30 December 2009

Don't Rain on My Parade

It has been an interesting day here. Well, for me anyways. As my cold winds down -just a lot of snot coming out of my nose, it amazes me how much I can produce - work drama (for lack of a better word) continues. Will be GM-less again as 2010 begins.

Yep, in four years that this store has been open, we've had four GM's. Well, three, with one GM coming back. Actually, I'm not shocked or surprised by it. She had left Borders 9 months earlier due to the DM Nazi that took over the SolCal area. She found a great job working at San Bernardino College Bookstore (or something like that). When Patricia bowed out in early November, Lyly returned to take over.

I love Lyly, but why she wanted to return to Borders (yeah, I love it too, but things are going down hill for this company) is beyond me. She had a job she loved, 9-5 with weekends off (plus school holidays). Still, in the few short weeks she has been back, she got our store back in shape. But she had to put in 80 plus hours a week to do it, which is pretty sucky.

Anyways, she got an offer she could not refuse, and took it. Whether she knows something or not about what will happen with Borders as early as February, I cannot say. I'm happy for her, and wish her all the best. She is damn good at what she does and deserves more respect than Borders was showing her.

In the meantime, my planned vacation begins the moment I leave on Friday, January 1. I hope to be productive and find out how I too can get out of Borders before (what I think is the logical step for them) they file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Anyone need a great customer service agent with 2 decades of experience behind him and can pay me a decent, livable wage, send me a message.

Oh, and it was rainy and cold here all day. And when I mean rain, I mean it mostly sprinkled. It caused puddles, and drivers here to suddenly for get how to drive when the pavement gets wet, but nothing to write home about. The Rose Parade people here in Pasadena are bit worried, but the weather is suppose to clear for tomorrow and Friday. They’re saying, actually, Friday will be the nicest day of week. So, while it’ll start chilly (probably in the low 40s) on New Years, the sun should rise to give a fairly spectacular start to 2010.

29 December 2009

Books I read in 2009

01. Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
02. The Appeal - John Grisham
03. Captain Freedom by G. Xavier Robillard
04. Fool by Christopher Moore
05. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
06. Deflowerd: My Life in Pansy Division by Jon Ginoli
07. Shadowplay by Tad Williams
08. Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
09. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon by Gideon DeFoe
10. The Terror by Dan Simmons
11. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
12. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Seas Monsters by Rick Riordan
13. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
14. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
15. Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
16. NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley
17. Retail Hell: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate by Freeman Hall
18. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
19. Star Trek: Assignment: Eternity by Greg Cox
20. Under the Dome by Stephen King
21. Huge by James. W. Fuerst
22. Marsbound by Joe Haldeman
23. How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

Books: How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely (2009)

Pete Tarslaw has had it rough, or so he thinks. Stuck in a dead-end job writing college essay’s for spoiled rich kids so they can get into those prestigious colleges, he is surprised one day to get a mass email from an ex-girlfriend who is getting married. Soon after this surprise, Pete’s employer folds, laying him off. Depressed even more, he then sees an interview with popular best selling author Preston Brooks, who writes books that everyone seems to like (his current one is called Kindness to Birds, described in a faux New York Times Book Review as a story about “a downsized factory worker named Gabriel touches the lives of several people wounded by life.”)

After seeing this, Pete decides he can write a novel, that he can have the fame and respect of people like Brooks, can have the same financial freedom to do anything he chooses (boating, skeet shooting). That he can have a mansion by the ocean (or a scenic lake), but mostly, just to humiliate his ex-girlfriend at her wedding.

From there, author Steve Hely (who wrote for David Letterman and the TV series American Dad) takes us on a wicked satire of the publishing industry and its insatiable desire to find and produce the same winning formula over and over again (James Patterson, anyone? Hello, Nicholas Sparks). I mean, take a stroll through the fiction area of your local Borders if you think Mr. Hely is making any of this stuff up as he sets the rules up for how to write a popular book. Hely also pokes fun at the readers who buy this stuff, but also airs a cautious argument between what is literature and popular fiction.

The book, however, runs out of air towards the end. In the final pages he torpedoes Pete’s cynicism in ways that will disappoint anyone who was enjoying the jaded humor. Still, Mr. Hely deftly clobbers the popular-book business. By taking aim at lucrative “tidy candy-packaged novels you wrapped up and gave as presents,” the kinds of books that go “from store shelves to home shelves to used-book sales unread,” his complaints about such books hit home and are very funny. They’d be even funnier if they weren’t true.

27 December 2009

Doctor Who: 4.17: The End of Time (Part 1)

There is not much positive things to say about The End of Time, Part 1. First, it makes little sense, even though RTD does sort of explain the Immortality Gate (which is just a lame bone thrown to spin-off Torchwood). But like most two-part episodes of TV series these days, its all a set-up for next weeks conclusion.

In some ways I’m happy to see the RTD era end, as show was taking on way too much baggage -four seasons of episodes that seemed to have a high bit of coincidences and too many robots - and was starting to resemble the later years of John Nathan-Turner.

A prime example is the whole Master resurrection scene. My biggest issue with it was how the followers of the Master knew of him, as the Doctor explained to the Ood, only Lucy should remember him (and then there’s the convoluted scene where this liquid Lucy comes by to stop the resurrection and how she got it to begin with). And what is with the whole the legend of the blue box and the Sainted Physician at the Church? I found that out of place and probably completely unnecessary.

Ironically, The End of Time moves at a snail’s pace, setting too many things up that had no pay-off. Even a two-part episode should have some pay-off. It should solve something. But no, everything will be shoved to next weeks conclusion and that can’t be good. If only because character moments will set aside for a grand finale.

Perhaps the best part of the episode is the café sequence where the Doctor and Wilf talk about Donna while ruminating on death and loss. The rest of it is just padding, including (a RTD trademark) a lot of running around -which just seems to indicate that to maintain a certain length, they just insert more running instead of actually writing something.

And while I was never certain about RTD’s killing off the Time Lords, as the series progressed I found the idea certainly appealing -at least it kept the Doctor a more dedicated hero, thus adding an element of drama and sadness. However, like the Daleks, he has decided to bring them back. And based on Timothy Dalton’s brief appearance at the end (in a shot stolen whole heartedly from The Phantom Menace senate scene), these may not be the stodgy old Time Lords seen in the original series. Still, in a post credit opening clip of next weeks provided on the Doctor Who BBC web site shows Dalton and his fellow Time Lords discussing the Time War. It’s filled with annoying prophetess and an over-acting Dalton. So it looks like part-two does not start promising.

Maybe, with what photos that have been released, Steven Moffat’s take on Doctor Who is a more return to the classic series, with less emphasis on running around and robots.

17 December 2009

Success of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies spawns more mash-ups

While the mash-up's are not new, the success of last summer's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies seems to be giving publishers an excuse to give the public more. With Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters a moderate success, and with author Seth Graham-Smith's P&P&Z follow-up, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter due this coming Summer, look for more to come.

Like the above, due in late January.

14 December 2009

Books: Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

Back in September of 2008, I read Joe Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine. I liked the book, mostly because I’m a sucker for time-travel stories. Less I’m a fan of is the so called hard-core science fiction of say Arthur C. Clark or Isaac Asimov and others. It wasn’t that I found these writers bad, I just got bored with all the techo jargon that comes with it: the mathematical equation the ship needs to get into orbit of a planet. I was brought up on Star Trek reruns where all of that was just magic, anyways.

Anyways, I enjoyed Haldeman’s style of writing, even if I could not figure out how he figured out how one could travel only forward in time and not back.

Now, what will probably be my last book of the year, I took on Marsbound, an entertaining and often humorous tale where conflict and mystery await on the planet of Mars. Set in an unnamed future time -I’m guessing somewhere around the end of the 21st Century - we meet 18 year-old Carmen Dula and her family, who’ve won a lottery and are bound for the first Mars colony. While not sure she wants to do this - after a trip on a space elevator to space station, there is another six month journey to that red planet. But while her doubts begin to creep in, she eventually finds some comfort in the arms of Paul, the pilot of the John Carter Goes to Mars.

But the daily grind soon sets in, and she also manages to make an enemy of the general administrator of Mars named Dargo Solingen. After a flare up between them, Carmen ventures out onto the Mars surface for a walk. But a slip up and trip down a hole propels Carmen into an adventure she never thought possible. There is intelligent life on Mars and they’ve been watching.

As typical it seems of Haldeman, his detail is good, but never gets in the way of the story. And the fact that it’s told from the 1st person point of view gives the reader a chance to discover everything just as Carmen is. And while this is, at its base, a standard sci fi plot idea -first contact - Haldeman balances with some great action, a huge dose of humor and with an easily described world that makes you focus more on the characters than the whole science of what could be a boring story about space travel to Mars.

08 December 2009

Winter arrives in the Southland

On a very brisk morning -38 degrees - a day after a blustery winter storm blew through the foothills were dusted with snow. It was very pretty, and the closet to snow I want to get these days.

06 December 2009

Rain and cold in California

Rain and snow is due tonight into tomorrow. Then more rain due later in the week.

The local networks are going into overdrive, all being on Storm Watch.

While its serious, I still snicker at how they act as if the end of the world is coming to SoCal.

Oh, well.

We'll see how much rain comes and how much snow falls in the foothills around the area.

04 December 2009

02 December 2009

Pee Wee Herman's Christmas Special

Aired in 1988, and broadcast just once, Pee Wee Herman's Christmas Special is perhaps one of the most silliest and truly oddest TV specials dealing with the holiday. This prime time show, based on his then Saturday morning show, has Pee Wee preparing for Santa and everything that goes with the annual holiday. But it becomes ridiculous from the start and you really don't have time to think as cameos from the likes of Magic Johnson, Grace Jones, k.d. lang, Little Richard, Oprah Winfrey, Diana Shore, Whoopi Goldberg play along with regular Playhouse cast, including future stars Laurence Fishburne and S. Epatha Merkerson. Then add Joan Rivers, Charo, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, The Del Rubio Triplets, and Zsa Zsa Gabor and you got one of the gayest, campest and most brillaint holiday special ever.

I love this special and watch it every year.

29 November 2009

Books: Huge by James W. Fuerst (2009)

Eugene “Huge” Smalls is 12, has an IQ of 133 and has enough anger issues to make him seem -at times - a danger to himself. His only friend is a stuffed frog named Thrash and he also fancies himself a detective -one of those 1940's Raymond Chandler noir types. When someone tags his grandmothers nursing home, he is handed an assignment by his grandmother to find the culprit.

Set in the 1980's New Jersey, the debut novel by Fuerst sparkles with great dialogue and has a hero who has created some sort of faulty logic for his anger. However, at times I was distracted by his conversations with Thrash (which kind of convinced me Huge was a little off his rocker) and the kids self-awareness dialogue that made me feel that I was not listening to a 12 year-old talk. Besides having a dirty mouth, Huge spoke more like an adult.

At the end of the day, its an impressive debut, but I got bored with it, and began to wonder why it was set in the 1980's, because it really did not seem to impact the story. I mean, really, what was the point unless (as most first books tend to be) author Fuerst grew up during that time, thus adding a little autobiographical notions to the novel.

15 November 2009

Doctor Who: Waters of Mars

As David Tennant's tenure as the Doctor nears its end, it appears the Russell T Davies is finally pulling the stops out. After last years less than exciting Christmas special, The Next Doctor and this past Easter's less than spectacular Planet of the Dead" which where good, but nothing new, I wondered what he was planning.

"The Waters of Mars" takes the show into a much darker realm, one where the Doctor (not for the first time) must decide to break the rules of time his fellow Time Lords vowed never to do -the notion that there are historical moments that are fixed in time; that he cannot change those events.

In some ways, I'm reminded of the classic fourth Doctor serial "The Genesis of the Daleks". The Timelords - in a rare moment of interference in historical events - sends the Doctor and his companions to Skaro to prevent the creation of the Daleks. Though the Doctor fails -and even he admits that maybe even he does not posses the right to end a species - he tells Sarah Jane and Harry that although the Daleks will create havoc and destruction for millions of years, he knows that out of their evil must come something good.

The Doctor has this dilemma in "The Waters of Mars", after he realizes when he has arrived. All through the story, he wants to leave, because he knows this accident on Mars - with the first people to have a colony on the Red Planet - will bring bring a sort of renaissance (ala Star Trek: First Contact). That the granddaughter of Captain Adelaide Brooke will be inspired by her grandmothers sacrifice. So this fixed moment in time he cannot change, that all of them must die.

And while the Doctor learns of what caused the accident, he still cannot leave and is soon reminded that he is the Last of the Time Lords. He tells Adelaide, after saving her and two others, that the laws of the Time Lords were only valid while their civilization existed, and since Gallifrey and his fellow Time Lords are gone, he has total control over time.

But she is clever, pragmatic and less emotional than the Doctor is at this point. She points out, quiet correctly (and something Donna Noble pointed out also), that the Doctor has too much power, that the "Time Lord Victorious" he calls himself is wrong.

And with Adelaide's suicide, which reverts the changes that the Doctor has made to the timeline, it triggers a realization that he has crossed a line, one he knows he cannot go back on. When Ood Sigma appears (encountered in "The Planet of the Ood", where he predicted the events of "Journey's End", and the Tenth Doctor's death) on the snowy street, the Doctor realizes his mistake, that there will be a price to pay for his interference. But when Sigma vanishes, apparently not there to end his life, the Doctor staggers back into the TARDIS to the ominous sounds of the Cloister Bell. With a roar of "No!", he sets out.

But the die has been cast.

A nearly flawless episode, one filled with a sense of its past history and what is yet to come. Tennant gives another bravo performance, especially when he leaves the dying crew members of Bowie 1 and listens to their deaths.

This episode also takes a look at why the Time Lords highest crime was interference. They realized what can happen when people try to change things, why even the Daleks could not be stopped.

The trailer for the next episode -out at Christmas - sees the return of Donna Noble. What role she has to play is not know, but one assumes its the Master who'll set the endgame in motion.

11 November 2009

What I'm reading now

After carting Under the Dome around, it's time to clean the palate with Huge.

10 November 2009

Books: Under the Dome by Stephen King (2009)

While Stephen King’s Under the Dome is more thriller than a chiller, it can scar you. Mostly for its heft, clocking at 1072 pages. Then there’s the town of Chester Mill, it’s elaborate map and it’s large cast of characters that include most of King’s colorful archetypes.

But while the thickness may seeming daunting, the novel -surprisingly - moves fast.

When the town is suddenly surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must do almost anything to survive. But things go from bad to worse rather quickly, with the dome's ecological effects on the town and the maneuvering of one Big Jim Rennie, an deviling local politician and drug lord who quickly realizes he can now make Chester Mill’s his own little private kingdom, with himself as absolute ruler. Our heroes include Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a group of skateboarders and many others.

One of King’s traits is he loves people, and he loves to see what happens when the nine circles of hell open up and see how it slowly unravels their worlds. While the story has been noodling around King’s head since 1976, Under the Dome (which, in the end, resembles the old Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street) is rife with current day issues. He takes the old 1950's communist fears and opens a can of present day terrorist notions to create a nearly flawless novel.

At times funny, disturbing (especially how the people of Chester Mill easily let the fabric of their daily lives unravel), and even moving, Under the Dome is as close to a nonstop thrill ride you can get when a novel tops 1000 pages.

31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

See, it's easy to put a simple costume together.
Bet he had all of this just lying around the house.

30 October 2009

Measure of Me

So, the dullness that is my life continues (thus the lack of posts here on my blog). But times are interesting at work.

* My GM announced she is leaving the company, after 15 or so years with Borders. However, she's not leaving the book industry, just going back to being a DM for a Christian Book company. We also got a new DM for our region, after our last one was fired earlier this month. Since his firing, we've all learned about how piss poor the SoCal region is doing -we seem to be the redheaded step-child of Borders. Also, the GM for Riverside is also leaving next week, which proves how much damage the previous DM did the area and how much work is needed to make this area shine, though I'm guessing the damage is done.

* For the first time in a long time, I agreed to do an overnight shift on Sunday to set-up the holiday stuff. Mostly, the reason I said I do it was because last years crew did a shityy-ass job. So I'm hoping to correct this year; sort of do it right the first time mindset.

* The fate of Borders, by the way, is still not set. It will be an intersting holiday season to say the least.

Happy Halloween all and welcome back standard time.

And less we forget, the Day of The Dead is nearly here.

Peace out.

04 October 2009

This weekend

Nothing spectacular, this weekend. Had a quick Frontier Guard shoot on Saturday, was in and out of studio in two hours. We have a bit longer shoot on Tuesday night, which I'm already dreading. I stopped and had lunch before going home and then spent about two hours at Starbucks reading Stephen King's Under the Dome.

Today I went to Disneyland, now all decked out for Halloween. It was pretty crowed, with this weekend being the unofficial Gay Day. As typical, the bears where there early while the twinks showed up at around 1. In some ways, I wanted to be with them, all dressed in red shirts; to fit in. But there is also a part of me who does not want to thrown into such a stereotype.


Been on Live Journal checking all the comments about Borders. Seems there are a lot of bitter people working for my company. I posted a few comments myself.

Borders is doomed. Ha!

25 September 2009

So, this is Fall?

Fall officially started on Tuesday. It reached 113 that day here. It was 112 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Suppose to be as warm tomorrow and just a few degrees cooler on Sunday. I love California for its pleasant winters. But like in Chicago when spring arrives in March and its still in the 20s, you get really depressed when fall arrives here and its still blistering hot outside.

Sometimes it just makes me want to cry.

Books: Star Trek: Assignment: Eternity by Greg Cox

For a number of years during the 1990's, I collected almost all of the Star Trek books that came out. 99.9% of them, I never read. They sit now in box's in my garage, awaiting a fate I don't know.

Still, the above novel was published in 1998, and it was one I did not have (or if I did, I've lost it). So, I ordered a used edition. Why, may you ask, did I do this? I've always liked the TOS episode Assignment: Earth. That 1968 episode was originally planned as pilot for a potential spin-off. It featured Robert Lansing as Gary Seven, a mysterious human working for aliens who come from the future. Kirk and company use a gravitational slingshot around the sun and time travel to 1968 Earth for historical research (this time travel plot device was alluded to in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). Suddenly, the Enterprise intercepts a highly powerful transporter beam from a thousand light-years away and a man dressed in a business suit materializes on the pad. He carries a black cat with a diamond collar. He converses with his cat, Isis, then introduces himself to Captain Kirk as Gary Seven.

That episode also featured an appearance by Terri Garr, who played Roberta Lincoln, a young woman who thought she was going for a job interview only to become entangled in Seven's plans.

Anyways, it was a cute episode that never went anywhere. So in 1998, Greg Cox revived the character for the Pocket Book Star Trek line-up. The novel also include many humorous references and inside jokes alluding to TOS, TNG, DS9 episodes, and the TOS movies, as well as references to some popular 1960's and 1970's television series not related to Star Trek.

The plot of the book has a Romulan traveling to the future and assassinates Spock in 2293 during the Khitomer Peace Accords (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). Gary Seven's colleague, Supervisor 146 (a.k.a. Septos) alerts him, and he and Roberta Lincoln travel to 2269 to stop the Romulan and save Septos.

Cox would continue his take on Seven and Roberta in his two volume novels The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh (2001/02). Those I've yet to read, and have recently gotten used versions of them.

13 September 2009

Pirates IV gets a title; based on Tim Powers novel?

Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook made several major announcements about upcoming Disney films during an address at the D23 Disney fan expo in Anaheim, including the name of the upcoming fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which will be called Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, which is due in summer 2011. Johnny Depp showed up in full Jack Sparrow regalia, in character, disturbed by the presence of a talking frog at the earlier Muppets presentation (who return The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made!).

The title begs the question of whether the fourth film is based upon fantasy author Tim Powers 1987 novel On Stranger Tides.

Powers novel is about puppeteer John Chandagnac, bound for Jamaica to recover stolen money from his uncle, who becomes Jack Shandy after pirates attack his ship and force him to join their crew. Shandy's struggle to accept his new life, even as Blackbeard and vodun magicians whisk everyone away to dreamlike lands where the Fountain of Youth itself awaits.

Tim Powers, born in New York in 1952, but relocated with his family to Southern California in 1959 has admitted in the past that On Stranger Tides tale was inspired by Disneyland's Pirates of the Carribean ride.

10 September 2009

Books: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

In a pitch perfect take on the family saga, Jonathan Tropper’s side-splitting This Is Where I Leave You is often funny as it is heartbreaking.

We learn, as Judd Foxman’s narrates, is not having anywhere near a perfect few months. Soon after discovering his wife in bed with another man -Judd’s obnoxious, popular radio personality boss - he learns of the death of his father. Faced with returning to his family and home, his future ex-wife compounds the problems by announcing she’s pregnant with Judd’s baby.

With this news, Judd returns to his home town of Elmsbrook where he and his dysfunctional family plan to sit Shiva - which surprises Judd, as he knew his father did not have a religious bone in his body. So, for the first time in years, the Foxman’s are together for seven days following the funeral. In the same house. Like a family.

There’s Judd’s mom, Hillary, is a psychiatrist and the bestselling author of Cradle and All: A Mother's Guide to Enlightened Parenting. "Predictably," Judd notes, "my siblings and I were screwed up beyond repair." Also, there is his sister, Wendy, who has three kids younger than 6 and a husband who works in hedge funds and pays more attention to his BlackBerry than to his wife. Bitter Paul, the oldest, is the partner with their dad in the family sporting goods store, and remains angry at Judd for his failure at a baseball career. Then there’s Philip, the youngest and “the Paul McCartney of our family: better looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead.”

The novel is filled with some wonderful, very sly dialogue about family and death. It’s laugh-out-loud brilliant and I found many passages matched my life, including “Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see your siblings as the people they’ve become. Maybe that’s why we all stay away from each other as a matter of course.”

Anyways, by the end of the shiva, Paul has one arm in a sling, Philip has a broken hand, Judd has a split lip, Wendy hasn't slept in days and Mom has had a serious falling-out with her lover. And to Tropper’s credit, the comedy is never glib and not everything is resolved by the end.

05 September 2009

Glenda Beck and the sorta-lame-ass version of what he thinks is the truth

You know, Glenda, you're becoming more and more crazy as the days go by, now finding menace in every shadow and every relief. You’re a pathetic propaganda machine for the Conservative Right. You and the rest of the Kool Aide drinking crowd grow desperate everyday to show a bunch of non-thinking idiots that some how you have the inside info on everything. You have no credibility and speak no language any rational human being would say.

Glenda Beck is a psychotic monkey who will tilt the world -along with the other cronies of Right and Faux News - into another Civil War. It's your ultimate goal to bring the collapse of America and set up a regime built and conceived on the notion that only religious folks should hold the key of knowledge and all power.

And while I would never stoop so low as to ask God to smite you down for just being a douche bag, I kinda hope that you'll see the light.

Until that day happens, you’ll never be more than a sad loser, a nobody. You’re a narcists, a clown in an expensive suit, who needs some sort acknowledgment to exist.

31 August 2009

16 August 2009

Books: Retail Hell: Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate by Freeman Hall

This book is for anyone who works in retail. And its for anyone who shops and wonders why most retail employees hate you. Author Freeman Hall details the life of a retail slave, one who has to put up with an endless parade of people who live by the mantra that the customer is always right (a fallacy created by the retail stores themselves. I’m with Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David when he says most customers are wrong. And are probably assholes. I’ve always found that living by that slogan day in and day out is a miserable way to run a company. It seems unfair that abusive people will and should get better treatment than nice ones).

Anywhoo, Hall’s hilarious rant on customers, customer service and working for The Big Fancy - a probable combination of Macy’s and Nordstroms where he used to work - hits many spots. As an aspiring screenwriter, Hall’s dose of customer insanity will remind anyone of David Sedaris and ultra hyper-reality in which he lives.

For some, they’ll say his stories are absurd, that the situations in his book could not happen. Hell, after 12 years of working with Borders (and add on 22 years in the book business and 29 years in retail overall), I can tell you stories about catching three men having sex in the men's bathroom, or the ones shooting up in the stalls; of hearing a story in my old store about a teenage boy completely naked -for whatever reason - in our bathroom. Then there's the story of me cleaning up a trail of wet, sloppy poop from the front of the store to the back. Yes, what we do for the unforgiving love of our customers.

So, what stories he tells are far from his imagination.

Interspersed, he tells his tale of coming to LA to become a screenwriter, and how working for The Big Fancy is crushing that dream. All of us know that our off days are truly not ours and even though we plan to grand things when we get those days off, we usually fail to do it, because exhaustion usually gets the best of us.

And while other jobs -ones outside the service industry - can be soul crunching, for some reason retail is worse. It’s all about numbers, quotas and reaching a higher quarter than the previous (even though, theoretically, along with the law of averages, is something not possible.

Anyone can quote leadership gurus like John Maxwell and Peter Drucker, but the reality of retail -and of Freeman Hall’s book - is that while the customer is always right is a good idea, in reality it’s a poor excuse to let people screw you up and down the month.

And who gets blamed for poor sales? Not the slumping economy, surely. Nope. It’s the guy, the girl behind the counter who gets blamed. I mean, how many times do we have tohear if we just sold $5.00 more bucks worth of merchandise, we would’ve made plan?

10 August 2009

Books: NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Despite being a title for the young, Michael Buckley’s (The Sisters Grimm) new series is a comic treat, as fifth graders become secret agents, ala James Bond.

Combining all the excitement of international espionage and all the awkwardness of elementary school, NERDS, features a group of unpopular students who run a spy network from inside their school. With the help of cutting-edge science, their nerdy qualities are enhanced and transformed into incredible abilities. They battle the Hyena, a former junior beauty pageant contestant turned assassin, and an array of James Bond–style villains, each with an evil plan more diabolical and more ridiculous than the last.

There is much to like about this novel, and you can tell Buckely is enjoying himself. It's a nutty, sort of cousin to CN's The Venture Bros. series. The Hyena is the best, and her backstory is just brilliant. The villain Jigsaw reminds me of Hank Scorpio from the classic Simpsons episode You Only Move Twice.

Look for it September 1

08 August 2009

Books: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

The final book in the Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is action packed from page one to its conclusion. The majority of the novel takes place in Manhattan, as the forces of Kronos and his Titans head towards The Empire State Building and its 600th floor where Mount Olympus resides. Percy, Annabeth, Grover and the rest of the campers at Camp Half-Blood come face to face with the meaning of the prophecy that started the series and traitorous Luke’s past is finally revealed. We also learn the fates of all as the Clash of Titans comes to a close.

While I think this is the best book in the series, I also felt that Riordan made it all too easy for Percy to defeat Kronos. I sensed that Riordan painted himself into a corner with his plot -which sometimes happens when dealing with a first-person setting. It was like he knew the only way Percy could figure things out was to cram a whole lot of dreams with all the exposition. I feel, somewhat, cheated that Percy could not figure it out himself without the dreams revealing it.

Then there’s Luke. While I had hoped that the kid was just a spy in the house of Kronos, his absolution rang sort of false, and reminded me of Harry Potter again.

Still, those are small quibbles to what was a funny, often clever series that also was history lesson on Greek myths. And while this was the final volume, apparently Riordan will return to Camp Half-Blood sometime in the future.

I’ll be waiting.

06 August 2009

Candy Everybody Wants

John Hughes, writer/director and the voice of 80's teens, dies

As a writer and director, John Hughes, who died today at the age of 59 from a heart attack, found an ability to communicate to teens in the 1980s. His sharp-eyed look into their lives was a rarity in the age of Porky's and other somewhat nefarious teen comedies that proliferated the 80s like stale perfume. With such films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful, he gave new insights into their lives rarely, if ever explored, and offered looks into their social habits.

Other great films included Pretty in Pink, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the Thanksgiving classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles and the Home Alone franchise.

"He was such a great writer who created so many enduring characters for film, both as a director and a writer. His real gift was in creating these identifiable characters," actor, writer and comedian Steve Martin, who starred in Planes with John Candy, told CNN. "The script for 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' was the best script I had ever read," Martin added. "I asked John how long it took to write it, he said, 'I wrote it over the weekend.' The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do."

Like most prolific writers, he turned out some duds, such as Curly Sue and She's Having a Baby, but he could still save them somewhat with his sharp dialogue and great catch phrases. Even the uneven, heavy FX movie such as Weird Science (a personal favorite) still had some great lines in it.

He also did wonders for my home town of Chicago, were most of his films we set and filmed. Who cannot forget the parade sequence in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with star Matthew Broderick singing Twist & Shout?

Hollywood did not make films for teens like he did before the 1980s and they've not done such a great job since he stepped back - he was spending more time with his family, maintaining a functioning farm in northern Illinois city of Harvard, where he supported independent arts.

He was a writer who understood the written word and how to make it work in a film, but he was also an important voice for teens and young adults during a decade that altered how young and old interact.

A sad passing indeed.

02 August 2009

Books: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth

With penultimate volume of the Olympian saga, author Rick Riordan ramps up the suspense and action, as Percy Jackson and his friends must battle more Greek monsters, meet more plot twists and prepare for what is bound to be the ultimate battle between the half-bloods and the Gods.

With Battle of the Labyrinth, Riordan continues to re-create the old Greek myths with clever, modern turns. This novel mostly focuses on Daedalus, the famed inventor who created the Labyrinth that housed the Minotaur (that Percy battled in The Lightening Thief) and who’s son Icarus, flew too close to the sun. The story is also about seeking absolution for past sins and understanding how, and why the world works the way its does. Labyrinth also continues the theme of betrayal and the cost of power with friendships.

Now on to the finale.

28 July 2009

Palin: What a crowded nation she must rule in her mind

Sarah Palin walked out on her job over the weekend, and now plans, as she says, "with this decision, now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for truth.”

You betch’ya.

The, per her usual suspect style, went on to take a swipe at the media for attacking her and said they should be nice to new Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell (cause the “new governor has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone"), “So how about in honor of the American soldier, you quit making up things.”

Which is ironic, considering the conservative side of politics has cornered the market on making things up. But, to be fair, so has the liberal side. But the conservatives seem to think making things up (an old Ronald Regan chestnut, where if he said something untruthful three times, it some how became truth), to scare Americans with ludicrous threats that the gays are recruiting your children, that President Obama is not an American, that said president is tilting the world into Socialism (something I’m convinced Palin does not know the meaning of without looking it up on Wikipedia) is the only way to regain the power they let slip away from them.

And even if you believe that politics is merely a pendulum, swinging from conservative to liberal every few years, it does not erase the fact that making up lies is what conservatives are truly about.

Palin’s departure, and her rambling three-day Palin-lollapalooza goodbye tour, proves anything is that the women is at odds with reality. In the crowded nation she rules in her mind, she believes she is doing the right thing - abandoning her state in the middle of a term. That she now has some “higher purpose” to move forward with, because, well being a governor of Alaska did not feed her all consuming narcissistic nature.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, she still has mind-altered fans: "I will tell you one thing -- if we get a woman president, let it be her. She is a real woman. She knows what a woman is supposed to be. She is pro-life. She is pro-family. She is pro-woman," said Jon Eric Thompson, who attended the Sunday picnic in Fairbanks.

Seeing through her fog of reality is me. I have no issues with her being a woman, or a mother or what ever the Right will through at the nay sayers. I may call her crazy (and I do believe that), but she’s dumber than a box of hair. Crazy and dumb is a potent mix that her supporters seem to embrace. Screw being smart, screw even being an intellectual. All she thinks she needs, it appears, is a bunch of people as crazy as she is to think she could be our President.

Jebus in a pita pocket.

27 July 2009

Books: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Much like the Series of Unfortunate Events, the third book in the Percy Jackson series breaks little ground, as it follows the near same story structure as book 1. Still, the book is filled its silly humor, and fast paced, by-the-seat-of-your-pants action that kept kids and adults reading.

This volume heightens the parent-child issues a bit more, making the readers feel that any relationship between their Olympian god parents and the half-bloods are very difficult and often uncomfortable.

Still, while its comparisons to the Harry Potter franchise continue, its an enjoyable romp and makes me want to continue to the end.

22 July 2009

Movie: Pornography (2009)

In some respects, writer/director David Kittredge got what he wanted with his film, Pornography; days after the Saturday night viewing, I’m still think about it. Still, pondering this turgid tale that slides a hybrid ghost story that would remind anyone of The Ring, mashed with a reporter working on a book about the gay porn industry, only to stumble upon the mysterious disappearance of gay porn star fourteen years earlier has made me feel more disappointed with the film, especially for the way too many WTF moments Kittredge threw into the film, it seems, for the hell of it.

One of my favorite lines in Jurassic Park is when Ian Malcolm tells John Hammond that just because they can create dinosaurs means they should. So is with Pornography, Kittredge thought he should create an opaque film, leaving questions for the audience, and not spoon feeding them (as he told us audience members here at Outfest) the plot line in any sort of linear fashion so that they would debate the gist of the film at a later date. So, he’s succeed in that. Still, as one of my friends pointed out who saw the film with me, you should not be forced to sit through a film three or four times to get its meaning.

The film is split into three segments or acts, with a 25 minute opening set in 1995, a 40 minute sequence set in the present, and a fifty minute sequence that seems to be set in the present, but also a possible parallel universe. Only the middle segment seems the most interesting -and is the most linear of the three. And by this third act, as it were, Kittredge’s attempt to tie the three sections together loses its creepy credibility with a single phone call. One could not help but think of works of David Lynch, who has made a career of playing with his audiences heads.

After the film, Kittredge tried to hem-and-haw his way about explaining the meaning of the film (and trying to poo-poo the Lynchian feelings the film evoked) and what all the disjointed flashed and mysterious images appeared on the screen. He said, while editing the film, that he had three film names posted above him, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. And I can see where he picked the bones of these great directors, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and William Friedkin. But I’m not turned off by that, as all three have great virtues. Still, this film fails to even match their worst efforts. Even David Lynch probably would say it’s so 1990's David Lynch.

As noted, only the middle segment has any life to it, if you can excuse the phrase. Matthew Montgomery, as reporter Michael, does wonders with what little is given to him and breathes life into a film in desperate need of it. His search for a lost porn star tumbles him and his boyfriend into a bazaar universe where plot lines from the original Japanese film, Ringu, were tossed out. The first and last segments seem only confuse what Kittredge was trying to say in this middle segment as well.

In many ways, I felt I stumbled into a film already forty-five minutes in and trying to figure out the plot based on the last one-hundred minutes with flash cards in a dark room.

Still, the film has merits, with its lush photography that belies its independent film status, a fairly interesting musical score that is both un-nerving and exciting. But ultimately, it fails to deliver on its premise, and Kittredge leaves many unanswered questions, including what is exactly haunting former porn star Mark (Jared Grey) in 1995 and then to reporter Michael (Montgomery) in 2009 and current porn star Matt (Pete Scherer) in some real/parallel 2009.

I get the ending, somewhat, but again, it took me a few hours of conversations with my friend to come to that conclusion. But while I give merit to Kittredge to produce a potentially interesting ghost story with gay characters, his over indulgence on keeping the plot as thick as maple syrup just out of the cold outdoors, just speaks volumes of his pretentiousness that he gave off at the screening (I mean, sure, the film has sold out at the gay fests its played in, but submit a film called Pornograpghy to a gay film festival, are you not surprised it’s sold out?).

20 July 2009


So a quick update here:

Yesterday was the 41 st anniversary of the death of my father from cancer. He would've been 74 this year, had he lived. Each year reminds me how odd it is that he's been gone that long.

An HF Production fan, who has now become a good friend, flew in from St. Louis to spend time with his new family of friends. He's staying at my place for two days before I send him off to a hotel for the remainder of his time here! Today we have no set plans, but probably heading to Santa Monica. Tomorrow we head to Disneyland to celebrate his 21st birthday -he gets in free!!!

Saw HP6 last night, as well. However, I got a major headache and could barely keep my eyes open to watch the whole thing. It's certainly different from the previous five, much darker and very adultish -despite the kids growing up antics. I will be seeing it again.

Also, on Saturday I went to Outfest with JayTee and Carlos to see the thriller Pornography that stars Star Trek: Odyssey star Matt Montgomery. A full review will follow in a few days, but all I can say now about it is I should not have to see a film three or four times to understand it.

Oh, and the pics are the first released on the filming of Doctor Who season five, with new Doctor Matt Smith and companion Karen Gillan, playing Amy.

15 July 2009

Campy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies spawns another mash-up

In typical media fashion, as soon as a new idea hits big, sequels are always down the line.

This past spring, Quirk Books - known for The Worst-Case Scenario Survival books, which has spawned sequels, as well as a TBS television series and a board game - hit big with the campy mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. Now, to further the genre they created, next month sees the release of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. In this update, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home by their conniving stepmother, only to land on a mysterious island full of man-eating sea creatures, instead of a nearby, downgraded, English cottage.

This new take however, will differ from P&P&Z, where Grahame-Smith used about 80% of Austen's text. S&S&SM has a 60-40 ratio of Austen material to new material. According to Quirk Books editor Jason Rekulak, using sea monsters allowed him and author Ben H. Winters to draw from a wide range of pop-culture sources, including Jules Verne, the TV series Lost and even Spongebob Squarepants.

Meanwhile, Seth Grahame-Smith has signed a deal with Grand Central to release Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter next year. See what happens when a little publishing house takes a risk and releases something that no one would expect?

Still, Quirk seems to be aware of the limited shelf life too many of these smash-ups on the market, but is willing to see how the market fairs when Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is released. He told Publishers Weekly that "it may be that the appeal had solely to do with the zombies but, if people are intrigued with the idea of desecrating or mashing up classics, then there’s a lot we can do.”

13 July 2009

Things that bother me

Like escalators and moving walk-ways.

I was a Disneyland last night, and JayTee and I are leaving the park. We get back to the parking structure and a group of teens runs toward the empty escalator. Now, I'm thinking that they want to walk up and get to their cars. But no, they get on and stand still.

See, I think if you're getting on a escalator or a moving walk-way (which are usually located in airports) you should walk up them and walk on them. We're a fat society and apparently walking up stairs -even ones that move - is too much.

But then again, I even like walking up the stairs at Universal Studios, and those things are steep.

Same goes with those moving walk-ways in airports. They're designed to get you through the place quicker, not for just standing on them because you life is so difficult.

One more thing, what is it with people who lean on shopping carts while walking through stores. Is you life, your day that tough you have lean on them like you fall down if you just pushed them?

I'm a curmudgeonly old man, it seems. Oh. My. Gosh.

Of co

Candy Everybody Wants

Books: Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Sea Monsters by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy's friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.

The second book in the series is better, and just as original and funny as The Lightning Thief. Once again, Riordan updates the Greek Myths with a wink, but is no longer bogged down by its set up, which helps us get into the action much quicker.

I'm beginning to suspect, however, that Riordan is setting things up for its later conclusion, in the sense, that I think I know where this is going. Still, much like the Harry Potter series, these stories are about friendship and trust, and dealing with an ever increasing idea that the Greek Gods are as dysfunctional as humans -especially when Percy confronts his family heritage.

How did Sci Fi Channel come up with its new name?

Back in March, I talked about how the cable channel Sci Fi was changing its name to SyFy, in some obvious attempt to brand itself to make money -after all sci-fi is a generic term to describe a genre. Hard to charge anyone a fee for using it.

Michael Hinman, who created and ran his own sci fi web site called Sy Fy Portal for a decade was paid by NBC/U (who own the Sci Fi Channel) so use that name. Hinman relaunched his site as Airlock Alpha.

After Michael Engleman, President of NBC/U, proclaimed he came up with the term, Hinman has really broken his silence. And while many -like me - were aware of this change (and Hinman has made several references to the name change), it seems Engleman (in typical Hollywood fashion) is ignoring the fact that while he (and most likely his team at NBC/U) worked out a new name, he forgets to mention that the company had to buy that name from someone else.

Here's his latest post on it:

Dear Michael Engleman:

Congratulations on your move to NBC Universal after what I'm sure was some hard work you did at CMT.

There, you took a network called "Country Music Television" and rebranded it "CMT." If it sounds like something you just doodled on a piece of paper after five minutes thinking about it, then we haven't heard about your most famous creation.

Let's hear what you told Fortune magazine writer Nadira A. Hira in a story that published July 7.

"I knew how important our roots are, and knew where we wanted to go in the future, and I asked myself a simple question," Engleman said. "What if we could change the name without ever changing the name? Five minutes later, with a ballpoint pen and a piece of scrap paper, Syfy was born."

Except it really wasn't born, was it? Not unless it's a born again brand. And maybe it is. Maybe the Syfy brand went up to some marketing altar somewhere and declared itself reborn. Because now it would be the name of a network, and not just some science-fiction entertainment Web site that people like me and our great staff of writers spent years busting our tails over.

But who cares that I had actually created the "Syfy" name more than 10 years before Engleman created it. I mean, who the hell am I?

Last year, NBCU made $16.9 billion. Our little SyFy Portal operation? About $40,000 and some change. Let's spell that out ... $16,900,000,000 versus $40,000.

NBCU and the people at Sci Fi Channel/Syfy claim they adore the fans, and listen to the fans. Yet, they don't even hesitate to stomp all over a site founded by fans, and operated by fans, who pretty much work next to nothing to get the news out to other fans.

To make matters worse, NBCU didn't even have the balls to approach us themselves. They used a shell company called New Fizz Corp. to buy the SyFy Portal domain name, as well as all of our branding that uses "SyFy" or even "Sy" (or even SFY). That allowed them to buy the brand for $250,000.

That's right. That is what they paid us to sell our domain name and our brand. A quarter million dollars. How much of a budget hit was that to NBCU? Let's spell it out again: $16,900,000,000 versus $250,000. That is 0.0014 percent of NBCU's overall revenue for a brand that they are now using on a major property.

If they had come to us as NBCU, they know that we would've looked at the $16,900,000,000 in revenue, and likely would've wanted to move the decimal point in the percentage of revenue to the right a few places. Even then, even if we had asked for $2.5 million for the brand and the domain name that we put so much of ourselves into, that would be just 0.014 percent of NBCU's overall revenue for the year.

Seems like a good deal, right? If you're NBC. They took a name that I had developed in 1998 and had effectively branded over a number of different projects like SyFy Radio, The SyUniverse Group, SyPod, the SyFy Genre Awards even SyFriday, and convinced us they were a company that made no more than a couple hundred thousand dollars, that prevented us from receiving the full value that such a name could command for the use they had planned.

But yeah, NBCU loves the fans, don't they?

Syfy was a great name for them. We had shown NBCU over and over again how it could be used to brand and separate yourself from everyone else. We stopped using "SyFy Portal" more than five months ago, yet you plug that into Google, and you still get 24,000 results.

So you're telling me that you, Mr. Engleman, who is described as a branding genius, didn't know that while you were trying to find a way to rebrand SciFi Channel, that you didn't look to see how other sci-fi related brands were working?

And even if you believe this hogwash that you somehow came up with the name independently, why is it so hard for your bosses at NBCU to simply acknowledge that while they may have come up with "Syfy" independently, it was used by its original creator -- me -- over the last decade.

I have used this example a lot in the past few months, and it still works. If Bill Gates decided that he wanted to buy the Ford Motor Co., he can't turn around and claimed he invented the assembly line and the Model T. Just because you're the owner of something doesn't mean you created it.

Variety credited you for "coining" the term "Syfy." You didn't coin it anymore than I could put an engine on a set of four wheels and claim I invented the automobile. Sure, I may have created it independently of any car manufacturer, but that still doesn't mean I can take the credit for its invention.

Does it?

Several years back, when we were trying to come up with a name for our new horror site, I had come up with the name "Screamscape." I loved it, and was dancing all over the place that we had such an awesome name!

I mean, I had sat at my desk, thought about it for 10 minutes, and wrote it down.

Then I Googled "Screamscape" and found out that it was already in use by a rollercoaster enthusiast site. Does that mean I created the name? Or do I have to buy out Screamscape before I can claim that I "coined" the term?

Maybe we should use this newfound "wealth" NBCU provided us and buy the "SciFi Channel" branding, and then we can claim that we coined the term. As long as we own it, right?

I know you might see this as an unfair attack, Mr. Engleman, and I don't mean for this to be personal in any way. I don't really know you, I've never met you, and you're probably a great guy. I know you work hard, and maybe you really believe that you created the name.

But it has been proven over and over again that you didn't create the name. Not in the least. You may or may not have been aware of SyFy Portal when you came up with it, as I'm sure you know how to use Google like the rest of us. But the fact is, when it's all said and done, the name you either "created" or "coined," based on whatever legend you have mustered up, was in use for a long time.

It was in use by fans who have worked hard to not just watch your network, but to support it through stories and coverage. By a site that was on the forefront of pushing SciFi Channel to turn "Battlestar Galactica" into a series (a claim that I don't make, but others involved in the early fandom movement following the success of the miniseries in 2003). By a site that wrote what it could about shows we didn't even care for. By a site that even defended the inclusion of wrestling, because we felt any additional money made there could go toward stronger television shows and movies.

And we are big fans of what SciFi Channel and now Syfy does. We like "Warehouse 13." We like "Caprica." We can't wait for "Stargate: Universe." We like Syfy president Dave Howe, who I had a chance to talk on the phone with quite extensively and enjoyed his professionalism and intelligence. We like Craig Engler, who is using the "Syfy" name quite effectively on Twitter. And to be honest, we even like you for taking the chance with such a different name, and weathering the short-lived, if not heavy, typhoon of criticism that hit you.

But what we don't like is when you try to drown out the fans. When you try to stomp us out. When you take from us for next to nothing, and then do what you can to make sure we can't even get our voices heard above the media machine you have created. How are fans supposed to take that?

So enjoy the new name. You turned a brand that was used for a $40,000 operation to one that is now on a $425 million operation. That's a value boost of what, 1,062,400 percent (I'm not kidding on that). And all you paid was $250,000.

That's an instant value return of $1,700 for every single dollar spent. From the corporate perspective, that's considered an amazing investment (hell, a return of $100 for every dollar invested is considered extraordinary to many).

But to those of us who are struggling to do the things we do ... it's yet another example of how mega-corporations do whatever it takes to make money, even at the expense of the little guy.


Michael Hinman
The real creator of the term "Syfy"

So, as the world of big business works, the truth becomes muddle down. For Engleman its just feather in his cap to be used later, when seeking a new job. For Hinman and his team at Airlock Alpha, it just proves that despite creating and using Syfy for decade before NBC/U came a calling, you always, always get screwed.

10 July 2009

Books: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This novel chronicles the adventures of twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, who discovers he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and the Greek god Poseidon. Percy and his friends go on a quest to prevent an apocalyptic war between the Greek gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. The story contains a multitude of encounters with characters from Greek mythology still alive in modern times.

In this fast-paced, often funny look at the way Riordan updates the Greek mythology. Percy is sarcastic, often wry and a little bit impetuous. Still, the series has been compared to Harry Potter (and there is a small in-joke towards the end of the novel), but though Riordan borrows much from the historical mythology, the series first book does not get too bogged down in its own mythology, if you can excuse the joke.

06 July 2009

I'm a celebrity, get me out of here

Oh, poor Sarah Palin. Since Friday of last week, in what was a nearly confusing, grammatically challenged speech, the Alaskan governor said she was not only not seeking re-election in 2010, she was also resigning at the end of the month.


None that was given, except that once she decided not to try again for the governor's mansion, she also thought she would want to avoid being a "lame duck," in 2010, she said. Apparently, she's not that kind of person, one who's not a quitter. So, she said, she had decided to ... quit.

"How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country," she said in a message posted on her Facebook page. "And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it’s right for all, including your family."

So, Sarah Plain and Tall, what is this higher calling you spoke about? Just what qualifies as a higher calling to you? Does that mean being a good housewife and staying home to take care of your kids? Does that mean working with your Church 24/7 to make sure the homeless have a place to stay and food in their stomachs? Does that mean becoming sort of Good Will Ambassador to the world?

Or does it mean making more money than what Alaska is paying you by joining FOX News, where you become one more political pundit spouting on and on about the Obama administrations attempts to turn the US in a Socialistic country - and by the way, do you even know what means without being told by some paid sycophant?

Or does it mean running for Senator, in either your home state, or moving like Hillary Clinton did?

Because, to be honest, furthering your political career seem far from a higher calling. Politics is dirty, and at times, one of the most deceitful jobs a person can have, because its about power -who has it and who wants it. You have to lie a lot of the times to get what you want, break promises to one to appease two. Lawyers and politicians are made fun of because some -like you -deserve the criticism steered at you.

But because you are blind to your ambitions, to self-serving vices, you believe any attack on you is because your a woman or because your a conservative or because your a beauty queen or because, well, your about as ready to lead this nation as a box of hair is.

Your ego, thin as it is, is your driving force here to make these claims of a higher calling. And since you refuse to state what are the exact reasons you are resigning, voicing some odd, nebula's reason at that, you mock the press.

Yes, they don't understand. No one understands. And until you clear this up, they'll continue to ask, continue to mock you.

But maybe that's what you want. Since you returned to Alaska, no one cares about you anymore, and that bothers you. You loved the fame that McCain brought you, and like a junkie, once it went away, you needed to get a new fix.

On July third, you found it.

Only thing is, what McCain gave you was free. Now you're going to have to pay to keep the high of celebrity going.

This is what you wanted, just shut up and take it. Or tell the world what your doing and do it.

Either way, you'll still be mocked. But if a higher calling means getting out of politics, well I would take it. It's obvious you cannot live with a mirror in front of you.