"I want, I want, I want ... but that's crazy"

Monday, February 22, 2010

2010 book list so far....

Thanks to my insomnia, I've been doing a ridiculous amount of reading lately. I wish I had thought to start a book list six months ago, but being a new year, I thought this was as good a time as any. I'll probably go back and figure out my last half of 2009 book list later. For now, I'll start fresh with 2010.

These are the books I have read thus far in 2010, beginning with the first of January:

The Belgariad and Malloreon series (2 5-volume series)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Road
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Importance of Being Earnest
Gone with the Wind

I just finished Gone with the Wind last night - or more precisely at 4 o'clock this morning. Seeing as it's one of my favorite movies ever, I'm not sure why it took me this long to get around to reading the book. Still, I was glad to have something nice and long to read. And I loved the book just as much as I do the film. I'd been told that Scarlett married more times in the book, but she didn't. She simply had a child from each of her marriages in the book, whereas she only had Bonnie in the movie. I believe she came off as an even less sympathetic character in the book than she was in the film, which is an interesting literary risk, seeing as how most authors want their central character to be some sort of "hero" - or at least likeable.

I read Cujo not knowing any more of the story than "a rabid dog terrorizes a town." I had not seen the movie - it's one of the few Stephen King movies I haven't seen and was one of the few King books I hadn't read yet. I was glad the story wasn't spoiled for me, for I truly was surprised by some twists and turns in the end. I always like reading a book with no advance knowledge, or at least as little as possible. I don't even read the book jacket before reading the book, because I want the story to unfold as I go. I'm interested to see the film now, as I always like to see what the filmmakers manage to do to damage a King novel. I personally think that his enormous popularity has led to him being underrated as a truly good writer. As a voracious reader, I've had the opportunity to compare many writing styles, and King is tremendously skilled in his ability to draw characters of real humanity, write scenes so vivid that it's almost like watching a movie in your mind, and develop a plot that is never predictable.

The Belgariad and Malloreon series are old favorites of mine, despite the fact that I've never been much of a fan of the fantasy genre. With these books, author David Eddings undertook the mission to write a story that fully developed character as well as plot. As avid readers know, a story is generally character-based or plot-based, but the limitations of space and limited attention span of readers usually mean that it is one or the other - not both. Eddings succeeded brilliantly in his experiment, and I would love to see the books made into a mini-series that can stay true to Eddings' vision.

When I read The Picture of Dorian Gray, the only knowledge I'd had in advance was allusory references that have been made to the story in various TV shows. I liked the book very much, but I felt it could have gone much deeper and been much longer. However, upon discovering that it was originally printed as a serial in a magazine, its structure was more understandable. Still, as a novel, I would have liked more out of it. As a serial, it worked well.

Frankenstein was a big and very pleasant surprise for me. I, like many, had only been exposed to Hollywood's interpretation, and I was appalled to find what a bastardization of the story Hollywood's version was. I did find parts of the book to be excessively saccharine and sentimental, and I found other parts to be unrealistic, or at least illogical, particularly in the actions taken by Victor, as well as the development of the "monster." The structure of the book was also overdone and inorganic as it progressed into a story within a story within a story, delivered as first-person recounts that were wholly unnatural in their telling. Still, the story itself was much better than anything that's been put on film in its name.

Dracula I read before Frankenstein, and I found its first-person structure from the perspective of the various characters to come off as much more natural and realistic. In this story, Hollywood's latest effort held closer to the book, and was a much more successful effort to convey the story as originally intended in the writing. Naturally, it strayed a good deal from the original story, but nowhere near the degree that the Frankenstein films did.

I read The Road without the slightest inkling of what the story was about, on the mention of it by a friend. My understanding is that it has been hailed as a great piece of literature by critics, but in this case, I think it's been overrated. I found the story to be well-written, but it was so unrelievedly depressing - without a single happy moment or even happy thought - to the point that it wasn't even evocative. I'm an emotional reader, and I share the joys and sorrows of characters, but this book was such a one-note that I didn't feel anything at all. I also saw seeds of possibility that, without exception, went nowhere. Every possibility for some advancement of the plot ended up exactly where it started, with no growth or progression at all. The story was completely linear, and every opportunity to add interest to the plot or develop the characters not only fell short but were never even attempted.

When I got to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it was naturally a story I knew from the film, but I also knew that there were many differences in the original book, so I wanted to explore those. I found the book to be a good read, but a bit shallow. It was filled with deus ex machina to carry the story along, with many elements that seemed too conveniently placed or too formulaic to be interesting. However, I understand the story was written to be a children's story and a "modern-day" fairy tale, and as such, it is moderately successful. In this rare case, I prefer the film.

The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favorites of film. It's silly and irreverent and completely unrealistic, but at least it never pretends to be otherwise. The play in its original form is just as it should be. No matter how much I repeat it, it never fails to make me smile.

Now, I wonder what I'll read next...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flashback Friday - True

I wanted to post the actual video, but embedding seems to be disabled on all the ones I could find. Still, the song's worth posting just to hear. Because I just heard it on the radio (and almost forgot to post an FF today) it's Spandau Ballet's True.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Insomnia sux

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I lay in bed until about 4:30 a.m. hoping against hope to finally be able to fall asleep. Fortunately (though little fortune it was), there had already been a two-hour delay called for school the next day, so I wasn't obliged to get up until 9 a.m. to get the girls up. I did that, and afterward, I'd planned on going back to bed to try to catch a little more. To no avail. I got a call from the office and had things to do. *Sigh*

Last night was worse. I was awake until 5 a.m., and there was no delay announced in advance for the snow, so I had to be up at 7 a.m. When I got up, it turned out they DID decide to delay school after all. I went back to bed hoping for another hour or so of sleep, but then there was a knock on my door. A very loud, very insistant knock. It was the mother of the girls' best friends, who'd come into town unaware of the school delay. She said she had a doctor's appointment and asked if her girls could stay with me until school started. My girls had already gotten up - and they frequently spend the night at her house on weekends - so of course, I was not going to refuse her. So for the next two hours, I was in charge of four girls ages 8-12.

I entertained the notion of trying to ease myself into some sleep after they'd gone, but naturally, I got an e-mail from work (I get the notifications on my Blackberry, so I always know when there's an e-mail even if I'm not on my computer). I had more work to do just then.

I couldn't hold a clear thought for a second without some coffee, so I fixed myself a cup and took care of the work that needed to be done.

Of course, now, there's no possibility of getting back to sleep for this morning. The best I can hope for is a nap this afternoon if the possibility presents itself.

I'm taking a pill tonight. As much as I try to avoid it, I can't keep going on like this. I haven't been asleep before 3:30 a.m. in at least a week - and I never seem to be able to manage that feat more than once a week, anyway. The last two nights have been worse than usual.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On the brink of the unknown again

Is there anything more stressful and nerve-racking than looking for a job?

Having been kept well-occupied by my freelance work, I don't even really feel like I have been out of work. However, now the opportunity has come up to return to the fray full time... and I want it.

The job is with the same newspaper company I've been working with for more than 10 years. It's a different position - and likely a different paper than one of my three "home" papers - but I still want it. I'm certainly qualified for it. I am, of course, a little nervous, after what happened with my last venture away from home in the work force. I often think that I should have stayed where I was. I suppose I really had no way of knowing how it would turn so dreadfully bad on me. There was no possible way to anticipate such a twisted, sociopathic publisher would be willing to act against the best interests of his own paper in order to further his petty need to manipulate and control lives. Then again, perhaps it could have been anticipated. That was his traditional behavior. However, I never had the opportunity to discover that until it was too late - and I likely would have still refused to believe it possible to the degree that I later found to be true.

All I can hope for is that my true performance will stand stronger to the publisher who knows me and my work ethic, and that a better future awaits me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Rant

I don't take credit for the following. My son Pooh wrote it and put it up on his Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. I reposted it to my wall, and a lot of my friends gave it good feedback, so I thought I would add it here as well.


If you don't want to hear a bunch of my angry thoughts, stop reading now!

If your house is on fire, and you're still sitting at your computer desk, stop reading now!

If you have a fear of things that are generally disorganized, stop reading now!

I feel like I need to get some things off my chest about Valentine's Day.

First off, I don't hate Valentine's Day because it's a "candy company holiday" or because it's cheesy and sappy, because you know what? I'm cheesy and sappy. I like the little romantic gestures. I like getting to perform the cheesy romantic gestures. I like singing a song to a girl and handing her a letter and a bouquet of flowers.

And you know what? Few people actually do hate it, because it's "cheesy." Most people hate it for the same reason as me. We're alone. Don't lie to yourself. If you hate Valentine's Day, it's probably because you're alone, and you hate seeing all the other happy couples who just remind you that you're alone. I know I do.

I made the mistake of wasting a Valentine's Day... because we both agreed that we didn't need a specific day to say that we loved each other. That day should be everyday! Sure, a valid point, but you don't have to specifically do nothing that day to boycott Valentine's Day! Guess what? Next year, there's still going to be a Valentine's Day. And there's nothing you can do to prevent it!

So, for those of us that are alone this year, know that I feel your pain. Every time we walk through Wal-Mart and see stuffed animals and boxes of candy and cards and gooey gooey gooey lovey goo, know that you're not alone.

And for those of you who do have someone, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING! Show that person that you care about them! Don't waste it! I don't care how cheesy or sappy it seems, just show that person that you care about them, because some of us can't!

And don't come up with plans the day of, you lazy person! Plan ahead, reserve a restaurant. Get ice cream, go for a nature walk, go back to where your first date was. Make it special!

And don't stop there, because you know what, you really don't need a day to show someone that you care about them. But, chances are if you're not doing something for Valentine's Day, you're not doing anything any other day either. So, show your special someone that they really are special to you! Don't take them for granted!

I see so many people waste their time, just going with the flow. Go dancing or something! Go ice skating! Go see a play! It doesn't matter if you don't like to do those things. Do them anyway! Every day, all over the world, people abuse love. They take what they have for granted. Well, don't make that mistake.

I hate Valentine's Day, because I'm alone, and if I weren't I would have the most extravagant Valentine's Day celebration in the history of the world. But, most of all I hate it because the people who have someone, don't.

...Well, look at that. I started writing this to tell everyone how much I hated a holiday, and ended up telling them not to take love for granted.

Just so we're clear, I had to learn all this from experience. I was the guy who took the ones I loved for granted. And as usual, hindsight is 20/20. So, what I'm really telling you all is don't make the same mistake I did.

Take an Italian Culinary Weekend away!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hiltons of Branson. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday - The Young Ones

One of my favorite discoveries of the 80s was British comedy. To this day, I'm hooked. I started out with Benny Hill at a very young age (that probably seems VERY WRONG), then I found Monty Python, and in my high school years, I was fortunate enough to find MTV airing episodes of The Young Ones. I've since expanded my horizons - but I still think The Young Ones is timeless (so far), so here's a clip for this week's Flashback Friday.

By the way, Bottom is another great one - it's from the mid-90s and stars Rik Mayall (Rik) and Ade Edmonson (Vyvyan) from The Young Ones. My latest discovery is Shameless, which is more of a drama now but with some fabulous comic elements too. (Note: non-Anglos/Anglophiles probably won't get much of the humor in it though.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Get a one-of-a-kind Blackberry or Apple sleeve for just $5!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Pexagon Technology. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cabin fever

Well, this winter decided to sneak up on us a little, didn't it?

After a mild December and January, we were suddenly hit with a February of fairly mind-boggling proportions.

Actually, I wasn't all that surprised. When winter was slipping quietly by, people kept commenting on it, and I kept responding, "Just wait. We've still got February." This is Ohio. I know how it gets. It's done it before.

Well we heard the reports of heavy snow coming in Friday, but first thing in the morning, my lawn was still green/brown and bare. By noon, all that had changed. By early afternoon, it got bad enough that the kids were sent home early from school. And it went on....

I canceled getting Book again for the weekend, because I knew the roads wouldn't be fit to travel. I didn't think it would last though. Wrong.

I ventured out to the store on Sunday afternoon - a full day after the snow had stopped - and the roads were still in horrible shape.

School was canceled on Monday, then the snow started up again. Another 7-10 inches. Pooh got stuck in a ditch. I impressed myself with my driving skills managing to get him back out to his car to meet the tow truck and back in town without getting stuck anywhere - despite rutted roads with drifts fully a foot deep across the road. Have I mentioned I love my Honda CRV? It's amazing what that cute little thing can handle.

I ventured back out today, but not in my car. Munch and I bundled up and walked over to the store. It wasn't too bad actually. There was some gusty wind, but my awesome arctic coat kept me warm, and Munch was enjoying it so much she was skipping down the middle of the street. (The sidewalks were buried.)

School ended up being canceled Tuesday and today too. They've already called for a two-hour delay at least for tomorrow. I guess I'll have to wait until morning to find out if we've got another day of cabin fever ahead.

Boost your image

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Forced confinement

I've been trapped in the house by snow since Friday, and though I never do get out much, this forced confinement is starting to get to me.

I watched the Man United-Portsmouth match yesterday, and though I did sort of enjoy the thorough trouncing (5-0), I couldn't much get into the match because my connection was awful. Besides, I wouldn't have expected anything less in a match-up with the bottom team on the Premier League table. It put Man United back on top, but not for long.

I started watching the Chelsea-Arsenal match this morning, but it was proving to be a waste of time there too, as Chelsea are up 2-0 at the moment - putting them back at the top of the table again. Ah well, can't count on Arsenal to fight our battles for us I suppose.

I took a shower to wash away the filth of cheering for Arsenal for 45 minutes then settled in to start on some much-needed housework. When I got out, I found that the girls had done a runner. I shouldn't have warned them before my shower that we'd be cleaning. They'll be coming from the park freezing and soaking wet, I'm sure. They know I won't be going after them to chase them down because Pooh's got his car parked behind mine, and I'm not walking to the park and back with my head wet. Smart thinking on their part - until they get back. It'll be no TV, no computer and double chore duty for them.

I was a little disappointed to see that I didn't have any assignments to personally cover any meetings for work this week. All I've got are some phone checks, so I'll be in probably all week. I was less disappointed when I saw the forecast for more snow coming Tuesday and Wednesday. The radio station from a neighboring county says another 6-10 inches. We've already had about 8 or 9, with drifts of considerably more. The nearest TV station, which is from the county to the south, says it'll be another few inches. Located between the two, I wonder what we'll be getting here. Doesn't much matter, I suppose, if I don't have to go out.

Maybe I'll make some progress on the house.