The things he swipes and the ways in which the swiping occur are entertaining and we neither fault Bobby nor really hold him accountable.

But something changes… Soon Bobby’s adventures take on a sinister edge, a violent streak and an acceptance of the darker parts of human nature. The scariest part is that Bobby himself is unaware of either the shift or that his current activities aren’t on the same forgivable level as his earlier mischief.

Watching the boy become the man and the man slowly turn into the monster while knowing that he is unaware of any change is a sobering experience. One reads the second half of the book wondering how far Bobby will go. The reader wonders if Bobby will see the error of his ways and if redemption lies in the epilogue.

The answer is no.

It is a big leap from petty thief to murderer but Bobby makes it without batting an eye. His lack of guilt and subsequent actions leave little room to doubt his severe disconnect from his fellow human beings.

By the end of the book I was mesmerized but not in the way I think Bobby intended. The story ends almost abruptly and one knows that Bobby went on to have more adventures. In a sick way I wanted to know what happened next while at the same time feeling relieved that I wasn’t going to be party, even by proxy, to Bobby’s crimes.

Honestly, I enjoyed reading the book even if it did wander on and on a bit toward the end where Bobby at last succumbs to the easy to fall into trap that threatens every memoir or biography; eventually the story turns into nothing but a long list of “And then I did this,” followed by “After that, I did this” with no overriding theme or sense of intended cohesion except of course that it is our narrator who is present in all the adventures.

This is a trap, as previously stated, that is not only common but easy to fall victim to and thus I am willing to make allowances for it. The book was published in 1935 by a small publisher and perhaps we might forgive Bobby for not being a literary marvel… it is enough that he is a good storyteller.

Even if the meaning of his story is beyond him.




Feel free to read the book for yourself and let me know what you think!

Let the 80s Rest In Peace

I have seen the new Star Trek twice now...



(GREAT movie by the way)

...and both times I was mildly perturbed by the previews. Wanna know what's coming out? Nothing new. Let's see.... Transformers 2, GI Joe, another Terminator..... Yep, all revamps reboots and retellings. Which isn't shocking since a) I was there to see the "new" Star Trek and b) people in their 30s and 40s with all the marketing money seem to have a severe case of Nostalga-cide. Meaning that they get all nostalgic for things that well, were fine when they were. Seriously people, we don't need a CGI version of the Smurfs. Or a redo of Footloose. Let the 80s rest in peace!

Maybe that's just me. If you want to scrap creativity and retool things stick to doing it when it makes sense. Instead of revisiting the well of what was popular in the 80s, why not use the magic of the movies to enhance current stories or to showcase stories that just make better films than books. Examples? Sure. The Harry Potter series is a good example of a book series into a movie series that is entertaining both ways but actually made better movies. The special effects really add some, err magic to the whole experience. The Twilight series on the other hand should have stayed as books... or better yet stayed the daydream of a sexually frustrated nitwit. Either way.

Ahem, another example would be the Dan Brown movies (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons) ... Dan Brown is a horrible writer but his movies are flights of fun fantasy that entertain and whatnot, so more power to 'em.

Other books I think would make good movies?

Armor: Yes it has similarities to Starship Troopers, but I think they could make an awesome action movie based on this book.




The Wolf's Hour: Werewolf and secret agent... what's not to love?




Jennifer Government: This could actually make a pretty decent TV series as well with the right writers.




Cast of Shadows: DNA, test tube babies, killers, the question of nature vs nurture, and an expansive MMORPG that could be shot is some funky animation? Cool! (And yeah, the title is kind of lame, but the story was well put together.)



The Once and Future King: Yeah I know they have tried to do this story a number of times... but after the Lord of The Rings, I have more faith that they could do a decent job with this story.





Y'all have any suggestions?

In the meantime, I will keep reading… Oh and today I am lucky enough to be seeing the original Matrix movie on the big screen for free. Swag baby, swag is a good good thing.

Here is the way the Matrix should have been shot..... I give you, The Muppet Matrix!

Back in the Saddle

Hello faithful blog readers and also those of you who might have stumbled upon this entry by accident.

I have been away (again!) from my blog but this time I have the excuse of moving and be very very busy with both work and having this thing called a social life. Yeah, it’s pretty nifty. Well the social life part anyway, the job part is just daily thankfulness to have a job and the move was… well… exhausting.

But I am at last all moved in… into a tiny little one bedroom near downtown and not too far from the beach. Not that I have had a chance to go to the beach since moving… but it has only been four days so I think I deserve a bit of a break on that score.

I am not only all moved in with all boxes unpacked and all books on shelves (separated and sort of organized) but I also am the proud owner of a new coffee table and loveseat thanks in part to goodwill and in part to my new Santa Cruz buddy Lance who helped me carry the loveseat (a delightfully dense piece of furniture upholstered in bright red and orange and brown checkers) the five blocks from the Goodwill to my apartment. We made quite a spectacle of ourselves passing the Greek festival let me assure you. I thought my arms were going to fall off… yeah I am stronger than I look but I had also been carrying boxes and or moving furniture for almost five days solid by that point. Seriously my arms? They deserve some TLC.

The love seat by the way is now covered with something a bit less garish and more dark blue so as not to offend the eyes of any possible visitors.

My apartment is great… I mean, it has its issues like the fact that there is no storage or counter space at all in the kitchen, the fact that the bathroom sink is sort of rotting in the underneath parts, the fact that the laundry room is verrrrry creepy, the fact that when my neighbor takes a shower the walls of my bedroom hum a bit…

Really though, I am loving living in Santa Cruz.

And I miss bloging and now that the move is done and the story collection is almost done, I have no more excuses and I will be writing here a bit more frequently again.

Aren’t you excited?

Stay tuned for a few new book reviews, a TV show review, posts about food and life, photos of Santa Cruz, and my meandering thoughts about sex, religion, faith, the idea of ‘respect”, weddings, “being the bad guy”, rebooting franchises, being there for someone, letting go, graduations, baby fever, and all the other random things that I have started to blog about in my head over the past week….

Until then, be good and stay safe.

State of Play

I saw State of Play over the weekend thanks in large part to the mention give by Mr. B.

(I love Mr. B’s blog, you all should check it out.)

Anyway, here are my humble thoughts regarding State of Play.



Great! Compelling! Interesting! Thought Provoking!

The movie starts off with a bang.. or rather a nail biting foot chase that has all the classic sort f chase moments of the runner knocking into people, causing great loud crashes of miscellaneous items and then getting from a rather crowded downtown area into a dark and pretty darn empty alleyway in seconds flat. What happens next is shocking and yet completely predictable. I think this sums up the movie pretty well actually. There were times of pretty sever intensity, where I was on the edge of my seat, along with moments o “A-ha!” and twists being unraveled… all in a back drop of a semi predictable “journalist must find the truth” sort of story.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The interaction between Crow and McAdams was fine if a little cliché and Ben Affleck delivered as always a solid performance. The fact that his college sweetheart wife (Robin Wright Penn) looked just a shade too old for him wasn't even as distracting as it might have been with less talented actors.

What I found most interesting about the movie was, as is often the case, the story that underlined the whole thing. In this case the point was of "Trying to do the Right Thing" with a sprinkle of "Unintended Consequences" and just a dash of "What is the Real Story Anyway?"

The real story is sobering, frightening, and highly noteworthy.

In other words, should you wish to avoid the crowds of Star Trek, need a bit more substance than Wolverine and want a thinking movie that will make you feel... check out State of Play.

This post will be crossposted over at Perhaps We Learned Something....

Review: State of Play

I saw State of Play over the weekend thanks in large part to the mention give by Mr. B.

(I love Mr. B’s blog, you all should check it out.)

Anyway, here are my humble thoughts regarding State of Play.



Great! Compelling! Interesting! Thought Provoking!

The movie starts off with a bang.. or rather a nail biting foot chase that has all the classic sort f chase moments of the runner knocking into people, causing great loud crashes of miscellaneous items and then getting from a rather crowded downtown area into a dark and pretty darn empty alleyway in seconds flat. What happens next is shocking and yet completely predictable. I think this sums up the movie pretty well actually. There were times of pretty sever intensity, where I was on the edge of my seat, along with moments o “A-ha!” and twists being unraveled… all in a back drop of a semi predictable “journalist must find the truth” sort of story.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The interaction between Crow and McAdams was fine if a little cliché and Ben Affleck delivered as always a solid performance. The fact that his college sweetheart wife (Robin Wright Penn) looked just a shade too old for him wasn't even as distracting as it might have been with less talented actors.

What I found most interesting about the movie was, as is often the case, the story that underlined the whole thing. In this case the point was of "Trying to do the Right Thing" with a sprinkle of "Unintended Consequences" and just a dash of "What is the Real Story Anyway?"

The real story is sobering, frightening, and highly noteworthy.

In other words, should you wish to avoid the crowds of Star Trek, need a bit more substance than Wolverine and want a thinking movie that will make you feel... check out State of Play.

This post will be crossposted over at Perhaps Reviewed...

Gratz Maine!

Way to Go Maine!

/claps
/jumps up and down

/giggles with glee

Promotional Backlash

Whether you are atheist, agnostic, pagan, or any of the many "other" form of religion/non religion masses.... here is something to think about.

Our government should not promote religion.

I don't just mean it shouldn't promote one religion over another... but that it shouldn't promote religion at all. Period.

Churches and faith groups can do a fine job promoting themselves. They don't need government interference and aid in the matter.

Why am I concerned about this? Keep reading....

On Thursday, May 7, 2009, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus will hold a press conference in Washington, DC to launch a new effort at passing the "America's Spiritual Heritage" resolution, formerly known as HR 888.

Introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA.), the measure would put Congress on record to "Recognize that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions..." It would also decree establishment of a "Religious Heritage Week" "for the appreciation of and education of America's history of religious faith."

First off, despite popular opinion and an amazing marketing campaign, this country wasn't founded on faith.

Secondly, I have no problem with people being taught about different religions and non religions and yes they should be given equal weight in my opinion) but this "Religious Heritage Week" doesn't sound fair or balanced. Will they educate about Native American religious practices? Will they discuss with equal vigor the Quakers, the Amish, the Pagans, the Atheists? Or will it be an orgy of fundamental Christian hyperbole that will focus on the "us vs them" mentality that in my opinion is so dangerous?

We obviously don't know for sure (yet) but by looking at the people involved with setting the whole thing up, I rather doubt an open and inclusive history is forthcoming.

For example...

Among those slated to appear at Thursday's conference are Gary Bauer ("American Values"); Maureen Wiebe (American Association of Christian Schools); Wendy Wright (Concerned Women for America); and William Murray (Religious Freedom Coalition); and James and Shirley Dobson (Focus on the Family). The event is schedule to coincide with ceremonies marking the National Day of Prayer, a Dobson-run event.


Day of Prayer: A rant for another day.

Anyway, if you are like me and concered about this, below are some things you can do about it.

Legislators, particularly Congressional representatives in the House, need to hear from America's Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists other secularists, people of faith and anyone who thinks that our governement should NOT be involved with the promotion of religion especially in the form of a one-sided "history" that ignores the important role of the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State. This bill is also being seen as a reaction to President Obama's recent statement in Turkey to the effect that America is not a "Christian nation."


LEARN MORE:

Visit the American Atheist web site and Dave Silverman's NO GOD BLOG for more background on this story. The full Resolution text can be found at the Congressional Prayer Caucus web site.

CONTACT CONGRESS:

Send letters, faxes and E-mails to your Congressional Representative. Better yet, call. Visit this site for a complete listing, or the office of the House of Representatives site over here. Be concise and polite. Tell your representative that this bill is a ploy to promote a "revisionist" view of American history, and that it does not mention the many negative effects religious orthodoxy and strife have had in our nation! Point out that government has no proper role in promoting religion, or a biased and un-balanced view of American history. Ask for a written response from your representative!

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS:

Join the conversation at the NoGodBlog, do a write up in your own blog, make a passing comment on Twitter, update your Facebook status with something relevant....

Thanks for reading,

Fancy Shoe Fashion Faux Pas

Lady O!



(not to be confused with Baby O…)



… who would probably appreciate it if I called her something more “big girl” and less “baby”, but whatever.

Anyway, Lady O! was seen at a charity event recently sporting shoes that are estimated to sell for over $500.



Yikes.

I know that one must dress to impress and that wearing fancy clothes is a staple of most of the people in the spotlight… but really?

Over $500 for these?



They aren’t even that cute!

Tsk Tsk Lady O.

New Poet in the House

Britain has a new Poet Laurette.

Her name is Carol Ann Duffy.



She is the first woman British Poet Laurette.

She is also a single mother.

She is also openly gay... another first for the post of British Poet Laurette.

You can read more about her here and here.

Below is her poem Talent.


Talent by Carol Ann Duffy

This is the word tightrope. Now imagine
a man, inching across it in the space
between our thoughts. He holds our breath.

There is no word net.

You want him to fall, don't you?
I guessed as much; he teeters but succeeds.
The word applause is written all over him.




A mighty Pip! Pip! for Carol Ann Duffy!