Thursday, July 29, 2010

Giddy-up!

My horse will be making his first trip to the coast this weekend. Yay!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

To a Stranger by Walt Whitman

PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body
mine
only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard,
breast,
hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Posse For Hire: A business opportunity

Dr M and I are sports fans and so we often find ourselves discussing various aspects of the sporting community. Over the last year or so we discovered a business opportunity via our observations. To wit:

Have you ever noticed how a young athlete can rocket right to the tip top of the game in a very short time and, to review, at a very young age? Have you ever noticed that athletes make way more than us regular citizens and so it's very likely that new athletes have just received a massive pay raise? Well, if so, then you've probably noticed that they don't always handle it very well. And besides the instacash, many athletes don't seem to understand that their earning potential tends to decrease with age rather than increase as is typical in most professions. All these things combine at an event horizon that can either launch an athlete into fiscal security or tip our young athletes into early bankruptcy with no thought to retirement accounts and the like. And let's be honest, many athletes have an entourage that is not exactly looking out for their best interests.

Enter Posse For Hire!

We at Posse For Hire understand that the newly rich and famous have specific needs for lifestyle and image maintenance. Let us assume the worry and responsibility for said maintenance by providing you with a professionally trained entourage. Our Posses (comprised of 2 to 20 individuals) can be specifically tailored to your needs. For example, if you are the kind of athlete that likes to have a good time in your off time then your crew can be outfitted with driver(s), wing(wo)men, bodyguard(s), personal assistant(s), and event planner(s).

Each Posse is assembled on a case by case basis with your individual needs as the starting point for your Posse. After your initial interview, Posse For Hire will provide you with our state of the art, scientifically rigorous profile so that you will understand how your Posse was formed. Any and all concerns regarding your profile will be addressed at the earliest possible time and Posses are never final. While we recommend that all clients maintain at the minimum the Newly Signed Posse (NSP includes an accountant, a life coach (life coach comes trained to identify spectacularly stupid decision making), and a business/image manager), we recognize that special circumstances may require an a la carte approach to a Posse.

Please contact Posse For Hire with any questions and to request a catalog for details on all possible Posse members.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reason #416 Why Baseball is Awesome

Because you can say "well-stroked" in mixed company.


(sgwordy clearly has no qualms in turning from mature to immature topics on a dime)

The OTHER in publishing (revisited)

A while back I posted on the idea of the OTHER in publishing and the post included this comment:

Far worse than this though, are the authors that end up pigeonholed because of assumptions regarding their potential audience.

Bernice L. McFadden, an author whose work and blog I quite enjoy, said a few words in this op-ed about the industry's marketing of African American literature, amongst many other salient points, that is quite worth a read.

A brief quote (emphasis mine):
This suggests that our literature is singular and anomalous, not universal. It is as if we American authors who happen to be of African descent are not a people but a genre much like mystery, romance or thriller. 

That "not universal" bit is what really gets me going whenever I think on this problem. Again, why is it thought  we can all relate to the assumed default whether or not we are part of that default but not to the many, many other people in our society?


A little tangential to this topic is this very interesting article by Matt Thorn regarding signifiers in anime. He reflects on "unmarked" and "marked" categories in different cultures.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dr Musacha says...

(while playing Sacred 2 - Fallen Angel)

"Did I accidentally take her pants off and not notice?"


If this is not a commentary on the leanings of the video game industry then I don't know what is.


Speaking of Dr M, check out this awesome post!

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo

My lovely and talented friends, Robert and Anne, have released their first CD. Click here for details and here for the CD.

Check out their YouTube channel for a preview!

I still belong to Ubisoft and AC

Are you surprised? ;-)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Friggin' Awesome!

I get so ridiculously excited when I see news like this:

Horton Plains Slender Loris pictured for first time

Almost Toppled, or Your Boring Best

Before my actual topic, 3 items of randomness...

1) Why does my dog lick his chops next to me after every damn meal? Is this his way of saying thanks? And why so insistent? Even if I go back to bed he'll do it in front of my closed bedroom door! And why is this something he picked up at 6 years of age?

2) I recently watched The World Unseen and it's worth a viewing. I was pretty dang impressed with the character arcs (though not always with the acting) and was pleased with the way the movie ended. Also, Lisa Ray is fantastically beautiful.

3) Why have I begun to hallucinate the little red light on my crackberry? Am I that desperate for new emails and texts?


So my actual bookishness for the day is good books that are boring. One would not think that a good book would be boring but I've read a few books that I thought were excellently crafted but boring. The reigning champ in sgwordy's world is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. That brick of a book is very well crafted, the undertaking impressive, and the continuity mind-bogglingly maintained. But holy fuck it's boring! It's a long story** (and pretty dang funny actually) as to why I read this book but the only way I managed was to take it as the only book in my possession on an international trip. Why is it boring you might ask (or poss you've read it and so you already know)... well, there are many, many reasons but my main indicator of boredom is having this thought: If every character in this book died right now I would not care.


**haha, unintentional pun

Last month I thought we might have a new winner. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is also an undertaking of epic proportions. Well-written, great world-building, multi-layered experience... boring! Again, had this one on a trip but it's possible I might have finished it anyway just to compare to JSandMN. The whole time I was thinking, does this trump JSandMN? Is this my boring best? In the end, though, I had to concede that it was less boring. There were a few characters that I was mildly interested in learning more about.

The thing about Your Boring Best is that if someone asks why you didn't like the book there's no answer other than boring. There's nothing to point to as a problem. Each element of an excellent book is in place but, in the end, one was never engaged as a reader. It's much like looking at a superior painting and feeling nothing. Is this better or worse than picking a book apart? On the one hand, I can't fault the writers in any clear way but on the other hand I had no connection to their artistry. Hmmm...


What's Your Boring Best?

(Or would you rather take me to task on my boring best?)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Killers (2010)

Title: Killers
Director: Robert Luketic
Studio: Lionsgate (2010)

It would be fair to say that sgwordy does not have a trail of successful movie theatre visits to think back on for the last few years. And so it would also be fair to say that when general ennui drove her to rope Dr M into a theatre visit the other night she wasn't expecting much (really anyfuckingthing) from Killers when it turned out that Inception had not yet opened. But let me convey this succinct true story:

scene - credits roll
sgwordy (flushed, grinning madly, turning to Dr M) - I feel like I just won a millions dollars!**

I shit you not! True story!

Recently dumped Jen meets hot (and I mean smokin' hawt!) Spencer whilst vacationing. They quickly fall in love but, unbeknownst to Jen, Spencer is a government agent with assassinatin' skills. Spencer's been wanting to plant some roots, though, so he's more than ready to give it a go with Jen in the 'burbs. Curtain rises...

I went into this with very low expectations for several reasons but I'll just mention the two most relevant: the trailer gives the impression that it's one of those movies that reserves its funniest lines for the trailer and that its story is one of those that might keep you interested for 2/3 of the movie but the last 1/3 quickly dwindles down to badly done sentimentality, apology speeches, resolving the Big Misunderstanding, or similar AND I was absolutely convinced there was no way Ashton Kutcher could, well, act but most especially that he could not pull off this role. Well, holy hot damn, I was wrong on both counts and happy to be so. This movie is funny from beginning to end (at times I was laughing so much that I was afraid I was missing subsequent funny lines) and Ashton Kutcher rocked my sox. Ok, no, it's not a difficult part but I simply could not imagine him doing it. But he did, and well. On top of this, Kutcher and Heigl had out of this world chemistry. They were so good I hope they do more movies together. No need to be romantic, just get them working as any kind of partners and it's going to be good; that's how awesome they were together.

Jen's parents play an active role in the story and they, too, are funny. (The four main actors were all quite funny with lovely chemistry no matter who they were in a scene with.) I would have liked to have seen more of the parents. Surprisingly, the other secondary characters were not well done. Often a romcom is saved by the secondaries but in this case they detracted from the real stars and certainly weren't funny in comparison. The other major flaw of the movie is the poor showing of the spies. I won't fault Killers too much for this because it is often the case that movie spies prefer to kill as obviously and stupidly as possible while attracting as much attention as possible. It continually annoys me because I love a good spy story and would just like to see people doing their jobs well. Amongst many other things, spraying up a public place with bullets is not doing your job well! BUT, there are some excellent hand-to-hand fight scenes that I quite enjoyed so that did make up a bit for the Too Stupid To Be An Actual Spy shit.

(Oh, and yeah, there should have been more of Kevin the Manager due to me wanting to see more of the actor! Don't look up who this is; just be surprised like me because that's part of the fun!)

So the chemistry really did a lot for the movie but what was even better was the awesome script. It was superb! Do I sound crotchety when I say that scripts seem to be the least of a movie maker's concerns these days? Well, anyway, it feels that way so when I get to sit through a great script I am just tickled. And especially in this case because it was so damn funny. It's not like the story set-up is all that realistic but the dialogue is so natural that you really believe Jen and Spencer would say what they are saying while they are doing what they are doing. And, better yet, they are funny while they are saying it. The dialogue very much centers around the way a couple would interact and that's another strength of the movie.

Jen and Spencer are a very committed and loving couple. How refreshing! This isn't about two people who want to change each other or who are sick of each other or who constantly make fun of each other to get the laughs; they are very deeply in love with a healthy relationship. Because of this the dialogue can't simply be full of gender/relationship-based cliches. The characters interact very naturally with each other in ways that denote a history and a full relationship. It's so funny because you believe what they say would actually be said between two people. You won't find insulting and disgusting quips about Women as Naggers and Men as Messy Cavemen but you'll get a lot of laughs from watching a couple interact as they try to work out the thorny problem of assassins on the lose.

Oh, and I love the theme of the suburbs being just as dangerous an environment as being a spy. It made me think of Mulder and Scully as the Petrie's. Awe! Some!

It's not like this is going to win any Oscars or go down as one of the funniest movies of the decade (though I can't currently recall the last movie I saw that was this funny in the last few years so maybe it will) but it's a solid script that will keep you laughing from beginning to end. I know it'll be one that I re-watch often when I can get my hot little hands on the DVD.

rating: 4 of 5 stars


** I feel it's only fair to mention that the movie price was $4.75/adult because the town we were in does cheapy late night movies Sun-Wed and that definitely contributed to the lottery winning feeling. I was in high school the last time I saw a movie at night for that cheap!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the Bayou

Earlier this year I mentioned a city which is lovely but often passed over for Amsterdam when one is visiting the Netherlands. I'm back again to mention that New Orleans is not the only thing south Louisiana has to offer. If you ever make it down this way you really ought to venture out of the city to experience the beautiful land and unique culture of bayou country. Here are a few things I love about visiting the place of my birth:


Bayous - they are absolutely gorgeous! You must see them before they are gone. (rising sea levels and all)

And I ought not forget Live Oaks, Cypress trees, and the general gorgeousness of the countryside

How everyone calls everyone babe, baby, or just ba' if they can't be bothered with the whole word.

How "alright" is equivalent to "you're welcome."

West Main Pizza - you wouldn't believe the perfectness of the crust or the sheer volume of the toppings (ever had seafood pizza? well, me neither cuz I hate seafood but I hear it's good:)

LSU Tiger fans

The accent

The food

Getting in the car very early in the morning to catch a flight and, on the way, watching the sun rise over the bayous. I just can't describe how gorgeous it is.


There's more but my hush puppies are getting cold...



What region never ceases to amaze and delight you?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Snicker

I love the making fun of those that get it in their heads that they must have THIS THING right NOW!!!!

(hat tip: schmelly)



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July Book Reviews

If you're not located in an area where you can pick up this month's Sacramento Book Review or San Francisco Book Review click on over here for a slough of book reviews. If you're specifically interested in what yours truly reviewed for this month, here are the links:

A Bad Day For Pretty by Sophie Littlefield

Changes by Jim Butcher

The Secret Duke by Jo Beverley

Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik


And in case it's not immediately obvious, all books provided by Sac/SF Book Review

(Note: links updated for last month's round-up)



What have you been reading lately?

"I can stand here with a dumb look on my face ALL DAY!"

I think we all remember how much I love Resident Evil: Leon*; and how disappointing Resident Evil: 5 was. Turns out I'm not the only one to throw fits and scream over RE:5. Check out this awesome comic and article. (hat tip: Dr M)


*Oh, you don't remember? Perhaps an illustrative example would help! This, among other things, hangs on the wall across from my desk. :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My First Harlequin

Title: The Tycoon's Rebel Bride
Author: Maya Banks
Publisher: Harlequin Silhouette Desire (2009)
Mystery Designation: #1944 May 09



Previous visitors (waddup y'all?) know that I loves me a good romance. It's probably clear at this point that I prefer those of the historical variety but I do occasionally make a foray into the contemporary. I doubled up my latest contemporary journey with a first: a Harlequin! I have to say that it didn't exactly go like gangbusters. (Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know.) Before I get into the meat of it, though, can someone please explain to me the number thing? Are these released like comic books or something? What does #1944 mean?

Isabella Caplan (of rebel bride fame) has the humpin' hornies for Theron Anetakis (of tycoon fame) but she is a ward of his family and he sees her only as a kid that he is responsible for. He doesn't actually know her all that well since she's more of a fiscal ward than a live-in ward due to their parents' friendship. Isabella has loved Theron for most of her life and has decided her post college graduation goal is to marry him. He quickly realizes she's more than just a kid but he still thinks of her as a responsibility rather than a potential mate. Cue mood music...


What I Liked:

>It was short

>Isabella has a goal and is willing to work for it

>Isabella is comfortable in her own skin and with her sexuality

>Theron asked some dang good questions. For instance, what are your plans now that you have graduated?

>This is a follow-up to The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress (#1920) and how can I possibly not enjoy that? Very handy to not even have to read the back flap to know what one is getting into. (Note that the #1920 tycoon is brother to current tycoon not actual current tycoon.)

>Isabella's dress on the cover. I'd like to own it and wear it. Perhaps in a helicopter I've hired.


What I Didn't Like:

>Even though it was short it was still more wordy than needed (yes, actually, I do see the irony in this:).

>I realize we're dealing with the uber-rich here so they may not have exactly the same cares/worries as the rest of us but I couldn't stomach the main motivations of the two protags: Isabella appeared to think all aspects of her life would fall into place if only she got married and Theron was insultingly over-bearing. He was so over-bearing that at one point I thought I had misunderstood and was reading an historical but modern technology was mentioned so it was him, not me.

>Everything was too easy.*

side note: For a romance to work for me I absolutely must believe two things:
    1) There's a chance the couple might not get together.
    2) They will remain together after the book has ended.

Think about the wonderful romance that is Persuasion (or Seize the Fire or Bridget Jones' Diary); even though I know better I am genuinely worried things won't work out. But when they do I am convinced they really do.

*again, I realize with people that own jets things are probably a bit easier but, really, you got to make me believe it won't work out or else why I am here reading all these pages of them trying to work it out. There's no point if it's grossly obvious that things will be fine.

>That "gentleman's" club business was the best that could be contrived to bring about action re the true feelings of our protags??

>Unprotected sex in 2009????????????? Give me a fucking break!


In summary, this one was just too empty. The writing lacked even a hint of subtlety - as did the characters, really. I know what I was supposed to think and feel because it was painfully spelled out for me but I never actually thought or felt any of those things. If you're looking for a good romance I can recommend several, but you're definitely going to want to give this one a pass.

rating: 2 of 5 stars





Any Harlequin readers out there want to point me in a better direction?

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award



The wonderfully gracious Michael of Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer recently shared The Versatile Blogger award with, among others, yours truly. It's a lovely compliment that he share this with me as I think so highly of his thoughtful and well-written posts. Many thanks, Michael!






The Rules for the Award:

    * Thank the person who gave you this award (see above)
    * Share 7 things about yourself (see below)
    * Pass the award along to 15 who you have recently discovered and who you think fantastic for whatever reason (see below below:). I'm following this rule very loosely. :-)
    * Contact the blogs you picked and let them know about the award.


7 things you never knew you wanted to know:


1. If a pill was invented that provided needed nourishment and a feeling of fullness I would happily never eat a meal again. A foodie I am not.

2. All three of my tattoos are inspired by fictional works.

3. I love visiting baseball parks.

4. I've moved more than 20 times. These moves have spanned 9 states (both coasts even) and 2 countries.

5. I think a good knife in the kitchen is as nice as a ride in a Cadillac (despite the sentiments conveyed in 1 I'm a fairly decent cook).

6. I've been hit by a car but the only time I've broken a bone was while playing football.

7. I've never been particularly skilled at listening to stories out loud. In fact, I can tune myself out while reading aloud. 


The VBA is now being sent to the following blogs:

American Irish

Apprentice Writer

I Apologize in Advance

Scientist Gone Gamer

TOT in the City

Encore!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

From Paris With Love (2010)

Director: Pierre Morel
Studio: Lionsgate (2010)

"Two agents. One city. No merci."

If I had seen this tagline then I might have had some clue of what to expect. Oh holy fuck!


sgwordy selects special features
sgwordy: Do you think there's a blooper reel or are all the bloopers included in the film?
Dr Musacha: Yeah, if you click on blooper reel it just starts the movie over again.

sgwordy selects Spies, Spooks, and Special Ops: Life Under Cover
sgwordy: Are these guys reading the Wikipedia article aloud?
Dr Musacha: It sounds more like a summary of what they learned from Splinter Cell.


Of note:
There is actually no blooper reel.
While of limitless comedic value if one enjoys practicing the MST3k treatment, From Paris With Love can not, in fact, unseat The Transporter as best movie to MST3k.


movie rating: 2 of 5 stars
MST3k treatment rating: 5 of 5 stars

Friday, July 2, 2010

sgwordy's nephew says...

sgwordy: Get out of those pj's and into some real clothes and we'll go to the park.
nephew (4yo): Will you come upstairs with me while I change? I'll keep my underwear on.
sgwordy: What a relief!


Kids really do say the darndest things!


I was going to be all cutesy and link to a youtube video of Cosby's show but while searching I found this and it was too good to pass up:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Books Read

A few years back my grandmother said to me, "Wouldn't it be great if you had a list of all the books you have read?" And I thought, damn straight! That'd be fucking awesome! (My reply aloud was less colorful.)

I started keeping an Xcel file and am mostly diligent with keeping it up. I'm in my fourth year of doing this and I think I've been most diligent this year. Since we find ourselves at the half-year mark (already??? how the hell did that happen???) I thought I'd share my list, so far, for 2010.

sgwordy's Read in 2010 list


Half-year Results -

Best fiction: The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor
                 (Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a close second)

Best non-fiction: Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag et al

Favorite author discovered this year: Robert Crais

Most re-read book first read this year: Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale


What's your favorite book so far this year?