I am the Invisible Man!!

I am the Invisible Man!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Book Reviews

So another few weeks have passed, and I've managed to finish another few books. Both were along the same genre being murder/suspense thrillers, however that is there only real similarity. The first book I read was "The Whitechapel Conspiracy" by Anne Perry, and the second book I finished was "Big Red Tequila" by Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

Now I first purchased this book way back when I first joined a book club called Mystery Guild Book Club. The offer was 12 books for a penny plus S&H, and this was one of my choices. My initial thoughts back then that this was a true accounting of some murder mystery from back in the day but one I started reading, it was simply a fiction book about a murder mystery from way back in the day. In actuality I discovered this is actually the 21st book in the series of 25 involving the main character Thomas Pitt written by Anne Perry so far. The story begins in the late 1800's with Thomas Pitt heading to a trial to testify against a man he believes has murdered another man. The original conclusion was that the murdered was not a murder, but an accidental death. The main issue facing Pitt and the prosecutor is the fact that the accused is a high-standing member of society, as well as being a good friend of the deceased and seemingly having no motive to kill. Even with these hardships the killer is convicted and the decision is upheld during the appeal. Even though Pitt got his man, his troubles have just begun. He is shortly thereafter removed from his position and placed in an undesirable post away from his wife and kids. From there both he and his adventure seeking wife look for clues as to why this good friend of the deceased killed him and why it would provoke the rest of the "Inner Circle," a group of high level people throughout the society, to remove Pitt from his prominent place within the London police. Their discoveries eventually lead to the answer and even a possible Jack the Ripper cover-up. All in all, a fairly good story with plenty of twists and turns to keep your mind guessing. I would recommend this book and it may have even inspired me to pick up some of the others in Perry's series involving Thomas Pitt.

As I stated before, Rick Riordan is the writer of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which just had a movie come out. However, before all the writing of Greek gods, his first work was "Big Red Tequila." This book is also a book in a series, the 1st of 7 that's he written so far. The series follows a detective Jackson 'Tres' Navarre III. The book starts with Tres coming home to San Antonio after being away for 10 years. He left to escape his past, his father Jackson Navarre Jr., former police chief of San Antonio, was shot and killed right in front of him. He comes back for the girl he left, who remained behind. Once he gets back into town, he's hit with memories both good and bad, as well as people both good and bad who are surprised, to say the least, to see him home. Although it wasn't originally part of the plan, Tres starts digging up the past to see if the unsolved murder of his father is still unsolvable. The main spark for his desire to learn the past is the sudden kidnapping of his girlfriend. From there, he's learning bits of information, none of which really connect together, but all that tell him there's something wrong. Through mafia hits and constantly being attacked by the new chief of police, the ex-fiancee of his current girlfriend, and his girlfriend's former work partner, he manages to not only stay alive but keep his sense of humor throughout. The story itself wasn't fantastic, but Riordan writes in a style that I love. He brings the character's sense of humor into the story, making it part of the book's theme, which is something I try to do when I write stories. I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to finding and reading the rest of this series.

Well, that's all for me today. I know I said in my last book review that I was going to start planning out some writing time for myself, and even though I haven't had time to sit down and just write, I have had ideas going through my head quite a bit, and I plan to have something started by the end of the week. Whether it's the start of a story or just more poetry, I don't know yet, but as soon as I do you will too. Otherwise, I hope all is well for everyone out there and that your 2010 is going as planned. If not, don't worry, there's only 311 days left till you get to start all over again.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A pair of book reviews

Well I've read 2 more books and they couldn't be on more opposite sides of the spectrum. The books I'm reviewing this week are "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret" by Judy Blume and "Crash" by J.G. Ballard. So if you have no wish to have the plots of these stories explained to you, I suggest you don't read anymore of this entry unless you don't mind knowing the plot. In that case, please feel free to read on.

First off, Judy Blume is an author I've heard of but never actually read anything of hers. What I thought was going to be a book mainly focused on religion due to the title is actually a book that is mostly about the perspective of a young adolescent girl. The story follows young Margaret as she arrives in a new town shortly before starting 6th grade. The plot isn't really focused on any one issue that Margaret eventually encounters but the only 2 themes that are more or less focused from beginning to end of the book are her talking to God and her and her friends' obsession over getting their periods. I was never a young girl, but I am venturing a guess that Blume did a fantastic job of assimilating what young girls talk about and do and fret over. It was an okay book but I probably wouldn't recommend anyone to read it unless they were a young girl worrying about getting their period or having trouble with their relationship with God.

I've read a Ballard book before called "The Day of Creation," which was a good book, but that's not why I picked up this book. I bought this book due to my fascination with books turned into movies. However, I was pretty surprised when I started reading this book to find out it had nothing to do with the Ang Lee film. It starts with the main character explaining how another character he meets later in the book has just died in a car crash in an attempt to kill himself and Elizabeth Taylor. The beginning of the book is set up Tarantino-style where they start with the end of the book and the rest of the book is a prequel to the beginning of the book. The actual chronological story starts with the main character Ballard getting in an auto accident and finding his life opened to the beauty of car crashes and how it opens up his sexuality. Eventually he meets the character who is obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor, Vaughan, and his own obsession with car crashes and sex is taken up to Vaughan's level. After I started reading the book, I ventured to look at the back cover and read that the book was Ballard's critique of technology and how it's taking over our lives. But after reading the book, I don't see how that critique stands unless I missed a major metaphor because the entire book is dedicated to people who have been in car crashes, who purposely get in car crashes solely for sexual pleasure and I didn't see what it had to do with technology unless Ballard assumes that we are all erotically turned on by crashing automobiles. The story was weird and unless you like weird I wouldn't recommend this book either.

That's all for now, not much new to enter into the mess that is my life except for maybe I'm becoming an alcoholic. Okay, not really an alcoholic but my tolerance for beer has risen quite dramatically and it takes quite a bit to get me drunk now-a-days, which isn't horrible but it's definitely not good. Plus on a somewhat unrelated note, I just may start posting some of my writing on here. It's been a while since I've written anything but recently being featured in a friend's blog and seeing a pretty positive response to my stuff, I plan on taking time out to write some new stuff. Otherwise, I hope everyone's year is going well and if not, only 326 more days until 2011 gets here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dreams and other things!!

The other day, Sunday to be precise, I only slept for about 3 hours. So, I'm not quite sure how far into a dream cycle I got, but I do remember something very unique and a first for me in terms of dreams I have had. First off let me start by telling you that I rarely remember my dreams, and if I do remember something, it's usually only certain specifics. Secondly, a lot of my dreams are reoccurring, and when they do occur again, they usually follow the same pattern with only subtle variations.

Anyways on to this most recent and bizarre dream. I had a dream that not only was I married, but that I had a daughter. Now, I've always envisioned myself as having kids, and I've even day-dreamed about what my future kid may be like. I usually see myself having a son, but deep down I would prefer to have a girl. But, I've never had a solid vision of a child or any particular idea of what they might look like. In my dream, which I vaguely remember taking place in a multi-story parking garage, something inevitably happens that draws my daughter away from me. The only part of my dream that I really truly remember well, is when we're finally reunited, I take her face in my hands and tell her how much I love her and how important she is to me. I remember that she looked as if she were in the 7 to 10 age range and she had shoulder length auburn hair. The only reason I can remember what my wife in the dream looked like is because our daughter fairly resembled her.

I normally don't get emotional over dreams regardless of what they might entail, but this one I literally stayed in bed for a few additional minutes pondering about the different possible meanings of such a dream. I was almost stunned from the general idea of me having a child. As I said, I've always seen myself one day having a kid or two, but never have I had such a vivid experience that made it seem like this desire was in any way at all possible. The worst part about this is that even though I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't fall back asleep.

So, what else would I do with a lazy Sunday since I couldn't sleep? I decided it was an opportune time to go see a movie that had just come out that I had been waiting to see, Legion, with Paul Bettany. The basic premise of the movie is that a rogue angel, played by Paul Bettany, comes down from heaven to fend of hordes of angels coming to kill the last chance humanity has in the form of a unborn baby. Now the majority of acting in this movie is pretty bad. Dennis Quaid, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson and Adrianne Palicki are mediocre at best and at worst are outstandingly horrible. However, Bettany not only made the movie worth watching, he re-enforced some of my beliefs oddly enough. Due to the sub par acting by most of the cast, I wouldn't necessarily recommend seeing this film, but if you were already interested in it, the action sequences and Bettany are more than enough for a reduced priced seating offered by most AMC Star theaters in the SE Michigan area before 6 P.M., Monday through Thursday.

As usual I'll end with hopes that everything is going well in your lives, and that 2010 is everything you expected it to be. If it's not, 2011 is only 340 days away!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A slew of book reviews


Well, I've managed to read 3 books so far this year and I've read through 1/3 of a 4th book and started a 5th. The 3 books I've already finished are a pair of Dan Brown books "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," as well as "The Runaway Jury" by John Grisham. All 3 books have been made into movies, which has been a trend I've been going through over the past few years. I'm currently reading another Grisham book turned movie, "A Time to Kill."

I'll go over the books as I read them. I started my year with the Dan Brown and went in movie production order of his 2 biggest selling books. Although "The Da Vinci Code (DVC)" was made into a movie first, it was the second in the series following Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon. Now, if you want to read both books and you're wondering about which one to read first, after having read them both, I would say it doesn't really matter. Although Brown wrote "Angels and Demons (A&D)" first, there's only a minor mention of that in DVC, so it doesn't really affect the story.

Without trying to spoil the story if you haven't seen the movie already, the main gist of the plot is that Langdon is in Paris for a conference. He's thrust into a 1000 plus year battle between two sects of catholicism fighting over a secret that could crush faith around the world. He's accompanied on his adventure by a French cryptologist named Sophie Neveu. As they struggle to understand the hidden clues laid before them by Sophie's murdered grandfather, they must also fight against the Opus Dei, a strict sect of catholicism that believes in the bible as law not suggestion. The movie stays fairly close to the book, but there are some glaring differences, in my opinion. First off, when Langdon first seeks the help of his friend Sir Leigh Teabing, in the movie they show Langdon and Teabing having serious riffs about the story of the Holy Grail. In the book, they seem to agree on all points when explaining to Sophie the story. Another big difference between the book and the movie is that there are two cryptexes in the book and the one in the movie is actually stored in the first, much larger cryptex. There are other smaller differences such as Fache is never contacted by Bishop Aringarosa, that there is no Council of Shadows at all, and Aringarosa, head of the Opus Dei, is actually getting a $20 million Euro buy-out because the Pope plans to no longer support the Opus Dei as a Vatican supported sect. All in all, it was a wonderful book and seeing the movie first didn't take anything away from the fun and excitement I had while reading it.

Dan Brown's prequel to DVC is the wonderfully constructed "Angels and Demons." Now, in terms of movies made from books, A&D is one of the most different translations that I've ever read. I don't mean to say that the movie is completely indistinguishable from the book, but they change and remove quite a few major plot points in the movie, once again in my opinion. The main plot of A&D is that Langdon, a well known symbologist from Harvard, is contacted by a man from a Swiss science research facility asking for help involving a murdered employee that occurred within their complex. From there, Langdon is lead on a chase of an ancient supposedly dead secret society, with the help of an attractive female scientist who happened to be the partner, as well as adopted daughter, of the slain employee. In terms of excitement, A&D definitely did a much better job of keeping me excited in comparison to DVC. When you read a book after already seeing the movie based off it, there is some lack of suspense because you have a general idea of where the story is going, but with A&D the story is different enough that you're kept on your toes more or less throughout the entire story. The obvious issues I had with the book as usual are the glaring differences between the movie and the book. The biggest and most important difference is that they fail to communicate the real relationship between Vittoria Vetra and her slain adoptive father, Leonardo. It brings a whole new level of her determination to find his killer throughout the story. Secondly, the assassin in the book is actually a Middle Eastern man, who is descended from a whole tribe of assassins. Thirdly, and not nearly as important to the actual story line, but in the end when the camerlengo flies the anti-matter up in the helicopter, Langdon goes with him and is left to jump out without the assistance of a parachute. This last point is what I would consider a normal movie edit of the story, but I feel it would have been such a better movie if they had stayed a little bit more true to the story in this case.

I've read about 4 or 5 Grisham books in the past, and found them quite pleasing books about Law and lawyers. This is the first Grisham book I've read that became a movie and it's special in that it is the first book turned movie that I can recall where I enjoyed the movie more than I did the book. I don't say that with the intention of making anybody think the book wasn't good, it certainly was entertaining. I just more enjoyed the premise that was presented in the movie. I think the idea of an individual suing a corporation in the gun industry is more presentable case than that of an individual suing the tobacco industry. The book narrates the story of Nicholas Easter, a resident of Biloxi in Mississippi who is notified that he is required in court due to a jury summons. He works diligently to make sure he is part of the final 12 jurors that get to partake in the trial of Celeste Wood v. Pynex, a tobacco corporation who produces the cigarette brand that her husband had smoked for 30 years before his death caused by lung cancer. His main job is to get control of the jury's opinion of the case so when his associate, Marlee who is in contact with Ranking Fitch, the jury consultant of the defense team. Fitch has been hired by the Big 4 tobacco companies as a slew of litigation has been brought up against them over the past few years including 16 straight decisions in their favor, 8 of which Fitch has been a part of. Marlee and Easter work together to show Fitch that they can persuade the jury to vote against a Plaintiff's decision and make it 17 in a row for the defense. However, Marlee and Easter are only playing Fitch to get a $10,000,000, which they use to short sell tobacco company stock and make a fortune of their own. They do this because prior to Marlee becoming Marlee, she was Gabrielle and she had two parents, both of whom succumbed to lung cancer from smoking cigarettes. Ever since Gabrielle met and fell in love with the then Jeff Kurr, they have been traveling around the country in an attempt to get on a jury involving a tobacco case. The most glaring differences from the book have already been stated. It's not a case about a gun death, but rather a case involving a man who died of lung cancer from smoking for 30 years. Some of the other big differences that I think should have been in movie were the fact that they bumped 3 jurors not just 1, including Frank Herrera and Herman Grimes, the blind foreman. In fact, Nick poisons Grimes to make it look like he has a heart attack although in the end he is perfectly fine. Thirdly, the movie makes Wendell Rohr look like a saint by telling Marlee that he doesn't want to taint himself by buying a verdict when in the book Marlee never contacts him, although Rohr on his own attempts to by the vote of Angel Weese through her boyfriend. Lastly, unless I was just too tired to understand the situation, Marlee and Easter keep the money they make from the stock transactions for themselves and make no point of it to donate it or anything, although they reimburse Fitch the $10,000,000 he gave them to begin with. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, but overall if you've seen the movie and you're on the fence about the book, I would just stick to the story the book tells.

That's all I have so far this year, although I should be able to get you another 3 reviews in a week or two. Again, I hope everyone is doing well in the New Year and if your not, you still have 342 days to turn it around.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First post of 'OH' TEN!!

Well another year has passed and looking back, I'm not sad to see it go. Last year was a pretty tough year for me, and I'm hoping that 2010 will bring a better scene to my life. My biggest enemy last year was myself, and I'm planning on rectifying that situation this year. I have some normal goals as well as some new ones.

As this time of year rolls around, people plan resolutions like clockwork. I don't like to plan for resolutions because I feel it gives the connotation that there is something wrong with who I am. Even if there is something wrong with me, which I'm fairly sure there is, I don't like the negative impact of the word resolution. So, I have set some lofty goals for myself this year, and in an attempt to make sure I follow through with them, I have purchased a daily planner for the first time in my life.

I only have 3 goals that are year long at this point and they are as follows:
1) Lose 120 pounds.
2) Drop 25% of my debt.
3) Read a new book per week.

Now, I've been slowly gaining weight ever since I graduated high school and although it's never been a huge burden, I've never been really happy with myself, physically. I don't plan to be one of those super skinny peoples, but I want to be in a situation where I don't have to wonder if I'm going to make it past 40.

Financially I've been a wreck ever since I got my first credit card at 18. I've slowly built up my debt like my weight and it's starting to become a scarier number month after month. I was able to cut about $3000 off my debt in 2008 when I worked a 2nd job for about 6 months, but I was fairly beat on a daily basis, and I would like to leave that as a last resort for bring my overall debt down. I'm fairly certain with a solid budget plan, I should be able to do this.

Lastly, I've always been a hobby reader with highs and lows in terms of consistently reading. From high school to 3 or 4 years ago. I didn't really read much at all if any at all. Over the past few years though, I've been slowly building up a collection of books reading most of them. I still have about 30 or 40 books from recent book sales at local libraries that I have yet to read but that is what this goal is all about. Pretty much all of these books are books I've never read before and I hope this goal can be accomplished and kill 2 birds with one stone.

That's all for now. I hope everyone's 2010 is going spectacularly, and if you make any resolutions or goals, I hope your progress is going as expected if not better. If for whatever reason they're not going as planned, remember we still got 353 days left so don't get down. If they're already completely ruined, remember that there's always 2011.
Here's to a grand 2010!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

(500) Days of Acting

Warning: I may give away parts of movies in this blog. The movies discussed are: (500) Days of Summer, Lord of War, Tin Cup,

I'm currently at work and I just started watching (500) Days Of Summer featuring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's a very good movie about a relationship, and I would definitely suggest seeing it if you haven't. Wonderfully acted on both the main character's parts, and a wonderfully sad story.

What this blog is about is acting, though, and not so much the movie itself. One of my beliefs about acting, whether it's good or not, is your ability to feel a strong emotion towards a character or not. In (500) DOS, Deschanel does a phenomenal job of making you want to hate her. Just as well does Gordon-Levitt do an excellent job of making you feel so sorry for him. If you have never liked/loved someone and the feelings weren't reciprocated, and you want to know what it feels like, watch this movie, and you'll have a more than vague feeling what it's like.

Speaking of acting that I found to be wonderful, Nicholas Cage in Lord of War. I've never been a huge fan of Nicholas Cage, but his portrayal of a arms dealer in the black market arms trade makes you loathe the core of him. There is a scene towards the end, where he literally lets his brother die just so he can keep making money. Why does he let his brother die?? He lets him die because he tries to stop him from selling weapons that are going to kill innocent refugees. Now my brother and me have never had a great relationship, but there is no way I would willingly let him die for anything let alone because he was trying to stop innocent people from dying.

I've always been a Kevin Costner fan, but one role in particular that is something that always make me feel better is his depiction of a down and out golfer in Tin Cup. He spends the almost the entire movie trying to become good enough to steal away Renee Russo from an old acquaintance/lifelong enemy. He tries to prove that he's the better man by winning the U.S. Open which he painfully loses on the 72nd hole. Luckily, he wins the girl and he doesn't really have to change himself. Why I think it's a superb acting job is because if Roy McAvoy were a real person, I would hope he's just like Costner's version of him.

A side note, while watching the movie (500) Days of Summer, one of my favorite parts just came up where Tom's little sister, played awesomely by Chloe Moretz, made a comment about a fictional man Summer might meet with Jesus' abs. I love the fact that a girl right around her teens fantasizes about a guy with a body like Jesus.

There are plenty of great acting jobs, whether they be in bad or good movies. These actors are what make movies wonderful, and I enjoy watching them.

Hooray Movies!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tween Book Obsession

I've spent the last week rereading the Harry Potter series, and even though I'm 26, it's quite possibly one of the greatest book series I've ever read. It has a great storyline, and great character development, and J.K. Rowling does a phenomenal job of taking the series from a kids series in the first 3 1/2 books and turning it into an for-everybody series over the past 3 1/2 books. I haven't been reading a wide range of books lately, but Deathly Hollows could be the best book I've read in the past few years. A few weeks before that I reread the Twilight series, and was in the same situation of not being able to put the books down.

Which brings me to my next point. I'm slightly worried that at my age, maybe I should be reading slightly more advanced books. I'm not completely worried, because I have at least 2 more friends who have immensely enjoyed the Harry Potter series and another one who loved the Twilight series and they're all in my age range. I guess the thing that really scares me is that I've reread both the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series in the past few weeks and they were the only books I couldn't put down. I literally stayed up all day to read a few of these getting no sleep between work shifts. None of the books outside of these 2 series have captured my mind like these.

Maybe my immaturity has slowly dug in and stayed longer in my reading selections than in any other part of my personality. I wish I could say I've been pulled in my Hemingway and Thoreau, but alas I've been allured most by Meyer and Rowling.

I guess the only thing that makes me not worry about this is that none of the Harry Potter or Twilight books are in my top 3 books of all time. My top 3 is still On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams.

Right now I've moved on to one of the many books in my need to read box, The King of Torts by John Grisham. After 40 some odd pages it seems like a standard Grisham novel, so it should be enjoyed. But not in any similar sense that I have enjoyed either Harry Potter or Twilight. Hopefully one day I will grow up and enjoy reading books like A Tale of Two Cities and War and Peace as much as I like reading Harry Potter, but until that day comes, I will have to make due with Potter and Vampires.

The Dingo's Bookshelf reserved for his favorites

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series
  • The Twilight series
  • The Harry Potter series
  • Fight Club
  • On the Road