Thursday, September 29, 2011

Word Association for September 29th

Time for a little word association today.

  1. Clay :: Pigeon
  2. Eggs :: Scrambled
  3. Dress :: Gown
  4. Games :: Board
  5. Drummers :: Band
  6. Proud :: Achievment
  7. Hoisted :: Flag
  8. Feuding :: Families
  9. Itching :: Skin
  10. Remain :: Stay

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Into Reading Question 1 - Reviews

Every week during Fall Into Reading, Katrina will be asking various book and reading related questions, and I'll be answering them here.  (At least assuming I remember to answer them.)

This week's question is: How much do book reviews influence your decision to acquire and/or read a book?

Since I write reviews, I'd better answer it's always important, right?

Seriously, they really only influence me if I am debating about a book.  I'll look over reviews and skim the good and the bad.  If it sounds worthwhile, I'll get it.  If the reviews don't really convince me either way, I usually skip it.

Of course, a recommendation from someone I trust is enough to push something from the "Not even considering it" list to the "Must buy and read right away" list.

What about you?

And as a bonus since this is Banned Book Week, take a moment to read my thoughts on the week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Survivor Mud Run

If you will remember, at the start of the year, I said I wanted to do six mud runs in 2011.  This last Saturday, I did mud run #6.

As soon as I saw the Survivor Mud Run, I knew I wanted to do it.  It looked way too cool with lots of mud.  Turned out most of the mud was bunched up together, but it was still lots of fun.

I did this one with my friend Josh.  We left town about 9AM to get there in time to get our bibs and stuff like that.  But getting our bibs took forever.  The lines were very slow, especially since people weren't paying any attention to the signs and getting in which ever line.  But we got everything situated just in the nick of time for our wave.  This was the only bad part of the day.

The first mile or so had a few obstacles, but nothing too much to break up the running.  The big hill we had to climb had tires on it, an interesting twist on things.  We were just commenting about how much we wanted to hit the mud when we got to the first mud pit.

On the way there, we'd been talking about how much fun it would be to be at a mud run with super thick mud.  And that's exactly what we got here.  This is now the thickest mud I've been in.  It was so thick I had a hard time getting my feet to the bottom.  I wanted to float in it, yet it was hard to get through it swimming.

While we walked through the two pits you were supposed to crawl through, they had pits with logs over the top.  And then there was a mud pit with monkey bars over the top.  I tried to cross it.  Really, I did.  But I slid off and landed back in the mud.  Oh well.

As you can see, we got very muddy.

Fortunately, Josh spotted a volunteer with an iPhone along the course who agreed to take that picture for us.  We were much cleaner than that by the time we hit the finish line.

See, in the second half of the course, we got in the edge of Lake Elsinor.  In fact, there was a giant, inflatable slip and slid we rode into the shallow part of the lake.  That was a blast.  I actually dunked under a few times to clean up, especially on my face and in my hair.  Heck, it took a day to get all the mud out of my ears.

We actually ended in a baseball statium going around the outside.  If we'd had people there to cheer us on, it would have been very fun to have them waiting for us.  There was a final mud pit, but it was very watery.  Yes, we got muddy again, but it wasn't thick like that, so we didn't take a picture at the finish line.

We both had a blast.  I'd be very willing to do it again if they came back next year.

And don't think now that I've met my goal I am going to stop here.  I am signed up for two more mud runs (one this coming Saturday) and the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge, which doesn't officially involve mud, although it sounds like the water gets pretty dirty.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for September 24th

Yep, the fall TV season is in full swing.  Apart from Monday, it's not too bad right now, although it will get more crowded when the USA Network starts airing some shows in the coming weeks.  Actually, I've got two series I want to check out that start in October, too.  So I guess this is just the calm before the storm.

The Sing-Off - I do not envy the judges.  All those groups are good, and it is so hard to eliminate someone so soon.  In the first group, I wasn't sure who was going to go.  In the second, I knew it would be the group from Branson.  My roommate, a music major, was watching with me, and he pointed out the third group was out of key several times.  Yet the group from Branson was too showy, and the other group has too much potential for great TV/story.  It's a same, because I loved both the groups that left.

Castle - Not the light cases we're used to seeing, but such a good episode.  The writing for all the characters was perfect.  I know there's been lots of controversy over the new captain, but I think I actually like her.  She's going to bring a new tone to the show for sure, but I think it could work.  It will be very interesting to see how they play out that, the search for Kate's mom, and the fact that Kate remembers what Castle said in last season's cliffhanger.  This is going to be an interesting season.

Dancing with the Stars - Okay, I caved.  I had to see David Arquette dance at least once.  And I'm thinking I may watch the results show every week and only watch the performances if I really need to.  They recap everything you need to know, so I can probably do this show in 30 minutes a week.  I just can't give it up cold turkey.  Lots of new pros this season, and I'm not surprised one of them left first.  The pros are bigger stars than most of the stars this year.  Not surprised they left Chaz until last since they knew everyone who tuned in tuned in for that performance.  No real opinion on who went home and who stayed.

Ringer - I think I may be hooked.  I'm definitely intrigued.  The body in the chest reminded me way too much of Hitchcock's Rope, which I think was intentional.  SMG's acting still doesn't seem even, although it was less annoying this week.  And suddenly, I'm wondering if Shibon is the one who ordered the hit on her sister.  With a missing body, color me intrigued for next week.

Survivor - There is a time and a place to make your move.  Unless you are the leader, the very first tribal counsel isn't it.  Take your time, build up some good will with the others.  Then you can push your suggestion a bit more.  I wonder just how much Brandon's power play is going to hurt him.  And once again, the two returning members have put themselves in positions of power thanks to the awe from the others.  I don't think Coach was wrong to push Christine out after she opening called for him to go barely 5 minutes into the game, but I think she was definitely heading in the right direction with the idea of sending him packing early.

The Big Bang Theory - Well, they aren't off to the best start this season.  I didn't find either episode especially funny.  Plus they were overly crude.  Sheldon's bits were the best, with Amy a close second.  Hopefully, they go for the funny joke instead of the easy joke and really start to build in future episodes.

Charlie's Angels - I'd heard some very poor reviews of this one before I watched it.  And I'll confess the acting was uneven and the writing wasn't the best.  But I actually enjoyed it.  It didn't have quite the charm of the original, but I'm willing to give it another chance.  My biggest problem is with "Charlie."  I have a very hard time listening to Victor Garber doing that voice.  Plus he doesn't seem to be that into it.  If the reports are true, he just signed on for the part, so I'll cut him a little slack that this one was rushed and hope he improves in future episodes.

Nikita - The last few episodes of last season spoiled me.  Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad episode.  It just wasn't quite as action packed as they had been last season.  Then again, the stakes were very clearly defined and very high last season at the end.  Right now, they have to establish what has been changed, lay the groundwork for this season, and I think they did that quite admirably.  I do wonder why Nikita had to shot Alex after breaking her arm.  That seemed personal and overkill.  I think they set things up well for the new season.

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Castle - Season 3

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Into Reading 2011

Is it already time for fall to start?  Can't believe it, especially since it's 100 degrees out today.  But the calendar says it is, and Callapidder Days is ready for people to sign up for her Fall Into Reading 2011 challenge, so let's get to it.

As always, I'm going to start off with books from previous challenges I still haven't read.

Fall 2010 Unread Book:
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Spring 2011 Unread Books:
Formula for Murder by Diana Orgain
Killer Routine by Alan Orloff
The Albuquerque Turkey by John Vorhaus

I'm very tempted to just leave the list there and make sure I got through those, but I'm not going to do that (although I do want to make it through these books).  I'm trying not to get too carried away with the rest of my list, but I have a feeling that won't happen.

Fall also coincides with a reviewing challenge I host every year at Epinions, the website where I write reviews, so you'll see some Disney titles in the list.  (Here's my profile page on Epinions.  As you can see, I review lots of stuff other than books.)

Other books I want to read this Fall:
Quickstep to Murder by Ella Barrick (about half way through this one right now)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Naught in Nice by Rhys Bowen
Heat Rises by Richard Castle
NERDS: The Cheerleader of Doom by Michael Buckley
Darkwing Duck: F.O.W.L. Disposition
The Last Muskiteer by Stuart Gibbs
Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play by Ridley Pearson
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Chocolate Castle Clue by JoAnna Carl
A Case of Hometown Blues by W. S. Gager
In Service to the Mouse by Jack Lindquist
The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney by Michael Barrier
Hidden Mickey by Nancy Temple Rodrigue and David W. Smith
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowlings (a reread)

I do reserve the right to add a couple more titles to this list once I get home and look at my shelves.  I know there is something I planned to include that I'm forgetting.

Which is very scary.  I was going to cut down on the number of books I included in the challenge so I could finish my list for a change.  Instead, I've got 20 listed.  Okay, one is a comic book, so that I can read in an hour.  But the kid's books on here are relatively long and will still take some time to read and enjoy.

Looks like I've got my work cut out for me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I've made reference to it a couple of times on the blog, but I am running again.  After ultimate ended and choir began I had no choice since I'm not lucky to play ultimate once a week instead of three times a week.  And boy do I hate the change.

I could tell I hadn't been running distance much when I started up again because my three mile hill run just about killed me.  But I quickly gained that much back until I got derailed by shin splints.  Honestly, I'm not sure what caused them since I have basically brand new shoes.  All I can wonder is if it is the shoes themselves.  Anyway, took it easy a bit and worked my way back up again.

I went for a six mile run last night, and my shins seemed fine, so I'm hoping that is a sign that they are fine.

But boy did it take it out of me.  I mean, all I wanted to do was sit down when I was done.  It's amazing how quickly you lose the ability to run like that.  The outside of my left foot is rather sore, and I'm not completely sure why.

However, it feels wonderful to run a distance like that.  Yes, it is work, but the feeling of accomplishment when I was done was priceless.  It still amazes me that I can actually run a distance like that.  Yes, it takes lots of work and conditioning, but I can get it done.

Heck, I complained earlier about how hard that first 3 mile run back was, but you know what?  I finished it.  That's a major accomplishment in my book.  How long did I think that 1.5 miles would kill me?  Running 3 miles was out of the question.  Now it's my default run distance.  That just blows me away.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Word Association for September 21st

This week's word association.

  1. Earrings :: Ears
  2. Tomorrow :: Sun will come out (You can thank me now)
  3. Soft :: Hard
  4. Idiots :: Stupid
  5. Portraits :: Picture
  6. Handicap :: Parking Spot
  7. Collar :: White
  8. Blouse :: Shirt
  9. Wool :: Lamb
  10. Statistic :: Class

Monday, September 19, 2011

That's a Quiet Weekend?

I was planning on a nice, quiet weekend at home this weekend.  Okay, for the most part, that's what I got, too.  But it was rather busy.

Friday, I was surprised by a phone call not too long after I'd gotten home from work from an old friend I hadn't seen in years.  He came over for a couple hours.  Even brought pizza.  It was nice to chat and catch up with him.

I actually got up early and got my car smogged first thing Saturday morning.  I realized this was my last chance to do that for at least a month, and I needed to get it done before then.  From there, I met up with the Saturday morning group for some ultimate Frisbee.  (I'd always played Thursday night.)

Then I went home and tried to get a bunch of stuff done like laundry and paying bills and watching some stuff I have out from various libraries.  I also had a ton of reviews I wanted to write.  I got to three of them, but that's it.

Sunday was supposed to be a trip down to Santa Monica to play some beach ultimate, but that idea got nixed since I was going to start hanging out with Joe and Josh earlier.  Okay, so it wasn't as early as planned by the time we all were ready to go.  I was debating whether I really wanted to go down or not.  Still don't know if I wanted to play ultimate or not.  It would have made three times in four days, which is a good number, although not a perfect four for four.  Instead of that, I took a nap before heading out.

Yes, there was quite a bit of time at home, but it felt like I was always pushing to get the next thing off my to do list.  That's what happens when you overbook yourself, I guess.  Not that I can think of anything I want to cut out from my schedule in the coming weeks.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekly TV Recap - September 17th

Summer shows had final episodes, and my first shows of the fall aired this week.  Next week let the madness really begin.

Wipeout (Tuesday) - You know, I am glad this show is ending for a while.  I'll take it up again next summer most likely, but for now I'm getting bored with it.  You can only see someone fall so many times before you lose interest.  And the blatant advertising is obnoxious.

Ringer - I'm not quite sold on this one yet, but I'm not turned off by it either.  Okay, so SMG's acting wasn't up to par at all.  But the plot seems to have promise.  Hopefully they will pull off the potential as the story progresses.  And yes, I realize this is me getting hooked on a serialized story, but we'll see how it goes.  It's definitely fun to see a show with several actors I know in it.  That alone makes me want to continue.

Necessary Roughness - I think it's a testament to how much I have come to care for these characters that the cliffhanger upset me that much.  I was actually yelling at the TV.  Yes, I will be tuning in next season to see where everyone goes from here.  They have really matured TK and made him into a decent guy.

Melissa and Joey - It was so nice (and funny) to see Ryder standing up to his girlfriend in the first episode.  And the second was quite interesting.  I was wondering how they were going to get Joey back in the house, and the twist with them thinking he was close to Ryder and Lenix to help them out was pretty good.  Plus that lawyer was a riot.  They have done a great job playing up the romantic tension, and that final episode was good.  I'll be interested to see where this goes when they get back.

Survivor - Has Coach calmed down and learned his lesson?  The two returning players will certainly be interesting people to watch this time around.  And Russell's nephew is going to have a lot to live down.  I would want to keep that secret as well.  But I am rooting for Cochran.  So glad he wasn't the first to go.  The poor lady who was voted off took it hard.  I can't say too much because I would probably take it hard as well, but I felt like she was too bitter.  She did lose the challenge for them after all.  That's pretty much a ticket to go first.

Wipeout (Thursday) - Two hours is too much of this show.  I was so ready to be done at the one hour mark.  I've been waiting for this episode because I met some people who were contestants on this episode.  I met them at a mud run in May, and they had filmed it several months before that.  And I think I remember who they were, but I'm not completely sure.  In fact, I think they couple who won was two of the three.  But I just met them briefly and wouldn't swear to it.  Anyway, I hope they wait until next summer to come back.  I need a break from the show.

TV on DVD Reviews:

Friday, September 16, 2011


So, I've gone bowling twice in the last week and a half.  One of the bowling alleys here in town has a deal most week nights where for $10 a person, you get unlimited games and shoe rental from 9PM until midnight.  You have to have 3 people per lane minimum.  Still, it's a good deal.

What has surprised me is how I seem to get better as the night progresses.  It used to be I peaked around game two.  But both weeks I've barely broken 100 for the first game and made it there easily all the others.  I broke 150 last week for the high score, although Daniel got 192 this week for the highest score of the night.

We're talking about making it a regular Wednesday night event.  I don't know that I will make it every week, but I hope it is fairly regular because I really do enjoy bowling and the time with friends.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Word Association for September 14th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Submission :: Story (submitted for publication)
  2. Lucy :: I Love Lucy
  3. Feather :: Bird
  4. Magnetic :: Strong
  5. Bowling :: Tonight
  6. Stress :: Releaf
  7. Sweetly :: She said sweetly
  8. Creamy :: Delicious
  9. Awaken :: from Sleep
  10. Beaten :: Eggs

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Murrieta Mud Run

Yes, I finally got back in the mud on Saturday.  I left Friday to drive out to Murrieta for a mud run first thing Saturday morning.

This was different from most of the others I have done in that it was in town.  In fact, the start was pretty much at city hall.  But they had us run down a street to a field, and that's where the mud and obstacles were.  Another field held the rest and then we ran around to a final mud pit.

I signed up for this one because my friend Stephen Jones had decided he really wanted to do one, and this was the best one I found that was equa-distant from both of us.  We spent the night with a pastor friend of his in town, which was a very pleasant evening.

The obstacles on the website didn't turn out to be accurate for what they had for us.  We were supposed to have tunnels to crawl through, but that never happened.  We only had one place of hills and mud pits, not that I'm complaining because I always have a hard time getting up those hills since they are so slick.  And things were in a different order

But we still had lots of fun, and we were filthy by the end.  They actually put the tires for the tire obstacle in the mud, which is something I've never seen before, and I loved that twist on things.

The weather turned out to be perfect.  It had been very hot last week, but the prediction was that it would cool down that day.  We awoke to fog and temps around 60.  I was afraid that we'd be too cold, but since we ran a ways before the first mud pit, we warmed up enough that the mud didn't feel that cold.  The sun was just coming out as we were ready to leave, and I think if the sun had been out earlier, we would have been much warmer.

The waves were supposed to be 15 minutes apart, but I think they were 8 to 10 minutes apart max.  We were done much earlier than we thought we would be.  After grabbing an early lunch, we headed our separate ways.  Stephen has promised we'll do another mud run again.  (Well, there may have been a possibly in there some where, but I don't remember that part of things.)

All in all, it was a good chance to hang out with a friend I don't see nearly enough any more and have some more fun in the mud.  So it was a great day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekly TV Recap - September 9th

Necessary Roughness - I really think I'm starting to warm up to this show.  Yes, the main storyline is still pretty formulaic, but they make the sub-plots interesting.  I think I've actually come to care for the characters.  I'm even liking TK.  It all changes when Dani's friend moved away.  I guess I hated her more than I thought.  Either that or the scenes with her made Dani out to be too childish.

Melissa & Joey - So the ruse of Joey working in her office was doomed to fall apart at some point, but I really did think it would be later.  And I don't see why the two teams still couldn't have played ball just without Joey.  Meanwhile as much as I don't like Ryder's girlfriend, the story with her was actually pretty funny this time around.  And the second episode with John Ratzenberger was fun, too.  Not too many surprising twists to the plot, but still rather funny.

Burn Notice - Did they really kill Larry?  That would be surprising since they seem to love to bring him back at least once a season.  He makes a great psycho, too.  The problem with Pierce sure went away quickly, which is a surprise in some ways but it allowed them time for another plot, too.  But that twist at the end.  What is that guy going to want from Michael?

Suits - I called it weeks ago, the season would end with someone finding out about Mike's secret.  Okay, so we don't know that Trevor told on him, but we'll find out in 9 months.  I don't want to have to wait that long for new episodes!  Meanwhile, can I just say I love Jessica?  Smart and strong.  Do not mess with her.  People have rightly pointed out that the USA Network is a little male heavy, but she is their best female character by far.

New TV on DVD Reviews:

Friday, September 09, 2011

Books Read in August

I completely forgot to post this earlier this week, and then I never got back here to post it.

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

YOU'RE NEXT by Gregg Hurwitz - 4
Mike Wingate grew up in foster care, not even knowing his real last name.  But as an adult he's going to need to figure out his past quickly because someone is out to kill him for it.  What secret does his family hold?  I felt this thriller was pretty slow getting going, but once it did, it was another roller coaster ride of action.

PAMPERED TO DEATH by Laura Levine - 5
Jaine Austen is off to a spa thanks to neighbor Lance.  Only when she gets there, she learns it's really a fat farm.  When another of the guests gets murdered just before Jaine is going to escape, she decides to find the killer so she can grab some real food.  This is another funny adventure for Jaine, and I laughed my way through it from start to finish.

THE REAL MACAW by Donna Andrews - 4
With four month old twins, Meg is finding life unpredictable and crazy.  And that's before her father and grandfather show up with a bunch of animals rescued from the local shelter.  When their "get away" driver is found killed, Meg keeps finding more information that leads to some shocking discoveries.  I found the plot of this book very interesting, and I can't wait to see how it plays out in further volumes.  The usual cast of characters are present, but they don't provide the laughs they used to.  They are still amusing, and fun to be around, which will keep fans of the series happy.

DEATH ON TOUR by Janice Hamrick - 2.5
No one is too upset with the tour group busy body is found dead on the groups first day in Egypt.  But Jocelyn soon begins to suspect that the death wasn't an accident.  As the trip continues, strange things seem to happen wherever they go.  What's going on?  I enjoyed the tour parts of the book, although they did seem to slow the book down.  That's not necessarily a bad thing because it is painfully obvious what is happening very early on.  Add to that characters that aren't always likeable, and you've got something that could have been fun but winds up only average.

A BAD DAY'S WORK by Nora McFarland - 5
TV shooter Lilly Hawkins gets the scoop of the year, footage of a murder scene.  But when she returns to the station her tape is blank.  She thinks it is just bad luck until someone starts threatening her to get that tape.  What has she stumbled into?  The plot of this book is a little thin, but the action more than makes up for it.  I also really liked how the characters developed over the course of the novel.  I am very anxious to read the next book in what looks to be a great series.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Word Association for Sept. 7th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Cavern :: Cave
  2. Pharmacy :: Medicine
  3. Local :: Attraction
  4. Group :: Dynamic
  5. Brunette :: Blond
  6. Chain link :: Fence
  7. Priority :: First
  8. Intensify :: Suspense
  9. Foster :: Child
  10. Secluded :: Cabin

Monday, September 05, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for...Um

So, obviously, I didn't get this posted Saturday like I normally would. I've been busy, and when I was busy, I was lazy. In fact, I just wrote these thoughts up before I posted this. Not the best, but here goes.

Royal Pains - Looks like Divya's secret is about to come out.  What an ending.  I have a feeling that those final scenes will impact the rest of the season.  Not that the poor guy will be sick that long, but Divya's relationship with Hank and Evan.  I was glad that the situation with Paige's family seems to be taken care of for now, or at least I hope it is.  We'll just have to wait until January to find out.

Necessary Roughness - Another episode I actually enjoyed.  I may wind up giving this show another chance next season.  I was sorry to see Dani's new boyfriend leave already.  But I actually like TK in this one.  Yes, he should have called the cops before rushing over there, but he still did the right thing by going to make sure the kids were okay.  And Dani thanking him for it was good.

Melissa and Joey - Since I was a Boy Meets World fan, I was happy to see Matthew Lawrence again.  Poor Andy not getting to play a brother in the second episode, however.  They are really playing with the romantic tension, and I like it.  That's probably the biggest thing the episodes last season were missing.

Burn Notice - You knew that was coming eventually.  I just didn't figure that Michael would be arrest for Max's murder just as he was about to solve everything.  Man, I don't know how they will get out of that next week, but it's gonna be good.

Suits - Why does Gary Cole always play a bad guy?  As soon as he showed up, I knew it would be bad news.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Looks like next week will play off this week's.  And how can they be at a season finale already when Necessary Roughness still has more to go?  Unfair!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Word Association for September 1st

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Bells :: Whistles
  2. Germs :: Disease
  3. Athlete :: Fit
  4. Voice :: Mail
  5. Diamonds :: are Forever
  6. Hoarse :: Whisper
  7. Tempest :: in a Teapot
  8. Hurricane :: Irene
  9. Bumps :: Bruises
  10. Jazz :: Music
Gee, my answers were boring this week.