Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review bombardment! review bombardment! Take cover!

Once again, I'm copping out by spewing forth a pack of short reviews at you instead of the long individual posts. I'm not just being lazy here--it's just that none of these are really worthy of a full review. I've said a lot about Grisham, King and Gabaldon in previous posts, so you can look those reviews up if you're interested. As you can see I'm leaving the Harry Potter books for one big review when I'm done with the series, and when I catch up I can get back to the long reviews. When it's worth it.

#51 The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

Another solid Grisham book. This one's about a wealthy, successful and heartless lawyer who, after being held hostage by a homeless man decides to ditch his career and work for the homeless. It's a bit preachy, as Grisham is obviously trying to bring attention to the problems of the homeless, but it's still a pretty good read. Grisham's always reliable when you want a quick, enjoyable story, and this one doesn't disappoint.

#53 From a Buick 8 by Stephen King

Hands down one of the worst books I have ever read by this guy. It was slow, stupid, and mind-numbingly boring. I found myself skipping pages like there was no tomorrow, as the Good Old Boys in the book talked some more about how weird this car was and oh what could it be and oh tell the kid about this other weirdness that happened with the car. That's it! It's a car. In a shed. Weird crap comes out of the car. They talk about it. Endlessly. Definitely one of King's worst books, and it's convinced me that just about everything he's done since he finished The Dark Tower series has been terrible. I don't think I'll be picking up anything new by him. Better stick to the classics. This book just bored the hell out of me. Shame on you, Mr. King.

#54 A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Now that's more like it. It's better if one just ignores that the...what? Fifth Book (I'm too lazy to look it up) of this series ever existed, and just skip along to this one if you really want to read anything past the third. This is still a pretty stupid, overlong book when compared to the start of the series, but it's not terrible. That's some compliment, huh? But really, after the 1500th time that Gabaldon puts one of her characters in mortal danger the whole thing becomes a maddening exercise of repetition. Do something stupid, get kidnapped or nearly killed, survive to do something stupid again. Have some boring sex (seriously, are we supposed to believe that Jamie and Claire are having sex at 50 that's just as steamy as it's ever been? come ON) and just talk about how perfect everyone is. That's it. At least there's some interesting bits with the Revolutionary War starting, but of course that's only in the background to all the moronic things these characters do. And there's more Brianna and Roger, two of the most insufferable characters of all time. And for the love of God, just end this series already. I still don't understand why this book had to be 600 pages long. There is NO NEED. Get over yourself, Gabaldon, and just end it. End our pain already.

#55 Airs Above Ground by Mary Stewart

An awesome little spy thriller. It's not spectacular, but I definitely recommend it if you like mysteries and spy stories. I'm not even a fan of the genre, and this one won me over. It's well-paced and smart, with likable characters and some great action sequences. A great read.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This will never end.

The US State Department has issued an order to stop non-emergency, non-immigrant visa services to Honduras as a temporary measure to put more pressure on our government to accept the San Jose accord.

I can see why they did it. But I think it's just one of those things where they're punishing the larger population for something that was done by a handful of people. As childish as it is to say, it's just not fair. But what the hell. Politics. I'm so sick of this.

I confess I'd be in a rage if this affected my visa process. But in this I've become massively selfish and I can only be grateful that my visa won't be affected. If it were I don't know what I'd do. Probably lose it completely while not being surprised that yet something else is standing in the way. As if the 8 month wait wasn't enough. Oy.

So, there it is. It's a time to be selfish. At least everyone in my immediate family has a visa already. The extended family? Oh, boy. Probably not. But hopefully everyone in power will get their heads out of their asses soon enough and this will all be over. I'm mightily sick of it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Movies I sorta watched. I wish I still knew nothing about them.

These are the movies I was subjected to during various bus and plane trips during my vacation. I can't believe that anyone would watch any of these voluntarily. I could barely stomach half an hour of actual watching, the rest of my impressions were from glancing at the screens every now and then, out of some sense of curiosity. I'm happy to say that I didn't miss much, as I could see the way every single one of these pieces of cinematic vomit would end after the 30 minutes I watched. It's good to know exactly what you're missing. Except I wouldn't exactly say I was "missing" it, Bob.

17 Again

Matthew Perry somehow magically turns into Zac Efron and gets to go to high school again. Entire film premise flawed by the major black hole that occurs when you realize that the two leads look NOTHING alike. As it always goes with the reversal movie, the kid has to get used to the 'modern' high school. He knows too much in class. He acts like a weirdo. He learns valuable lessons from his kids. But at least Freaky Friday was funny and had an appealing cast. This had the blessed effect of putting me to sleep on a 4 hour bus ride, and only after the first fifteen minutes! Wonderful. Zac Efron is the blandest of the bland, and the rest of the movie fits the bland lead perfectly--like lukewarm vanilla pudding. It's not funny, original, or even mildly interesting. It's terrible and painfully predictable. Don't even bother.

Fast and Furious

Cars. Shaky cam. Dark moody colors. Vin Diesel making this face for 2 hours: >:|. Every time I glanced at the screen, there he was. is he supposed to remind you of the Terminator? But at least the Terminator was motherfrakking SCHWARZENEGGER, and he was supposed to be a robot. Vin Diesel looks like a bloated Easter Island head, and he's just as alive and nowhere near as interesting as those statues. There are lots of boobs. No, really. What's with these movies and women? Here's basically what the entire movie is about: we zoom in on a parking lot chock full of what I assume are supposed to be "cool" cars. It's night. There are lots of people milling about: the men, usually menacing, smirking, drinking and comparing dick sizes through their cars. The women, undulating in tiny skirts and high heels, rarely ever shown in full--it's a parade of anonymous legs and boobs. Because, what else do you need? They're just pieces of meat. The men probably care more about the differences between the damned cars. So. They start a race. We see wide shots of cars going down streets. Tires squeal. A shot of Vin Diesel looking straight ahead. A hand moves a gear shift. More wide shots. Quick shots. The race ends. A long, pointless "plot" scene follows. Then another race. Rinse, lather, repeat. For FOUR MOVIES. Beautiful. What else do you need? Oh, I'm glad I got more that I was given more than half a brain in the mind-distribution lottery--otherwise I'd be sure to enjoy this flashy piece of crap. That's the only way I can imagine anyone would love this. Complete and utter brainlessness. Or maybe you just have to be 12 years old.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Oh the fates conspired to deliver to me the perfect companion to the Male Idiot's Movie that was Fast and Furious. This is the absolutely most perfect movie for the Female Idiot. It hurts me to say this about my own sex, but I know plenty of girls would love this embarrassing chick flick. Because some people really only need the flashy (and hideous) clothes and the predictable love story to be happy. And really, I admit to loving a good chick flick as much as the next girl, but there's a line between a guilty pleasure and something that makes me want to turn in my girl card. Because if this is the sort of crap we're supposed to enjoy, then I want to sign out. This movie's just among the worst of its ilk. it has a horrible, whiny protagonist that I'm somehow supposed to feel sorry for because she can't afford to buy her hideous shoes anymore. It's such an irritating premise to be forced to swallow, and I was frankly just offended to find that we're supposed to like this entitled, selfish little moron and want her to get ahead by lying her way up and sleeping with her perfect, idiotic boss. Let her live for two weeks in a third world country and see how much she misses her cushy lifestyle then. I loathe this type of movie. Oh, poor rich girl can't afford shoes and can't find a job in fashion. Boo fucking hoo. But somehow she perseveres from mere luck and pluck! yay! No, just let me punch you in the face. There's nothing likeable about this movie. Nothing. Nothing original or unexpected. It makes women look bad. It gives fuel to the people who clump all women into one shallow, stupid group. It made me hateful. And that's not the best thing to feel when in the middle of an eight hour trip next to some gigantic 13 year old girl who kept digging her elbows into my side. Urgh.

Night at the Museum 2

Some nice and clever visuals. Amy Adams sure is adorable. But oh, how I loathe Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. I wish they'd just go away forever.


I don't wish my pain on anyone. Good thing I had a lot of books and my ipod with me.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Well, I'm back.

I'm both miserable and excited to be back home. Miserable because of the obvious, but excited for a lot of reasons. Like this might really be IT, this might be the last time I'm home for good before I move to my new home. The rest of my life, if you will. I don't want to jinx anything by even mentioning wedding dates or anything (and god knows we need all the help we can to get the visa people to not hate us anymore) but we might just have a tentative date and other plans. A lot is hanging on the balance for the wedding, but we might just be getting there before the year is out.

I'm also looking forward to having my own room again, and just enjoying these last few months of being by myself. Of course, it sucks to not have Graham here with me, but if I don't look at some positive side of this I'll just go completely out of my mind, so. I'm going to do a lot of crazy baking, and I'm going to get my financial stuff together, and try not to be too anxious about everything. Or miserable about not being where I want to be.

The first few days apart are really the hardest. It's the sudden realization that that other person is no longer THERE, that I'll no longer see him when he returns home from work, that he won't be the first thing I see in the morning. And I won't lie, it fucking SUCKS. I won't get into cheesy detail but it's miserable and horrible and I really really want to have to stop feeling that way. And just...god I'm just hoping this is the last time I'll have to do that. So there's that.

And I know it won't hurt so bad after a while. And the more days pass the closer I get to being there again. So, just a matter of getting through every day. And finding enough to do to get me through them.

Anyway. It was a fantastic trip. It was so good to be able to be over there again, and get away from the madness of this country (yay escapism) and just get to know my future home a little better.

And screw anyone who says anything to the contrary: Texas is awesome. There's so much more energy and well, just (excuse the stupid word but it's the only thing I can think of right now) FLAVOR than there was in the Northeast where I lived before. Of course I haven't gotten to really know it, but on first impression I can tell I'll like living there.

Also, Six Flags kicks all kinds of ass. And I found the perfect wedding dress. I can't freakin' wait.

And that's it for now. I have a lot of reviews coming up, and gotta do a lot of baking, and a lot of extra reading. There you go. That's my update.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book #49: 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' by Dave Eggers

I don't know if I'm the right audience for this book. I was a very pop-obsessed teen in the 90s, living in Latin America and just as far away as I could be from the San Francisco/MTV in it's hey-day culture that surrounds Dave Eggers' story. Of course that's not all that this admittedly great book is about, but I felt like I was missing out on something by not being to connect to what is such an important aspect of Eggers' life. I suppose to those who grew up with that sort of life it's a great nostalgia trip, but for me it meant detachment from the work and just an overall desire for him to talk about something else. Because everything else is so deeply emotional and poignant that it made the lighter parts a bit frustrating to get through.

Eggers starts out his memoir with a hilarious, lighthearted but meaningful introduction. It sets up the friendly, off-the-cuff tone that remains through the rest of the book, as if he's right there talking to you--I've never seen the guy but I could imagine the picture on the back gesturing with his hands as he talked. It's a great set up, and makes the first few chapters even more of a kick in the gut. Because the memoir proper starts out with a truly heart-wrenching passage detailing Eggers' mother dying from stomach cancer, only a few weeks after their father has died. It's one of the saddest, most painful things I have ever read, and it's Eggers tone of trying-desperately-hard-to-be-lighthearted-about-it that really gets to you. It's brutal, really, and it marks a complete change in Eggers' life.

Eggers is left in charge of his 9 year old brother, Toph. Barely in his 20s and adrift in life, Eggers does his best to be a brother, a friend and a parent to Toph. His sister and older brother help, but for the most part it's the two of them trying to get along, with Eggers alternating between attempts to be responsible and ways to have as much fun as possible with Toph. These are some of the best parts of the book, as I was alternatively horrified and amused at Eggers' attempts at raising his kid brother. Eggers is honest and clearly loves his brother to death, and you can feel his fear of making some huge mistake with the poor kid.

Then he starts talking about life in San Francisco and his job at Might Magazine. This is where the book lost me. While everything dealing with his family was moving and hilarious, the parts dealing with his 'career' honestly just bored me. I guess maybe you have to have been the "revolutionary" counter-culture fighter in their 20s to really get it, or maybe those types just bug me. All I know is that the book really dragged for me there, losing the momentum it had started with.

This isn't a book for everyone. Eggers has a very loose style, with each chapter written in a different way--as an interview, as a long confusing rant, as an emotional confession--and it's full of great little moments and stories. But it might frustrate you if you like something more straight forward. But all in all it was a fun book, with possibly the best title of all time. So all I can say is check it out, you might end up loving it. Or not. But give it a chance.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Books #47 and #50: "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Returns"

Book #47 The Godfather by Mario Puzo

There's really not much to say about this. It's an outstanding book, and if you love the movie then you will definitely love the book. There are some extra subplots, involving Johnny Fontane, which are entertaining but not really an integral part of the book. It's really the examination of the Corleone family that makes this book so gripping and fascinating; not just the inner workings of a Mafia crime family, but the relationships between the members of this incredibly proud, incredibly strong group of people who'll do anything to survive in the world they've created. It's really simple, almost stark writing, and really allows you to understand the film a little better, particularly when it comes to the character of Michael Corleone. Definitely a recommended read, and a good companion to the movie. Needless to say it has to be one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time (some elements of Godfather 2 appear in the book, such as Vito Corleone's backstory) and just a great read.

#50 The Godfather Returns by Mark Winegardner

This one's definitely weaker, though it's understandable. It was written 35 years after The Godfather, by a different writer in a vastly different era. The "golden years" of the Mafia are far in the past, and most of our knowledge of it seems to come from...The Godfather. So it's no real surprise that the book reads almost like a fanfic piece written by a really huge fan of the movies. It's a decent read, but has none of the heart or excitement or grittiness of the original book. Plus, it's just very, very confusing to anyone who hasn't memorized the two original films line for line. It's really a bunch of little stories of what was happening in the background of the films--how Fredo came to betray Michael, for example, or how Michael came to the height of his power. But it's just a very confusing timeline, and again, unless you know the movies by heart I think you'd be completely confused. It's a book for the die-hard fans, I suppose, but not really worth the read. The writing is clunkier and doesn't have Puzo's polished, flowing style and none of the character development. There's a lot of useless filler that never goes anywhere, and I was constantly wondering why I was reading. Really, was this book even necessary? Seems to me like it was just someone trying to milk The Godfather cow for profit, and unfortunately it was just a weak effort.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book #48: The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (Book #5 of the Outlander series)

Time for more short, half-assed reviews. This one I "wrote" while reading the book, because I was so angry at so many things and I just decided to take notes on things that made me angry about it. Here's the result. It makes no sense, but it boils down the book to the essentials. It's terrible, too long and meandering and I didn't give a damn about anything in it. Definitely the lowest point in the series.

-Going over the same topics over and over and over and over again. Get the fuck OVER it.

-Roger and Brianna are fucking boring.

-Brianna is a spoiled, selfish brat.

-nothing happens for at least 200 pages. NOTHING.

-300 pages and they haven't fucking left

-brianna is the type of hag that gets angry at the slightest thing then angrier that everyone doesn't immediately know why she's angry. then she starts swearing like a moron. helpful. why the hell does Roger love her so much? there is nothing redeemable about her

-roger is an incompetent asswipe, getting himself captured TWICE for being an interfering nitwit.

-after the 15th time one of these people gets in trouble or is nearly killed, it's really fucking monotonous. either REALLY kill one of them or just fuck off with the near deaths.

-snake bite. bear attack. hanging. for fuck's sake, woman. leave these people alone or just KILL THEM ALREADY.

-someone needs to go back through these novels and figure out how many times the men just stand there looking longingly at the women doing whatever. That's all they ever seem to do when they're not in MORTAL DANGER.

-christ. it's been like 20 pages of them dealing with a snake bite.

-holy fucking cow, two pages on blood types. WHAT THE HELL

At this point I gave up and just started skipping pages like crazy. Horrible, horrible book. No one should read it. Either stop at the one before this or skip to the next one. Jeebus on a piece of toast, this was terrible. Someone stop this woman.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gone fishin'

I'm on vacation in the US for the next three weeks, so won't be posting much. See you on the flip side.