30 April, 2008

The Buzz

Last night my New Orleans Hornets (yes, there are some things in New Orleans I will lay claim to) eliminated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Of course I am very happy but what makes it even sweeter is that absolutely none of the so-called experts picked us to win. We were inexperienced they said and Dallas was a veteran team. We would wilt under the playoff lights they surmised. Well, they underestimated Chris Paul. That kid is the absolute truth. Dallas had no answer for him whatsoever. The one game they did win was the only one he didn't dominate in and that was not particularly because of anything they did to stop him. The Hornets are one of the few things I truly missed about New Orleans (my sons, the food and the Tigers are the others) and I'm glad to be back in time for this historic playoff run. We won a record number of games this year for the franchise, we won our first division title ever, we won the first playoff series for a New Orleans NBA franchise ever. On top of that Byron Scott won Coach of the Year and Chris Paul will almost certainly finish no worse than second in the MVP voting. Of course, given my track record, I will not pick them to win it all because coming from me that is the kiss of death. Instead I will fully endorse the L.A. Lakers and their petulant star, Kobe Bryant. Break a leg, bitch. Literally. Go Hornets.

24 April, 2008

Blowing Out the Candles

Today is my 37th birthday. At least, that's what the calendar says. I don't "feel" 37 (what the hell does that mean anyways?). Physically, I feel closer to 47. Mentally, about 22. I guess maybe age really is just a number after all, especially these days. People are living longer and most of us still try to hang on to our youth for as long as we can by doing things that respectable adults shouldn't. I mean, at 37 should I still get giddy about video games, comics, and "geek" fantasy? Should I still listen to the Beastie Boys, Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine? Should I still be working jobs that a diploma-less 18 year old could? Probably not. But the point is, these days anything goes. Nobody really judges anyone else because we all do things that tradition tells us we should have given up years ago. Maybe that's the secret to staying young. To just keep thinking you are and to act like it every day.

21 April, 2008

Sunday Night Sounds

Last night my friend provided tickets for us to go see one of my all time favorite bands, Rush. I was glad to go but not really overly so. I love the band but recent albums have taken some of the shine off that love. But seats in a suite and free food and seeing my friend for the first time in almost 2 years outweighed my apathy. Am I ever glad it did. That show rocked. I know that sounds very trite but it gets the point across. My only complaint is that they played a lot of stuff off the new CD which I don't know. However, they also played a lot of their old stuff which made it all worth sitting through. I'm not really one for concerts to begin with but this one definitely helped me fall in love with Rush all over again.

15 April, 2008

The Name of the Wind

I'm not even sure how to approach this and effectively get my point across. Regular readers of this blog have gotten used to me raving about Steven Erikson and other writers that catch my attention. Keep that in mind as you read this entry and maybe you'll understand my point. I recently finished reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I've had this book on my "read eventually" list since it came out last year, but then I also have about another 20 or 30 books on that list as well. For some reason last week I got a burning desire to finally read it. As far as reading goes, it may have been the best decision of my life. I cannot do justice to the awe I felt reading this book. It may simply be the best book I have ever read. I have not felt such wonder reading a book since reading Tolkien for the first time. Don't get me wrong. This book is not at all similar to Tolkien. It is fantasy but it may be the first fantasy book I've ever read that I would recommend to a non-fantasy reader and not be concerned about them coming back and telling me it was alright "for fantasy". I'm nearly convinced that if you don't like this book then you don't like books at all. I read some reviews hailing this as an "adult" Harry Potter. That is an insult to this book. But if it gets those posers to read some real literature, I would let it slide. This book made me feel on a level nothing has in a long time. I hope the rest of this series lives up to the initial installment. I wish the second book were out now. I could continue to write words and not do justice to this book. I recommend it to absolutely anyone who likes to read. I hope this book gets the attention and reverence it deserves. I hope Rothfuss can carry through on the unspoken promise he has given the reader by delivering such a powerful novel. Finally, I hope everyone feels the same awe I felt at discovering this treasure. This is how literature should always make you feel. Needless to say, I give this book a 5 out of 5.

11 April, 2008

The Point Of This Blog....

...Is random thoughts so here are some that occurred to me on my drive from Tennessee to Louisiana the other day. I have seen almost nothing more beautiful in person than the fog clinging to the mountains in the morning. The worst traffic I've driven through is in Birmingham, Alabama. What is with those people? Is the penalty for illegally crossing a median the same as for illegally crossing the border into the U.S.? If so, I am going to cross the first median I find so that I too may obtain a free education and free health care for me and my family at the taxpayers expense. Mississippi is the only state I've been in that has one way signs on the interstate. Is that an indication of the average intelligence of their citizens? How come you never see any really good looking hitchhikers? Is there a direct correlation to being ugly and not having a vehicle? It always rains when I drive through Hattiesburg, regardless of the weather everywhere else. Every. Damn. Time. Why is it that the same people who care so much about freeing Tibet complain so much that we freed Iraq? You think that's bloody? Try taking on China. New Orleans has a distinctly indescribable smell that first hits you about 50 miles out. It's best not to think about what is making that smell. If evolution is a valid scientific theory then why is it that insects have not evolved to the point that they know to stay away from the interstate and thus avoid obliteration on my windshield? And, finally, things could be worse. I could be from West Virginia. Just kidding, John. But Puck thinks that is funny.

08 April, 2008

Time For Me To Fly

Today is my last day in Tennessee. As I was running errands yesterday in preparation for my departure tomorrow it occurred to me how much I have come to enjoy living here. There are a lot of things I will miss. The view of the mountains is the most obvious. I will also miss the milder summer weather (compared to New Orleans almost anyplace is milder) and change of seasons. I will miss McKay, the used book store they have here. Both my book and music library have doubled because of them. I like that Chattanooga is kind of centrally located to a lot of different states I never got to visit before. I have become a big fan of the Titans and will miss seeing them play every weekend (I've already buttered my wife up for NFL Direct Ticket once we are settled in Louisiana).
I have family here still so I know I can visit but it's not quite the same. I know this move is best for my family but that doesn't really make it much easier. We ended up here as a result of Hurricane Katrina and didn't entirely like it at first. But it has grown on me. Maybe more than I realized. But, we have a new baby on the way and I will get to see my boys more so that definitely outweighs the melancholy I feel at leaving Tennessee. So, that is it. My last post from Tennessee. Talk to you again from Louisiana.

07 April, 2008

A Few For the Road

I am leaving for New Orleans so I thought I would post a few more reading suggestions/ratings before I go. I know everyone has been eagerly awaiting this...
Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon. For some reason, I really wanted to like this book. That usually means I end up disappointed but not this time. This is the story of a man who has returned from a hidden universe "next to" our own. He believes he has been gone 10 years but it has only been about six months in our universe. He doesn't remember much other than that his wife and daughter are still there. He ends up going back and that is really when the story gains momentum. My only two complaints about the book are enough to keep it from getting a perfect score. First, I think the author could have gone into much more detail. This is a rich, interesting world she has created and I would like to spend more time in it. My second complaint is that the point of view changes mid-paragraph. This is a major pet peeve of mine and I know it doesn't bother everyone. Still... There will be a sequel (or two) and I look forward to them eagerly. Score: 4 out of 5.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I only picked this book up because Sanderson has been tapped to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Naturally, I wanted to get a feel for the author taking over one of my favorite series ever. And, honestly, at first I was a little worried. But things pick up quickly. It reminded me a lot of The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch although the "long con" being undertaken here has much more vital repercussions than in Lynch's book. My biggest complaint here is the system of "magic" Sanderson has invented. That's not to say it is not well thought out because it certainly is. It's just that, to me, having to swallow a vial with metal shavings in it to access your powers seems kinda lame. Unfortunately, it reminded me of The Runelords by David Farland, a book I abhorred. But overall this really turned out to be an excellent book. I look forward to reading the sequel and, more importantly, the end of the Wheel of Time series. 4 out of 5.
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. For some reason, this book has seemingly been reviewed by everyone on the Internet that reads fantasy. I'm not sure why but it is what first drew me to the book. And I'm glad it did. At it's heart, this is standard fantasy fare. But it's the unconventional characters that really make this tale stand out. I would say they are reminiscent of the characters in George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series but they aren't quite that dark. But if you've read the Martin series you kind of get an idea of what I mean. The story starts really slow but by the end I really wanted to read the sequel right away (which almost never happens). I give it a 4 out of 5 also.

Wrong Again

My inability to correctly predict the outcome of sporting events continues to astound me. As you may or may not have noticed, neither of my picks to make it to the NCAA championship game made it past Saturday night. Yes, Memphis beat UCLA and Kansas finished off North Carolina after having a 28 point lead at one juncture. You may remember I also missed mightily on the Super Bowl (both on winner and scoring output). So, I could bother to pick tonight's game but that would probably jinx the poor team. Instead, I'll go with my uncle's pick (which he called the first weekend of the tournament by the way) and go with Memphis. My uncle, unlike me, has an uncanny ability to properly predict the outcome of sporting events. Over the years I have lost many bets to him but luckily, being such a nice uncle, he never collects. It is firmly established then, do not go with my picks. In that light, I wish to heartily endorse the New York Yankees to win this year's World Series. Good luck, suckers.

03 April, 2008

I Wuz Robbed

Yesterday the price of unleaded gas at the station near my house was $3.08. Today it was $3.21. In less than 24 hours that means gas went up 13 cents. What the hell!? That's insane considering nothing drastic like the entire Middle East blowing up happened last night. That is an extreme spike for no apparent reason, especially considering it is not even the weekend yet. Whatever alternate fuel source they are working on they had better hurry up. This crap is ridiculous. Some people want to blame it on Bush. They say he and his cronies have conspired to make themselves more money by creating turmoil in the Middle East. That idea is almost too stupid to acknowledge. Is he above reproach? Of course not. But an individual does not get as far in life as Bush has by being either stupid or a sociopath, which would be the only explanations as to why he would start a war solely to make himself more money. Democrats will always be harsh of a Republican president and vice versa. Do you really believe that America would be so much better off if Al Gore had won the presidency in 2000? There's no guarantee but that's not really the point. Both parties are implicit. But nothing ever changes because people are too complacent. They will complain but they will never really do anything about it. So what is the solution? I don't claim to know but America as a whole is becoming too large and corrupt for the center to hold indefinitely (see: Roman Empire, Fall of). I didn't mean this to be a political diatribe but I'm really pissed to have to pay $3.21 for gas. That is more than half of what a person making minimum wage earns in an hour. Ridiculous.