31 December 2010

1225 - Happy New Year

Yeah, got nothing.

Be safe, be happy.


Happy New Year!!!!


26 December 2010

As River Song would say..."Spoilers"

  • The first four episodes have already been filmed while episodes five and six (a two-parter) were shot over the past month. The seventh episode, a cliffhanger finale until the second batch of six episodes in the Fall, begins shooting early in the new year.

  • Much of the trailer shows scenes from the Steven Moffat-penned opening two-parter set in the 60's in the United States. These include The Doctor in the White House, the various scenes in Monument Valley and shots of a bearded Doctor being held prisoner in Area 51. Seems like the legendary 'Men in Black' play a big part of the storyline here, as does Alex Kingston's Dr. River Song.

  • Various scenes show the main characters with tally marks on their skin. The various actors were spotted wearing these marks during filming in Utah so they definitely show up in the season premiere.

  • Shots of someone in a full astronaut suit, and River Song likely distracting someone with an eyeful of her naked body, are both said to be from the opening two-parter.

  • The Silence, the threat that caused the TARDIS explosion and the resulting cracks in the universe last season, will be a running thread throughout this season and are seen in the opening two-parter. Apparently it's a 'them', not an individual, and likely a race hereto unseen in the Who Universe. It's also been said that the truth about their "needs" and "physical forms" are what's sinister about them.

  • There's several shots from Neil Gaiman's episode (the third episode next season) set in an alien junkyard with a woman in an 18th century dress and hairstyle. Its been stated the woman in the junkyard, Idris, is someone the Doctor has met before onscreen who looks different now.

  • The TARDIS knock-off seen in "The Lodger" episode last season seems to have returned as there's a shot of River Song exploring it with a flashlight. There's also shots of a green-eyed Ood, Amy and Rory in some kind of dark spaceship corridors which are rumoured to be part of a TARDIS.

  • The third episode is also said to tie into the classic Second Doctor episode "The War Games" in which the various warriors from the history of not just our planet were brought together in a 'battle royale' of sorts. Shots early on in the trailer of three men dressed like Musketeers and a shot of Nazi soldiers are said to be from this episode and lend credence to that theory.

  • There's shots of small blond people in very creepy doll masks. These are all likely from the Mark Gatiss-penned fourth episode.

  • The Doctor apparently gets cloned in the fifth & sixth episode two-parter in a story that deals with an alien invasion.

  • It has been confirmed that Amy is "harbouring a big secret", and that the episode 7 finale will reveal the "true nature of his [The Doctor's] relationship with Amy Pond" says Moffat.

  • That ties in with rumours of a scene in the opening two-parter that Amy encounters a "future Doctor" (possibly the one with the beard) and learns from him something terrible that will happen to The Doctor in the future, something that River implores her to keep quiet.

24 December 2010

Books read in 2010

2010 was a personal best in how many books I read, up 5 from last years list. I read 20 in 2008, 15 in 2007, 16 in 2006. That's a 102 books I've read since I started keeping tabs. The funny part is I got probably as many unread sitting around the house.

I'm not setting any goals for 2011, but we'll see if I can get more read than this year, but I have a few tomes that surpass 1,000 pages, so that could cause some problems. But I like a challenge.

01. The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
02. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
03. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
04. Bite Me by Christopher Moore
05. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
06. Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper
07. The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta
08. The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
09. Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
10. I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
11. Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
12. Drood by Dan Simmons
13. The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
14. Plan B by Jonathan Tropper
15. How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper
16. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
17. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
18. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larrson
19. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larrson
20. Fat Vampire by Adam Rex
21. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
22. The Night Angel Trilogy: Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks
23. The Night Angel Trilogy: Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks
24. The Night Angel Trilogy: The Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks
25. Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
26. Hell by Robert Olen Butler
27. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
28. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Books: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (2009)

While not a train-wreck, The Lost Symbol proves once again that Dan Brown can throw a bunch of odd facts and some suppressed history into a big pot-boiler of novel and then say What if?

I sense this is the weakest entry in the Robert Langston series (the over uses of italics is perhaps this novels greatest sin) which started with Angels and Demons and followed by the mega-hit The Da Vinci Code. Generally, though, you have to take most of what is written here with a grain of salt. Brown paints Langston as a skeptic, yet the way the story is written, you get a sense that Dan Brown believes this stuff. And he does seem to take some glory in poking at our cultural boundries -religion, the secular world, both ancient and modern history are messy at best.

While the book was a huge bestseller last year, there was less attacks from the world of religion that propelled The Da Vinci Code to its popular world wide success. Which may be why the film version is still in development at Sony Pictures. The first film, while poorly reviewed, scored a worldwide $758 million gross, but Angels and Demons faired less (though, apparently, better reviewed) at the box office, taking in only $486 million (which is respectable, and somewhat on track for most sequels, who's percentages never reach the first film).

It looks like Brown himself will now write the screenplay for the film, and despite Imagine Entertainment will be producing the film version, don't count on Ron Howard returning as director (as The Dark Tower beckons), but the odds are Tom Hanks will return (but is not yet "officially" committed to it though).

22 December 2010

Mirror Boys

Don't Rain on My (Holiday) Parade III

So, after four (and maybe five) straight days of rain, things started looking up. Well sort of.
Woke up to hear rain still pounding down on the roof, water cascading down and hitting the concrete like marbles strewn from a childs hand. The weather service had been predicting that the storm due into today was going to be the strongest, with potential thunderstorms, lightening, and hard, cold rain.

But before it could come, the skies finally stopped this morning. The clouds broke apart in some areas of the big sky, and you could see blue patches trying to expand themselves. The mall started getting busy, as people who must've forgot Christmas was Saturday, came rolling in. And while the sun never did come out, what little heating that did happen must have helped what little disturbances were left in the sky and late this afternoon, the skies around the mall opened up and produced, as they say, a gully washer of downpours.

For a good hour or so, it rained and rained and rained. But there was no thunder, no lightening just cold, and wind driven rain.

The good news, it appears, this was the last hurrah's for the rain. By the time I left work at 4, the western sky was filled with brightly colored clouds, as the setting sun was casting glorious colors against the ironed tinted clouds.

As I drove west on Foothill, I looked into my rear view mirror to see a glorious rainbow. Too bad I was driving, it would've made a great picture. Or a video, as my friend Wayne Webb made this afternoon when he saw a double rainbow over the eastern sky of LA. From his apartment in West Hollywood, he pointed his mobile phone and photographed it. And made fun of the cry baby guy who filmed a double rainbow that flew across Youtube so many months ago. This is what I love about Wayne. He's a great actor who deserves to be working on TV or film.

Anyways, those weather wizards are saying the rain is done for now, though the say there is a chance for more on Sunday. A lot of areas picked up nearly half to three quarters of rain for the entire year! And the moutains picked up a ton of snow. All of this, while a pain in the ass to deal with, will help alleviate the drought we have in SoCal. All that rain and especially the snow, will run off into the reservoirs and give us a leg up. While we are in a La Niña weather pattern, I'm hoping as winter finally takes hold here, this is not the last of the rain.

20 December 2010

Don't Rain On My (Holiday) Parade, part II

It rained all day Saturday, all day Sunday and all day today.

Another weather system is due in tomorrow into Wednesday that promises another day of rain, but with potential thunder storms as well. Nearly an inch of rain fell at LAX today, which was a record, while other areas around the region were recording rain well above an inch to 2 1/2.

The rain is great, I mean its not snow so I'm happy about that. But it is a bit overkill. Still, it's been five, nearly six years, since Southern California has had this much rain in a weeks period. It could be the same length before it happens again, so grin and bear it I guess.

Speaking of the Bears, looks like my home team the Chicago Bears won their division tonight with a commanding win over the Vikings. Go Da Bears!

Anyways, beyond the rain, not much is going on. I could go on about Borders, but I just don't seem to have the energy to go further into their psycho drama. In some ways, I will be grateful when this company goes under. But, I guess, until then, I will kill myself trying to make it work. Good work ethic, but I'm unsure if I can ever capitalize on them when I move on from Borders.

Anyways, Monday is done. Only four days until Christmas. Wonder what Santa is bringing me (hey, how about a new job?).

18 December 2010

Don't Rain On My (Holiday) Parade

The weather has been odd all over the States (WGN weatherman Tom Skilling said 47 states had snow on the ground as of yesterday), which is fine in January when the Christmas season has passed. Now, on the last weekend before Christmas, the weather has gotten snotty. And that does not help for my Borders, which is in an outside mall.
Last weekend, the weather Gods gave us a bright days, full of warmth (some areas had records broken for this time of the year) and remembrance of summer days that make SolCal appealing to many.
The opposite has come this weekend. The rain (somewhat) started Thursday (after a Wednesday that produced a few morning showers and then a cloudy day). Friday and today have given us mostly rain, with a few minutes between drops. Like I said, this should've happened last weekend, and not now. The rain, btw, is suppose to be with us through Wednesday, and its not until Friday that sun shopuld make its full appearance again.
Yikes. With a struggling economy and with Borders hitting the the financial tipping point in the last few weeks, this rain is as unwelcome as a Christmas Fruit Cake. I'm sure the malls are doing good business around here, but I wonder how Victoria Garden is doing, with everything outside?
Still, I was in Kohls this afternoon, and while the line for the register was long, the store looked pretty empty.
This weather pattern resembles El Niño (often nicknamed the Pineapple Express, because these storms usually start near Hawaii and follow a path directly into Southern California) than the sister pattern La Niña (usually drier and warm winter) the weather people think we are currently in.
Still, while rain is always better here, I just wished it stayed away this weekend (really, in all areas of the States). All retail stores need great weather on this final weekend of the Christmas buying season.

12 December 2010

Lighting the Season

Sunday's Warmth

I woke up with a headache at around 6.05 this morning. It's one of those where every move I made in bed, just made it worse. I got up, took my morning pee and ibuprofen. I climbed back into bed, but I could not fall back asleep. Mostly because I could not get comfortable and every time I moved, Thor kept pounding the inside of my skull.

We also have some birds, they look very parrot like, who migrate through here every December. They are very, very noisy and travel in huge groups. They kept me awake when I could not settle down due to the headache.

I finally rolled out of bed at about 10, feeling somewhat better. The headache was pretty well under control by then. I made some coffee -which is new thing since I discovered Coffeemate covers the bitter taste of the stuff.

I sat in the living room, with the sun pouring in, and really started into The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. It was nice, really. With today's warmth -potentially hitting record highs - it was great to open the front door and let in the rays that are a pain in the summer time. I also called my mom, and teased her about the warm weather here, while Chicago was under a Winter Storm Warning, with blowing snow and temps that will dip to about 12 today (and going below zero overnight).

Yes, there are advantages of living here, as I no longer miss the cold and the snow. Nope, do not miss it at all. And I pray, I'll never have to live in a place that has those cold temps again. Its not to say I miss my family and friends in Chicago. Nope, I miss Andrew and Dave, Marc and Brad and my siblings and parents, but its the cold that keeps me here.

So, I washed the kitchen floor and did laundry as well. I'm putting the flannel sheets on today, despite the heat. By Thursday, the temps will be about 20 degrees colder than now, so that means the overnights will get chilly -and I sleep with the window open a bit as well.

Stil;l, hard to get into the Christmas shopping spirit when its 80 plus degrees and the sun is shinning down on you wondering if the beach would be in your future instead of the mall.

Its so hard living here, know what I mean?


11 December 2010

Books: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (2010)

There is some irony, I think, that as I finished Full Dark, No Stars I heard about the suicide of Mark Madoff, the son of Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff. More on this at end.
The four novellas that are part of this book are brimmed with “what people might do, and how they might behave, under dire circumstances” as King wrote in his Afterword.

The first entry (and the longest), 1922, is a historical tale about a man who kills his wife and hides her in a well. As Wilfred James writes in 1930 about what he did eight years earlier, we see a man who thought he could get away with something, unaware of the collateral damage he would eventually cause. And as guilt and mere coincidence begin to eat at him, he tries even harder to prevent the anyone from finding out what he did. And it is a King story, and we know that his dead never stay dead.

Big Driver tells is a story about a semi-successful crime novelist who is lured to a town for a literary event. Later, as she takes the short cut recommended to her, Tess encounters a rapist and a murderer. While she survives, she realizes that she cannot tell people what happened (for various reasons) and so she plots revenge. But to do what she feels needed, she’ll need to step down and become close to what the rapist is, and the person who sent her there to be raped. But justice can be a harsh mistress, and Tess wonders if becoming a vigilant is what her destiny was about.

Fair Extension is a sort of Twilight Zone-ish tale on the old standby of “beware of what you wish for.” Dave Streeter has cancer, and his encounter with a mysterious man who claims he can extend his life (but not cure him), sets in motion events that change the fabric of his life and his best friends one as well.

Finally, A Good Marriage is about a wife who accidentally discovers the man she’s been married to for the last 27 years is a serial killer known Beadie. Like Tess, Darcy is confronted with more social issues than justice -in the court of 24 hour news channels and folks who live and die by them - she thinks that people will have to assume she knew her husband was a killer, if only because she was married to him for so long. Her resolution is shocking, but sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

King said these were “harsh” tales, and ones difficult to write. But while he gets criticism for being prolific and (at times) formulaic, he has become a better writer over the years. I’ve been reading him for 30 years, and his return to more darkness is as welcome as last years huge novel Under the Dome. He has grown as a writer, and his tales about “what people might do, and how they might behave, under dire circumstances” reverberates more everyday.

Such as with Mark Madoff. Two years to the day he and his brother turned his father in, obviously convinced that the world will never accept that he knew nothing of his fathers schemes, the oldest Madoff child decided he could do nothing more. His act, while tragic, was one of someone caught in the middle of a nightmare he could not get out of. The irony is, maybe, while money makes the world go around, it never comes without a price. It can cover the bad times, it can give you things, but the collateral damage it can sometimes cause, forces people to make choices that are a dire, and in Mark Madoff's case, permanent.

06 December 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

I watched Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is based on the huge best selling Independent Reading books by Jeff Kinney, over the weekend. It's a cute movie, with some fine performances.
But I had not realized how much of a douche bag the Greg Heffley character was, though. I mean, the actor playing him, Zachary Gordon was good, funny and well directed, but he makes Greg a real creep, and an ego maniac.
Everything is about him, and his fear of being uncool. Granted, this emotion is everyone's nightmare, from 11 year-olds to adults, but I felt that the kid went way over the top, being almost cruel to his friend Rowley (the whole safety patrol sequence with the kids). It seemed, to me, that they made him the most unlikeable character in the film (which is not the case of the source material), when he should have been the most. I mean, they make Rodrick -Greg's older brother (played by the adorkable Devon Bostick) - much more likable.
Which is odd in these type of movies.
Its a mixed bag, really. It works with the supporting charatcers (even though Rachel Harris and Steve Zahn are wasted here) and actors. But ultimately the film falters under the way the film portrays Greg.
A sequel is due in 2011. Let's hope they get Greg to be more fun to be with this time.