Friday, May 28, 2010

Updates! Updates! Get Your Writing Updates!

Remember that one time I started writing this crazy long modern-epic poem thing called The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria?  And how week after week I happily put up canto after canto?  The story grew and grew and I was loving every minute of it, absolutely enjoying myself writing the tale.  I created an entire outline so I would know exactly where my narrative was going, and then wrote a couple thousand words for my background information.  Heck, I even created a Wiki for the stuff.

Well, it’s been a month since my last post.  And for anyone that has been reading the thing, I humbly apologize.  See, I could say that I’ve been gone on vacation and that my USB has been lost, so that’s why there haven’t been any more updates.  But that’s not the truth.  No, the truth is that I got a little bored with the story.  It’s the same old thing that happens with all of my writing.  Just like my NaNoWriMo novel last year, I started off strong, and then by 25000 words or so had grown weary of my story.  It happens all the time.  That’s why I think short-fiction, like say flashfic, short stories, or novellas, is more my thing.  At least for now.

But I’ve not given up on Oscambria.  No, I’ve just taken an extended break from it.  It’s still a story I want to finish, and I’ve put a lot of work into it, so I suppose I will.  And when I do, it’ll be back up here on my blog.

In all that, a new idea presented itself to my wandering mind.  I started writing a short story a little while back, and I’m happy to report that I’m almost finished with the first draft of it.  I am pleased to say that I am very proud of it and that I will be rolling out the thing as a new Writing Wednesdays feature over the next few weeks.  In addition to the story, I’m also going to be adding up an audio version (like I did with “The Testimony of Goodwin, P.A.”) with each story piece of the story.

The current working title for the piece is “The Bombing of Morrta,” but that could easily change.  In a nutshell, it’s about a man who has made a cataclysmic decision and learns to live with the consequences of it.  Like I said, I’m very happy with the results and quite eager to share it with the few of you who read my fiction.
I hope you all read it and offer some constructive feedback.  Tell me if something doesn’t make sense or if something is too confusing.  Am I too wordy?  Let me know.  The whole thing should be around 10,000 words, so it shouldn’t take too long to finish.

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend, folks.  Be safe.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heavy Rain and Firefly

Heavy Rain Without going into too much detail, Heavy Rain is a groundbreaking game.  It’s ingenious, even.  Like many games before it, every choice affects the overall story, some causing little ripples in the yarn and others completely changing the outcome.  There are four main characters, each with different things going on in their lives.  Gameplay is essentially controlling everyday actions of the characters, from cooking food to taking a shower.  You control what they say, what they think, and how they act.  Basically, it’s a very personal and engrossing game, and I can’t help but feel connected to these people. 

A serial killer, dubbed the Origami Killer, has kidnapped one man’s (Ethan) son.  He gets a box full of clues that pose the question “how far would you go to save your son?”  Meanwhile, a private detective is investigating the killer by interviewing past victims’ parents.  Another character is an FBI profiler, and the last is an insomniac woman.

I haven’t played the game much, actually I’m only a few hours in, but I’m already loving it.  I’ve never been so tense and cautious about my characters.  See, in Heavy Rain, there are no do-overs, no restarts.  The game saves automatically after everything, and if one of the characters die, the story continues on.  This may cause you to miss vital clues to unraveling the Origami Killer’s identity, or it might result in the death of Ethan’s son, but it doesn’t matter.  To my understanding, the game can be completed with any combination of any characters surviving, from all to none.

heavy-rain-4 I say all this because as I was playing last night, I had two moments that made me shake my head and groan.  First, I was playing as the insomniac for the first time, and she woke up during the middle of the night.  She walks around the apartment, trying to get sleepy.  After a shower she steps out of the bathroom and something runs across the screen.  She notices the fridge door is opened and she tenses up.  In these tense moments, the character’s thoughts and actions are very important, but they’re also more difficult to control.  Menus get blurry and shaky, and it’s a bit harder to decide what to do.    She goes to close the fridge, freaking out but thinking she’s dreaming from her lack of sleep.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t, and some masked men suddenly attack her.  I start fighting them, but miss a few buttons off and on.  Eventually I run into a room and look for something to defend myself, but someone sneaks up behind me and slits my throat.  I can’t describe the sickening feeling in my gut knowing that I just killed a main character the first time I used her!  (Thankfully, that’s not all to the story, so I’ll keep the rest a secret.)

The second thing involved the FBI profiler.  He entered a man’s house to ask him some questions.  The guy is a bit loony, evidenced by a house full of crucifixes hanging everywhere and covering every square inch of the walls.  Eventually the agent’s partner threatens the man to try and get a confession and the man feels scared and pulls a gun on my partner.  I pull a gun on him and we’re in a bit of a stand-off.  This guys convinced my partner’s the antichrist; I’m trying to talk him out of it so no-one gets hurt.  All the while, the only thing keeping the man alive is me not pushing the R1 button.  After several very tense moments of conversation, I convince the man to put his gun down and turn around to be cuffed.  At this moment I turn to tell Keisha something, as she’s engrossed as well, and the music suddenly tenses.  I look back to the screen and see the R1 button still up, and not thinking, I press it, instantly putting a bullet through the now weaponless man.  The shock on both my face and the character’s face was identical: open mouthed and silent.  I honestly felt horrible after killing the man, all because my lack of focus.

I don’t know how my game will end.  There are like nine different endings or something for Heavy Rain, and I plan to try and play through them all.  For now, I’m stuck with my actions, and hopefully will find out more later on tonight.  If you’re looking for a game that’ll keep you glued to your seat, Heavy Rain is it.

fireflyFirefly is one of the best television shows ever, and currently Amazon is running a special on the Blu-ray set.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to get it, as it’s only $27 for the entire series, and that’s 60% off the list price.  If you’re looking for a great deal on this series and you have a Blu-ray player, you might want to check this out before the deal expires.  Anyway, I need to get a Blu-ray for myself, cause the only ones at Stewartland right now are Snow White and New Moon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Untitled Poem

blank stares and
half-way smiles
i'm gonna write a song for you

pounding heart and
a mouthful of lies
i'm gonna write a song for you

raspy breathing and
fluttering chest
i'm gonna write a song for you

shortened toes and
enlarged breasts
i'm gonna write a song for you

itchy palms and
painful fingers
i'm gonna write a song for you

broken hearts and
bumblebee stingers
i'm gonna write a song for you

brittle bones and
leaking veins
i'm gonna write a song for you

body's full of
different pains
i'm gonna write a song for you

I’m not really sure if I like the repeating “i’m gonna write a song for you” line.  I think something else would sound better, but I just can’t figure out what.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Vacation, Conclusion: Grand Turk, Sea Day, Miami (Days 6-8)

Beach View Grand Turk is not a very large island.  Really, it’s not that impressive, either, unless you’re able to snorkel or dive.  The beaches, although very pretty, are very coarse and rocky.  Still, one can’t complain while on vacation.

The Glory arrived about an hour late.  Shopping was first on the itinerary, as the shopping district is quite small.  A few deals and bargains later, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville served an expensive—but nourishing—lunch.  Conch was sampled for the first time, and it tasted almost exactly like clams from Long John Silvers.

Next came the beach.  An hour or so navigating through the stony sea bottom, watching the fish swarm around feet.  Cheerios attract them, and larger swarms form.  All are quick and small, like little blue and silver streaks of light through the water.  Then came the beach lounging, coupled with reading and talking.

The time spent on Grand Turk amounted to just over a handful of hours.  Still, it was nice to see the island.

***

Right Before I Turn into Superman The following day tea time was observed in the afternoon.  A variety of teas were offered, along with a large choice of desserts.  Lunch on the main buffet was chocolate themed.  There were scores of different chocolate pies, cakes, drinks, fruits, ice creams, etc.  Quite a sweet and tasty lunch.  Later in the day a galley tour took place, giving the passengers a glimpse at what goes on inside the kitchen and just how much food is needed to provide for the ship for a week.  The numbers are astounding.  Finally, the day ended with a show that displayed the karaoke talents of some fellow passengers, which was quite fun and enjoyable.

***

Sunday, 5/16/2010, and the Glory is back in Miami.  Going through customs and getting back to the vehicle is much easier this time around.  The car is loaded and the long drive back home begins around ten in the morning.  Driving through the day is much easier than starting at night.  Florida, sadly, still takes a very long time to drive through.  A bargain bookstore in Georgia advertises very cheap books ($2.99 or less), and that claim was investigated.  Indeed, deals were found.  And, several hours later, several pit stops later, two novels later and five pounds heavier, Stewartland came into view, bringing an end to the Vacation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost Rehash: “The End”

LostTheEnd It’s still very hard for me to put into words exactly how I feel about the end of LOST.  A one word descriptor would be “perfect.”  Part of me wants to give it a little more time before thinking about it.  Heck, I lay awake last night for a while thinking about it and what it all meant.  In short, this post will just be a brief rambling of my thoughts.  It’s also a memento to a wonderful series that has finally came to a close.  Heck, it’s also me closing a chapter in my life, as cheesy as that sounds.  I’ve been with the show since it started, and it’s been huge, so for me, the finale was rather momentous.  It was odd watching the last show, knowing that it was going to end and this would be it.  To celebrate, I had a finale party, where I made a DHARMA themed pizza (seen below)!

What Happened, Happened

  • The Island was real.  Oceanic 815 crashed in September of 2004.  The survivors struggled against insurmountable odds and mystical elements to stay alive.  People found joy in life on the Island, despite the hardships.  And in the end, through time-travel and magical deity things, through pain and death, through choices right and wrong, one man found himself and learned to let go.
  • The Flash-sideways was a type of limbo.  It’s purpose was to serve as a place for the survivors to meet up and move on together.  Christian said it perfectly.  “There is no now here.”  Some people lived long lives (like Hurley and Ben) before they died and entered the FS.  Others died on the Island (Jack, Charlie, etc.)  And some people weren’t ready to let go and move on from their limbo (like Ben, Faraday, etc.)
  • Michael and the other whisperers are noticeably absent from the FS.  But, taking Michael at his word, he’s condemned to the Island because of the wrongs he’d done.  He’s unable to pass on.
  • The ending scene has been speculated for a while, with Jack laying down in the bamboo grove and closing his eye.  Still, seeing the look of euphoric happiness on his face as he watches the Ajira plane fly overhead was a powerful scene.  I think that everything we’ve seen on the Island has been one big flashback, beginning with Jack opening his eye in “The Pilot” and ending when he closes it in death.  It’s like the “life flashes before your eyes” saying, and Jack is seeing his life unfold before him.  Again, the joy on his face of seeing his friends leave is moving.
  • Desmond’s line was spot on.  Truthfully, it didn’t really matter about Jacob and MiB.  All the mythology and craziness of the Island was not important in the end.  Ultimately, what mattered was Jack’s choice to sacrifice himself for the Island and for the people he’d grown to love.
  • The reunion with Christian was also predictable, but again, it was very powerful.  For six seasons Jack has been chasing his father, trying to put him to rest, and finally he get’s his chance (sort of).  I liked the symbolism of the empty coffin, of how death really wasn’t a constraint.
  • I love it that Hurley wound up being the ultimate replacement for Jacob and that Ben got to be the Richard-like advisor.
  • The Jimmy Kimmel Live special afterwards was pretty good, too.  Rather funny, I say.
  • I liked the cliff-side fight between Jack and Locke.  Beautiful scenes.
  • Initially I thought that the losties would be moving on to the Island, but I think that is completely incorrect now.  They’re moving on to the afterlife, to the final destination, and it’s important that it’s left ambiguous on the show (since the show was very pan-religious and cross-cultural).
  • I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like in this episode.  It was handled wonderfully, and the cast performed brilliantly once again.  It’s sad to see such an excellent group of actors bid farewell to the Island, but I’m excited to see where many of them go.
  • I’m still not entirely sure what the Island is, why it’s special, and a few other things, but I’m satisfied with that, too.  There’s no real reason in knowing.  Like life, we experience so many things that are beyond our control and we don’t understand them.  That’s what happened to the survivors.  Their lives took them to some faraway Island that was crucial for the fate of the world, but ultimately, they all died.  And really, the character journeys from being lost to found were the important things in the show, not the crazy Island.
  • Thanks, LOST.  Thanks for being an excellent show.  Thanks to the wonderful actors, brilliant writers, amazing directors, beautiful musicians, and everybody else responsible for the series.  It was an awesome ride that is going to be sorely missed.DHARMA Swan pizza, uncooked
    Cooked Namaste!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Special: A Confession and Two Excellent Stories

It’s not often that I have a post on the weekend, so when I do, it’s because I’ve got something awesome to share.  And that awesome thing?  Why, it’s a confession, of course.  I’ve harbored this secret for far too long, and I feel it’s time to get it out in the open.

Ready?

I hope you don’t hate me…

I’m in love with Combos.  The pretzelly, cheese filled snacks.  Man oh man do I love those things.  Way too much.  Maybe more than I love Chex Mix.

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So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on to the meat of the post.  I’ve recently read two excellent stories and I want to share them with you fine folks.  The first one, The Horrid Glory of Its Wings, is a short-story featured on Tor.com right now.  That said, it’s a top-notch story that was harrowing.  I read it with fascination and growing curiosity, wondering what was going to happen, all the way up to its powerful conclusion.  It’s kind of hard to describe, but it was awesome.  The second tale, a bit of flash-fiction, comes from fellow blogger Jay from Descending Thoughts.  Check out his exceptional story The Ticket Out.  I love the way the story is told, how it unfolds and engulfs the reader.  And, as a flash-fic bit, it’s a very short read.  And if you like Jay’s story, you should read his other flash stories.  All have been great.

Seriously check them out.  Both stories are short and definitely worth the read.

Oh, did you read Bryan Allain’s Books I Didn’t Write #006 on Thursday?  It cracked me up.  That guy is way too funny.  He basically finds a picture, creates a title for the picture, and then writes reviews over the fake book.  The results are hilarious.  My favorite line was an excerpt from the book: “He loved the smell of grain in the morning. The way the pungent odor brought life to the sinews and marrow of his being. The way his brain would instantly start firing off ideas for the day. The way it instantly created an insatiable hunger in his belly for a bowl of Trix.”  Yeah…  Check it out.

On a side note, I’m rather excited about the new collection of stories coming out that’s edited by Neil Gaiman titled StoriesIt’s getting quite a bit of hype.

On another side note, Dave, if you’re reading, did you finish Warriors?  Was it worth the read?  It seems like you did a mini review of some absurd story, but I cannot recall if you did the entire book or not.

On yet another side note, I’m almost out of Combos!

And, worst of all, my USB stick is still AWOL.  That’s bad, cause it’s got most of my writing on it.  Sure, I’ve got some stuff backed up, but this drive contains the most recent versions of my stuff, especially the flash-fiction and Oscambria.  I really need to find it.

I’m very ready and excited about the LOST finale tomorrow.  I hope you are, too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Vacation, Part Three: San Juan, PR (Day 5)

He woke up early Thursday morning.  He had to.  The Glory would arrive in San Juan at 7:00am, and he didn’t want to miss anything.  He roused his wife, Keisha, and together they ate their free room service breakfast.  Shortly, they were both ready to debark.

Wall Stepping off the ship, Logan Stewart was instantly drenched in sweat.  The heat and humidity of San Juan was in that perfect stage, the one that no matter what, you’re always going to be uncomfortable.  He took his wife’s hand and they navigated through the throng of people waiting to go on an excursion.  They had their own thing to do, thanks to a recommended walking tour found on the Triple A website.

“Taxi!” a local called. 

“Hey mon, need a taxi?” 

“TAXI!”

He just shook his head, declining, pressing on and out away from the crowd.  Up ahead he spied the little building he needed to find.  The tour would start at a City Info building.  From there, the route pretty much followed the cobbled streets along the walled city, all the way up to El Morro, an ancient fort.  Then the path would lead through the city district, through historical sights and shopping, and up to the castle.  He read over the tour briefly, powered on his camera, and began.

San Juan is a fortified city.  Giant walls surround it, erected a few hundred years ago.  Walking down the path beside the walls, Logan couldn’t help but think about sieges and old wars.  He marveled at a beautiful sculpture, camera flashing.  The trees were all different, like they almost belonged to a rain forest (which could be possible, as the only rainforest found in the US is in PR).  They pressed on and suddenly came to a stop.

“It’s the feral cats,” said Logan.  He pointed to the handful of cats that blocked the path.

“Can I pet them?” asked Keisha.El Morro

Logan shook his head.  “No.  You don’t wanna get Puerto Rican Cat Scratch Fever.”  They stood there for a moment, taking a few more pictures, waiting for the cats to move.  There was another group of people following the same walking tour, looking at the cats.  Logan watched them turn up and into the city, and he quickly followed.

Inside the walls they made their way much quicker.  Logan talked with the other travelers, who jokingly made fun of their accents.  “Apparently,” thought Logan, “our Kentucky voices are more recognizable than I thought.”  They saw a few more cats, but ignored them.  And soon, El Morro was in view.

The scene was breathtaking.  Logan had never seen anything like it in his life.  High atop a beautifully manicured green hill sat the fort.  On the backdrop was the mighty ocean, waves breaking and crashing against the rocks below.  Children were flying kites high in the sky.  He walked up the hill and paused outside the fort, wondering if this was the oldest manmade structure he’d ever seen.  Inside was like stepping into another world.  Cracked and aged walls, narrow steps, cannons and cannonballs.  He climbed to the top level of the fort and the view was breathtaking.  He could see all around the city, the colorful little houses and the large government buildings.  At a far, remote corner of the island was a small, run-down home that used to house lepers.  Set against the ocean was a large cemetery, quite different than the kinds in the States.

Before he left, he talked to a local about some island history and also where to find some good, local food.  The man marked a location on his map, and soon the couple left the fort.  They found the downtown shopping area and Keisha immediately began exploring the factory Coach and Doonie & Bourke stores.  Like with the rest of the islands on this trip, prices can be negotiated and nothing is set in stone.  They walked down the narrow streets, stopping at whatever stores struck their fancy, until they found Los Yeyos, the local restaurant.

View From the Bathroom at El Morro The owner was nice, and the food fantastic.  The little building was small and blue, just like something you might see in a Bourne movie.  After lunch, Keisha wanted to hit some more shopping, and Logan followed.  The weather was still very hot and sticky.  Eventually they made their way to the castle, high up on another hill, and they took more pictures.  Tired, not wanting to pay the entrance fee, and late in the day, Logan decided not to go in.  Instead, they made their way back towards the ship.

It was hard, walking past the beggars and panhandlers.  He felt conflicted, wanting to give, but wondering if they were conning.  He boarded the boat and checked back in.

The night was rough.  The winds were still strong and the waves still very choppy.  The boat rocked back and forth.  Keisha became very nauseous and went to bed early.  Logan saw a few people clutching their stomachs, trying hard to fight the seasickness.  He himself never felt threatened or sick, but the rocking was disorienting enough to cause a slight headache.  He decided to skip the midnight Mexican buffet and went to bed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Vacation, Part Two: St. Thomas, USVI (Day 4)

Dearest Rememorandom,

You won’t believe the incredible sights I witnessed here on St. Thomas today.  It’s been such a trying day I scarcely know where to begin.

The boat was supposed to arrive at 8:30 this morning, but due to an emergency medical evacuation of some passenger, we didn’t exit the boat until almost noon.  The evacuation was rather exciting, seeing the helicopter from the USCG fly out to meet us.  I stood in a parlor and watched through the glass ceiling as a man lowered himself down a rope and landed on the roof.  After that I stopped watching, but I daresay it was quite a sight!

StThomas06 But enough of that.  You want to hear about St. Thomas, eh?

After a dreadful debarkation process, we quickly boarded a taxi/open-air bus that took us across the island to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Megan’s Bay.  But I get ahead of myself.  St. Thomas is quite different than Half Moon Cay.  See, the island is very hilly and steep, not to mention much bigger.  The taxi ride was heart-pounding.  The vehicles all drove on the wrong side of the road, and everybody honked at everybody and everything.  I kept the video camera on nearly the whole trip, and you’ll have to see it when I come home.  Finally, though, we made it to Megan’s Bay.

Meh.  Even if National Geographic says it’s super beautiful, I didn’t think it was any prettier than Half Moon Cay.  Sure, it was nice looking, nice enough that there were some people getting married down the strip.  And the actual beach itself was enormous, but I just wasn’t as impressed with it as I was the day before yesterday.  Locals were charging to rent beach chairs and the food was absolutely ridiculous ($10 for a cold sandwich!), so Keisha and I just walked down the sand and collected some shells and swam for a bit.  It rained a bit off and on, but that wasn’t much of a bother.

After a time, the taxi was back for us.  Another rise in blood-pressure later and we were stopped at a beautiful lookout point.  We took some photos and then headed to the downtown shopping district of St. Thomas.  Keisha was excited to see the discounted jewelry and to haggle with the jewelers.  See, here in these islands you can negotiate a price and everything is relatively cheap, compared to back home.  Well, Keisha picked out a diamond ring that she liked and the jeweler casually told us the price: $25,000.  Casually, as if we had that much money, we declined.  My heart fluttered more here than in the taxi, I do believe.  Most jewelry was much cheaper than in the States, but still everything was more than we wanted to pay, so we didn’t wind up getting anything.

StThomas18 We walked through the open-air market, killing time and waiting for the taxi to take us back to the port and the other shopping district.  I had another rum & Coke, but that turned out to be a bad idea on an empty stomach.  When we got back to the other side of the island we rejoiced at seeing a Wendy’s.  Furthermore, it was reasonably priced, and we had lunch at 4:45pm.  Afterwards we felt much better and hit up the few shopping places that were still open.  (Apparently St. Thomas closes at 5:00 for the most part.)

I bought some excellent priced liquor: 3 bottles of rum and 1 bottle of vodka, all for $40.  (As it turns out, liquor and tobacco are very cheap outside the States.)  I’m not really sure exactly what I’ll do with it, but I imagine it’ll last for a very long time.  We didn’t buy much else, and headed back to the boat to the Glory to get ready for our super elegant dining night in the Emerald Steakhouse.

The Emerald cost $30 each, but the meal mimics a New York elegant dining experience.  It took over two-and-a-half hours to eat our five course meal, complete with a visit from the chef himself.  I tried escargot as an appetizer and found it very tasty.  I had a 24oz. porterhouse that was quite delicious.  For dessert I got a cheesecake that was probably three inches tall.  All in all, the meal was definitely worth the price.  Definitely.

Tomorrow we’ll be hitting up San Juan, and we’re both pretty excited about that.  I’ve included in the photos some spectacular pictures of a sunset here in the ocean, a few more shots of St. Thomas, and one very nice picture of me with my normal, crazy hair.  Do share them with all your friends, Rememorandom.

Always faithfully,

Your maker and creator,

logankstewart

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Vacation, Part One: Miami, Half Moon Cay, Sea Day (Days 1-3)

HalfMoonCay04 As many of you know, I’ve just returned from a seven day Caribbean cruise.  Keisha and I drove 17 hours, from her college graduation in Louisville, KY, to the Port of Miami in Miami, FL.  The boat was scheduled to leave at 4pm on Sunday, May 9.  The trip would include a stop at a private island in the Bahamas on Monday, a stop at St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands on Wednesday, San Juan Thursday, and Grand Turk on Friday.  We would return to Miami at 7am on Sunday, May 16.  As you can imagine, the week was packed with activity, but I managed to find some time to rest and relax as well.

Summing up my trip should take three or four blog posts.  There will be many pictures (I took over 2Gigs of them!), but I’m only going to include some of my favorites here on the blog.  I figure I’ll populate the posts with various pictures and include a slideshow (no more than 30 pictures or so, hopefully) at the end of each post that contains a few extra photos of the featured islands.

I can’t decide how to write these posts up.  I’m thinking I may switch different point of view styles for each post: 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person limited.  Should be fun.

Hopefully these next few posts aren’t too unbearable. 

*****

I arrive at Miami around 11am.  The heat is 30 degrees warmer than in Kentucky and I turn on the air.  Eventually I spot the CRUISE PARKING sign, and we take our shuttle over to the Port.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Hundreds upon hundreds of people of all nationalities and languages.  Finally we get through security and into the queue to board the boat.

The Carnival Glory is like a building that an move on the ocean.  The thing is humongous, and I don’t use that word lightly.  We’re hungry, and the boat already has a buffet set up for lunch.  We step on board and as soon as I see the lobby I’m instantly reminded of The Poseidon Adventure.  I start thinking about shipping disasters and entertain the thoughts for a few seconds.  But we press on, determined to see the room before we find the buffet.

The room is small.  Very small.  Large enough for a king size bed and that’s it.  I look longingly at the bed, exhausted from driving, but my stomach points out that I can sleep later.  Food is more important.  We meet our room steward, Gede, and head out to find the food and explore the boat.  The narrow hallways take some getting used to.

HalfMoonCay01After feasting we head to the top deck and watch Miami disappear behind us.  The ocean—mighty, powerful, immense—opens up all around.  It’s exciting.  Soon it’s time for a safety drill, followed by a quick shower and the evening dining experience.  We meet our table mates and indulge in fine dining.  Thoroughly worn out, we head back to the room and quickly fall asleep.

I wake up refreshed and ready to see Half Moon Cay.  We dress and head up to the breakfast buffet to watch the island draw nearer.  The turquoise blues I see are the exact colors I wanted to see, like they’re something out of a dream.  Half Moon Cay is a private island, owned by the Carnival Corp.  There is no place to dock, so we have to take small tender boats from the Glory to get ashore.  The tender ride over is beautiful.

Stepping into foreign soil for the first time is not a smooth process.  A pack of people are all trying to find their excursions or what not, including me.  We see our excursion line and take a small shuttle to a different location on the island.  The excursion is called the Eco Lagoon Tour.  I see the boat we’re taking, a little thing that can hold no more than twenty or so, and take a seat.  Our guide, a native that commutes daily to give these tours, is fun and loud, able to answer any questions we may have. 

I’m amazed by the clarity of the water.  Not just the clarity, but the colors.  Maybe it’s because Kentucky is landlocked and these things aren’t familiar.  Maybe it’s the buried artist inside me.  Whatever it is, everything I’m seeing is like a view of paradise.  Fish and starfish and coral and many other things open up beneath the glass bottom of the boat.  I can’t help but take pictures of everything I see.

An hour and a half later the tour’s over and we’re back at the main area.  Carnival is having a BBQ on the island, so lunch is provided.  After lunch, we spend the rest of the day on the beach.  The water is much colder than I expected, but it warms after a few minutes of staying in.  The beach is fun and beautiful, but eventually it’s time to head back to the Glory.

HalfMoonCay14 On board we explore more of the ship and its various stores, theatres, bars, etc. We go to a Motown tribute show after dinner.  I decide to try a drink I’ve been wanting to try, a Rum and Coke, and find that I like it quite a bit.  Keisha gets some pretty drink.  Sleep calls again, and I give in.

Today is a Sea Day, meaning the ship is en route to an island so we’re going to be on board all day.  There are all sorts of activities to do.  The day begins at 9am, where we flip on the tv and watch the cruise director’s morning show.  He asks a trivia question and Keisha calls in and wins a photo album, a medal, and a 24 carat gold plastic piece of ship on a stick.  Needless to say, that is pretty cool.

I spend the morning following Keisha around in the stores.  After lunch there are two shopping talks about how to shop on the islands.  Everything is tax and duty free on these islands, so we can get some exceptional deals, and Keisha is pretty excited about seeing some jewelry.  I skip out on the second talk and hang out on the upper deck, relaxed and reading. 

Tonight is the first elegant dining night.  I put on my suit and tie, dressed to match Keisha.  She looks very beautiful.  We stop by the casino, since neither of us have ever been to one, and lose a quick $30 in the slot machines.  That’s enough gambling, so we head to the dining room.

Everybody is dressed fancy.  We take our seats and check out the menus.  You’re allowed as many appetizers, entrĂ©es, and desserts and you want on the boat, and since it’s formal night, I figure I’ll get multiples, especially since I’ve never had lobster before.  The meal is great, and our head waiter, Sudana, is hilarious.  He’s from Bali and is not afraid of putting on a show.

After the meal we head to the bar for a piano sing-a-long, but it turns a bit vulgar after 11pm, so we decide to leave.  We head up to the open deck and hang out.  It’s been a windy day, and the upper decks have been closed.  The rockiness of the ocean has been felt a bit, but it’s not been too bad.  I stare out at the inky black waters, feeling humbled and awestruck.  It’s amazing just how big the world is, and how small and frail we are in its wake.  I think about how big God is.  I think about how dark it would be if the lights were all off on the ship.  I ponder these things for a while, even after we’re back in our room.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Hunger Games, A Review

TheHungerGames The world is changed, yet eerily familiar, in Suzanne Collins’ fantastic novel The Hunger Games.  In the country of Panem, Katniss Everdeen is getting ready for the Reaping.  Every year, children between the ages of twelve and eighteen have their names put in a lottery.  Two names are selected from each of the twelve Districts, one boy, one girl.  The twenty-four people are then rushed off to the Arena in brutal combat on live television for the pleasure of the citizens of the Capitol.  And while the Capitol people laugh and bet on the odds, the rest of the people of Panem watch on, rooting for the success of their district’s tributes, and praying that their kids will make it through the fray.  These Games serve as an annual reminder of what happens when you go against the Capitol.

Collins has constructed a mesmerizing world filled with characters to love and loathe.  The people of the twelve districts are burdened and oppressed.  Food is always scarce.  Freedom is severely limited.  Panem is not a pretty place to live, unless you live in the Capitol.  Many of the ideas aren’t necessarily original, but the story is so well done and well written that it’s impossible not to like. 

Katniss, a 16-year-old girl, lives in District 12 with her mother and her little sister.  She spends most of free time illegally hunting and using the game to provide for her family.  Her life is hard, but manageable.  Her father died in a mining accident, leaving her mother a shell of a woman.

I find it difficult to say a lot about The Hunger Games without going into spoiler territory.  I haven’t cared about characters like this in a long time.  Katniss is an excellent protagonist.  Smart and witty when she needs to be, but still a teenager, occasionally thick-headed and silly.  In fact, every character in this book is one of high quality imagination.  The Tributes are all pitiable, but highly intriguing.  The supporting cast—Cinna, Haymitch, and even Effie—all appear like real people that have cares and worries.

The plot is very fast paced, told in a first-person POV through Katniss.  I read the book as an audio copy and thought it was well done.  I was eager to pick the story back up and see the fates of the people I’d grown to care for.

I can’t think of anything that I disliked other than the fact that some of Katniss’ realizations sometimes take too long to come to fruition.  Then I need to remember that she’s a young girl with a lot on her mind and I shrug it off.

Overall, The Hunger Games is an amazing read.  Characterization is top-notch.  The writing style is very smooth.  The word usage is often spot-on and perfect.  And the story is simply breathtaking.  If you’re looking for something dystopic, totalitarian, and post-apocalyptic, then definitely read The Hunger Games.  Or, if you just want a great book to read, this is it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Live from OBKY, LoganKStewart in “I’m Back”

Let’s reason together for a moment.

I have returned from the Great Cruise Vacation Getaway alive and well.  My freckled body is a bit more freckled.  My deflating tummy is now back up to normal, a good six pounds or so higher than before I left.  In fact, I suppose my stomach will be reeling from all the foods I ate for quite some time.  Or maybe from the Taco Bell I had on the Drive home… 

Regardless, I’m now back in beautiful, rainy, cool-weathered Kentucky.  I drove the entire 17-18 hours yesterday.  It was much easier this time around, since we left in the early morning as opposed to in the evening.  At 2:30 this morning a giant bat flew across the road and thumped heavily into my windshield, which startled me a bit and prompted me to raise a hand up defensively for some reason.  We got home a little after 3 O’clock and got to bed just after 4am.  The fence people were supposed to be at Stewartland to start at 7am this morning, and I had to be at work around 8ish, so I got up at 6:30, made some coffee, and called the fence folks.  They said since it was rainy they’ll have to wait and see if it clears up and try later.  So you know what I did?

I watched LOST

Yep.  Since I missed an episode on the cruise, I needed to catch up.  So I grabbed my coffee and watched the episode, which was great, just in case you were wondering.

And now I’m writing this post.  There’s a lot to report here on Rememorandom.  I’ve got a book review of The Hunger Games to write up.  I’ve got a week’s worth of cruising and island-hopping to cover.  I’ve got to finish Catching Fire and put up that review.  I really need to put up another Canto to “The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria.”  I’ve got blog comments to read and attend to.  I’ve got blogs to catch up on.  I’ve got a Google Reader account that’s terrifying to contemplate.  I’ve got a catalog of emails to go through.  And I got a reunion with my two little puppies here later on today.

Lots to do.  I imagine I’ll be recovering from my lack of sleep for a day or two.  There’s just something about a long drive that fizzes out your brain a little.  But, importantly, I’m back home and back in to real life again.  I feel refreshed and excited.  I feel like I’m forgetting something.  Let’s see where this goes, eh?

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time…

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday: The Skull

The skull stared at Dennis Nelson like it had something else to say.  As if a two hour dissertation about the mechanics of a proper bank robbery wasn’t enough.
    “What?” he asked, not the least bit ashamed of his outburst.  The dumb thing ought to know when to shut its mouth.
    The skull coughed.  “You know, Dennis,” it continued, “you really ought to work on that temper.  What if you lost it one day?”
    “What you mean, Andy?  I don’t have a temper!  I’m just mad at you, always treating me like I’m a big baby or something.  Like I dunno how to think on my own.”
    Andy tsked.  “Really?  Is that how you feel?  I’m sorry.”
    Dennis couldn’t decide whether or not his friend was condescending or serious, but he didn’t think his Andy would intentionally upset him.  “No,” he said, forcing the lie up and out like a fizzy belch, spurting out into the open air for all the world to hear.  Or, in this case, just Andy.  “You’re my best friend, and we know each other better than that.”
    “Good,” replied the skull.  “But you really should work on that temper.  An important element in good thievery is the ability to keep ones cool.  Like I always say, plan for the best, prepare for the worst, and pray you don’t get caught.”
    The two chuckled.  They were sitting in a dark and cool cellar basement.  The HQ, as Dennis liked to say.  Papers of all sizes lined the table in various piles of disarray.  A large blueprint map hung neatly on the far wall, red scribbles covering it.  The skull was resting on a large mound of dollar bills.  Just for fun, Andy had put two stolen rings in its sockets.  They glinted softly in the chilled room.
    “Well,” Dennis said, yawning.  “I guess that’s about it then.  I’ll get the rest of the stuff we need tomorrow.  You go through the fine details one last time, and we’ll be all set.”
    “Sounds good to me,” the skull answered.
    They talked late into the night, dreaming their wildest dreams, daring to outdo the other.  Dennis was telling Andy about how good it would be after the job was over.  “And we’ll never have to worry about anything ever again.  We’ll get outta this town and head some place warm.  Maybe the Keys.  Maybe even outta the country, I dunno.  But we’ll definitely live the rest of our lives in ease.”
    Andy smiled wide.  “Let’s go to an island somewhere.  Exotic women and warm sand.  Just me and you.”
    “That,” said Dennis, standing up and stretching, “sounds like a wonderful idea, but I don’t think Katie’ll go for it.”  He looked at his watch.  She’d be getting home from work soon, and he needed to be heading out.
    “You can leave her behind,” Andy said, a little sadness in his voice.
    Dennis half-smiled and considered the option.  He loved her, sure, but she didn’t understand him like Andy did.  He could open up to Andy without reservation, but with Katie he had to keep himself back.  He shook his head.
    “I’ll think about it,” he replied, lying, but toying with the idea nonetheless.  “But I gotta go.  See ya later, dude.”
    “Take it easy.  Don’t forget to get the supplies!”
    “I know.  I know.  Jeez.”
    He went upstairs and locked the cellar door behind him.  Two locks, one keyed, one combination.  Katie thought he kept junk and old, forgotten things down there; what a dolt.  He walked across the dewy, morning lawn and opened the back door.  He put the coffee pot on and poured himself a bowl of cereal.  In a few minutes, Kate would be home and a new day would begin.  In forty-eight hours, he imagined, he’d be millions of dollars richer.

Word Count: 637

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Arbitrary Thoughts from a Magic Garden of Intrigue

One:  “Hath not a Jew eyes?  Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?  If you prick us, do we not bleed?  If you tickle us, do we not laugh?  If you poison us, do we not die?  And if you wrong us, do we not revenge?”—The Merchant of Venice, Act 3, Scene 1, by William Shakespeare

II.  Is not that quote amazing?  It speaks on so many things, hitting prejudice and racism square on the head.  The words Jew and Christian can be switched for any demographic group and still make just as much sense.  Are not we all humans? 

Tres.  I absolutely hate it when a survey or statistic reports on things that deal with skin color.  I heard on NPR the other day a story about how the economic downturn is particularly hard on “white” Americans and that it’s resembling a similar crisis that happened to “black” Americans many years ago.  I couldn’t finish listening to the story.  Why, I wonder.  Is it not obvious that the only way for racism to stop is to STOP HAVING THESE TYPES OF STATISTICS, categorized by freaking skin color.  Whenever I’m given the option, I always check “prefer not to respond.”  As long as we describe people by their skin color we’re going to have a race problem.  But maybe I’m over-reacting.  I need to look at it from a different point of view, but I just can’t wrap my head around it.  On one hand, using a skin color as a descriptor should be the same as using a hair color or eye color; but, on the other hand, after years and years of prejudice, it’s not. 

FORE!  I still work crosswords all the time, generally one or two a day now.  My skills at solving have greatly improved over these past two years.  I see common words and themes and find myself finishing them quicker and quicker.  When clues or themes are clever and/or witty, I usually always have a blast working out the puzzle.  However, I’m still not very good at Sudoku.

Golden Rings.  Didja get it?  Huh?

6.  I was doing really good on that whole weight loss thing.  A steady decline in weight.  But then something went awry and things reversed.  And then I spent a week away from home in Illinois, all fast-food and unheathies.  So.  While I’m still lighter than when I started, I’m not as light as I was.

6+1.  Remember that one episode of ER when Lucy Knight got stabbed by that schizo guy that was the head elf in The Santa Clause on Valentines Day?  And then Dr. Carter walked in and picked up the V-Day card and got attacked as well, stabbed in the back.  And he fell down and landed beside the bed, where he saw Lucy bleeding to death on the other side of the bed and that loud music was rocking and they were a-bleedin’?  Man, that was such a great episode.  I watched plenty o’ ER growing up.  When Dr. Green died it was very sad.

1000.  That’s binary.  Really.  Cause 0*2^0+0*2^1+0*2^2+1*2^3 = 2^3 = 8.  I don’t really understand why some things are written in binary.  How exactly do a series of 1s and 0s transform into everything?  I’m not sure.

Blackbird claw, raven wing under the red sun. Long clothesline, two shirt sleeves waving as we go by.  Hundred years, hundred more, someday we may see a woman king, wristwatch time slowing as she goes to sleep…  I love listening to Iron & Wine.  Man, such great stuff.  Sam Beam is a fine wordsmith.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Updated Blogroll Thingy

I’ve not tootled with the Otherwheres gadget box over on the right for a while.  I went through and deleted old favorites that have sat idle for way too long (goodbye Sailor Matt).  The new additions are below, with my commentary if I feel it’s needed.

A Dribble of Ink
Bryan Allain: Daily Doses of Nonsense & Inspiration
Descending Thoughts
JonBoy’s Blog
Neth Space
Only the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Pearls Before Swine Blog
Stainless Steel Droppings: Eclectic Musings of a Renaissance Geek
The Speculative Scotsman

Check out Bryan Allain’s hilarious blog if you need a good laugh at unconventional American life.  Descending Thoughts is a blogger I discovered after I met Pat RothfussJonBoy was a friend from college dorm life, and we went to see Pat together, too, as well as share many other common interests.  Pearls Before Swine is an amazing comic strip, and its creator is an oddball if there ever was one.  If you enjoy completely random stories that will leave you trying to suck in as much air as possible so you don’t suffocate, definitely check out the Pearls blog.  Stainless Steel Droppings is an eloquently written blog by the well-read and occasional Rememorandom commenter Carl V.  Carl’s book love is obvious, and his reviews are exceptional.  All the other blogs listed—A Dribble of Ink, Neth Space, Only the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and The Speculative Scotsman—are great resources for anyone looking to read more on speculative/genre fantasy & sci-fi.  I highly recommend the Scotsman, who has a way with words and promises to be the next best genre blog out there.

Here’s a short post from PearlsHere’s another very short one that’s also great.  Seriously funny, random stories.  Heck, I’d recommend reading through his archive just to laugh.

You got any other suggestions I should check out?  (Cause asking your readers a question seems appropriate.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winter Spring Summer Fall, A Review

Winter Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring Summer Fall: Living and Lasting in Missions, by Ryan Murphy, is non-fiction book that tells what life is like as a young missionary in Kenya.  I received the book courtesy of the author himself, after I expressed interest in reviewing it.

I really enjoyed reading WSSF.  When I started, I expected a bland account of what life was like, and indeed, the first few pages did not exactly pique my interests.  However, as I pressed on, I quickly realized my initial reactions were wrong.  Because right after the Introduction, once the first stories from the field were played out, I was hooked.  Murphy’s stories were fascinating and real.  It was almost like a friend returning from vacation and telling you all the things he’d seen while he was away.

Murphy writes conversationally, and I thought the book read almost like a series of blog posts.  The book chronicles his thoughts about different seasons of life, spanning opinions on things like racism, financial support, stress, etc.  It’s easy to see that Murphy has a heart for Kenya and its people.  He cares about the students at Rift Valley Academy.  He cares about his family back in the States.  And all of it is revealed to the reader, honestly and without any sugar-coating.

I suppose one reason I liked this book was that it was an account of something actually happening here on Earth, as opposed to other worlds or magic kingdoms.  The Murphy family, along with other missionaries and nationals, are making a difference in Kenya.  It’s inspiring to see people sacrificing much for the good of the world and the propagation of God’s Plan.

The book was filled with many striking moments.  It had me laughing (especially the story about Ryan’s son being born in Kenya); it had me disturbed; it had me concerned; it had me joyous and thankful.  I’m thankful that there are people out there like Ryan who are willing to travel and give of themselves so freely, letting the Lord use them as He will.  I am thankful that there are people willing to pay and pray for missions.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Winter Spring Summer Fall.  The slim book (~170 pages) is a very quick read.  If you are in any way interested in what life is like as a missionary, check out Ryan Murphy’s newest book, Winter Spring Summer Fall.  The book is not solely for missionaries, but for those left behind as well.  Murphy writes of how many churches support missionaries and how the conventional support is flawed, and I heartily agree.  I recommend it to anyone that is curious about anything related to missions, from the supporters and the friends left behind to missionaries travelling abroad.  You can purchase the book from Amazon here.  You can check out Ryan’s blog and podcast here.

FTC Thing: This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for a review.  There were no hot dogs, Twinkies, or soda pops in the exchange.  Just the book.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Poem from a Bad Day

It’s strange, writing a post in advance like this.  But it’s something I wanna do.  I’ve missed too many posts recently anyway.  So do I write in the present, as if I’m writing this from Monday, 5/10?  Or do I write in the future tense?  Gragh!

Since I’m currently away on vacation, island hopping and stuffing my face without shame, I thought I should kick the week off with a poem.  I wrote this after a rather disagreeable few days between myself and my lovely, amazing wife.  I find poetry sometimes is the only way to express myself.

“bad day”

you know it's a bad day when you stare at the computer screen for ten minutes
and life slows to a cringing halt.
you hear the noises of the airconditioner,
muffled by your silent headphones,
unable to turn on music cause you can't find anything to fit the mood.
when you check your phone every few minutes,
hoping for a text back,
hoping that somehow you're forgiven for being stupid and insensitive.
when you can only scratch your head and wonder why.
why say it?  why act the way you do?
but you don't understand, cause you don't realize it at the time.
in the afterwards,
while you're blanking out at the screen,
you hear yourself in your mind,
replaying the conversation,
and it does sound rude.
so what if you were just trying to help.
use more tact next time.
when it's two days before your anniversary
and you're sick at your stomach cause you can't help but feel confused
upset
aggravated
sad
misunderstood
blessed
fortunate
worthless
when you're too afraid to call,
scared that your voice might fail you,
scared that your tones might be too harsh,
scared that your sarcastic tongue rebels against you again.
instead you wait for a text,
a few words on a small screen,
powerful enough to transform your day into something better than what it's been.
all the while you slowly sink into someone unrecognizable,
someone different than who you normally are,
someone burdened and full of self-loathing.
you want to somehow express yourself,
release the toxic energy within,
but you can't.  you don't know how.
you bottle it and drink it down,
suffocating and choking on it.
and you pray.  and wait.

Friday, May 07, 2010

All My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go

Cruise RouteThis is it.  I’m leaving out tomorrow, and the day promises to be crammed full.  We’re driving to Louisville, where Keisha will walk across the stage in cap & gown, proclaiming herself graduated.  Immediately afterwards we’re driving 17-18 hours straight, headed southbound until we hit Miami.  Then, with a handful of hours to spare, we’ll go through the port security stuff and board our ship, setting sail for the Eastern Caribbean at 4:00pm on Sunday.  Here’s the schedule, with our excursions or tours listed afterwards.

Boat: Carnival Glory
Sunday: Port of Miami, set sail at 4:00pm 
Monday: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas; glass bottom boat excursion tour
Tuesday: Fun Day at Sea
Wednesday: St. Thomas, USVI; shopping and Magen’s Bay Beach
Thursday: San Juan, Puerto Rico; historic walking tour
Friday: Grand Turk; exclusive steakhouse reservation on boat
Saturday: Fun Day at Sea
Sunday: Miami, FL; drive back to Kentucky

It’s going to be a wonderful, fun-filled trip, and I’m sure I’ll never forget it.  It’ll be Keisha’s first time seeing the Ocean, and only my third or fourth.  Neither of us have ever seen the crystal clear waters, and that’s one of the major things I’m looking forward to.  I’m also immensely looking forward to being off and away from work, having a week to spend with Keisha.  We’ve not had a vacation in a while, so we’re ready.

It’s mind-blowing that in just a few days I’ll be farther away from home than I’ve ever been before, in an island paradise.  The excitement’s been mounting for any months, and now that it’s here, I’m ecstatic.  There’ll be plenty of pictures and videos when I get back.  And I plan on bringing a journal to help with remembering certain things that I’ll mention here.

The drive to Miami, from Louisville, is 1137.9 miles, which should take 16.63 hours to drive going 68 mph.  We should be leaving Louisville no later than 6pm.  That puts us in Miami around 11:30-12:00 on Sunday morning.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’ll have The Hunger Games and Catching Fire on audio to listen to, but I’m also burning the Stuff Christians Like cd to listen to, too, so Keisha can hear it.  I’ll be starting on The Wheel of Time next week, bringing the paperback with me on board.

I’ve got some things lined up next week to automatically post, that way I’m meeting my personal quota and any of you that need a Rememorandom fix can have it.  Wish us luck.  Pray for our safety and that we’ll get there on time.

Half Moon Cay(Oh.  That’s the first stop we’ll be making.  Hello Half Moon Cay.)

One thing I forgot to mention.  Last night I threw a surprise party for Keisha’s graduation.  She really had no idea.  I’ve had it planned for a few weeks now.  Since graduating from college is a big deal and we’ve been so focused on the cruise, I thought I should surprise her to let her know how happy we all were.  There were 17 people total.  Keisha and her mom went to a Ladies Tea at the church last night, and while they were out, I had everybody come over.  We parked the cars all away from the house.  I bought some pizzas and an ice cream cake from DQ and some decorations.  I was really pretty pleased with my foresight and decor.  Anyway, she walked in around 8ish and everyone yelled surprise and she was certainly surprised.  Put a smile on my face fo’ sho.

Take care everyone. 

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Things About Logan (Part 3)

Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.  Part 3 is below.  Part 4 is some place out there in the future.

826.  I sometimes wonder if The Return of the King wins out on my favorite movie.
827.  Keisha got me Heavy Rain for an anniversary gift!  Awesome.
828.  I got Keisha Anne of Green Gables trilogy on DVD.
829.  I’ve been running in the evenings.  I was getting ready to run and put on my socks upstairs.  I slipped and fell down the stairs, falling about 13 steps, pulling my arm out as I tried to catch myself, carpet burning my elbows, bruising my ankle and butt, and throwing my back way out of place.  So if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fall down the stairs, let me tell you: It’s not fun.
830.  I’m a very clumsy person.  So is Keisha.  Our kids will be walking disasters…
831.  There are 831 different ways to pronounce my first name. 
832.  I’m sadly addicted to popping my bones, especially my hands and my neck and my back and my feet.
833.  If you work in an office building, like I do, then take my word that you DO NOT want to stand on that table nobody ever uses and hula dance while the rest of the office sings “Aloha ‘Oe.”  It’s embarrassing and demeaning to the rest of them.
834.  Playing guitar at church stresses me out a bit.
835.  Mama pajama rolled outta bed and she ran to the police station.  When the copper found out he began to shout and he started the investigation…
836.  I love chewy candies, like Chewy Sprees or something.
837.  I wish it really would rain Skittles one day, though I suspect it would probably cause more harm than good.
838This song, by Seth Jones, has a fantastic chorus line that says “Tennessee’s not landlocked anymore.”  Cracks me up.
839.  Does anybody watch Dancing with the Stars? 
840.  I loathe reality tv.  Yuck.
841.  I haven’t been camping in a really long time.
842.  Stewartland now owns two Blu-Rays: New Moon and Snow White.  My time is coming……
843.  There are a lot of blogs out there.  It’s intimidating.
844.  I’m constantly evaluating myself and my blog, wondering if I should change things up or keep them the same.
845.  I’ve got The Hunger Games and Catching Fire on audio to listen to for The Drive this weekend.
846.  I wonder how much x-rays would cost?
847.  Progress has b e e n  v e r y  s l o w  o n  F i n a l  F a n t a s y  X I I I.
848.  I won a contest for this awesome booksafe.  Check it out here.  And if you don’t read Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy blog, you should check it out.  It’s a great site.
849.  The chiropractor seemed to help the back pain, but then it went away.  Twenty-four years with a crappy back is not cool.
850.  I wrote a sweet sounding song the other day.  Now, I need to polish it up.
851.  Sometimes, just thinking about eating something sour makes my mouth clench up in anticipation for the insane tastes.
852.  I am a registered Independent now.  Well, I have been for a year or so, but y’know, I don’t think of these things all the time.
853.  I liked Cloverfield, and I would happily watch a sequel.
854.  The International BBQ Festival begins this weekend.  We’re going Friday night.
855.  Still haven’t bought another car since the wreck.  I’m thinking about buying my uncles del sol
856.  I use my Gmail shortcut keys frequently; I also Shift+& and play Old Snakey frequently.
857.  DO NOT LICK THE SCREEN!

There is no sanctuary.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.14: The Candidate

I’m not exactly sure how to express myself.  I really wasn’t expecting everything to go down like this, but then again, I kind of was.  But definitely not as shocking and emotional as it was.  No.  And it was close.  I mean, I was probably on the borderline for tears there, and that’s only happened a handful of times in the LOST run.JackLocke In one fell swoop, one sneaky masterful plan, Sayid, Jin, and Sun were killed, in addition to Frank (I’m guessing) and the rest of the sub crew.  And what seemed like spontaneous decision by unLocke (opting for the sub as opposed to the plane; adding the watch to the bomb), I have to wonder how the thing would have played out if different actions were taken.  Was Jack right?  Would the bomb have blown up if Sawyer hadn’t pulled those wires?  Yeah, it probably would have, but still, I have to wonder.  And does it matter which Kwon was the Candidate?  And why didn’t Kate die?  (Okay, my loathing of Kate has actually abated quite a bit, and now she just gets on my nerves from time to time.)

“The Candidate” was an amazing, heartbreaking, exhilarating episode, one that will definitely be burned into memory.  Beloved characters died.  Sayid, seeking retribution and forgiveness for all of his past mistakes, (predictably) sacrifices himself to keep the others alive.  Still, the force of the bomb pins Sun up against the wall, and after some failed attempts, everybody leaves her behind but Jin, who stays with her until it ends, promising to never leave her again.  lostbombTheir conversation was very moving, and you could easily see the love in their eyes.  I hate to say it, but the tragic scene was beautiful.

In the Flash-sideways (FS) things are moving quickly.  Locke has recovered from his surgery and Jack is telling him that he is a candidate for a new procedure that could restore feeling to his legs.  Locke refuses, and we later learn that he’s punishing himself over a mistake he made that led to the loss of his legs, as well as a complete near-vegetative state for his father, Anthony Cooper.  In the process of learning about Cooper, Jack meets Bernard and learns that he, too, was on Oceanic 815.

I’m wondering if the FS reality exists while Jack (and/or Locke) stays in the dark about the Island.  He seems to be on the edge of enlightenment, but he never quite makes it over.  Will he soon meet Kate and things click in place for him?  Is the coincidence of getting tangled in Oceanic 815’s web digging at him?  Whatever the case, I’m very curious about what the FS is. 

Thoughts and Observations

  • Have you noticed that many of these episode titles could refer to either time-line?  Are they misleading on purpose or are they truly dual sided?  “The Candidate” was John Locke being up for advanced surgery; Sayid told Jack that “he was the One”, which I assume meant the Candidate.  “The Last Recruit” was Jack falling under the tutelage of unLocke, but it could’ve also been Locke falling under the scalpel of Dr. Shephard.  And “The Package” was Desmond, but it was also the gift Jin brought to the States to deliver to Keamy.  There are plenty more of these things, and I wonder if they have any special meanings or if they’re just literary techniques.
  • Sayid’s self-sacrifice was easily predictable, but it was still a blow to seem him die.  I’ve always liked the man.  Seeing him off himself to save the others was definitely in character, especially if he was hoping it would atone for all his wrongs.  Too bad Sayid had such a short season.
  • I can see Sawyer dying in a similar way Sayid did, sacrificing himself.
  • My feelings for Jin and Sun have always varied.  Sometimes Sun was just a whiny spoiled rich girl, selfish and irksome.  Sometimes she was a loving wife and caring lady.  Jin was a hardcore Korean mafia type, abusive and absent, but he was a loving husband and a compassionate man.  Their death wasn’t terrible, but it was sad, especially considering that they left Ji Yeon behind. 
  • Witnessing Hugo, Kate, and Jack’s sorrow at the loss of three of their friends felt like I was trespassing onto something deeply personal and that I should give them a moment.  It’s stuff like this that makes LOST the greatest show to have ever aired.
  • I have no idea what to think about Widmore’s crew.  What’s their game?
  • Is Desmond going to get out of that well next week?
  • As reported by everybody in Hollywood, the finale has been extended to 2.5 hours now.  Awesome, I say!
  • I never trusted you unLocke.  You tried to say that you were good and didn’t have any evil intentions.  Bah, not once did I believe you, and you proved me right tonight you evil man/smoke/deity thing.
  • It’s crazy all the lines that are being re-used in the FS.  “I wish you had believed me,” Jack said to Locke.  “What happened happened.”  Ahh, too many things.
  • This episode will take some processing time and some time to decompress.  Great stuff.
     
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

On Beards, DeVotchKa, and Some Other Stuff

This post is best enjoyed by listening to this song and reading the rest.  It’s an amazing song that you may or mayn’t be familiar with.

What is it about a beard that’s so impressive?  When I see a guy with a man-bush growing off his face, I feel this burning desire in my soul.  This man embodies one of the most important factors of being a man: the beard.

Beards come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are amazing.  Some are weird.  Some are even disgusting.  But whatever the case may be, beards are still sweet, especially when done right.  On one hand, they exude masculinity and wicked-coolness.  On the other hand, they get in the way when you’re trying to eat and sleep.  On one hand, you don’t have to worry about shaving.  On the other hand, you gotta groom that bad boy.

But still, even with the negatives, I think I’d love to have a wild-and-unkempt beard one day.  Keisha says no, but I can dream.  Currently, at 24, I can sprout me a nice, red-orange beard-goatee thing in a relatively short period of time, but if I wanted one of those awesome beards, it’d take a while.  I could probably get to something like this, which is kind of what I had until last weekend, when I trimmed it down to almost nothing and will be gone by the cruise.

Plus, people with beards are generally more trustworthy and overall hipper than the average Joe.  It’s true.  I read it once on the internet.  You can read anything on the internet.  Truly.

So I went to the doctor’s office yesterday to get a check up and a tetanus shot.  That was my first trip to see a doctor in almost a decade, if not longer.  Turns out I’m healthy.  So healthy that they wanted to extract some of my blood and study it, because (and I’m quoting here), “you’re just freaking awesome, dude.”  Well, maybe.  I dunno.

Did you know my television’s been having problems?  It all started last Tuesday night.  We were watching The Office and eating supper.  Afterwards, I went out to the garage to play some guitar with my friend Alex; Keisha went upstairs to take a shower.  We left the tv on.  I came in a few hours later and the volume bar was frozen on the screen at 0.  No buttons worked.  Nothing.  No sound.  So I called up Best Buy, cause I got a four-year warranty.  They would be there on Friday to fix the problem.  The tv didn’t work on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday.  When they got there Friday afternoon and turned it on, it worked perfectly fine.  And it continued to work perfectly fine until yesterday, when it did the same thing.  So now Best Buy is coming tomorrow to pick it up and take it back with them and fix it.  Who knows how long it will take?  I just know that I’ll be missing tonight’s LOST in stunning HD and big-screen, and I really don’t wanna miss the series finale on May 23.  Grumble grumble grumble.

Tomorrow is my anniversary.  Three years.  Married to a beautiful, lovely lady.  We’ve argued a bit, but at the end of the day, we love each other more than words can explain.  It blows my mind that someone can find me attractive, both physically and internally.  Cause, let’s face it, I’m very weird and odd.  I mean, dang, my everyday speech is filled with song lyrics and references.  If you don’t know me well, you may be dazed and confused; heck, I confuse myself from time to time.  But still, through my peculiarities, Keisha loves me, and I love her, and I look forward to having many more anniversaries.

DeVotchKa’s been around for a long time.  I first heard them on Little Miss Sunshine, one of the greatest movies ever.  The band pretty much does most of the soundtrack, and it’s an exceptional set of tunes.  If you like your music with a little exotic flair and a mournfully expressive voice, check out DeVotchKa.  You can click here to listen to some of their stuff.  (That link goes to grooveshark.com.  It’s kind of like Pandora, but it lets the user select a song or an artist and customize a playlist, as opposed to discovering new music that Pandora does.  Plus, it’s all free.  Check it out if you wanna hear some sweet stuff.)

Yeah.  That’s about it here.  Except for the raining and the flooding and stuff, but it’s not as bad as Nashville.  And we don’t have an oil spill in Owensboro.  Nope.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Two Book Reviews: The Haunted Knight and The Forgotten God

batman haunted knight The Long Halloween is probably my favorite Batman comic I've ever read. The art is beautiful and the story is gripping. Haunted Knight is in the vein of TLH, and I really enjoyed this comic.

The book is broken into three separate arcs. Initially conceived to tell some stories around the Halloween motif, all three arcs are quite dark.

The first story, "Fears," features the Scarecrow and Batman in a fun chase through Gotham. The second, "Madness," includes the Mad Hatter, and develops Bruce Wayne’s relationship with his mother a bit. The final, "Ghosts," features Poison Ivy, the Penguin, Joker, and a spooky ghost.  This story is akin to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and was pretty cool.

All three tales were beautifully drawn and inked. The scripts read wonderfully, inviting the reader to journey a bit into the troubled mind of the Dark Knight. Plus, the classic Good Guy vs. Bad Guy was just plain fun.

If you've never read the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Batman comics, you really should. They are some of the finest Dark Knight stories out there, and I can't recommend them enough.

***

forgotten_god My Sunday School class went through The Forgotten God, a chapter a week, and this book was great. This is the only Francis Chan book I've read, but it packs a powerful punch.

Chan challenges the reader instantly, calling our attention to the painful absence of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives and actions. His simple and straightforward way of writing is not "in your face," but written with conviction and personal struggle.

With life stories and Biblical backing, Chan makes it clear what the Bible is telling us about the Spirit: we have neglected Him and we need Him in our lives. This book is not classically charismatic or extreme, but it is challenging of your typical comfort levels, declaring that if you're not uncomfortable and feeling awkward from time to time, then you likely are away from the Spirit.

Overall, I found this book amazing. It's enlightening and full of hope, and I feel like I've grown in my Walk some by applying the message. If you're looking for a book to challenge your Christian faith, Francis Chan's The Forgotten God definitely is it.