Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Sanity Doesn't Need Restoring


I'm pissed I couldn't find my racquetball goggles, though. Without them, I just look stupid.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday

Sometimes, I'll come up with an idea that's too long to share on The Twitter, but too short to dedicate an entire post to it. That's where this post comes in.

Behold! Random samplings from my brain:
  • When I'm in a really long meeting, I start to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. You know, where after a while your captors all start to sound like the Swedish Chef? Invariably, I get called out by my boss for not caring enoof aboot Proojek Bork-Bork-Bork.

  • tax•i•der•mist (noun) - an individual from whom the Internal Revenue Service can only collect money when they pry it from his cold, dead paw.

  • They really need to make a video game that allows you to choose miniature animal avatars. Mostly, because that's the only way one might have a legitimate reason to say, "Oui, we wee Wii weevils wee! wee! wee! all the way home."1

  • Beware any classified ad that says anything along the lines of:
    1958 Ford Edsel, only 50,000 mi, excellent condition. $500 OBO.
    You shouldn't have to pay that much for an oboe that can't play an E.

  • Mark Twain once proclaimed, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." He was wrong. I think you'll find anything can be improved by hitting things with sticks. (e.g. walks, horse rides, chemistry class, Fox News)

  • By the end of the first second, third place was well out of reach. I'd only just downed my fourth fifth of scotch, but was already feeling kind of sixth.

  • The old man smoked like a chimney2 and drank like a fish,3 but was too stubborn to die of natural causes. So, unnatural it would have to be.

  • And finally, although I can't claim credit for this one, I do love the example sentence for defenestrate on "The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President." Yes, seriously.

1 You might claim my claim of legitimacy has no legitimacy. But that's where we differ.
2 Only on cold, wintry nights.
3 With his mouth formed into an O.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You

Denise says I spend too much time on the blogs.

Not writing them, clearly — this is only my third post this month — but reading them. And she isn't entirely wrong; by my estimate, I'm currently following 8,157 blogs.1 Her argument is that all my time spent keeping up with those other blogs is keeping me from working on my novel. She isn't entirely wrong about that, either.

But I am not, as she asserts, addicted.

I'm not. I can quit whenever I want to. Not that I ever would, because everyone knows quitters never win, and winners never quit. Except for that one winner who did quit since he'd already won. Or maybe he just quit while he was ahead. Either way, quitting worked out fine for him, so obviously, I could also—no, that's not right. Let me start over.

I can quit whenever I want to. Not that I would, because quitters never win... unless they're competing in a quitting competition, in which case it would depend on how fast or how impressively they quit, and—crap. That's not it, either.

I can quit whenever I want. Not that I would, because quitting is for losers, and I'm not a loser, despite what that one commenter said on my blog. In fact, I highly doubt his credentials as a "Loser Expert," and if he ever comments again I will totally have a better comeback for him than "Nuh uh, YOU'RE the loser." And I certainly won't avoid the internet for a month and cry myself to sleep each night, like I—

Sorry, I got a little off track there. One last try.

I can quit whenever I want. But I won't quit, because quitting is stupid and because I am a WINNER. Are you a winner? I don't think so. You're a—wait, you are a winner? Can there be two winners? Are you sure? Huh. Guess I'm not a winner after all. No, wait. I AM a winner. I'm at least a second-place winner. And I will stand up tall and show the whole world that... that... um...

Aw, screw it. I give up.

1 Actually, it's probably closer to 8,152. Yeah, I never learned how to estimate.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

Some of you may remember this picture:

That's me with my two new Neville novels, which I won back in July by writing about bacon. I've been meaning to share my thoughts on them for a while now, but this past month I was just so wrapped up in my procrastination. That happens sometimes. Then again, some might argue I'm procrastinating even now, by continuing to write meaningless drivel when I could have already begun the reviews and instead be writing meaningful drivel. These people are all kinds of wrong. My drivel is never meaningful.

(By the way, for the two of you who saw the title of this post and thought I'd be discussing Chan-Wook Park and South Korean cinema, my apologies. Maybe next time.)

The Ghosts of Belfast
by Stuart Neville

Neville's debut novel, The Ghosts of Belfast, has an intriguing premise: Gerry Fegan, a former killer for the IRA, has served his time, but is haunted endlessly by the ghosts of twelve of his innocent victims. For years, he has sought solace at the bottom of a bottle,1 but now the ghosts have a new proposal for Gerry. If he kills the other people who share responsibility for his victims' deaths, the ghosts will leave him alone.

Unfortunately, there's not much more to the story. It's well written, and I enjoyed getting a taste of all the warring factions in modern-day Belfast, but the plot is wafer-thin. Which would have been fine, except for one thing: Gerry isn't a likeable character. He moves from target to target, killing only to silence his ghosts. He spares others who don't deserve to be spared, simply because the ghosts haven't singled them out for destruction. And sometimes, the targets the ghosts have selected aren't the most plausible choice.

The Ghosts of Belfast is a standard tale of vengeance, yet one with few twists or roadblocks, and a main character with little redeeming value. I mean, he pledged to protect one attractive woman and her daughter. How valiant.

Though Neville's style won me over, the story and characters weren't enough to keep me hooked.


1 Not literally. He just drinks like a fish.2
2 Not literally. Fish don't drink alcohol. Also, they have gills. Fegan doesn't. This isn't Waterworld, people.

by Stuart Neville

Here we've got another tale with revenge at its core, but this time Neville does it right. Where its predecessor boasted little in the way of plot, Collusion introduces a beleaguered detective trying to find his ex-lover and young daughter, whom he believes are in trouble. Detective Jack Lennon is hindered every step of the way, and as he delves deeper he begins to unravel a conspiracy between all those warring factions I mentioned from the first book. Indeed, his family is caught directly in the cross-hairs. And weaving through it all, a cold-blooded3 assassin known only as the Traveller exacts another man's revenge through the streets of Belfast.

Lennon is the compelling, sympathetic character The Ghosts of Belfast lacked. And unlike Fegan's trail of vengeance in the first book, the Traveller's doesn't go nearly as smoothly. Speaking of Fegan, he's back, but since he's no longer taking orders from ghosts and comes in smaller doses, he's much easier to take.

With a compelling protagonist, actual character arcs, and traitors and conspiracies to uncover, Collusion easily surpasses its predecessor. Though I found the Traveller's motivations unrealistic at times, the bad guys' noses a little too easily broken, and the ending not as powerful as I'd hoped, all in all it was a very entertaining read.

Looking for a quality thriller filled with unseemly Irish characters? Leave the Ghosts behind and check this one out.


3 Not literally. He is neither lizard nor vampire. A better descriptor might have been cold-hearted.4
4 Not literally. I have it on good authority the Traveller's heart sits at a balmy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Top 10s for 10/10/10 (at 10:10)

A year ago, I posted my first round of 10 Top 10s for 10/10, and it was met with spectacular and overwhelming indifference. This past May I offered up 5 Top 5s for 5/5; it received a similar reception. Knowing this, you might assume that I'd have learned my lesson and would stop posting lists of lists.

Clearly, you don't know me very well.

I wrote this list with two stipulations: 1) I must have seen the film in question, and 2) I don't remember what the other stipulation was.1
  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  3. The Third Man
  4. Four Weddings and a Funeral
  5. The Fifth Element
  6. The Sixth Sense
  7. Se7en2
  8. Eight Legged Freaks
  9. Nine Queens
  10. 10 Things I Hate About You
Bonus trivia: Two movies qualified in three categories: the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three and 4 Years, 3 Months, and 2 Days.

1 It may have had something to do with π.
2 Why did I pick this over Seven Samurai? It's a simple matter of weight ratios. (i.e. 2x7 > 7) And if that explanation isn't enough for you... um... Brad Pitt is dreamy?

You can see what I'm currently reading (Wicked, Bonk) in my sidebar, but here's what I hope to read once those are done. (Most likely, I won't get to any of these until 2012.)
  1. Paranormalcy, Kiersten White
    Sure, the target audience is teenage girls, but these vampires don't sparkle. Instead, they get slaughtered by some unknown creature and hunted by a teenager with a pink taser named Tasey. Plus, I already read the first 70 pages online.
  2. The Sot-Weed Factor, John Barth
    I found this on the same couple of "funniest books" lists as the gems A Confederacy of Dunces and Letters from the Earth. After all, they say laughter is the second-best medicine. You know, after medicine.
  3. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
    I never cared much for science class, but I like science. All I know so far is that time is on my side.3 I figure Hawking can fill me in on the rest.
  4. Numb, Sean Ferrell
    Ferrell's a funny guy. I hope his debut measures up. Since it's about a guy with amnesia who joins up with a bunch of circus freaks, the odds are in my favor.
  5. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
    Film noir without the film. I enjoyed the movie, and heard the book was even better. Hope they're right.
  6. House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
    Opening up this book is a visual treat for a designer like myself. Besides, I felt I needed a 700 page behemoth on this list.
  7. Anathem, Neal Stephenson
    I loved the three books before his Baroque Cycle, so I'm looking forward to getting back into his stuff. Besides, I felt I needed a book on this list longer than House of Leaves.
  8. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
    The classic. Besides, I felt I needed a book on this list longer than Anathem.
  9. Caught, Harlan Coben
    The latest from one of my favorite mystery writers (though I do prefer his Myron Bolitar series to his one-offs). Plus, I already read the first 20 pages.
  10. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
    A couple friends recommended this series (Chaos Walking) as my next YA trilogy once I finished The Hunger Games. Sometimes I listen to my friends. This is one of those times.
3 Yes it is.

  1. Other Ninjas
    What, you don't have other ninjas in your house? You really should keep your Spare Ninja Storage stocked at all times.
  2. The Ninja Repulsar 5000
    You don't have one of these either? What sort of household are you running there?! Jeez.
  3. Snuggies
    If you're wearing a Snuggie (or its crazy cousin, the Slanket), ninjas won't waste their time with you, since they know you're already dead inside.
  4. Glitter
    Sprinkle glitter on every available surface of your home. Not only will it give you an easy way to detect movement, but some ninjas will leave, convinced you have angst-filled vampires to protect you.
  5. Karabiners
    Oh, sorry. For a second there, I thought it said rappel, not repel. Rappelling would make ninjas even more dangerous. My bad.
  6. Background Music
    When the music turns creepy or eerily quiet, that's your cue to slash wildly into the shadows. (Use your karabiners.)
  7. Cats
    They're like the ninjas of the animal kingdom. Or maybe it's that ninjas are the cats of the people kingdom. Either way, they have a pact, and you'll be safe. Though I don't envy you the offering you'll find on your doorstep in the morning.
  8. Chopsticks
    No, not the eating utensils. Ninjas just really hate that song.
  9. Your Car
    It's much harder for a ninja to attack you when you're not home... and travelling upwards of 60 mph.
  10. Love
    Yeah, I'm totally kidding. That'll get you killed for sure. Besides, love's not even a common household item. I say go with knives instead. Yeah, knives will work.4
(For further lessons in self defense, check out last year's Top 10 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Sharks with Friggin' Lasers Attached to Their Heads.)

4 No they won't.

For those of you who are newer to The Wheel, those of you who want to reread my greatest hits, and those of you who just like looking at lists:
  1. The Twelve (Twisted) Days of Christmas
    Like the popular Christmas carol, except not. In my mind, this series of 12 posts is the most entertaining (and taxing) thing I've ever done on The Wheel. (Start on Day One.)
  2. The Day I Almost Died
    A bit long, but it's a sentimental favorite. Not only because it was my very first post, but also because holy hell in a handbasket I'm alive!
  3. Say What?
    The first of two dialogue-only stories I wrote for a workshop. Sci-fi/fantasy geek edition.
  4. Stopping for a Nanosecond
    I celebrate NaNoRhyMo with mashups of nursery rhymes (and the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air).
  5. Say Again?
    The second of two dialogue-only stories I wrote for a workshop. Crime/police drama edition.
  6. Yo Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Manischewitz
    When holidays collide: celebrating International Talk Like a (Jewish) Pirate Day.
  7. Something's Afoot
    Ten! Ten! Ten footnotes in one (sentence)!
  8. 'Tis the Season
    My primer on Hannukah, for all you goyim out there.
  9. Ninja Haiku Contest!
    My first contest. I love the contest rules almost as much as the entries...
  10. A Little Help?
    An appeal for help (that went completely ignored, I might add).

  1. Statler & Waldorf (tie) — The Muppet Show
  2. The Swedish Chef — The Muppet Show
  3. The Bad Idea Bears — Avenue Q
  4. Count Blah — Greg the Bunny
  5. Beaker — The Muppet Show
  6. Animal — The Muppet Show
  7. Angel — Angel (episode: Smile Time)
  8. John Malkovich — Being John Malkovich
  9. Walter — Jeff Dunham's stand-up comedy
  10. Vichy France, 1940-1944

  1. Major Major Major Major — Catch-22
  2. Humbert Humbert — Lolita
  3. Jack-Jack — The Incredibles
  4. Jean val Jean — Les Miserables
  5. Jerome K. Jerome — author of Three Men in a Boat5
  6. James (Jimmy) James — NewsRadio
  7. Grant Grant — Slither
  8. Charles Charles — Pushing Daisies
  9. Dr. Montgomery Montgomery — The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events #2)
  10. (tie) Mary Mary (Quite Contrary)
    (tie) Peter Peter (Pumkin Eater)
5 Notice how I've said absolutely nothing of the dog.

My second list today touting my own writing. Yes, I am stoking my own ego. My id and superego are pissed. That's why their votes counted double as I put together this list.

Also, for those of you unfamiliar with the Facebook status update, the user's name always comes first, and for a while the site inserted "is" as the default beginning for every status. This caused Nate Wilson to write in the third person far more than is healthy.
  1. Not only do I verb nouns, but I also adverb pronouns, preposition adjectives, and conjunct interjections.
  2. Nate Wilson is slyly testing acronyms, thus updating status.
  3. Nate Wilson is letting the cat out of the bag. Also, he's engaged.
  4. Nate Wilson is nonplussed about the word "nonplussed". It never means what he thinks it means.
  5. Nate Wilson is tearing down the wall to let Germans roam free. Of course, by doing this today instead of 20 years ago, and in Berlin, CT instead of Berlin, Germany, the Werner family is not at all amused.
  6. Nate Wilson has determined that one Ponzi scheme isn't quite enough. He wants to have enough that he can stack them into a pyramid.
  7. Nate Wilson totally just [past tense verb] the [adjective] [noun]. [Exclamation]!
  8. Nate Wilson is disappointed Apple has not yet come out with the iPatch, the iClaudius, or the iCarumba.
  9. Nate Wilson, no matter how hard you try to convince him, will not be suede.
  10. On this day in 44 BC, Marcus Junius Brutus, with 60 of his closest friends, created the first ever Caesar salad. (This message has been brought to you by the Coalition of Really Awful Puns.)

Pluto has been deplaneted. The triceratops has been wiped off the face of the planet. Again. Since things come in threes, what might be the next thing scientists take away from us?
  1. Optimus Prime (Transformer)
    What's that? He was a Go-Bot all along? Prime, say it ain't so!
  2. Tomato (fruit)
    This saucy bit has already shifted from veggie to fruit. Introducing: Tomato the animal. If you squish one, does it not bleed? If you cut one, does it not cry out in agony?
  3. Lion (king of the jungle)
    Little known fact: The lion is an elected official. Sorry for the confusion, Prime Minister Simba.
  4. Sliced bread (the previous greatest thing)
    There've been a kajillion better inventions since the whole sliced bread thing. Seriously. I'm typing on one right now.
  5. Indigo (color of the rainbow)
    We've always known there's no color between Blue and Violet. Roy G. Biv is a lie.
  6. Thou shalt honor thy father and mother (commandment)
    It's more what you'd call "guideline" than an actual rule.
  7. Paramecium (one-celled organism)
    It's been hiding a second cell behind it under the microscope all these years. Crafty little bugger.
  8. Grumpy (dwarf)
    He's actually a leprechaun. (Don't tell the Witness Relocation Program I mentioned this.)
  9. Sir Galahad (Knight of the Round Table)
    Squire Galahad, at best. But wow, did he know the power of a good story. The first one to realize the pen is mightier than the sword.6
  10. Silicon (chemical element)
    Not truly its own element. Turns out it's actually a complex compound of Sulfur, Iodine, Lithium, Carbon, Oxygen, and Nitrogen.
6 Except when dueling. Maybe if I had a bigger pen...

Crap. I'm starting to rethink this whole "10 lists" thing. Do I really still have two more to go? I don't have any more ideas. Aw hell, I guess I'll just do what I did with the movies, except use songs off my iTunes instead.
  1. One, U2
  2. Two (Shoes), The Cat Empire
  3. Three (Marlenas), The Wallflowers
  4. Four, Lit
  5. Five (on the) Five, The Raconteurs
  6. Six (Pacs), The Getaway People
  7. Seven (Seas of Rhye), Queen
  8. Eight (Days a Week), The Beatles
  9. Nine (in the Afternoon), Panic! at the Disco
  10. Ten, Jimmy Eat World

  1. Playing a game of Dominion with my wife
  2. Re-reading The Westing Game
  3. Hunting wild game (in a session of cross-species laser tag)7
  4. Eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's, then counteracting that with three hours of volleyball. Then, counteracting that with another pint of Ben & Jerry's.
  5. Playing three hours of volleyball, then counteracting that with a pint of Ben & Jerry's, then complementing that with a bottle of scotch, then contemplating that while passed out on the bathroom floor.
  6. Sleeping. With one eye open. (And, gripping the pillow tight.)
  7. Rappelling ninjas.
  8. Continuing my quest to become the Patron Saint of Little Yippy Dogs, even though I'm not Catholic, or dead, and don't particularly like little yippy dogs.
  9. Wrestling a grizzly bear in a huge vat of tapioca pudding while friends and relatives throw lawn darts at me and an all-kazoo marching band made up entirely of albino pygmies performs the theme from Mortal Kombat.
  10. Coming up with an 11th top 10 list. Notice how I'm not doing that. You're welcome.
7 I assumed only creatures with opposable thumbs would be any good at laser tag, but I tell you, the herd mentality really works when the deer and the antelope play. (Also, watch out for the coyotes; they're wily ones.)

Do you have suggestions for any of these lists? (No, not where they should be shoved.) Perhaps a household object you feel I overlooked, or a book I should add at the top of my list. Lay it on me. Or, just leave it in the comments. Either way works.