Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 Wrap Up

Wow, hard to believe that Fall is behind us.  Guess that means it is time for the Fall into Reading 2010 Wrap Up post.  So let's get to it.

Here's what I got read in the last three months.  (All links take you to my review at Epinions.)

Tide Water Talisman by Glynn Marsh Alam
Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, & Leslie Meier
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen
Naked Heat by Richard Castle
Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian
NERDS: M is for Mama's Boy by Michael Buckley
Nightmare by Robin Parrish
Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson
Psych: A Fatal Frame of Mind by William Rabkin
The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
The Chocolate Pirate Plot by JoAnna Carl
The Inside Story by Michael Buckley
They're Watching by Gregg Hurwitz
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Motherhood is Murder by Diana Orgain
The Last Battle by CS Lewis
A Truth for a Truth by Emilie Richards

Currently Reading:
Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

On the List but Not Read:
Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark
Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner
Walt Disney by Neal Gabler
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
To the Manner Dead by Sebastian Suart
Book to be named later (I was going to borrow from the Church library)


I really did think I had a list that was way too long.  Granted, I didn't finish like I did in the Spring, but I'm happy with the number of books I did get read.  Okay, so it helped that a lot of them were aimed at kids and young adults, but I enjoyed many of those books and hope to include more kids' books in my reading in 2011.

I really need to read more books for the Church library since I've said I would.  The fact that we are now three months later and I haven't done that is rather embarrassing.  Heck, I don't even have a name for the book yet.

As usual, the non-fiction on my reading list got pushed to the back burner.  Oh well.

Look for any of these books I don't read in the next three months to appear on my list for Spring 11.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Word Association for December 20th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Charts :: Graphs
  2. Best moment of 2010? :: Mud Runs!
  3. Checkered :: Past
  4. Glass :: Broken
  5. Resolve? :: Yes
  6. Expensive :: Gift
  7. Humongous :: Big
  8. Scent :: Sent
  9. Trashy :: Novel
  10. Candles :: Burn
I'll be back in the morning with my Fall Into Reading Wrap Up Post.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - Dec 18th

The Amazing Race - The right team won! I can't tell you how rare it is that the team I want to win actually wins. But I am thrilled that Nat and Kat won. Frankly, Brook and Claire would have been alright for first, too, although I'm happy they got second. And as much as I was rooting again Jill and Thomas, I'm sorry they had to go out with a taxi they couldn't communicate with. As they said, you don't expect that kind of thing in America after you've raced around the world. That's how Nat and Kat won. Their driver letting them use their phone and the person they were talking to looking up the information for them was the lifesaver.

The Sing Off - Monday was definitely a mixed bag. The rock songs weren't that good, but the guilty pleasures were amazing. I was sorry to see Groove for Thought leave, but I wasn't that surprised. All the groups are amazing in their own way, it's hard to see anyone go. Wednesday, all five groups were much better. Yes, the judges copped out by not doing the final elimination, although both my roommate and I were saying we wouldn't want to pick after that last song, so I don't understand. Still, I'm rooting for Committed or Street Corner Symphony to win (and someone else to offer whoever comes in second a recording contract).

Psych - To be honest, I was disappointed with both of the episodes. They were trying so hard to be funny that they weren't being funny at all. In fact, the second one was downright painful.

Survivor - I do and don't sympathize with Jane. You know going into the show that there will be people voted out. It's part of the game. And people you trust will wind up voting you out. However, to have people who have told you that they will take you to the final four vote you out is certainly going to hurt. Were her actions at camp over the top? Absolutely. Was her behavior at tribal counsel perfect? Absolutely. It didn't save her skin, but it certainly forced the truth to come out.

Burn Notice - How awesome were those two episodes? I was glued to the TV for both hours. I'm very curious to see where they are going to go next season since it looks like Michael has gotten his wish now. But for now I will bask in the glow of those two episodes.

Big Bang Theory - How funny was all the stuff with the costumes. And Penny thinking about going and then not wanting to go. Her boyfriend Chuck is pretty good at being dumb, too.

New TV Related Reviews This Week:
24 - Season 8  
The Sing-Off: Harmonies for the Holidays 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Criminal Plots Reading Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to do any more reading challenge.  And now, for the second day in a row, I'm signing up for one.  And this one will take a bit more doing.  It's the Criminal Plots Reading Challenge, and I'll copy the details from the site.

So, what's involved in this challenge you ask? It isn't too difficult. It involves reading six books throughout 2011 (January 1 through December 31, 2011). One book should be read that fits into each of the following categories:

1.A book by a new to you author who's blurbed a book you enjoyed. So check out the cover of a crime fiction book you've enjoyed and see who blurbed that book and is also an author you've never read before.

2.A book that has been made into a movie. It doesn't have to be a movie you've seen but it can be. The book, however, should be one you haven't read before. (Examples: MYSTIC RIVER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, LONDON BOULEVARD, HOSTAGE, etc.)

3.A book with a protagonist opposite your own gender. So if you're female, the protagonist should be male; if you're male the protagonist should be female.

4.A book set outside the country in which you live.

5.A book that's the first in a new-to-you series.

6.A book by a 2011 debut author.
Okay, a few of those will be easy.  After all, I read mostly cozies, and those have mostly female protagonists.  And there are already a couple of 2011 debut authors and a new series I'm planning on starting.  The movie one is stumping me, although maybe it's time to read some more Agatha Christie.

I'll come back and fill in the titles as I read them, posting links to my reviews at Epinions.  And heck, maybe I'll even start writing some reviews on my blog again.

Books Read:
1. Pipsqueak by Brian M. Wiprud
2. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
3. Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian
4. The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson
5. Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst 
6. Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick

September 19th Update:

And there you have it.  All six books read.  All but one of the books I would have read anyway, but all told this was a mixed bag.  Three books were very good, three were average at best.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crusin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge

I swore I wasn't going to try a new reading challenge this year.  But then I saw this one and couldn't resist.

See, Socrates' Book Reviews is hosting the Crusin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge.  With the number of cozies I read, it only makes sense to sign up, doesn't it?

Granted, I also intend to read more kids' books this year because I have a bunch I want to read but haven't yet.  But I think this will be doable.

There are multiple levels to the challenge, and I will be signing up for Super Sleuth, which means 13+ cozies.  Fortunately, I don't have to pick them yet because I'm not sure what they will be, although I can think of many books by favorite authors already that I will be reading next year.

Once I get them read, I will start listing them here and link to my review at Epinions.

Books read:
1. Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst
2. Mr. Monk on the Road by Lee Goldberg
3. How to Survive a Killer Seance by Penny Warner
4. Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
5. Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian
6. Deadly Currents by Beth Groundwater
7. Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen
8. The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
9. The KenKen Killings by Parnell Hall
10. The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson
11. The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
12. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
13. Berried to the Hilt by Karen MacInerney
14. Twice as Dead by Sue Ann Jaffarian

That's my 13+, so I'm going to say this is my list.  I do feel a little guilty calling this a challenge since I love cozies so much, but here you go.

Final Fall Into Reading Question(s)

Since this is the last Tuesday of Fall Into Reading 2010 (can you believe winter starts in a week?), this is also the final question from Callapidder Days.  Okay, so she went with four questions today.  And, I will be answering all of them.

1.Do you write in your books?

How dare you even think about the possibility?  I have a few books I wrote in as a kid.  But I don't think I've written anything other than my name in a book since I became a teen.  And I have a hard time writing my name in books I own, too.
2.Can you read in the car?

Not while driving.
And for a more serious answer, I have always been able to read in the car, a fact my parents hated as I would read past stuff they wanted to show me while we were on vacation.  Now that I have to drive, I will listen to books on tape, which is fun.  But if I'm on a long car trip and someone else is driving, you'd better believe I've got my book within easy reach.
3.Does the rest of your family enjoy reading?

Yes, but not as much as I do.  My parents read some, mostly non-fiction.  My brother and sister-in-law read more fiction.  My niece hasn't quite figured out reading yet.  She seems to think it's fine to turn the page in the middle of the page being read to her.  But since she's only 17 months, we'll cut her a little slack.
4.What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?

24 hours.
I know that sounds like bragging, but it's got to be close to the truth.  I always have a book going, and I always try to read a chapter in it before I go to bed.  Some days, that's all I get in.  I usually read on my lunch hour, so I get more reading in during the week.  But if I let a book go too long, I lose the story and characters, so I try to keep things advancing forward somewhat steadily so that I don't forget things.  And I usually have my next two or three books at the ready, so there's never a hesitation on what I will read next.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Word Association for December 13th

And here's this week's word association.

  1. Block :: Bad Behavior
  2. Comforter :: Cold
  3. Santa :: Presents
  4. Tape :: Recorder
  5. Humor :: Laugh
  6. Charity :: Giving
  7. Receipt :: Store
  8. Hospice :: Very sick
  9. Stuffing :: Turkey
  10. Binge :: Drinking

I don't binge drink.  Really!  As as to block, that's something we do at Epinions when someone is being a troll or breaking the rules.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for December 11th

Yes, I'm getting this up late because I just finished watching all my shows.  But here we go.

The Amazing Race - Nick and Vicki were pretty much irrelevant in this episode. At least it looked like they had fun on their last leg. And talk about a crazy episode, going to the zone between North and South Korea? Especially with the stuff going on in the news. Yeah, I know they filmed this months ago, but still that was in the back of my mind as I watched. One more thoughts. Go Nat and Kat!

The Sing Off - I was thrilled when I heard this show was coming back. So far, it's not completely obvious who the judges are rooting for, which is a nice change from last year. Yeah, most of their comments are still meaningless, but I could listen to the groups sing all night long. I was sorry to see the guys from Jersey leave Monday night.  And Wednesday night, I was shocked to see the Huffenpoofs go.  I seriously thought they'd make it to the final.  But as my roommate and I say, we'd hate to be the judges because all these groups are great.

Castle - A very fun episode with all kinds of twists, turns, and secret tunnels. Did I mention it was fun? Yeah, it seems like they don't quite know what to do with the Castle's family, but the mysteries are still pretty strong. And Castle's joking theories are such a blast.

No Ordinary Family - They obviously knew this was the episode going into the break because they played a lot with the story involving Dr. King. Man, I can't wait to see how long it is going to take for more people to be suspicious of "Joshua." And Daphne having amnesia, while a cliche, certainly makes me want to tune back in when the show returns in January.

Psych - Funniest episode so far this fall. Shawn and Gus pulling Lassiter over was worth the time to watch it alone. Lots of great lines, too. I was laughing almost the entire time. But I've noticed they aren't doing as much with the flashbacks right now. Not complaining, just found it an interesting break in the formula.

Survivor - Ben is gone. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about that. With NaOnka gone, the last person I hated is out of there. I think I've been rooting for just about everyone still in the game to win at some point. Except maybe Dan. Frankly, he should be gone long before the merge, so that fact that he is still there surprises me. Watching how the last few days plays out will certainly be interesting.

Burn Notice - So that's how they are going to extend things. After all, they can't really clear Michael's name or the show will be over. Now, I just wish I could remember who that guy is who showed up at the end. I love this show, but I can't keep all the villains straight or keep the story line going from week to week. But the main stories continue to entertain. Watching them clear the dead cop was good, although watching Sam and the widow reacting was heartbreaking. Well played by all.

Nikita - Speaking of heartbreaking, Tom's death was shocking and heartbreaking. I felt for Alex. However, this does increase her clearance, so it will be interesting to see how that helps the cause of taking down Division. And with the chat program known, we can't use that any more. How will they communicate frequently? It sounds like Alex will be out of Division quite frequently, so that will help.

Big Bang Theory - Yes, I'm adding this show back to my viewing schedule. I enjoyed watching it back in season two, but I took it off because of the sexual content. And this episode was full of it. I don't know who the new female characters are, but I'm sure I'll pick up on it soon. Meanwhile, I will be glad to have a comedy in my schedule.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Last Mud Run of the Year

Remember back in January when I was hesitating about signing up for two mud runs this year?  Well, this Saturday I did my fifth mud run of the year, and there are several more I would have liked to do.  As tempted as I am to sign up for one on Sunday, I just don't see how I could make it work.

Anyway, Saturday was the Gladiator Rock 'n Run.  I signed up with my friend Dave.  We met up Saturday morning to car pool down to Irvine.  Traffic was amazingly light, and we got down there long before I thought we would.  Turned out to be nice to get there so early so we could check in, get our numbers on, and all that kind of stuff.  We really only had about half an hour to kill before the start time.

Note how clean we look in the before picture.

We had signed up for the noon wave, and it turned out to be the last wave of the day.  It was a three mile run, and the first mile was running.  Then we hit the first obstacles, stairs.  Lots of stairs.  Over the course of the next three miles, we had a giant hill and a few smaller ones, a slide into mud, a few small walls and a 7 ft. wall.  And mud.

We only had one mud pit to crawl through, although I think there was a second we should have crawled through but the flags were down by the time we got there.  But let me tell you, the mud was thick and deep.  Most of the time, the mud is pretty runny and it's not that hard to get clean.  Not so this time.  We were both caked with mud.  I had to bleach my shirt, and even so there are a couple of spots that aren't coming clean any time soon.

We both had a blast.  I know I've got some mud runs coming up in May and June, but that's probably too long to wait.  I've got to find a way to get muddy before that.

Of course, I haven't run since then.  Something about over sleeping every morning.  I've got to start getting up and running again since I know I won't run over Christmas at all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

FIR Questions 10 & 11

Yes, I let myself get behind on answering the Fall into Reading questions.  And I didn't even catch up yesterday!  So let's fix that today.

First up, Question 10.

Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?

Just as no man can serve two masters, Mark can not read two books.  It doesn't matter how I plan to split my reading or how much I am enjoying one or the other, I always manage to get so sucked into one that I ignore the other and forget what was happening there.  As a result, I read one book at a time and then move on to the next one.

And, from yesterday, Question 11.

Do you ever read the end of a book before you actually get there? Have you sneaked a peek at the last page or two to find out what happens? Or do you faithfully avoid the final pages until you’ve “earned” them by reading to that point?

I try not to look at the end.  After all, in a mystery (which is most of what I read), the whole point is to be surprised by the ending.  However, I have a need to know how many pages there are in a book, and I have to look several times so I can figure out when I've hit the half way point or the final 100 page milestone.  I also need to know how many chapters there are.  As a result, I have occasionally seen things I didn't want to see.  Yes, it does diminish my enjoyment some.  Yes, the simple solution would be to stop doing that.  But I can't seem to fight my compulsion.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Word Association for December 6th

Let's do this week's word assocation, okay?

  1. Twitter :: Short
  2. Facebook :: More Interactive
  3. MySpace :: History
  4. Friend :: Smile
  5. Subscribe :: Magazine
  6. Conflict :: Resolution
  7. Ignore :: Problems
  8. Drama :: Play
  9. Hide :: Seek
  10. List :: To Do

Normally, I don't see a theme with the words we're given, but I certainly did this week.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - December 4th

So, I came back to town on Tuesday and have been playing catch up all week. It didn't help that I decorated my Christmas trees last night instead of watching TV. But I still managed to get all caught up.

The Amazing Race - I am so ready for either of the couples left in the race to go that I was very sorry to see this be a non-elimination leg. Of course, I don't see how they'll overcome a 6 hour penalty. I hope they can't. He doesn't deserve to be in the final three after he gave up during the detour.

Chuck - I was expecting much more of a cliffhanger than that since this looks like the break until the new year. Three more episodes on the original 13 episode order, too. Not too surprised that Chuck has the intersect back. I'm not as sure as he is that his mom is all good. And I'm wondering what exactly that was Ellie decoded on the computer. I'm sure it will come back up at some point. I'll be interested to see where they go with it.

No Ordinary Family - They basically presented two A stories this week with a focus on the adults for one and the kids for the other. But I'm very curious to see where they are going with the fake boyfriend. He seems to know a whole lot more than he's telling. What might he be up to?

Psych - I have never seen an episode of Twin Peaks, so I really didn't get much of this story. It was a good mystery, but missed a lot of the normal humor. I'm sure if I knew the other show, I would have gotten the humor here.

Survivor - Not one but two people quit? In the same episode? Wow, that's pretty surprising, especially that NaOnka was one of them. I'm not at all sorry to see her go, but I would have loved to see her voted out. Have I mentioned that I couldn't stand her?

Burn Notice - If you'd told me they would end an episode with Michael in possession of a list of people who burned him, I would have guessed it would be the season finale. Instead, it was this episode. I'm glad since it means we won't have a long wait to find out what he wants to do with it. And Nate is going to be a dad! I love Nate, wish he were on more. I hope they make him into a good father instead of the predictable leaving them when the going gets hard.

Nikita - I know they said they were going to introduce a love interest. If it isn't going to be Michael, I'm okay with it being this guy she was working with. In fact, I kind of like that idea, although I still want to see more of the relationship with Michael. Sadly, I'm most concerned with Alex. She's going to be in serious trouble very soon.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Back Before Thanksgiving

So I never did blog about the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Movies and plays.  Oh my!

It started with a Friday night trip to Sherman Oaks where I met up with Angelique for a screening of Harry Potter 7.1.  I'd read the book, she hadn't.  Frankly, neither of us were super impressed.  As I expected, it moved rather slowly.  That's the thing with the books, the first half is usually rather slow, and the second half is where the excitement is.  When you break a book in half, you're going to get a slow first half.  And that's definitely the case here.  But I expect the final movie to be a fun, fast paced ride come July.

Then Saturday, my roommates and I headed down to Glendale Centre Theatre where we met up with Angelique to see A Murder is Announced.  I'd never read the book, so I was confused until the end.  A great job with the mystery.  And the cast was great.  I just love going to that theater.  The performances are always great and the small, center theater aspect makes you feel like it is happening right there.  I wish I had started going when I'd first heard about it.  Think of all the great plays I've missed.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


As I hinted at yesterday, I've been out of town for almost a week.  Once again, I spent Thanksgiving at my brother's house in Dallas.  This was the first time we'd all slept there since my niece was born.  My brother and sister-in-law wound up sleeping in the living room.  I figured I'd be out there, but it was nice to have my normal bedroom.

My niece is so cute!  (I know, that's a real news flash).  She turned 16 months while I was there.  We heard he actually say "bird" at one point, although she didn't say it again.  However, she clearly says "Dada" and "Mama," "Izard" for lizard as well.

Obviously, Uncle Mark is still a bit too complicated for her, but I've been joking that I think my name might be "Ticka, ticka, ticka, ticka," her word for tickle.  Not that it would be entirely her fault since I was tickling her quite a bit.  But when asked to point to Uncle Mark, she would point to me (sometimes faster than others).

My brother and sister-in-law left for a mini vacation part way through my trip.  They'd arranged with Mom and Dad to watching my niece long ago (not that it was any big chore).  That went better than we feared it might, but I know she'll be glad to see them when they get back.  Those three adore each other.

But now I'm back at work.  I finally am beginning to feel like I have my feet under me.  Even though I was only gone two working days, I felt swamped when I came back.  But things are well under control, or so I think.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Word Association for December 1st

I know, I know.  I'm out of town for a week, and I come back and do word association.  What kind of blog is this?  (And that's a very good question.)

  1. Scrabble :: Words with Friends
  2. Watching :: Waiting
  3. Habitually :: Without Thinking
  4. Gritty :: Dark
  5. Slovenly :: Lazy
  6. Canvas :: Tent
  7. Leggings :: Stockings
  8. Thursday :: Tomorrow
  9. Attention :: Span
  10. Hypnotic :: Suggestion

I didn't really intend for this to be a plug, but I did downloan Words with Friends over the weekend, so if you want to play, hit me up and let's play.  I'm Carstairs38, and I'm sure I'll be an easy win.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for November 27th

You know, I really had intended to blog more this week. But I just ran out of time with everything I was trying to get in before Thanksgiving. One of those things was staying current on my TV shows, so at least I'll get this post in. Fortunately, with Thanksgiving this week, most shows took the time I'm out of town off. I'll have some catching up to do when I get back, but I can handle that.

The Amazing Race - I wasn't that sorry to see Chad and Stephanie go. Heck, I could do with the other two couples leaving. I like the two female teams and hope one of them wins. The double U-turn certainly made things interesting since the team that got U-turned didn't automatically lose. I hope they bring that back in future seasons.

Dancing with the Stars - Well, that was the least surprising ending since Kristi Yamaguchi won. Not that I don't think Jennifer and Derek deserved to win, but she had a huge advantage going in. I would really like to see them fill up a roster sometime with people who don't have any dancing experience in them instead of stacking the deck. Okay, so I was rooting for Lacey to finally win. And I've got to say that Bristol really surprised me. I actually liked her freestyle the best. She proved she deserved to be in the finals. Third place was the right finish for her, but she was actually holding her own with the other two.

Skating with the Stars - That was painful. No, I'm not talking about the skating, which was actually pretty interesting. But the hosts were so over talking things (even over the hosts on DwtS) . The judges had no personality at all. Yes, the judges can be over the top of DwtS, but they actually still make sense, and you can figure out what their scores will be. Here? The scores made no sense following the comments. I'm slightly tempted to see where things go next week, but I think I'm just going to let the show go. We're entering December anyway, so why not just enjoy a lighter TV schedule.

Chuck - Not the biggest fan of watching Sarah go all Rambo on everyone. Casey doing that and breaking the rules is funny. Sarah was just painful to watch. It does show how Chuck balances out Sarah, however. I like what they have done with them and their relationship this year. No, it doesn't have quite the same spark the show had before they started dating. But it is still fun, and I prefer this to them dragging this out for another year. I'm dying to know what was in the computer that Ellie and Awesome finally had open at the end. I'm one of the few people I know who doesn't think it's another intersect. I think it's a big family secret, however.

No Ordinary Family - They overall story didn't advance by much, which didn't really surprise me. And I was highly disappointed with how they resolved the JJ story about being charged with a crime. Seriously? We're going to use amnesia? I would rather they didn't introduce the storyline if that was all they were going to do with it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Word Association for November 22nd

I was actually going to post the word assocation yesterday, but it's a day late.

  1. Emotional :: Baggage
  2. Bite :: Me
  3. Get off my :: Porch
  4. Heroic :: Action
  5. Clothing :: Covered
  6. Home :: House
  7. Spelling :: Error
  8. Attitude :: Adjustment
  9. Argument :: Lose
  10. Satan :: Evil

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekly TV Recap November 19th

The Amazing Race - Father/Son were followed out the door by Father/Daughter. I wish I knew how close it really was because the editing made it look really close. But another team I am sorry to see go. Honestly, I think all the couple teams can leave at this point and I'd be happy. The ones who are left are getting on my nerves.

Dancing with the Stars - Another week, another round the Bristol makes it through. Let's be honest here, I bet her mother's fans are voting for her. But let's also be honest here, it's just a game show. We don't need to have all the drama over it we are seeing. I am definitely pulling for Jennifer, although I would be quite happy if Kyle and Lacey won as well. Bristol? Well, she's not a good enough dancer to deserve to win.

Chuck - When the episode started out, I wasn't that impressed, but as it went on, I really did like it and where they were going with it. This will wind up being another good milestone in the Chuck/Sarah relationship. But why oh why did they have to leave us hanging like that?

Castle - That was hilarious. Great spoof of sci-fi, especially X-Files. They even had the Cigarette Smoking Man. And I had no idea how they were going to explain everything, but they managed to have a logical solution to the mystery as well. I was laughing so hard, too.

No Ordinary Family - The kids' storylines this week were pretty weak, but the last few minutes were great. Jim and George finding a pattern in the people who are dying. Us learning that Stephanie was lied to by the widow. And The Watcher showing up to date Katie. This is going to get very interesting in the weeks to come.

Psych - The banter was killing me again, and the plot had me pretty confused for a while there. Great use of a haunted house to stage a murder. Plus, as against the Shawn/Juliette relationship as I have been, I think I might actually like it. It will be an interesting dynamic to watch as the season progresses.

Survivor - I really was surprised that Brenda went home. Most of the time when someone is as powerful and popular as she is, people aren't willing to turn on them. Maybe the people playing have a brain after all. (Note, I did say maybe.)

Better with You - Yes, this show snuck back into the rotation this week, mainly because they had Reba guest starring as a wedding planner. I used to love Reba, which also had star Joanna Garcia. Sadly, it reminded me why I gave up the show. I was cringing through a lot of it and skipped past the scenes about flirting at the yogurt shop. Reba was great, and it was fun seeing she and Joanna together again. But the show won't be back next week.

Burn Notice - I didn't remember that thief who had hired (or rather blackmailed) the gang into helping her, but I loved her. She was so funny, especially the way she and Fi went at it. I would love it if they found a way to bring her back again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Great Weekend

This last weekend was fun but busy again.

Saturday was the 2nd birthday party for my friends Kenny and Kathryn's little boy Ethan.  We met up at a park.  It was great getting to hang out with some friends.  The kids seemed to have fun with the pinata, too.

Of course, around that, I was dealing with more car stuff.  My mechanic had found a problem with my CV Boot.  I called the place where I got my suspension worked on a couple weeks ago, and they agreed to fix it for me for free.  I took it in that morning, but it wasn't quite right I discovered while driving to and from the party.  So I spent more time getting it fixed afterward.  Fortunately, that place is within walking distance of my condo.

Then that night, some friends came over to hang out with us at the condo.  We watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and hit the hot tub.  It was a blast.

Sunday after church, I headed down to the beach again.  Dave and I decided with the weather being nice, we had to try the beach again.  It was absolutely perfect!  It was pleasantly warm.  We threw the Frisbee around for a while, then went for a run on the beach.  Eventually, we wound up back at his place where we hit the hot tub before I introduced him to the joy that is Chuck.

The weather is cooling off now.  In fact, we're supposed to get rain starting tomorrow or Saturday.  Guess it's time to say goodbye to nice weather because winter is here.  I'll be okay until Christmas is over, but after that, how soon until Spring?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

FIR Reading Question #8

Holy cow!  Are we 8 weeks into Fall Into Reading?  I'd better get reading faster.  Anyway, here's this week's question and my answer.

Where do you get the books you read? Are you a faithful library patron? Or maybe a bookstore junkie? Do you exchange books with friends or family members?

I used a library almost exclusively as a kid, and if I went back to that, think of the money I would save.

I am a book buyer.  I will buy books anywhere and everywhere.  Used books?  Yes.  On line bookstores?  Yes.  Chain bookstores?  Yes.  Independent bookstores?  Yes.  Really, I will take books wherever I can get them.

I used to buy two or three books for every book I read on average.  You can begin to see the problem.  I am out of room in my condo and still buy books.  I could stop buying books and not run out of books I hadn't read for at least a year.

However, I have cut down some on the books I buy.  Might be more like 1 to 1.5 books bought to every book read.  I still don't feel like I'm catching up on the books around my place I want to read, but it's better than it once was.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Word Association for November 15th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Freezing :: Cold
  2. Bikers :: Motorcycle
  3. Infrequently :: Occasionally
  4. Mickey :: Mouse
  5. School:: Work
  6. Textile :: Clothes
  7. Obstinate :: Stubborn
  8. Guard :: Security
  9. Release :: Date
  10. Authentic :: Real

All I have to say is the guy hosting the Third Annual All Things Disney Write-Off had better come up with Mouse for Mickey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for November 13th

So, you may notice that Hawaii Five-0 isn't on the list any more.  It's not that I wasn't still enjoying the show, but something had to go.  I just had too much else I was watching, especially with USA Network shows coming back.

The Amazing Race - Kevin and Michael finally left. To be honest, they lasted longer than I thought they would. Not as sorry to see them go as I have been the others the last couple of weeks because the way the son talks about his father was really getting me. And once again, racers learn the importance of reading all directions carefully.

Dancing with the Stars - So, the Instant Dance was pretty interesting. It certainly separated the great dancers from the next level down. Not that anyone isn't trying at this point, but there is a certainly natural ability involved. I'm sorry to see Kurt and Anna go, but they are one of the couples that needs to go. Now, Bristol needs to go next week. She's improved at lot, but she's not at the level of the other three. And Kyle was robbed! His Instant Jive was the dance of the season. He should have gotten a 30. I still can't believe that was a dance without a known song. It was flawless.

Castle - This one started out fun, but if grew serious pretty quickly when we learned a boy had been kidnapped. They did a great job of toning it down at that point and making it important for the characters. Not that I was ever really worried for the boy. This isn't the kinds of show where they'd kill off the kid. At least I hope not. That would really ruin the fun of the show, and it tries above all else to be fun each week. I even felt like the story with the pet rat wasn't as stuck on has it has been in the past.

No Ordinary Family - Nothing on any advancing storylines. In stead, the entire episode was devoted to Stephanie's parents visiting. And they have a bad relationship which is fixed by the end. Predictable. But I still loved it and ended the episode smiling. What is it with me and predictable, sappy stories like that that I love so much?

Psych - Once again, they had Cary Elwes on the show, and they made no Princess Bride references? On a show that prides itself on 80's references? Inconceivable! Other than that (and yes it does really bother me), I enjoyed the episode. The banter between Shawn and Gus was funny as always. Plot was decent, although the ending was a bit weak. Glad to have the show back.

Survivor - Marty's gone! I never could bring myself to feel sorry for him. Something about how arrogant and smug he always seemed. Now, if they can just get rid of NaOnka I will be super thrilled.

Burn Notice - This episode is everything I love about the show. You've got some quips with lots of action and things blowing up. Even though I know the characters will make it out alive, I still worry for them. Especially this week since it was so painful watching Michael walk around wounded. Jesse is going to be a huge wild card for quite a while. He's working with them, but almost under protest. I like what they are doing with that relationship. I hope they keep it realistic.

Nikita - Michael, Nikita really is on your side. Please know that. Please think! And in other news, just as I was complaining about not seeing Jaden for a few weeks, look who was back. I loved how Alex used her to clear herself. "If these two agree, they must be telling the truth." So funny. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops from here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Into Reading Question #7 (a Day Late)

So last night, I remembered that Callapidder Days had another reading question for us, but I didn't get a chance to blog about it.  So here goes.  And the question is:

How did you get into reading? When and how/why did you really become “a reader”?

I have always loved books.  I can remember being read to as a kid.  I can remember "reading" How the Grinch Stole Christmas to my parents (in reality I had it memorized).

I think the time when it really clicked for me was 3rd grade.  Don't get me wrong, I was reading before then.  But I can remember trying my first Hardy Boys book in third grade.  While I didn't really get hooked on them until 5th grade, I stopped reading it because I was hooked on the first Chronicle of Narnia.  I still love those books.  From there, I have always had some book going.  And almost 30 years later, it is still that way.

Narnia was also the first time I got others reading what I enjoyed.  I had several friends in class reading the series by the time the year was over.

So, yes, I have always read.  But 3rd grade was the first time I officially became a reader.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Long Over Due Disneyland Trip Report

Wow, I can't believe it's been a week and a half since my trip to Disneyland and I'm just now blogging about it.

As always, it was a fun day.  This trip was just Angelique and I.  We did our normal get there early and leave late bit, which always makes for a long day.

And boy was it crowded.  This was the most crowded I'd seen it in a long time.  Of course, after hardly anyone being there in February, anything would have seemed crowded, but this was exceptionally bad.  Long waits for most everything.  Indy and Space Mountain were around an hour almost all day.  But Pirates was over half an hour at one point.  And Haunted Mansion Holiday?  Way over an hour as well.

Of course, we were there the day before Halloween.  I'm sure that had something to do with it.

In my quest to find an ornament for the Pixar movie Up, I wound up finding and buying several more ornaments that they were selling this year.  I have got to stop buying ornaments at some point.  Really.  And of course I bought more Disney pins.

All in all, it was a great day.  Tiring but lots of fun.  How soon can we go back?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Word Association for November 8th

Don't have more than a few minutes right now, so I'm going to go ahead and do the word assocation today.

  1. Everything :: Nothing
  2. China :: Japan
  3. Essence :: of Life
  4. Immediate :: action
  5. Obstruct :: Justice
  6. Force :: Star Wars
  7. Constellation :: Stars
  8. Intuitive :: Obvious
  9. Complain :: Whine
  10. Train :: Track

Star Wars followed by Stars?  Interesting.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My October Reads

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

ROYAL BLOOD by Rhys Bowen - 4
Lady Georgiana is invited to a castle in Transylvania to be a royal representative at a wedding. But once she gets there, she sees stuff that seems to involve vampires. And that's before someone drops dead. What's really happening? Plenty of fun as always, although the book does have a bit of a slow start.

NAKED HEAT by Richard Castle - 4.5
Gossip columnist Cassidy Towne has been murdered, and Nikki Heat must solve this high profile case quickly. To make this worse, writer Jameson Rook was profiling Cassidy, so Nikki must reunite with Rook to try to find the killer. Lots of great action and plenty of fun for fans of the TV show Castle. The writing was definitely better this time around, too, although it still could have smoothed out in a few spots.

MURDER IN VEIN by Sue Ann Jaffarian - 4
Madison Rose is kidnapped and is about to be killed until she is rescued - by vampires. And they want to use her to try to solve a series of murders that threaten their secret existence. Can she even trust them? I enjoyed the book and really grew to like the characters. Some of the scenes were just too dark for me, however.

A reread for me and the main reason I started rereading Narnia this year - the upcoming movie. Lots of fun as always.

NERDS: M IS FOR MAMA'S BOY by Michael Buckley - 5
The NERDS team is back and on the trail of a bank robber using squirrels as his accomplishes. Is it an old friend turned villain? This Bond spoof for kids is a very funny ride that I completely loved. Definitely consider it for kids on your Christmas list, but read it yourself first. You'll love it, too.

NIGHTMARE by Robin Parrish - 4
Maia is at the newest amusement park in the country - Ghost Town - when she sees a friend as one of the ghosts. Then she finds out this friend is missing. What is going on? This is a Christian novel with heavy ghost elements. Yet it treats the ghosts are real, or at least potentially real. Very well done with some creepy scenes. Perfect Halloween read.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for November 6th

So NBC officially canceled Undercovers this week.  I actually had four on the DVR.  I couldn't quite get myself to give up on the show, but I wasn't making the time to watch it.  With it canceled, I went ahead and deleted them.  So now I have nothing on the DVR!

The Amazing Race - It was about time for another non-elimination leg. But boy, both parts of the detour were pretty hard. I would have tried for the music one, and the strategy of doing them one at a time was certainly the way to go. I think if other teams had tried that, they would have been happier overall.

Chuck - The show had me laughing for so much of it, especially Sarah after she found out that Chuck had talked to everyone but her about their fight. Or them having their heart to heart while shooting their way out of the bank. However, the tender moment of their mom talking to Ellie was great. The ending? Well, let's just say I don't want to have to wait two weeks to see what happens next. Totally unfair.

Dancing with the Stars - So, I thought more of the couples would stick closer to the original dances, but it was actually more fun seeing them take a fresh spin on some signature performances. And I loved seeing all the stars back again. Shocked that Rick left, especially since Bristol is still around. She's not that good a dancer, so I really have expected her to leave before now.

Castle - As if to make up for last week, we had lots of fun with the stripper in this week's episode. Totally hilarious how it all played out, and I never saw that ending coming. Sub-plots at home still aren't quite as good as they have been in the past, but I'm not complaining over all. Still a fun show.

Hawaii Five-0 - Interesting take on the hostage situation, and the twists by the end were amazing. Still could take or leave the show, but I can't seem to stop watching.

Survivor - Marty makes it through again. Will anyone wise up to how manipulative he is? And NaOnka? I was actually beginning to like her, but holy cow she went off the deep end yet again, and no one seems to realize how crazy she is. She needs to go now.

Nikita - I actually watched the last two episodes this week. Man, this show is awesome. Easily the best new show of the season. Thom out in the field was great, and I can't wait to see how they continue to play off his relationship with Alex. But I am wondering what happened to the black girl who was giving Alex so much trouble in the beginning. She seems to have just vanished.

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Mary Tyler Moore Season 7
V Season 1

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Word Association for November 3rd

Here's this week's word assocation.

  1. Adhesive ::  Tape
  2. Bill :: Law
  3. Swing ::  Slide
  4. Counter ::  Offensive
  5. Fluid ::  Movement
  6. Investigate ::  Detective
  7. Chit chat ::  Talk
  8. Humane ::  Kind
  9. Boss :: Great
  10. Furniture ::  Living Room

And no, I'm not trying to butter up my boss.  As far as I know, he doesn't read my blog.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Reading Locations

If it's Tuesday, that must mean it is time for another reading question from Callapidder Days for Fall Into Reading.  This week's question is:

Where do you love to read? Note: I don’t mean where do you actually do most of your reading, because that might be the carpool line, the work cafeteria, or even the bathroom (if you have to escape from a few small children in order to read a chapter of your book). I mean, what are a few of the places where you LOVE to read?
Where do I love to read?  Yes!

Seriously, I will read anywhere and everywhere I get a chance when not doing something like running or watching TV.  I love to read in bed before I go to sleep at night.  I love to read on airplanes.  I will lean my seat back and read in my car at lunch time.  I rarely read in the living room because my roommates are usually out there, so when I get a chance to do that it is a special treat.  I really will read anywhere and everywhere I can.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

TV Recap for October 31st

I know I usually do these on Saturday, but I forgot to schedule it ahead of time, and I spent all day yesterday at Disneyland.  Better late than never, right?

The Amazing Race - Another week, another team I like gone. Although as my family and I agree, there are teams that annoy us, but there are no teams we hate. And that's a great change. I feel sorry for the ladies because they just never had a chance. They hardly ever saw the team in front of them, much less have a chance to catch up.

Chuck - Oh my goodness, those last few minutes are going to come back to bite everyone next week. I like the whole mystery of Chuck's mom. Whose side is she on? But Sarah kidnapping her like that at the end is really going to cause some friction in their relationship. And after a couple of weeks with smooth sailing on that front. I was glad they brought back Awesome's mom, too. All in all, another great episode.

Dancing with the Stars - Things are shaking this week with all that rock and roll. Some of the front runners are near the bottom while others who have been doing poorly shot up a ways. I'm shocked to see Jennifer so far down. But I think Warren will be the one going home this week. Then again, I'm not a prophet, because it was Audrina who went home. I'm beyond shocked that it happened that way. She was in second after Monday night and was really improving. The next few weeks are going to get very interesting.

Castle - That was much more serious than the normal Castle episode. Yes, it still had some laughs, but the end was very suspenseful. Still not sure I bought the villain running off and not killing Castle, but it does mean this is a villain out there to come back later if they so desire.

Hawaii Five-0 - The surfing aspect was fun, although I called the shot while surfing early. I mean, we had reached the opening credits yet. Seemed like the perfect time to shot someone to me. The twists at the end to solve the case sure came out of no where. They spent so much time developing the one suspect, they didn't have time to play out the mystery, however.

No Ordinary Family - So, that was pretty much a perfect episode for me. It advanced several storylines but gave us a super powered villain to fight. And it showed us how JJ can use his powers to help out in important situations. I hope we get more episodes like that as the series progresses.

Survivor - Well, Marty survived giving away his idol. Bummed! I really want to see him voted out, although since he switched tribes his arrogance has been lessening. Likewise, Naonka hasn't been quite as crazy recently. Looks like both things will be changing next week. We'll see how it all goes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Between Disney Trips

So today I've been working between trips to the Disneyland Resort.  Tomorrow, I'm spending all day at Disneyland itself.  But yesterday, I went down to California Adventure.  And the best part?  It was free.  (Or was it the fact that I got an afternoon off work?  I forget which.)

I took off work at noon, went home, and picked up my roommate Daniel.  It was his first trip to California Adventure, so it was fun getting to show him the park.

We actually got there around 2PM and couldn't get into the park until 4PM, so we hung around Downtown Disney for a while.

We were officially there for the elecTRONica show.  The Disney Parks Blog was hosting a meet up, and those of us were RSVP'd quickly enough got free tickets to get into the park at 4.  Then we got to stay to experience the elecTRONica stuff after the park had closed to the other guests.

So we had four hours to explore the park.  We really needed about another hour since I would have liked to do both the 3D shows.  But we did get in all the big, important rides plus the Farris wheel and the newly theme swings.

At 8, the park closed down and we got to experience the show.  It started with a dance show that was a bit cheesy.  They had 200 spots to get autographs from the authors of the new Tron sequel, and since Daniel and I got there early enough we got to do that.  We watched LasarMan, who does a pretty impressive show with a Lazar beam.  We got to see a few costumes from the movie.  They had a 3D preview of the new movie, including a scene from near the beginning.  I've got to tell you, this looks like a very fun movie.  Plus there was an arcade of video games from the 80's.  If there weren't people around all the games, I probably would have spent way too much money there.

They had put out a call earlier for Frisbee players for the show, and naturally that was announced to local area ultimate Frisbee players.  I thought they were part of a show, but instead the frisbee players are hosting an area where people try to throw a disc into a disc golf hole.  Two of the people working there last night are friends of mine from ultimate Frisbee.  That was a blast seeing them and talking to them at the park.

We left around 10:30 but didn't get home until midnight thanks to traffic.  They really should never shut down all but one lane of a freeway.  Traffic wasn't that heavy, I thought, until we had to go down to one lane.  Suddenly, we were hardly moving at 11:30 at night.  But we made it home.

All in all it was a fun day.  I didn't buy any pins, so all I spent money on was food and parking.  Can't complain too much about that.  (Of course, I did start making a list of the pins to buy tomorrow.  Must resist buying too much.)

They are starting to work on the new Cars themed land in California Adventure and have some huge walls up.  They've even taken down their big pin trading store, at least for now.  I'm really going to miss it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Word Association for October 27th

Time for another week's worth of word association.

  1. Sarcasm :: Normal mode of communication
  2. Coke :: Yuke!
  3. Frank :: and Joe Hardy
  4. Party :: Time
  5. Witches :: Spells
  6. Intentional :: Incident
  7. Crisp :: Morning Air
  8. Lockers :: Gym
  9. Walking :: Running
  10. Fundraiser :: Money

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Books, Books, Books

It's Tuesday, and that means it is time for two book features.

First up, I'm going to do this week's reading question from Callapidder Days.  She asks:
When you read a book, do you read EVERYTHING? In other words, do you read the dedication, the acknowledgements, the foreword, the afterword, the prologue, the epilogue, the appendices, etc.? Or do you just read the “meat” of the book? Or is your approach somewhere in between?

I read everything.  Okay, I might skim over acknowledgements if they are just a long list of names.  But I actually have fun finding names I recognize in the acknowledgements of Southern California authors.  Plus, since I pretty much read fiction, the prologue and epilogue are an important part of the story.  I do still tend to read everything if I am reading non-fiction.  I figure if it was important enough to include, I need to read it.

And, since it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, that means it is time for 5 Minutes for Books' What's on Your Nightstand.

Late last week, I finsihed NERDS: M is for Mama's Boy, the second book in a fun series by Michael Buckley.  Michael is probably best known for his Sister's Grimm books, but these are very different.  NERDS is a group of 5th grade super spies who have some upgrades that give them quasi-superpowers.  They go on missions around the world and still make it home for dinner.  This book finds them facing off against someone who is inventing a ray that makes all machines obey him and someone who is using squirrels to rob banks.

No, there is nothing serious about the books.  They take themselves seriously enough that we care about the outcome, but the plots are over the top and that much more fun for it.  And there are tons of jokes to keep you laughing the entire way through.  Frankly, I think parents will get more of the jokes than their kids will.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekly TV Recap for October 23rd

I watched last week's Mentalist (today actually), and have decided to take it off my list of shows as well.  If I had plenty of time, I would still be enjoying it.  But I've got to cut shows somewhere, and I really think that's a good choice.  Meanwhile, I know have two week's of Undercovers on the DVR to watch.  I'm thinking that may go as well.

Meanwhile, here is what I did get watched this week.

The Amazing Race - I found out early who got eliminated thanks to TV Guide spoiling it on Twitter, so watching it Tuesday night was painful. I wanted those a cappella singers to win. It killed me to see them go, although they had such a great attitude the entire time. If only there is some way they could come back next week it would make me thrilled.

Dancing with the Stars - What a fun night! As a TV addict, I loved it, especially the routines to the shows I know. Kurt's dance to the Bewitched theme was my favorite, although Kyle's dance to Charlie's Angles was also lots of fun. I'm shocked with the outcome, however. I sure did expect Bristol to go home. However, Florence wouldn't have lasted more than another week or two, so it's not a big loss.

Chuck - It was actually nice to have an episode free of Chuck and Sara drama. They were so cute together, too. However, the big laughs came from Casey and Morgan with Morgan trying to tell Casey about dating his daughter. The way they played that out was absolutely perfect. And to top it off, the show got picked up for another 11 episodes this season, bringing the total to 24. I so happy to be able to enjoy more.

Castle - Talk about a huge red herring. We've got a prison break that has nothing to do with the murder. As much as I liked the romance of the prison break, the couple got off a little too easily. The sub-plot with Alex was a bit weak again. However, we finally got to see Gina again, the woman Castle is supposed to be dating. Especially with the ending where Beckett says she would break Castle out of jail. Was she flirting with him?

Hawaii Five-0 - So, Hiro has a new job as the coroner on this show. I think he's a bit too quirky, at least at this point. Hopefully they tone him down in the episodes to come. Of course, I'm still thinking about dropping this show. I don't get to it until Wednesday and it's pretty much a police procedural with a great background. And I love the Hawaii setting. For at least another week, it's going to stay in the rotation.

No Ordinary Family - As much as the family is interesting, and I enjoyed the episode, I do wish they'd include a little more super and a little more of the continuing storylines. They are building to something, but rather slowly. Still, I like the characters and really do enjoy the show. And the focus on JJ made for some interesting developments. I can't wait to see how things go down when the parents learn the truth about him.

Melissa and Joey - I was actually kind of surprised they were thinking of wrapping up the father on the run story so soon. I wasn't at all surprised by how it ended. In fact, I couldn't quite believe that the characters fell for the fake cop routine. However, the best part of the whole thing was the exchange between Melissa and Joey over costume ideas. "Teenage witch. That's what you should have been." "Been there, done that." I love it when actors/writers are willing to mock the past from a star. It's like an inside joke that I get.

Survivor - How in the world did Dan survive again? I mean, the guy has bad knees and isn't up to the challenges. Why haven't they booted him ages ago? And Kelly B? Really? You totally had Marty. He couldn't use his idol after the tie, so he was as good as gone. Now they still have to deal with it next week. Gee, can you tell with two guys I want to see go? Not that I have big opinions on anything happening on the show.

Nikita - Wow, that was intense. Between thinking that Alex was going to give herself away plus the interrogation/torture, I couldn't have stopped watching that episode is I had wanted to. In the Nikita front, I totally saw that her prisoner was the man who killed her fiancee. I did think he was going to kill himself, however, not escape. And now that he has the black box, I wonder what will happen with that. I hear they are going to tinker with the show to add some romance for Nikita. I hope it doesn't ruin the show because they've got a great thing going with what they have right now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Word Association for October 20th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Freak :: Geek
  2. Homework :: School
  3. Favor :: Help
  4. Encounter :: Strange
  5. Shake it :: Drink Mix
  6. Felony :: Crime
  7. Loops :: Fruit
  8. Groove :: Ornament
  9. Funding :: Loans
  10. Plot :: Mystery

So Groove.  One of the Hallmark ornaments this year is called In the Groove, and it features Snoopy and Woodstock doing a dance to the "Linus and Lucy" song we all know from the Peanuts specials.  I love it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Fall Into Reading Questions

So, Callapidder Days, our host for the Fall Into Reading challenge I'm doing right now, has decided to ask us questions about our reading habbits every Tuesday.  When I found out, I thought, "That sounds like a fun thing to post on my blog on Tuesdays."  So here I am, four Tuesdays behind, ready to start.

Um, yeah.

I will get all four of these done today, however.  Trust me.

1. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to your reading? What prevents you from reading as much as you’d like?

I just try to do too much.  I would love to read more.  But I also like to watch TV, and as I have been saying for the last month, need to make some choices on TV shows to cut out.  I also like to spend time with friends, which as you can see from yesterday, really cuts into reading time.  And all the running I am doing means I can't spend that time reading (although that I usually do during time I would have been sleeping.  Then again, that means I have to go to sleep earlier).  Basically, as much as I'd love to read more, it would mean cutting down on something else I also love to do.

2. What do you think about e-books? Do you engage in e-reading or do you prefer to stick to good ol’ physical books?

I have a few e-reader apps on my iPod Touch.  I've downloaded a few free books, but I haven't spent much time reading them yet.  The main reason is because I have so many physical books around that I see and are calling my name that I forget about the ebooks.

I don't know how excited I would be to buy an ebook, however.  I like having the physical copy, especially if I want to get it signed.  I'm just not sure I'd want to spend the money to have an electronic copy I could lose.

Of course, with all the books I own and the fact that I long ago ran out of space for them in my condo, I should probably get over my feelings and start getting some ebooks.

3. Do you eat/drink while reading? If so, do you have some favorite reading snacks?

I don't eat at all.  I've tried, but I just can't seem to eat.  I get too lost in the book.  I drink plenty of water, and I will sometimes drink while reading, but usually I even forget to do that.  And I wouldn't want to snack because I'd get stuff on the pages of the book.

4. Do you ever dog-ear the corners of book pages to mark your spot? Or are you a faithful bookmark user, refusing to damage the pages of your books? OR do you have another way to keep track of where you are in a book?

Dog-ear pages?  Never!  Many people comment on how a book looks brand new after I've finished reading it.  I like to keep my books as nice looking as possible.

I use a bookmark.  In fact, I've used the same bookmark for probably 20 years now.  It's one of those laminated ones with my name and my name's meaning on it that were popular in the 80's.  The plastic edges are uneven and about half off now.  The tassle came off years ago.  But I can't get rid of it.  In fact, a few years back I lost it for a week or so, and reading just didn't feel right without my old friendly bookmark to hold my spot for me.

Makes you kind of wonder if I will ever really adapt to ebooks, doesn't it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now, To Spend the Week Recovering

I can't believe I'm back at work on a Monday already.  This weekend just flew by.  I was way too busy.  And I wouldn't change a thing about it.

It all started Friday night.  The college where I work is putting on The Mousetrap right now.  So I went to see it with one of my roommates and a mutual friend.  They guessed the killer at intermission.  Someday, I want to see it with someone who doesn't guess the killer early.  I feel like such an idiot since I missed it the first time around.  Anyway, we all really enjoyed it.

Saturday morning, I tried to sleep in some, but it didn't work.  I got up and headed down to our ultimate Frisbee game.  We got trounced 3-10.  It has really cooled down, so it was a bit on the chilly side, but we warmed up quickly when we started running.

I actually had a couple of hours at home before a wedding.  A friend I've had for years got married Saturday afternoon.  Of course, I was there.  It was a nice wedding, too.

I raced home from that and introduced my roommate Luke to The Stockmarket Game.  He would have beaten Daniel and I except he had to leave.  That just meant that Daniel could beat me.

Then Daniel and I went to hang out with a group of my friends.  I haven't hung out with these guys for months, so it was really great to see them and find out what's happening with them.  We hit the hot tub and then played a card game.

That's just Saturday!

Sunday started with church.  I was moving slowly in the morning, but was perfectly on time for a 8:30 church service.  The problem?  Church starts at 8.  But I made it for the sermon.

After church, I headed down to my new friend Dave's place.  We had been planning earlier in the week to hit the beach, but Sunday turned out to be a very overcast day with lots of mist.  We talked about going to a movie, but ultimately made our way to the beach.  We threw a frisbee around for about an hour or so, and ultimately jumped in the water for a couple of minutes before we left.  When we got back, he hit his spa.  It felt wonderful!

Finally, I ended my weekend with guy's night at Joe and Erica's.  We watched Tron this week, which I enjoyed more than I remembered liking it.  Hung out talking forever afterwards.  It was a great ending to a great weekend.

Of course, now, I'm tired.  I was planning to get up and run two miles before work this morning.  Didn't quite happen.  And since my ultimate Frisbee game got canceled on account of "rain," I'm going to need to go home and run those miles tonight before I talk to my family.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - October 16th

You'll notice fewer shows on the list this week. Some of that is because I am starting to cut out shows. And some of that is because I still have some shows sitting on my DVR. Honestly, they are probably shows I will be cutting in the next week to two as well. I just can't keep up my pace of TV watching and have a life at the same time. And since I want to have a life….

But here's what I did get watched this week.

The Amazing Race - While I'm not expecting the Father/Son team to last two much longer, I am thrilled this was a non-elimination leg. And I've very curious to see how much of a head start the singers have. It sure seemed like they breezed through stuff and finished well ahead of everyone else. Of course, they'll lose that lead when everyone winds up on the only flight out of the country, but that's just part of the race.

Chuck - So Ellie now knows at least part of the truth, Chuck is looking for their mother. The story with the takeover in the foreign country was a great way to tie into Chuck and Sara's relationship. Their struggles each week are a bit predictable, but I like it. And it's not like their relationship in previous seasons wasn't nearly as predictable.

Castle - "That can only mean one thing - time traveling killer." Best line ever! I thought the relationship stuff could have been better, however. What's with throwing Beckett's new relationship at us at the very end of the episode? And the stuff with Alex's boyfriend wasn't nearly as funny as it should have been and was resolved much too easily.  Let that story develop over a couple of episodes.

Dancing with the Stars - I really don't have too much to say about this one. I was only half watching the dances this week. Not too sorry to see The Situation go. And it proves again that throwing in tricks doesn't help you until you have mastered the actual dancing.

Hawaii Five-0 - This one is probably going to drop off my list in a week or two. It's beginning to fall into police procedural plots and doesn't seem to have the spark with the characters the first couple of episodes had. For example, this week the sub-plot with the sister was just silly.

No Ordinary Family - Definitely keeping this one on the list since I recap it over at The Disney Blog. And it's plenty fun still. This week was about developing the characters more than advancing any story, although the stories did get some advancement as well. I think they are building to something big by season's end, and I think I will continue to enjoy the ride along the way.

Survivor - This is a show where my natural indecisiveness would serve me well. Those who are leaders who want things done a certain way get voted out early. That alone would get me to the merge. Plus the fact that I'm not a physical threat would save my bacon. Of course, by my standards, I'd be the first to go, but no one seems to play that way. It's all an individual game from day one these days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Word Association for October 13th

Time again for some word association.

  1. Intruder :: Alert!
  2. Repelled :: Rocks
  3. Trench coat :: Detective
  4. Lipstick :: Red
  5. Humongous :: Giant
  6. Oven mitts :: Hot
  7. Case :: Mystery
  8. Daughter :: Son
  9. Attorney :: Trial
  10. Shaken :: Not Stirred

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend Away

After the craziness of last weekend, I needed a nice, quiet weekend away.  And that's exactly what I got.  Mom and Dad were down in Palm Springs, so I headed down to visit them.  Even better, Saturday was Mom's birthday.

Frankly, we didn't do a whole lot.  We swam twice a day.  The pool is cooled with the water coming from a hot springs.  They generally keep it around 90-95 degrees.

Actually, it could have been a little cooler.  See, it was in the 100's outside.  It was just a bit too warm when it was that hot outside.  We'd be cool when we got out of the pool since the wind was blowing, but I'd be hot by the time we got back to the trailer again.

Other then that, we played some games.  Lots of Rummikub, Mom's favorite.  And we got in a round of Yahtzee.  We play miniature golf one day.  I managed to beat Dad, but we were so focused on each other that Mom actually won.  I should have quite after the first hole, where I got a hole in one.

And we changed a flat tire.  All day Saturday, we watched as one of my tires kept going flat.  When we went into town on Sunday, we took my spare and put air in it.  Monday we changed it before I headed home.

I made it home Monday in time for what should have been my ultimate Frisbee game.  The other team didn't have enough, so we won by forfeit again.  But we played some pick up, which was fun.  Then a friend and I jumped in the pool.  Talk about different.  The pool at the college obviously isn't heated.  We cooled off very quickly.

Today, reality hit me hard back at work.  I just took two days off, but I was swamped with a bunch of stuff I needed to get done right away.  I think it will keep me very busy the rest of the week, too.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Weekly TV Recap

I somehow managed to get through everything again.  Several shows that were about to be dropped managed to convince me to keep them around for another week.  Only one has definitely been dropped.  And yes, I do reveal all below.

The Amazing Race - I was really sorry to see the Adopted Mother/Daughter team go. They were so neat connecting like they were. I wanted them to make it farther. Although I must admit I'm not sure who I want to leave at this point. Most of the teams actually seem nice this go around, which is a good thing. It just makes the eliminations hard no matter who goes.

Chuck - After last week's episode, I almost predicted that Big Mike would be the assistant manager. I wonder if they'll play that up in future weeks. Either way, it was another great episode, and I loved how they brought back a couple of villains. I didn't necessarily remember them when they announced the guest stars, but once I started watching, I did remember which episodes they were from. I wish they hadn't given away the cliffhanger in the previews of the week, however.

Dancing with the Stars - The dancers are beginning to separate themselves from the non-dancers. Even though she's in second, I still say this is Jennifer Gray's to lose. Margaret is certainly the weak link, and I wouldn't mind if she left. However, with Bristol only one point ahead of her, she might be the one to leave. In fact, if I hadn't to choose, I'd bet she is the one to go. When they got down to the final two on the elimination show, I was sure I was right that Bristol was going. Turns out that Margaret was indeed the one that left which works for me. Bristol will probably go in another week or two, however.

Castle - That was just great fun. I was a little disappointed that Alex didn't get her scooter. That was a bit too predictable. But the rest of the episode was still very fun. The treasure provided a nice twist to the murder investigation. In fact, I got so caught up in that I almost missed it when the killer confessed. Beckett's dealings with her old partner were heartbreaking, and the actress played it so well.

Hawaii 5-0 - I feel like this should have been the second episode as I find out where 5-0 comes from and it sounds like this could be come their official nickname (which they were being called last week with no explanation). Having said that, I thought the character development all around was wonderful. I think I'm getting hooked.

No Ordinary Family - The story slowed down quite a bit this week, but that was good because I couldn't take in quite so much a second time around. There was still plenty of story, and I think they are building up to something big. We probably won't know just how big until next near the end of the season. Hopefully it will continue to be an enjoyable ride.

Melissa and Joey - The twist on the legal domestic help issue was actually quite funny. And I've got to admit I laughed harder than I should have at the fake lesbian story as well.

Survivor - Jimmy T, you blew it with your mouth. I was tired of hearing from you, and I only had to listen to you for 45 minutes a week. I can't imagine listening to you whine the entire time day and night for days on end. Phew, I'm glad he's gone. And I'm a little less upset with Marty this week. He's playing hard, but he's not so arrogant. Meanwhile, on the other tribe, Naonka? She can get off my TV now! Pretty please with sugar on top.

Undercovers - Another fun episode. The sub-plots and interactions at home are a bit predictable, but they are still fun. The tech guy is trying to be Marshall from Alias. The difference? Marshall was never involved for more than a scene or two. This guy is just annoying with all his screen time. And speaking of him, what happened to him when the wife was captured there at the end? Did he just wander around unhindered the entire time? That was a bit of a plot hole there.

Better with You - Every week, I think I could take or leave this show. And every week I wind up really liking it. Please come up with a bad episode soon. I need to cut shows somewhere.

Community - The sub-plot involving the one student and the teacher who had a restraining order against him was amusing. However, that was about it. I didn't laugh at the rest of the episode. So I think I've found one show I can delete from my list of shows I watch every week.

Nikita - I think we have a new main character. Or at least a two or three episode guest star. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the mix. Meanwhile, Alex is in some serious trouble. She is going to get caught soon. Almost looks like the next episode. I wonder what they'll be doing with her then, or how they will get her back inside.

The Mentalist - That was an interesting ending, with Kristina thinking she is dead. I really wonder what they will do with her, if anything next. And how long are they going to play out the Red John angle. I definitely liked how they mixed the two stories together this week, too. All told, a great episode.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Other Books Read in September

I talked about a couple of the books I read in September, but here are the rest.

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

Michael Westen takes on the case of former bank robber Bruce Grossman who needs to return some items stolen from a vicious biker gang. The plot was wonderful and the characters were spot on to their TV selves. Great read, but a must read for fans of the series.

DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD by Alan Orloff - 4
Josh Handleman has returned home to bury his father. But he's barely arrived when he starts hearing rumors that his father was murdered and that he owned a bunch of diamonds. The diamonds are now missing. Were they why he died? This is a very atmospheric story with wonderful writing. The story was a bit slow to get going, but once it did, I was completely hooked.

GINGERBREAD COOKIE MURDER by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier - 5
Three new Christmas novellas starring the author's series detectives. Lots of holiday fun, especially if you already love one or more of the series.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Word Association for October 5th

I'm going to do this week's word assocation today.

  1. Panels :: Secret
  2. Repetitive :: Repetition
  3. Pancakes :: Maple Syrup
  4. Quarterly :: Statement
  5. Impulsive :: Shopper
  6. Episode :: TV Show
  7. I am :: Tired
  8. Horrendous :: Accident
  9. Inhumane :: Treatment
  10. District :: Voting

Monday, October 04, 2010

The 2010 Bakersfield Volkslauf

Saturday was my fourth mud run of the year, the Bakersfield Volkslauf.  While normally an annual event, they didn't have one last year because they lost the land they'd been using.  The one this year was in a new location, as a result.  And it has some major kinks to work out.

My roommate Daniel and I both went up for it.  Daniel was running the 5K version with some friends, and I was doing the 10K as a mixed team with a friend from the college and a couple of her friends.

We were aiming to get there at 7:45 for a 9AM start time.  And we got in line to turn into the one mile long dirt road leading to the parking lot at 7:50.  It took us an hour and ten minutes to travel the last half mile of pavement and mile of dirt road to get parked.  Fortunately, they had already announced that the race would start late, partially because the runners have to cross the road twice.  Now some people are complaining that the start of the race was delayed because of those who showed up late.  I'm sorry, but if I am waiting in line over an hour to park, that's not my fault, and if they hadn't delayed the start of the race, I would have been more furious than I was.

Nowhere had they told us that we would be running in various waves, although that made sense to me.  Nope, we found that out after arriving.  Daniel was in the first wave.  I was in the last.  Between the start delay and the length of time between the waves, it was close to 11 before we finally got started.  In fact, I was able to cheer Daniel on through the final obstacle before we left the starting gate.

The record heat we've been having held just one day too long, and it was very hot out there.  Since we were last, they were starting to run out of water by the time we got on the course.  Keep in mind that I was already very thirsty, but didn't want to go back to my car to get water since we'd parked quite a ways away.  And they were out of water at the finish line by the time we got there.

I had wanted to do the 10K because I wanted to do all the obstacles.  Tunrs out, all the obstacles were in the last mile.  So for the extra three miles, all we got to do was weave back and forth in switchbacks on a flat, dirt field.  If I'd known (and they refused to put up a course map to "surprise" us), I would have just done the 5K as well.

Now, if all this sounds like I hated the entire thing, that's not the case.  The obstacles were great.  There was a quarter mile mud trench we had to plow through.  I went to jump in, misjudged it, and wound up going completely under.  Yep, I got the muddiest I've ever gotten on this mud run.  There were several 8 to 10 foot walls we had to climb over.  I wouldn't have made it over many of those without my team mate Marc, who was getting us up and over just about everything.  Tunnels connected two mud pits, and it was awesome crawling between them.  There were dirty hills we had to crawl up after jumping in mud trenches.

So, would I do the race again?  Yes.  I'd give them the benefit of the doubt that they'd fixed some of the things in their control (weather wasn't, amount of water was) like parking.  I wouldn't sign up until they posted a course map on the website, however.  Then I could decide whether to do the 5K or 10K.  I'd definitely do it with someone committed to help me over the obstacles.  I couldn't do it on my own, and that's a fact.

Ultimately, I had fun and I'm glad I did it.  But boy the shortcomings due to poor planning were obvious.  On their Facebook page, one of the organizers is acting pretty defensive whenever anyone complains about something.  I realize that a small group worked hard to put all this together, and I appreciate their work.  But that doesn't mean that there weren't serious issues that need to be worked out.  Shooting the messenger isn't going to help anyone.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Weekly TV Recap - October 2nd

The list just gets longer and longer, doesn't it?

The Amazing Race - I must admit, I was only half watching most of the time since I was doing other stuff on my computer. I don't have all the teams down yet. But their trip to England looked like lots of fun. I would have loved scaling the castle walls and the boat. The watermelon thing was looking like fun until the one woman got hit in the head. I'm impressed by willingness to continue even when she wasn't feeling well. And her partner supporting her no matter what made me love them. I'm also looking for the two singers to go far. I want them to keep surprising people, and I love them.

Dancing with the Stars - What was this, pick on Michael Bolton week? Okay, so I didn't like the bit with the doghouse at the beginnings, but the rest of the dance wasn't that bad. Looks like he's going home this week. So sorry to see that. I was impressed with how some of the others actually tried and improved. Yes, there are still the clear leaders. I mean, can we give the trophy to Jennifer Grey already? But I do think everyone is trying hard right now. I fast forward through so much of this show that I missed the boo controversy. The tape they showed on Tuesday makes it look like they were booing the judges, which often happens. I hope that's really the case. Unsurprisingly, Michael Bolton left this week. Watching the clip of his performance again, it was weaker than I remembered. He was so stiff. Maybe it's not as big a loss as I thought it would be.

Chuck - Now there was the Chuck I know and love. Last week may have felt slightly off, but this week was a hoot. I loved every second of it, from the relationship stuff to the mission to the baby on the way to the Buy More. Actually, the Buy More was my favorite part, and I haven't felt that way in a while. The scene with the agents cleaning up after Morgan was absolutely hysterical. If Morgan is manager, what will that mean for Big Mike when they work him back into the show? And is the General going back to Washington? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

No Ordinary Family - So, Tuesday all day, I'm think I need to cut back on television. I just have too many shows I'm watching. But I still wanted to give this one a try. And the problem? I liked it. It's grounded in reality, and it doesn't look like all the family's problems will be easy to fix. I could easily see myself loving this series, too. So, now, what to cut out? Actually, I do have a couple of candidates.

Castle - The mystery was fine this week, but I really liked the sub-plot with Castle's mom. That really showed some depth of character on her part and with Castle, too. I have said it before, but his family really makes him into the character we love.

Hawaii 5-0 - It looks like this is probably going to be another standard police procedural. So it will all come down to the characters. If I really like them, I'll definitely keep watching. But if the interactions grow predictable, I'll probably drop it. I did love the discussion of "Book him, Danno" at the end. Absolutely had me laughing.

Survivor - Well, Marty got his way. Coach is gone. I get that he'd be a huge threat after a merge and at a final tribal counsel. But really, don't you want to get rid of the very weakest when you got to play together as a tribe? They should have voted out Dan and saved Coach for the next tribal. Meanwhile, Naonca is an idiot who needs to get off my TV now.

Better with You - I was ready to give up on this show if it didn't improve this week, and I've got to say I actually kind of liked it. I still can't stand the parents, but I found it funny and a little less offensive. Well, except the one scene between the guys. I may have to give it a third try next week.

Undercovers - I'll admit, I didn't like this episode quite as much as last week's. And it's rare I like a pilot that much. The tech guy needs to tone it down. His hero worship is getting on my nerves. But I was dying laughing at some of the lines once they brought in Jay, the ex-partner/ex-boyfriend. He added a lot of fun.

Melissa and Joey - Considering both of them have been on dancing with the stars, I found this episode fun. Mark Ballas did a decent job acting, although it's obviously not his strong suit. And the ending was rather funny. But, please, get rid of Stephanie. She is just annoying!

Community - The chloroform scene was hilarious. There were some amusing parts, but I still didn't find it as hilarious as promised. Is it that I still need to get to know the characters?

Nikita - A bit of a slower episode action wise, but I really felt like it helped us get to know several of the characters. And the fact that Amanda is on to Alex, or at least the fact that Alex is hiding something, worries me. I'm wondering if Michael will turn at some point, and how long that might be.

The Mentalist - Just when I thought I could give it up, they deliver a great episode. Jane wasn't nearly as smug as he often is. And we really got to see a human side to him with that look to his past as a carnie. Frankly, the episode was great from start to finish. Plus, with next week focusing on Red John, I'm going to have to watch that, too.

Friday, October 01, 2010

What Interesting Weather

We have been having some strange weather this week here in Southern CA.  Monday apparently set the record high for LA for all time.  Not just that date, but ever recorded.  Yep, it was on September 27th.

Meanwhile, it's been humid, at least for California.  No, not humid like I experienced on my trip this summer.  And we've been having local lightning storms.  I saw some off in the distance when I was running Wednesday night.  Apparently there was some last night as well.  And my roommate had a friend stay with us last night, and he said he hit a very small rain storm in Bakersfield on his way down.

All this makes me wonder what I will wind up facing tomorrow weather wise.  When I signed up for the mud run tomorrow, I figured it could be warm, but it would probably be a high of 80 or so.  Looks like it will be around that when we start racing at 9AM.  Really, is it too much to ask for weather that isn't too hot or too cold for a mud run?

Oh, and for those who think a record high temp is proof of global warming, what about how cold our winter was this last year?  Or maybe what about the fact that our summer highs were in the low 90's instead of the low 100's like normal.

But I'm definitely willing to say that something weird is going on.