Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Terrorist" by John Updike

John Updike's novels always seem to open up a window to life, especially to American life. With the life of Harry Angstrom (Rabbit) revealing many things about the American psyche through the years to even "The Witches of Eastwick" and exploring greed. This book is no different.

We all remember 9/11 and how it affected our lives and the questions we asked: "Why us?" "Who could have done this?" and "Why the innocents?" John Updike gives us something of an answer with this book, "Terrorist."

First he explores many aspects of American life through the many characters, an overweight housewife, the cheating husband (who is also a guidance counselor in a high school. The cheating husband is also a Jew that has lost his faith and has lost faith in the "youth of today." The fallen morals of America are explored through, not only the cheating husband but the woman he cheats with is the mother of Ahmad, an intelligent "Arab-American" that gets sucked into his religion so far that he is prepared to martyr himself.

I think the biggest aspect of this book is the fallen morals of American society. It is a very hard look at who we are (we being mainly Americans) and what the rest of the world may think. This book also explores a little into the Islamic faith and how religion in general can brainwash it's members.

As with all of John Updike's novels the dialogue is not only very realistic but also the dialogue between the characters suck you into he story and never lets go.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Under Milkwood: A Play For Voices" by Dylan Thomas.

Back in college I was earning my degree in Radio / Television Broadcasting (from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, Go Salukis) and it was recommended that I take some voice classes from the Theatre department to help create a midwest / neutral accent. I had a pretty good Southern accent at the time, after all I was born in Louisiana and raised in Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. I took an intro to Voice class taught by Alex Chrestopolous, who in hindsight taught me alot, at the time though, he was a pain in my arse. The stuff I learned in this class has been priceless and even got me interested in declaring a double major, thus earning a Bachelors degree in both Theatre and Radio/TV Broadcasting.

The most fun I remember in the class was when we as a class performed "Under Milkwood." I have been and always will be a fan of Bob Dylan and finally getting to read/perform someone who influenced Robert Zimmerman to change his name, I was intrigued. I fell in love with this play. I have since read it a few more times and this latest time I read it along with hearing it performed on an audiobook. The audiobook's narrator was Richard Burton so that made it even more enjoyable.

The basis of this play is that we are introduced to a small Welsh town and get to know the citizens and what they do to pass the time. Basically this is a big gossip column with some beautiful language. We are introduced to each character as they sleep by eavesdropping in on their dreams. And then progress through the day with their daily activities, including the scandalous and sweet. We then leave the village as they bed down for the night.

The language behind this is simply beautiful. If you read the play you can feel the rhythm and emotions of the words, but better yet seek out a performance you can listen to. The many voices really create an atmosphere in which it is easy to get lost.

Basically the play is poetry in motion and flowing without pause.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk

We've all been there tired of our job, tired of our boring life. Well that's pretty much what gets the ball rolling in this novel by Chuck Palahniuk. I've been reading other novels by Mr. Palahniuk and decided to revisit the book that got me interested in him in the first place. Actually it was the movie of the same name starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, that got me interested in the book. This also launched my Edward Norton fanboy phase...but that's another blog altogether.

The narrator in this story is not only sick of his job and his boring life, but he's also seen that he's not the only one. Most people try to cover it with consumerism. This book sets out to prove we are not our jobs, we are not the stuff we own. But what are we?

To discover this the narrator crashes these self help groups, like "men with testicular cancer" "Brain Parasite survivors" and others. Somehow he never gets discovered as a "tourist" to these groups. But one day he runs into Marla. Marla seems to be a tourist just like him. He's upset with her because knowing she's a fake keeps him from "enjoying" the groups and his insomnia returns.

He then meets Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is an artist at deviant behavior. Tyler has many low paying jobs and performs strange tasks just to create general mayhem. Examples of these are: splicing scenes of porn into Disney movies, Urinating in soup tureens where he works or urinating (or just stating that he urinated in) perfume bottles in which the catering company he is a waiter for is catering a party. Then the narrator's condo blows up and he has to move in with Tyler in a run down house on Paper Street. There are no other houses for miles around so they can do pretty much what they want. The house leaks when it rains, so much so that they have to turn off the electricity in the house when it rains to avoid any accidents. So going with this all the narrator has left is the few changes of clothing that were lost and then recovered by an airline. So has he sunk to bottom yet? No.

They then find that neither one of them have got into any fights in all their lives. So they fight each other. They then realize what it feels like to be human through the pain. Pretty soon they start fight club. In which all the men in the club are not who they are in the real world, but an individual on the fighting floor. Pretty soon black eyes, scars, stitches etc. begin to appear on people in the narrators every day life. But has he hit bottom yet?

In order to discover his humanity he first has to reach bottom. But first he and Tyler need money. So they make soap. Render the fat and mix lye and "ta-da" you have soap. But the fat they render is Marla's mom's fat that was liposuctions so Marla could get her collagen injections. It seems Marla and Tyler become a thing after Tyler saves her from a fake attempted suicide.

Well the soap is a huge success that they go to stealing liposuctioned bags of fat from a medical waste dump. The biggest buyers of the soap are big name, high end department stores. So basically he's selling the rich folks the same fat they pay big dollars to have removed. This money from the Paper Street Soap Co. goes to fund the next project. Project Mayhem.

Project Mayhem is one step further from fight club in that the members go out to show the world that they are not their jobs. They do things like destroying art, or fancy cars etc. At one point one of the narrators friends gets killed doing a Project Mayhem assignment. It's also at this point that Tyler Durden disappears. The narrator searches for Tyler, everytime he goes to a fight club everyone calls him "sir" and when asked if they've seen Tyler they all ask "Is this a test, sir?"

We then discover the secret to Tyler. In order to stop Project Mayhem (which has now reached nationwide) the narrator shoots himself with Tyler's gun. The book closes with the orderlies saying we can't wait for your return and Project Mayhem will soon be bigger than ever.

For those of you that have read the book or even seen the movie, you know the secret of Tyler Durden...but I will not give away that secret. It's more fun discovering that on your own...especially in the book. But I will list for you the rules of Fight Club and Project Mayhem. In the meantime discover Chuck Palahniuk, he's got some great lessons on society in this book.

The Rules of Fight Club

1. You don't talk about fight club.
2. You don't talk about fight club.
3. When someone says stop, or goes limp, even if he's just faking it, the fight is over.
4. Only two guys to a fight.
5. One fight at a time.
6. They fight without shirts or shoes.
7. The fights go on as long as they have to.
8. If this is your first night at fight club, you have to fight.

The Rules of Project Mayhem

1. You don't ask questions.
2. You don't ask questions.
3. No excuses.
4. No lies.
5. You have to trust Tyler.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Blank: Book 1" Story and art by Pop Mhan.

Tokyopop has started another Manga series that creates some fun and mystery. Blank is actually a "Manga - Like" book, I say this because Pop Mhan is an American citizen that immigrated to the US at the age of three from Thailand. Most Manga books are Japanese artists and writers. You can also not call this a pure Manga because of the way Pop Mhan draws his character's eyes. Pop Mhan is best known for his work in comics such as "Batgirl" and "SpyBoy."

This book follows the misadventures of Blank, a screwed-up secret agent with a serious lapse in memory, and Aki, the confused tomboy whom he has sworn to protect, as they go deep undercover in that most dangerous of territories: high school! Basically Blank doesn't know who he is but for some reason he is supposed to protect Aki. Another feature of Blank is his strange powers. He's indestructible and able to fight with exceptional skill. He can also influence some people to do what he wants, but not Aki.

Between cramming for classes, mixing it up with the school thugs, and uncovering a dark plot laid by the terrorist organization Raizen, the two may just fall in love - if they don't kill each other first! The whole story line is just introduced in this book so it looks like this could be a very fun series. There is plenty of action and comedy, and a little (very little) romantic interest helps also. I think the romantic interest may be hindered by the fact that Blank is a bit of a pervert. Any girl that walks by immediately distracts him.

So if you are a Manga fan this book should get you hooked on what may be a good series from Tokyopop.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J. K. Rowling

Okay I finally got around to reading the final installment in the life of Harry Potter. I had to wait for the kids to get through it before I could even lay my hands on it. I could have been selfish and read it first, but any reason to get someone else reading is good for me.

First of all it is sad to see that Rowling has decided to end the series, but really where else could she have gone? I guess there could have been some college time for Harry, but that whole Voldemort trying to take over the world thing needed and end, and you could only drag it out for so long. 7 books was plenty for that. I think all the spoilers have been out long enough that I won't be giving too much away when I say the following: You can tell it is the last of the Potter series because the last chapter of the book jumps to 19 years later. Anytime this happens it is the end.

Okay let's give a synopsis. Well some really cool characters die, an evil villian turns out to be a good guy, Harry dies and we finally learn what Dumbledore was doing all those years. Oh and we get to meet Harry's parents.

Now for those of you that have read the book you can see I didn't lie, but some of the above is not quite as it seems.

Harry is about to come of age in which he can do magic anytime, but until then he has many protection charms that keep him safe from Voldemort. Once he comes of age then Voldemort begins his attack. In the time between the last book and this one Voldemort has pretty much taken control of everything, many Death Eaters are members of the Ministry of Magic and Severus Snape is now Headmaster at Hogwarts.

Harry is not returning to Hogwarts because of the task Dumbledore passed on to Harry before he dumbledore was killed by Snape. Harry, Ron & Hermione must hunt down and destroy all the Horcruxes. These are magical items in which Voldemort has placed a piece of his soul so he can never be fully destroyed. Destroy all the Horcruxes and then Voldemort can truly die. However Dumbledore never told Harry what or where these were or even How to destroy them. One was a locket that Harry has been carrying. Dumbledore destroyed one. So it seems there are more for Harry & friends to destroy after they track them down.

At the same time Voldemort has found out that his wand is powerless against Harry's wand. He thinks this is because they are the twin of each other. So Voldemort is seeking out one of the three deathly hallows, the Elder Wand. This wand is passed on from wizard to wizard but only when one wizard beats the other. There are many myths and children's stories about this wand and Voldemort thinks it will give him ultimate power.

In looking for the Horcruxes, Harry discovers the myth of the 3 deathly hallows, one of which he already holds, the cloak of invisibility. These are magical items passed on through history that give the holder the power to cheat death. The other deathly hallow which hasn't been mentioned is the resurrection stone. Apparantly Voldemort doesn't know of the 3 hallows because he turned the stone to a Horcrux.

After Harry has tracked down all the Horcruxes he finally has to battle Voldemort. A huge battle at Hogwarts ensues in which many more interesting characters die and Harry eventually dies. Okay he doesn't really but it looks as though he does. I will not give away too much because this book deserves your attention, as do all of the Harry Potter books.

J. K. Rowling created a stir with the Harry Potter books but I think most of all she also made reading cool for youth. So no matter what happens in the books it looks as though not only creating a great story and some really awesome characters (good and bad) she has brought reading back to today's youth. Oh and even some of us adults that love to read a good story. I see these books living forever.

In closing I would just like to say, "Thank you, J. K. Rowling, for some great reading for all ages."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm on a Chuck Palahniuk binge right now and I am glad of it. I first read one of his books back in 1999. It was "Fight Club," I was so impressed with the movie that I had to read the book. In fact I took my wife (at the time we were "dating") to see this movie to get her response, and based on her response we got married and have been happily married ever since. Yeah there's more to Fight Club than just beating up people (a lot more). But this is about "Haunted." Once again I've read another great novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

This book is branded as a "novel of stories." Which is to say it is a novel with 23 short stories interwoven through the plot of the book. The basic premise is that 17 individuals are "recruited" to attend a writer's retreat. A time away from the world to write that big masterpiece. Each of the would be writers at first seem just like normal people. Through the book they are referred to by nicknames. These nicknames are based on the stories they tell throughout the book. All except Mr. Brandon Whittier the old man (or is he) that "hosts" the retreat and his "assistant" Mrs. Tess Clark.

Here are the nicknames and stories and a brief description of each:

Brandon Whittier -"Dog Years", "Obsolete" -A wheelchair-bound rich man who owns the abandoned theatre and hosts the writer's retreat. Though he appears to be a very old man, he is in fact a 13 year old boy who suffers from progeria.

Tess Clark -"Post-Production", "The Nightmare Box", "Poster Child", "Cassandra" A failed amateur porn actress who has become Whittier's assistant to learn what happened to her daughter Cassandra at Whittier's last writer's retreat.

Saint Gut-Free - "Guts" An abnormally skinny man who lost part of his lower intestine in a masturbation accident.

Mother Nature "Foot Work" A reflexologist and homeopathic therapy expert who was once employed in prostitution based around her skills with reflexology. She has joined the retreat to escape the mafia, who are out to kill her for abandoning her job and being an accessory to the murder of her friends pimp.

Miss America "Green Room" A pregnant model who wants to become famous.

Lady Baglady (Evelyn Keyes) "Slumming" A rich woman who, along with her husband, used to pretend to be homeless to get over her boredom with being rich. After she and her husband witness a crime leading to the murder of a wealthy Brazilian heiress, her husband is murdered by the captors, and a string of homeless people are murdered in the search for her. She comes to the retreat to escape the people who want to kill her.

The Earl of Slander "Swan Song" A reporter who murders a former child star in order to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning article about his victim's hidden habits and supposed suicide.

The Duke of Vandals "Ambition" An amateur artist who sneaks paintings into museums. He later becomes a respected professional when he murders a famous artist as a favor to the man who funds the other artist. He has come to the retreat to escape the same fate as the other artist.

Director Denial "Exodus" The director of a police station. She brings with her a cat named Cora Reynolds, named after its former owner, a co-worker who killed herself trying to stop police officers from using anatomically correct dolls for sexual purposes.

Reverend Godless "Punch Drunk" A former soldier who, with a group of other soldiers, raises money by lip-syncing in drag and allowing people to assault him in order to fund a war on religion. This has to be my favorite story with some great humor and a very dark message.

The Matchmaker "Ritual" A man who dresses similar to a cowboy. He convinced his wife to marry him after hiring a male prostitute to ruin her idea of the perfect man.

Sister Vigilante "Civil Twilight" A religious woman who carries a bowling ball with which she may or may not have killed people.

Chef Assassin (Richard Talbott) "Product Placement" A professional chef who murders critics who write negative reviews of his cooking and blackmails knife manufacturers by threatening to tell the world that he uses only their knives to commit his deeds.

Comrade Snarky "Speaking Bitterness" A woman who is critical of other women's looks. When she was a child her parents divorced and her mother continually warned her that her father might sexually abuse her. This, however, never occurred but because of it she has been wary and critical of men for her entire life.

Agent Tattletale (Eugene Denton) "Crippled" A man who becomes temporarily crippled and tries to cheat the company he worked for out of worker's compensation after he recovers. After killing a man who was collecting evidence on him for the company, he takes that man's job and is almost killed by a woman who he spied on.

The Missing Link"Dissertation" A member of the Chewlah, a tribe of people who are, according to local rumor, able to transform into sasquatches..

The Countess Foresight (Claire Upton) "Something's Got to Give" A woman with psychic powers. She was arrested for murdering a man who she believed murdered Marilyn Monroe. She now wears an electronic tracking bracelet as part of the terms of her parole.

The Baroness Frostbite (Miss Leroy) "Hot Potting" A former employee of the White River Lodge who lost her lips to frostbite while trying to save someone from an accident at the hot springs nearby.

Miss Sneezy (Lisa Noonan) "Evil Spirits" A woman with chronic sinus problems. She claims to carry an incurable disease, and that she escaped from a government isolation facility. This one rings of Edgar Allen Poe's story "The Masque of the Red Death."

This book really is almost a spoof of all the "crap" you see on reality TV. Several strangers working together, forming alliances and competing for a prize. The prize here is the "masterpiece" to be written. They all get locked in and start creating their own horror. When the food goes bad, well they have to find food somewhere.

Basically you take Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allen Poe and sprinkle in some H.P. Lovecraft and this is what you get in this novel. Some of the stories contain dark humor that Chuck Palahniuk which is, it seems, a specialty of his, and some are haunting. They all, however have a great message about humanity.

As a little added bonus the paperback features a glow in the dark cover. And if you prefer audio books the audio book has sections read by many talented voices including my favorite, Scott Brick. Other readers include: Erik Darling, Arthur Morey, and Lorna Raver.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"Survivor" by Chuck Palahniuk

First of all...WOW!!! This book is definitely something that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go...even at the end you want more. "Survivor" is written by Chuck Palahniuk, the same author of "Fight Club" which was made into a great movie starring Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. Now as you may or may not remember "Fight Club" had a hidden message about how consumerism was destroying the world. Keeping to thatm "Survivor" has a not so hidden message about Religion, Celebrity status and again the consumerism are destroying human kind. Spoilers to be warned.

Also like "Fight Club" this book begins at the end. Even the chapters appear in reverse...more of a countdown. At the opening of this book Tender Branson the last known survivor of the Creedish religious suicide cult, and Spiritual Leader of the world, is in a 747 he hijacked and is going to crash it into the Australian Outback. Before the ultimate end of his life he leaves a permanent record (on the plane's flight recorder, the "black box") about how he got to where he is and why he is not a mass murderer.

As Tender tells his story in the final minutes before the plane crash, it is unfolded how he became a victim of what I will call Americanism. Tender is a member of the Creedish religious sect, which, as the story unfolds, is discovered to be a front for white slavery. The first born male of every family is named Adam and all the other males are named Tender. All the females are named Bitty until they are married. All of the Tenders and most of the Bittys are sold to rich families as housekeepers. All their lives as children their education consists of such lessons as etiquette, and cleaning and household chores. The cult/sect appear as though they could be Mennonites.

When the sect/cult's secret is discovered by the FBI the entire sect commits mass suicide on their farm compound in Nebraska. The survivors that were sold to slavery slowly follow suit. The government sets up a Survivor retention program in order to keep the rest from committing suicide. Tender Branson is one of these survivors and soon becomes the only one.

Once it is discovered he is the only one the story really starts to rock and reel. A marketing agent then starts controlling Tender's life turning him into a Religious Leader. Tender becomes popular because of ideas that the public thinks are his but are actually the Agent's ideas, like his autobiography, the Book of Very Common Prayer (a book of prayer that will make life easier my favorite is the prayer for getting out of traffic), and the Tender Branson Sensitive Materials Sanitary Landfill (a 20,000 acre [80 km²] repository for America's outdated porn). As his popularity grows, Tender wants to kill himself in front of the whole world; but he can't find the right time to do so. So, he puts it off for later.

Before all this Tender has set up a Suicide hotline...okay, actually he prints up a bunch of stickers for a fake suicide hotline that is his personal phone number. Everyone that calls him he simply says, "Kill Yourself." This goes on until he is visiting the tomb of one of his "victims" and he meets the "victim's" sister, Fertility Hollis. Fertility Hollis has a great gift, She knows everything, she can see the future.

Tender's popularity starts to wane; and the Agent tells him that he needs a miracle to stay famous. Fertility meet's him in a men's room in a restaurant in Spokane, Washington (because she knows). She gives him a prediction to tell on TV that the public will notice when it comes true. It does, and Tender becomes even more famous as he uses Fertility's psychic powers as his own.

But Tender still wants to escape, especially when he finds his older (by 3.5 minutes) brother Adam is still alive and killed off all the Creedish survivors and all the people in Tender's life, and is now after Tender. The police suspect Tender of the murders and when Tender's agent is found murdered, they seek to arrest him...but not before a big show at halftime of the superbowl. But Tender gives one last prediction and the entire arena goes into turmoil and Tender escapes. Only to be stuck with Adam and Fertility. This leads to a cross country escape in a very unique mode of transportation (read the book to find this one out). Ultimately Tender is aboard a plane by himself getting ready to crash in Australia.

The humor in this book is dark, but funny. Okay, disturbingly funny.

Like this conversation between Tender and his agent:

This one time, the agent asked me where I saw myself in five years. Dead, I said. I see myself dead and rotting. Or ashes, I can see myself burned to ashes. I remember I had a loaded gun in my pocket. Just the two of us were standing in the back of a crowded, dark auditorium.

'I see myself dead and in hell.'

I remember I was planning to kill myself that night. It was the night of my first big public appearance. I told the agent, I figured I'd spend my first thousand years in hell in some entry-level position, but after that I wanted to move into management. Be a real team player. Hell is going to see enormous growth in market share over the next millennium, and I wanted to ride the crest.

The agent said that sounded pretty realistic.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Poets & Pornstars

Poets & Pornstars are the real deal. For over 2 years, the band – Hal Ozsan (vocals/guitar), Sally Hope (bass), Domo (guitar), Randy Austin (keys) and Dave Plesh (drums) – has dominated Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, playing to sold-out crowds every time they take the stage. They opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses at KROQ’s Inland Invasion, played to 15,000 fans with Bon Jovi, and toured the country with Veruca Salt. The band has also shared the bill with Radiohead, Buckcherry and Rich Robinson (The Black Crowes). Now the group is ready to bring their electrified 3-chord rock to even more fans around the country with their self-titled, debut album on August 21. The LA times may rave about their “chest-pounding” songs but the real testament to their buzz isn’t the critics – it’s the scores of screaming fans at each show.

Right now they are on tour with Tesla
8/21 TBD LA

8/28 Providence, RI TBD w/ Tesla

8/30 Hampton Beach, NH TBD w/ Tesla

8/31 Albany, NY TBD w/ Tesla

9/4 Boston, MA TBD w/ Tesla

9/6 Sayreville, NJ TBD w/ Tesla

9/13 NYC, NY TBD w/ Tesla

9/14 Baltimore, MD TBD w/ Tesla

9/19 New Orleans, LA TBD w/ Tesla

9/22 Austin, TX TBD w/ Tesla

Their website is:

Poets & Pornstars Official i-Squad™ Banner

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Perry Farrell's Satellite Party

Well folks Perry Farrell is at it again. Creating a new band with a unique sound has always been his forte'. Look at the past with Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros what unique talent those bands had. Not only talent but a unique sound to boot. Satellite Party definitely has all that and more.

From the man who brought us Lollapalooza, the music never stops this time his band is full of surprises just check out this lineup:

Band Members

Perry Farrell
Nick Perri
Carl Restivo
Etty Farrell
Jordan Plosky

Satellite Party guests include:

- Flea & John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Fergie from Black Eyed Peas
- Peter Hook from New Order
- Hybrid
- Thievery Corporation
- Peter DiStefano from Porno For Pyros
- Harry Gregson Williams (Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven)
- Jim Morrison (one of his last vocal performances--previously unreleased)

The most unique aspect is the reworking of the Jim Morrison how is that going to be pulled off in concert? I'm not sure, but if anyone can it will be Perry.

You can check out their myspace page for some of the new music and tour dates:

If you are enough of a fan you can join the i-squad and get yourself some swag while promoting this cool band. Just click on the banner below:

Perry Farrell Satellite Party Official i-Squad™ Banner

"Summer Knight: Book 4 of the Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can't pay his rent. He's alienating his friends. He can't even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can't get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can't refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him — and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen's right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen's name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case.

No pressure or anything...

I think pretty much all that can go wrong with Harry does. In this book Harry faces a rain of toads, a war between Summer and Winter, A hearing by the White Council which could result in his death, and to make matters worse an old girlfried shows up only to create problems.

The book opens up with Harry still trying find a cure for Susan his current love, and only the second woman he's ever loved. The cure is to cure her of vampirism. In the last book she was partially transformed into a vampire. He has let his hygiene go and his apartment's a mess. However he is getting help from the alphas, you may remember they are the group of college kids, oh yeah and they are lycanthropes.

Harry is soon hired by the Winter Faerie Queen to find out who murdered the Summer Knight. Everyone thinks it was the Winter Queen but she knows she is innocent and if the real killer is not found out there could be a war between the Summer and Winter Faeries. This could only lead to one victor and whoever comes out on top the world could either enter another Ice Age or a time of exponential growth. Now the growth may sound good but remember it also sounds good to E Coli and other bacterium.

This book is another turning point in the series in that Harry admits to Murphy everything there is to know about the supernatural world. Taking her under confidence to tell all the inside info Harry is risking a lot. However it is yet another time we see the almost human weakness of this wizard in that he needs outside help. Murphy is a bit taken aback but soon recovers and is there to help Harry in any way.

We are also introduced to members of the White Council of Wizards. There are some nice characters here including Harry's Mentor, Ebenezer McCoy. Ebenezer was Harry's assigned mentor after Harry killed his Uncle Justin. Also more of the story of Harry's falling out with the White Council and the Death (in self defense) of Uncle Justin.

Yet again another great book in what is turning out to be a great series of books. The humor in these books just makes them more fun.

Sidney Poitier uses the "F" word, or my review of "The Measure of Man"

"The Measure of A Man" by Sidney Poitier

Okay first off the man in the movies always seemed so refined and classy, well he is that good of an actor. After a lifetime of having to deal with racism and poverty, Sidney Poitier found his way. And the way he did it and maintained his dignity is the true measure of a man.

Growing up on Cat Island in the Bahamas the Poitier family were poor tomato farmers. But one thing about being poor is the situation. A person can be poor on an island and not even know they're poor, however bring that same person into a city and with the urban sprawl and communities in neglect the being poor smacks you right in the face. On Cat Island there were numerous plants and trees that bore fruit that anyone could go and pick and spend an afternoon munching. Also fishing can create a nice bounty of food. Another aspect of Poitier's life on the island is that the community would help each other.
When young Sidney's family was affected by the tomato embargo of the Bahamas, they had to relocate to Nassau. This is where the young Sidney discovered racism and exactly how poor he was.

The life in Nassau was still nothing compared to moving to the racist country of the United States. After having to move to Miami to live with his brother, Mr. Poitier took on a job as a delivery boy. He soon discovered that the southern racism affected him. All blacks were to use the back doors to houses. When one delivery, he didn't realize this "Jim Crow" law would affect him until he tried to deliver to a rich white woman at her front door and later the KKK would threaten his family.

The book then goes on to explore the life of Sidney Poitier's career in movies and theatre and the boundaries he had to overcome to be where he is. Many parts of this book are great explorations of an actor and his craft while at other times a glance at how backwards a racist society can be.

My favorite quote from the book is the one that shows that Mr. Poitier is just as human as you and I.

While "expectations" meant "the sky's the limit" for those favored, that interpretation should never be expected to apply in cases like mine. I listened intently until each point had been driven home. Then I said "Fuck You," in the nicest way I could.

That quote pretty much sums up how he overcame all obstacles in his life. I think this book really can help a person to realize that life is not handed to them. It only comes about from what you CHOOSE to do.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Grave Peril, Dresden Files book 3" by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden's faced some pretty terrifying foes during his career. Giant scorpions. Oversexed vampires. Psychotic werewolves. It comes with the territory when you're the only professional wizard in the Chicago area phone book

But in all Harry's years of supernatural sleuthing, he's never faced anything like this: the spirit world's gone postal. All over Chicago, ghosts are causing trouble — and not just of the door-slamming, boo-shouting variety. These ghosts are tormented, violent, and deadly. Someone — or something — is purposely stirring them up to wreak unearthly havoc.

But why? And why do so many of the victims have ties to Harry? If Harry doesn't figure it out soon, he could wind up a ghost himself.... .

In this installment of the Dresden files The wizard named Harry is found fighting ghosts. But It seems as though the ghosts are all more active and dangerous than they have ever been. In this book Harry finally gets some help, in the form of Michael. It's never really clear what exactly Michael is, other than the "Fist of God." He's like a cross (no pun intended) between a Knight Templar, Knight of the Round Table and an Archangel." Michael carries a great sword called "Amoracchius," in the hilt of this sword there is a nail, said to be from "The Cross."

This book seems to be a turning point in Harry's career and the storyline that will seem to be coming in the series. In this book we get to learn a little more of Harry's past and also get to take a couple of trips into the Nevernever. The Nevernever is home to all things that go bump in the night, and is only mentioned in the 2 previous books. Also Harry finally realizes and admits he's in love with Susan. But this realization may come a little too late.

Michael, Harry and Lt. Murphy had worked together to stop a wizard that was using his magic for killing. The demon that wizard summoned up was powerful but with all of them teamed up they killed the demon and took the wizard in to police custody. But something has happened in the case and the police will not talk to Harry about it.

Soon all those involved are being attacked by something evil. Harry and Michael deduce that since the veil of the Nevernever is is being stirred up (all the ghostly activity) that the veil is thinning. Thus allowing all this evil to be unleashed. Thinking that the demon is now a ghost and nearly unstoppable Harry and Michael think the demonghost is seeking revenge.

It is learned that Harry's godmother, the faerie Leanansidhe, (yes Harry has a Faerie Godmother) has made a bargain with Harry in his youth and owns his soul. But Harry is not ready to give that up. So she is trying to take it from him and make him her slave. In a battle with the demon ghost, she shows up and heals Harry of his wounds, saying she wants him alive. Harry gets the sword Amoracchius and prepares to attack Lea in revenge. However, Michael warns him (too late) that the sword is not to be used that way. The sword is then picked up by Lea and she leaves. Leaving Michael doubting his faith.

At the same time Harry receives an Invitation from Bianca, a vampire, to attend a costume party to celebrate the appointing of Bianca to the Red Court. The Red Court is one of 3 courts of Vampires and Bianca is to be head of the Red Court. We learn that The Black Court is weak and disappearing. Harry and Michael attend this party. Michael comes as a Knight Templar and knowing Lea will be attending the celebration hopes to get Amoracchius back. Harry comes dressed as a vampire...except he's a "cheesy" vampire and all the other vampires do not find this amusing. Harry's girlfriend Susan forges an invitation hoping to cover the story of the century for her newspaper, but finds out since she was not invited she does not get the protection afforded the actual invitees.

At this party it is learned that the Red Court and The Black Court have teamed up to start a war with the Wizard's White Council, in which Harry is a Member.

The final battles ensue and the book's climax comes with great anticipation.

With the driving wit and sarcasm of Harry Dresden and the wonderful action created by author Jim Butcher this book is yet another masterpiece in the Dresden files.

Stargate SG-1 Season 10

Now available on DVD

For 10 seasons, they have traveled to the edges of the unknown, protecting mankind against ancient enemies and fighting for the freedom of our galaxy. Now… the adventure of a thousand lifetimes launches onto DVD with Stargate SG-1 Season 10 , available July 24 from MGM Home Entertainment. This historic season celebrates the much-anticipated 200 th episode, making it the longest consecutive running science fiction series on television, surpassing The X-Files and every series of Star Trek . Evolving into a global phenomenon, the Stargate franchise reached galactic dominance with Stargate SG-1 which can be seen in over 120 countries and launching the popular spin-off series Stargate Atlantis , Season 4 now airing on the Sci-Fi Network; Two Stargate DVD premiere films scheduled for world-wide release in 2008, “Stargate: The Ark of Truth” and “Stargate: Continuum”; and “Stargate Worlds,” a multi-player online video game. Stargate SG-1 is a fan-favorite due to an outstanding chemistry between its cast, which includes Saturn Award winners Richard Dean Anderson (1999, Best Genre TV Actor) and Amanda Tapping (2005, Best Supporting TV Actress), as well as Christopher Judge, Don S. Davis and Michael Shanks. The intrepid travelers are joined in their unforgettable endeavors by two-time Golden Globe® and three-time Emmy Award® winning actor Beau Bridges , as well as sci-fi veterans Ben Browder and Claudia Black, from Farscape .

Check out the video below for behind the scenes: