Friday, November 30, 2012

Word Association for November 30th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Statement :: Question
  2. Process :: Delivery
  3. Monday :: I don't even want to think about this right now
  4. Certain :: Definite
  5. Reflection :: Mirror
  6. Ours :: Yours
  7. Components :: Pieces
  8. Engagement :: Marriage
  9. Learn :: Grow
  10. Products :: Reviews

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And a Good Thanksgiving was Had by All

I didn’t really intend to leave my blog like this, but it does tend to happen when I go out of town.  And, naturally, I was out of town for Thanksgiving.

I spent almost a week at my parent’s house.  That right there was a change since we’ve been going to Dallas since 2003.  But since my brother and sister-in-law have moved back to California, there's no reason to go back.  We've all talk multiple times about how we missed it.

But we still have a good time.  We went over to my SiL's dad and step-mom's for Thanksgiving day itself.  A great meal was shared by all.  And we watched the George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol one night.  We decorated my parent's place for Christmas.

And we played lots of games.  I was the only one not to win a round of Spiral Down, but I didn't finish worse than 3rd out of 5.  I certainly wasn't setting the record for worst score like I have in the past.

And I got lots of time with my niece.  Have I mentioned how cute she is?  Recently?  Well, she is, just in case you've forgotten.

Unfortunately, I missed Donald and Heather since they were visiting family and then sick.  And it's not looking good for Christmas either, but we'll see how things work out.

And now I'm back in reality.  Two days at work, and I'm already tired again and ready for the weekend.  Sigh.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for November 24th

With Thanksgiving this week, many shows didn't air new episodes.  Still, I'll have one Survivor to catch up on next week when I get home from visiting family for the holiday.

Here's what I did get watched this week.

The Amazing Race - That was a very uneventful episode.  Yes, all the teams did stuff.  Yes, James and Jaymes finally got a first place finish.  But all the drama over who would get eliminated was pretty much over before it started.  Next week will be interesting however.  I'm wondering if the teams in last and next to last even have a chance of catching up.

Dancing with the Stars - I figured Emmet and Cheryl would be going.  But Apollo was a big surprise.  Since I want Melissa and Kelly in the finals, I'm okay with it, however.  I really want one of those two teams to win.

Castle - The episode definitely reminded me of "Cuffed" from last season, but it was still pretty fun.  Lots of laughs and yet I really felt like there was some real danger, too.  Not that I was worried that anything would happen to Castle and Beckett, of course.

Covert Affairs - Most of the episode pretty much took care of what it needed to.  I enjoyed it, especially Annie confronting the bad guy at the end.  But those last few minutes?  What did Henry show Annie?  And I loved the scene between Augie and Annie at the end.  Not as good as Castle's ending in May, but still pretty fun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Word Association for November 21st

Happy day before Thanksgiving word association.

  1. 32 :: 33
  2. Ignore ::
  3. Wet :: Swim
  4. Apartment :: Rent
  5. Translate :: Language
  6. YouTube :: Video
  7. Stifle :: Creativity
  8. Plus :: Minus
  9. Thanks! :: You're Welcome!
  10. Fiction :: Reading

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November Disneyland Report

So, it’s turned out I’ve been at Disneyland at least once a month since I got my pass.  I’ve decided I need to keep that streak alive, so I headed to the park on Sunday.  One reason I got so much done on Saturday, I think, was because I knew I wouldn’t be around on Sunday.

I went with Angelique, and we had a great time as always.  The park was definitely crowded, and we had to wait longer for some rides than we normally do.  We headed to Radiator Springs Racers fast pass first thing, so Angelique finally got to do that!  She really enjoyed it, too, which doesn’t surprise me at all.  I was glad we had those fast passes since the lines were around two hours when we were down that way.

CarsLand was really decked out for the holiday.  They are car part Christmas trees (tires, hubcaps, that kind of thing), and other decorations all over the place.  There were some in the rest of the park, but it wasn’t as all out as it might have been.

Then again, over at Disneyland, Main Street and New Orleans Square are the main places they go all out.  And they looks great as always.  And the Castle and small world are both really decked out, too.  It does look amazing.

We did make it on Haunted Mansion Holiday, but we missed small world Holiday.  The line was an hour one time when we tried. The next time, they were closing the line to clear the area out for the fireworks.  And once again I will say that if you have to close an area and a popular attraction for the fireworks, then your fireworks show is too invasive and you need to cut it back.  We could have stuck around, but we both had work the next day, so staying until the park closed at midnight was out of the question.  We were leaving the parking garage by 10, if you can believe it.

Of course, I was tired the next day.  Disneyland just wears you out no matter what if you spend a full day there.

I can’t wait to get worn out again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Santa’s Arrival Family Fun Run aka 5K in the Rain

I know the last time I talked about running, I said I was done racing for the year.  Turns out I lied.

Saturday, there were actually two 5K’s in town.  Don’t worry, I only did one of them.  This one was at the mall, and it was to celebrate Santa’s arrival.  He was supposed to kick off the race himself, but rain kept him from showing up.  I guess he’s okay with snow but not our rain.

It worked out perfectly for me.  I dropped my car off to get an oil change, walked over, did the race, and when I got back it was ready to go.

We started at the mall, but quickly jumped on the bike paths that snake all through town.  I use them for my long runs, but this was a section I hadn’t run before because it was so far from home.  It was fun getting that much more territory marked off.  There are some I still need to see where lead.

We were supposed to be wearing antlers and jingle bells.  I left my antlers in the car, but I was one of the few.  I did tie my bells on my shoes, but they fell off not too long into the race.

The race itself was actually 3.2 miles, and it was raining.  In fact, a couple of times it rained hard.  I got a little cold waiting for the race itself to start, but once I was running it felt great.  I had a grin on my face the entire time.

And the reason I did this run?  The medal they gave us at the end turns into a Christmas tree ornament.  Now perfect is that?

Of course, by the time I got home, the sun was coming out.  We did get a few more pockets of rain during the day, but that was the worst of it.

And it was the start of a very productive day.  I put lights on my Christmas trees and put my outside lights up.  This way, I’ll just have ornaments to hang when I get home.  This is always the unfun long part before I get to that.  Then I wrote or edited a ton of reviews.  I have two more I want to write before I head home for Thanksgiving, but that’s it.  Normally, I have a bunch of stuff I’m trying to finish, so this is nice for a change.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for November 17th

Amazing Race – So the show made a liar out of me.  My roommate was watching with me, and I told him when the last commercial started that the two guys would find their passports within minutes of coming back.  Wrong.  To be continued?  How could they do that to us?  And the two teams that are hanging out together when they know their last?  At some point, you have to break away and one team needs to finish.  Come on, figure it out.  There’s always a chance, although being 19 hours behind everyone else certainly doesn’t make it look good.  I do feel sorry for them since a delayed/missed connection is what is going to cost them the race.

Once Upon a Time – I was about half a step ahead of the characters, so the plot twists weren’t that twisty, but it was still a fun episode.  And now that Storybrooke can communicate with Enchanted Forest, this is going to be even more interesting.

Dancing with the Stars – The first round dances were fine, but those three way dances were pretty amazing.  I really enjoyed them.  Kirstie should have gone a week to do ago, so I was fine with her leaving now.  As for Giles, I wanted to see him win, but everyone is so good it’s hard to say goodbye to any of them at this point.

Castle – I hate mockumentaries because of the bad/over acting and the shakey camera work.  That was exactly what we got on this episode of Castle, so you can guess what I thought.  The mystery itself was good, and I applaud them for trying new things.  But overall it was pretty painful to watch.

Covert Affairs – How could they leave us there with Annie answering a call from someone unknown?  And what is really happening with the Israeli guy?  What strings did Jai’s dad pull from in prison?  And are they ever going to get back to his death?  Yes, I’m looking forward to next week’s season finale, can you tell?  Meanwhile, I do feel like Augie’s storyline of the episode wasn’t that important.  It provided a bit of character development, but not too much.  It was more public service for the organization, but I’m okay with that.  It is a worthy cause and did provide an interesting sub-plot to the episode.

Survivor - It was nice to see Lisa double thinking her strategy and going back to her alliance even if they obviously don't want her any more.  That one gals glare after the vote said it all.  Heck, she is madder than the guy who got voted out right now.  Frankly, I'd like to see Penner gone already.  He's driving me up a wall, and I just have to see him for 45 minutes a week.

Arrow - So his partner in crime fighting got him to consider going in another direction.  I like how he tried to reach out to the criminals and offer them a way out.  It was sad the way it ended, but it did make sense.  And we've set up a love triangle for the main character, his ex, and his best friend.  This will get interesting/painful for someone.

The Big Bang Theory - What an episode.  Penny actually said she loves Leonard, which is a huge deal.  And I was wondering when they'd bring back Sheldon's assistant.  I loved how oblivious he was to her flirting.  But the plot with Raj and Howard trying to figure out what Sheldon is up to was hysterical, especially his gotcha video.  And the reveal of what he is really doing down there was funny, too.

Burn Notice - I was thinking last week how hard this was going to be for them.  I understand why Michael shot the guy, but now they will have no proof that he was crooked.  I really want to know how they are going to get out of this mess.

Elementary - I kept this on my DVR's recording schedule because I'd heard Dr. Dani from Necessary Roughness would be on this episode, so I thought I'd watch.  First of all, she was hardly in it.  Secondly, it confirmed for me that I'm done with the show.  I was only mildly entertained, and that's not enough to get me to watch and keep watching right now.

New TV on DVD Reviews:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Triple Review Requests

It’s been a while since I talked about some of the review requests I get.  Believe me, that’s not because I haven’t been getting any.  There are days I think about taking my e-mail off my Amazon profile to cut down on the number I get.  Although with how I keep slipping in the new rankings (don’t get me started), I’ll probably drop off their radar completely in another year or two.

Anyway, let’s get through some of the backlog I’ve saved, shall we.

Up first is a little gem from February 3rd.  The subject line is Re: Amazon Advanced Review Request.

It starts out, “Hi Mark -- Hope you're doing well. My offer for an advance review copy of my new novel TITLE WITHELD, due April 2, still stands. Below is an advance review for background info.”

Okay, from there, we scroll down, and we quickly realize this is the third e-mail he’s sent me about his book.  Since some of them do go to my spam folder (where I let them stay since I respond to one every two years or so and usually regret it), I can understand a follow up e-mail.  However, this was a third.  The first was dated January 5th.  Then January 25th.  So in less than a month, he’s contacted me three times about a book that comes out in April.  Pushy much?

I never respond.  I just don’t have the time to respond since this is the equivalent of junk mail.  I mean, it really does belong in my spam most of the time.  Most people understand since they are sending me an unsolicited request.  But not this guy.  He has to ask me three times if I want to read his book.

Of course, he’s not as bad as the guy who sent me requests every month for at least six months with the exact same pitch every time.  At least here, he admits he’s being pushy and stops after a month.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Word Association for November 15th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Crunch :: Sit-Up
  2. Resourceful :: Creative
  3. Experience :: Been there done that
  4. One hour :: Photos
  5. Happening :: Now
  6. Mushroom :: Cloud
  7. Humid :: Hot
  8. Mini :: Cooper
  9. Earth shattering :: Earthquake!
  10. Mistake :: Do Over

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fun Start to a Quiet Weekend

Friday night, I got a call from my friend Donald.  “I’m in town, you want to hang out?”  I consulted my complex plans for the night to see if I could squeeze him in.  Since my TV shows could always be watched the next day, I waited two seconds before I said yes.

We headed out to dinner and dessert.  I hadn’t eaten a Oggi’s pizza in forever and forgotten just how good their specialty cheese pizza is.  Then we hit Cold Stone.  I’d just been thinking I hadn’t eaten their much recently.  We finished off the evening with our favorite board game – The Stock Market Game.  The last time we played, I beat him handily.  He returned the favor.  I mean, it wasn’t even close.

The rest of the weekend went about as planned – not much of anything happened.  I did get my two Christmas trees set up.  Don’t worry, nothings on them yet.  That’s what this coming weekend is for.  Yes, I do intend to get my lights up at least on Saturday but probably not much more than that.

Sunday afternoon was ultimate Frisbee.  This is the first time I’d played or run in two weeks since I’d hurt my calf.  Not quite sure what I’d done to it although sitting differently on the couch seems to be helping.  It didn’t bother me at all, so I think we’re good.

And my roommate came home after a week away on Sunday night as well.  It’s nice to have some company around the place again.

So as you can see, it was a mostly quiet weekend.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for November 10th

The Amazing Race - I like the truck drivers, but it's not that surprising that they left.  They are right behind the Goat Farmers as far as ability goes.  All I have to say is James and Jaymes really need to step it up.  Oh, and anyone who didn't go to the spa was an idiot.

Once Upon a Time - I had a hard time with Jorge as the giant.  It was nice to get Emma's back story and meet Henry's father.  So, I wonder if he's someone we know or just a random person.

Dancing with the Stars - Those fusion dances were very impressive.  And the scores seemed to actually match the dancing ability this week, too.  Another two week single elimination coming up next week.

Castle - I loved the scifi moments in the episode, especially his cracks about Firefly.  Apparently there were more I missed, too.  Definitely a fun, light episode, and a nice change of pace from last week.

Covert Affairs - So what is the Israeli agency up to?  And how can they be so mean to use Annie like this?  And when will she figure out that something's up?

Survivor - Lisa definitely shook things up, but I think in the end she's going to wind up hurting herself.  And yes, she lied and broke promises, something she swore she wouldn't do.

Arrow - So this whole thing was a chance to pre-emptively prove he isn't Arrow?  Brilliant!  And a fun episode all the way around.  What is his Mom up to?  That's the big question I'm curious about now.

Big Bang Theory - Loved it.  Amy and Sheldon's relationship bump was very funny.  And the ending with Bernadette saying they were spending the night with Howard's mom was a bit expected but pretty funny, too.

Burn Notice - Things are definitely getting dark.  And no loft?  What's that going to be about?  This is going to be a very interesting second half of the season.

Malibu Country - I don't think I laughed once.  Between the neighbor who is a Barbara Jean clone but less funny and the "gay" kid next door who obviously isn't gay and the fact that the son can't act at all, I was more annoyed than anything else.  Sorry, Reba.  I wanted to like this show, but I'm done.

Nikita - That's what the season has needed, some focus.  And with Amanda back in the picture, we've definitely got it.  Things are definitely heating up now.  And poor Alex and Sean.  He's right, but she's right, too.  I have a feeling that's going to be very interesting going forward.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Word Association for November 9th

Here's this weeks word association.

  1. Throne :: King
  2. Adorable :: My Niece
  3. Corner :: Bakery (And I've never eaten there)
  4. Others :: Giving
  5. Chilling :: Events
  6. Spied :: On
  7. Limitless :: Spending
  8. Passion :: Interest
  9. Hugely :: Disappointed
  10. Devious :: Behavior

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Day After

I know I don’t talk about politics much on this blog.  Frankly, I like to have a place to go where I’m not thinking about it.  But right now, the day after the election, that’s what is on my mind, so I will share a little about my feelings.

I actually felt like I had more invested in this one than some of the other ones recently.  Maybe that’s because this summer when I wasn’t working, I was spending more time watching Fox News than I had in the past.  And maybe that’s because I was counting on Romney winning and fixing the economy to get myself a job.  My hopes for that are now dashed.

Which brings up the point I keep trying to remind myself of.  My hope should be in God.  He is in control no matter who the President is.

Of course, there were some major issues with the campaign.  Firstly, for the second election in a row, I was excited by the VP choice but not at all by the top of the ticket.  I’m a tea party person, and I would love to see someone like Ryan actually get the nomination.  That would truly be telling.

And I don’t think that Romney ran a good campaign.  He seemed to think that the American people would see through the lies that were told about him.  And I believe they could have if they had been presented with the truth.  The problem is, they have to hear the truth, and they never did that.

The polls were looking good late in the cycle, and I started to put my hopes in them.  I’d given up months ago.  If I’d kept that attitude, last night wouldn’t have been so crushing.  Again, where is my hope.

But I think this election cycle is going to further erode the Main Stream Media.  Why do I say that?  Because, if anyone is paying attention, they know just how much the media has been covering for Obama.  To start with, we can look at the Libya attack on 9/11 and how little it has been covered.  If the Republicans pursue this like they should, the media will have to start covering it.  And depth of our debt and how shaky our financial cliff really is is another thing that hasn’t been covered like it should be.  If the media starts doing their job, maybe the rest of the country will wake up to just how biased the media really is and why I only trust Fox News.

Okay, okay, so I’m being too rosy.

Frankly, I am weary of politics and weary of the fight at the moment.  I’m staying off Twitter and Facebook for the next few days because just the little bit I saw turned my stomach.  The glee and harshness of the victors was shocking to watch.  Obviously, they don’t know how to be gracious winners.  I’m not sure I can be a gracious loser, so I will stay away rather than put myself in a spot where I say or do something I will regret.

And yet, I want to start fighting back against those who are blindly following the other side.  The fact that people tell me Social Security will be there for me shocks me.  Obviously, they aren’t paying attention or only listen to one side of things – meaning they only listen to the Main Stream Media.  Again, when the truth starts coming out, I think many people will be shocked by the lies they’ve been told or the truth they haven’t been told.  And I’ll be there to point that out to them.

But for now, I need to let myself recover a bit.  Off to enjoy some mindless entertainment until my heart and my brain have sinked up on one message.

God is in control!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

My October Reads

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

 RUNNING RANSOM ROAD by Craig Danloff - 5
Caleb Daniloff opens up about his life as an alcoholic as he travels to the cities he used to live in to run marathons. The book mixes the past and the present to weave a compelling and emotionally captivating story. I really got caught up in his story and enjoyed every page of it. And as a running, I certainly identified with the descriptions of the races.

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger - 5
Sophie Foster discovers that she is not really human but part of another entire world that co-exists within ours. And just like that, she is whisked away to a world she doesn't know and tries to learn about it. But she also finds a danger and a potential conspiracy. Can she fit in and still find out what is really happening? I was pulled into this book and really enjoyed it from start to finish. I can't wait for the next one.

POSTER ART OF THE MAGIC KINGDOM by Daniel Handke and Vanessa Hunt - 5
As you'd expect, this is a collection of the poster art from the Magic Kingdom parks over the world and over the decade from the founding of Disneyland up to some of the recent posters in California Adventure. As a fan of the posters, I loved looking at them and am thrilled to have this book.

THE MARK OF ATHENA by Rick Riordan - 3
The seven demigods from Camp Half-Blood and New Rome set off on their journey to Rome to face down the rising ancient powers. With several side quests calling to them, will they be able to survive until they reach Rome? While all these books have been formulaic, this was one very bad in that regard. I was bored until we actually reached Rome, where things really picked up.

When Lee meets Sissy Smith, she begins to wonder about the rumors that this young woman killer her husband a few months back. When Sissy comes under suspicion of a new death, Lee jumps in to figure out what is happening. The characters are always enjoyable, although I miss the supporting cast we used to see. Still the plot is strong and keeps the pages turning.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for November 3rd

I bet you thought I'd forgotten to post this.  Actually, it's just that I've just now finished the last show for the week.  Man, I watch too much TV.

The Amazing Race – A waste of a non-elimination leg.  Now that the substitute teachers are gone, the goat farmers are the next weakest team and will be going sooner rather than later.  I’d much rather those be saved for a team that has a shot and just had bad luck, like those two earlier legs with the bad taxi drivers.  I’ll be curious to see how many more rounds they make it.

Once Upon a Time – Yes, they really went there, making Dr. Whale Frankenstein.  And yet, since they made him from a parallel world and not Enchanted Forest, it worked at least for me.  If they keep doing that, it will be a nice way to introduce characters from non-fairytales without upsetting things too much.  And the final scene in black and white?  Brilliant!

Dancing with the Stars – Poor Sabrina once again gone before her time.  Of course, the only weak couple at this point is Kristie and Maks.  They need to go soon and the judges need to stop playing favorites since she is obviously the weakest dancer left.

Castle – A more serious episode, but I loved it because of what it showed up about the characters and how it allowed them to develop them.  Plus I loved the fact that, while Beckett’s faith in Castle did waver for a few moments, it wasn’t that long.  I’d forgotten they were bringing back 3XK, so that twist was a surprise, although I knew he was being frame.  Just couldn’t figure out why.  Now the big question is, how long until Gates knows?

Covert Affairs – While they seem to be ignoring Jai’s death again, the rest of the storylines and how they are developing them are brilliant.  I feel like they’ve finally figured out story arcs, and it’s greatly helped the show this season.  I’m actually caring and interested and not just turning it on as a brief distraction because it is on the USA Network.

Survivor – If this episode showed anything, it showed that this is probably the most fluid merged tribe in seasons.  While the story could be obvious from here on out, I’ll be curious to see if it goes that way or if this was an anomaly and the weak tribe goes next from here on out.

Arrow – I can’t believe someone else figured out his identity already.  And he’s been arrested for what he’s done.  I wonder how they will get around this cliffhanger next week.  And what exactly is Oliver’s mom up to?  I thought he was responsible for the boat explosion.  Is she hiding the evidence?  That’s my guess.  And the body guard now being an ally.  I love that development.  So glad I’m watching this show.

Big Bang Theory – The ending of Leonard and Penny’s story was brilliant.  While it was nice to see Sheldon being given what he receives for a change, that was fairly predictable.

Tron: Uprising - So the end of this two parter wasn't really a surprise, but I wonder what the news that Tron is alive with mean to CLU.

Malibu Country - The fact that I already saw this pilot back in September (they were previewing it and some other shows during the half marathon packet pick up) may have helped.  I decided to watch it again and give the show another couple episodes.  But it still wasn't as funny for the pilot of Reba.  Sure hope it picks up soon.  And why can't Reba do a show where she's not a woman scorned?  That would be nice.

Nikita - I knew that prison escape was going to be too simple.  I really like how Nikita feels the need to help and save these people.  But so far, the episodes have been interesting and not much more.  I hope Amanda coming back next week will up the stakes.