Friday, July 29, 2011

Screw This: Fire and Brimestone Edition!

One of the favorite past times of any self respecting Oklahoman is bitching about the weather. We're like the Goldilocks of America. It's too hot, it's too cold, it's too windy, we need rain! As of right now it's too fucking hot. The graph above is one of the more conservative estimates I've seen around the local web sites. Some forecasts say we could hit highs between 108 and 110 next week. My yard is completely dead, did I mention we're in a drought as well?

The sign from Moore Liquor Marquee isn't too far from the truth. Check out their Facespace page for more of their marquee shenanigans. They seem to have a comment on everything under the sun especially fighting the Christians of south Oklahoma City (my favorite).

Fortunately I'm going to miss some of this dreadful heat as I'll be heading east next week to relax on a little island called Manhattan!

Approaching the weather in a glass is half full kind of way, today is supposed to be the hottest average day in Oklahoma. From this point, as an average, the weather will slowly cool down as we march toward spring. Something to look forward to, no?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Short History of a Prince

I was beginning to wonder if I would hit fifty books this year but at the rate I'm going I should be able to catch up. Next on my reading list via the bookshelf of mom was "The Short History of a Prince" (349 pages)by Jane Hamilton. From Goodreads:

"As a teenager in Oak Ridge, Illinois, Walter McCloud is desperate for adventure, hoping for love and success as a dancer. 'If life for Walter was composed in part of confusion, shame and deception, the ballet was order, dignity and forthright beauty.' In 1995, at 38, nothing has turned out as he had expected. Having spent years working in a dollhouse shop in New York and engaging in that city's ready sexual excitement, Walter finally returns to his Midwestern roots, accepting a teaching job in Otten, Wisconsin--a place that might have little to recommend it save its proximity to his family's summer home. ('It had taken Walter several years to admit to himself that he couldn't go on indefinitely selling Lilliputian Coke bottles and microscopic toilet-roll dowels.') In this new community, he will have to keep his head down, a stance that has long suited him, because he prefers to hold one memory of lost intimacy and perfection in high, private relief.

Walter's exile, or new start, allows memory to come to the fore, particularly that painful year in which his brother was dying of Hodgkin's and he and his fellow dancers were dying for experience. Jane Hamilton explores the distance between desire and reality, satisfaction and secrecy, irresistibly alternating between past and present. At first, we can't wait for Walter to break through, and it's tempting to race through her prince's history--one which is, happily, not that short. But to do so would be to miss out on Hamilton's fine major and minor characters and her exploration of competition, complicity, and silence. At one point, Walter fears that his pupils have 'no clue that there was pleasure to be found in observing character. They seemed to be afraid to look around themselves and find a world every bit as amusing, ridiculous and unjust as Dickens's London...' Hamilton's readers, however, will find this pleasure in abundance."

Hamilton's novel is a nice little story about family and loss and one's perception of failure. As the book's dust cover states: "With compassion and humor, and alternating between Walter's adolescent and adult voices, the novel tells of Walter's heartbreak as he realizes that his passion cannot make up for the innate talent that he lacks." What I really like among all the grief and reflections of the past is the revelation by Walter that maybe one can be happy with simply a place to live, a boyfriend, and a dog.

I've read through some other reviews that this novel requires some "heavy lifting" by the reader. I didn't find this to be the case. Hamilton's style is full of detail and rich characters but I think this enhances the simple story of Walter McCloud and two years in his life from two different decades. I also appreciated that many parts of the story took place in Chicago. How can this be bad thing? Recommended.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the Garden of Beasts

My reading of Erik Larson continues with his newly published work of non-fiction, "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin" (448 pages). From the author's web page:

"With this new book, I invite you to journey to Berlin during Hitler’s first year in power, 1933, in the company of a real-life father and daughter from Chicago who suddenly found themselves transported to the heart of the city. They had no conception of the harrowing days that lay ahead. At the time, nothing was certain—Hitler did not yet possess absolute power, and few outsiders expected his government to survive. The family encountered a city suffused with energy and optimism, with some of the most striking, avant-garde buildings in the world. Its theaters, concert halls, and caf├ęs were jammed; the streets teemed with well-dressed attractive people. But my two protagonists were about to begin an education that would change them forever, with ultimately tragic consequences.

The father was William E. Dodd, a mild-mannered professor who, much to his surprise and everyone else’s, was picked by President Roosevelt to be America’s first ambassador to Nazi Germany. His daughter, Martha, was 24 years old, and chose to come along for the adventure, and to escape a dead marriage to a New York banker. They and the rest of their family settled in a grand old house on the city’s central park, the Tiergarten—in literal translation, the Garden of Beasts.

Dodd expected to encounter the same warm citizenry he had known three decades earlier while a graduate student in Leipzig; he hoped to use reason and quiet persuasion to temper Hitler’s government. Martha found the 'New Germany' utterly enthralling, totally unlike the horrific realm depicted in newspapers back home. For her, as for many other foreign visitors at the time, the transformation of Germany was thrilling and not at all frightening. Not yet.

As that first year unfolded they experienced days full of energy, intrigue, and romance—and, ultimately, terror, on a scale they could never have imagined. Their experience tells volumes about why the world took so long to recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler."

Another wonderful effort by Larson to take another point in history, this time a year in Berlin, and transform it into an edge of your seat work of non-fiction. The book chronicles Ambassador Dodd's family in their first year in Nazi Germany, as told mostly through the eyes of Ambassador Dodd and his daughter Martha. The narratives combines notes, diaries, and diplomatic cables that all combine in an engrossing story of the truly horrific rise of Hitler's power. One has to wonder how Germany could be transformed so easily with the German people and the diplomatic world at large doing little or nothing to protest.

Again, another well written and meticulous account by Larson. Highly recommended for fans of the author or the subject matter. Read this book!

One for the Money Casting

The most popular post in my entire blog at least since late 2009 has been One for the Money: The Movie. Since this is the case I thought an update to the movie based on the best selling Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich was in order. The series has generated 17 novels so far, I'm a little behind having stopped at 15 last year.

A quick search at IMDb produced a list of the full cast:

Katherine Heigl ... Stephanie Plum
John Leguizamo ... Jimmy Alpha
Daniel Sunjata ... Ranger
Jason O'Mara ... Joe Morelli
Debbie Reynolds ... Grandma Mazur
Patrick Fischler ... Vinnie Plum
Sherri Shepherd ... Lula
Leonardo Nam ... John Cho
Nate Mooney ... Eddie Gazarra
Ana Reeder ... Connie
Gavin-Keith Umeh ... Benito Ramirez
Adam Paul ... Bernie Kuntz
Brenna Roth ... Sara
Danny Mastrogiorgio ... Lenny
Michael Laurence ... Lonnie Dodd

While I'm not exactly thrilled by the casting I'll reserve judgement until January 27th, 2012 when the movie is released.

I think Debbie Reynolds is actually a pretty good choice to play Grandma Mazur but I was really hoping for Betty White.

What do all of you Stephanie Plum fans out there think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Twenty-Fiver Meme

Happy Sunday everyone! I just returned from "Captain America" with the Rents (parents). It's surprisingly good, so check it out. Now on to today's Sunday Stealing...

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Tell us about something that made you laugh last night.
Futurama. I was watching the third season on DVD last night.

2. What were you doing at 8 PM last night?
Oozing on the sofa watching show from question number 1.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Driving the Rents home from the theatre.

4. What happened to you in 2006? (Feel free to republish an old post from '06.)
I went to Mexico with Shimmy. Check it out.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
"Bye Felicia."

6. How many beverages did you have today?
I had a soda at the theatre.

7. What color is your hairbrush?
I haven't used a brush or comb in many, many years.

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
Bought a pack of smokes this morning.

9. Where were you last night?
At the house all night.

10. What color is your front door?
Red. Gotta live the feng shui.

11. Where do you keep your change?
In a beer growler on the floor next to my desk.

12. What’s the weather like today?
It's supposed to get up to 105 today. I'm so over summer. I haven't had to mow at all in the month of July.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Double chocolate from Baskin Robbins!

14. What excites you?
The prospect of moving.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
Not quite, it hasn't hit the ears yet.

16. Are you over the age of 35?
I am amazingly! 38 and counting.

17. Do you talk a lot?
Not really.

18. Do you watch Franklin and Bash?
I have no clue what this reference is.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?
Not anyone in the inner circle.

20. Do you make up your own words?
Yeah, usually a combination of curse words.

21. Are you a jealous person?
Not usually.

22. What does the last text message you received say?
A post from Amy telling me I should go after someone newly single that I don't know.

23. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
New York City baby! Just over a week to go!

24. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
Probably my friend Brucifer, but in a good way.

25. Are you crushing on anyone that you shouldn't be?
Not at the moment, enjoying my solitude.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Isaac's Storm

Does anyone know the greatest natural disaster in American history? I do now after reading "Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History" (323 pages) by Erik Larson. From the back of the book:

"September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau, failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged by a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over 6,000 people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history - and Isaac Cline found himself victim of a devastating personal tragedy.

Using Cline's own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man's heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Thrilling, powerful, and unrelentingly suspenseful
, Isaac's Storm is the story of what can happen human arrogance meets the uncontrollable force of nature."

Not normally a subject matter I would be interested in reading, "Isaac's Storm" drew me in for one reason: Erik Larson. After reading "The Devil in the White City" last year by Larson, I would be willing to read anything he writes on any subject. "Issac's Storm" doesn't disappoint on every level a story can be measured. It has Larson's addictive style and foreshadowing that literally kept me on edge throughout the reading, which I pretty much did in one sitting tonight. The accounts and historical record that the author takes and combines into a story that reads like a fictional thriller is superb. Highly readable and emotional, this isn't a dusty work of non-fiction of the events of a period of time in 1900. I don't think I'll ever be able to shake the description of the 90 nuns and orphans who died in an attempt not to lose anyone by tying each other to ropes as the flood waters were rising in the orphanage... The story is a study of disaster and loss, the technology at the time, and man's hubris all rolled into one.

Highly recommended, one of the best books I've read so far this year. Get up now from your computer, quit your job, abandon the kids and go to a bookstore and buy this book or download it online. It's that good.

Thanks for the book Dann!

Angela's Ashes

Amazingly I still haven't had to purchase a book since the death of Borders here in Oklahoma City. I continue to visit the bookstore of mom. Where does she get all these books? My latest theft is "Angela's Ashes" (364 pages) by Frank McCourt. From the book's jacket:

"'When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.'

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness."

"Angela's Ashes" has to be one of the most depressing books I've ever read. Following McCourt's childhood journey of poverty from Brooklyn to Ireland and back to America in the 1930's and 40's is truly an ordeal and sometimes hard to read. Having said that, "Angela's Ashes" is also one of the funniest books I've read as well. McCourt presents several of his memories as a confused child unsure what's going on and slowly the stories evolve along with his age and maturity.

There's not really a whole more I can say about a memoir. Essentially we are taken on a journey through McCourt's childhood where he suffers through extreme poverty, the Catholic Church, and an extended family with sometimes less than good intentions. The author's wit and charm makes this tale of woe a more positive experience. Highly recommended.

If I hear the term "Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Joseph" one more time I might convert to Catholicism!

Eating Ramen Noodles and Starbursts While in Witness Protection

From WTF Weekly Meme:

1) If you had to go into the witness protection program and were given the chance to chose your new name, what would you pick for your name?

Rollo Tomasi. Bonus points to anyone who knows what that's from without looking it up.

2) In many books there are random blank pages, sometimes right after the credits page or between chapters. Sometimes the pages say "This page is intentionally left blank." Why do you think they feel the need to say that, and is it really "blank" if that is printed on it?

Your guess is as good as mine. Here's what Wikipedia said about it. I like the idea of "rest for the restless mind."

3) The makers of Starburst candies has based its current ad campaign around the idea of contradictions (They're solid but juicy like a liquid). In what way or ways is your life a contradiction?

I'm like those Sour Patch Kids candy, except first I'm sweet and then I'm sour.

4) July 20 is "Ugly Truck Day." Who seriously comes up with these things? What is the ugliest type of vehicle?

I dislike most Dodge vehicles because they are ugly. Who came up with that half car half station wagon monstrosity?

5) People who drive pickup trucks and own dogs often drive around with their dogs roaming around loose in the bed of the truck. Do you think this practice is okay or is it wrong in a PETA type of way?

I'm not sure. Living in Oklahoma you see more of this than you think. I'm not sure what to think about it. A dog can be killed just as easily in the cab as in the back of the truck.

6) Borders announced this week that it will close the rest of its 399 stores after a bankruptcy earlier this year and closing many stores already. With the invention of electronic book readers and e-books, do you think the print book industry is totally dying or do you think there will always be people who prefer to read books on paper?

I'm one of those people who prefer to hold a real book, even better if it's a hard cover copy over a paperback. Borders closed down here some time ago and I was devastated as it was my favorite place to purchase books. I'm sad to see the chain close completely. From here on out I'm buying local I guess.

7) Have you ever thought you saw the face of the Virgin Mary or Jesus or some other religious figure in an inanimate object?

No but I'm not a crazy person.

8) I heard a local radio talk show discuss ramen noodles in depth last week. A woman called in saying she made spaghetti with ramen noodles, tomato soup, and Italian seasoning. Do you have any good (or just interesting) recipes that use ramen noodles?

Who doesn't love Ramen noodles? If you dislike them you're a Communist! I eat them occasionally and I only prepare them by the instructions on the back.

9) What do you think is the most repulsive form of music?

There are certainly forms of music I dislike but I don't think I would characterize it as repulsive. Even some forms of rap and bullshit country bumpkin red neck music does have some artistic talent somewhere.

10) When I was a kid and all my classmates were at summer camps, I was always stuck at home because my parents couldn't afford to send me off to camp. Were you one of the lucky kids who got to go to a summer camp of some sort?

The only camp besides band camp I ever attended was a Baptist bible camp one year. I had a Coors sleeping bag they wouldn't allow me to bring and all these many years later I'm disgusted by that action. My dad worked for a Coors distributor my entire life. This is what fed and clothed me! I should've went to a Catholic camp!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Burnt and Home

How sad my life is that even returning from a weekend trip to eastern Oklahoma makes me a little depressed. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to live there with all the toothless folk, I just loathe Oklahoma City the more I travel.

Okay, enough whining.

My favorite quotes from the float trip that I happened to save on my iPhone:

Floyd: "I've had my tongue up your ass so don't act like you don't know me!"

Matt: "Dann thought he sharted but he didn't."

Matt: "Never trust a fart over 30."

Flyod: "Allegedly."

Unknown but I think Russell: "I went to vodka, I mean vacation bible school."

I had a really great time with a fun group for the most part. There were some lesbians with sticks up there ass next door to us and a couple incidents with some homophobes but nothing too dramatic went down. The paramedics only had to come to our bunkhouse once! Yeah, were that group.

I look forward to doing the trip again next year, if not sooner. Only next time I'll be sleeping in a better cabin/bunkhouse.

Edit: thought I should add one with me in it:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tahlequah Bound!

Heading to eastern Oklahoma to float the Illinois river this weekend with a couple hundred of my closest friends! Well I'll know a dozen anyways. Que the banjo music...

Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Divine Justice

Welcome back to Dave's World book club! Is everyone keeping up with their required book a day reading? I certainly hope not, otherwise you'll be as pathetic as I am holed up at home. Fortunately I'm on the mend. Unfortunately I think my antibiotic are making me sick. I just can't catch a break. So between eating and sleeping I've been reading a lot. The latest entry is "Divine Justice" (523 pages) by David Baldacci, the fourth book in the Camel Club series. From the author's web page (is web page one or two words? I never can seem to get that right...):

"Oliver Stone and the Camel Club return in David Baldacci's most surprising thriller yet... DIVINE JUSTICE.

Known by his alias, 'Oliver Stone,' John Carr is the most wanted man in America. With two pulls of the trigger, the men who destroyed Stone’s life and kept him in the shadows were finally silenced.

But his freedom comes at a steep price: The assassinations he carried out prompts the highest levels of the U. S. government to unleash a massive manhunt. Behind the scenes, master spy Macklin Hayes is playing a very personal game of cat and mouse. He, more than anyone else, wants Stone dead.

With their friend and unofficial leader in hiding, the members of the Camel Club risk everything to save him. Now, as the hunters close in, Stone’s flight from the demons of his past will take him from the power corridors of Washington, D.C., to the small, isolated coal-mining town of Divine, Virginia—and into a world every bit as bloody and lethal as the one he left behind."

"Divine Justice" I think brings to a close the storylines which were established and continued in "The Collectors" and "Stone Cold." I really enjoy this series of stories but I'm definitely ready for a change and luckily I'm all out of Camel Club books. You know the saying about too much of a good thing.

Another fantastic read by Baldacci with his oddball assortment of characters only this time the group is coming to the aid of their leader, the mysterious Oliver Stone. For a change most of the action in the novel takes place in a rural destination in western Virgina. A nice and needed change I think.

If you're a thriller or political intrigue fan, the Camel Club series is not to be missed. Recommended. Again one should start with the first book in the series, the Camel Club, to catch everything that has happened thus far.

I have three books queued and ready to go. Where to begin? A Gothic novel? Irish poverty? Maybe a story about a boy who wants to be a ballerina...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stone Cold

My reading convalescence continues with "Stone Cold" (511 pages) by David Baldacci, the third book in the Camel Club series. From the author's web site:

"Oliver Stone, the leader of the mysterious group that calls itself the Camel Club, is both feared and respected by those who've crossed his path. Keeping a vigilant watch over our leaders in Washington, D.C., the Camel Club has won over some allies, but it has also earned formidable enemies - including those in power who will do anything to prevent Stone and his friends from uncovering the hidden, secret work of the government.

Annabelle Conroy, an honorary member of the Camel Club, is also the greatest con artist of her generation. She has swindled forty million dollars from casino king Jerry Bagger, the man who murdered her mother. Now he's hot on her trail with only one goal in mind: Annabelle's death. But as Stone and the Camel Club circle the wagons to protect Annabelle, a new opponent, who makes Bagger's menace pale by comparison, suddenly arises.

One by one, men from Stone's shadowy past are turning up dead. Behind this slaughter stands one man: Harry Finn. To almost all who know him, Finn is a doting father and loving husband who uses his skills behind the scenes to keep our nation safe. But the other face of Harry Finn is that of an unstoppable killer who inevitably sets his lethal bull's-eye on Oliver Stone. And with Finn, Stone may well have met his match.

As Annabelle and the Camel Club fight for their lives, the twists and turns whipsaw, leading to a finale that is as explosive as it is shattering. And when buried secrets are at last violently resurrected, the members of the Camel Club left standing will be changed forever.

With unrelenting pacing, stunning reversals, and two of the most compelling characters in modern fiction, STONE COLD is David Baldacci writing at his breathtaking best."

Obviously I like this series by Baldacci as it's the third book I've read of his this year. The writing is crisp and fast with great deatil into the military intellegence world written in a way that is easily understood by the reader. "Stone Cold" is more of a direct sequel to "The Collectors" rather than a stand alone novel like the first entry in the series. Again these kinds of thrillers usually aren't what I read on a regular basis but I really like the content of the stories and the many interesting characters that Baldacci writes.

Recommended by fans of the genre and the author, however since it's the third book in a series of stories featuring these characters, if you haven't read any of them it would be more enjoyable to start with the first book, The Camel Club.

The Collectors

Sometimes being sick has its advantages, I have got a lot of reading done this week. Next on my list was "The Collectors" (511 pages) by David Baldacci. This is a sequel of sorts to his novel "The Camel Club." A sequel in that it involved the same core group of characters from the novel with new characters and a new storyline. From the book:

"Over the hill. Out of the loop. And trying to save their country...

In Washington D.C., four men with mysterious pasts call themselves the Camel Club. Their mission: find out what's really happening behind the closed doors of America's leaders.

The assassination of the Speaker of the House has rocked the nation. And the Camel Club has found a chilling connection with another death: that of the director of the Library of Congress's Rare Books and Special Collections Division.

The club's unofficial leader, a man who calls himself Oliver Stone, discovers that someone is selling America to its enemies one secret at a time. Then Annabelle Conroy, the greatest con artist of her generation, comes to town and join forces with the Camel Club for her own reasons. And Stone will need all the help she can give, because the two murders are hurtling the Camel Club into a world of espionage that is bringing America to its knees."

The description above is actually kind of lame and doesn't do the novel enough justice. I really enjoy the quirky characters that Baldacci has created in these first two Camel Club books. They are full of diverse and interesting backgrounds. I also like the addition of Annabelle into the mix as an honorary member. The novel actually tells two stories that eventually intersect with each other very smartly. As much as I like "The Camel Club," I would have to say that I definitely enjoyed "The Collectors" quite a bit more.

Definitely recommended even if you haven't read the first book in the series, "The Camel Club," though it's probably good to start at the beginning to understand what's happened to these characters in their past adventures. Baldacci takes complicated political and thriller storylines and presents them in a very accessible way to the reader. The mix of humour throughout the novel is greatly appreciated and enjoyable as well. "The Collectors" is one of those books you'll find yourself reading late in the night saying to yourself, "just one more chapter, just one more chapter." That's always a good thing, for me, in anything I read.

I'm Alive, Again!

The other day I posted about my drama over being sick part of last week and over the weekend. After an assortment of shots and medications I thought I was on the mend. I started feeling better Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. By Sunday night, however, something was changing, my throat was getting a little worse and my fever was back. By the time I crawled out of bed on Monday morning my throat was so swollen I could barely swallow well enough to even get water down. In somewhat of a panic I made a trip to St. Anthony's Emergency Room.

After a thankfully short check in process I was moved to a newer part of the hospital that was their minor emergency area. The ER physician looked at my throat for about two seconds and told me I probably had a peritonsillar abscess, an infection in the tissues of the throat next to one of the tonsils. An abscess is a collection of pus that forms near an area of infected skin or other soft tissue. The doctor on duty said they would have to do some tests first to verify this was the case before they went probing into my throat near the carotid artery. Specifically he wanted to do a CT scan of my head. When my mom asked him how much this would cost, knowing I don't have insurance, he seemed absolutely offended to be asked and replied rather shortly that he didn't know and it didn't matter as it had to be done. The guy was a complete jackass, but in my many years of experience with doctors I wasn't surprised. Fortunately he was the only bad experience I had in the entire ordeal, if one can have a good experience at a hospital.

So I experienced a lot of firsts yesterday. I had my first IV, my first CT scan (the iodine they put in your IV is a wild sensation), and my first taste of morphine. After the tests were completed it was confirmed that I had an abscess and I was handed over to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist and thankfully was finished with Dr. Douschbag. The procedure for removing the abscess is by having a long needle injected into your throat and draining the puss out. I've actually had this wonderful procedure done one other time in my life at a doctor's office. It was one of the most painful and horrific experiences of my entire life. Naturally I was terrified to have to go through this again.

After some more waiting and another round of steroids the ENT doctor showed up and went over the procedure with me. He was extremely kind and seemed genuinely concerned with pain management through the ordeal. They began by hooking me up with some morphine and spraying my throat with a topical anesthetic. After I was good and numb he then injected me with another numbing agent near the area where he would be draining my abscess. The last time I had this procedure done the previous doctor did not do this last part. No wonder it hurt like a mother fucker! After I was good and numb he injected a needed into the swollen area and began extracting the puss, I actually got to help by pushing on the swollen area of my throat to help fill the needle. Not getting much out he switch to a lower gage needle and was finally able to get some result. By the end of the procedure he had taken out 11 cc of vile nastiness from my throat. Almost immediately I was able to swallow normal again.

I hung out for a little and then was eventually released to go home. I skipped the administration office on my way out, screw them, they can bill me. Those of you have insurance consider yourself lucky. If I had had insurance I would have had my tonsils taken out that day if not a long time before, as was offered by the doctor. I asked him how much it was cost and he laughed and probably said a whole bunch of money. Eventually I'll have them removed. The majority of the time when I'm really sick it has something to do with my tonsils.

So that was my lovely Monday experience. I'm glad I made the decision to go to St. Anthony's Hospital. With the exception of the ER physician, everyone was extremely nice from the specialists to the nurses to the girls in the X-Ray lab. The ENT specialist and nurse during my minor procedure seemed to be really concerned with my pain management and I really appreciate that as not all health care providers seem to make that a priority.

So in reference to how much things cost when visiting a doctor's office or hospital, don't you think they should have some vague clue as to how much certain procedures or test cost? Would you take your car in for repairs and have them do the work without not knowing what the cost would be until after the work was done? Maybe patient access to medical costs should have been part of our illustrious health care reform last year! I'll report back on the costs after I get a bill just for the fun of it so everyone can know how many hundred of dollars my bag of saline cost.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cry to Heaven

If anyone had told me a few weeks ago that I would be reading a book about eighteenth-century castrati by Ann Rice I would have told that person that they were high. So I just finished "Cry to Heaven" (564 pages) by Anne Rice, a story about eighteenth-century castrati. My friend Amy mailed me an old copy of the book and insisted that I read it. She also sweetened the deal by including several packages of Giant Chewy Sweet Tarts, my favorite sweet treat. From Goodreads:

"They were the castrati--male sopranos whose glorious voices brought them adulation throughout Europe even as they were despised as 'monsters'. For Tonio Treschi, the child of Venetian nobility, kidnapped and castrated in a murderous family conspiracy, only one thing would soothe his soul--revenge!"

I actually found the story of this novel engaging. Before reading this book I had no clue that young boys were castrated and sold to various church organizations to be trained musically to take the place of women as sopranos in operas as well as other musical endeavours. At the time the Catholic Church forbade women from taking the stage in many parts of Italy (358th reason to loathe Christianity). Through some research I found that at it's height it was estimated that 4,000 young boys a year were put through this horrific process whether they showed an inclination to music or not! Finally the practice was outlawed and phased out sometime in the nineteenth-century.

Through family conflicts, Tonio Treschi, was forced to live the life of a eunuch against his will. The story follows his journey from a young child of wealth to his forced castration and finally to his rise as one of the most gifted castrati singers of his time. Always his motivation is to seek revenge on those who stole his manhood. Indeed one of the most powerful points of the book for me was the change that Tonio undergoes throughout the book to where finally he accepts what "God has given him" and accepts his place and tires of his need for revenge. I like stories of transformation and reading character arcs that change dramatically from beginning to end.

Surprising the novel also contains a lot of sexual content though it's much more prevalent in the first third of the book. Apparently some castrati were able to still perform sexually if they were castrated at a later age just before puberty. There's a lot of steamy homosexual and heterosexual content to be found in these pages.

Finally, while I think Anne Rice is a capable writer, I think the novel could have been trimmed down from its 500 plus pages. She has a tendency for some lengthy and flowery descriptions, though, it's apparent she did her research of the time and places of the era. Venice, Naples, and Rome are all well represented through the written word and come to life very well in all their eighteenth-century glory.

I would recommend this novel even though the subject matter may seem a little bizarre. I gave the novel a 4 out of 5 stars rating on Goodreads, maybe a little too generous, but the overall themes of transformation and revenge make the story a very worthy read. Thanks for the book Amy!

The Plaid Hat Meme

Yay Sunday Stealing! How I've missed thee...

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. When showering, do you start the water and then get in, or get in then start the water?
I get in and then start the water but I adjust the temperature before getting under the water.

2. Have you ever showered with someone of the opposite sex?
Yes, in fact your mom was over last night.

3. Were you ever been forced to shower with one of your siblings?
I'm sure I was but it would have to be when I was really young as my siblings are quite a bit older than me. Or maybe I was being punished for bad grammar.

4. Have you ever dropped your soap on your foot?
Yes on many occasions; however, while in prison I didn't pick it back up!

5. How old do people say you look?
I'm not sure but the general consensus is that I look younger than my 38 years.

6. How old do you act?
It varies, anywhere from 15 to 50.

7. What’s the last song you sang?
To a group it was "I Miss You" by Blink 182 on karaoke night.

"And as I stared I counted the webs from all the spiders
Catching things and eating their insides
Like indecision to call you and hear your voice of treason
Will you come home and stop this pain tonight?"

8. Have you recently become a member of anything?
Brilliantly Blonde added me to her Facespace book club today, does that count?

9. What are your plans for next weekend?
Headed to Northeastern Oklahoma to float the Illinois river with 150 of my closest friends. I hope no one tells me that I have a pretty mouth...

10. Do you kiss with your eyes open or closed?
Definitely closed unless I'm kissing a blind person.

11. Whats the sexiest thing about Sarah Palin?
Absolutely nothing.

12. Who’s the sexiest famous woman alive?
Just off the top of my head I like Milas Kunis.

13. Who’s the sexiest famous man alive?
Paul Rudd or Chris Pine.

14. Does your family have a crazy uncle?
My family is dominated by women so I'd probably be the craziest uncle. My favorite and funniest uncle died a few years otherwise I would choose him.

15. Have you ever smuggled something into another country?
I inadvertently brought in fruit through the Mexican boarder years ago.

16. Do you live in a city with a good sports team?
Hell to the yes! The Oklahoma City Thunder! I guess you could also count the Oklahoma Swooners 30 minutes down the road which has quite the cult following in these parts. I'm not a fan.

17. What is the most unusual?
This question.

18. How do feel about the Goth people?
"Hell is the possibility of sanity." -Daria

19. Can you fix or your significant other your own car?
I can fix something easy like changing a tire but unfortunately most times I would need a mechanic. I could fix the grammar in this sentence much more easily than fixing a car!

20. Would you want to kill Casey Anthony yourself if you were guaranteed to get away with it?
Why on Earth would I want to do that? Maybe someone should kill the prosecution team for the bang up job they did.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

I'm Alive!


I haven't posted since I returned from Louisiana as I've pretty much been in bed the entire time since I got back. I started feeling ill on Wednesday afternoon until I developed a nasty sore throat last night. I dragged myself to one of the minor emergency clinics here in town for treatment.

It's amazing the difference a day, a shot of antibiotics, a shot of steroids, oral antibiotics, pain killers, Ibuprofen, and Claritin can make! Though getting two shots simultaneously by two different nurses was a little bizarre and a lot painful. I think my hips are going to be sore for a few days.

The worst part of being holed up this week is missing a performance of Evita in Tulsa tonight. I really enjoy the musical but I've never caught a stage production of it. Luckily Dann was able to get out of our hotel room and our tickets for the show with only a seven dollar fee total!

I have ten days left of antibiotics. Boo. Now that I'm feeling better I should be posting again more regularly.