A Twist Of Fate
May, 2011 Entries
"Fiction writing is great, you can make up almost anything." - Anonymous

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(05/31/11 - 8:02 PM)
Finished reading my newly-purchased copy of Hunter S. Thompson's most notable book, "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas". And while not a horrible read, I do fail to see what all the persistant hype surrounding this book is all about.

Here's what I got from it: It was a seemingly-random snapshot into the lives of two narcotically-hedonistic compatriots as they made their way to the heart of Las Vegas. The storyline - what little of it there is to be identified - seems to get lost in an ever-moving torrent of scnee changes, drug binges, and driving around.

On some levels, it felt mildly reminiscent of Jack Kerouac's, "On The Road", but without all the flowery language and philosophical introspection that, in my humble opinion, plagued that particular work.

What we end up with is - agreeably - something very, very different. And while this isn't a bad thing (I did finish the work) it did leave me personally wanting a great deal more at the close of the last pargraph. Abruptly so.

(05/30/11 - 5:42 PM)
When I woke up this morning, the outer edges of both of my eyes pointed up, tightening my lids. I was worried, until I realized that I had just woken up on the wong side of the bed.

(05/29/11 - 7:24 PM)
Finished Douglas W. Ellison's, "Sole Survivor", a book I was made aware of by a recent special on one of the history channels.

Specifically, the book outlines the testimony of a man named Frank Finkle, who claimed in later life to be the single survivor of the The Battle Of Little Bighorn.

Ellison's work was, in fact, printed in 1982 by a university press, and only a thousand copies were printed. So, of course, I had to find a copy.

And I'm glad that I did. Ellison's book - while predominantly rote citation of other works - does manage to weave a compelling tapestry bolstering the claim of Mr. Finkle to a point where I find it difficult to believe all the nay-sayers who persist to this day. In my mind, Ellison completes his mission by citing so many sources, and outlining so many specific points, as to leave the reader unable to doubt.

At least, that's what it did for me.

If you're not a fan of history, then this book definately isn't for you. It's more a presentation of facts and figures than a true 'story', per se. That being said, I personally still found it intriguing and a good read for what it was.

(05/28/11 - 11:16 PM)
I went to the local jewelry store today for... myself. Specifically, I haven't purchased new earrings since the first Bush administration, and suffice it to say the ones that I did were never truly intended to last this long - that is, the ones I haven't yet lost.

So I walk in, and the girl behind the counter says, "Hi, Heath!" and I know this means I've spent too much time here. What can I say, though - I'm a sucker for my wife and shiny things.

I explain what I'm looking for, without telling her outright that they're for me, and that I need them for an event that afternoon, and I've procrastinated too long already.

She proceeds to show me all sorts of things that would look good on a woman, but would be considered questionable on any male with fashion sense. At which point I break down and let her know they're for me.

Amazingly, we find a pair of small diamond studs - with screw backs and extended posts, no less - that are precisely what I require.

I pay for them, and in moments I am out the door. Total time: less than four minutes.

Then, it was off to work where I spent a few hours and then off to a wedding in the afternoon (which is why I needed nice earrings and the story comes full-circle).

Getting married was Paul - a young man who I've know for all but the first few months of his life. I've been his babysitter, his friend, and he was my partner when we flipped a house a few years ago. As such, he's been a big part of my life, and I've always been impressed with him on just about every level.

It was exciting to be asked to attend this new venture in his life, and I wish he and his new wife all the best in their future together.

(05/27/11 - 7:42 PM)
Work this week has been abysmal. Problem after difficulty after issue has prevented us from getting our brand-new machine from working the way we want it to. Unfortunately, a lot of these issues could have been solved with foresight, and also with the installation technician not deciding that he knew what was best for us, even though our desires had been made explicit.

It must be nice to be smarter than everyone else.

Too bad his Boss didn't think so when mine was through with him.


(05/26/11 - 8:26 PM)
Finished Janet Evanovich's latest offering, "Sizzling Sixteen".

My usual gripes are all here: It's been done before - and better. As per usual, we hope to see something new from a simplistic writer who is the Queen of the silly, quick, afternoon read. Fortunately for this outing, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, albeit a small one.

I'm getting EVER SO TIRED of trips to viewings, bakeries, and one of her two love interest's homes. I really, REALLY am. I want something new: a new plotline, a new setting, a new STORY.

Janet, I and others implore you: Spread your wings a little. It won't hurt, and your fan base might actually be brought back into the fold.

(05/25/11 - 8:04 PM)
It's been a good time to be a book collector this last year. As the economy has declined, booksellers find themselves with high-end inventory that they have a more difficult time moving.

This has meant that my collection - which has finally gained the respectability that I had always hoped for - is also worth significantly less than it once might have been. But I'm not too bothered, as the intent is to keep them as not only something treasured, but also something to be sold in later years to bolster our retirement. God willing I live that long.

What this has also meant to me, however, is that I have been able to add a few gems to my personal collection that at one time I would have waffled on purchasing due to their prohibitive price. A case in point arrived today: A nearly-pristine first edition and printing of Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"

This is a book that I really wanted to experience, much like a number of others in my collection, first-hand in its original form. In order to do so, I had to refuse myself a second-class copy and wait to either get a first edition, or not read it at all.

I realize that this sounds insane, but if there are bibliophiles out there reading this, I think they'll understand.

On some titles, I finally throw in the towel when I realize that I can get a nice, newer printing copy, rather than a first edition that I will never be able to afford in a condition that I would prefer. This was certainly the case with Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood" - a pristine first wasn't in the cards for me at more than $1,500.00+. So, I opted for a nice copy of an Omnibus edition of her works. Ditto on Dashiell Hammet.

So, I look forward to getting to at least read this one in its virginal state. There's something almost cathartic about reading a book in its first state. The thought of all the hope and fear the author must have had as the book was borne into the world; the thought of others who must have posessed and cherished the book so as to allow it to arrive in my hands in its current condition; the natural ageing of the component parts of the book itself; all of it. All of it something to be experienced above and beyond the story within itself.

I can hardly wait.

(05/23/11 - 7:26 PM)
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmister Philllllllllllips Screwwwwwwwwwwwwdriver!

I was summoned to his machine this afternoon to be made aware that his task light was no longer in working order.

I told him it wasn't a problem, that I expected my Boss back in a day or so, and that he would get it looked at.

At which point, he went on to explain that he knew why it wasn't working - it was the stupid way it was wired, you see. Apparently, without having even opened it, he knew how the thing was wired.

Astounding, really.

I VEHEMENTLY told him that under no circumstances was he to touch the inner workings of the light, regardless of his thoughts and opinions on the design. The reason? On another machine, we had a bulb burn out in a high-impact, sealed, light that was several hundred dollars to purchase and was intended to last forever. Instead, Mr. Phillips Screwdriver took it upon himself to take that one apart, and then proclaim it a shoddy piece of equipment and not worth the cost when it failed to ever work again.

Now, it just so happened that my Boss - who was a machinery mechanic, and a damn good one, at that - for years before he elected to start his own business, understood how this lamp was to work. The problem, he found upon inspection, was that the lamp would no longer work because critical components were no longer in attendance. Turns out, when he was tearing it apart, Mr. P.S. took no heed of what he was taking from where, nor where the components ended up - leading to his diagnosis of 'faulty and stupid design'.

So I wasn't taking any chances on him 'fixing' another one.

But he wasn't done - oh no, no, no. He went on to regale me about the stupidity of the switch on this lamp that had clearly been replaced at some time, because it was a stupid one and where he had worked before they all had a different kind - the right kind.

My retort was to advise him that it just so happened that >I< had purchased that precise light he was pointing to some years back and that - in point of fact - that was the switch it had come with.

He disagreed, but moved on. Then it was a monologue about how good lights had one, consecutive, run of wire versus the stupid ones that I was now on the hook for buying because they had connections at each junction.

Again, I took this opportunity to mention that the ones I had repaired in the past had had one run to the socket from the plug, so I could not concur with his assessment that they had two and three connections in transit from one end to another.

I was then regaled with the stupidity of the shop (read: ME) for having bought anything other than the perfect lights that he had used so successfully at his old place of employment. That these lights that WE had were only, "...cheap ones." and that we should spend a little more money on the more expensive ones.

In point of fact, these were about $150.00 each and the ONE nice one that we had purchased to phase these out was closer to $300.00 - before he had PERSONALLY destroyed it, that is.

There's irony in there somewhere. I'm fairly certain of it.

Anyhoo... I figured, I can't argue that I'm not stupid. So instead I just plead with him to leave the light be and walked away.

I know - I suck. Thanks for reminding me though how little I truly know about the things in the world around me. What would I ever do without you?

(05/21/11 - 10:45 PM)
Spent the afternoon in Sycamore with my brother, my brother-from-another-mother, Corn Bread, and two of his other friends. We went to the Two Brothers brewery, took the tour, and had a goodly amount of craft beers. Then off to lunch at Eduardo's in DeKalb.

After lunch, it was back to the Keyberts Manor for hanging out, games, and the sampling of more than 50 scotches. All in all, a relaxing afternoon and evening where I learned that one member of our group felt that Duck Tales was the best cartoon of all time.

Just for the record: it isn't, dammit.

(05/20/11 - 8:24 PM)
"I'm not honest, but you're interesting." - Daniel Tosh

(05/19/11 - 7:26 PM)
Thanks to my wife for this one:
My weiner goes to infinity, and beyond!

(05/16/11 - 10:12 PM)
Thanks to my friend, Chris, for discovering this little gem:
Get that cursor offa me!

(05/15/11 - 8:45 PM)
Finished Michael Connelly's "The Scarecrow", bringing me one book closer to catching up on an author I had recently neglected for more than two years due to time constraints.

This one was something of a departure, perspective-wise and I - for one - enjoyed the change. This one follows Jack McEvoy, newspaper reporter, through his efforts to write one last, shining, story before he's downsized. And it's written so well that I did not even miss Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller. Not one bit.

This book, while certainly not his best work, was definately worth the read as he shows that he's - once again - at the top of his form.

(05/14/11 - 7:51 PM)
The weather continues to be obstinate. I really need to mow my lawn or - as I'm now calling it - my grass crop. It's that bad.

It's been raining a ton of late, and the flood watches and warnings went up days ago. We're way beyond them now, and I can't help but consider that by the time it abates enough for me to mow, my mower may not be able to handle it.

It's really driving me nuts.

I went to work this morning, and got a great deal done. I came home and replaced a blind that had gone to a better place, and then sat down to read. Then I did something that I very, very rarely do: I abandoned the book I was working on, "Aurorarama" by Jean-Christophe Valtat because it was... it just wasn't good. Astonishingly, I appear to be in the minority on this one, as it's up for some awards. It had all the makings of something great, but... the author was wordy, sometimes ambiguous, and by page 130 I had to re-visit the jacket flap to be reminded of what the plot was. And one should NEVER have to do that, in my mind. I don't often abandon a book. Usually I will plod through to the end, just to finish it and give it a fair shake. But this book felt like it had taken enough of my valuable time away from me. And when that feeling began to trump all others, I acquiesced to my sensibilities. I hope that others who are perhaps more intelligent continue to get something from this work. It just wasn't for me.

(05/13/11 - 9:36 PM)
Today was cold. It was also windy and rainy. A great deal of all three, actually.

Today, my eldest cousin LaVaughn married the man she's been with for 25 years. It was a small courthouse ceremony, but her nearest and dearest friends made it for the event.

The reception was held in a gorgeous park, with a huge and well-kept shelter. The problem was, the weather refused to cooperate. It was cold, and windy and rainy.

My cousin was happy. She radiated happy, actually. And this, in turn, made me happy for her. And, somehow, the shelter proved itself out, and the celebrating went on in the face of adversity. And I was happy to see this. She deserved to be happy, dammit. She's a good woman, a good mother, and a good friend. Not to mention, again, family.

And speaking of family: At the reception, I got to visit with family I haven't seen in nearly a decade, and friends for whom it's been even longer still.

My cousin Pam (LaVaughn's little sister) now has three children of her own. Her youngest being about 9 months, and cute as a button. Apparently he took a shine to me, as I kept making him smile while we exchanged looks. Or, perhaps, he just thought I looked goofy. That's a lot more likely.

LaVaughn's mother - my Aunt - and her husband own a karaoke business, and they were called upon to provide the music. One of the most surreal moments in my life was then experienced, as I witnessed my Aunt - who's pushing 60 - sing Korn and Ozzy. The even scarier part was that she was good. Impressively so, in fact. I was impressed, shocked, and somewhat mortified all in the same moment.

Good for you, Aunt Debbie. For what it's worth, I was impressed. And it wasn't a moment I will ever forget.

I got to sit and talk with a woman who I last knew as a teenager growing up in the same neighborhood as my Grandmother (God rest her soul.) She lives in Texas now, and has two children of her own.

We took a few minutes to get caught up, and it was really nice sharing those moments of reflection on a life long past with her.

I couldn't stay too late, so I remained for as long as I could. All I can hope for was that the happiness went on well into the night. Again, my cousin is a wonderful woman. And she truly deserved this moment: For 25 years, no less.

(05/12/11 - 6:22 PM)
My friend Adam posted this. It was originally on YouTube, but got pulled. Presumably, because someone was going on about it being 'child pornography', which would make anyone say 'screw it'. I don't blame them for pulling it. I just feel bad that there are idiots out there who really feel this is pornographic. Seriously: GET A LIFE.

What it is, is something else: It's damn funny. It's the whimsy of childhood coupled with questionable parenting. That's what it is. And THAT makes it... funny.

And not just sort of funny, but insanely funny.

So, I scrounged around, and found the video elsewhere. And thank goodness for that, because it wouldn't be right for you not to see it. Have I mentioned it's funny?

So sit back, click HERE, and enjoy!

(05/11/11 - 8:26 PM)
I'm the one on the right.

(05/09/11 - 10:02 PM)
Wanda and I have been making our way through "The West Wing" television series. It was something that my brother had suggested I might like, but I didn't lend a great deal of creedence to that, because it sounded precisely like something I would not.

I would like to take a moment to let the world know that I was hopelessly wrong - and that he was presciently correct. This series is magnificent. The writing, the pacing, the plotlines, the cast, the intellect - everything. It all melds together into something beautiful and rare, and you find yourself being sucked in and craving what the next moment will bring to the table.

It's really that good.

After completing season one, I already had disappointment that there were only six more in the box to watch. Then it would all be over, and we would once more be looking for the next great thing on DVD. But, until then, I plan to enjoy the heck out of this series.

(05/08/11 - 7:13 PM)
I'd give him a dollar.

(05/07/11 - 5:02 PM)
Spent the morning getting caught up at work, and then Wanda and I took a trip to The Bookworm Bakery & Cafe to drop off a media packet for my book.

I'll be doing a signing there in the near-term (more information to follow on that when the date is set), but I was a little disappointed when I heard that it was all self-sufficient. The owner doesn't want any part of comissions, and at $4.00 a copy for my book, complete with free inventory and display, as well as media materials, I couldn't help but think that it was free money - for both of us - that was being ignored.

It's sort of a symbiotic cycle: She does a visual promotion, and offers it for sale. I only get paid for what she sells, and she pockets $4.00 for each copy. The inherent visual presence lends itself to more sales, and therefore both of us end up happier.

Her aversion to this is most perplexing.

Nevertheless, even a small victory is still a victory, so I'll take it how I may. Still, it feels like an almost insignificant victory.

(05/06/11 - 8:45 PM)
My brother and I don't always see eye to eye. And I think we've stumbled upon the biggest reason in our fluctuating rifts: He's a professional attorney, and I'm an Operations Manager with 27 individuals under my watch.

It seems, upon discussion, that his natural state is one of parsing arguments to his favor, and mine is placating egos in an attempt to quell conflict.

We've decided that the result is viewed by me as his being a bully, and by him as me being condescending and throwing jabs.

And, since we know that neither one of those is, in fact, true we perhaps both need to shed our ingrained personas and just be ourselves with one another.

For myself, I know that this will be difficult. I've spent so much time massaging egos over the past decade that it's almost become second nature. And since I'm not used to deferring or demurring, it's hard to allow someone else to be in control of situations.

It's amazing how your day-to-day life can change who you fundamentally are without you even recognizing that it's happened. The upside is that instead of being angry at one another, my Brother and I have relevant discussions about our feelings.

The bottom line is: I have one brother in this world, whom I love and cherish dearly. And while we are two extremely different people, that doesn't change my feelings for him.

So, to Nick, I say: I'm sorry for going all Manager on you sometimes. Just remember that I care about you, and that I don't mean to come off the wrong way. And I'll do the same.

(05/05/11 - 8:13 PM)
I've been astounded for some time now how much amazing music I have from various albums I've picked up on the cheap over the years that I still have yet to discover.

To help clarify: Excluding classical, contemporary Christian, blues, and a few other categories, I >STILL< have over 14,000 songs that remain unheard - and unrated.

And while that might seem like a lot, when you consider the 43,000+ songs in the entire library (about 24,000 of which ARE rated), it's not really that much.

Still, I've found some really good stuff in there of late that I've been enjoying the heck out of. I've taken to listening only to unrated material when I work on the computer (i.e. - times like now) so that I may continue to find those unheard gems and get them where they belong - into the rated lists and - from there - into my ears.

(05/04/11 - 8:13 PM)
This song just blew me away when I first heard it:

(05/03/11 - 6:44 PM)
Unless you've been in a cave, you now know that Osama Bin Laden is presumed dead.

I only mention this, not because I'm jumping on a bandwagon. Rather, I mention it because the response to this news made me realize what a bunch of idiots some of us can truly be.

Here's what I mean:

Over the centuries, Catholicism, and other religious orders, have done things in the name of what they felt was right and correct, albeit oftentimes misguided. Did the Spanish really believe that killing those natives who they found in order to get them to convert was REALLY what their God wanted?

Did God really want The Crusades?

I could go on and on, and I'm not even remotely a scholar. The point is that crazy, evil, and heinous things have been done for millennia - all in the name of religion.

What many individuals seem to forget is that Bin Laden was once on our team. We empowered him further in his then current endeavors so that our agenda might be furthered without actually getting our hands dirty.

In some ways, we were responsible for creating what would ultimately become a villified monster.

Add into this the blind acceptance of most Americans in believing that Al Quaeda was single-handedly behind all of the events of Septermber 11th, and you've got a recipe for redneck justice.

Here's my problem: we should never revel in the death of another individual. I never knew the man. But what he did, he did out of a sense of religious justice (albeit misguided, in my opinion) similar or the same as other massively heinous acts throughout history.

Some acts didn't even have the crutch of Religion to lean on. Think specifically about the removal of native peoples from Florida. Rather than cry atrocity, we made the man responsible President.

So, to say that we have a jaundiced eye toward certain events is almost moot. We defend a President who has relations in the Oval office, yet if the GM of Chrysler or some such other organization did so, with the publicity and scandal it brought, would he be allowed to retain his position within the company?

I realize that some might say that what he does is his own business - and I'd reluctantly agree with you. What I cannot stomach is that he took a public office - the highest in the land - and turned it into something sordid. And no one - NO ONE - in a public company would have gotten away with the same.

Back to Bin Laden: When the events of September eleventh unfolded, I was truly changed. I was astounded. I was angry. I was saddened and sickened at the ridiculous loss of life.

As things panned out, I began to absorb what the media was feeding me. What I didn't do was immediately assume that they were all telling me the truth. I went out of my way to get information from every source I could find.

Enter, "Loose Change"

This film, while decried and potentially debunked, also raised some very relevant questions about the events of 9/11. I personally gained a new perspective on the whole thing - one that wasn't too favorable of our own Government, and one that has villified me to some among my friends.

Specifically, I began to wonder if all - or at the very least, part - of it weren't an inside job or, at the very least, known by United States intelligence beforehand.

The arguments for this theory were fairly compelling. And when you absorb the aftermath of events leading up to the death of Bin Laden, in my mind, it truly begs questioning. What the hell happened?

In closing, I will mourn the loss of those who died that day. I can't imagine the devestation wrought on their families and friends. But, at the same time, I will not revel in the death of another human being. For, to do so, I believe, would be hypocritical. We may have seen him as evil. But clearly he felt the same about us.

And, sadly, perhaps we're both right.

(05/02/11 - 7:26 PM)
If you don't have an R-rated sense of humor, then this probably isn't for you. Fair warning.

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