A Twist Of Fate
April, 2008 Entries
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(04/30/08 - 11:46 PM)
Christopher Moore's "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove" was weird as hell.

Essentially, a Jurassic throwback wakes up in the abyss of the ocean and realizes that he is hungry. More importantly though, he is seriously horny - and I don't mean Chinese virility ingredients horny. I mean the result of those ingredients horny.

He finds his way to Pine Cove, where everyone has just been removed from their various anti-depressants by the local psychiatrist and chaos soon follows. Also, there's a weedwhacker.

Molly Minchon, local former starlet and spokesperson for insanity befriends the beast as he attempts to eat paperboys and church ladies with reckless abandon in between trying to hump a tanker truck and anything else that moves.

Theo, the local constable (in name only) attempts, without much success, to keep the peace as his supervisor at county tries to thwart his efforts at each turn. Skinner the dog is back, as well as Gabe - Skinner's "Food Guy".

Trouble ensues, the monster is reigned in - sort of - a cult is established and eventually all is made right. Eventually.

This book is pure Moore in its insanity. It's way out there, but it's worth reading. I think that this one is best suited to be read after you are at least familiar with his work though, as this one ties up alot of items from prior books. Other than that - enjoy!

(04/29/08 - 11:06 PM)
For a number of years I, like most of America with an imagination or a need to escape into a flight of blatant whimsy, would watch Lyman Frank Baum's most potent work come to life on my television screen once a year with relish and child-like abandon (this was long before VCR's were ubiquitous, by any stretch of the imagination). "The Wizard of Oz" was something of a much looked forward to event in those days.

As a child, I didn't pay so much attention to the nuances of the story - flying monkeys were enough to keep me distracted. But as I got older and more cynical, I noticed something strange that no one could seem to explain. When Dorothy (played by Judy Garland, nee Francis Jane Gumm) says goodbye to the menagerie that she managed to assemble in tow on the old yellow brick road, she says something odd - she tells the Scarecrow that she will miss him most of all.


For years, this was a niggling piece of information that seemed inexplicable. Eventually, I found the answer and then promptly filed it in the already overburdened "Trivial Persuit" part of my brain for possible later use.

As I watched an episode of The Family Guy the other night, I was reminded that this information existed and it surfaced as I watched a cartoon rendition of the menagerie re-enact the scene with an extra bit tacked on where everyone else shows righteous indignation at being so overtly snubbed.

Apparently, this scene bothered Seth McFarlane as well. I was not alone.

The reason for this line, strangely enough, was that in the original script there was to be a romantic interest between Dorothy and the farm hand played by Ray Bolger. This love interest was removed from the final edit, but apparently this residual line was accidentially left in. With nothing to refer back to we, the audience, were left scratching our collective heads at the cryptic remark for years.

Well - now you know.

(04/28/08 - 11:32 PM)
"The Curse Of The Spellmans", Lisa Lutz's second novel is a thing of rare beauty. It is a well-crafted and cunningly written story the likes of which are only discovered every hundreth book or so. The story flows at a frantic pace, and is segmented enough that one simply cannot put it down (I know - I tried. At one point, I didn't even want to eat dinner - and I was hungry.)

Once more we are presented with the antics of the Spellman family itself, whilst a few mackerels of mystery are tossed in to keep the proverbial juices flowing.

Isabelle is taken with 'John Brown' (a name too fake to be real, in her opinion), the new neighbor next door, and all around mysterious guy. But her curiosity regarding this strange newcomer quickly gets the better of her. Really, really gets the better of her, in fact. So much so, that she moves from acquaintance, to casual dating, to rejection, to a restraining order, to her ultimate arrest for violating said restraining order. I told you she was curious.

Also back are Inspector Henry Stone, Milo the Bartender, Bernie, and the Spellman clan. We are also introduced to Morty the Lawyer who is so mundane as to be infintely lovable. Really, they're all infinitely lovable, though. In fact, not since Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms & Company have a gaggle of misguided misfits been so damn lovable.

This book is so good, on so many levels, that you'd be a sucker not to read it. You simply must read her first book, "The Spellman Files" (now available in paperback!) prior to reading this, or you are simply doing yourself a disservice. And if you don't read either of them, then I think it's probably a crime. I'll have to check the penal code and get back with you on that point.

I think that I can safely assume that with this second offering (even stronger than the first, in my humble opinion) that Lisa Lutz has arrived like a hurricane on the literary scene. And I simply cannot wait for the next installment.

Dear Lisa:

Hurry up and write.

- Me

(04/27/08 - 9:51 AM)
I logged in to AOL this morning to check my e-mail. For those of you unfamiliar, AOL offers a splash screen of top news stories that changes about three times a day and cover five major categories. Occasionally (i.e. - in the midst of 'Britney Watch '08' and learning how to gain more horsepower out of my aging Yugo) I find a story interesting enough to afford it a few seconds of my time. Typically, it has little or nothing to do with the teaser line that got me in in the first place, but once in a while I actually read the article (or skim it pretty hard) from end to end.

At the end of these articles, AOL also offers individuals (or perhaps I should say 'in-duh-viduals' as the DNRC Newsletter dictates) the opportunity to offer their comments or insight into the basis of the story. This, on the surface, seems like a good idea until we remember that even retarded people are typically born with the ability to project or receive DNA from one another. Then it becomes a bit more of a sticky situation (pun intended.)

At the bottom of these articles (articles with topics as diverse as earthquakes, kidnappings, animal extinction, etc.) I find - ALWAYS - that someone is using it as a pulpit to promote Armageddon. Now, I believe in God. Some people don't, and that's thier right. I only say this because even I'm offended at the comments made by these people. I realize that some individuals are passionate about their religious beliefs - zealous even. More power to you for your convictions, folks. But here's the rub: When I'm reading about pre-historic forensics and you somehow manage to tie-in melting ice shelfs and smiting because we're all evil and deserve to be dispatched post-haste, then I first ask myself, "What the hell does this have to do with anything?" And then I get mad at you for wasting my time by posting something wholly inappropriate that will only result in further inappropriateness by people of opposing beliefs, or even people with similar beliefs who realize that you're a tool for equating toothpaste with smiting and the second coming. What's worse is that, usually, the Athiests are WAY more articulate and concise. Which is just embarrassing on a number of levels.

I wouldn't be so bothered by this, except that on EVERY thread - not some, EVERY - that I have read, regardless of topic, I have always found some form or another of the same post below it: "God was smiting people because you're all less pious than I and the end is near..."

I appreciate that your whole purpose in life is to convert the heathen - I get it. But by inciting ire and dissent, are you really helping your cause, or are you pushing away people who might possibly re-assess their life in the future, all because you're an inarticulate boob who wouldn't know smiting from a sno-cone?

All I'm saying is that it's good to be passionate - but choose your time and place wisely. If you end up choosing incorrectly simply to be heard you will be heard - but what is heard, and how it is accepted, may not be what you were aiming for.

(04/26/08 - 10:08 PM)
Lisa Lutz is one of those authors who made it against all odds to a published - and well accepted - book. She was not a former editor of a magazine or paper, was not a talking head on a news network and wasn't a personal friend of Cher or the Pope. In short, she was like a salmon swimming against insurmountable odds who actually made it upstream and then spawned the hell out of herself.

Alright, perhaps that's not an entirely pleasing metaphor. And if it is, then shame on you, you pervert.

Her first novel, "The Spellman Files" introduces a family of private investigators who can't seem to draw the lines on such mundane topics as parenting and privacy within the home. What unfolds is a scatter-shot insight into the daily lives of each of the family members, and their interactions with one another.

This book reads like nothing I've ever read before (that I can recall, anyway) and while one might think that it might not work because it's so all over the place, it actually has the opposite effect. This fact alone, in my mind, dictates what a strength she has with the written word and, further, with the forging of a damn good read.

This book is told in first-person, rather than third-person omniscient. Most any expert will tell you that first-person is the toughest form to write in, and only the best need apply. Personally, I don't normally care for it (I've seen it done poorly more times than I care to re-iterate) and very rarely, in my limited experience, does someone carry it off well.

Not only does this author carry it off, it almost feels right in this book. The first-person mentioned above is Isabel "Izzy" Spellman. Middle child and former troublemaker trying to amend her ways, she is employed by her parents in their investigative firm. When she decides to call it quits, her mother asks her to work one final case. Reluctantly she agrees, only to be handed a decade old missing persons case that her mother figures she won't be able to solve (at least, not before she changes her mind to stay on.)

What follows isn't so much about the case (it's a part of the story, but it doesn't seem all that important), as it is about the families' interactions during the working of said case.

On the whole, it feels like this author is onto something interesting if she can possibly manage to make a series out of it (the second book in said series just hit store shelves in March of this year.) She has the family wackiness that Evanovich posesses, with a stronger ability to craft a story that feels tangible.

I recommend this book highly, in that it was a great read and it feels like the beginning of something important. We'll wait and see.

(04/25/08 - 11:37 PM)
My wife received a bouquet of candy bars (don't ask) from her employers for "Administrative Assistant's Day" (a day that is a contrived bunch of crap designed to milk the populous of their hard-earned dollars because they can't seem to grasp appreciation for others all on their own - but that's another post.)

Within the bouquet were a series of run of the mill candy bars, coupled with slightly more exotic samplings. She chose a caramel, Belgian chocolate to try on this particular occasion. She took one bite, and said, "Huh."

Now chocolate, in pretty much any form, can and often is construed as a food group within our home. So upon her having responded in such a manner, I was compelled to inquire what the issue was.

"Well, let me put it this way. If I hadn't had chocolate for, say, two years and someone gave me this, I wouldn't finish it."

I figured it was either really awful or that my wife had been pod-personed. Since she was still smoking hot, I figured it must just be awful.

She was actually going to finish it as a matter of course, but I snatched it from her and replaced it before she could. I told her I would eat it (because, well, I'm a human disposal.)

I took one bite, and she asked, "Do you like it?"

"It's delicious," was me response. And it was. The consistancy was good, the chocolate was sweet. Creaminess was at the party. What was the problem?

Four seconds later, the carmely bit hit a batch of tastebuds full on and there it was. The unmistakable hint of the flavor of... fish? And I don't mean catfish, deep-fried and delicious. I mean fish like when I was a lad and didn't know any better than to eat the occasional sardine. And this sardine seemed like it had swum south some time ago.

I explained my thoughts on the offending confection, and my wife concurred, stating that she could not have pinned it down quite as such but that, in hindsight, it was pretty much dead on.

I threw the remainder of the 'confection' away, but it was not through with me. Oh, no no no. The aftertaste remained like a bad hangover, possibly coupled with a former beer-goggle beauty who has decided after the night that you can't remember that you are forever soul-mates and she can't think of anywhere else in the world that she would rather be than offering up her offending morning breath of tobacco and Jaegermeister to you as she cuddles close in what was once a fine bed, but will now require the services of an ordained Cardinal and the fire department after this one.

Yeah, it was that bad.

Here's what I've learned: Belgian Chocolate does not equal good.

This lesson could probably be translated across hundreds of stereotypes of items with specific countries of origin. I offer the following suggested examples:

Swiss timepieces, if they are sundials, are probably not more superior than other sundials.
German engineering, if engineering a toothpick, is probably not necessary.
Canadian... umm... Canadian... nevermind, you get the point.

(04/24/08 - 11:02 PM)
I caught an episode of a Canadian television show about selling property in tough real estate markets the other night called "Buy Me" that would normally be a mundane 30-minute romp with moron homeowners who believe that because they love their home, it must therefore be the hot buy of the neighborhood. These are usually the same people who believe that they will be able to retire on their Beanie Baby collection.

"Oh... Those people!" you might say.

Indeed, the very same.

What made this episode unique, was that these individuals were not selling their home for financial reasons. Their family was not growing. The neighborhood wasn't bad. The schools weren't bad. So what in the heck was the problem?

The homeowners were both of Asian descent (from different Asian countries, but still Asian), and the woman's mother had told them that the house was bad luck, feng-shuei wise, when they bought it. But, they really wanted a house, so they bought it anyway. Apparently though, Mom had been working on them in the six months since then, and they had begun to believe her. Their house really was bad luck, and the sheui needed to be feng'ed with extreme prejudice.

So, did the wife miscarry? Did a horrible accident befall the husband? Did they lose a whole wad of cash at the dog track? Nope! Instead, they were focusing on what they should have had, had their house been lucky in feng-shuei, but they didn't have because they had chosen the wrong house.

Heath's platitude number 173:
"Stupid people should not be allowed to have money."

So, the natural answer was to sell this perfectly good house that they actually liked, in a neighborhood that they also liked, for a big loss and find a house that they might not like in a neighborhood that was questionable in order to have better feng-shuei. And you thought that your problems were big.

So, they went on a house hunt (with crazy Asian Mom in tow) and found several houses that they absolutely loved. And Mom shot them all down.

That is, until they found a house that they both thought was okay, in a setting that was less than desirable. Of course, Asian Mom just knew in her heart that this was the perfect house for them!

And then, they sold their house for something like a fourteen-thousand dollar loss (excluding agents' fees). They also incurred moving expenses. All to move into a smaller, older, less desirable home than they had just left. But the good news is that their luck should be better and that they should expect money very soon if they fung their shuei right!

Here's what I think: If I just lost fourteen+ grand, and had to move unecessarily, and I was buying a new home because of my mother in law, I would say that not doing so proved that my mental kung-fu was stronger than Asian Mom's feng-shuei.

At least no chickens were harmed.

(04/23/08 - 11:55 PM)
Haruki Murakami's third novel (the first published in the States, however), "A Wild Sheep Chase" is, true to Murakami form, insane from start to finish.

His insanity is infectious, however. What I mean, specifically, is that he has a way of making even the most mundane observations seem profound. He makes you think about things that you normally take for granted, like some Philosopher King shelling out conversation starters while on meth.

The book, while not his most compelling, feels the most akin to a 'normal' novel versus his other, later works, that I have read. For a while it does, anyway. The end backslides a great deal in a very short time.

This book chronicles the life of a nondescript guy who receives a visit from a strange man one day at his firm. The man carries with him a picture and an ultimatum: Find the sheep in the picture, or you're through in this business.

The man is the minion of a high-powered individual who has the clout to make good on the threat. The upside for our protagonist is that he realizes that he's going nowhere at the moment, and that this presents an interesting challenge. Reluctantly, he agrees to the terms.

Oh, did I mention that the man wants him to find a sheep? I'm pretty sure that I did...

At any rate, we watch as our protagonist attempts to find the sheep, and along the way finds himself, loses his girlfriend, and finds a long lost friend. Oh, and there's a dude who lives in the woods wearing a sheep outfit all the time and sheep are trying to take over the world. Those points are important. Probably.

Once more I say: If you're working through Murakami's works, then this is obviously a no brainer. Other than that, I would try "South of the Border, West of the Sun" as a first introduction to his works, if you're hell-bent on reading him.

(04/22/08 - 11:44 PM)

"If life is a good waste of time, and time is a waste of good life, then why not get wasted all the time, and have the time of your life?"

- Anonymous

(04/21/08 - 7:05 PM)
Christopher Moore's "The Stupidest Angel" is one of those all-too-common holiday asides that more and more popular writers seem to either: A.) Get prodded into doing by their publishers or B.) Prod their publishers into letting them do.

To whit, I offer respectfully the examples of Janet Evanovich's "Plum Lovin'" and John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas".

Apparently, Christopher is now popular enough to jump on this august bandwagon as well and the result is the book mentioned above. The upside? It ties in nicely with a good many existant storylines and ends up being more of a means to an end than the end itself.

So, yay, I guess.

Raziel is the mentally-deficient angel in question. Oh, sure, he's done his fair share of smiting and city-obliterating in his day. Oftentimes he has even smote the correct person or city. But, uh, not always.

This year, he has been sent to Earth to grant a Christmas miracle to a little boy and he has chosen Pine Cove as his base of operations for both wish-granting and mastication of everything in sight (flavor is something grossly lacking in Heaven, we are led to understand.)

The problem is that Sheriff Theo is off the wagon, while his wife is off her meds, and the town's evil developer is off his... well, er... breathing, actually when his ex-wife accidentially assists him in prematurely ending his life. A shovel was involved.

Things pretty much just get more bizarre from there, and aformentioned 'things' seem to drag everyone in town with them on their path to the land of fairy dust and unicorns.

Have I given anything away? Lessee... developers... medication... shovel... did I mention that there was a fruit bat? I'm pretty sure that I meant to... nope! Looks like we're all good.

This one, I'm kind of on the fence on. As a Christmas story, it's pretty weak. This is, in fact, a good thing in the end. As a Christopher Moore story, it's somewhere in the middle of the road. Not quite, "Dude, what were you on!", but also not quite, "Dude, I think I need to get me some of that!" either.

Yes, it's Moore. Yes, it's not abyssmal. So, I don't know... read it? I guess? Probably?

(04/20/08 - 9:18 AM)
My lawnmower mechanic told me a joke yesterday:

A woman gets a phone call from her husbands' H.M.O. doctor one afternoon...


"Hello Mrs. So-and-so. This is your husband's doctor. We have his test results - we think."

"You think?"

"Well, it seems that there was some trouble with the labeling at the lab. Apparently, some of the specimens got mixed up and labeled incorrectly, and a few arrived without labels at all. The good news is that we know for certain that your husband has one of two things wrong with him. Would you like the bad news, or the really bad news?"

"Can't you re-test to be certain?"

"Well we could, but the H.M.O. won't pay for it twice. But don't worry. We think that your husband has either alzheimers disease, or H.I.V. We're just not sure which."

"Oh my God, Doctor! That's awful! We have to re-test to be sure, but we don't have the money for it. What should I do?"

"Well, I've been thinking about it and have come up with a solution. Take your husband on a long car ride to somewhere in town. Drop him off and see what happens. If he doesn't come home, then we know that he has alzheimers."

"And if he does come home?"

"Well, for heaven's sake, don't screw him!"

(04/19/08 - 11:32 PM)
Christopher Moore's second book, "Coyote Blue", was something different altogether - but in a good way. Samson Hunts Alone - nee, Sam Hunter - left the Crow reservation, and his heritage, behind him fifteen years ago after a terrible misunderstanding. But no matter how much he has attempted to leave his former life behind, it has come to find him now. With extreme prejudice.

Enter Coyote, the physical embodiment of the Indian God of mischief who is permanently bonded with Sam Hunter in ways that neither of them has figured out yet.

The tale unfolds from there, dragging kicking and screaming into the picture some earlier heroes (Detective Alphonse Rivera) and some latter heroes (Minty Fresh). What I do like about these books is that Moore finds ways to fold in characters from book to book. They're not always the same characters but you know that - somewhere - they're all out there in his little world. Coyote turns Sam's world upside-down, and its up to Sam to right it again - if that's what he truly wants.

This book seemed like a whole lot of nothing when I began reading it. But by the time I was done, I found it to be a pretty good read. Thus far, "A Dirty Job" is the topper, but I do recommend this one.

The more I read Moore, the more I begin paralleling his stories to those of Terry Pratchett. I don't mean that they're the same, it's just that their universes feel somewhat familiar to one another. The biggest difference being that Moore's settings are modern, while Pratchett's are fantastical on the worst of days. Still, if you can't get enough of Pratchett, then this might be a decent solution while waiting for your next Discworld fix.

If you like this book, you may also like:
"American Gods" by Neil Gaiman
"Small Gods" by Terry Pratchett

(04/18/08 - 10:21 PM)
I watched a movie tonight. Apparently, the stars aligned just right and I was compelled to do so. The good news? I actually liked it.

My wife and I watched "Juno" and it proved to be an extremely witty film about two geeky kids and their problematic situation - namely procreating - on accident.

While the subject matter was no joke, the film was presented in a way that said, "I know this is serious - but here's funny, anyway". And it gets away with it marvelously. This film seemed to actually care about exploring all the issues in a frank and open manner, and I can appreciate that.

The music was absolutely terrible - and I loved every minute of it. The sound and lyrics were interesting, and the vocals were so raw, they somehow managed to be appealing. The addition of Cat Power's cover of "Sea of Love" and Belle & Sebastian's "My Wandering Days Are Over" thrown in for good measure seemed excellent choices for fitting in with the other precursing songs.

(04/17/08 - 11:47 PM)
Oscar Howe is one of those rare artists whose work I greatly appreciate not for its subject matter, but rather for its style. What's kind of disappointing is that the prints offered on the site below do not (in my opinion) represent his more compelling works. Check him out!


(04/16/08 - 11:18 PM)

"Buggrit, buggrit - millenium hand & shrimp."

- Foul Ole Ron

(04/15/08 - 11:44 PM)
We finally decided where to go on vacation in May.

Asheville, North Carolina is somewhere that I have always wanted to go, predominantly for the same reason that most folks sojourn there - The Biltmore Estate resides there. And with it, its colossal library.

The home of the Vanderbilts at one time, it's now a tourist trap... yes, two adults please. Thank you... and I'll admit I'm definately a tourist. So sue me.

We found yet another keen place to stay while we're there. After The East Bay Inn in Savannah (best vacation ever) and The Wentworth Mansion in Charleston (second best vacation ever) we knew that we would be hard pressed to find accomodations so amazing.

While not quite as amazing, The Albemarle Inn seemed to fit the bill nicely. We reserved the Royal something-or-another suite (who believes these names, anyway? It's a room in a great old house - you don't need to whore it with stupid names like 'Royal Whatever'.)

It's interesting how I've transmogrified from a guy who couldn't get enough of road trips into a guy who can read a paper in a new place and be totally satisfied on vacation. And I don't even read the paper under normal conditions. Am I getting old?

(04/14/08 - 9:18 AM)
"A Dirty Job" by Christopher Moore doesn't so much pick up where "You Suck" leaves off as it parallels it. Which is an interesting twist that I have seen only a handful of times in literary works of fiction.

This book follows the life of Charlie Asher - a second-hand shop owner, and recently inaugurated member of the association of soul collectors. Charlie is death - little d, not capitol - and he's not sure just how to feel about it.

After losing his wife during childbirth, Charlie sees a strange man in a green suit who promptly freaks out and bails. From here, Charlie's world quickly falls apart in chunks as he comes to terms with what he is.

This book was laugh out loud funny at times, and I highly recommend it. It nicely dovetailed with "You Suck", and if you read one, you simply must read the other. I'm pretty sure it's mandatory...

(04/13/08 - 9:18 AM)
As you may have noticed, I finally broke down recently and began running through the works of Christopher Moore. I waited as long as I could, but when you run this lean on authors that you like, you have to find other things to amuse yourself.

Yesterday, I finished, "Fluke", and realized that this book would have been better enjoyed on some sort of psychotropic enhancement.

The book is about whales and the people who spend their lives researching them in every way, shape and form; interesting, but not particularly to me. It begins in an innocuous enough manner, but it's a rather languid beginning that isn't in a real hurry to get anywhere. One assumes that when it does get somewhere, however, that the revelation of interest will be well worth it. Let me save you some time here: No, it wasn't.

Instead what occurs is a wild ride through a piece-meal unreality that feels cobbled together at its finest moments, and feels downright wonky for the rest of the ride. The book stretches the imagination in new and strange ways. While this may be appealing to others, and may even be thought of as interesting entertainment, for me it just felt wrong. I finished the book as a matter of course, but had I not already committed to it, this may have been one of those rare reads that I just relegated to the shelf once more.

Yes, it is Christopher Moore. And, yes, it is tough to come up with new ideas for books. As such, I don't blame him for trying on this one. It simply wasn't for me, and so I can't recommend it to anyone who isn't working their way through his body of work.

P.S. - Sorry for the book-heavy Blog posting week folks. I finally hit a reading groove.

(04/12/08 - 11:07 PM)
We went out for lunch today. My wife did not finish her soda, so she brought it home. When we got home, I went in the basement to our second refrigerator to pull a few things that had gone missing in recent days from the main one upstairs.

I humped the plethora of chilly things upstairs, and opened the door to load the refrigerator.

First thing in my way: a half-full wine glass from dinner the other night. I scooted this out of the way, and clustered it with a half-bottle of something else and a half-filled glass of iced coffee. I placed the soda in the cluster - now numbering four items - and began putting the remainder of the goods away.

But this was not to be. For where the wine normally goes, I found a half bottle of water, and where the milk goes, I found the same.

For those of you not keeping track, I now had six individual items in unique containers (with the exception of the two water bottles) that were half full or less, and all belonged to my wife.

I cracked up. When my wife asked me what was so funny, looking at me in wonder as I stood cracking up in front of the open refrigerator, I couldn't help myself. So, I went through the motions of outlining my trials in loading the fridge in true high-school play fashion. Whereupon she too proceeded to crack up.

"Do you ever plan on, you know, finishing any of these? I mean, we have a wine glass, two water bottles, a Chipotle cup, a half-bottle of Captain Morgan Parrot Bay and a polycarbonate cup. I need room here! Can I condense them all?"

We had a good laugh, anyway.

(04/11/08 - 11:31 PM)
"You Suck" by Christopher Moore is a modern day love story about vampires who aren't really sure what in the hell they're doing.

A recently made vampire has turned on her patron, and subsequently made herself a companion of her own. This all falls against the rules of the Worldwide Vampire Community (which is small), as they had decided that no more vampires were to be made some time ago. Their egos didn't like the competition, mostly.

The spurned vampire has been encased in bronze, and his two vicarious offspring vampires have a real time of understanding their new-found situation in its entirety. A lot of cats get the brunt of their inexperience.

Together, they decide that they need a minion, and the male gets the bright idea to seek out a willing participant within the goth scene in the local clubs. He finds an overly-enamored young lady who is more than willing to do his bidding, and we get a hilarious point-of-view insight into her diary every couple of chapters or so.

This book is meant to explore the ineptitude of new situations and therefore be funny, and it seems to do alright on this level. There's even a point where the young lady chosen as their minion asks something akin to, "What may I do for you my Dark Lord? Do you wish to take me now?"

"Coffee," comes his reply.

"It's because I have small boobs, isn't it?" comes her dejected reply.

"Of course not," he says, "coffee won't fix that."

It's funny, it's original, and it preys upon the insanity perpetrated by so many Goth individuals these days. All the while, it manages to thumb its nose at a half-dozen other stereotypes while making the reader laugh at the most inopportune moments.

As with much of Moore's work, I can't help but feel that this book might have been funnier, somehow, if only... well, I don't exactly know.

At any rate, I recommend this book if only to experience his take on the absurd nature of humanity on a number of levels.

(04/10/08 - 11:52 PM)
We gathered the troops together at work the other day for a quick quarterly meeting. The owner discussed the goods, the bads, and the uglies, and one of the topics of note was cell phone usage in the shop.

While most of our employees adhere to our strict "No means no" policy, others are progressively abusing the things - often in plain sight. Our owner decided that enough was enough, and once more re-iterated the zero-tolerance policy.

As he was speaking about this, a miracle of timing occured: Someone in the group rang. Everyone turned to see who it was and - ironically - it was the guy seated in the center of the room. He immediately went beet red, swore, and removed the offending item from his shirt pocket to hang up on the erstwhile caller.

Oops. But how ironic!

But wait - it gets better! We all have a giggle, and the owner points out the obvious while jokingly thanking the owner of the phone for the excellent example. As he's speaking, the phone breaks the silence once more. This caller is persistant, and is not taking the obvious hint.

Once more the owner of the phone swears under his breath, and turns even redder as I absolutely lose it and crack up. As I'm cracking up, another employee starts dying too, making me laugh more.

The company owner continues on, now laughing as well, when the phone rings for a THIRD TIME. At this point, the owner has to leave the office and turn the thing off.

I could not believe that this scenario came together like this. It was a one in a millon chance, but it was damn near perfect and the point could not have been proven any more effectively.

(04/09/08 - 11:44 PM)
Got the car all spiffied up today. I finally took it into my mechanic for a tune up, brakes, etc. Then I went and got new tires and ordered the factory-only windshield wiper that goes on the back. It now feels like a totally new vehicle, and should be good to go for another 50,000 miles or so. Or at least, I'm deluding myself into believing so.

(04/08/08 - 11:23 PM)
"Practical Demonkeeping" was Christopher Moore's first novel, and feels a great deal like a book that I would write, on some levels.

The main character is 90+ years old, but appears much younger due to the fact that he has been tethered to a demon that he accidentally summoned in his youth. Since that time, he has traveled the country with the Loki-esque demon seeking a way to return him from whence he came, as the demon busies himself eating people without rhyme or reason along the way.

As our main character finds his way into a sleepy town called Pine Cove, another newcomer also stops in at the locals' hangout announcing that he is the King of the Djinn, and that the local proprietor and old coot must assist him in destroying a great evil that is about to beset their blissful little town. Sure; why not.

This book at times is very funny, and at others is a little on the droll side. I like the idea that the embodiment of H.P. Lovecraft can run a local restaurant, and that the demon enjoys looking at Cookie Monster comic books (he can't read, you see). In the end, it was a fair read that I can't complain too much about. But neither can I recommend it too highly. Moore, I am finding, seems to be on the right track time and time again, yet his delivery somehow leaves something to be desired. I find myself saying too often to myself, "Oh! If only you had..." - but he didn't.

The premise is interesting, the story is solid, and the characters are interesting to a point. I just can't help but feel that a great book was only written on a good budget.

Does that make sense?

(04/07/08 - 7:35 PM)
Bruce Sterling's "Islands In The Net" was one of his earlier works that I had often heard referenced but hadn't given a whole lot of thought to otherwise.


I scored a great deal on a first edition / first printing at a 20% off sale in Los Angeles, so I finally picked up a copy.

Sterling, while never lacking in imagination can be alternately brilliant and glib. Witness this fact by basking in the brilliance that was "Holy Fire", and wallowing in the crapulence that was "The Zenith Angle", and you hopefully see my point.

At any rate, this book probably would have been difficult for me to follow twenty years ago when it was written. Like Virginia Slims, I've come a long way - baby. What astonished me the most was that even after its debut two decades ago, the book still manages impressive points of prescience and forecasting. Sterlings' global political ideas and communal corporate structure are still poignant today, and that is really saying something.

This book follows the pilgrimage of one woman from a communal corporate enclave as she attempts to set right a perceived injustice to both herself, and to her political and corporate cronies.

On the way, we discover hidden agendas, vast conspiracies, and prescient political viewpoints that boggle the mind. The only reason that this book isn't a four-star - alright, there's two, actually - are that perhaps I simply read it a bit too late to appreciate what must have been near-heresy twenty years ago, and the fact that, while captivating, the story seems to wander with a mind of its own from time to time, thus making consistantly following the timeline difficult at best. Other than that, I recommend it because on some levels it just feels important - even today. I can say with some certainty that we have not yet begun to hear the last of these ideas that are so boldly put forth.

If you like this particular book, you might also enjoy (for reasons both similar and varied):
"Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson
"Neuromancer" by William Gibson
"Jennifer Government" by Max Barry
"The Illuminatus! Trilogy" by Robert Anton Wilson And Robert Shea

(04/06/08 - 10:07 AM)
I have to purge more books today. I have to stop buying them, I guess. But as long as I have some that I won't miss, I guess it's still okay. The good news is that while the quantity of books remains a constant, the value and quality of the collection increases with each progressive purge.

Plus, it's a good excuse to finally get rid of all my James Patterson books. What the hell was I thinking there? In hindsight, I was still trying to discover new authors that I thought that I might like. Whoops. Turns out, Patterson is so lowest common denominator that in order to enjoy him you have to club yourself over the head with a blunt object after drinking a couple of roofie coladas.

(04/05/08 - 10:42 PM)
Went to work for a while today. Then Wanda and I went shopping for a few things, including earrings for me at the... >Sigh<... mall. I know, I know. I feel dirty still. I really need new earrings though, and I figured of all places around here, I had the best shot at finding some there.


What I DID find, was that body jewelry almost outweighed traditional earrings in quantity available. Where once millions of types of earrings might once have been available, the pickings were now comparably slim. Also, the mall has turned into something entirely different than what I once rememebered it as being. What was once a dignified, airy space to shop has now become more like an Arabian marketplace, filled to bursting with both definitive national chains and small kiosk vendors whose wares are suspect at best.

Dude, I just want some earrings. Instead, I ventured into a painting by Heironymous Bosch with all the sights, sounds, and smells of people trying to be something that their posturing alone will prevent them from ever achieving. All that was missing was the cattle. Unless you're into analogies. Then, "moo, moo, buckaroo."

(04/04/08 - 10:42 PM)
The name "Singapore" comes from the term, "Singha Pura", which means "Lion City". Which is ironic, because Singapore has no - and has never had - lions.

(04/03/08 - 11:13 PM)
One of my employees at work was discussing grilling with another employee today, and the subject of Boca-Burgers came up. I mentioned that one could cook them in a toaster, and after laughing himself stupid, and telling me I was nuts, I finally got him to believe me. Try it!

(04/02/08 - 11:47 PM)
Yeah, I got your blog entry right here. Seriously, we watched Lewis Black's new show, "The Root Of All Evil" tonight. While we're still not sure what to make of this one, I do know this: The YouTube vs. Porn episode that was on tonight was one of the single funniest things that I have ever seen in my life. I actually ached from laughing so hard. I cannot recommend - nay, demand - enough that you watch this specific episode. It was funny from end to end - from the cobra attacking a baby, to a cameo appearance by an unidentified Ron Jeremy as a random 'man on the street'. Watch it!

(04/01/08 - 11:34 PM)
I was going to put a fake interview here again this year. I thought about it for a week, and couldn't come up with anything. I mean, I really, really tried here. But, it turns out, fake interviews are not exactly easy to do on a lot of levels.

So, then I thought about real people who I dislike a great deal and who deserved to be punished with a wicked parody. And it was all so simple then. Below, I present my April 1st interview with Martha Stewart. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it up.

* Heath: "Martha, so good to have you here."

* Martha: "I am here, aren't I? It's a good thing. Umm... will my enduring matronly smile penetrate to the web, do you think? I'm smiling as hard as I can. Is it getting through?"

* Heath: "Oh, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure it's fine. So, tell me Martha, how did you get your start as an interior designer and minion of The Dark Lord?"

* Martha: "Well, I was playing Dungeouns & Dragons with the neighborhood children one day. I had just done D12+4 damage with my Wand of Cold, and was rolling for bonus damage. I rolled a D20 and it came up 20! I was so excited because this roll was enough to kill Janie Wilson's Elf-Mage without possibility of resurrection. I remember how she cried for the rest of the day, because she had been working on that character for the better part of three years. I knew then that I wanted to own people like I had just owned Janie. And then I thought, why stop there? Corporations were like Janie without faces. I could own a couple of those too."

* Heath: "Uh, huh. So, it all started with little Janie. Great. Tell us a little about your partnership with the floundering K-Mart Corporation."

* Martha: "Oh yes! That was a real coup. My plan was to begin small by taking over the weaker retail outlets and then destroy them from within by moving my awesome product line elsewhere until finally I had my own chain store. You know, like a Lion hunts a sickly gazelle; the K-Mart Corporation was my sickly gazelle. And it's blood was sweet upon my perfect lips. Mmmmm... delicious. Plus, I convinced them that they would never succeed in bringing Hillary Clinton aboard, which they were in secret negoations to do. Also, I swayed them to the fact that she had stuck with Bill, so clearly she had no sense - fashion or otherwise."

* Heath: "So, you brought in your product line, and then what?"

* Martha: "Well, I wanted every podunk hick to worship me, and I figured that if they had something in their home that they equated with me, it would give my dark soul strength. You know, like a small altar in their home, right next to their tin NASCAR sign. And it worked, to some degree. I told them what they needed; what they wanted. And they, in turn, purchased things from my line. It was all going quite well."

* Heath: "Indeed. Until the unpleasantness began. Tell me more about that."

* Martha: "Well, as you know, it all started after that bitch pulled up in my private driveway. My television show was going well, and the retail corporations were beginning to bend to my iron will. Then, I come home one day and here's this lady in my private driveway claiming to be lost. Lost! Can you imagine! She didn't ask for anything but directions, but I saw right through that. I knew that she had to be a rabid bull-dyke fan, ready to girl-rape me at a moments notice. Especially when I saw her glance at my handsome, flesh-toned cheek mole. Then it was a certainty that it was her, or me. So, I did the only sensible thing a fragile woman in my position could: I blocked her in and called the police, and had her arrested for tresspassing."

* Heath: "Oh, of course. I would have done the same, if I were insane. I understand completely. Tell me a little more about your television career."

* Martha: "Well, as a child, I used to hide in the basement and make things. Useless, boring things. Things that no one ever really needed, but that somehow made sense to me. I used neutral colors and re-hashed designs and ideas that had been done already in earlier times. Apparently, no one noticed until years later when this sort of thing came into vogue. By then, cable television and, to a lesser degree, satellite television were looking for strong, iconic, androgynous matron-types to host shows and build a market share with the Lifetime crowd. I was a natural because I had no new ideas of my own, and I also hated men with all my lack of a soul."

* Heath: "Right. Now, I believe that there was also some unpleasantness with the stock market, that led to some prison time. Tell me a little about that."

* Martha: "Well, I knew that I was getting older. And as such, I needed a way to pour my dark soul into another corporeal self or risk meeting my un-maker in the pits of Hell. So, I signed on with a genetics company and bought some stock to keep them afloat. It turns out though, that this wasn't such a hot idea in the end. One day, I get a call telling me that the stock is going to tank. This would have been a major setback to my world domination, so I decided to sell. Apparently, this is frowned upon by the S.E.C. I tried to explain to them that it was okay, because I was Martha Stewart, but apparently they were jealous because they took me to court. I ended up convicted and served time in a women's penitentary.

This was a difficult time for me. None of the women were really my type, and I had a difficult time making cozies for the single-piece stainless steel toilets in there. Difficult not only because materials were scarce, but difficult also due to their odd shape and design."

* Heath: "How did you feel when you got out?"

* Martha: "Well, I assumed that everything was at an end for me; that no one would accept the person that the public press had painted me to be - a mean, vindictive, power-hungry bitch. So, naturally, I had baked up a big batch of frownies at this point. I summoned my Dark Master with the blood of Mrs. Fields and some Macaroons and asked for his assistance once more. And after letting him have his way with my corporeal self, I was back in business."

* Heath: "How was the prison food?"

* Martha: "Oh, it was awful. Then, I started adding a little chicory to everything. It was a good thing."

* Heath: "Chicory. Got it. Anything else you would like to tell the world at large, in case they actually care to listen?"

* Martha: "Oh, yes. My dear, innocent, sheeple: I look forward to consuming each and every one of your souls in the years to come. Please continue to purchase my foreign-made products and incorporate them into your meager homes as I bathe in nickels daily and bide my time until I can become The Beast of Revelation during the end times that I shall surely bring about."

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