Friday, April 29, 2011

The Swan Thieves

Elizabeth Kostova's second novel "The Swan Thieves" (561 pages) is a wonderful sophomore effort after her acclaimed first work, "The Historian." From the cover of the book:

"This richly told, beautifully imagined novel takes us on a journey into the lives of the woman left behind by the renowned painter Robert Oliver.

After attacking a canvas in the National Gallery of Art, Oliver maintains a stubborn silence, prompting his psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, to embark on an unconventional pursuit of the answers his patient won't provide. As Marlow is pulled deeper within Oliver's troubled mind, he uncovers a tale of love, betrayal, and artistic obsession, and finds surprising possibilities in a package of nineteenth-century lover letters. Does the key to unlocking Robert Oliver's mystery lie in a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism?

Across centuries and continents, from young love to last love, Elizabeth Kostova deftly explores the painter's universe - passion, creativity, secrets, madness - and conjures a world that lingers long after the final page has turned."

An absolutely beautiful read and at two bucks, one of the best values in a book that I've ever ran across (RIP Borders, you will be missed). Kostova weaves four stories of love and sometimes loss that all come together magically toward the heartfelt conclusion of the story. The final pieces of the puzzle coming together as the novel unfolds truly left a little lump in my throat.

Beyond the compelling story is Kostova's ability to bring her love of art to a level that I, knowing very little of art and less of Impressionism, could understand and appreciate just through her gift of description. After reading the rich novel I'm compelled to view works by Manet, Monet, Pissarro, or Sisley. Unfortunately living in Oklahoma does not give me this option on a day to day basis.

The best work of fiction I've read so far this year. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shared Birthday

Just found out that Channing Tatum shares this glorious day of birth with me. With this post he will be the first two time recipient of the "eye candy" tag!


As in that's how old I am today. I'm really quite surprised I've lived this long. Fortunately only the good die young...

In 1973...

Richard M. Nixon was President of the U.S.

Gas was $.39 a gallon!

A first class postage stamp cost $.08. And you had to lick them, ewww!

The average new house price was $35,500.

Milk was $.68 for a half gallon.

The number one movie of the year was "The Sting."

The top rated television show was "All in the Family."

The number one song of the year was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon." Really?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Now the Oklahoma House is Hard at Work


"OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma House has named 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' as the official gospel song of the state.

The House voted 89-0 Monday to approve the bill by Rep. Jabar Shumate of Tulsa designating the song. It now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law.
'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' was written in Indian Territory in 1862 by a Choctaw Freedman named Wallis Willis. The Red River reminded Willis of the Jordan River and the song was loosely based on the passage in the Bible that speaks of the Prophet Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot.

The song was adopted by England Rugby Union fans during the last match of the 1988 season and recorded by the band UB40 for the team's performance at the World Cup."

I see the Oklahoma legislature is still hard at work this term. Anything going on with job creation or growth? Discuss.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bring Out Your Dead!

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy zombie Jesus day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Saturday Night Minutes

Someone (I think Kim) decided to start the minutes on Saturday night after midnight. It was too late as we had already been laughing our asses off from searching through some definitions at Urban Dictionary, but that's another post...

Here's what I found crumpled up in my shirt pocket Sunday morning:

12:20AM - Meg - "Rape the puppy every night now."
12:24AM - "He likes it when I sit on his face for 3 hours."
12:25AM - "The muffin man lives on Drury Lane."
12:31AM - "Excuse me! I'm sorry... my shoe is calling. Shoe phone."
12:37AM - "Who can get too deep?"
12:42AM - DB - "If I want that I can fuck a four year old."
12:51AM - DB - "Dude you smell like tuna!"
12:51AM - Meg - "Dude, I can't help it! She was nice."
12:54AM - DB - "The Moose Shuffle."
12:56AM - Kim (with quarters) - "Make it rain bitches!"
01:07AM - Cris (in response to Ryan's tongue) - "Wait! I can't let go of your hand yet!"
01:11AM - DB (raising a glass) - "To our last night on the south side!"
01:11AM - Meg - "Bite!!"
01:16AM - Kim - "I don't feel like I had nine."
01:16AM - Cris - "But you look like you had nine."
01:17AM - "Why is DB doing kegels????"
01:19AM - Kim - "I don't think I should, I haven't shaved it in a while."
01:22AM - "OMG, Meagan just spit up!"
01:22AM - "Dave told me not to dress like a skeeze."
01:29AM - Meg to David - "Boob smacked!"

The 65 Questions Meme

Once again from Sunday Stealing and once again a day late...

Cheers to all of us thieves!

1. Tell us who the last person that you took a shower with.
I have no clue, I live alone and I'm usually not in the habit of showering with people.

2. Tell us about your favorite tee-shirt. Extra points if you show a pic. (We know. What can you do with freakin' extra points?)
It's my Sunday Funday shirt that my friend Kim got me one year for my birthday.

3. Has anyone ever hit on you even though they knew you were taken?
Yeah, this is pretty common in the homosexual underworld.

4. Do you plan what to wear the next day?
Not usually unless I'm traveling.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now? Why?
Tired. I woke up recently and I didn't sleep very well, there's some sort of construction going on in the hood.

6. What's the closest thing to you that's black?
My trick from last night. Just kidding, a pair of boots.

7. Tell me about an interesting dream you remember having.
I never remember my dreams for very long after waking.

8. Did you or might you meet anybody new today?
I just might.

9. If you could be doing anything right now (or perhaps after you finish this ridiculous meme) what would it be?
I'd really like to be kicking at the pool but it's not quite warm enough yet.

10. Can you think of a meme question that's never been asked?
As many memes as I've done over the past year nothing comes to mind.

11. What comes to mind when I say China?

12. Are you overly emotional?
Not when I'm sober!

13. If you could listen to just one rock album (CD, vinyl or mp3) which one would you pick?
Probably "We Are Pilots" by Shiny Toy Guns.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
I'm both a biter and a licker.

15. Do you like your car?
It gets me where I'm going.

16. Do you like yourself?
Some of the time.

17. Would you go out to eat with Charlie Sheen?
It could be a hoot. He's paying for the drugs though.

18. What was the last song that you listened to?
"Nobody Knows It But Me," it was on the radio.

19. Are (or were) your parents strict?
I'm not a parent and mine were never really strict.

20. Have you ever wondered what attending a wild orgy (if only to watch or...) would be like?
I don't need to wonder depending on how many people constitutes an orgy.

21. I say cottage cheese. You say: With fruit cocktail?

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?
Not really unless you count a couple of local politicians.

23. What was the last movie that you watched at home?
Zombieland, yesterday afternoon.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?
Just the shiny disco ball hanging from the ceiling.

25. What countries have you visited?
Germany, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

26. Have you ever made a phone call while you were drunk that you've regretted? If yes, do tell.
Not that I can remember, I'm more of a drunk texter and I've regretted more of those than I can count.

27. Where were you going the last time that you were on a train?
West Berlin.

28. Bacon or sausage?

29. How long have you had a cell-phone?
Since 1999.

30. What other memes do you do regularly?
Only Sunday Stealing.

31. Who is the craziest meme host?
I don't know since I just steal them from a site that steals them.

32. Who invented chop sticks?
My money would be on an Asian.

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?
Just with myself.

34. Are you too forgiving?
I don't think that adjective has ever been used when describing me.

35. When was the last time that you were in love?
Many years ago.

36. Tell us about your best friend.
She's a devil woman.

37. What was the stupidest thing you learned in high school?
How to maxi pad a car.

38. What was the last thing that you cried about?
It was over some spilled milk!

39. What was the last question you asked?
Why am I participating in this insanely long meme?

40. Favorite thing to do this time of the year?
Patio Sunday Funday, go to the Arts Festival, birthdays.

41. If you had to get a (or another) tattoo, what would it be?
I don't have a tattoo and I keep vacillating on what to get. Lately I've been thinking about getting a 1-UP mushroom from Super Mario Brothers.

42. How would your best friend describe you?

43. Have you ever seen all three Twilight films?
I've never seen one of them, I'm not a thirteen year old girl.

44. Ever walked into a glass door?
In fact I have but luckily it didn't break.

45. Favorite color on that person that you are attracted to?
This is what I'm talking about. This meme could be a whole lot shorter with questions like this omitted.

46. Have you ever slapped someone?
Yes but they had it coming.

47. What hair style (for you) would you like to see return?
The mullet! Oh wait, it never went away in Oklahoma.

48. What was the last CD you bought?
An entire CD? I have no clue, probably something by Shiny Toy Guns.

49. Do looks matter to you?
Is the Pope a pedophile?

50. Could you ever forgive a liar?
Probably depending on the lie.

51. What's the hardest bill to pay every month?
None of them, I don't physically pay them myself.

52. Do you like your life right now?

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?
Often since I usually fall asleep on the sofa.

54. Can you handle the truth?
I can! I ordered the "code red."

55. Do you have good vision?
I do when I'm wearing my contacts or glasses.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?
Oh yes indeed.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?
As little as I have to, mostly to my mother.

58. What celeb would you like to come home to?
Chris Pine.

59. What are you wearing?
Pajama pants and a tee shirt.

60. What is your favorite wild animal?
The Tasmanian Devil.

61. Where was your facebook picture taken?
At a baseball game.

62. Can you waltz?
I can it's my favorite kind of dance.

63. Do you have a job?
I'm in the business of kicking ass and business is good.

64. What was the most recent thing you stole?
Either a pen or a lighter.

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?
I have and I'm about to again to escape this meme.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Fountainhead

I've owned "The Fountainhead" (727 pages) by Ayn Rand since 1994. It's about time I finally read the damn thing even though I'm still scarred from "Atlas Shrugged."

From Goodreads: "The Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in 1943. It studies the conflict between artistic genius and social convention, a theme Ayn Rand later developed into the idealistic philosophy knows as Objectivism. Rand's hero is Howard Roark, a brilliant young architect who won't compromise his integrity, especially in the unconventional buildings he designs. Roark is engaged in ideological warfare with a society that despises him, an architectural community that doesn't understand him, and a woman who loves him but wants to destroy him. His struggle raises questions about society's attitude toward revolutionaries. The book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism."

I'm really not sure how to write this particular book entry. By no mean am I detractor of Rand's work nor could I ever be one of her slavish devotees either. I guess what I've come to find from Ayn Rand is an opinion somewhere in the middle. I can agree with some of the philosophy she puts forth and dismiss the rest.

Some random thoughts on the reading:

Contrary to many of Rand's harshest critics, I do not find her writing style amateurish or hard to read. Indeed I had no problems stylistically with the novel at all. There are a few chapters, especially toward to latter part of the book, where a character goes into a multi-page monologue but even this was tolerable. Roark's courtroom closing comes to mind.

As much as I hate to admit, I actually like the story of "The Fountainhead" and was generally interested in the conclusion. Unfortunately I can't say the same for any character in the novel. Rand paints everyone in such complete black and white terms with zero growth. None. It was highly frustrating to comprehend. I don't believe that people and their motivations would be so rigid over a 20 year span in the novel, regardless of their philosophies. Life, I believe, isn't so clear cut and does venture over to a grey palette at least once in a while.

Along the same lines, I got tired of the gushing narration that seemed necessary over Howard Roark, from the author and the perspective of multiple characters in the novel. Yes, we get it, he's the heroic model of the perfect man, a force of nature that those who share some of the same qualities can recognize. The sledgehammer approach wasn't necessary.

I do have to give credit to Rand for writing a strong, independent female character which was probably not the norm during the 1930's and 40's. Having said that, was it necessary to reduce said character to an object to serve our hero and to a willing rape victim! I understand what Dominique's motivations were in the infamous rape scene but it still left a sour taste in my mouth. Page 223, 1994 Plume addition.

Howard Roark has red hair. Totally unbelievable that a ginger could be a hero of anything. Just ask Eric Cartman or Patti Stanger.

Just once I was begging the author to give Peter Keating a spine! The opportunities were there but didn't materialize. Especially frustrating was the scene where Peter pretty much pimps out his wife Dominique to media tycoon Gail Wynand. Another sour note in the novel.

On the flip side, Howard Roark could have been given just a sliver of emotion or humanity anywhere in the story. He was a smug, arrogant, ass hat with an ego almost the size of the entire novel. This, I might point out, was one of his defining and "heroic" qualities.

The only thing that would have made Ellsworth Toohey a more complete villain would have been a long mustache for him to twirl while he planned his socialistic take over of the world. He manipulated the mob for his gain and power by deciding for them their opinions through his influence and proxies. I found Toohey to be revolting; however, he's an example of Rand's attack on collectivism, socialism, and her perception of communism. Not everyone who believes in some forms of social justice or charity are socialists.

Though most of my comments may seem negative, I am impressed and do agree with some points that Rand put forth in the novel and in later writings. I do believe in strong individualism where integrity is blazing a path for yourself regardless of what society may think is moral. Too many people today, and apparently back then, seek self esteem through the perception of others when they should only care about their own opinion.

"The Fountainhead" and Ayn Rand for me is a mixed bag. In typical libertarian fashion she takes some nice individualistic views and moves them very far to the right. This is an author who helped in the McCarthy era witch hunts and decried the social safety net of the government. If you can get past the heavy handed lessons that Rand tries to preach in this novel, there is some good to be found here. A very readable novel that had me interested to the end in spite of some very heavy eye rolling throughout.

I would be really curious to hear any opinions from others who have read this novel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 5000 Question Meme, The Final Part

It looks like Sunday Stealing is only doing the first 100 questions of this meme. Thank goodness, I was starting to get worried.

Cheers to all of us thieves!

76. Do you prefer Disney or Warner Brothers?
Disney! I especially love the old animated classics before computer animation.

77. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?
Unsure, I seem to never go in the same direction at the Oklahoma City zoo. When I visited the Lincoln Park zoo in Chicago I pretty much went just to see the polar bear.

78. Would you consider yourself to be romantic?
Not really and I think most would agree.

79. If the earth stopped rotating would we all fly off?
I don't know. I don't seem to recall everyone flying off the world when Superman reversed the rotation of the earth.

80. What is the one thing that you love to do so much that you would make sacrifices to be able to do it?
Traveling. Unfortunately doing this is a sacrifice.

81. If you (and everyone) had to lose one right or freedom, but you could pick which one everyone had to lose, what would you pick?
I couldn't and wouldn't want to pick one. We've lost enough freedoms recently on the "war on terror" that it disgusts me.

82. If you had to choose would you live on the equator or at the North Pole?
The equator, there are better drinks available.

83. Would you rather give up listening to music or watching television?
Definitely watching TV though I would really miss football and basketball.

84. What do you think makes someone a hero?
The only real heroes in this world are the protagonists in any Rand novel, just ask any libertarian.

85. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?
None, this is a retarded question.

86. Name one thing that turns your stomach: politics.

87. What was the last thing you paid for?
A delicious chocolate malt.

88. Are you a coupon clipper?

89. Get anything good in the mail recently?
I never get anything good in the mail! The amount of junk mail delivered to my house is unreal, it's destroying the environment.

90. Which would you rather take as a gym class...dancing, sailing, karate, or bowling?
Sailing sounds cool. Do I have to bring my own boat?

91. In Star Trek people 'beam' back and forth between different places. What this means is they stand in a little tube and their molecules are deconstructed and sent to another tube somewhere else where they are reassembled. Only problem is when the molecules are deconstructed the person is dead. When they are put back together it is only a clone that has all the dead person's memories. Is the person who gets beamed the same person on both ends?
How do we know for sure the disassembled person is dead?

92. What insects are you afraid of?

93. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?
Dance 10 looks 3.

94. What's the most eccentric thing you have ever worn?
Shorts over sweats? It was the thing to do back in the '80's.

95. If you could pick one food that you could eat all you wanted but it would have no effect on how much you weigh, what food would it be?
Ice cream.

96. What are your parents interested in?

97. Have you ever caught an insect and kept it as a pet?
Not that I recall.

Have you ever caught and tamed a wild animal?
Crawdads or maybe a turtle when I was a kid.

98. What is more helpful to you, wishes or plans?
Plans that I constantly break.

99. When do you feel your life energy the strongest?
At all times since I don't believe in a life energy.

100. You are spending the night alone in the woods and may bring only 3 items with you.
A tent, matches, and your mom.

Friday, April 08, 2011

April in Oklahoma...

... means 90 degree weather. What the hell? I'm all for warmer weather but not this warm this early in the season!

At this rate it's gonna be too warm for tornados!

On tap for my favorite month of the year:

All month: warmer weather means the return of the best season for Sunday Funday, patio brunches and patio bar crawling!

9th - 10th: 29th Annual Redbud Classic. This involves running, walking or biking. I'm out!

16th: NBA playoffs begin. Thunder up!!

19th: this date marks the 16th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Though this date marks a time of remembrance for Oklahomans and indeed the rest of the nation, any day of any month is a good time to visit this fantastic and sad memorial.

21st: Matt's birthday. One of my besties though he even isn't sure how old he'll be (it's a long story).

26th - May 1st: Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts. One of the best outdoor events to be held yearly in Oklahoma City. Great food, drinks, and art! It also coincides with my birthday every year.

26th: Davemas!! Number 38.

29th - May 1st: Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Once again, too much exercise for me. I'm sticking with the 12 ounce curls.

I love this month and this time of year! What's everyone else doing for the glorious month of April?

When Harry Met Sally 2

I would definitely pay money to see this movie!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Division Champs!!

Thunder fans knew it was only a matter of time but it's still amazing what this team has accomplished after only three years in Oklahoma City. Now let's close the gap with Dallas and get that third playoff seed in the Western Conference. Woot woot!

Get the Northwest Division title shirts here.

The Reapers

I found "The Reapers" (351 pages) by John Connolly in my stacks of books at home which was fortunate since I'm in dire need of a trip to the bookstore. From the dust cover:

"As a small boy, Louis witnessed an unspeakable crime that takes the life of a member of his small, southern community. He grows up and moves on, but he is forever changed by the cruel and brutal nature of the act. It lights a fire deep within him that burns white and cold, a quiet flame just waiting to ignite. Now, years later, the sins of his life are reaching into his present, bringing with them the buried secrets and half-forgotten acts of his past.

Someone is hunting him, targeting his home, his business, and his partner Angel. The instrument of revenge is Bliss, a killer of killers, the most feared of assassins. Bliss is a Reaper, a lethal tool to be applied toward the ultimate end, but he is also a man with a personal vendetta.

Both hardened by their pasts, Louis and Angel decide to strike back, and although they form a camaraderie that brings them solace, it offers them no shelter from the fate that stalks them. When they mysteriously disappear, their friends are forced to band together to find them. They are led by private detective Charlie Parker, a killer himself, a Reaper in waiting.

Connolly's triumphant prose and unerring rendering of his tortured characters mesmerizes and chills. He creates a world where everyone is corrupt and murderers go unpunished, but betrayals are always avenged. Yet another masterpiece from a proven talent
, The Reapers will terrify and transfix."

Apparently "The Reapers" is a middle book in a series of novels by Connolly that mostly center around detective Charlie Parker. Had I known this before I began reading the book I would have skipped it altogether. I'd rather read books based on the recurrence of one character or characters from the beginning. Fortunately this novel focuses on Louis and Angel, two side characters from the novels, so it was fairly easy to get through the story without knowing what had followed previously.

I found Connolly's writing style somewhat sophisticated for a novel in this genre and I thought the story mostly satisfying although it does get a little predictable toward the end. My greatest surprise, besides many typos (who edited this novel?), was that the main characters, Louis and Angel, were a gay couple. That's definitely new to me in a novel that promotes itself as a thriller. Times they are a changing.

Again, an enjoyable read, particularly the exploration of Louis' past and how he came to be the kind of person he is. The writing is nice and smooth and easily followed even though it comes in the middle of a series of novels. I'll definitely have to check out some of the other novels in the Charlie Parker series. Recommended to fans of mysteries or thrillers.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The 5000 Question Meme, Part Three

I'm a couple of days behind thanks to a weekend trip to Tulsa, America. Courtesy of Sunday Stealing again...

Cheers to all of us thieves!

51. Make up a definition for the following silly words...

Fruitgoogle: I think this was the replacement site for ManHunt.

Ambytime: The time of day one takes Ambien.

Asscactus: I had this ailment but it was nothing a little penicillin and shaving couldn't cure.

52. What was the last thing you made with your own hands?
I have no clue, I'm more of a hire it done kind of boy.

53. What was your favorite toy as a child?
That's a tough one. Either Star Wars figures or Legos.

54. How many TV’s are in your house?
Only one beat up Sony.

55. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Sit on a patio for brunch? I used to really enjoy golf quite a bit in my other life.

56. How do you feel when you see a rainbow?
Poor. I never can find that pot of gold!

57. Have you ever dreamt a dream that came true?

58. Have you ever been to a psychic/tarot reader?
No but it sounds it could be a fun thing to do.

59. What is your idea of paradise?
Anywhere that doesn't end in lahoma.

60. Do you believe in god and if so what is he/she/it like?
I do not believe in god, fortunately I have been spared that particular mental illness.

61. Do you believe in Hell?
See above.

62. What one thing have you done that most people haven't?
Not sure. Whored on Craigslist? Is that a common occurrence?

63. What is the kindest thing you have ever done?
Nothing, I'm a taker remember?

64. Have you gone to WTIT's facebook page and hit "like" yet? If not, why not? (No pressure.)
I only friend or like people I personally know.

65. What holiday should exist but doesn't?

66. What holiday shouldn't exist but does?

67. What's the best joke you ever heard?
The one about the two gay judges. They tried each other.

68. Where is the most fun place you have EVER been?
Chicago, Germany, or Mexico would be in my top three.

69. Is your hair natural or dyed?
Natural brown with the exception of that one grey hair.

70. Do you have any deep dark secrets or are you pretty much up front?
I have a few of them but I usually end up sharing them with my peeps.

71. What is under your bed right now?
Probably some dust bunnies.

72. If you were in the Land of Oz would you want to live there or go home?
I think Oz could be kind of fun provided I didn't live in Munchkinland.

73. If you drive do you frequently speed?
Almost always.

74. What is the world's best song to dance to?
"Lonely Little Petunia In An Onion Patch."

75. What song was on the last time you danced with someone?
Unsure even though it was this weekend. I know for sure I danced to some Shiny Toy Guns but it wasn't the last song.