Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 New Year Resolutions Revisited

So before I make my resolutions for the 2011 year I thought I would take a moment and reflect on what my resolutions were at this time last year and see if I actually accomplished any of them. Click here and here for resolution posts from last year.

Read more: I had the goal to read at least 50 books in 2010 and I topped that resolution with 53 completed books. A little more than one a week, not too shabby. I could probably be really prolific if I took time to read on the weekends.

Blog better: I'm not so sure that I've blogged better but I've definitely blogged more in 2010 than any other previous year. My site traffic has also increased nearly every month during the year with only a couple of exceptions. Whether or not I'm blogging better, I'm gaining more readers.

Work on the house: This would be a big fat negative. I did have all the windows replaced throughout my house earlier this week but obviously this wasn't work I did myself. I think I'll be able to accomplish this goal much easier this year. With the new windows in place I'm motivated to at least get the rooms textured and painted.

Cook more: Complete and utter failure. I think I can count on one hand how many times I've cooked at home over the last year, meaning using something other than a microwave or just pots and pans to heat something up.

Lose weight: I've done this, more or less. Historically my weight always goes up and down but I was getting pretty big at the beginning of last year. I've lost about ten pounds and I'd like to lose five to ten pounds more.

Not go to jail: I totally destroyed this resolution! I didn't go to jail one time last year! Go me. I never plan to visit Oklahoma County jail ever again.

Grow up: Hmm, I'm not sure about this resolution. On the positive I did pay off a major portion of my debt last year, including all of the fees involved with my DUI and I've managed to live on a weekly budget for the most part. On the other hand I still waste a serious amount of money going out and drinking and basically just acting the fool.

Cell phone: I haven't had to replace my cell phone in nearly a year and a half. This has to be some kind of record!

Drunk texting: My inability to not text people while out drinking is still a major problem and a source of much embarrassment for me. I have tried techniques of deleting people from my phone who I have a propensity to text more often than others but eventually they get terrorized by me sooner or later.

On the whole I don't think I failed too miserably with my goals for 2010. There are still some issues in my life that need addressed but I think I'm getting there, slow as it may be. I'll be posting my resolutions for 2011 in the next couple of days.

Have has everyone else done with their New Year resolutions or goals?

50 Books in 2010

One of my resolutions from last year was to read more, specifically at least 50 books. I completed this goal by reading 53 books total. Here's a list of the books with an asterisk in front of my favorites of the year:

1. Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
2. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
3. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
*4. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
5. To the Nines by Janet Evanovich
*6. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
7. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
8. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
9. More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
10. Blindness by José Saramago
11. Further Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
12. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
*13. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
14. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
*15. Dracula by Bram Stoker
16. Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.
17. Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
18. Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
19. Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
20. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
21. Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
22. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
23. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
24. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
25. The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
*26. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
27. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
28. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
29. Floaters by Joseph Wambaugh
30. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
31. You Suck by Christopher Moore
*32. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
33. My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
34. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
*35. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
36. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
*37. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
38. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
39. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
*40. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
41. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
42. Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
*43. Truman by David McCullough
*44. Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
45. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
46. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
47. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
48. Babycakes by Armistead Maupin
49. Significant Others by Armistead Maupin
50. Sure of You by Arimstead Maupin
51. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
52. John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles
*53. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

I look forward to reading as much if not more over the next year. Anyone out there have any suggestions on some "must read" books for me. As you can see from the list above my reading habits are pretty eclectic.

11 Win Season!



The Oklahoma State Cowboys achieved their first 11-win season with a thumping over the Arizona Wildcats last night in the Alamo Bowl! It's a good time to be a Poke!

Link

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Quick 2010 Fandom Meme

Last Sunday Stealing of the year:

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Your main fandom of the year:
Something related to books or music but I don't think I can pin down one artist or genre.

2. Your favorite Film this year:
Without a doubt, Inception. Though I've yet to see True Grit.

3. Your favorite Book read this year:
It's too hard to pick just one. Here's some of my favorites from the past year: American Psycho, Dracula, The Historian, The Devil in the White City, and Cleopatra.

4. Your favorite Album or Song this year:
Like books, impossible to pick one. Here's some of my favorites: Tonight (I'm Fucking You), Shark in the Water, All the Lovers, Bulletproof, and Just a Dream.

5. Your favorite meme site of the year:
I guess it would have to be Sunday Stealing since it's about the only one I visit. Honorable mention to Panda and Debster.

6. Your Fandom that you haven't tried Yet, but want to:
Oddly asked, no? I have no clue. The Nintendo 3DS, which is yet to be released.

7. Your best new Fandom Discovery of the Year:
The Chicago Bears. Thanks for stinking it up this year Cowboys.

8. Your biggest Fandom Disappointment of the Year:
Bedlam. Drown Sooners!

9. Your TV Boyfriend of the year:
Don Draper.

10. Your TV Girlfriend of the year:
Turanga Leela.

11. Your most Missed Old Fandom:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Deadwood.

12. Your Biggest Anticipations of the New Year:
Being out of debt!

13. Your favorite post (of yours) of the year:
If I had to pick one off the top of my head it would be The Kübler-Ross Model for Leaving Chicago.

14. Your favorite new blog (to you) of the year:
I haven't really found a lot of new ones this year but I like The Debster Chronicals and I Am....Panda.

15. Your favorite new website of the year:
Cowboys Ride For Free.

16. Your favorite news story of the year:
The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

17. Your favorite actor of the year:
President Obama.

18. Your favorite drama TV show of the year:
Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

19. Your favorite comedy TV Show this year:
Futurama.

20. Your favorite cartoon of the year:
See above.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cleopatra: A Life

"Cleopatra: A Life" by Stacy Schiff is a perfect example to showcase history being written by the victors. From Goodreads:

"Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.

Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and--after his murder--three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Shakespeare and Shaw put words in her mouth. Michelangelo, Tiepolo, and Elizabeth Taylor put a face to her name. Along the way, Cleopatra's supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff here boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order. Rich in detail, epic in scope, Schiff 's is a luminous, deeply original reconstruction of a dazzling life."


This is an excellent work of non-fiction I became aware of when I saw Stacy Schiff doing the book tour thing on the Daily Show. It is amazing, if Schiff's assertions are correct, how maligned Cleopatra VII was by her Roman contemporaries and misunderstood by more modern historians. It's not surprising that a woman head of state at that time would be lampooned as a sexual temptress by a world primarily controlled by men. Indeed Cleopatra's 22 year rule was one of the most properest in Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty. It was clever of Schiff to take the known history of the period (first century B.C) and split the difference with other historians, Appian, Dio, Plutarch, to name a few, whose narrative of the Ptolemaic queen may have been a little too Roman influenced.

A brilliant book that catalogues Cleopatra's multiple rises and failures while living among many historical characters including Gaius Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Octavius, King Herod, and Cicero. Highly recommended especially if interested in the subject matter or the time in history. The only warning I would add is that the book tends to read like a text book and can be difficult at times especially when referencing people and places of the ancient era.

"Two thousand years of bad press and overheated prose, of film and opera, cannot conceal the fact that Cleopatra was a remarkably capable queen, canny and opportunistic in the extreme, a strategist of the first rank. Her career began with one brazen act of defiance and ended with another."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

John Belushi is Dead

I came across "John Belushi is Dead" by Kathy Charles on Bret Easton Ellis' Facebook page. He mentioned that he was reading the book. After some research, the story looked interesting so I bought it on my last trip to Borders. From the back cover:

"IN THE END WE ALL FADE TO BLACK.

Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.

Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life."


Kathy Charles' first book is an interesting and easy read in spite of what I would think of as a "young adult" novel. The story started out extremely strong, especially delving into the underworld of Hollywood deaths, but fizzled a little toward the end with a somewhat predictable finish (a very minor complaint). I found Hilda's characterization and personal arc the most enjoyable aspect of the story and its strength. There really isn't much more I can add without giving away too much of the story. Recommended, lots of great Hollywood information tied into somewhat of a coming of age story.

Why have I been only blogging about books lately? I've been sick on what feels like my deathbed over the last few days. Hopefully things will return to normal if I ever start to feel better.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums

"Visions of Sugar Plums" is a Stephanie Plum "between-the-numbers" novel by Janet Evanovich. Since it's the Christmas season (bah humbug) I picked up the book at Boarders the other night. From the back cover:

"It's five days before Christmas and things are not looking merry for Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum. She hasn't got a tree. She hasn't bought any presents. The malls are jam-packed with staggering shoppers. There's not a twinkle light anywhere to be seen in her apartment.

And there's a strange man in her kitchen.

Sure, this has happened to Stephanie Plum before. Strangers, weirdos, felons, creeps, and lunatics are always finding their way to her front door. But this guy is different. This guy is mysterious, sexy-and he has his own agenda. His name is Diesel and he is a man on a mission. And Diesel is unlike anyone Stephanie has ever met before in her life. The question is, what does he want with her? Can he help her find a little old toy maker who has skipped out on his bail right before Christmas? Can he survive the Plum family holiday dinner? Can he get Stephanie a tree that doesn't look like it was grown next to a nuclear power plant? These questions and more are keeping Stephanie awake at night. Not to mention the fact that she needs to find a bunch of nasty elves, her sister Valerie has a Christmas 'surprise' for the Plums, her niece Mary Alice doesn't believe in Santa anymore, and Grandma Mazur has a new stud muffin. So bring out the plastic reindeer, strap on your jingle bells, and get ready to celebrate the holidays-Jersey style."


I think I'm going to like the "between-the-numbers" novels by Evanovich. They take place separately from the 16 other books in the Stephanie Plum series and revolve around various holidays. This first entry is a lighthearted and sweet Christmas tale introducing Diesel, a mysterious bounty hunter type, like Stephanie, with some amazing talents. If you're a fan of the Stephanie Plum series, this novel is not to be missed. Recommended.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sure of You

It's with a little bit of sadness that I say goodbye to Armistead Maupin's "Tales in the City" series. I just completed the sixth and final book in the saga of Barbary Lane. From Goodreads:

"A fiercely ambitious TV talk show host finds she must choose between national stardom in New York and a husband and child in San Francisco. Caught in the middle is their longtime friend, a gay man whose own future is even more uncertain. Wistful and compassionate, yet subversively funny, Sure of You could only come from Armistead Maupin."

"Sure of You" ended much like "Tales of the City" began, with a new adventure and a new city for Cleveland native Mary Ann Singleton. It's too bad that this installment in the series was the only one not to be serialized in the San Francisco Examiner. It was a decent conclusion to some wonderful characters and storylines. Though everything wasn't necessarily tied up neatly, but then again, when in life is anything ever so.

It's a bittersweet ending for me. While I'm eager to move on to other reading projects I'll miss the adventures of Michael, Brian, Mary Ann, Anna, Mona, De De, and D'or. On the bright side Maupin wrote futher entries about his characters decades later in the novel "Michael Tolliver Lives" and the recently released "Mary Ann in Autumn". I'm sure they'll make their way to my reading list sometime next year. As I've said before, if you're unfamiliar with the "Tales of the City" series you really should give the novels a read. Recommended.

Disturbed

Whew, I think I'm finally recovered from the weekend. You know it's been a wild one when you're ready to go back to work for some much needed rest. I hung out with a bunch of friends and helped to celebrate Justin's birthday on Sunday. During the festivities we went ice skating in front of the Civic Center. I definitely need to stick with skiing...

After turning our skates back in and making plans on what to do next, Matt noticed a guy wrapped in a blanket going through one of the trash cans near a food vendor. As it turned out the guy was looking for something to eat. He finally accomplished his task by finding something inside a discarded pizza box. I was horrified to say the least. Matt being the generous person that he is bought the poor fellow some food from the truck and took it to him before we left.

Obviously, like any decent sized city, Oklahoma City has homeless people. I've just never seen anyone so hungry that he was going through trash to find something to eat! I haven't been able to get this image out of my head for the past three days. I highly doubt that eating discarded food from a trash can is a "lifestyle" choice for the guy we saw, often an argument that some people choose to live homeless.

I'm not sure why I'm telling this story. It may be the reason I haven't posted an entry here since the weekend. Me and my friends feasted on brunch and booze, went ice skating, and then saw this guy eating trash! How was your weekend? Fuck. I feel compelled to do something but I'm still working out what it should be. Any Christmas spirit I might have had, which would be little to begin with, is totally buried.

If I ever whine about the direction of my life, I would be well suited to remember a cold December day ice skating.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Congrats to a Couple of Pokes!

Biletnikoff Award winner (and All American) Justin Blackmon, top wideout in the country.

Lou Groza award winner Dan Bailey (the man with the golden shoes), top kicker in the country.

Congratulations Pokes! I'm so ready to kick some Arizona ass at the Alamo Bowl on the 29th!!

These Shoes Suck!


Cris' birthday cake from Saturday. Oh my god, shoes...

Significant Others

Five down and one to go in Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series. The latest installment "Significant Others" turned out, for me, to be very entertaining. From Goodreads:

"Tranquillity reigns in the ancient redwood forest until a women-only music festival sets up camp downriver from an all-male retreat for the ruling class. Among those entangled in the ensuing mayhem are a lovesick nurseryman, a panic-stricken philanderer, and the world's most beautiful fat woman. Significant Others is Armistead Maupin's cunningly observed meditation on marriage, friendship, and sexual nostalgia."

Very charming, funny, and a little sad, "Significant Others" continues the saga of the residents of Barbary Lane in San Francisco. The novel takes a bit of a detour from other installments by placing most of the established characters, and some new ones, out of the big city on a camping adventure in the great outdoors of the redwoods. I was a little put off by the trek away from San Francisco, just as much a character as any person in the tales, but as I read I grew to appreciate where the story was going.

It's interesting to see Maupin's perspective at the time, the late 60's and 70's where still a clear memory, set against the stark realities of the mid 80's. The subject of AIDS takes a more prominent role in this book as the epidemic continues to build touching all of the characters lives. I also found it interesting that the deaths of so many at the time seem to be relegated to the three H's: homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and Haitians. In fact it is mentioned by one of the characters in the novel that the epidemic of AIDS would not truly be addressed until it started to creep its way into the heterosexual community; how true that was.

Another great and easy read and my favorite in the series probably since "More Tales of the City," or the second book. I really liked the larger inclusion of lesbian characters D'or and De De and the brief romance that Michael shares with a tourist from the south, which became a little heartbreaking when they had to part ways at the end of their long weekend together. Once again, recommended to any and all.

"Stop being sorry." - Thack

"I mean, like when you were a kid, when you knew that Monday was coming, and the clock was ticking away. Saturdays were perfect, because there was Sunday, which was sort of a buffer. But Sundays just got worse and worse." - Michael

Not Asking


I guess everyone's seen the news that the military bill, including the DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) repeal, has once again failed in the U.S. Senate. Once again I'm extremely disappointed but not surprised.

Where do proponents of the repeal go from here? There may still be some light at the end of the legislative tunnel this lame duck session of Congress. The repeal of DADT could be brought back up as a stand along bill or if that fails the President, as Commander in Chief, could issue a stop loss order so that no service members could be discharged under the policy. I have more faith in Congress than the President, how sad is that statement? Maybe the President's balls will drop sometime soon...

So, who's to blame for this latest failure in the Senate? Everyone. The President is to blame for showing zero leadership on this issue. The "just say no" Republicans in the Senate for wanting more debate on an issue we've been talking about for years. Finally, Senator Reid for bringing up a vote when he had to obviously know that it wouldn't bring cloture. From what I understand Senator Lincoln was at the dentists during the vote for Christ's sake!

Here's hoping that our gay and lesbian service members, some who I know, will be free from discrimination by the end of the 111th Congress. I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Top Chef: Sore Loser

Wild night on Top Chef: All Stars, no? Hopefully this recap won't be too muddled as I was flipping back and forth between Bravo and the Thunder game. Thunder won by the way, woot.

Quick fire challenge: Joe Jonas shows up to explain the challenge, prepare a snack for a group of kids who are camping overnight at the Museum of Natural History. The only catch is that the snack must be prepared in a way where it can be bagged and eaten without plates or utensils. Ugh, my second favorite thing in the world after cats would be kids (sarcasm). Pastry chef Jonas' least favorite snacks were from Tiffany, Stephen, and Mike. Tiffani and Spike are announced the winners via a tie so the final decision is taken to the kids at the museum. All the contestants divide up into teams and help Tiffani and Spike prepare enough portions of their snack for the kid judging. Tiffani's rice crispy treat moon pie concoction beats out Spike's potato and carrot chips with marshmallow dip. Nice call kids. Tiffani earns immunity and an advantage in the elimination challenge.

Elimination challenge: the two teams remain together for the challenge to prepare breakfast for the kids and their parents in the morning after the museum sleep over. The teams choose between a completely meat oriented meal (team T-Rex) or a completely vegetarian meal (team Brontosaurus). Team Brontosaurus wins between the two teams with Marcel, Angelo, and Richard being awarded the best dish with their banana parfait. Dale L. and Tiffani are safe on the losing team while everyone else is up for elimination. After much awkwardness Jen is sent packing for essentially making soggy bacon.

Other thoughts on the show:

While Joe Jonas was participating in the quick fire challenge, Dale T. mentions that he didn't know who he was and at first he thought he was a pastry chef. Translation: who's the gay dude? In Dale's defense, I know who the Jonas brothers are, but I wouldn't be able to pick Joe Jonas out of a line up.

I hated the first half of the show and I really enjoyed the second half. I just don't like the children challenges (I'm such a curmudgeon). Staying overnight at the museum would have been a cool experience. Like some of the contestants I would have opted to roam the museum at night with a flashlight in hand rather than trying to get 45 minutes of sleep. I wouldn't want to risk having bed head the rest of the challenge!

Poor Fabio was the last to get picked when dividing up into groups. I would have picked you Fabio, at least before I picked Stephen...

Angelo already has two wins. Another repeat of last season? Dominate until the final and then we get to see his ass, literally.

Jamie cuts her hand early on during the elimination challenge and goes away to get two stitches. If it were me I would have taped up my finger and carried on thinking that being absent would be a sure fire way of being sent home. Of course there were no real consequences from her leaving. I guess being MIA isn't as bad as soggy bacon.

I forgot to pay attention to Gail's boobies again this week! Me - 0, Gail - 2.

The biggest development on Top Chef this week was the elimination of Jen and her behavior at the judge's table. What a complete and utter ass hat she was when arguing primarily with Tom. It's one thing to defend your dish but she seemed unwilling to take any responsibility that maybe hers just didn't measure up. It was like listening to a four year old, "nope, you're wrong, naner naner!" Her creepy laugh upon hearing the news of her elimination sent a chill down my spine and her off camera Tasmanian Devil tirade after leaving the storage room had me shaking my head and feeling embarrassed for her. Is this the kind of stubborn psycho hose beast you'd want running your kitchen or restaurant? So long crazy.

Next on Top Chef: two contestants eliminated in one episode, it should be good. Will the streak of sore losers continue (see Elia and Jen)? Actually two contestants to leave will be a good thing, there's too many of them to keep up with!

Next chef(s) out: I'm still betting on Stephen and perhaps Tre. After the events of the episode this week who the hell knows.

Next week predictions: Fabio cheeses for the camera and Marcel thinks he's the best chef in the universe.

Fun season thus far! I love that the judges are taking a little lip this time around. What else would you expect from all stars?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Technical Support Horror Story of the Day

It's been a while since I made one of these postings. When there is work to be done at my job it could be one of a myriad of tasks: training, sales, installations, testing, and technical support. Of everything I do the most frustrating in general is probably technical support for one of our software systems.

I spent a lot of time with a client the last few days and a supposed "data" issue. I forgot the first rule of technical support. Without going into too much detail I was helping this poor woman track down some data loss in a medical software program. About half the time we would get in to the call she would have to bail on me as they would start seeing patients. This lady was absolutely convinced that patients were randomly dropping out of the system. While this isn't usually a known problem I humored her and worked the problem to the best of my ability. We verified that she was indeed searching for the correct patients. We ran a utility routine on the program in order to clean up any corrupted data (this took forever). We also hunted through an audit trail to make sure no users had deleted the data. No luck. Finally on the third day working this call she had enough time for me to log into her system and look around. I found one of the missing patients on the first search. The dear, sweet lady who assured me our system was going crazy and deleting data without cause didn't know how to spell the name she was looking up! In her defense it was a difficult name, Smith. I hate people.

Oh, the first rule of technical support: the customer is always lying...

Babycakes

I've ventured back to Barbary Lane to resume reading the "Tales of the City" series by Armistead Maupin. "Babycakes" is the fourth novel in the six book series which takes place a little while after the third novel in the early eighties. From Goodreads:

"When an ordinary househusband and his ambitious wife decide to start a family, they discover there's more to making a baby then meets the eye. Help arrives in the form of a grieving gay neighbor, a visiting monarch, and the dashing young lieutenant who defects from her yacht. Bittersweet and profoundly affecting, Babycakes was the first work of fiction to acknowledge the arrival of AIDS."

Potential spoilers abound. It was a nice reunion to go back to the Tales series. I was a little put off earlier this year reading the first three novels in the series very close to each other. The stories are completely over the top in regards to the circumstances our heroes find themselves in, though I will say that "Babycakes" does tone it down just a bit. Overlooking some of the wild storylines, it's hard not to really love these stories because of all the endearing characters, especially, for me, Michael Tolliver.

What can be interesting about reading these novels today is to have a look at San Franscisco and America in the early to mid 1980's. This series was the first to mention the AIDS epidemic by that name before any other publication. Obviously there was still much to learn about the virus at this time as the novel refers to AIDS as a "gay disease" and primarily centralized in northern California. Also in reference to AIDS, I found Jon's death from complications of the virus to be a little unsettling since it happened between the third and fourth installments of the series. After getting through the complete fourth story I now see how this may have been a better choice, where experiences of his death could be told through other characters without it bogging down the story in what could only be a very unhappy tale.

Though the lives and their turns can be over the top at times, kudos to Maupin for creating such brilliant characters that I really enjoy and care about. Easy and endearing books that I wholeheartedly recommend.

"There is something profoundly tragic - no, not tragic, just pathetic - about a thirty-eight-year-old woman who still built bookshelves out of bricks and planks." - Mona

Crismas Minutes

As I've mentioned before my friend Cris celebrates her birthday on the 25th. Since she's going to be in L.A. toward the end of the month we got together to celebrate her birthday early on Saturday. Someone had the bright idea to take the minutes during our time at Edna's right around the start of the Big 12 Championship game. Here's what I could translate from the crumpled pieces of paper I found in my coat pocket:

Time Unknown - Justin - "I can't believe I carried this dick bag through the entire mall."
6:35 - Jewish jokes abound.
6:45 - Is Justin Freddy Kruger?
6:45 - Justin - "I just farted."
6:46 - Weezer!
6:55 - David - "I'm never asking Cris to anything again after Kathy Griffin."
6:58 - Midnight Train to Georgia!
7:00 - I like your beard.
7:01 - Susan wants penis on the screen.
7:02 - Cris - "DB sprained his dick in cow town."
7:04 - Justin's song to us: The Sound of Silence.
7:07 - "I (heart) you DB! Swoo."
7:20 - Tomatoes!
7:25 - (Whatever is written here, in my hand writing, is unreadable)
7:26 - Justin is clutching his pearls.
7:26 - Matt and Justin are arguing about pig horses.
7:40 - David - "Mel sounds like Tone Loc."
7:47 - Fudd needs to sit down!
8:02 - Susan is a ho! Heehaw!
8:05 - Jackie cannot roll her tongue.
8:25 - Susan - "Cutler wears a moo moo."
8:25 - Second spill at Edna's, NOT Mel.
8:40 - (Whatever is written here, not in my hand writing, is unreadable)
8:48 - David - "I will piss on Stoops' grave!"
8:55 - David - "Su and me love rejection."
8:59 - DB forgot about the Christmas party at Macklyn's house.

Interesting. Apparently no one was in any condition to take the minutes after we left Edna's. Either that or Justin and Jackie were too busy dancing the night away to care!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Don't Rock the Boat!


Word. My dad posted this picture on Facespace, I felt the need to share. Apparently I'm not the only liberal/progressive who is feeling a little upset with the compromise President Obama is trying to get Democrats to support in Congress in regards to extending the Bush tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits. I really do understand why the President is pushing for the compromises but quite frankly I still think it's a mistake politically. This is a man who railed against the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as a Senator but now is willing to give in to them so easily. All this President ever wants to do is compromise, or so it seems. He comes across as having no backbone. Where is the line in the sand Mr. President? Do you have one?

If you read recent polling the general public is against extending the cuts to the wealthiest in this country at the expense of creating more deficits. I guess the President is afraid to pick the easy fight. This trickle down policy has never worked and I doubt it's going to do a lot to help lower income people now. Sigh.

Thoughts or opinions?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Top Chef: All Stars

I totally forgot the eighth season of Top Chef started last Wednesday night. While at work I took some time to watch the first episode of the all star season. It was difficult to find time for it but I sacrificed some Facespace time as well as reading to accomplish it.

Quick fire challenge: divide up into teams from each season and create a dish that best represents the city for that season on Top Chef. Team season 4 ends up winning a deconstructed Chicago dog (sounds yummy). Antonia, Dale T., Richard, and Spike all earn immunity in the elimination challenge with the win.

Elimination challenge: each contestant is asked to improve upon the dish that got them eliminated from their season on Top Chef. Great challenge! Spike, Jamie, Angelo, and Richard create the best dishes, though Richard was not considered for the win since he went over his allotted time while preparing his dish. Angelo wins the first elimination challenge of the season and ten thousand dollars as well. Elia, Fabio, and Stephen land on the bottom with Elia going home for basically making almost the same dish that sent her home in season 2.

Musings on the first episode of season 8:

Since there are contestants from all seven previous seasons it was nice that I knew who everyone was right out of the gate. It's always difficult to get into the first few episodes of a season of Top Chef just trying to get acquainted with all the new faces.

I was surprised the punishment for Richard going over his time limit wasn't more severe. Shouldn't he have been on the bottom three? How often have we seen contestants not finish a challenge and still considered in the top tier? Never. Having said that I don't think he should have gone home, even his incomplete dish in the elimination challenge was probably better than the three on the chopping block. (EDIT: I just realized after posting this that Richard had immunity. D'oh!)

I like Anthony Bourdain a lot so I think it's great that he's a judge this season. He did go a little overboard with his criticism of Fabio's dish and I am in no way a fan of Fabio. Hopefully Bourdain doesn't turn into the new Toby.

I totally forgot to notice what was going on with Gail's boobs this week! I'll have to pay closer attention in the next installment.

Angelo won the first elimination challenge, I wonder if he's going to win a ton of challenges like he did in season 7.

Isabella didn't seem to grind on my nerves too much while watching. We'll see how it goes and I'll without judgement for the time being. It is what it is.

Next on Top Chef: it's hard to tell since the preview showed what was coming for the entire season. Looks like there might be a little drama in there or it could just be the Bravo editing monkeys getting my hopes up, again.

Next chef out: I have no earthly clue since they're all such good contestants. I have to believe Stephen will be making an early exit so we'll pick him. I would also be happy to see Spike and Marcel hit the road sooner rather than later but I'm sure it's not going to happen barring some kind of culinary catastrophe.

Season predictions: I'm not prepared to pick my top three at this point so I'll choose five contestants that I like and will be rooting for to make it far into the competition. In no particular order: Tiffany, Jamie, Dale L., Casey, and Carla. Hopefully Marcel will get his head shaved this season as well!

All in all it looks like it's going to be a fun Top Chef season with the all stars. Hopefully I won't flake out on blogging about it like I did with Just Desserts.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Having enjoyed "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" so much I jumped right in to Stieg Larsson's sequel "The Girl Who Played with Fire." From the book cover:

"Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing expose on social injustices, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel.

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander's innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past."


I enjoyed the second entry into the Millennium series as much as the first novel, if not more. The story nearly picks up directly after the events of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" with all the same characters and a few new ones. Again what makes the novels so strong, for me, is the great characters, namely Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Though, I did feel that this story was a little more spread around to many characters where the first story was dominated primarily by Blomkvist and secondarily by Salander.

Much like the first novel the pacing of the story in parts can be frantic, there were times, especially near the conclusion, that it was hard for me to put the book down. Larsson does a masterful job of weaving together a fairly complicated story that I had no trouble following. Much like the first novel, the book is a little long winded at around 630 pages and some of the translations from Swedish can be a little odd. Overall a great novel and series, recommended. Read these books.

Booty Call

Booty Call - (noun) 1. A phonecall,page,or conversation aimed at getting into your pants. Not an invite to a movie or dinner, not just coffee, not a casual or formal get-together, just a plain old-fashioned "let's fuck." 2. A clandestine or casual meeting to indulge sexual urges, devoid of any meaningful social engagement. Typically occurring between the hours of 12-4am, subsequent to one party becoming inebriated or failing to secure sexual relations with a more appealing partner(s).

So last night I'm sleeping very hard when my phone starts ringing around 2:30 AM. I'm completely out of it and I keep trying to turn it off thinking it's my 6:00 AM alarm. The next thing I know my phone is going off in conjunction with someone knocking on my front door. Someone thinks they're getting a booty call. For anonymity purposes we'll call the person at the front door Hank. I see or hear from him every couple of months, usually in this context. I open the door, snarl, and immediately go back to bed to sleep. I got my revenge early this morning, kicking him out of the house since I had to go to work!

Really, who does this sort of thing these days? I guess I want to know if this is a common occurrence with anyone else or if it has been in the past? Hooking up with someone at the clubs is one thing, but who just randomly shows up at someone's house in the middle of the week at nearly three in the morning? I would never do this to an ex-boyfriend, most of them would probably shoot me in the face at the door!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Business As Usual in the Senate

"The entire Republican Senate caucus has signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, informing him that they will filibuster any legislative measure that comes before the Senate prior to the body considering a budget or tax cut legislation."

Link

I think this is a fight that Democrats can win. Here is what Republicans will essentially be saying:

We won't vote to extend unemployment benefits until the top 1% of earners get to keep their tax cuts!

Military service men and women can continue to expect to be kicked out of the armed forces until the top 1% of earners get to keep their tax cuts!

Forget about starting to pass legislation on immigration reform until the top 1% of earners get to keep their tax cuts!

I can't believe that conservatives are willing to stop everything in the Senate to benefit the richest people in our society. It's politics 101 for Democrats to oppose this kind of legislative bullying. If the Democrats can't get the word out and make this a winning issue they really are a bunch of spineless turds.

Thoughts or opinions?

It's Beginning...

... to look a lot like December!

November flew by didn't it? My blog has been kind of a dud lately. I've been so active the last couple of weeks that work has been my time to recuperate. Obviously the biggest thing going on this month is a birthday on the 25th. Yep, my friend Cris turns the big 3-0! I can't wait to give her shit about it since she always has some snarly remark about my age. Actually December marks the start of birthday season for many of my friends. Everyone seems to have their birthdays consolidated into the winter months of the year, it's wretched. Here's some other things of note for December:

World AIDS Day is today, December 1st. It is estimated that over 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world with over a million of those in the US alone. What can be done to help? First, if you're sexually active get tested. This can be done freely and confidentially almost anywhere. Secondly, if you're a book nerd like me, anything you buy today at Boarders will have a contribution of up to 25% of your purchase sent to Lifebeat.

Another great HIV/AIDS charity is GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis). Around this time of year it's common for me to get asked by family or friends what I want for Christmas. This year I've told anyone who asks to donate to this charity if they really feel it's necessary to buy me something.

College football bowl season starts this month! I'll probably be making bowl predictions like last year if I have the time, meaning if I don't get too lazy. I'm looking forward to Oklahoma State's bowl game, wherever it may be, and the prospect of having our first 11 game winning season. The Pokes came up just a bit short of winning the Big 12 this year but I'm still satisfied and proud of the team. 10-2 isn't too bad for a "rebuilding" year!

Obviously the biggest thing on everyone's mind this month will be Christmas. To be honest I'm kind of over this holiday. While I do enjoy the extra time and activities to spend with family and friends, I just get tired over the commercialism and religious aspects of it. Though I'm sure I'll be partaking in holiday activities this year, I've decided to forgo putting up a tree or doing any decorating this year.

The biggest party day of the year is New Year's Eve. It's a great time to let loose and also reflect on the year behind you and the year ahead. I'm going to try to visit my brother over the last weekend of the month if money and time permit.

So what is everyone else doing on the last month of the year?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Blog I'm Reading

I've recently been reading Cowboys Ride for Free, self described as "a pretty decent Oklahoma State Cowboys blog." Check it out if you're an Oklahoma State fan. If not, you suck!

This Season, Celebrate Reason


Interesting billboard being ran on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. According to American Atheists who purchased the advertisement, the purpose of the billboard is threefold:

1)To address those atheists who “go along to get along”, and to encourage them to come out of their closets.
2) To attack the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season.
3) To raise the awareness of the organization and the movement.

I've already read some blogs and stories about Christians being offended by the ad. Whatever. How many religious billboards are we subjected to all year, especially in Oklahoma. I can think of a pretty disgusting abortion billboard off of I-40 just east of Midwest City. More power to this and other atheist groups for raising awareness to their organizations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Transportation Security Administration

Hello everyone! Long time no post, eh? I had a really busy weekend and start to the week so I've been lazy when it comes to blog postings. I guess I feel obligated to comment on all of the controversy surrounding the new enhanced security measures at airports. First a word from our friend Mike Huckabee from 2007:

"Just like when I go to the airport it's a civilian function of the TSA to check me out and to make sure that I am who I say I am and that I'm going where I say I'm going. That's why they check my boarding pass and my photo ID to make sure that I'm not bringing something on that could be harmful, so that's why I go through all that X-ray and patting down process."

Link

Apparently Huckabee feels differently today:

"If he thinks this is an appropriate way for us to deal with security as he has defended, then I've said, 'OK, Mr. Obama, take your wife, your two daughters and your mother-in-law to Washington Reagan National Airport and have them publicly go through both the body scanner and the full enhanced pat-down in front of others,'" Huckabee said in an interview on Fox and Friends. "'If it's OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won't feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy.'"

Link

I understand that there is a little bit of nuance to the two statements but this a prime example of conservative hypocrisy. Believe one set of principles one day and then change them the next to score political points against an opponent. Of course liberals do this too, I just feel not with the same frequency as right wingers. Isn't it also funny that the most vocal group against the TSA enhanced searches are the same group that brought us the Patriot Act, a far more vile intrusion to our civil liberties! I'm really tired of these conservative Teabagging scum fucks. Guess who's fault it would be if airport security was made more relaxed and we were attacked?

So where do I stand with the whole controversy? I'm actually torn. I consider myself somewhat as a civil libertarian and I really hate the thought of the government performing these kinds of enhanced searches or forcing people to go through scanners that could possibly be unsafe. On the other hand I do agree that the 4th Amendment doesn't necessary apply when going through a security gate at the airport. I've been through the scanners and it was no big deal to me; however, if it were I guess I would just have to drive to my destination. Traveling by plane is not a right in this country.

What often gets left behind in this debate is the abuse that TSA agents receive on a daily basis. These are people on the front lines just doing their job:

“Yesterday a passenger told me to keep my hands off his penis or he’d scream. Is this how a 40 year old man in business attire acts? He’ll scream? My 3 year old can get away with saying he’ll scream, but a 40 something business man? I am a professional doing my job, whether I agree with this current policy or not, I am doing my job. I do not want to be here all day touching penises.”

Link

I do have to concede that airport security is kind of a joke. It probably really isn't keeping us as safe as we could be but having scanners and enhanced searches at random has to have helped in at least being a deterrent to someone bringing something crazy on to a plane. Has anyone flown a plane into a building in America since 2001? Something somewhere in our security protocols have to be working!

From Richard Adams:

"Relax, 40 year old man in business attire. If you think a TSA pat down is sexual assault then you don't ever want to go on the New York subway at rush-hour. Modern life, especially in densely-populated cities, is full of such minor indignities."

Link

Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a national conversation about safety versus civil liberties without all the screaming and hyperbole? I just don't think that's possible with right and left wing fringes screaming the loudest...

I think Lewis Black put it the best (I'm paraphrasing): in the name of fighting terrorism we've spent billions on two wars, lost thousands of American military and civilian lives, tortured people, and spied on our own people. Airport security is where we draw the line? Go back to watching "Dancing with the Stars" America...

Thoughts or opinions?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Minority Leader Pelosi

"Nancy Pelosi will continue leading Democrats in the House of Representatives during the 112th Congress, winning a vote of her caucus, 150-46, on Wednesday."

Link

I'm curious what everyone thinks about this development. Historically the Speaker of the House will give up his or her leadership position after losing the majority. Pelosi believes that the losses Democrats sustained in the mid-term election had more to do with jobs than it did with the party's policies.

I actually like Nancy Pelosi a lot. I think she's one of the strongest leaders we've had in the House in a long, long time. Though you may disagree with the philosophies of the Democratic party, she steered her caucus to pass a massive amount of legislation. In other words, she always got the votes when they were needed. Moreover, I absolutely believe without Speaker Pelosi's leadership and grit the Congress would not have passed Health Care Reform (such as it is). She was able to whip up enough votes in the House to pass the Senate version of the bill when many liberals were adamantly against it. She took the initiative when President Obama was ready to crack and start over.

On the other hand Pelosi's national popularity is low and she can be used easily by the opposition to paint a broad stroke on how liberal the party really is. Keeping the San Franscisco liberal as the leader is probably a PR gift to the Republicans.

After thinking about the pros and cons of her staying as the leader, I've decided, fuck it, I'm glad she's staying on. Most of the Democrats who lost their seats in the mid-terms were moderates so it's natural that a more liberal group would keep Pelosi on as their leader. Besides she's 70 years old, how much longer could she serve?

I want to know what you think. Is it better for the Democrats to keep such a strong leader in spite of the fact that she is controversial in "main stream" America? What are your general thoughts on the soon to be former Speaker and her job in the 111th Congress?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I finally had to figure out what all the hype was about with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. From the cover:

"Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into a complex and atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of iniquity and corruption."


I've heard two schools of thought on this novel, love it or hate it. I'm not exactly sure why. While it does deal with some convoluted financial subjects, often cited by those who don't care for the book, I had no problems following or enjoying the story. Perhaps another issue with the novel could be the translation from Swedish. While some of the translation can be a little odd and the names of locations can be downright scary, this too was never a major hurdle for me in my reading. Overall I found the writing quite accessible and I have to scratch my head a little when I hear someone say the book was a "hard read."

I enjoyed the plot of the book, or rather plots, as there are a couple of storylines going on at the same time, mostly a murder mystery and a financial intrigue story. What endeared me to the novel more than anything was the characters, especially Salander, the tough as nails, quiet computer hacker. I really wished the book had delved deeper into her past, which hinted at being fairly traumatic. I guess now I'll have to read the next book in the series to find some answers.

Overall a great read that kept me interested throughout. I felt the pacing of the book was the strongest during the first half and the book did drag on a little longer than I thought it should have, clocking in at just around 600 pages. Other than these minor quibbles, I recommend this novel and I look forward to reading "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."

Metroid Prime Trilogy Impressions

Last year Nintendo and Retro Studios released Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Nintendo Wii, a compilation of all three Metroid Prime games, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The first two games in the series were released on the Nintendo GameCube while the last game was released early in the life cycle of the Wii. All three games are packaged into one DVD in a slick metal box with a hard plastic sleeve, a rarity for Nintendo games to be given special treatment. The trilogy retails for $49.99, though it could probably be found at a cheaper price at this point.

Why would I be excited about a set of games that are re-releases, the oldest of which is nearly 10 years old? Simply put the Metroid Prime series is one of my favorite series of games with the original game being one of my favorite individual games ever. Retro has adapted the Wii remote functionalities into the two older games as well as shorter load times, upgraded and altered visual effects, added bloom lighting, and wide screen capability. While none of these new additions make for a new experience of the original two games, it does make for a better experience to two already nearly flawless experiences.

I began playing the first game in the series, Metroid Prime, on Monday. I'm about 30% complete thus far and I'm enjoying the game as much as the previous three times over the years that I've completed it. While the graphical updates are subtle and the game does show its age, the control upgrades are outstanding. With Metroid being a first person shooter/adventure game, the inclusion of the Wii remote and nunchuck functionality is brilliant. In spite of all the other "upgrades" to the series of games, the reason to be playing this version is because of the responsive controls.

Not to be missed for Metroid Prime fans and most definitely recommended to those who never had a chance to play the first two GameCube games. An excellent value considering that you're basically getting three games for the price of one.

Is anyone else playing anything of interest at the moment?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

These Shoes Rock!

It's unwise for Stephanie to leave her shoes at Justin's place! Apparently her and I are the same size.

Me.

Justin.

Early Christmas!


I finally replaced my original Wii that has been on life support for the past year or so. All I could determine from researching online is that there must have been some kind of problem with the lens and how it was reading the DVD's. I was able to play some of my games but the system was unable to recognize larger games that were written in dual layers. Long story short (too late), I was able to pop in some games last night that I had bought over the past year that I was never able to play.

The Wii I chose was a really cool collectors edition for the Mario franchise's 25th anniversary. As you can see from the picture above the system is red, comes with the a controller and nunchuck which has the Wii MotionPlus functionality already built in, and it comes with two games, Wii Sports of course and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. All this cost $199.99 which isn't a bad deal compared to the original Wii I purchased that only had one game and just the control wand.

While I'm excited to have the new system, this really is the end of an era for me and Nintendo. This is the first system I've ever had to replace due to a problem dating all the way back to the Nintendo Entertainment System, including all the various versions of the GameBoy and DS systems. Not a bad record over the course of 20+ years.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

66 Years

The last time Oklahoma State beat Texas in Austin was in 1944. Here's what was going on in the world:

Franklin D. Roosevelt was President.

America was in the middle of World War II in Europe and the Pacific.

My dad was four years old.

I was 29 years from being born.

George Lucas was born on this year.

A gallon of gas was 15 cents.

Sunscreen was invented.

Kind of amazing, no? I think the Pokes are going to drop another football monkey off their back tonight! Go State! It's a good time to live Orange...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Glamorama

I feel completely mind fucked and I didn't even get a kiss! Such is the worlds that Bret Easton Ellis creates and "Glamorama" is no exception. From the book cover:

"The center of the world: 1990's Manhattan. Victor Ward, a model with perfect abs and all the right friends, is seen and photographed everywhere, even in places he hasn't been and with people he doesn't know. He's living with one beautiful model and having an affair with another on the eve of opening the trendiest nightclub in New York history. And now it's time to move to the next stage. But the future he gets is not the one he had in mind.

With the same deft satire and savage wit he has brought to his previous fiction, Bret Easton Ellis gets beyond the facade and introduces us, unsparingly, to what we always feared was behind it.
Glamorama shows us a shadowy looking-glass reality, the juncture where fame and fashion and terror and mayhem meet and then begin to resemble the familiar surface of our lives."

I really wanted to like this novel, especially since I've become quite a fan of Ellis' work this year. "Glamorama" is to the 90's what "American Psycho" was to the 80's, in this case, a satire of the celebrity culture. Victor Ward is the typical Ellis "hero." The current "it boy" in modeling, he's vapid, shallow, and a slave to his culture worship. The story is told from Victor's perspective and he's constantly describing in detail what celebrity was at what party, what they were wearing, and what was playing. Another over the top style of Ellis' to convey that name dropping and brand labeling is more important to a lot of his characters than substance. Indeed, I've heard it said that much of the book reads like articles out of Page Six from the New York Post.

Victor's life takes a turn after a night opening a New York nightclub goes awry. He finds himself in London and then later Paris, sucked into an international terrorism plot he can't escape, perpetrated by models/celebrities. I know it sounds bizarre but the way the story eases into the final premise, it can be swallowed, but barely. For the last two thirds of the book, the narrative takes a different tone as though Victor is shooting a film (being followed around by what I could only guess was an imaginary film crew that he often directly addresses). He provides intense detail to each "scene" as well as a soundtrack of popular songs at the time. I was left wondering many times if Victor was losing his mind. There is also quite a bit of violence and sexual content that, again true to Ellis' style, borders on pornographic.

As I said earlier, I really wanted to like this novel more than I did. At times I either wanted to throw the book across the room or was unable to put it down over the stretch of about 150 pages in the middle third. The narrative has all the charm typical of Ellis' writing, mistaken identity, attention to detail, hilarious dialogue between characters, and a dark, satirical humor. The story was a little over the top and borders on absolutely schizophrenic near the end. The novel is far too long in what it accomplishes (over 500 pages) and finishes too unresolved for my tastes. Not recommended unless you're a fan of Bret Easton Ellis.

"The better you look the more you see."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Be Cocky!


Giant "cock" advertisement for Rex Goliath wine I saw in Chicago last month. I forgot it was on my phone until I was going through pictures earlier. Not among my favorite brands of wine but not bad. Just thought I would share...

Happy Armistice Day!

Armistice Day celebrates the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front during World War I, which took place on the the 11th month on the 11th day and the 11th hour of 1918. In the United States the holiday was renamed to Veterans Day after World War II. So basically what I'm trying to say with this post is happy Veterans Day!

Thanks veterans from all generations for serving and giving your lives to protect the freedoms we all enjoy today! I also want to give a shout out to those serving currently, especially my friend the Captain. Thanks for all your hard work day in and day out in the service of your country, it is truly appreciated!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Lieu of Flowers...


"The family respectfully asked in lieu of flowers that memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or to the campaign of whoever is running against President Barack Obama in 2012."

What a world we live in! Originally seen at The Political Carnival.

He he.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Bizarro World

Bizarro World - a place where everything is inverted, backwards, or just not right but similar.

I feel as though I'm living in Bizarro World. Examples:

The Dallas Cowboys are 1-7 half way through the regular season.

Though it's November it's 90 motherfucking degrees in my office.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys football team is in lone possession of first place in the Big 12 South.

The Texas Longhorn's football record thus far is 4-5.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are playing lousy defense.

Conan O'Brien has a show on TBS.

John Boehner with be the Speaker of the House in the 112th Congress.

A lot of drama went down Sunday night and I wasn't involved!

I'm telling you there's something weird in the air these days, or maybe I'm just bored...

Liberal Revolution?



A conversation I'm not sure I agree with but an interesting discussion nonetheless. The theory of everyone simultaneously not paying their mortgage payments would give all the banks pause to consider their slimy ways is very interesting. But as the guest suggests, you can't even get everyone in this country to stop littering.

In other news the graph above that I swiped from The Maddow Blog represents job growth (or lack thereof) in this country in recent years. The red lines represent a Republican majority in the House while the blue lines represent a Democratic majority. Hmmm.

Thoughts or comments?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Random Music Challenge

Well it's laundry night here in the Bitter household. My MO for doing laundry is pretty much the same: a free night to listening to random music on the computer while drinking beer, tonight is no exception. I set one of my playlists on random and took down some lyrics from each of the first 20 songs. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to see how many of these songs and artists you know (without looking them up online). I'll post the answers by the end of weekend.

These songs are pretty random and should be a good example of how eclectic my music tastes are... Enjoy!

(1) You know you can't fool me, I've been lovin' you too long.

(2) I am a rock, I am an island.

(3) If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?

(4) We can't go on together with suspicious minds and we can't build our dreams on suspicious minds.

(5) With you in that dress my thoughts I confess verge on dirty.

(6) I was a damn builder across the river deep and wide, where steel and water did collide.

(7) I know you'll think I'm like the others before who saw your name and number on the wall.

(8) Counting flowers on the wall that don't bother me at all, playing Solitaire 'til dawn with a deck of 51, smokin' cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo.

(9) Keep your head still, I'll be your thrill, the night will go on, my little windmill.

(10) Slip inside the eye of your mind, don't you know you might find a better place to play.

(11) I can't understand what makes a man hate another man, help me understand.

(12) Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damn depressed that I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed.

(13) She just can't be chained to a life where nothing's gained and nothing's lost at such a cost.

(14) It's bitter without you, I can't live without you, and I'm in love you.

(15) Chippin' around kick my brains around the floor, these are the days it never rains but it pours.

(16) There where the air is free, we'll be what we want to be.

(17) You're the priestess, I must confess those little red panties they pass the test.

(18) I'm through with doubt, there's nothing left for me to figure out, I've paid a price and I'll keep paying.

(19) It was perfect you know with just one little problem, the fact that it turns out that you don't really want it. (This is a tough one)

(20) Please don't leave me, I always say how I don't need you but it's always gonna come right back to me.

Unmotivated

My mood this week after the mid-term elections, which were especially bad in Oklahoma, the ultimate red state. Statewide officials from top to bottom went overwhelmingly Republican, from Governor all the way down to dog catcher. I knew it was going to be bad but I didn't think it would be an overall extermination of Democrats across the state!

Here are some of the other low lights:

Representative Kris Steele of Shawnee looks to be the next Speaker of the Oklahoma House. He's a minister, awesome.

"Little Dixie" in the Southeast region of the state went Republican in areas for the first time since statehood.

Republicans lead in the state Senate 32-16.

Republicans lead in the state House 70-31.

And my most favorite:



My new Congressional Representative to the U.S. House in the 5th district, James Lankford. I just got a cold chill down my spine...

Where do Oklahoma progressives, liberals, and Democrats go from here? I have no clue. Just when I think it can't get any worse politically around here another election proves me wrong. I think it may be easier to move to another state than fight to change this one.

Thoughts and opinions?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hell Yeah!

Got a package in the mail today. My brother is the man!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sin in the Second City

I guess I've been in a historical kind of mood lately, I just finished my second book about turn of the century Chicago titled "Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul" by Karen Abbott. From the back cover:

"Step into the perfumed parlors of Chicago's Everleigh Club, the most famous brothel in American history - and the catalyst for a culture war that rocked the nation. Minna and Ada Everleigh, the two sisters who operated the Club at the dawn of the last century, were unlike other madams: The Everleighs made sure their girls dined on gourmet food, were examined by an honest physician, and were even tutored in the literature of Balzac. But not everyone appreciated the sisters' attempts to elevate the industry. Progressive Era reformers, spouting lurid tales of "white slavery," ignited a furor that shaped America's sexual culture and had repercussions all the way to the White House, even leading to the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. With a cast of characters that includes Jack Johnson, John Barrymore, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William Howard Taft, "Hinky Dink" Kenna, and Al Capone, Sin in the Second City provides a vivid snapshot of America's journey from Victorian-era propriety to twentieth-century modernity."

This book was outstanding, but it's not surprising given my near obsession with all things Chicago lately. Basically the book is the story of the Everleigh sisters and their famed brothel in the South Levee area of Chicago at the turn of the 19th century, a subject I knew next to nothing about going in. The rise and fall of the red light district was especially interesting considering the views of all the forces against the wicked area of town and those who thought segregation of the the area was more suitable to society, better to keep vice in one area least it run amok all over Chicago. Abbott's style is easily accessible while informative, I flew through the 300 pages of the book even with all the distractions at work.

While I think the "white slavery" trade of the time was truly horrid, I had to wonder if the Mann Act didn't cause more problems in the long run instead of only stymieing the trade and transportation of women, against their will, into and throughout this country for the purpose of prostitution. I also found some interesting comparisons to today in the way that religious group decry actions and material that they deem unfit for society. Of course "white slavery" should not be tolerated but why should a whole group of people be arrested and driven out of an area because of vice, namely prostitution, drug use, and gambling? All of these forms of vice I find completely acceptable for free choosing adults. Well we've got Nevada!

A fun, interesting, and very informative look at Chicago and vice trades of the era. Highly recommended.

Is Obama a Keynesian?

"Keynesian - Economic theories that advocate using government spending programs to increase employment. They are based on the thinking of John Maynard Keynes."



My boss brought this to my attention this morning, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing! No, it really isn't funny. Well, ok, it is funny and a little sad...

I Voted, Did You?

Happy election day everyone! I know I've kind of bitched about voting this year but I got up early this morning and dragged myself to the polls (I was number three on the voting machine). I figured that people gave their lives for my right to vote and I should exercise that right! Besides, voting is my one chance a year to enter a church...

During the big election years (Presidential and mid-terms) it's always fun to see what kind of lunatic state questions will be on the ballot. This year was no exception! State Question 755:

This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.
International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.

The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.

Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

Shall the proposal be approved?


Needless to say I voted no. As if a judge would use Islamic law to make a ruling, especially in Oklahoma! It was an absolute waste of time that this question was printed on our ballot, don't we have better issues before us in Oklahoma as well as the country at large? Even the Oklahoman (aka the Daily Fish Wrap) said the measure was a waste of time and shouldn't be written into our state Constitution!

We also voted on making English the official language (stupid and mean spirited) and term limits for lower elective offices (the legislature and Governor already have limits on how long they can serve).

So did everyone out there in blogger land get out and vote? Were there any crazy local questions on your ballots?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Monday Mayhem - All about Orange

Usually I only participate in the Sunday Stealing meme but I couldn't resist All About Orange that I originally saw at The Debster Chronicles.

Welcome to Monday Mayhem.
In celebration of the fall colors, today's meme is all about the color orange.
For each prompt, answer with something orange.
Have fun!!


1. What is your favorite orange colored thing on the planet?
This is difficult I actually like the color orange a lot. Other than agent orange I'd have to go with an orange sunset.

2. Ever see an orange person?
Only dressed up like fools at football games or on Halloween.

3. Name something that you hate that is orange.
The University of Texas, burnt orange.

4. What is your favorite sports team that uses the color orange?
Oklahoma State University of course.

5. Name an orange food.
Creamsicles! Not a good combination with everclear when made into a drink. I had such a concoction on my last trip to Vegas and I had to swallow hard thinking about it.

6. Tell us something funny that entails an orange (like a joke or image).
I have no clue. Why did the orange roll down the hill? It ran out of juice...

7. When is the last time you ate an orange?
It's been a while, the acidity in them usually gives me a fat lip.

8. What's your opinion about pulp - does it belong in juice or should it be removed?
Definitely pulp free. Simply Orange is simply the best orange juice.

9. Name an orange piece of your wardrobe.
I have an orange Oklahoma State football jersey that I wear often on game days.

10. Orange you glad we didn't say banana?
Yep, I probably wouldn't have participated in a banana meme.

Happy November

October came and went quickly didn't it? Did everyone have a good Halloween? I ended up spending "gay Christmas" at the OU/Colorado game, otherwise I really didn't do anything special for the holiday. No treats this year, only a trick early Sunday morning.

There's a lot going on in November this year, the war on Christmas kicks off soon, the most wonderful time of the year! I'm really ready for some "fall" weather still. We've had amazing weather in October but I'm definitely ready for a cool down. Upper 30's and lower 60's today, that's a start. I think I just want to wear some of the winter clothes I bought recently. On tap for this month:

November 2nd: Election day, finally. I'm so sick of hearing about this election I could just puke. I'll definitely be voting but I'm afraid progressives are about to take a bath this mid-term. What I'll be most displeased about is the loss of the House of Representatives to Republicans. Speaker Boehner? Oh lord. I'm less concerned about the Senate, it's an already broken institution and a slim majority by either party will make little difference.

November 7th: Daylight Savings. One of my favorite days of the year! Who doesn't love an extra hour of sleep? I know I do but I consider sleeping one of my most passionate hobbies and an art form.

November 25th: Thanksgiving! One of the better holidays around I think, primarily because I get two days off, Thursday and Friday. I also like going out to the clubs on Thanksgiving night, it's a good time to run in to people who aren't usually out or who are in town for the holiday.

November 27th: Bedlam! For those unfamiliar with the term, bedlam refers to the annual Oklahoma/Oklahoma State game. Yearly I get my hopes up for an OSU win and most years I'm disappointed. With the game at OSU this year I think a change for a Cowboys win is a little better than usual. Hopefully the game will determine who'll win the Big 12 South and move on to the Big 12 Championship game.

I'm sure I missed something in this post but those are the highlights for me in November. What does everyone else out there think of the month ahead? Any interesting plans or stories for November?