Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey Mister!

The first selection from my book group was Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian. This maybe the first non-fiction book I've reviewed here. (For now, we'll just say it is.) My conservative readers may say that this book is pure liberal trash but no it isn't. Sure, it ultimately supports a liberal point of view but it was compiled from interviews with a few dozen veterans of the current conflict and points out that several things that seem to us as wrong couldn't be helped because they weren't supplied translators, proper training or the situation didn't give them time to think it through properly. The cultural/language barrier seemed to be the biggest problem faced by the soldiers.

This was a perspective that I really didn't give a passing thought before reading the book. As a liberal, I was, of course, bothered by incidents related where the troops were ordered to perform acts to civilians, or the the derogatory term "hajis," that they themselves felt were uncalled for. The book brings up the point war can turn people into animals but killing, harassing and basically dehumanizing innocent people is wrong pure and simple.

My biggest problems with the new Knight Rider is the overly large cast. Right now, they have two people to give out missions and FOUR tech support! I suggest they cut the leaders down to one and the technogeeks to two. As for the stories, they are slightly less cheesy than the original which is good because you need a little!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Music Activity

Today, my roommate and I were at Starbucks and I saw a new collection of Canadian artists called Northern Songs. I liked a handful of the choices but wasn't pleased by a few omissions. Googling the album to see what others thought. Doing so, I came across an assignment from a professor of Canadian studies at the University of Vermont (Where else would they have a major like that?) to come up with their own list of tracks. I would love an assignment like this so I'm doing it!

The original list:

1. Feist - "Mushaboom"

2. Pilot Speed - "Knife-Grey Sea"

3. Cowboy Junkies - "Sweet Jane"

4. The Band - "The Weight"

5. k.d. lang - "Constant Craving"

6. Rufus Wainwright - "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk"

7. Sarah McLachlan - "Angel"

8. Ron Sexsmith - "All in Good Time"

9. Kate and Anna McGarrigle "Entre la Jeunesse et la Sagesse"

10. Great Lake Swimmers - "Your Rocky Spine"

11. The Be Good Tanyas - "Ootischenia"

12. Broken Social Scene - "Swimmers"

13. Holly Cole - "I Can See Clearly Now"

14. Diana Krall - "Temptation"

15. Leonard Cohen - "Anthem"

My list, with comments but not in a particular order:

1. Sarah McLachlan- "Stupid" (Better than their choice.)

2. Cowboy Junkies- "Sweet Jane" (That was a good choice. Awesome version.)

3. Neil Young- "Long May You Run" (You gotta have Neil!)

4. Jann Arden- "Insensitive" (I rediscovered this song recently and love it all over again.)

5. Bryan Adams- "Back to You" (You gotta have Bryan!)

6. k.d. lang- "Constant Craving" (Yeah, I liked this one as well...)

7. Bare Naked Ladies- "The Old Apartment" (It was a hard decision between this one and "Call and Answer.")

8. Joni Mitchell- "Both Sides Now" (It had to include either this one or "Big Yellow Taxi.)

9. The Guess Who- "American Woman" (I love the irony with this choice...)

10. Alannah Myles- "Black Velvet" (I have no comment.)

11. Bachman-Turner Overdrive- "Taking Care of Business" (I have no comment here either...)

12. Shania Twain- "That Don't Impress Me Much" (It was either this or Celine, m'kay?)

13. William Shatner- "You'll Have Time" (You must have comedy!)

14. Alanis Morrisette- "Crazy" (This Seal cover is actually pretty good.)

15. Tom Cochrane- "Life is a Highway" (I just discovered he was Canadian...)

There's my list. Sure, some may argue it's a "safe list" but you must have the best!

What would you choose?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Up From Under

I guess we'll start on Saturday. I had an alumni Homecoming celebration downtown. As usual, nobody from my class came but I was surprised as I entered that a friend from high school was there. It turns out that her sister is the director of Alumni Relations at my college. Somewhat weird I think although I didn't go that far way to college so that may explain it...

Sunday we were supposed to go out to eat with family as some of my aunts and uncles were going to be up but lunch was scheduled too early for us so my other aunt and I ended up getting our food to go before heading over to my grandparents. This turned out fine in the end.

We started a book group at my church that afternoon. I guess we'll be meeting monthly. I discuss the first book after I finish it which shouldn't be much longer.

Monday, my cousin/roommate, my aunt and I met my aunt and uncle who had been up visiting from Jersey. This went well until we got talking politics against my better judgment but what can you do?

Yesterday, I finished book 3 of The Dark is Rising: Greenwitch. As far as ranking the book, I'd place it second after The Dark is Rising but better than Over Sea, Under Stone. It was the shortest book to date and seemed more geared for kids for some reason. I don't think it makes sense to do that to individual books in a series as opposed to the series as a whole because it really isn't a stand alone story. Does this make sense?

The fall semester is up and running now at the seminary and I've already made new library card accounts for two patrons which is new. The sad thing is that, right now, I'm really it as far as help. We have one work study student but she's not the caliber of the one we had over the summer who had to quit when she couldn't juggle her class and two other jobs with it. Bottom line is that I have more to do but the same amount of recognition. Did I mention that the computer at my workstation, which I refer to as my office, crashed a week or so ago? And the handle on my mug broke, I think the same day!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I've Meant To Do This For Days. Really...

Two "major events" have happened to me recently that I thought I'd share with you all and I'll throw in a couple reviews too because, well, why not?

On Labor Day, I was invited to the seminary's picnic up at Camp Mechawana which is the state's Methodist camp. Though apparently built about 10 years before, it reminded me a lot of Pilgrim Lodge the summer camp I went for many years as a child. There was a good group in attendance but few of us from the Portland campus. The food was good especially this red-skinned potato salad. I'm not sure what was special about it. (Maybe the mayonnaise?)

The second piece of news I wanted to share was that my first royalty check arrived in the mail and I've officially sold 10 copies of Winter Storm as of July 31st. I guess retailers have 90 days to give the publisher the money from sales so the actual number of sold copies is probably much greater...

I recently finished The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. This is actually the second book in the series of the same name but reads much like a book one. I suppose this is due to it being written much later than Over Sea, Under Stone but it's kind of weird how that book seems like a prequel even though it was written first. The writing is a bit tighter here and, unlike the previous book, the storyline is easy to follow without "What was that?" moments I experienced and there was some complicated concepts to grasp with this one as it also had more fantasy elements to it which was good...

I wanted to finish this entry with my thoughts on The 4400 now we finished watching the final season. What was USA thinking canceling this show? Frankly ratings challenged parent NBC should have moved it to the network. I guess the two main reasons for it was slipping ratings which is typical with science fiction shows as we're all tech geeks with DVRs and Windows Media Centers and don't watch shows live (Actually, with this show I waited until the DVDs since I was never sure when it was on at first then just got into the habit.) The other reason was the impending writer's strike which also contributed to the deaths of a few other shows I liked from last season but that's a post for another time... There was no reason I wouldn't like this show as three members of Deep Space Nine's writing staff were involved at various times during the series. (Actually the other members really were part of Battlestar Galactica's staff which is odd when you think about it...) If you like shows as diverse as The X-files or Smallville, I think you'd like this show. They better do some kind of movie or something...
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