Friday, July 31, 2009

Week's End Miscellany #3

It's time for another segment of Week's End Miscellany, brought to you in part this week by our sponsors Water Water Everywhere, Boba Fett's Jeans, and Papercuts. The week's been busy, but I've managed to finish all my work at the MLC. Also, there was a seat left for the class next week, so I'll be taking my first work-related trip soon, leaving out over the weekend and returning Wednesday. Now, the miscellany.

#1. This link is to an amazing artist at 6 years of age. He does watercolors, and they are amazing.

#2. I stayed up late last night. William came over and we played Stratego.

#3. I bought Wii Sports Resort yesterday, and so far it's been enjoyable.

#4. Not only is this the Week's End Miscellany post, but it happens to be today the Month's End Miscellany post #1. That means that I should make it super-ultra special.

#5. I'm on #141 Paris in the Morning, by Joe Purdy, on the iPod quest. For those of you that don't know who Joe Purdy is, you're very seriously missing out. You can go to his website here and listen to all of his albums. He's a truly independent artist making fame bend under his amazing talent. Or you can read a post I did on him a while back.

#6. I'm reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell right now. I've owned the book for a while, but it's just been sitting on the shelf. And, since I don't have Before They Are Hanged yet, I needed something to do. JS&MN is utterly amazing so far. It received critical acclaim (even by Neil Gaiman!) and I'm really liking it.

#7. I was going through some old pictures to find one to attach to my bio for work, and I found some cool pictures. This one is from when I was a young lad, with curiosity and mystery filled eyes and really red hair.

That's all the time we have for this episode of Week's End Miscellany. Hope you've enjoyed it. Remember, the Weekend Special will be out again tomorrow. It's the chance for you to comment on whatever you're currently reading and give your opinion. Or video game you're playing. Or movie you're watching. Or philologist you're currently studying. Or whatever. It's all open. It's a democracy, after all, ran only by the Supreme Chief Overlord and Blogmaster General logankstewart.

Have a good weekend everyone. It's now okay to let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Moon Review (spoiler free)

My wife asked me to read Twilight last year, before the movie came out. I obliged, and went on to state that I would read New Moon before the movie came out for it. I finished the book yesterday, and I will now share my thoughts about it.

New Moon picks up shortly after Twilight ends. Bella is still in love with Edward, the vampire, Cullen. Her birthday is coming up and the Cullen's decide to throw her a birthday party, even though she doesn't want them to. In fact, she doesn't want to celebrate birthdays anymore, and still is trying to get the Cullen's to turn her into a vampire. But something happens at the party, and it sends the Cullen's away from the dark and rainy city of Forks.

Bella is then grief stricken and unresponsive. To me, this was the worst part of the book, reading through several chapters of Bella's depression. I can understand that she misses Edward, that her life is practically over without him there. But there comes a point when too much has been said about it. Where Twilight spent too many adjectives describing Edward's wonderfully beautiful body, New Moon spent too many pages on the loss of love. I think Meyer was trying to show the emotion of despair, and she held it occasionally, but it could have been done better.

Once the grief begins to fade away and Bella starts to semi-live again, the novel gets better. I enjoyed the relationship between Bella and Jacob Black, the Native American teen that lives a few miles away from her home. They become fast friends, and I liked reading about the things they did together.

But everything is not peaceful and perfect in Forks. People are going missing and are reporting large wolves about the woods. Pools of blood have been found, and things forgotten are returning and looking for Bella. Will she remain safe?

I liked New Moon better than Twilight. The story was more fulfilling and exciting, plus the subtle philosophy concerning a vampire's soul provides some time for pondering. Are good vampires eternally damned, or is there a chance for retribution? This question is not answered, but I feel that it will become more prominent with the last two books.

The things I didn't like about New Moon were characterization and the aforementioned superfluous amount of sadness. I feel that Bella is a weak, irrational, selfish character, but perhaps that is what Meyer was hoping for. Maybe she thinks that teens in love are irrational. But the things Bella does throughout the novel really irked me. She says she's concerned with other people, but then she acts completely selfish, and that was a turn off. The way she treated her school friends was annoying; the way she treats Charlie and Jacob is like slapping them in the face and telling them she doesn't care what they think. Speaking of Jacob, he was a character I liked, disliked, and pitied. His love for Bella is strong and obvious, but he sometimes treats her badly. At the same time, he's care-free and fun, which is good for the recovering Bella, but can be negative on her fragile psyche.

Truly the best characters in the books are the Cullen's and the Volturi. They are well developed and intriguing. They are mystical and ancient. I think Meyer did a great job with the scenes involving the vampire families, especially in the latter chapters of the book.

Overall I did not struggle to make it through the book, and I actually was curious to see how the climax would work out, which happened to be satisfying and well written. I'll add Eclipse and Breaking Dawn to my reading list, as I'm now wondering what will happen in the complex life of Bella Swan.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On Knuckle Popping (an Addiction)

There aren't too many things that are more frustrating than having a knuckle that needs to be popped and being unable to do so. For instance, my right middle finger desperately wants to be popped, and I've tried my hardest to do so, but I just can't seem to get it to do it exactly right. Somehow I manage to pop it, but not where I need to pop it. I twist, pull, yank, turn, and bend, but no sweet release. There is no cavitation.

Many of you may not know this, but I am slightly OCD about popping knuckles and joints. I can pop my neck, back, knees, elbows, fingers, shoulders, and practically anything else that needs popping on my own. I can pop my wrist, right ankle, and right 2nd toe at will, and as many times as I like. With my wrist I can actually see the bone moving and a loud SNAP comes with every turn. Once I start the popping process, I can't stop. I have to follow through, and in a certain pattern and method. Interlock fingers, extend arms, extend hands, relax. Tuck thumbs under fingers, pop, tuck index fingers under thumbs, pop, tuck middle under thumbs, pop, tuck ring fingers under thumbs, pop, and tuck pinkies under thumbs and pop. Stretch all ten fingers wide and as far as they go, bend all at first joints, pop, make fists, squeeze, pop. Rest. Repeat, if necessary. It's a knuckle popping extravaganza!

But why do I feel compelled to pop my joints? It's maddening, and I've tried to quit many times, but my resolve often fails after a few week minutes (or seconds) of resisting. Just thinking about quitting makes me want to pop my knuckles. Seeing someone popping makes me want to pop. Talking about it makes me want to pop. Yes, friends, I confess: I am addicted to popping my knuckles. I do it because I can, and because I always have. But I'm not entirely sure I want to.

There are benefits to this addiction, such as a +1 Dexterity and +1 Luck, but there's also the bad side: -2 Psyche and -1 Annoying. Nevertheless, I am forever bound to this addiction. I shudder to imagine what would happen if my arms were broke and I was unable to move and pop. I'd be miserable. Thankfully, I'm whole and healthy, except for the physiological addiction.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On Cable Companies (Good News + Possible News)

First, the good news. Last Friday I mentioned that I was growing frustrated with my cable provider. After my service was installed (on 6/20) the cable wire was left laying out on the ground, a safety hazard and eye-sore. I called them back the next day, asking when it would be buried. I was told no later than 7/10. Once I got home from work on 7/10 the wire was not buried, so I called again. This time I was told that the people had up to ten days from 7/10 to get it buried and to give them until the 20th, which was a month. I obliged. On 7/21 I called back and was informed that a contractor company actually buries the lines, not the cable company, and to give them 24 hrs and they would call back. No one called me back, and on 7/23 I called back. They were rude and jerk faces about it, but I nicely pointed out that I've been waiting a month for the cable to be buried, that animals could chew on the cord and be injured, and that it was in my way for doing lawn-work. I was given the same runaround, only this time the man told me that he'd be honest with me (does that mean they weren't honest with me previously?) and that the cable company had permission to leave the cords laying there, that it was legal, and that they would try to get it buried before the end of the summer, while the ground was still soft. Outraged, I asked if that meant that it was okay if my pet chewed on the wire and got electrocuted, and they said "No, but we are allowed to leave it like that." That didn't fly with me, and I told them that I'd be ending my service if it wasn't taken care of very soon. Click. Then I emailed their Customer Service and Technical Help departments, complaining and telling them my story. In my emails I said that I would use my Facebook, blog, and YouTube to discourage everybody from going with the company, furthermore, that I would tell all my friends and family what kind of crappy service to expect and to recommend a different provider.

Finally (and here's the good news), when I pulled in the driveway yesterday after work I noticed that the cable was buried. I inspected, and they did a good job, not making a mess in my yard and cleaning up after themselves. Now I'm satisfied.

I'm a nice and tactful person. I think ahead before I speak. I keep my cool. But these cable folks were starting to wear thin the calm and clear-headed barrier. Thankfully I maintained my civility, but also got my point across.

I don't understand why it took so long or why I had to go through so much crap to get one wire buried. I'm sure the contractor's aren't that busy. If I had to guess, I'd say it's poor communication. Communication problems are the bane of life's existence. There are too many people to go through to get something done, too many middle men, too many in-betweeners. I like a good, direct chain of command. Unfortunately, life is no longer like that.

On a side note, I may be going on a business trip next week. If I can get in, I'll be taking a class to learn how to use a program that will help at work. I've used it before, but not very much and it's been a while. Wish me luck there.

(To be fair to the provider, I didn't mention their name, but you could probably get smart about it and figure it out, or just ask me, if you're really curious. Also, I don't actually have cable tv, just the broadband internet service, which still requires the same stuff.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Real-World Engineering Application

I finally put to practice my engineering skills in a practical, hands-on way. I made a harmonica holder out of a wire clothes hanger. It was relatively simple, just bending and molding to fit how I wanted it. Unfortunately I didn't have a vice grip or anything like that, just two sets of pliers, so the straightness of the equipment is not top-notch. Also, I didn't get it exactly how I wanted it, so I intend on making another one in the future.

Here's the final product.

Pretty cool, eh? I've had it on and tested it with the guitar, piano, and mandolin, and I laughed and giggled at my new toy. I felt like Bob Dylan, or maybe Neil Young or Demitri Martin. I played with the thing for a while yesterday, finally putting to use my set of harmonicas. It's all just another step on becoming a full, one-man band.

As you can see, I finalized the project with a thick layer of duct tape to provide neck support and stability. This solidifies the project as an "engineering project" by using the fabled tape. Here's a sample clip of the finished product.

On a side note, I'm a little over halfway through New Moon, and I'm honestly okay with it so far. There's things I don't like about certain characters, but that will all spill out when the review comes.

Keep it secret. Keep it safe.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weekend Special #1

In response to a dear, faithful reader, I've decided to create a special Weekend Post. (I typically don't post on the weekend, but I think I may start this Weekend Special.) The Weekend Special is a place for you to write about whatever you're currently reading and would like to discuss or opine on. The only request is to please put the title of the book (or movie, etc.) at the front of the post, that way anyone afraid of SPOILERS can avoid reading the comments. If you're comment is SPOILER-FREE, you can throw that tag out there, too.

So, I invite you to post what you want. Odds are, among Rememorandom's followers and those that just stop by, you won't be the only one to have read something, so you're comments won't be just out there in the open. However, keep in mind that that is a possibility, as you could render everyone speechless with your amazing thoughts.

Have fun, and let the discussion/opinions/thoughts begin.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Week's End Miscellany #2

It's Friday again, and that means it's time for the next installment of Week's End Miscellany. This is a bit where I wrap up the week, give a possible preview to next week, and parenthesis the weekend. (Aye, I used "parenthesis" as a verb.)

1. A 1985 future projection from Ebony magazine of what Michael Jackson would look like in the year 2000. Personally, I see Lando Calrissian.

2. I'm not 100% sure whether or not I like the Bath & Body Works Wild Honeysuckle anti-bacterial deep cleansing hand gel that sits on my desk, but I think it smells better than the nasty old weird soap from the restroom.

3. Today is my mother-in-law's birthday. We're going out for supper tonight.

4. (I'm going to be helping William move furniture tomorrow, and then play poker.)

5. I'm on #105 on my iPod quest, Long List of Heartaches, by the Grascals.

6. My wife just brought me a Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic to work for me. She's so sweet. I'm still sitting here and working on median ditch calculations.

7. I hung up my undergrad diploma behind my desk just a few minutes ago. I still need to get a frame for the graduate one, but I think I'll stick to simple and cheap, as opposed to crazy expensive.

8. I'm growing very frustrated with my cable company. I've issued the ultimatum that if they don't bury my cable wire, which has been laying out on the ground for over a month, soon, then I will end my service. Furthermore, I've told them that I would be using all my social connections (Blogger, Facebook, Youtube) to warn others about the poor service to expect and advise them to go with a different provider for their internet needs.

9. I recently watched the movie Push. I didn't really expect anything great, but I thought the special effects would be rather cool. Turns out, I was sort of right and wrong. The storyline was okay, but slightly ridiculous, especially the Screamers. The Shadows reminded me of someone burning Bronze. The Pushers were like Steel burners. I'd recommend the movie if you're bored and have watched everything else you feel like watching.

Have a good weekend everybody. Remember to always floss (I'm hoping you already brush).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things About Logan (Part 3)

Parts 1 and 2 are available here and here, if you're interested.

1.00 Diet Mt. Dew's okay.
0.95 I'm hooked on crossword puzzles.
0.90 I have a stack of business cards with my name on them.
0.85 My favorite soups are: chicken noodle, chicken & rice, potato, broccoli and cheddar, zuppa, vegetable beef, and tortilla. I really, really like soup.
0.80 I like to cook.
0.75 I've been fascinated by astronomy since I was a wee lad. I love learning about stars and planets and orbits and celestial bodies.
0.70 I have a dentist appointment today. Outlook not good.
0.65 I'm currently testing out Google's Chrome web browser. It's got a few things I don't like, but it's got some things I do, too.
0.60 Keisha and I try to read (aloud) a chapter or two or three or so from the Bible each night.
0.55 I'm currently in the process of "forceful" negotiations with my cable provider. I've threatened to blog and post about their lack of service, kind of like this guy.
0.50 I once switched my keyboard from the standard QWERTY layout to the DVORAK system. It was quite difficult, and I didn't like it, so I switched back.
0.45 It's almost lunch time.
0.40 I'm currently working on median ditch calculations, where I'm gathering hydrological information (rain intensity, drainage areas, etc) and running the data through a old DOS based program. Gotta love modern technology.
0.35 I sneeze two or three times every morning, almost as soon as I get to my desk.
0.30 I went to a Dulcimer Club meeting the other night. I was the youngest one there by probably 40 years, but that's okay. It was still fun.
0.25 I've known Keisha most of my life. We grew up just a few miles apart.
0.20 = 1/5
0.15 I'm going to Louisville this weekend to help my best friend pack and move stuff up out of his apartment. Then, later that night we're getting together and playing some poker. The Dairy Kastle may also be in order.
0.10 I'm going to start training and conditioning myself to become a runner. I really want to be healthier.
0.05 Yes, it's true. I'm currently reading New Moon.

If you don't follow the link above from #0.55, then just watch the video below. It's an amazing story. Plus it's really quite funny. And completely true.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


july grows bleak
as rain falls in sheets
and puddles form at feet
of walking strangers.

there's no pattern to it,
just a chaos theory of water
and chaos on the roads
of passing drivers.

it's days like today that the eyes want to stay shut.
to crawl back into bed with two warm bodies and put arms around them,
snuggling, cuddling, scratching, licking, and sleeping.

instead i see the thick, dense falling of rain
and wonder if it causes much pain
to the homeless man who lives near Bermuda Lane
all by himself.

we're all just falling drops of water,
together with millions and billions of other drops,
headed to the ground below, where we puddle together,
wishing we could cuddle together,
and run-off the streets before we ever truly meet one another.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The First Law: The Blade Itself Review (spoiler free)

I finished reading The Blade Itself last night. The novel had a lot of hype and acclaim, and so I was expecting great things from it. Fortunately, I was not mislead, and I closed the book with a profound sense of excitement and curiosity.

The Blade Itself is the first book of The First Law trilogy. Written by UK author Joe Abercrombie, the book is a realistic, brutal and bloody look at the fantastic. The book starts with Logen Ninefingers fleeing from a group of Flatheads, and I was hooked from the get-go. Logen gets separated from his travelling group and each assumes the other died. He continues on his own. The next character introduced is Inquisitor Sand dan Glokta, a crippled torturer with a dark past. The torture scenes from this book are bloody, but deeply enjoyable. Glokta is charged with getting to the bottom of a conspiracy by any means he sees fit. Enter Bayaz, the First of the Magi. He's a name everyone in the Union knows, but he's a legend, not a real person. Or is he? Finally, Jezal dan Luthar is a Captain in the army, born of high and noble blood, and training for the annual Contest, dreaming of glory and honor.

There are more characters in the novel, making fun and entertaining chapters to read and reflect on. Dogman. Ferro. West. Too many to write on, but they all have a roll to play in the plot. By the end of the novel it almost feels like this book is just an introduction or prologue to what is to come.

Abercrombie hints at magic, but nothing too deep. He writes of the First Law and the Second Law. He talks about the Shanka and the Eaters, never fully describing them, which is unsettling and immensely entertaining.

The writing style reminds me of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The use of profanity and vulgar words are frequent, but not over-the-top and do not detract from the story. Keeping the "magic" as a mystery is also like GRRM.

My favorite character is probably Glokta, but I'm equally intrigued by Logen. I can't wait to see where this story is going, especially for these two. Hopefully I'll get my copy of Before They Are Hanged soon. Overall, The Blade Itself is another reminder why the fantasy genre does not have to be boring and cliche. People like Joe Abercrombie, Pat Rothfuss, and Brandon Sanderson are breaking boundaries and re-defining the field. I can recommend this book easily to you, but be warned, it's brutal and will hook you in, kind of like the way a torturer's blade may pull your intestines out and have you screaming for more.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Posting (A Brief History of Rememorandom: One)

I don't always have things to write about, yet I continue to post. It's almost like a personal goal I've set for myself: post on the weekdays, take the weekends off. I've had a blog since 2005, but I didn't really start posting frequently until the end of 2008. The reason for my desire to update the blog stems from another blog I read. I don't remember whose blog, but the post was about how blogging is a great tool for working on your writing skills. So I decided to use the blog for the same purpose.

The name of my blog, Rememorandom, comes from a poem I wrote back in high school. (Yes, back in those days I was a young, aspiring poet.) It was one of my favorites I wrote, and perhaps one day I'll post it here, and so I decided to use it as my blog's name.

The themes of Rememorandom has stayed pretty true to the inaugural statements, with a little variance. I like to review and discuss books, music, and movies, especially fantasy and sci-fi related. I like to discuss completely random and trivial events in everyday life. I like to post artwork here, either visual, musical, or lyrical. I like the criticism and comments I get from you fine folks. It inspires me to paint or draw; it inspires me to make and record music (as I am currently doing); it inspires me to write (as I do a lot).

Another beautiful thing about Rememorandom is that it serves as a window into other people's worlds. I get to see things people are working on, like Mattson Tomlin, who chronicles his directing career here. Or I get to read interesting real-life blips, like this one, from a crazy Scot who went and saw the Boss in concert a week or so ago. I can even read the journey of Cap'n Joe as he fights for freedom in the airports of Australia, all the while going to school and working on a killer fantasy novel. There are too many blogs I read and follow, and if I didn't mention you, I'm sorry, but I do like you.

Rememorandom is fun for me, and hopefully fun for you, too. I think I'll end part One now, but I will be back tomorrow. I've got some exciting things to share with you all. I've recorded two songs, one original, the other a cover of an old folk song. One's a video, the other's available as both a video and mp3. And I'm only about twenty pages from finishing The Blade Itself, so the review will be coming soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Week's End Miscellany #1

Another ending to an interesting week. It's Friday and I'm going to Holiday World tomorrow. It's supposed to be a beautiful, 79-degrees, so the amusement park will probably be super crowded. But that's okay. It'll be Saturday, and it'll be fun. Now, on to the miscellany.

1. This was a brilliant plan and a great story. Basically, through a combined effort of a school system in Sussex and the police, a "War of the Worlds" situation was created. Parents of the students weren't told of the plans, nor were the children, and many left from the experiment traumatized. I thought it was rather funny.

2. I'm working on median ditches now. Verifying that flow values and slopes are up to standards.

3. I'm nearing the end of The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie. So far, I've really enjoyed the book. I'll be using my $50 Borders gift card to buy the next book, and save the rest for something else on my reading list.

4. I'm currently testing out Google Chrome as my web browser. I've been a Firefox user for about 5 years now, but I thought I'd test Chrome out. Especially since Google is going to be launching their Chrome OS this fall, which I think I'll also try.

5. I've written a new song that I'm rather proud of. Musical ideas are swarming around again, and I may be expressing those here in the not-so-distant future. I still need to edit and polish things up, though.

6. There are 236 albums being considered on my iPod quest. I'm currently on #76, Harvest Moon, by Neil Young.

7. NPR is currently offering a free sampler to download featuring selections from the Newport Folk Festival. It's a pretty good sampler, featuring classic folk sounds with some neo-folk influences as well. You can download it here.

8. Last Friday I posted a piece titled "Run-on Secret." Well, folks. The secret's out. I bought me a new car. A 2005 Toyota Corolla. I like it a lot. And I'm currently searching for a suitable name to my trusty steed. My favorite so far: Humphrey Lancelot. Though there's also Halbert Daiyespa.

Have a good weekend everybody. Maybe I won't get sunburned too bad, though, being red-headed and freckled, I'm sure I will.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I did not get to watch HBP at midnight the other night, but I did go to a sold-out showing of it last night. We settled down, watching the boring slides of random trivial information about different actors and some rather appealing up-and-coming feature films (Sherlock Holmes, Where the Wild Things Are). And then the movie began.

[[Spoilers Below, for anyone that doesn't know what's going to happen]]
Overall, I am very satisfied and pleased with the filmed adaptation of HBP. I'm not sure yet if it's my favorite movie from the series or not. I've heard a lot of people complaining that the movie left out too much stuff. That the movie would've been better if the ending hadn't been altered. But, frankly, I'm not so sure.

First off, all previous movies have left out quite a bit of stuff, too, so I was fully expecting the absence of things. Honestly, the story of the book takes hours and hours to get through, and by reading and digesting the words you feel a connection with the characters. On screen, you have a time limit in which your story must be told, else you lose the audience. And, unless you're writing in your journal, the audience is the whole purpose of writing anything, be it a novel, a play, a poem, a short story, a speech, or a movie script. I think HBP succeeded in taking the important elements from the book and portraying them on screen amazingly.

I really enjoyed the lighter tone this movie had. Goblet of Fire and the Order of the Phoenix were both terribly darker movies, with the rise of Voldermort and the chaos of the Death Eaters. To me, HBP still contained the dark and dangerous, as was evident in the security around Hogwarts, but at the same time it managed to find a light in the darkness. The teen hormones were played out, offering humor and relief to the audience. This inclusion makes this movie a great date movie, too.

Another exceptional piece I enjoyed was the actor's abilities to show their emotions. You could see the twisted hate/fear/deep-sadness/regret in Malfoy's face as he did as he was commanded. You could see the covert-but-obvious sideways looks of love from Hermione to Ron and from Harry to Ginny. You could see the determination in Dumbledore's face, and as he drank from the potion in the cave his acting was wonderful. And Snape has always been brilliant in commanding his emotions. Yes, the actor's performed well.

The only real disappointment I had from the movie was the ending. It doesn't bother me that the little skirmish didn't play out like it did in the book. What bothered me was that the movie failed to convey the deep sense of loss from losing one of the greatest wizards of all time. Dumbledore's death sent shockwaves through the literary world of Harry Potter, people unable to believe the beloved Headmaster was truly dead. Again, the book had pages devoted to this, while the movie did not include it.

I suppose it is like Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings. Leaving Shelob out of the Two Towers because he knew he'd put it in the Return of the King. I imagine the funeral of Dumbledore will still be held, but not until Deathly Hallows, Part 1. If you look at the series as one long time-line, then the director is still holding true (with some minor omits) to the story, though just choosing to save the funeral for the next film.

In conclusion, I was very impressed with the movie. For the past decade or so I've been a Harry Potter fan. I've loved the books. I've loved the movies. To me, the film version is never as good as the book, but that's to be expected. However, to really enjoy the movie (you hardcore HP fans) you have to be able to suspend your expectations, or lower them. Are you honestly expecting the movie to be better, or even as good, as the books? No. Be fair to yourself, to the actors, to the directors, to everyone involved: the movie was great.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Simple Pleasures of a Peanut Butter Sandwich

Do you stop and think how tasty and smooth/crunchy the peanut butter sandwich is? A perfect PB sandwich is one of the best edible creations mankind has ever came up with. When George Washington Carver set out and made peanut butter did he realize how important his creation would be? The paradigm of sandwiches, from the young to the old?

There are some heretics out there that taint their PB sandwich with that blasphemous substance known as jelly. Yuck. A loud, resonating YUCK echoing around in some hollow walls. Jelly is all good and fine, provided you use it to put on toast or biscuits or some bread. Now when you go and grab some jelly and smear it on a piece of bread that is destined to connect with another piece of bread that has PB on it you've committed a huge sin. Drop to your knees and beg forgiveness, because PB&J are not meant to be.

But everybody else eats a PB&J sandwich, so why can't I? You may be wondering that very thing, but fear not, good people, I've an answer to your query. Because it is written in the Peanut Butter Bible, divined by GWC himself, found in the first (and only) book in the aforementioned Bible, Rules, which states explicitly in chapter 42, verses 197-198:

"197And never shall the creation come in contact with anything foul and inherently full of sin, namely animal fluids and jellies. Above all, never let the creation mix and mingle with jellies. Doritos are okay.
198The creation should always be kept pure and true, varying either in complete smoothness or crunchy, depending on the mood and personal preference, but this preference must not allow jellies to join in the party on the sandwich, or you shall surely die."

See folks, I'm not making this stuff up. How could I? I am a good and faithful servant of eating a pure PB sandwich, and I love 'em. Two slices whole wheat, edges still on, a heaping portion of crunchy peanut butter on each slice, smoothed out, and smashed together. You don't see the word jelly in there. No thank you. I'll stay away from that stuff, and you should too. Think about it next time your making a PB sandwich and are reaching for the J. Do you really need that jelly, or is it just society influencing your choices?

{[Two important notes: (1) If you don't like peanut butter then that's all good and fine. So be it. Whatever. I don't care. It don't hurt my feelings that you don't like it. That also means you don't like PB&J, so we're on the same page there. (2) If you're allergic to nuts then my hat's off to you, unless your name happens to be Sean, and then you've got no excuse.]}

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On Working Around the House

I believe it was Spiderman's uncle Ben that said "With one's own yard comes great responsibility." It was when he was fleeing from the bandito that shot J.R. or something. Again, I'm not sure, but I think this is close to accurate.

Now that I own my own house I have a yard to maintain. This task has been slightly challenging, as the yard is all sod. And, having never experienced the joys of sod, I let some of it die within my first week or two at Stewartland, as I was implicitly told that I didn't need to worry about watering it and that it was already mature enough. Once I saw the brown, dead or dying spots in my yard I went to Wal*Mart and bought me a sprinkler. Now I water my yard either mornings or evenings, environmentally conscious of my materialistic need to have a green yard. (How ironic that I use the adjective green there.)

I mowed yesterday. I was going to get an electric mower, but I didn't, as they were much more expensive than their gas-powered kin. But I did buy me an electric weed-eater. It's pretty nifty and quiet, plus I have a million foot long extension cord so I never run into the problem of not enough wire. I also put together and hung up a swing for our back porch. I screwed in some hooks to hang plants on, but we currently don't own any plants that hang.

All in all I like being out in the yard on a summer night. The sun doesn't burn out until almost 9 o'clock, and it's nice being outside. The neighborhood has kids playing everywhere. Folks are walking their dogs. Me and Keisha take Stella for a walk around the trails that go around our neighborhood quite often. It's always pleasant being out, and now that we have a swing it'll be even nicer.

I'm really enjoying being a homeowner. I take pride in taking care of my place, inside and out. Sure, we're still in the unpacking phase, but we're getting there. Stewartland is looking more and more complete, though I'm not sure if it will ever reach the "completely satisfied" point. There always seems to be something else lurking on the horizon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two Film Reviews (He's Just Not That Into You & Knowing)

As always, I'll stay spoiler free. Over the weekend my wife and I decided to have us a movie night. We went to the closes Redbox and got Knowing (starring Nic Cage) and He's Just Not That Into You (starring everybody that's ever been recently famous). Below are my opinions.

HJSNTIY is a girl movie at heart, so I was biased from the get-go. However, as the film unfolded I found myself drawn in, like a puppy to a bowl of 'forbidden' food. The movie follows several different characters as they search for true love. One couple is married (Jennifer Connelly and Bradley Cooper). One couple doesn't necessarily believe in marriage (Ben Afleck and Jennifer Anniston). Two girls just want to be a couple (Gennifer Goodwin and Drew Barrymore). Two guys also want to be couples, though they don't know it yet (Kevin Connolly and Justin Long). And then there's one girl (Scarlett Johansson) that's just disgusting in her actions. And that's not all of the stars that are in the movie, but you get the point.

Anyway, the film is basically a mosaic at first, presenting the viewer with a quote that happens to set the scene for what's coming up. This mosaic introduces you to the many, many different characters that are all indirectly inter-related. People start to date or fall apart or whatever. And then the second half of the movie throws the "quote" thing out the window and follows the choices the people have made.

My problem with this movie was that there were too many characters, or too many connections. I can handle that when it's presented over a long bout of time (like in Lost), but when it's crammed into a 2-hour spot it's too much. It's like A and B are together, but B falls for C, who happens to be with D, who is best friends with E. F and G are in a relationship, and G is B's best friend. H is looking for a relationship and gets help and advice from her co-workers, A and F. And that's not even half of it. I'm sure the creators used some sort of flow chart or matrix to work everything out. Overall, the plot was semi-interesting, but I only really cared about a few of the characters. Nothing fantastic with this one.

Knowing stars Nicolas Cage. It was a wonderfully suspenseful movie, and Keisha was sure she was going to have to wake me up to go downstairs with her the next morning when she got up for work. The movie presented a very interesting plot: 50 years ago a school fills and seals a time capsule. One of the students hears whispers and writes this mysterious sheet of paper filled with random numbers. When the capsule is opened, Nic Cage's son gets this sheet of paper and starts to hear whispers and see these strange people. Cage, a brilliant astro-physicist at MIT, works out the numbers to dates and locations of disasters, along with how many people will die. He sets out to stop and rescue people, also trying to figure out the mysterious last sequence.

Up through this point I enjoyed the movie, despite myself. I was expecting something lame with some explosions, but instead I received an intriguing storyline with characters I enjoyed. There were some cool graphics, and there were some suspenseful scenes.

Then everything went out the window. The movie went from being pretty good to absolutely ridiculous. Keisha said to forget about waking me up. Thriller and Suspense were discarded for something a bit more deus ex machina. And that was it. The end. It turned out it was complete lamesauce, like my initial thinking. But I would recommend it to you, just so you could experience the ending. Wow.

All in all, movie night was fun, hanging out with my sweetheart, eating Chex Mix and dark chocolate, even if the movies were crazy-bad.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Run-on Secret + 50 Update

There's something I want, but I don't want to spend the money on it, though it will definitely be worth it and will be a large improvement over my current circumstance, which happens to be twelve years old and has its own problems, which just happen to be enough to fluster me only a little bit, unless it's really, really hot outside, and then the problems are more noticeable and bothersome and nobody really likes a bother.

Hmm. Maybe tonight or tomorrow then I'll decide. And if I do then wish me luck.

Note: I have been listening to albums steadily since I started my Greatest Albums on my iPod Quest on July 1. There's a lot of music. I'm listening alphabetically by album title. I'm almost through with the D's, and that's practically listening at around 6-8 hours per day. But I've heard a lot of great stuff. Now it's off to lunch.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I Don't Understand People, or Why Are We So Messed Up?

After watching Primetime tonight, I find myself in a bit of disturbia. The show was about the raping and murdering of a 19 year old college student. It was caught on camera. The killer plead not guilty, though he was videotaped and there was plenty of evidence pointing to his guilt. And now I'm sickened.

What is it that lurks inside people that makes them want to do such heinous things? Are some people just evil? Or are they desperate? Lonely? What causes people to do these things? It's disgusting. Saddening. How can someone become numb enough to murder an innocent person? Do they not feel the terribleness of their actions? Does the rapist have no remorse for destroying a life, for putting terror in someone's heart and mind? Do molesters think they're being cute for being as sick as they are?

Ah! Sometimes it's overwhelming to look at the world and see the sickness there is in it. I think most people are good hearted, but there are a good lot that are tainted and dark. And this scares me. It makes me not want to let my wife walk at dusk alone. It makes me stay awake during the night and wonder if someone's going to break in. The darkness of the world is just depressing.

I don't understand people at all. And just when I think I do, something comes up that completely changes things. I'm glad I'm an optimist and have faith in some place greater and in a God that loves and died for each and every one of us.

Cheers everyone. And do something nice for someone.

HP6: T-10...9...8...7...

I'm getting excited again. Just like when the last one came out. I went and watched it at midnight, even though I had to be at work at 6:30 and the movie didn't end until 3-ish. Next week, July 15, is the release of the sixth installment of the Harry Potter films, The Half-Blood Prince. The trailers look promising, and I'm sure it will be. I have not been dissatisfied with any of the movie adaptations so far. I understand that the directors cannot incorporate every mundane detail from the books and into the movies. That's fine. Just give me the movie, though. Fill it with action, humor, love, mystery, adventure. Bring the amazing story to life.

I've liked the Harry Potter series since it came out, after a friend of mine read and liked the first book and passed it to me. Thanks, Jordan. The story is so simple, but equally complex. The mystery involved in each novel is often edge-of-your-seat. The prose reads wonderfully. The characters are full and flushed out. The epic sense of disaster lurking, of knowing the ultimate showdown between Voldermort and Harry, was agonizing to wait for.

These character shots are pretty cool, too. Harry looks ready to duel. Dumbledore doesn't look the crazy, loony headmaster; he looks full of power and ready to take down some Death Eaters. Hermione stands unafraid and ready to take you on. Ron just wants to play quidditch. Draco looks pure evil, like a rich little spoiled boy that's suddenly turned his wrath on you. And Snape, Snape, Severus Snape (Dumbledore!) looks mysterious, like he's hiding something, but at the same time he looks agitated and unimpressed, like Ron or Harry were just called down for talking in class.

I loved these books. I have them all on my bookshelf, and I fully intend on reading them again someday. Possibly to my kids way on down the line. Whatever. I love these movies, and have them all on my shelves as well. The point is that I'm excited and can't wait for THBP to hit movie theaters. I'll most likely be watching it at midnight again, and this time I don't have to be at work until 8:00.

[By the way, if you're not one of the 63,990,950 YouTube views of the Potter Puppet Pals video, you really should follow the Snape link above, or just click here. You'll laugh, and it'll be stuck in your head, too!]

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On Coffee

Aye, I drink coffee. I'll take it black (as long as it's not too bold) and I'll take it with cream (as long as it's not too sweet), but I won't take it with sugar. No way. Not even the sugar substitutes. To me, adding those tiny sweet crystals to the magnificent taste of coffee just ruins it. Really it's just a matter of taste, but my taste buds are cleverer than yours and says that you should not like sugar in your coffee. My favorite coffee is from Sunergos, the wonderful little micro-brewery on Brook Street in Louisville, but I doubt I'll be visiting any time soon, as I've moved out of Louisville. Sadly, the only coffee places I've found in OBKY are Starbucks (ack!) and Panera Bread (which was actually okay).

But the thing with coffee is that it doesn't do much for me. It helps with the energy levels a little, maybe, but not as much as drinking a Mt. Dew or some other pop. Yet, I drink coffee. There's something about blowing softly on the filled cup and letting the warmth bounce back onto your upper lip and nose that's exhilarating. Refreshing. Comforting. You don't get that with soda; you get to listen to millions of air bubbles popping and taste a burning, syrupy sensation as it goes down your throat.

The worst part of a cup of coffee is the last drop, the bottom of the cup. It's typically much cooler than the first drink, which often scalds the tongue and sends goosebumps down the arm. There's something perverted in drinking cold coffee unintentionally. The only cold coffees I like are when they are mixed with shaved ice and blended, and then only on very rare and extreme occasions. So, when I get to the bottom of my cup, I just quickly gulp it down, make a disgusted face, and go on my way.

The other negative to drinking coffee is the affects it has on the bladder. I'm not sure if it's just me or if it's scientific and happens to other people, but when I drink coffee it doesn't take long before I need to go relieve myself. Typically it's just Number One quite frequently. But, if it's a real strong, bold, dark coffee, the coffee somehow influences Number One and Number Two, and usually adds a touch of stomach discomfort. Blah. Thankfully, here at work the coffee is just right (usually) and just affects the bladder.

There are things out there that are cousins of coffee -- lattes, cappuccinos, mochas -- and I'm not really sure of their purpose. Do they exist to lure people in and get them hooked on all those pointless calories? Or is there a more sinister plot, one devised to completely eradicate normal coffee? I'm not sure, but my wife loves a low-fat mocha with skim milk. And that brings up a completely different topic (skim milk is essentially dirty dish water) that I don't really want to get in.

What's the point? The point is simple: coffee is drank by trillions of people across this planet, with at least 13 billion being from the state of Kentucky. Everybody likes it and those that don't just haven't acquired that taste yet. Fresh born babies love it. Ninety-nine year old ladies love it. Heck, I may have to go for my third cup today. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Projectionist (A Review)

Today I watched a movie titled The Projectionist. It was written and directed by Mattson Tomlin, a fellow blogger I happened upon. On a random Friday in each month he gives away free copies of his films that he's made, and I happened to win one.

The film was created when Mattson was a senior in high school, with a cast of friends and teachers. He did the music himself. He recorded the film himself. He edited the film himself. He wrote it himself. Everything combined, the film was worth watching.

The story is about an up-and-coming mayor who happens upon a young woman that gets hit by a vehicle. He falls for her and the two start seeing each other. This woman, by chance, happens to be in a failing relationship with a jerk lowlife movie projectionist. She ends the relationship to be with the candidate, and the ex seeks revenge.

The story is interesting, but a bit choppy. Some parts seem redundant and some parts I'm not sure I entirely understood, like the seemingly random interjected movie rehearsals. The development of the characters, or more like the revelation of the character's true colors, is fun to watch. To me, the movie seems almost like a modern Hitchcock film, but not as macabre.

The only main problem I had with the movie was the sound quality. At some points the music is too overwhelming (when David starts seeing "things") or the sound too loud (at the town hall meetings when the crowd applauds), but other times I struggle to hear what the people are saying.

Overall, The Projectionist was not the best movie I've ever seen, but it definitely was not crap either. Considering Mattson did the film in high school it's actually quite amazing. Considering the actors were not actors, the characters in the film are believable and portrayed quite well. It seems like a B-movie when watching it, and realistically I guess it is, but I enjoy B-movies, so I enjoyed watching this.

If you're interested in watching the film, follow this link to Tomlin's website, where you can contact him about getting the movie, or follow the blog and keep an eye open for Free Film Friday's. Good job, Mattson.

Wimbledon 2009

Congratulations Roger Federer. You deserved the win at Wimbledon, though I wasn't sure whether or not you'd pull it off at some points.

I've always been a Federer fan, since before he dominated the tennis scene. Mostly because he plays with a one-handed backhand, which is the backhand style I have. And then Federer took off, destroying Grand Slam after Slam. He held the Number 1 rank in the tennis world for a record breaking 237 consecutive weeks until he lost it to Nadal. Today he won his 15th Grand Slam, the world record, passing Pete Sampras' 14 Slams.

Federer played amazing tennis, firing 50 aces at Andy Roddick and winning in a 4+ hour match.

I really like tennis. I played in high school, and I still play. It's a fun sport, a challenging sport, and an excellent tool for excercise and friendship. If you've never played, you should try. It's not too complicated in the rules, and it'll help you get some exercise.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chimes of Freedom

It's Independence Day here in America. The day we celebrate our freedom from the Crown. The day we honor our country. The day we thank God for the freedoms we have here in the States, to worship as we please, to speak as we see fit, to carry guns, to drive on an adequate infrastructure system, to live peaceably with our fellow man, regardless of age, sex, creed, ideas, or orientation. It's America's birthday, and whatever your viewpoints are, whether you're hardcore LEFT or extreme RIGHT, come together and appreciate our country. Thank God that we don't live in a war torn third world. Thank God that we're not oppressed by an Inquisition.

And, when you've done that, eat some BBQ or something. Keisha and myself are celebrating our Independence Day with the all American Japanese cuisine from the local Little Tokyo.

+ American songs?

Woody Guthrie's classic by none other than the Boss

Bobby D's nice bit about freedom

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Greatest Albums of All Time?

I have decided to start a personal journey, one where I will list the seven greatest albums of all time. There's only one rule: the album has to be on my iPod, which just so happens to be a 30 gig and is practically full (I think I have just under 1 gig of free space left to occupy). This journey will take some time to complete, but will hopefully yield a better understanding of what's in my library and what needs to be out of my library. This challenge will be difficult, as it will span many genres, but also leave out others.

I will base my decision on lyrics, the music, and whether or not I like the combination of the two, which I should, since they are on my iPod.

Once I have listened to and decided, I will post the results here. Until then, faithful readers, I have a challenge for you: what do you think the best albums of all time are? And, more importantly, will they be on my iPod? I have music ranging from the 20s to now, mind you, and in many different genres, except rap and hip-hop. Does that imply that I have polka music? Yes. Does that also imply that I have some yodeling? Again, yes. What about country. Aye. Classic rock? Of course. Gospel? Yep. Death metal? Um, no, no death metal either. The hardest stuff on there is System of a Down, Linkin Park, and Flogging Molly, I think. I think I have a pretty good feel for what's on my iPod, but I fully expect to be surprised, too.

Anyway, what are your favorite albums?
[Disclaimer: Your albums will not affect my decision on the best albums. Take it or leave it.]