Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mud Runs and Book Signings

Wow.  Has it really been two weeks since I last posted about my life.  No wonder I feel like I need to do that.

In the last two weeks, I have gone to three book signings.  The first was for Rhys Bowen's new book Royal Blood.  That was in Pasadena, and I was able to meet up with my friend Luke who I did the July mud run with.  Then I went to the launch party for Sue Ann Jaffarian's Murder in Vein.  Finally, Sunday I met up with Angelique for the launch of Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine (and Leslie Meier, but she wasn't there and I don't read her books.)  Lots of great reading material ahead of me.  Now, if I could only find the time to read it.

As you might have noticed Saturday, I have way too many TV shows I'm watching right now.  I am seriously looking at how I can cut back, and this time I mean it.  I've got two shows all but ready to leave my DVR with another couple I'm thinking about.  That would make my weekly life so much less stressful.

See, I'm trying to spend all night every night watching TV plus averaging over a review at day at Epinions.  I just don't have that kind of time.  Something must give.

Especially when I am going to go home and run 5-6 miles tonight.  That's take me at least an hour.

But I need to do it because my next mud run is this Saturday.  I'm doing the Volkslauf up in Bakersfield in a team of four with a friend who lives up there now and two friends of hers.  We're doing the 10K, and I don't know if I'm ready to run that distance.  Plus the obstacles are going to be killer.  But we're in it to finish and have fun, so I'm not too worried.  I just don't want to slow us down too much.

And I've signed up for my next mud run already.  I'm doing the Gladiator Rock 'n Run in December with a friend I've made from my ultimate Frisbee pick up game.  The obstacles look so cool, at least the ones they've post so far.  I'm worried that it will be freezing cold that weekend, but we've paid our money, so we'll just have to hope for the best.

And I'm trying to recruit a friend to do Tough Mudder in May.  Just saying.

The upside of all this running I've been doing is how I'm improving.  Monday, I was running with my roommate, and I was setting the pace, and I won our sprint to the finish.  That never happens.  Last night, I started chasing one of my former jr. highers (who is now 20) for the fun of it, and I was keeping up with him.  That never used to happen.  Okay, so that speed seems to come and go, but when it is there, I love it.

It's not looking good for my Saturday afternoon pick up ultimate Frisbee game.  I've sent out an e-mail asking for feedback, and gotten maybe half a dozen responses back.  I don't know if that's enough to keep it going or not.  I must admit I'm not very faithful about going right now, so I guess I shouldn't be saying too much.  But it is still very sad.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's on My Nightstand - September 2010

It's the fourth Tuesday of September already, which means it is time for What's on Your Nightstand over at 5 Minutes for Books.
I've just finished two mysteries I enjoyed.  And for those at the FCC, both were sent to me in exchange for honest reviews.

The first is the first mystery by my friend Cathy Wiley called Dead to Writes.  The story revolves around Cassie.  Her first mystery novel is about to come out when someone starts killing off the contacts she uses for research in her writing.  The police think she might be involved, but is she really?

I really did enjoy the book.  The characters were very real, and I felt like I got to know them very well by the time I was done reading the book.  The pacing in the plot was a bit uneven, but it reached a logical and exciting conclusion.

The second book is Tide Water Talisman by Glynn Marsh Alam.  It's the eighth book in the series, and I've been reading since the first book came out.

This series stars Luanne Fogarty who lives in the fresh water swamps of north Florida.  She gets involved in murder through her part time job diving for the local sheriff's office.

This book revolves around a camp of refugees from Hurricane Katrina who have settled in the area.  One of them turns up dead, and a skeleton is found near the camp.  Luanne actually camps out with them for a while to try to figure out what is actually happening.

Again, the pacing was off in this book, but I still enjoyed it.  I love the series regulars, and the time spent with them was great.  And the writing is top notch here.  It not only brings the swamp to vivid life, but it lulls us into the unhurried world of the locals.  It's a relaxing visit to a different part of the country.  And yet the writing never gets in the way of the story.

I definitely recommend both books.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Word Association for September 27th

Well, I was actually going to blog about life today, but my mind is elsewhere and I can't focus on it.  So instead I'll do the word association for the week.

  1. Return :: of the Jedi
  2. Alarms :: Sound
  3. State :: California
  4. Picture frame :: Picture
  5. Wreath :: Christmas
  6. Arrest :: Crime
  7. Sincere :: Honest
  8. Nathan :: Fillion
  9. Bag :: Shopping
  10. Arched :: Doorway
Gee, you think I'm excited about a new Castle tonight, starring Nathan Fillion? 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for September 25th

Fall TV season has certainly started.  Just look how long this post has gotten.  And I'm got two more shows starting in the coming week.

Remember, spoilers start right away.

Dancing with the Stars - What a weird group of dancers we've got this season, as always. Most of them I thought did pretty well. I'm sure as the weeks go by we'll begin to see the winners and those who can't quite hang on, but most of them can be proud of what they've done so far. Since Jennifer Grey is best known for a dancing movie, I'm wondering how fair it really is to have her on the show, but I loved her Waltz. Weaknesses? David Hasselhoff was the most awkward dancer of the night. I was disappointed to see Florence Henderson trying to out Cloris Cloris Leachman. (And really, if you don't want to the two of them compared, why team them both up with Corky? They are his only two partners?) Come on, Mrs. Brady, take this show seriously. And Margaret Cho? What the heck was that? It wasn't funny. It was just strange. Everyone acted like it was a shock that David Hasselhoff was the first one to leave, but I actually expected it. He doesn't have the fan base, and he was near the bottom after Monday night. It actually was probably the best choice of the night, too.

Chuck - Okay, so it wasn't the best episode ever, but it was still fun. I think I would have enjoyed it more had we seen the rest of the cast. I want to know how they are going to work the old Buy More employees into the new, CIA tricked out one. I like the fact that Chuck is now back to work for the CIA, not that I doubted it at all. And the way he took out the guards in Russia was very fun. Already looking forward to next week.

Castle - That has to be the best opening ever, with Beckett arresting Castle for murder, almost twice. I wish they'd done more with the hurt feelings over Castle not calling all summer or when he got back into town. But I loved that bit at the end where Beckett admitted with a smile that she won the bet but let Castle win so he'd come back. Why are both of my favorite shows on Monday night?

Melissa and Joey - Who the heck is this Stephanie person. Is this a new assistant to replace the one we've had since the beginning of the show? Already? Frankly, I didn't like her that much. Too insecure to be funny. Plus the obvious ads for Just Dance weren't all that fun, either. However, this new romantic relationship between Joey and the reporter could be interesting. I figured they'd keep them denying any attraction for at least the rest of this season and have something like this happen at the end of season one. I guess we'll see where they go next week.

Hawaii 5-0 - So, let's start by admitting that I haven't seen the original, at least that I remember. I've got nothing to compare it to. However, I enjoyed the show. It wasn't the best thing ever, but it had some potential. I'd be willing to give it two or three weeks to see how it develops. I didn't recognize the main villain until his second (and final) scene. Of course, he wasn't blonde and didn't have an English accent, so I can be forgiven, right?

Survivor - Sometimes, I wonder if the people on Survivor have never seen the show before. Two episodes into the new season, and both of the people who have gone home have slit their own throats at Tribal. I mean, dude, if you are going to go crazy and say what is really on your mind, do that before Tribal so you have time to recover. If you do it at Tribal, you might as well walk about before people vote. Shannon, you hurt yourself. Don't go around blaming the others and talking about how you were on the wrong tribe. When you fly off the handle from an opening question about life at camp and then accuse a tribe mate of being gay, you had better expect to leave.

Undercovers - I think I have a favorite new show of the season. I loved this show! It had action, and I loved the relationship between the leads. Plus I think Gerald McRaney is going to be a hoot in his role. Humor was great, too. Can't wait for next week.

Better with You - So, JoAnna Garcia is two for three in the getting married because she's pregnant category, her character in Reba and now this. There were some funny lines, but I don't know if I'll stick with this show. I'll give it another two or three weeks before I make up my mind.

Nikita - Okay, I still think Undercovers is my favorite TV show of the new season, but Nikita is a close second. It is just so slick and fun. I love the way she manages to get out of every thing. Although I am really worried for Alex. She is going to give herself away, I just know it. Okay, probably not until a season finale or something, so we've got a little time. At least I hope. And it was great seeing the actress who played the reporter again. She was in season 3 of Veronica Mars and also in Eli Stone. Characters need to learn to trust Nikita if they want to live, like the poor guy who shot the video.

Community - So two of the students at work were raving about this show, so I decided to give it a try. I'm not sold yet. It had some fun moments, but it didn't strike me as all that funny. But a lot of it was playing off the season finale, I bet, so I'm going to give it another week or two to see if it grabs me or not.

The Mentalist - Well, I'm giving the show a few weeks to try to win me back. It's not that the show has changed or gotten bad. I just grew tired of it last May. And I'm still not super impressed. Patrick Jane is just an arrogant jerk. The act was funny for a while, but it's gotten old. I was surprised this week to see that he was wrong about something. That never happens. The case was okay, although again it wasn't anything special. Unless something changes in the next couple of weeks, I think I'll use this hour for something else.

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Castle - Season 2

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 List

It's definitely cooler here. High will be lucky to get to 70 today.  Guess I can't say too much since it is the first day of Fall.

And since it is the first day of Fall, that means it is time to start making lists for Fall Into Reading.  This reading challenge is designed to be fun.  You just list the books you want to read or any other reading goals over the next three months, then work toward them.

Last Spring, I actually did something different.  I didn't list as many books as I thought I would get through, figuring I would actually finish my list for once.  And you know what?  It worked!  I usually start out my list with any carryover books, but I've got none to start with.

So, here is a fresh list of books I'm hoping to get through this fall.

Tide Water Talisman by Glynn Marsh Alam (My current Read)
Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meirer
Naked Heat by Richard Castle
Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen
A Truth for a Truth by Emilie Richards
Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Chocolate Pirate Plot by JoAnna Carl
Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
NERDS: M is for Momma's Boy by Michael Buckley
The Inside Story by Michael Buckley
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis
psych: A Fatal Frame of Mind by William Rabkin
Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner
Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson
Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Motherhood is Murder by Diana Orgain
Nightmare by Robin Parrish
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
To the Manner Dead by Sebastin Stuart
They're Watching by Gregg Hurwitz
Book to be named later (one I've agreed to read and review for my church library.)

Obviously, I learned from my experience in the Spring to keep my list managable, right?  :)  That's 27 books.  My reading seems to have slowed down a little at the moment, so we'll see how many I can get through in the next three months.  Honestly, it's just a matter of how many I'll have left.  This is being overly optimistic.

And yet, I reserve the right to add books if I forgot them or if something comes up I need to add in over the Fall.

Guess I'd better get reading.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Word Association for September 21st

Yep, I'm doing this week's word association a little early this week.

  1. Mustache :: Beard
  2. Person :: Human
  3. Restore :: Delete
  4. Discretion :: Quiet
  5. Lamp :: Table
  6. Pillow cover :: Sleep
  7. Arousal :: Wake Up
  8. Seattle :: Washington
  9. ATM :: Machine
  10. Custard :: Pudding

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - September 18th

This is the last week of summer slow down.  Monday night starts the wave of new shows.  Look for this post to get much longer.

Covert Affairs - You know, this show has really snuck up on me. It's not something I am dying to watch the instant it is on, but I really do enjoy it. The two episodes they aired as part of the finale were both great. I loved how human they made Annie in the first one. But the actual finale. Oh man! I want to know where they are going with all of this. I liked how they resolve things but just gave us more questions, like now that we know who the mole is. And talk about a bit of type casting with President Logan being a bad guy again. Plus it looks like they killed Ben. That's going to make things very interesting next season since he's been the driving force behind everything that's happened so far. Plus why was he paying for the scientist? Why did you once again say "The truth is complicated?" What in the world is really going on? It's going to be a long wait until next summer for new episodes.

Wipeout - As with Covert Affairs, we had a two hour finale. This show doesn't really lend itself to commentary, although for the second hour, I thought that a Marine would be a shoe in. Either none went on the show, or they didn't make it past the qualifier. When I saw that, I figured the fireman would take it. He struggle so much there at the end, and it is what cost him.

Survivor - Opening challenge or not, my money is on the old tribe. (That doesn't make me old at 35, does it? I'm half way between them.) The older tribe will have a level of maturity that will make them able to work together. The younger tribe will fall apart, even at challenges, because they lack it. And, yes, I know the older tribe lost, but I still think they were right to hang on to the medallion of power. Later is the time to use it. And can I just say I think that's an awesome new twist for this season.

Melissa & Joey - That may have been their best episode yet. I was laughing so hard at some of the lines. And the scene with Melissa and Joey making eggs was pretty funny, too. The show really seems to be finding itself. I hope that continues.

Nikita - I sat down to watch this show, and within 5 minutes both my roommates were watching it with me. On the whole, this didn't advance the main story much, but the background on Nikita and Alex was very interesting. Hope we get more on that next week. Although I'm beginning to worry that Nikita killed Alex's parents as part of a mission and that will come back to bite her at some point. Meanwhile, I'm definitely hooked for the long haul.

New TV on DVD 
Rocky and Bullwinkle - Season 4 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Memes for September 17th

And yet another month has gone by since I did the book memes on Friday.  Let's change that.

This week's book is Dead to Writes by Cathy Wiley.  She is a friend of mine, and I'm glad to say I am enjoying the book.

Up first is Book Beginnings on Friday.  And the first two sentences are:

One day, she was going to kill her best friend for always being late.  In the mean time, she would just kill someone else.

Definitely grabbed me.

And now it's time for the Friday 56.  Actually, I'm going to do an entire paragraph.  The fifth sentence on page 56 comes at the end of this paragraph, and it really needs some context.  The police have gone to interviewChristinie Schmidt, a book reviewer for the local paper, about the murder.

Christine Schmidt seemed happy to see them.  [Detective] Whittaker was nearly overwhelmed by the rampant curiosity burning in her green eyes.  "Hello, fellows, you just increased my level of respect here.  Two handsome homicide cops visiting me at work.  People might actually start treating me like a real journalist now instead of a book worm.  What can I do for you in return?"

As I said, I am enjoying the book.  As you can tell from these samples, it's lots of fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Word Association for September 16th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Singapore :: China
  2. blah blah blah :: I stopped listening
  3. Stall :: Diversion
  4. Bowls :: Spoon
  5. Entrance :: Exit
  6. Antique :: Doll
  7. Elizabeth :: Queen
  8. Hook :: Peter Pan
  9. Width :: Height
  10. Photo journalism :: Camera
Yes, I know that Singapore isn't part of China, but that is the first thing that pops into my head when I see it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekly Geeks on Agatha Christie's Birthday

This week's Weekly Geeks was inspired by the fact that today is Agatha Christie's 120th birthday.  The topic this week is very broad.  They ask about Agatha Christie or other authors who have lasted.

First, I do have to talk about Agatha Christie.  I haven't read too many of her books, and most of those have been listened to on tape.  I really need to correct that because the ones I have read I have really enjoyed.  That doesn't surprise me too much since she basically wrote cozy mysteries before there was a sub-genre.  True, not all her detectives were ameatures, but she had minimal violence and language (probably partially because of her time) but instead focuses on a puzzle with a limited number of suspects and clues and red herrings scattered throughout so that the reader can find the solution, too.

But what is it that makes an author last over a long period of time?

One aspect of that is certainly popularity.  If people don't like their books at some point in time, they will disappear and be forgotten in a very short amount of time.  Notice I didn't say popular in their own time because some authors aren't really recognized until after their death.

But I think what makes an author last well beyond their time is something beyond that.  They must speak to something that resonnates with their readers, and that something must be timeless.  It goes beyond plot, although that is important.  There must be something to make this story enjoyable, or people won't read it (see last paragraph).  No, I'm talking about characters who are rich and real, who stay with you long after you've put the book down.  And I'm talking about themes you can think about and chew on weeks later.

Do all authors who last have that?  I'd argue they don't.  Right now on a message board I'm part of, we're talking about Steinbeck and it seems like no one likes him.  Some of the books that last seem to be forced on students today because they have become so much a part of our culture we need to know the references, but very few outside of English majors actually still love them.

And that does bring up one final thing that can make an author last - becoming part of the culture.  We talk about a Jekyll and Hyde person, and everyone knows what we mean even if they haven't read the book.  If you manage to make that much of an impression, you'll definitely be read long after you are gone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seasons of Change?

Yes, I know that next week marks a new season.  (And, yes, I'm mentally working on my list for Fall Into Reading.)  But I seem to be going through some other changes right now.

I think I've mentioned that the Career Group I've been attending at church has ended.  We had a pizza/pool party as a final goodbye this last Friday night.  Frankly, I wasn't surprised.  We've had low numbers all year.  And I'm ready to have all my Friday nights to do with as I wish, even if that's go home and veg.  It's been years since I was able to do that consistently.  But it is part of my life, and I'm sad to see it go.  Keep in mind that I've been part of this group since long before I started attending the church full time.

When I switched churches, I started going to a Sunday School class that was studying Proverbs.  That class ended last month.  Again, I wasn't surprised since we had very low numbers.  But I had some good friends in that class I often don't run into around church.  It was great seeing them.

Saturday night, the guy who send out the reminders about my Saturday ultimate Frisbee pick up game sent us all an e-mail telling us he was quitting trying to organize it.  Granted, we don't have huge numbers.  We're the smallest Frisbee game around.  But there are usually enough people for a small game every time I show up.  And it's the most convenient time and location wise to me.  I'm not happy about it ending.  In fact, there are several of us who want to try to keep it going.  We'll see if that actually works or if we are indeed dead thanks to a guy who doesn't normally come.  (And the fact that he hardly ever shows up is part of what bothers me most about him deciding to end it for the rest of us.)

That's three things ending in three months.  Part of me is worried about what will end on me in October.

But the rest of me is trying to figure out what God would have me do instead.  I'm planning to jump into a new Sunday School class, so that won't be an issue.  But I'm left without much on my schedule.  Certainly not nearly as much as I had three or four years ago.

Trust God is always a struggle for me.  I know He knows what is best for me and wants what is best for me.  And yet I usually find myself trying to micromanage every aspect of my life.

So I'm trying to pray through this and see what the next chapter of my life will look like.  It's scary.  This is the guy who doesn't like change.  But God obviously has something for me.  I just wish he'd tell me already.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for September 11th

Yes, I do realize what today is.  I am choosing to post this today like normal, not because I don't think we need to remember 9/11 and not to snub it but to offer a bit of counter programming.  Hopefully, you are finding this when you need a few minute break from remembering.  I know I can't think about it all day today.

Summer is winding down with two more USA Network summer finales and my first new show of the fall.

White Collar - Interesting developments. The entire episode was devoted to the Kate/music box mystery. We learned that Kate but the bomb on the plane so she and Neal could fake their deaths. The assumption is whoever is pulling the strings knew about it and set it off early. But who was she really talking to on the phone? And what have they figured out about the code? Not to mention will Mozzie survive his gunshot? Okay, I know the answer to that one. He's still a main character, or if they were writing him out they've done a good job of hiding it.

Covert Affairs - Despite the fact that they made Annie's sister out to be an idiot, I enjoyed this episode. And I especially loved the Niagara Falls setting. Made me think of Trixie Camp a few years back when we went there. Kinda glad the episode was straight forward because I was so distracted by the scenery. But the revelation that Jai was the one that scared Ben off all those years ago was a big shock. I can't wait to see where they go with it next week. Disappointed that will be the season finale already, although with how my schedule is starting to fill up with fall shows, I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much.

Melissa and Joey - It was great to see Christopher Rich again even if he was basically playing the same character he did in Reba. All in all, it was a pretty funny episode with some great little moments. It was nice to see Joey failing as a parental figure instead of just Melissa. And it was pretty clean, which I really appreciated, too.

Psych - After how great the season has been so far, I'm a big disappointed by the summer finale. The mystery was overly simple for how dense they tried to make it out to be. I saw most of the twists coming. And it was light on the humor. Of course, they make all their finales light on the humor. Interesting what they did with Jules and Shawn at the end. I don't see how they can keep from advancing it when they come back in November.

Wipeout - I've got to admit I was only half paying attention as I watched this week, so I don't have too much to say. Although that cafeteria take on the spinner was rather gross.

Nikita - I have never seen any of the takes on this story before, so I am coming to this show with a blank slate. I can definitely see the comparison between this show and the pilot of Alias. I can't say this show grabbed me completely from the first moment, but I am intrigued, especially with Alex being Nikita's mole on the inside. I'll give it a few more weeks to see where it goes. And it is nice to see Xander Berkley of 24 on the air again.

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Chuck - Season 3

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Labor Day Fun

I had so much fun planned for Labor Day weekend, I took an extra day off work to fit it all in.

It all started Friday night with the auditors leaving late.  I was here until almost 6.  Glad I wasn't planning to leave that night.

Saturday, my roommate Daniel and I got up early to meet up with Joe.  The three of us were driving up to our friends' Josh and Beth's wedding.  Joe and I were actually in the wedding, and Daniel was attending.  Traffic was about what I expected, not too heavy at all, and we made it to the town in plenty of time for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

Sunday was busy with the wedding all day, at least for Joe and I.  We did have a leisurely breakfast before we got dressed and headed out for pictures.  We picked up Daniel from the hotel about lunch time, and then headed over to the church.

The wedding itself was very nice.  In fact, it was one of the better weddings I've been to in a while.  I remember the pastor who married them did an outstanding job with Joe and Erica's wedding last December as well.

And then it was off to the reception.  There was dinner and dancing, basically a very enjoyable time.  We did a pretty good job on the car, especially considering it almost got forgotten.

While Joe headed home from there, Daniel and I hit the road to my parents' house.  Monday, we hung out with them and met up with my friends Donald and Heather for some minigolf.  We all had a great time together.

Tuesday, Daniel and I headed home.  We took the long way, traveling down the 101 so Daniel could see a bit more of the state, and a prettier part, too.  It took a little longer, but it was definitely worth it.

Now I'm 2/3 of the way through my work week.  It's been a bit crazy with several people gone, but it's been flying fast, too.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Word Association for September 8th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Gangs :: of New York
  2. Contact :: Human
  3. Surprisingly :: Enjoyable
  4. Penciled :: In
  5. Ignore :: List
  6. Let’s go! :: Adventure
  7. Cornerstone :: Building
  8. Influential :: Person
  9. Holistic :: Healing
  10. Lovesick :: Crush

Sunday, September 05, 2010

What I Read in August

I should start writing more reviews so all of this doesn't have to come in one post.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

HOSTAGE by Robert Crais - 2
After a convenience store robbery goes wrong, the villains take a family hostage in their own home. Unfortunately, the family has secrets that will create a nightmare for all involved. The twist on the hostage drama started out good, but it fell apart in the end when it got completely unbelievable.

A TV executive is scouting BBQ joins in Memphis and creating enemies. When she dies after eating at Aunt Pat's, owner Lulu Taylor decides to clear her reputation and her friends by finding the real killer. I liked the characters, but the plot dragged at times. The first chapter had some writing issues as well, but I was ultimately glad I continued.

The grand reopening of Fromagerie Bessette, a gourmet cheese shop in a small Ohio town, is going well until Charlotte's grandmother is found kneeling over the corpse of a man she was just scene arguing with. The book started out a little slowly, but I quickly got into the characters and story.

BRUSH WITH DEATH by Hailey Lind - 5
Faux finisher Annie Kincaid is restoring some old paintings in a chapel in Oakland when she runs into grave robbers in the cemetery outside. Meanwhile, she also hearing rumors that a reproduction inside might be the real thing. As always this was a fun romp with likeable characters. I could turn the pages fast enough.

THE EVERAFTER WAR by Michael Buckley - 4
It's full out war as the Grimm family trains some Everafters to try to take down the Scarlett Hand. This is the darkest book in the series so far, and it doesn't feel like it has a real climax. However, I did enjoy it and look forward to reading the next one.

PRINCE CASPIAN by C. S. Lewis - 4
A reread for me. Even after all the times I've read this book, it's still my least favorite in the Chronicles of Narnia. It just moves too slowly.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for September 4th

Things are definitely winding down on the USA Network as the summer draws to a close.  I guess it's time to start thinking about fall TV and what the networks will have in store for us.  But in the mean time, I'll start with last week's summer finales, as promised.

Burn Notice - I have to wait until November to find out what happens next? Seriously, that was a great ending. I don't know who to believe about who burned Michael and why. Is he working with the bad guys or the good guys? And will I even remember all that come November? Meanwhile, I am glad they kept Jesse mad at Michael and company. Obviously, I think Michael is in the right here (although being up front with Jesse when they realized they'd burned him would have been smart). But I would have been pretty upset if they had just glossed over that plot point in one episode.

Royal Pains - I have to wait until January? I was wondering what kind of cliffhanger they'd come up with, and I liked what they did. Yes, there was a life in the balance, but it was from a medical condition. That feels like part of the show. Plus it wasn't one of the main characters. Speaking of which, I was expecting Hank and Evan to be kicked out of Boris' over whatever Eddie was doing. I'm glad that wasn't the case. Still, this will put a wrinkle in their relationship. And I'm wondering what Divya will decide to do with her romantic life. Is this how they are going to keep her on the show? I was surprised that Emily Peck wasn't around this week since they usually try to have all the characters/storylines in finales on USA Network shows, but there was so much going on, I can understand why she got left out. Yep, another great episode.

Melissa and Joey - So I learned something about myself. I do much better at overt sex in a sitcom than I do with double meanings. I don't know what that says about me, but I also don't think I want to know.

White Collar - I've got to admit, I was a little disappointed with this one. The main story was too easy and obvious. I was expecting some kind of good twist in there. The Mozzie/Diana scenes really helped. They were hilarious. I am so glad that Neal and Peter are working together on Kate's death. I totally called the blackout as they opened the music box, however. Next week's episode is going to be very interesting.

Wipeout - So, was tonight's episode a way to make sure a woman won Wipeout at some point this season? I don't remember them having an all women episode before. I honestly thought all the stuff with the contestants was filmed before hand and they just recorded the two Johns in the studio much later. Tonight seems to contradict that since they were continuing the same jokes when Jill was in the studio. Also, she does much better at interviewing and delivering lines on the ground than in the studio. She really seemed wooden for that segment.

Covert Affairs - They finally really did something with the Ben storyline. And I'm more confused then ever. I want to know what's really going on there. Meanwhile, I'm wondering what was up with that date. Why did Annie take what's his face from the office home for a BBQ? Did I miss something one week or was that out of left field to anyone else? Oh, and I'm completely over Ben. She needs to move on with either of the work guys.

Psych - I am sensing a theme this season. They have lots of episodes where it's Shawn trying to solve a case before an outsider does. And I've got to admit they are doing a good job of it. Tonight's episode was once again funny with some great twists. I really had to clue where everything was going until the very end. Can't believe we're at a summer finale on this show next week as well.

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Lost - Season 6 
FlashForward - Complete Series

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Word Association for September 2nd

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Bangs :: Hair
  2. Diaper :: Dirty
  3. Coffee table :: Book
  4. Cops :: and Robbers
  5. Matches :: Fire
  6. 250 :: 300
  7. Hurricane :: Katrina
  8. Bad :: Good
  9. Confirmation :: Yes
  10. Fiber :: Diet
So, was it the talk about the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that made me think of it?  Especially with Hurricane Earl hitting the east coast right now.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Bachelor Party and Other Parts of Life

There seems to be lots going on right now.

My new roommate has moved in.  So far, so good.  Seriously, I think we'll be getting along fine.  It was looking like we'd get a fourth, but as of now that won't be happening.

Last weekend was the bachelor party for my friend Josh.  He's the friend I did the Camp Pendleton Mud Run with, and I'm in his wedding this weekend.  We started the day at an air soft place north of town.  Yes, it was my first time air soft or paint balling.  I had always figured I wouldn't care for it, and it turns out I was right.  I was one of the first out, and I couldn't hit anyone at all.  I was more than ready to go by the time we left.

After hanging out at Josh's for a couple of hours, we headed out to place to watch the Ultimate Fighting Camp pay per view event.  Again, not my cup of tea.  But we were hanging out with a bunch of guys from church, so that was fun.

The important thing is that Josh really enjoyed the day.  And that made it worth while.

I'm in the process of refinancing my condo.  I can't let these low interest rates pass me by.  Unfortunately, I don't have enough equity to get a real refinance, so I'm having to go with a federal program that allows me to borrow up to 125%.  The downside is that interest rates are a little higher and I am going to have to go back to impounded property taxes and insurance.  Considering that's always been a mess, I am not at all happy about it.

However, I got some great news today.  The appraisal came back, and I do actually have a little equity in my condo.  It's not much, but it's something.  I almost didn't do it because I wasn't sure if the property value was going to be high enough that I could refinance.  Needless to say, I'm thrilled and praising God right now.

Meanwhile, our annual audit is going on at work.  They have lots of questions for my boss, but I haven't had to interact with them too much, at least not yet.  Things seem to be going well, so hopefully that's really the case.

And I'm signed up for my next mud run.  On October 2nd, I will be running the Volkslauf with a friend and two of her friends.  I've really been wanting to do this mud run, so I'm really excited to be signed up for it.  Unfortunately, I haven't been too faithful with my running in August, so I am going to have to crank it up and fast.  But I ran two miles after work Monday and three miles this morning, so I am heading in the right direction.