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!


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:

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:


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.


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...


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."


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?