Thursday, December 31, 2009

Closing out the Year with Word Association

I'm closing out the year with this week's word association.

  1. Classified :: Ads
  2. Praised :: Lamented
  3. Censored :: Post
  4. 2010 :: Tomorrow
  5. Lamp :: Light
  6. Alternate :: Universe
  7. Script :: Acting
  8. Handsome :: Prince
  9. Eager :: Beaver
  10. Meeting :: Boring

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Hope it is a good day with family and/or friends.

But in the midst of all the presents and good food (both of which I plan to enjoy), take a few moments to remember what this day represents. God sent us His Son. Jesus became man. And all so He could die for us to pay for our sins and then rise from the dead to offer us the hope of eternal life.

Still blows my mind.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I feel like I haven't updated this blog for a while. And if you are looking for something other than book posts, you'd agree with me. So let's go with some highlights of the last couple of weeks, shall we?

Saturday the 12th, I met up with Angelique to go see Mary Poppins. The Broadway play version is on tour in Los Angeles right now. We really enjoyed it. It is very different from the movie, including most songs rewritten somewhat and in completely different orders. More things were taken from the books and parts of the movie were ignored completely. But it was really very good.

Both of the last Sundays, I've gone to practice with my ultimate Frisbee winter league team. We've had four people show up each time, three of us being the same. I hope we get enough people out to field a team with at least one or two subs when games start in a week and a half, or I am going to be very disappointed. I've stayed for pick up after practice and been enjoying that.

I've finished with work for the year. I always forget how crazy that last week is trying to get everrything finished. Even with finishing payroll stuff a day early, the final Friday was still crazy with multiple deposits to get as much as possible in the bank before we all took off.

Last Saturday my friends Joe and Erica got married. I was asked to be an usher, and it was an honor to be part of their special day. Everything went well, at least from my stand point.

And I think I've found someone to do the Camp Pendleton Mud Run with me in June. I just hope Josh doesn't change his mind before we register in a little over a week. We just need to decide which Saturday we are going to do it. I think it will be lots of fun. That is if I don't kill my knees running to get ready for it.

So this last Saturday, I was in my bedroom when I heard a loud crash from the living room. I rushed in there to see my Christmas tree had fallen over. The stand that came with the tree when I bought it several years ago had broken. The only other thing that had broken was one ornament that I should be able to glue back together. Considering a few of the breakable ornaments I have, I am very thankful. Of course, it was hard to take down my Christmas tree on December 19th instead of after Christmas. Still bummed about that.

This year, I was going to have my Christmas presents wrapped earlier than normal. Nope. Didn't happen. I blame the Christmas tree falling over.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Word Association for December 22nd

I should be packing to go home for Christmas, but I am going to dash off this week's word association really fast first.

  1. Interest :: Savings
  2. Chase :: Bank
  3. Itch :: Scratch
  4. Soothe :: Comfort
  5. Lamp :: Light
  6. Tutor :: Student
  7. Nicole :: Ultimate Frisbee
  8. Sloth :: Lazy
  9. Burn :: Notice
  10. Bug :: Life

At pick up ultimate Frisbee Sunday, there were two Nicoles, both of whom wound up on my team when we broke up for a mini tournament.

And, yes, I am showing my USA Network fandome by typing Burn Notice. And my Disney geekdom by going with A Bug's Life.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009 Wrap Up

Today being the first day of winter, it's time for my Fall Into Readin 2009 Wrap Up. You can find other wrap up posts here and my reading list from September here.

I started out with 27 books and then added two more before September was over.

So, here are the books I actually read this fall (all links take you to my review at Epinions):

The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley
Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
7th Heaven by James Patterson
Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Heat Wave by Richard Castle
A Date You Can't Refuse by Harley Jane Kozak
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Dial H for Hitchcock by Susan Kandel
The Crack in the Lens by Steve Hockensmith
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Mama Does Time by Deborah Sharp
The Treacherous Teddy by John J. Lamb
NERDS by Michael Buckley
Dead Man's Puzzle by Parnell Hall
Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn by Ridley Pearson
Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
Mr. Monk in Trouble by Lee Goldberg

I am currently reading:

Air Time by Hank Phillipi Ryan

Books from my Spring 2009 list still not read:

Exposure by Brandilyn Collins
Double Minds by Terri Blackstock

Other books not read:

The Chocolate Cupid Killings by Joanna Carl
Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Offworld by Robin Parrish
Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station by Dorothy Gilman
Alice Through the Needle's Eye by Gilbert Adair
Dem Bone's Revenge by Kris Neri

My Thoughts:

It is a testiment to how far behind in my reading this year with some of the books I still haven't read. A couple of my favorite authors are on the list of books not read. That just shows how much I wanted to try to read this fall.

Overall, I finished 20 of my 29 books, which I am happy about. I really had hoped to read all of them, but getting distracted by Lego Indiana Jones hasn't helped my reading time. Neither has my long list of TV shows I watch. With starting to work out on my lunch hour again next year, I am going to have to work hard to find reading time so I can get to some of these books before the Spring lists role out.

Mini Review: Mr. Monk in Trouble

My final mini review of Fall into Reading 2009. Can it be over already? Anyway, today I'll be talking about Mr. Monk in Trouble by Lee Goldberg.

When a retired SFPD cop is murdered in the town of Trouble, California, Monk is asked to investigate. The catch is, Trouble was a gold rush town that has been preserved as a tourist attraction, complete with animals and wooden sidewalks. To further distract Monk, he finds out about a 50 year old unsolved gold robbery connected with the town.

But Natalie has her own distraction. She finds a journey about a resident of the town during the 1860's. Artemis Monk behaves much like her boss. Could he be a relative?

I actually started reading this book after the recent series finale, and it definitely helped ease the loss. Set before the start of season 8, it's got some great humor and character interactions. The mystery was a tad weak, but that's my only complaint. As a whole, it was another strong book.

If you are a fan of the show, you owe it to yourself to read the tie in novels.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mini Review: A Fatal Grace

I added A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny to my Fall Into Reading list when I realized it was set at Christmas time. I just had to read it in December.

The book finds us back in the small Canadian village of Three Pines for this book. A new family has moved to town, and the matriarc, CC, is horrid. In fact, the entire village hears her yell at her daughter after the Christmas Eve service. She is selfish and rude. She's also murdered - electricuted in the middle of a lake during the annual Boxing Day curling competition.

And so Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to try to find a killer. Will getting a better picture of CC help him find out you had enough?

I enjoyed the first book in the series, but I found this one disappointing. It started off very slowly. I felt like I was plodding along for the first 50 or so pages. Once the murder happened, things did pick up. But as I went along, the weak writing bugged me more. This was especially true of the author's habit of changing point of view mid-scene, sometimes just for a paragraph or two.

One of the draws of the first book was the villagers we got to know. While we didn't see as much of them, what we did was fun.

And some threads were started with Gamache that make me curious to read the next.

If the series weren't coming so highly recommended (it is winning awards left and right and several friends love it), I might stop here. As it is, I will continue on at some point.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Word Association for December 17th

If I don't do this now, I just may miss doing it this week.

  1. Up :: the Pixar movie
  2. Scram! :: Run
  3. Smell :: Bad
  4. Belong :: Club
  5. Doug :: the old Nick cartoon
  6. Collar :: White (USA Network show White Collar)
  7. Squirrel :: Up
  8. Chinese :: Food
  9. Tracker :: Collar
  10. Apartment :: Rent

RIP Roy Disney

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, but I do want to take a few minutes to acknowledge the death of Roy Disney. He died yesterday at the age of 79 (and the day after his uncle Walt died back in 1966).

Many people credit Roy with saving the Disney company twice. I'm not sure about the first time, but he did orchestrate the shareholder revolt that lead to Eisner outster a few years back. From what I was seeing at the time, I certainly agree it was a much needed move.

Roy is also partially responsible for the rebirth of hand drawn animation. He was one of the voices calling for it to be used in addition to computer animated movies. Since I felt the same way, but he had a bigger voice in the matter, I'm thankful for his championship.

There are other sites with longer posts about all he did for Disney over the years. While he was never CEO, I'd say he did more to keep Walt's vision alive than anyone.

But I feel like I know him a little personally. I've seen numerous interviews with him on Disney bonus features as he talked about his memories of the work his uncle and father were doing at the studios. I always loved them. He seemed like a kind, warm, caring man.

Although I never met Roy, I am saddened to learn of his death.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mini Review: Homicide in Hardcover

Today's mini review is my last book from Thanksgiving (fortunately, I'm not as far behind as it sounds) - Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle.

This debut introduces us to Brooklyn Wainwright a book binder and restorer. She's just reconnected with her friend and mentor when she finds him murdered in the basement of the Covington Library. Could his death have anything to do with the Faust he was restoring for their new exhibit?

I really loved the characters here from the start. In fact, I found myself sharing Brooklyn's loss at the death, something that rarely happens when the victim is someone we just met.

However, I got frustrated with the plot. Yes, stuff was happening, but it was just that. I didn't feel like we got any closer to solving the murder until the end. Brooklyn did find the clues she needed to ultimately solve everything, so that much did make me happy.

I liked the characters enough that I'm very willing to give the series another chance.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'll Come Up with a Title Later

Wow, the time before Christmas break has hit me hard. There have been days it's been all I can do to get anything productive done at work or at home. I am exactly in the same place I was with my Christmas shopping I was a week ago. And that's not a good thing. I've got to get stuff for my parents and my uncle still. And I really don't know what I am going to get them.

The one thing I haven't been skimping on is Lego Indiana Jones. I am absolutely addicted to this game. If I said I wasn't going to play it any more until my shopping was done, I bet I'd finish it. Hm. That's actually not a bad idea.

But this last weekend was a fun time, athough Saturday was a bit of a bummer. It was my last chance this year to go play ultimate Frisbee in Van Nuys. Three of us showed up. It's hard to do much more than play catch with that number. So we played catch for an hour hoping someone else would show up.

But I did get my decorating done. My tree is up and everything else is out. The places looks good as always. And I do find decorating rather fun. At least more fun than undecorating. I've always hated that part of the process.

Last year, I almost didn't put stuff up because it find taking it down so depressing. I'm doing better so far this year. We'll see what happens in a week. Granted, it helps that my roommate loves Christmas, too, so I'm not the only one enjoying the stuff.

Sunday was my friends Kurt and Kellie's Christmas party. A bit more laid back than normal, I think probably because of the babies. But I enjoyed hanging out with everyone. I was the last one to leave, and it was nice just hanging out with them for a while.

From there, I headed to Joe's where we watched a couple episodes of Middleman. Man, I wish that show were still on the air.

And it's been raining this week! Rained quite hard Monday, then it cleared up. It was bitter cold the last few days. Now the rain has come back, but it's a little warmer. Just makes it feel so much more like Christmas to me.

Finally, had my membership interview Tuesday at lunch time. Wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it went very well. At least I thought so. No indication I'm not going to become a member at my new church from it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mini Review: Kingdom Keepers II - Disney at Dawn

I still need to catch up on my Thanksgiving books, don't I? At least my current book is taking me forever to get through. (Wait, is that a good thing?)

Anyway, today's book is Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn by Ridley Pearson

This is the second in a series about 5 midschoolers who have been chosen to be holographic hosts in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. They discover that when they go to sleep at night, they wake up in the Magic Kingdom. This is a design feature because the Imagineers need their help to defeat a band of Disney villains who are attempting to take over the parks and use the magic for evil.

This book finds them traveling to the Animal Kingdom, however, as they have to find someone who has been kidnapped and destroy the second holographic server with a fatal flaw in it. Can they do that and not go to sleep?

This is a fast moving thrill ride that I never wanted to put down. It did drag some in the middle. The set up was great, and the climax engrossing, but the middle felt like it was there to fill a page count. At 377 pages, seems like something could have been cut.

The characters are becoming more real to me, although some of them still felt a little thin.

But I'm enough of a Disney geek that I truly didn't care. And the cliffhanger left me anxious for the third in the series, set for release this April.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Word Association for December 9th

I just can't get motivated to do anything right now. But I'm going to take a few minutes to do the word association for the week.

  1. Hotter :: than Heck
  2. Negotiator :: Hostage
  3. Crimson :: Tide
  4. Loses :: Looses
  5. Tide :: Detergent
  6. Alan :: Alad
  7. Fool :: for You
  8. Pink :: Shirt
  9. Palm :: Sunday
  10. Lipstick :: Chronicles

So let's see.

I find it funny that one of the words is hotter when I'm sitting here cold.

Crimson and Tide both on the list, and I used one as the answer to the other. I almost reversed it the second time, but I resisted teh urge.

"Fool for You" is a Nichole Nordeman song.

And you'll find a link to the blog Lipstick Chronicles in my blog roll if you really want to check out the blog from several different authors. I used to visit every day. Now I haven't been in at least a year.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Mini Review: Dead Man's Puzzle

Today, we're starting in on the books I read while I was gone for Thanksgiving. First up, Dead Man's Puzzle, the 10th Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall. The series revolved around Cora Felton who acts as the public face of the Puzzle Lady newspaper column her niece Sherry writes even though Cora can't do a crossword puzzle to save her life.

This book finds Sherry out of town on her honeymoon, so Cora is hoping for a quiet two weeks. Unfortunately for her, the town hermit died in his rather run down shack. Chief Harper is more than ready to call it natural causes except for one thing, the crossword puzzle found at the scene. While Cora does some fast tap dancing to get the puzzle solved for the chief, the cause of death is determined to be murder. Can Cora solve it without finding any more puzzles?

I must admit I was getting frustrated with the series because I felt like the character interactions were stuck on the same thing for several books. While very little seems to have changed overall, having Sherry only in a couple of chapters and mostly out of town really helped with that.

Frankly, this was also one of the stronger mysteries in the series. While the puzzles seemed more forced than normal, the clues were there, and I felt like the solution was great and not just pulling a rabbit out of the hat at the end.

Plus the word play and humor I love where there all the way through.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

And We're Back

I had such loft plans to at least do one post while I was away for Thanksgiving. And yet here I am back in town for 48 hours, and I still haven't updated things.

The summary of my Thanksgiving? We had a great time.

Longer version? Here you go.

We did have a great time, although half the group decided to get sick. My niece might have been among them, but we couldn't tell for sure since she's only 4 months old. Dad, my brother, and sister-in-law were definitely sick. That put a damper on things a little, but since we didn't have big plans, it wasn't too bad.

Actually, we didn't leave their house too much. Went for a walk one day. Went to church on Sunday. And we were there the Sunday of the baby dedication, so we got to see my niece's dedication. And Monday I got to spend some quality time at Half Price Books. One thing I was looking for wasn't there, but I still managed to spend $25. Or is that I managed to only spend $25?

A storm was coming in as we left on Tuesday, so the first 40 minutes of the flight home were quite bumpy. Other then that, the flights were fine.

Since I cam back, I've been alternating between trying to catch up on TV and playing more Lego Indiana Jones. I've really gotten addicted to that game. Finished the Raiders of the Lost Ark levels on story mode. If I get a chance, I might try to start in on Temple of Doom tonight. But I am definitely watching the first half of the Monk finale so I am ready for tomorrow. And I'm doing a little Christmas shopping, too. So we'll just see how things develop.