27 May, 2008

Keeping Up With the Joneses

My wife and I went to see the new Indiana Jones film Saturday night. The best I can say is that at least it is an Indy movie. Other than that, I was pretty disappointed. It wasn't a problem that Harrison Ford is so much older now because I thought they did a good job with that, as far as not making him do anything too outrageous. Shia Lebouf was really good as the young greaser kid who has a close connection to someone from Indy's past (if you keep up with fan sites you already know who I am referring to). Cate Blanchett wasn't horrible as the villain but she never seemed as dangerous as Indy villains past. My biggest complaint was the story itself. Of course this is make believe, as all the Indy movies are but the plot of this just seemed completely out of tune with the entire Indy mythology. I can't say much without giving away a lot but suffice it to say that by the end of the movie I wasn't sure if they wanted Harrison to play Indy or Han Solo here. The special effects didn't bother me as much as they did my wife although one of the fight scenes really stretched the limits of believability. I think Lucas has come to rely too much on visual effects. The best things about both the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies was that they fired your imagination. His recent movies go to too many pains to leave nothing to the imagination and that is really too bad in my opinion. So, in summary, if you like Indy I recommend you go see the movie but keep your expectations low.

24 May, 2008

More To Read

Greetings. Time for more book recommendations (you know you love it).
Scar Night by Alan Campbell. Another book that got serious play all over the fan sites recently. I almost didn't get it at all but then the sequel came out and that sounded really good so I decided to give this one a try. I'm extremely glad I did. This book is much better than a first novel has a right to be. There are some basic fantasy plots set in a very unusual world. The heart of the book has to do with secrets that the church has hidden for centuries from the citizens of Deepgate, a city suspended above a huge abyss by chains. I won't say here what the secret is because that would ruin it. The story moves at a pretty good clip. It is graphic in some places with a good amount of deadpan humor interspersed. Definitely a good read and I'm looking forward to the sequel (which I've already bought) as well. A 4 out of 5.
Dusk by Tim Lebbon. I'm not really sure how I felt about this book and that's probably not a good thing. At first I was distracted by the amount of gore and profane language. It's not that I'm against these things per se, it's just that I enjoy writers who can get the point across without appealing to the lowest common denominator. The story is very short and focuses around five characters, one of whom is the vessel through which magic returns after a centuries long absence. There are some very good things in this book. The end, in particular, was one of the biggest surprises I've ever gotten at the end of a story but it's not really enough of one for me to highly recommend this book. In fact, a few days after finishing it I realized that I really don't care what happens to these characters in the next book. That's pretty telling right there. 3 out of 5.
The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt. I've had this book for almost two years and put off reading it again and again. Many of my friends have heard me insist that I really don't like reading sci-fi. After reading this and Dan Simmons though, I think maybe I do like reading sci-fi. At least, intelligent sci-fi. This book centers around interstellar archeology but before you think boring...the mysteries McDevitt presents here and their subsequent resolutions will keep you on the edge of your seat for most of the book. I wish I had only read this sooner. There's something here that keeps me from giving it a perfect score, but I can't put my finger on it. Nonetheless, a 4 out 5.

22 May, 2008

The First Step

I received some really welcome news yesterday. I went on my interview at the company I have been waiting two months to get on with. Lately it had become evident to my wife and I that without this job we probably would not be able to relocate back to Louisiana at this time, if ever. Yes, the job market here is better than before the storm but not necessarily in any field I have access to. I don't mind working jobs like the one I am at now (delivering pizzas...again). I make good money but it also fluctuates a lot. With 3 kids already and another on the way it's not really an ideal employment solution. Anyways, back to the point. I went on my interview yesterday and I got the job. I just have to wait for the drug test, background check and physical but there should be no problem with any of those. Once that goes through, I should start at the end of June, although there is a slight chance I could start two weeks earlier than that. My wife and I (and a lot of friends and family) are very happy about this news. Now we just have to find a place to live here and worry about getting our house in Tennessee sold. No problem.

20 May, 2008

The Bitter End

I tell myself that all young teams must go through a couple of years falling short before they can be champions. I tell myself that we lost to the champs, one of the best teams on the planet. I tell myself that their shooting percentage beyond the arc is the kind of fluke that you really can't do anything about. I tell myself that our shooting woes are the type of thing that happens and, unfortunately, it happened to us at the worst time. And even though all these things are true, it still hurts that the Hornets season ended, and ended bitterly, last night at the hands of the Spurs. But there is plenty to be proud of with this team. They accomplished so much, more than any other team in the organization's history. The fact remains that they are a dangerous young team whose very talented core is all under contract. They (hopefully) have learned from this year's playoff run and from this series in particular. Next year they figure to be even more deadly. This is a team on the rise, not the decline. They certainly do no appear to be a fluke. Barring injury to Paul or West, they should again be one of the top teams next year. But man, October is a long way off. I stand by my assertion that this is the most talented team New Orleans has ever had. I hope the fans continue to show up next year and that the team soon rewards us all with a championship...or two. Go Hornets!

Rise of the Machines

What the hell is with all these companies that have automated machines call you? I'll pick up the phone and hear "if you wish to speak with a representative, press 1". How's this? If I wish to speak with a representative, I will call you. I understand that there are buisness reasons why companies do this but, honestly, I didn't like any business or economics classes when I was in school. It's bad enough most of these jobs get outsourced. Now they aren't even getting humans to do this crap. Skynet ain't far off people.

12 May, 2008

...And Another One

If you read the comments on this blog you have noticed that my wife's other friend (a.k.a. "the freaky one") has checked in. I'm a bit confused as to why she would seem so clueless as to why she is considered the freaky one. I assure you, it has nothing to do with the hair color. I won't go into detail since my mother reads this blog but think hard about it and I'm sure you'll come up with the answer. On the bright side, I found your comments to be rather relevant to the spirit of this blog. Yes, I'm quite astonished. It seems you have a little geek in you after all (and yes, there is a totally inappropriate joke in there somewhere but as I stated earlier, my mother reads this blog). So welcome aboard. I didn't want you to feel like you weren't as welcome as your other partner in crime otherwise I would have never heard the end of it I'm sure.

11 May, 2008

Easily Distracted

Lately, for some reason, my attention span concerning books has been nearly non-existent. In just the past 3 weeks I have given up on four different books. Usually I will give a book 200 to 300 pages (depending on the size of the book) before I deem it not worth my time. I think some of the fault has to lie with the circumstances I find myself in right now. I am New Orleans, away from my wife, daughter and unborn child. I am still trying to find a good job and that causes stress. We still haven't sold the house in Chattanooga and that causes more stress. Now, having said that, some of these books I've given up on haven't done much to grab my attention in the first place. But since this blog is essentially a self-serving endeavor, I thought I might list the offending tomes and if anyone out there has read any of them and thinks I should give them a second chance you can make your case here. The first (and one I would most likely finish) is Lord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash. This actually wasn't a terrible book at all. I found many of the themes to be very Shakespearean. The problem was that the character development seemed forced and a little rushed. Other than that, not too bad. Second was In the Eye of Heaven by David Keck. This book got a lot of pub on the Internet sites last year and, having begun it, I'm not sure why. It's not original, it's kinda hard to follow and it's very disjointed. Third comes The Jackal of Nar by John Marco. I was really disappointed in this series because I think the trilogy he wrote after this (which begins with The Eyes of God) was excellent. This book was his first and it is painfully obvious. The biggest problem I have is that the characters here do things that make absolutely no sense in any world, real or imagined. It's like he had to force his own characters to do outrageous things just to tell his story. Like I said, a real disappointment. Last up was Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon. Within 20 pages I knew I would hate this book. This is the type of book that, unfortunately, makes a large majority of people think women can't write good fantasy (and no, I do not personally believe that). I can't even explain what is wrong here. Suffice it to say, if you read as much fantasy as I do you know pretty much right away when something works and when it doesn't. Here it most definitely does not. The only book I've finished since coming to New Orleans has been To Green Angel Tower by Tad Williams. It is the concluding volume of his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. At over 1,000 pages it is perhaps the best thing I have yet read by him. It scored a perfect 5 in my book because even at that length, it never stagnates. That's hard enough to do in a "normal" size book. So maybe the problem isn't with me after all. I mean, if I can finish a 1,000+ page book without a problem maybe those other books just sucked.

08 May, 2008

Back Up the Bandwagon

Sports commentators get paid a lot of money to prognosticate and dissect. Almost to a man, they said the Hornets would wither under the playoff lights. Not a ONE of them picked the Hornets to beat Dallas in the first round. Not only did the Hornets beat the Mavericks, I'm pretty sure they are now all our bitches with the possible exception of Brandon Bass (a former LSU standout, by the by). Once we eliminated Dallas all these experts had to say was that of course we all knew Dallas was flawed. Oh really? Then why did you think that a 56 win, 2nd seeded team would not be a match for them? To add insult to injury, all these experts went on to predict that the Hornets would not be able to handle a "real challenge" like the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. How's that working out so far? (For those who don't know we're up 2-0 in the best of seven series). Of course it's not improbable the Spurs could come back and win this series but the way things have looked so far, I wouldn't bet on it. Which brings me to another point. How strange is it that New Orleans has a sports team this good? I'm not counting LSU because they are based in Baton Rouge. And I don't want to hear about Tulane's undefeated football season a decade ago. The Zephyr's minor league championship a few years back doesn't count either because, well...it's the minor leagues. Saints? Don't get me started. Yes, there was that NFC Championship game two years ago but if you can't beat a team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman you probably aren't as good as you think. No, the Hornets are the real deal and possibly the best team New Orleans has ever seen. We are the two seed in the Western Conference in a year when pretty much everyone agreed the conference was as tough as it's ever been. We won our first division title. We have the coach of the year. We have the MVP runner-up (who, seriously, should have been the winner but hasn't been in the league long enough). This team is young, fast and athletic. We can score, we can defend. We can play pretty much any way you want. The bandwagon's starting to fill up. Jump on now.

What the Hell Have I Done?

First let me say I am more than happy that my wife and her friend have decided to grace my little blog here. But I am starting to get this sinking feeling that they are trying to usurp my power. Your comments are quite welcome here, particularly when they are on subject. However, rating various actors "hotness" is neither required nor requested. As far as I know most of my regular readers are straight males so the way a guy looks in a superhero movie does not really matter to us. Just for the record though, I thought Robert Downey Jr. actually ended up as quite a convincing Tony Stark. I didn't think he was the best casting at first either but he ended up proving me wrong (and we all know how hard it is to prove me wrong). I thought Terrence Howard, on the other hand, was terribly cast and very robotic in his part as James Rhodes (who, I hope, in the sequel will don the War Machine suit). Anyways, ladies thanks for your time and comments. Let's just make sure they stay on point and we don't devolve into Entertainment Tonight or, even worse, Access Hollywood. And to my other readers, don't be intimidated by these two. I continue to look forward to your comments. Maybe you can help me maintain control of what has apparently become a celebrity rating site...

06 May, 2008

The Result of Unrealistic Expectations

Regular readers of this blog will remember how eagerly I was anticipating the release of Iron Man, which came to theatres last Friday. I finally got to see it today and...it was alright. Part of that may be because I was looking forward to it so much. Another reason is because there really is not much Iron Man in Iron Man. Of course, as all first movies involving comic characters, it is mostly an origin story. The parts with Iron Man were really cool and the story was fine, there just wasn't enough action. The worst part was that the villain(s) in the movie were kinda lame and not really worthy of Iron Man. My final complaint was the cameo everyone spoke so much about. First of all, he was not green (which right away should tell you who it is not). Secondly, the cameo took place after all the credits had run at the end of the movie and was very short. Having said all this, I would watch the movie again and I think the next one (of course there will be a sequel) should be a lot more action packed. If you're a fan of comics and Iron Man in particular, go see this movie. If not, wait to rent it on DVD.

Because I Said So...

Ok, I don't know why it took her so damn long but one of my wife's wittier friends has finally decided to join my little corner of the blogoverse. You can see her many comments here on this site (she is the one posting under "because i said so" and no, I have no earthly idea why). Anyways, as I mentioned, she is ordinarily pretty humorous and thinks much like I do, which makes her cool. As an aside, this is generally how I refer to my wife's friends: the witty one, the freaky one and the stuffy one I don't really know that well. Back to the point. Welcome, my quasi-Canadian friend (don't ask, but I assure you it's not insulting Canadians so you can rest easy, Stizz). Hopefully, because i said so will continue to visit us and spread the gospel of the Superiority Report. I mean, how else can I save humanity from the forces of stupidity if more people aren't reading? Let's spread the word, people.

01 May, 2008

Rich People Suck

In one of the rich neighborhoods I have been delivering in there are signs that I find to be a bit offensive. They are for a website that I believe is called Pump to the River. The point of this website, as best as I can discern, is to urge politicians and city planners to pump flood waters into the Mississippi River. If you are not from New Orleans this may not sound like a problem. But it really is. They already have the spillway here open because the river was getting too high. The spillway allows overflow from the river to fill what amounts to acres of barren land, for those that don't know. During Katrina, on top of the levees breaking, the river overflowed at certain points which contributed to the general flooding. So basically these rich assholes want to pump water back into the river to keep themselves from being flooded (the bottom of their little signs read "so we stay dry"). Now, having been through Katrina and having my own property flooded, I would not wish that upon anyone. But if it is going to happen who is in better position to recover quicker than millionaires? There was a plan during the storm or thereafter (not sure when) to redirect the water into a nearby playground and golf course. Of course the rich bastards wanted nothing to do with that. Heaven forbid that their golf course get a little extra water (since water is so bad for grass). Let the people in the poor neighborhoods suffer instead. After all, they are poor because they want to be (yes, there are people stupid enough in this world to actually believe that poor people are allergic to making money). Now, as with every issue, I'm sure there are two sides to this story but for the life of me I can't side with people who would callously let other people suffer just to protect their privileged lifestyles. Maybe money does change people. Maybe it makes them stupid.